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Holding the Baby: Milk, sweat and tears from the frontline of motherhood

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Tracing her own journey through social retreat, domestic incarceration and maternal guilt via murderous rage, Frizzell sets out to understand why we still treat early parenthood as an individual slog rather than a shared cultural responsibility. Drawing on the experience of others and the latest research, with wit and camaraderie Frizzell explores:

Nell Frizzell is a master. I particularly recommend this book to men… it is a visceral exploration of one young woman’s life that has immediately applicable lessons for us all. Vital reading. The Panic Years is also fun, funny, and warm. I love it dearly!’ Every woman will experience the panic years in some way between her mid-twenties and early-forties. Over the course of more than 130 columns, British Vogue’ s parenting columnist Nell Frizzell has analyzed and dissected the highs and lows of motherhood—interweaving deeply personal reflections on raising her son with calls for greater support for parents across the board. In her new book, Holding the Baby , she distills everything she’s learned into a moving memoir and manifesto for change. Here, she reflects on her greatest revelations from five years as a mother. A memoir culminating in a manifesto, Holding the Baby sets out to understand why we still treat early parenthood as an individual slog rather than a shared cultural responsibility. Tracing her own journey to the nadir of sleeplessness via social retreat and murderous rage, Frizzell draws on the latest research to explore:Her silly delight in the playful possibilites of the English language is what makes her such an engaging and endearing narrator' - the Telegraph There is so much about womanhood that feels indefinable. And yet with her definitions of the flux, and the panic years, Nell manages to define the indefinable - as well as uniting childfree women and mothers, where the two are so often pitted against one another. Lyrical, moving and thorough, this is a memoir, a feminist text and a piece of social commentary. Every millennial woman should have it on her bookshelf'. - Pandora Sykes Nell Frizzell’s thoughts on womanhood and motherhood are as informative as they are poetic. Writing that challenges and enlightens you just as much as it entertains and stimulates you is rare, this book confidently does both on an important and complicated topic for modern women' - Dolly Alderton

Giving parents a break doesn’t just mean doing a bit of yoga and lying on the sofa and ignoring the piles in the sink. True, genuine release from the stress of raising small children means shared and equal parenting in whatever shape your family happens to be. It means mandatory paid parental leave. It means a child-friendly workplace culture. It means a functioning welfare state funded by taxation. It means safe and high-quality housing for everyone. It means accessible, subsidised childcare that pays its staff a living wage. It means access to green space and affordable healthy food and good public transport and mental health care and playgroups and children’s centres. It means funding and supporting the National Health Service. It means park benches and playgrounds and fully-funded schools and honest conversations with your peers. Frizzell said: “This is the book I’ve wanted to write ever since I started thinking about writing books. The experience of becoming a parent is, by far, the most significant, most ridiculous, most confronting thing I’ve ever done. It is my Everest, my World Cup, my military coup. It is an experience beyond comprehension and yet probably the most universal human endeavour there is. With jokes, expert interviews, personal revelations and a genuine manifesto for change, it is the book that I needed when I felt eclipsed by early parenthood and the book I felt compelled to write, just as soon as my son had stopped trying to push raisins into my USB port. I’ve not been a single parent, a dating parent, a parent in a new relationship or in an open relationship. What I know is that being in a relationship with the other parent of your child means years – no, a lifetime – of conflict and compromise. You will, inevitably, have different approaches. One of you thinks you should let the baby crawl down the aisle of a Great Western carriage while the other thinks it’s dirty; one of you likes co-sleeping and the other doesn’t; one of you thinks you should just clear up in the evening, the other as you go along; one of you wants to be held as you fall asleep, one of you needs to have nothing and nobody on their skin just for an hour. You might disagree on whether you want more babies, or when. You might disagree on childcare, on money, on feeding, on what bib, on Calpol, on Hey Duggee. One of you will be more tired than the other but at different times. One of you will use naps to clean the hobs while the other uses them to lie down. Try to separate your parenting life from your relationship, even if that just means taking 70 seconds out of your day to look them in the eye. And don’t make your child a mediator or a weapon in those fights. You might not smell “that baby smell” Change the plan you will roll onto at any time during your trial by visiting the “Settings & Account” section. What happens at the end of my trial? Exhilarating, infuriating, urgent and human ... an excellent journalistic investigation. I think this book is required reading for the child free, as it will help us to understand and support the choices of all parents.' Daisy Buchanan

Nell Frizzell is the author of Holding the Baby: Milk, Sweat and Tears from the Frontline of Motherhood In the UK, for those of you who don’t know, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was founded 60 years after the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and still receives significantly less funding each year, through donations and legacies, than the pet charity. Perhaps this apparent preference shouldn’t be surprising. After all, domesticated animals are far, far less dependent on you for physical, emotional or psychological support than babies and children. They don’t hit you with years of hormonal fury during toddlerhood and adolescence, don’t learn to talk, don’t develop challenging political views, fall in love with drug dealers or steal your record collection. Finally, if the pet in question is a total nightmare, it is possible to give it away, or take it to a shelter, with very little social stigma.

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