A Day in the Life of #ThisMum

Following on from the fabulous Mums we have already had sharing with us a day in their lives, I am delighted to introduce Rachel from the Nippersnips blog. Rachel is a full time working mum with a gorgeous 3 year old boy and I am super grateful that she opened up a day in her life to us all. Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s blog over at www.nippersnips.com

A day in the life of #Thismum

I’m a full time working mum with a 3 year old boy and a husband. I am besotted with my little one as most mothers are – he is my world.

My 3 year old boy has recently started school nursery. This has brought a little change in all our lives and routine.  He seems to have grown up so much. The school uniform really makes him look older!

A typical day means getting up between 6.30-7am.  This is fantastic considering he used to get up between 5-6am (zombie times).   I have my cuppa tea, (without which I can’t function) and my boy has hot milk and banana.  He is absolutely obsessed by both hot milk and bananas! To him they make the world go round.   I think it must be part of his little routine.  If we ever run out he is devastated.  He has his cereal and then I get ready for work.

I work close to home but this wasn’t always the case.  The best thing I did after I went back to work was changing my job and reducing the commute. I knew putting my boy to bed each night was worth more than anything.

I get to take and pick my boy up from school/after-school-club a few times a week and these are my favourite days. He loves school which makes me so happy and helps to lessen the mum guilt I feel for working full time. I still really struggle with mum guilt but love working too.  It’s a hard balance to reach. I am blessed I work 9-5. This is a huge help.

When we get home I make his tea and chat about his day. Mostly he says “I don’t know” to my questions – which makes me laugh! He doesn’t know what he’s done, who he’s played with or what he’s had to eat.  So I’m none the wiser after our little talks! Despite this we have lots of fun, cuddles and giggles. Recently he’s been pretty grumpy too but he’s just tired after school.

After tea he has a bath and I love to watch him play. He’s now making up stories and characters with his bath toys.  It’s such a pleasure to observe and he hates getting out of the bath.

He normally objects to going to bed and asks for “2 minutes” ha ha. But I’m lucky he actually loves his little routine of Pj’s , story and sleep.  I do have to “settle “him as he calls it.  This is me stroking his hair and saying “night night”. Then amazingly he goes to sleep around 7.30 and I watch him through our monitor.  It wasn’t always this easy. I’ve had many a sleepless and rough night, believe me – I have endured the worst sleep deprivation.  Recently he is so zonked out and is sleeping so well, I just pinch myself. What a difference this makes to our family.  He must be using his brain power at school!

I’m so proud he’s mine and count my blessings every day that he’s such a good boy.

Rachel, Nippersnips

A HUGE thank you to Rachel from Nippersnips for this wonderful post. Reading that she’s come through the sleep deprivation and now has her lovely boy sleeping really well gives me hope that I won’t forever resemble a Zombie and that my child may, one day, decide to sleep! Thank you so much, Rachel. 

Don’t forget to visit Rachel’s blog! www.nippersnips.com

I am absolutely loving the #ThisMum series and reading what ‘being a mum’ looks like for so many different mums. None of this would be possible without the wonderful mums who have agreed to guest blog for this series so a massive thanks goes out to every mum who has posted already and is in the wings ready for the post to go live. I’ve got several mums lined up for spots well in to the month of December with lots more waiting to be scheduled so I am so excited that we can continue the series and gain an insight to the real diversity across a larger group of Mums.

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum

The second Guest Blogger for the series is Katie from the Twintessential blog. I was really excited when Katie expressed an interest in blogging as part of the series as I really wanted to have a ‘multiples mum’ represented. Katie’s boys sound absolutely gorgeous and I am sure you are going to love this little peek at her day to day life. Don’t forget to check out Katie’s blog too; you can find it Here

7ish: I can hear soft cooing noises coming from the nursery. They sound so sweet first thing in the morning. Hubby is off today so we bring the boys back into bed with us for ten minutes of raspberry blowing and giggles. A pretty good way to start your day. Then it’s downstairs for milk, breakfast and my first cup of tea!

0830: The boys are sitting in their chairs having a wee nap after finishing their milk. Hubby and I have our breakfast, 2nd cup of tea and discuss today’s itinerary. We’ve recently moved house so he is continuing with all the jobs that need doing while I take the twins to baby yoga for the first time. Excited and apprehensive!!!!! The last time we went, they were 4 months old and spent the whole class being sick!

0930: I’m showered and dressed, time to do some cooking for the babies before we go out. I’m making a big batch of cod in cheese sauce with spinach and peas. Tasty!!! Harry and Archie are happily playing away with a bowl and spatula I’ve given them. Wonder how long I can get away with that for?

1030: Mid morning milk for the boys followed by a nap. This is my break time. I sneak into the den with my coffee and chocolate biscuits and manage to get some work done on the charity Christmas party I’m organising for the local special care baby unit. And a quick peek at Facebook of course. And Instagram.

11.30: I hate waking the babies up but it’s time to head off to our yoga class. We get our mats set up and the babies are crawling around having a great time exploring the room. Except Harry. Harry is holding on to a column at the other end of the room. He’s laughing away to himself whilst doing what I can only describe as gyrating around the pole. The more everyone notices him the more he finds it funny. I can’t decide whether he is a future Magic Mike or Billy Elliot.

1330: Home for lunch and an afternoon nap. It’s not always guaranteed so I take advantage and actually sit down at the dining table and eat my lunch. How civilised!! Can’t sit about though, got chores to do. It’s the usual, tidy kitchen, empty and load dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer. Sweep floors. Put clothes away. I used to scoff at people who said my washing machine would always be on with two babies. I mean, their clothes are tiny and how many do they need?!? Ha, who’s laughing now!! Once weaning began it’s a given we’ll get through at least two changes a day. Each.

1500: Babies are awake and full of beans. Hubby and I have finished our respective chores, it’s not raining (for once) so we load the little people into the pram and go for a walk. This involves circumnavigating our little village, culminating in a shot on the swings. They love the swings. It’s a competition to see who can get their baby to laugh the most. My husband always wins as I chicken out and never push them as high as he does.

1700: The twins have their dinner. It goes quite well this evening. Minimal floor and wall coverings. You can never take that for granted though. Turn your back on them for a second and they’ve grabbed the bowl and now there’s beef casserole dripping down the wall.

1800: Playtime. As daddy is home, the three of them go into the den and do boy stuff. I think. I’m not allowed in. Cup of tea for me, then I get our dinner ready. It’s bath night tonight so I run the bath and get everything ready. I don’t know about anyone else, but bathing twins is the equivalent of a work out. You’ve got weights, cardio, circuits. And contrary to what the books say, a bath before bed does not calm them down. They go nuts. Hence the circuit training. You are now chasing two little naked people around the nursery trying to slap a nappy on them before they pee on the carpet. They think this is hilarious of course. By the time you’ve dressed them and wrestled the hairbrush from them you’re flipping exhausted. And needing wine. Mmmmm. Wine.

1900: Bedtime milk. This is when we have our dinner. We tried all kinds of variations but found this is the best time to eat without getting interrupted or indigestion. They are now ready for bed. At last. I love them so much but there’s a part of me that sighs with relief when they are tucked up in bed and you can relax. And drink wine. The next couple of hours are for us. So like any other busy parents, he plays games on his iPad while I watch my crap on the telly. Bliss.

Massive thanks to Katie from Twintessential for this beautifully written insight to her day to day life. The next Guest Blogger up is the lovely Rachel from the Nippersnips blog going live on Tuesday evening. You are going to love the sneak peek in to her life! 

 

A week in the life of #ThisMum

In the first of a series of posts from a diverse groups of Mums from around the world, I am very privileged to introduce you to the fabulous Cath from The Anxious Mama blog. I’m sure we have all experienced those days where nothing seems to go your way and life throws at you something that you weren’t expecting. Poor Cath had a week like that last week so she has kindly written a post about the challenges she faced last week and how she balanced the needs of her child, husband and work.

#THISMUM – by the Anxious Mama. 

Hello lovely readers and welcome.

My name is Cath. I live in Cornwall with my Husband Ryan, our nearly 2-year-old son Harry and our beloved black rescue cat Wilson. I’m the writer of the Anxiety, Motherhood and Lifestyle Blog – ‘Breathe’, a blog that talks openly about my struggles, not only as a Mum but with anxiety too. I try not to keep my blog too ‘doomy and gloomy’, though. I prefer to turn my experiences into something positive, so I also share my very own coping strategies too, alongside other light-hearted stories that hopefully most parents can relate to.

Please find my blog here: https://theanxiousmama.blog/

I am absolutely delighted to be writing a post for the #THISMUM series, where I’ll be taking you on a journey through my week in the life of a Mum. This fantastic idea was created by Mamma B, the author of ’The Baby and Boardroom’ blog, to encourage Mums around the World to share their different stories and daily routines – and I can guarantee not one of our stories will be the same! This is a great opportunity to showcase both our differences and similarities as Mothers, but to also gain an insight into our lives as individuals too, including our various passions, interests and jobs.

Mamma B is an inspiring, working Mum who runs a joint recruitment business with her Husband. She writes an honest account of what it’s like to balance a busy work life, alongside an equally busy home-life with her teenage son and one-year-old daughter.

Make sure you follow her blog here: https://babyandtheboardroom.com/

Here is my very own take of ‘a week in the life of a Mum’…

Ok, to be totally honest, no day or night is the same in the Saltern household. So, it’s pretty much a ‘let’s just take it as it comes’ routine. That may sound a little blasé on the routine front, but you’ll understand what I mean as I continue to explain. Here is a small background on our family-life…

My Husband is a postman and works 40 hours, 5 days a week. It’s a physical and tiring job but he enjoys it. Prior to the days of Harry, Ry was a Deputy Manager for a company who cared for adults with autism. He had a huge passion for his work, but the hours were extremely long and tiring…14-hour shifts aren’t fun for anyone! So, he changed his job shortly after Harry was born. The job change has not only been great for Ry, but Harry and I have benefitted hugely too! We are lucky to spend every evening together as a family, allowing us free time to play and enjoy our evening meals together. Ry and I also work as a team to tackle the bath & bedtime routine, which usually involves lots of singing, plenty of book reading and some very silly games.

My work life, on the other hand, is a little complicated as I work for two different companies and also for myself. One place of work is a private Hospital where I have worked for a number of years. I am currently a member of their bank staff which is great as it can be really flexible around Harry.

The second job is for a local country store, which is only a quick 10-minute drive from home. I have worked here since Harry was 9 months old as a member of their online team, and I am fortunate enough to be able to work for them both at home and in-store.

Once Harry has gone to bed, I tend to use my evenings and any other free-time to focus on my freelance work and any writing for my personal blog. My Freelance work usually involves writing blogs for companies who may need their products and services explaining more clearly. I have only just started this up within the last year but already have regular clients each month and I absolutely love it.

So although I have three jobs in total, each job is extremely flexible and easy to work around my own lifestyle, allowing myself plenty of time to enjoy being ‘Mum’ too. I feel really blessed to be in such a positive position but it’s only recently fallen into place this way.

Shortly after having Harry, I suffered terribly from anxiety, alongside various issues with my health too. I have a condition where different joints in my body flare up due to infections and any other stresses to my body. I breastfed on demand too, which was such an incredible experience – but it felt like I was literally having the life sucked out of me. It was a really tough time; therefore it took a while to develop a good routine with Harry. For about 17 months, his sleeping habits were torturous. There was no pattern and each night differed. Some nights he’d wake every 90 mins and others he’d be wide awake from 12am-2/3am. I honestly thought I’d never sleep again! But, things have improved massively. The sleeping can still vary each night but it’s so much better than it was. It’s such a relief to know we’ve overcome those hurdles and that we are finally living what we see as a ‘normal’ family life.

The ‘kind of’ routine…

Wednesday’s are now my Hospital working day, which is lovely for Harry as he gets to spend this set day each week with my Mum. I then tend to work my other shifts around Ryan’s schedule, which is whenever he has a day off in the week. However, his shifts differ and he doesn’t usually get his rota until the week before the next working week (I know, it’s a little complicated, right?) Therefore, I usually don’t know what other day/’s I’ll be working until I know Ryan’s schedule. Hence the blasé weekly routine…

I do however try to keep Thursdays free because I like to take Harry to a local stay and play group in the morning. I also try my hardest to avoid working Sundays because that’s our only ‘family day’. Although sometimes this day has to be sacrificed when extra funds are required!

On my other days off with Harry, we are usually either visiting family, meeting up with friends for play dates or heading out for lovely, long walks. It’s not all fun and games though, as I usually have to balance those days out with a few dreaded household chores too…Oh, the joy!

When it all went wrong:

Now that I’ve given you a basic idea of what a normal week is like in the Saltern household, I thought it was only right to share with you a recent traumatic experience of when a weekly routine completely goes to pot. In this next chapter, I describe what it was like trying to balance Mum-life, Work-life and Wife-Life – all at the same time whilst dealing with my own struggles, too. It was just one of those weeks where everything happens all at once and one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. So here goes…

Monday:

Monday wasn’t a great start to the week if I’m totally honest. We’d had a terrible night’s sleep due to a certain little sleep thief. Plus, I was in a lot of pain due to an infection in my toe from an ingrown toe-nail (the bane of my life) and as a result, my joints decided to flare up.

I’d been to the Dr’s the previous week before where I was prescribed a new type of anti-inflammatory for my joints, and a course of antibiotics for my toe…but the healing progress was slow and I was really struggling with the pain. Therefore, our Monday morning consisted of PJs, cuddles, cheerio’s and Fireman Sam. Unfortunately, Ry had to leave for work fairly early though, so he was feeling pretty exhausted – bless him.

Whilst Harry napped over lunch-time, I managed to catch up on some much-needed washing and cleaning, whilst also getting up to date on any TV shows I’d missed. My iPad pretty much follows me around from room to room when I’m on a housework mission; meaning I can catch up on shows like ‘Made in Chelsea’ guilty free…please don’t judge ok?

Once the little man was up and had eaten his lunch, I decided to take him to my parents for a change of scenery. We spent some time with my Mum and took Pip, their gorgeous dog out for a lovely walk along the river. I love lazy days at home but I always feel guilty when Harry is inside for too long, so I always make it my aim to ensure he gets at least some kind of fresh air throughout the day. It took my mind off my own personal complaints too!

We then arrived back home to a very exhausted Daddy and the rest of the evening involved reading books, playing with toys, eating dinner, watching In The Night Garden and then the usual bath/bed routine. Once Harry was in bed, I then spent the rest of the evening getting ready for my training day at the Hospital the following day. Meanwhile, Ryan relaxed in his little ‘man corner’, whilst playing FIFA and catching up on FaceTime with one of his best pals. Then it was up to bed, lights out and time for some much-needed sleep!

Tuesday:

More like Traumatic Tuesday…

Tuesday morning was a very early start for us all. Harry was wide awake from 5am, which is quite the norm nowadays. However, unfortunately for Ry, he’d been awake most of the night with a terrible sore throat and was feeling pretty rotten.

I got ready for work as normal and as the morning progressed, I noticed Ry was going downhill more and more. I took a quick look at his throat before I left and noticed how large and inflamed his right tonsil was, so I knew he desperately needed to see a Dr. Therefore, during my park & ride bus journey to work, I decided to phone Mum to see if she could help at all. She was more than happy to have Harry whilst Ry went to the Drs. So, I left it in her hands and I went to work as normal…

It was only my second day back at the Hospital since Harry was born but it was going really well. I was really enjoying settling back in and catching up with some familiar faces. During my tea-break, however, I was in the cafeteria drinking my cup of tea when one of the chefs popped their head around the door and asked me if I was Cath. ‘Yes’, I said with a suspicious look. ‘Your Mum’s on the phone’, she replied…

That’s when my heart sank, ‘something’s not right’, I thought!

I put the phone to my ear. ‘Hello’.

‘Harrys had a little fall, Cath. I’m so sorry. I sent Ry home to rest after he’d visited the Dr’s because he’s really unwell and I told him I’d look after Harry for a bit. Shortly after Ry left, Harry tripped. He slipped on a book and flew straight into the corner of the TV cabinet. He’s hit his head. He’s ok but it’s been bleeding quite a bit and we just want to get him checked over. I’ve had to call Ry back and we’re now on our way to minor injuries. Ry’s got tonsillitis and has been given some antibiotics by the Dr. He’s currently driving but he’s feeling really unwell’.

My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I tried my best to reassure my Mum as she sounded so distressed on the phone. I told her to stop apologising though, as incidents like this can happen at any time and in any place. It was nobody’s fault.

I gathered myself together and explained to my both my manager and colleagues what had happened. Fortunately, they were very understanding and agreed with my decision that I needed to go.

I quickly left work and darted straight for the park and ride bus-stop, where I was instantly met by a bus…thank goodness. The journey felt like a lifetime but once we finally reached the park and ride car park, I flew off the bus and ran straight towards my car where I then started my drive to the Minor Injuries Department.

On arrival, I was greeted by a rather poorly looking Ryan outside. He looked terrible. His eyes were puffy, his skin was pale, he was shivering and could barely walk. As we swapped car keys, he told me he was going to sit in the car for a little while, but he would only drive home if he felt up to it. I was worried to leave him because in all the 11 years we’ve been together, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so ill.

I quickly walked into the Hospital, where I found Mum walking with Harry up and down the corridor. Poor Harry was sporting an impressive gash on his forehead, whilst also covered in quite a lot of his own blood. Although, thankfully he was in good spirits. He reached out and gave me a large cuddle and shortly after that, we were called in to see the Nurse.

The Nurse was so lovely. She was very kind and extremely patient with Harry, but equally very supportive towards me. She glued Harry’s head quickly and gave me some excellent aftercare advice regarding his wound. I explained to her about Ry’s condition too, so she told me to go and get him from the car as she would like to see him. But when Mum went to look for him, the car had gone and he’d obviously driven home. I was so worried!

Luckily he got home fine and spent the rest of the day in bed. Harry and I also lay low for the rest of the day, whilst also regularly checking up on Daddy. It was a long and tiring day for us all.

‘Surely tomorrow will be a better day’, I thought…

 

Wednesday: 

Poor Ryan literally spent the whole of Wednesday in bed with a nasty fever and a terrible sore throat. He actually didn’t move all day apart from the times when he needed to empty his bladder, or when he needed a drink. He could barely talk and didn’t eat one thing all day either. He pretty much just slept or stared at the ceiling for the entire duration of the day.

Harry and I, however, had to try and continue the day as normal as we were running very low on our kitchen cupboard and fridge essentials. Therefore we went to Tesco in the morning to do a food shop and we also bought some supplies home for Daddy to try and make him feel better.

Later that morning, Harry and I met up with my Mum and took Pip for another river walk. I was desperate to get us both some much-needed fresh air, but it also allowed Ry some peace and quiet to recover at home. I hated leaving him but I regularly did my best to check up on him and make sure he was ok throughout the day.

Fortunately, Ry’s Mum offered to come and help us in the afternoon as I needed to get to the Hospital for an appointment regarding my toe. My appointment went ok but I do need to have an operation quite soon, which will require an initial few days of foot elevation, and a few weeks off work to recover. This is going to be quite difficult to organise and will require some careful planning….

By the time I’d gotten home, it was pretty late and still no sign of Ry – he was still in bed resting. Thankfully Ry’s Mum had fed Harry his dinner, so I just quickly grabbed something for myself and then I began the commencement of Harry’s evening routine.

Once Harry was in bed, I checked on Ry, tidied up downstairs and then finally relaxed on the sofa with a cup of tea. I then spent the rest of the evening focusing on my freelance blog work, whilst also demolishing a whole large bar of galaxy chocolate (it was very much needed!) Then it was time for bed myself…

Thursday:

You’d think things would be improving by now, wouldn’t you?

Surely?

….So, Thursday was a very similar day to Wednesday really. Ry’s condition was very much the same, if not worse and he’d barely slept due to agonising throat pain and constant feverish episodes throughout the night.

The morning consisted of a few household chores, keeping Harry amused and regular checks on Ry. Although by lunchtime I’d had enough of seeing Ry so poorly, so I booked him an emergency appointment at the GP’s for the afternoon. Thankfully Mum offered to have Harry again whilst I took Ry to the Drs, so I gathered his bits and dropped him over to my Mums.

However, shortly after arriving at my parent’s house, Harry excitedly ran up to Pip the dog who was currently lying on the sofa. As Harry approached Pip, Pip lifted his paw to protect himself and within seconds his paw caught what was Harry’s ‘neatly glued head’. Suddenly Harry started screaming. Yep, you guessed it…the wound had reopened and blood had started to pour out.

‘Are you actually kidding me?’ I called out.

An overwhelming feeling suddenly came over me and tears started to roll down my cheeks. What do I do now? I thought. Suddenly I felt incredibly torn between my little boy and my Husband. I knew Harry needed to get to the Hospital, but I also knew Ryan needed to make his appointment which was due in the next 40 minutes. I decided to ring Ry’s Mum for help and explained I needed someone to take Ry to his appointment as I was just about to leave with my Mum to take Harry to minor injuries. Both of Ry’s parents literally hopped straight into their car and headed straight for Ry, thank goodness!

The Hospital staff were great once again and very efficient with their service. Harry’s wound didn’t require any glue this time but did need a little clean-up and some steri-strips. After his treatment, we headed straight home and went back to Ry who’d been given some more antibiotics to try. The Dr had told him that if he was no better by lunchtime tomorrow, he needed to come back and be seen.

It was gone 5pm by the time we’d got home, so it was then time for dinner, followed by our usual bed/bath routine, a quick chill and then bed-time for us all.

Friday:

Poor Ry wasn’t feeling any better. He couldn’t talk and his throat was causing him an awful lot of pain, he really was struggling. I had another look at his throat and noticed that it was looking much worse, so it was important he was seen again by the Dr.

Mum very kindly offered to come and sit with Harry whilst I took Ry back to the Drs. The GP was surprised that the antibiotics weren’t working and that his condition was getting worse, so she phoned our local hospital for advice. The ENT specialist said he’d like to see Ry, so we were told to come in and head straight to A&E.

We very quickly nipped home to update my Mum, and to pack an overnight bag for Ry. Ry’s Mum very kindly came straight over and offered to take Ry to the Hospital herself. Once again I felt very torn between my boys, as I felt I should be at the Hospital with my Husband. However, Ry told me he was fine and he’d rather that I was at home with Harry.

As the afternoon drew on, Ry was admitted onto a ward and given an IV drip, steroids and some more antibiotics. My Mum offered to come and sit with Harry in the evening whilst my Dad dropped me off to visit Ry in Hospital. Poor Ry was lying in his bed looking absolutely exhausted, whilst also rocking’ the colour grey. It was so sad to see him lying there so poorly, but the steroids and the IV drip had already started to make him feel a little brighter.

I stayed with him until the end of visiting time and then got a lift home with my Dad. Once I was home I continued with Harry’s bath and bed routine, and then luckily managed to get him settled fairly quickly.

It wasn’t until Harry fell asleep that I suddenly started to feel a little lonely. It had been such a hard week. I was exhausted and I was so worried about Ry. I needed to talk to someone so I spoke to a few of our friends; my best friend Millie and our other best friends Chris and Carla. After having a good chat (and also a good cry) I then felt so much better. I was then able to finally relax for the rest of the evening and get a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday, Ry thankfully came out of Hospital. He still wasn’t feeling his usual self and had a long way to recover, but he looked more like ‘Ryan’, again. The rest of the weekend involved a lot of rest for us all. It had been such a dreadful, long week that we just needed a few chilled days at home to try and recuperate. 

Things are getting there now. Harry’s head has healed nicely and Ry is certainly on the mend. My toe infection has settled and my joint pain seems to be easing. Our past week has mainly consisted of catching up with work, as we both lost a lot of work during that awful week.

I honestly don’t know how I would have coped that week without the help of our family and friends. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a supportive network around us.

Unfortunately, everyone will experience a bad week at some point in their life…this was just ours. However, sometimes you just need to put your positive pants on, take a deep breath and count your lucky stars that it was ‘just a bad week’. I sometimes have to remind myself that there are millions of people around the World experiencing far worse than what I’ve just been through. So, yes – you’re allowed to cry, you’re allowed to say ‘poor me’ and you’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself, but just remember ‘it was just a bad week, not a bad life and whilst it may be tough…so are you!’ 

 

 

A Day in the life of #ThisMum

A Day in the life of #ThisMum

Contrary to the popular belief that mums sit drinking coffee and watch Jezza Kyle all day, I believe that us mums are pretty special beings. Whilst we have one massive thing in common, there is such huge variation and diversity in the way we choose to raise our children, our family set up at home, our working situation, our culture and our way of life. I don’t want to get all poetic about it but it is in these differences where beauty lies. We are all Mums, and I’m sure we all view this as being our most important role in life, but we are also people in our own right, with different ambitions, dreams, priorities, responsibilities, hobbies and interests. To celebrate the beautiful differences between us that make every mum unique, I have launched a series called #ThisMum where guest bloggers share a day in their life.

I have already got some truly fantastic and inspiring Mums lined up to share a day in their life with us; I am so excited to read all about a day in their shoes. If you would like to contribute, I’d love you to get in touch with me via babyandboardroom@gmail.com

 A Day in the life of Me #ThisMum

My day usually starts between 6am and 7am when Little Miss decides to wake up for the day. If I’ve had a particularly rough night with her, my husband will get up with her and send me back to bed for an hour. She’s definitely not a fan of sleep and after fourteen years of being out of the baby game, it’s been a bit of a shock to the system! I take morphine to help control the pain I get from a chronic disease and it can make me feel a little spaced out if I haven’t had enough sleep so I try to get an extra hour of sleep if I can so that I can be more functional throughout the rest of the day.

Once up, it’s a case of all systems go to get my Big Lad fed and off out to school. Once he is on his way, I like to spend some time with Little Miss. I had to put her in to nursery and return to work quite early after maternity leave so I do like to steal at least an hour with her on a morning before dropping her off at nursery. I’m really enjoying the age she’s at now; she’s just turned one and she’s learning new words, new skills and new quirks every single day. At the moment she is totally obsessed with dolls or ‘babies’ as she knows them! She likes to kiss them and she makes an ‘Ahhh’ noise when she cuddles them. She’s very cute! This level of cuteness does not make it any easier to leave her and go to work!

As I work with my husband, we all leave in one car. We drop Little Miss off at nursery and head to the office. We own a recruitment agency and our office is in a business centre not far from where we live. Although we both work for the same business, my husband and I have very different roles. A lot of friends have asked how we manage to work together; I know it’s not an arrangement that would appeal to everybody but it really does work for us. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid work stuff spilling in to our personal life, but this is rare and on the whole we work very well together. The way in which I see it is that my business is my livelihood and my children’s future; I would far rather entrust my husband with that business, someone with whom I share trust and understanding, than a complete stranger.

I spend most of the day working with candidates who have applied for vacancies I am working on behalf of my clients. This involves assessing candidates suitability, assessing them against the job spec and getting a feel for whether they would be a ‘good fit’ for the role with my client. I really enjoy my job. I feel very privileged that I get to work for myself and that I never ever feel work dread in any way. I have had jobs in the past that I haven’t enjoyed and the impact that had on my life was huge. Equally, the fact that I enjoy my work has a hugely positive impact on my life. I don’t dread the alarm going off on a morning (unless the bambino has had me up half the night singing Twinkle Twinkle on repeat for six hours straight, of course!) and I never feel the need to complain about going to work. If truth be known, I am the sort of person that needs work. For all I love spending time with my children, I am acutely aware of my need to pursue something for me and that something is work. Work helps me feel a sense of self worth and it helps me to feel fulfilled. I remember during my maternity leave, I would have days where I wouldn’t even make it out of my pyjamas (quite frequently in all honesty) and when my husband returned from work having done a day’s work I felt like I had achieved nothing with my time and there was a part of me that felt very unfulfilled. I would hate for anyone to interpret that as me taking my baby for granted or me saying that being a mum doesn’t fulfill me, because I don’t and it does. I will never ever forget how blessed we are to have two children, we fought for ten years for our Little Miss and she was a true miracle, so I will never ever forget how blessed we are to have her, but speaking frankly, I’m just one of those people that feels work plays a huge role in how I view myself, my self esteem, my self worth and my satisfaction and , above all, I enjoy it. I enjoy the days in the office where the phones never stop ringing and we have to work at a crazy ass pace to get everything done I time; I get a real buzz from that. And on the tough days, the days where stress is a huge factor, I remind myself that I am very lucky to have the privilege of building something that will hopefully be of value to our children in the future.

I do miss the children when I’m at work. I surround myself with their photographs, their cards and drawings (and nice stationery too!) on my desk and if ever I have a wobble and get an attack of the killer mum guilt, I look at my beautiful kiddiwinkles on those photos and remind myself that I do it all for them.

At around 4.30pm my husband and I shut down the computers and go to collect our Little Miss from Nursery. Our Nursery give us a little ‘run down’ of her day including the meals she’s eaten (or not eaten!!), the naps she’s had, the nappies and the amount of milk she’s had. They are really comprehensive which makes me feel like I’ve got a better sense of the kind of day she has had. There is no better feeling than opening the door of the Baby room to see her sitting there, all smiley and happy, reaching out her arms to me to pick her up. We then head for home where our teenage son is usually home from school already.

Our Little Miss and Big Lad have the most beautiful relationship and when we get home, the baby is always keen for cuddles from her Big Brother. The older she is getting, the more she is enjoying a bit of gentle rough and tumble play, tickling and rolling about with him, I love to watch them having fun with each other because when I was pregnant I worried so much about such a huge age gap that I thought a relationship so close as the one they have was highly unlikely.

We give Little Miss a bit of a snack as she has a light tea at nursery. She has a real thing for humus at the moment and would literally bathe in the stuff (she has, in actual fact, bathed in the stuff. Our bath has seen more chickpeas recently than it has water) all day every day if she could. She started out by dipping breadsticks in it and recently she’s just abandoned the bread sticks and is sticking her full on hand in it and lapping it up. She’s definitely not a ‘I like to be clean’ baby but who wants one of those anyway?!

We tend to get the baby bathed and down to bed before we have tea the three of us. I expect this will change when Little Miss starts staying up a bit later and then we can all eat together but at the moment it’s a real struggle to keep her awake until 6.30pm and she will not wait around for anyone! I always like to feed her a bottle before bed, in the nursery with the lights down. Sometimes we sing (Not ‘we’ at all – it’s more a case of ‘I’ and I do it very badly!) or sometimes I just like to rock her back and forth, cuddling her in close and breath it all in. Her first year has flown over so quick and as a working mum, I try to take every opportunity to just be present in the moment, make that moment special and take it all in. I think with my first I took those moments absolutely for granted. I suppose being much younger, I didn’t realise just how blessed I was and I did take all those moments for granted – something that I pondered, and regretted bitterly, during our battle with infertility when trying for our second child.

Once Little Miss is asleep I go downstairs and usually by this point the hubby has started to cook dinner. I spend some time with my Big Lad, sometimes supporting him with homework, sometimes listening to the kind of day he’s had, or sometimes we sit and watch TV together. This may be only last around half an hour but that time with him as one on one is so precious to me. Once the meal is cooked, we eat dinner together and then we tend to chill out. We sometimes have pressing work to do that won’t wait until the following morning and on these occasions, we have to get the laptops out after dinner and continue working but this only happens a couple of times a week. The rest of the time we enjoy watching all sorts of TV, sometimes as a three, sometimes just my hubby and I if the Big Lad is doing his own thing.

By about 9pm usually I am either curled up on the sofa already well and truly in the land of nod or I’m struggling with pain. I take more morphine on an evening before bed so I take that and usually end up in a very sleepy state with my hubby nudging me, telling me to stop drooling on him or something equally as undignified and tells me to get myself to bed. I am terrible for climbing into bed and then ‘just checking’ my phone for any emails or social media notifications. There’s been occasions where I have gone to ‘just check’ my phone momentarily and the next moment I look up and I’ve lost an entire hour to scrolling down Twitter or Facebook. I always get so cross with myself for sacrificing an hour of valuable sleep for pointless scrolling yet find myself doing exactly the same thing again the following night! I promised myself months ago I would leave my mobile phone downstairs in order to try and improve me quality (and quantity!) of sleep. Some promise that was, I didn’t manage it even once!

My day usually ends with the heavenly feeling you get when you swing your legs into bed, bury deep down in to the quilted duvet and slowly close your eyes, anticipating a purely beautiful night’s sleep. Then the baby monitor crackles. Then there’s crying. Then the eyes open and the legs are swung back out of bed and the ‘bedtime with a baby marathon’ begins!

Raising a baby fashionista in Autumn/Winter 2017

Here’s a truly scary thought: my Little Miss is almost one! I’m going to swiftly move on from that thought before I start wildly crying clutching a G&T in one hand and her tiny baby clothes in the other. She’s only been in her 9-12 month sized clothes for a couple of months but I’ve noticed that in some brands she is running out of room fast! The jump up to the next size seems huge. I think I’ll be doing a lot of turning up trousers and turning back cuffs for a couple of months while she fills out a bit! One good thing about Little Miss needing the next size up, though, is that it is the perfect excuse to shop! Before she came along I used to go straight to the ladies clothing floor in every shop we went in – now I don’t even look at where my stuff may be at, it’s a case of quick sharp to the childrenswear department where I could literally lose entire days to the art of ‘oohing and arhhing’ at all the pretty girls’ clothes!

Autumn is well and truly underway and it’s getting a little chilly out there. Little Miss definitely needed a wardrobe upgrade – the sort of upgrade that involves thick tights, long sleeves and cute cardigans! After fifteen years of the jeans and hooded sweatshirts that comes with raising a boy, I have to admit, I really enjoy picking out outfits for my Little Miss; my husband always jokes that I only pick outfits for her that I would wear myself. Secretly, I think he’s probably right! In a few years time, Little Miss is going to wake up one morning, roll her eyes at the outfit I’ve picked out for her and she’s going to tell me where to stick it (politely, respectfully and age appropriately, of course.) so I’ve got to make the most of the fact that she’s got no choice but to wear what I choose right now!

I love autumnal colours – in fact, autumn and winter is my favourite time of year for that reason. I love the mustard yellows, the burnt oranges, the warm reds and leafy greens. There is a huge range of beautiful autumn winter baby and childrenswear on the high street right now. Zara Kids, Marks and Spencer and Next are just three stores that are absolutely rocking the autumn winter range. I could have spent hours browsing the M&S babywear (if I hadn’t have had a screaming baby with me, obvs.); I loved in particular their dress and tights two piece sets. There were some beautiful knitted dresses with contrasting tights as a set and as someone who can never lay their hands on a pair of tights that are an exact match for the dress my Little Miss has on, these sets are absolutely perfect. I fell in love with a three piece set made up of tights, a knitted jumper and little dark red velvet shorts – absolutely perfect as a Christmas outfit.

As with every winter, the trusty old fair isle theme is out in force across kidswear ranges up and down the high street. You won’t hear me complaining about that, seeing all the fair isle jumpers and woolen dresses out and about gets the festive feels going! It might be two months away but my baby’s first year has gone in the blink of an eye so a couple of months is nothing! Christmas will be here before we know it!

I noticed a lot of applique and embroidery going on across the baby and kidswear ranges; there’s some lovely autumnal themed embroidered dresses and blouses available. Zara Kids have got some absolutely stunning embroidered blouses – if they did them in grown up sizes I’d wear them myself without any hesitation! Their mustard yellow corduroy shorts are worth a mention too. I would pair them with a navy jumper and some navy tights for a beautiful autumnal feel. I absolutely love Zara Kids – they sell some gorgeous pieces that border on being ‘quirky’ which is exactly why I love them. I think sometimes you see children and babies wearing the same styles, the same colours, the same fabrics – I love that there are high street retailers that are willing to push the boundaries a little and throw some quirky items in to the mix.

I was really pleasantly surprised at Primark. Usually I go to Primark for the staple items you need in volume with a baby – bibs, vests, socks and the like – but while we were there I spotted a number of gorgeous autumn winter outfits. I’d struggled to find tights in autumnal colours but Primark had a number of three pair sets including one set that included a cream pair, a grey pair and a burgundy red pair too. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can never have too many pairs of tights when you’ve got a little girl. I mean, let’s face it, the washing machine seems to eat them, they never seem to come back from nursery and seventy percent of the tights in our house are constantly on rotation in the dirty wash basket. So we bought a couple of packs. I haven’t really ever dressed my Little Miss in jeans, I’ve always opted for leggings or tights, but Primark had a number of different coloured jeans and I came across a pair of burgundy ones that I bought to try her in. I also bought a twin pack of long sleeved polo necks – these have already proved really useful to match with little skirts and underneath pinafore dresses.

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There’s a lot of faux fur going on right now on the high street too – a sure sign the festivities are on their way if ever there was one! I fell in love with a pinky coloured faux fur gilet I saw in Next and I spotted a few faux fur jackets in the babywear / girlswear range too. The soft feel of the faux fur is appealing, particularly with my Little Miss still being very little, I like to think of her wrapped up as snug as a bug in a rug in something soft, warm and furry!

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I love the range of hair accessories available for baby girls these days too. I’m one of those dreadful mothers that had a bow on her baby’s head within a few hours of being born! I had waited ten years for her though, so I’m allowed! I particularly love this crocheted headband in the mustard yellow colour; it looks good and it keeps her ears warm! Win win or what!?!

Beau headband

With it getting chilly outside, it’ll be time for woolly hats, scarves and mittens I no time. Whilst we’ve got the milder weather, my Little Miss is having fun wearing a beautiful pink pom pom hat we bought from M&S. She never fails to get complimented on it when she wears it out and about and I love that it’s a bit of a statement piece that stands out.

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Finding the time to do ‘us’.

I left my full time teaching job almost three years ago. I absolutely loved my job but it left no time for my family. My son was already in to double figures and I was really starting to notice the absence of family time and quality time together. I would drop him off at Breakfast club at 7.30am, hot foot it along to school for meetings at 8am, do a whole day at school, returning to collect him from after school club just before 6pm. By the time we got home, it was a case of shoving something quick in to the oven whilst we’d hurry through his homework, then after dinner I would have to start marking books and planning lessons ready for the next morning. It occurred to me that as much as I loved my job, and I really really did, my life was becoming more about other people’s children and less about my own and that didn’t sit comfortably with me. I still believe to this day that if teaching had remained about the children and less about the paperwork, it would still have been possible for me to maintain my teaching career and raise my family in the way I felt was important but unfortunately teaching is not what it used to be and teachers are now under immense pressure with ridiculous workloads.

Three years ago I decided that the only way I could invest the time I felt my family needed, was to go self employed. My Husband, before this, had worked shifts and so we had done our fair share of him missing the important times as a family – Birthdays, Weddings, weekends away, Christmas and the like. We made a decision together, as scary as it was, for both of us to establish a family business so that we could work in a more flexible way that better met the needs of our family.

I’m not saying that we have the perfect work life balance because we don’t. Being self employed is not an easy road and it is by no means an easy way to make a living. We hadn’t fully appreciated the hours upon hours of work that would need to be invested to establish a successful business and at times it was all-consuming and physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and there were a lot of times where I thought we were even worse off as a family but the more the business grew, the more we were able to relax in to it and find our momentum.

We are now in a position where we work Monday to Friday, office hours and any work that is needed to be done at home on an evening is done after the children have gone to bed. My son is almost 15 now and he is already choosing to spend a lot of time on his own in his bedroom and I do feel bad when I think of all the time I wasted during the years where it was actually semi-cool to hang out with your mum! But we have made the right changes now, even if I do regret not doing it sooner.

We now have a daughter who is almost one and the lessons I learned with my son are definitely holding value now. I am privileged enough to be able to have lazy mornings with her instead of having to get her changed, stick her in the car and race her to nursery for breakfast and often I get the chance to collect her early which gives us valuable time to play together.

I will never ever take weekends for granted. If you ask anyone who has previously had to work awkward shift patterns or weekends before, I am certain they would say the same. Weekends are just everything to us. Having to work full time may mean that we only have weekends to cram in quality family time but I am very grateful for that, some families don’t even have that. Having weekends means that we can make exciting plans through the week and those plans keep us motivated all week long. There is no better feeling than getting home on a Friday evening from work and school, knowing that we have the weekend together to make up for us all having to be elsewhere and busy during the week. We all feel that excitement, even our (sometimes) grumpy teenager!

 

Having two full days to just do ‘us’ is so important. During weekends we always make the time to be together. Whilst I do promote the importance of our teen socialising outside of school and building friendships away from school, I do think it is really important for us to reserve as much time as possible for us as a family. I am very fortunate that he doesn’t (yet!) view family time as a drag or a bore. I love that he loves spending time together as a family. I really do hope that his view on family time never ever changes.

 

I’ve always said that it doesn’t even matter what you do as a family or where you go – it’s the being together that really counts. So whilst we love to go on day trips or visit places of interest, see extended family and so on, there is also beauty in just being able to be together doing absolutely nothing. We call those days our ‘Duvet Days’. We love having duvet days together – sitting in our Pjs all cuddled up on the sofa, watching movies and eating treats.

 

We like to eat out together if we can on a regular basis too so we’ll often head out on a Sunday for Sunday lunch. Getting the kids out of the house, particularly for the little one, gives them a change of scenery and gets them away from the distractions at home – the noisy toys, the laptop, ipad, phone, television etc – and we can just focus on us. It’s then we can have uninterrupted conversations, discussions, giggles and fun together.

 

That family time keeps me sane. I know that when I was working round the clock, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for not spending time as a family and I really felt sad for not having that one on one time with my boy. Now we have that time, and my husband now works ‘normal hours’, it is so lovely to know that at the end of every working week, we have two days dedicated to just doing us. I suspect that some stay at home mums would consider two days not enough. And I would totally agree with them; it isn’t enough. But, I have no choice but to work. I hate that I see my children for all of a couple of hours before school and nursery and a couple of hours afterwards Monday to Friday but right now, that is just the way it has to be. However, because I miss them with every bone of my body whilst at work, I make every single minute on a weekend count with them. I value every memory we make. I feel lucky too. I am lucky that we have jobs that assist us to look after our family; I am lucky that I am now able to work on weekdays only, giving us that precious family time we need on weekends. Finally, I am lucky that I have children that value family time as much as I do. I really hope that never changes.

 

For advice on how you can spend more time as a family, check out this fantastic article! wooden-furniture-store.co.uk/family-first

World Mental Health Day: Let’s talk about it.

When I was 18 (which, frankly feels like a whole lifetime ago) I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression, sometimes referred to as major depression or major depressive disorder. I rarely think about that period of my life for obvious reasons – it’s a time I don’t care to remember but as today is World Mental Health Day, I found myself reflecting on my experience of depression and took time out to give consideration to those who are experiencing the same.

 

Almost twenty years ago, there was a huge stigma surrounding mental health. People didn’t talk openly about mental health and this only further compounded the situation I was in. I believe that my poor mental health was triggered when I made the very premature (and rather silly) decision to leave home at 17 and move in with my boy friend at the time. I found myself trapped in an abusive relationship; he had manipulated me in to giving up college, moving further away from my family and friends and I was incredibly isolated. Talking openly about mental health just wasn’t the done thing then. The only person I talked openly with was my Community Psychiatric Nurse and GP. I was isolated and I experienced crippling loneliness, stuck within the confines of the four same walls day in and day out.

 

It affected me in many different ways – and probably in more ways than I can even remember – but I certainly remember becoming so bad that there was no Monday to Sunday and there was no day or night: I simply existed. From one hour to the next. I didn’t have a routine. I didn’t get up at 7am and go to bed at 10pm. I simply slept as much as I possibly could because being awake was just too painful. Every day became the same because I had nowhere to go, nobody was expecting me anywhere and I had absolutely no purpose and no reason to get up and go out. I didn’t even have a reason to shower let alone get dressed.

 

I distinctly remember one night in particular. I had argued with my boyfriend and I had overheard him speaking to one of his ex girlfriends who had suddenly come back on scene. I had such a low opinion of myself that I could not see a world where he would choose to remain with me over her. I’m not even sure why I even wanted him. He was pretty damn awful. The truth is, he didn’t make me happy. In fact, he made me distinctly unhappy. But as isolated as I was, I felt I had nowhere else to go. My Mum was supportive and would’ve welcomed me home within an instant but having left home at 17, I felt like returning home would be like admitting I was wrong. And I thought I knew it all at 17 so admitting I was wrong seemed almost worse than staying with a man who contributed towards making me mentally ill.

 

That night I remember standing at the front door of the maisonette I was living in. It was dark and it was cold. I can remember the shape of my breath as I sharply inhaled and exhaled the bitterly cold night air. I felt like the world around me was spinning and whilst it spun around me at such a speed, I was unable to process my thoughts. I couldn’t make sense of how I was feeling; I just knew I felt bad. Really bad. Worse than ever before. I had become so upset that I was hysterical. I tried techniques my CPN had advised me to use when I felt situations were getting out of control, such as breathing exercises, but it was almost as if it was far too gone for those sorts of things to work. My heart pounded so hard I thought it was going to thump through my chest and my whole body was violently trembling. I had lost my grasp on the world. I couldn’t think. I just wanted it all to end. I could not see a world in which I would get better. I could not see a world in which I would be loved. I could not see a world in which I would not be lonely. With each and every thought I took one more unsteady step towards the railing on the balcony.

 

I remember looking down at the ground and trying to make some sort of vague calculation as to how likely I was to die if I threw myself off. I didn’t want to just hurt myself. I didn’t want to wake up in hospital injured but alive. I wanted to die. I did not want to be there. There was nothing about my life that gave me any hope for a better future. I hated my present and my awful present made me think I had nothing but an awful future ahead of me. It feels wrong to speak of suicide so flippantly now, but back then I saw suicide as my ‘get out of jail free’ card. I would reassure myself that if things got too bad, I’d always have suicide. To think that that idea gave me comfort back then makes me feel sick to my stomach.

 

Luckily for me, a complete stranger was passing and instantly recognised the struggle I was having. They talked me down. They calmed me down.

 

Fast forward just two years later and I had got out of that relationship. I had moved back home. I had got a job and built up a network of new friends and, most importantly, I had met my soul mate who is now my husband. When I say that the life I am living now was completely unimaginable to me when I was in the depths of depression would be an understatement. I had absolutely no hope that my life would change, that I would regain control over my own life, that I would be happy again. And yet I was wrong.

 

If I could give two pieces of advice to anyone going through a similar experience with their mental health, the first would be to breathe through the bad moments, the ones where you feel crippling pain, fear or anxiety. I always say to anyone going through a bad time to ‘do whatever gets you through the day’. If that means sleeping, sleep. If it means listening to music, put some tunes on. If it is writing, then get scribbling – you do whatever you need to do to get through those crippling moments. The second would be to always view your present as temporary. I lost myself in my depression the day I convinced myself that this was to be my life. There was no getting out of this alive. Never ever forget that what you are experiencing is a moment. It is one moment in time. It is not forever. This time will pass. It will get better. Breathe through it. Do whatever you need to do to get through it. Things will get better.

 

To think that I may have jumped that night and may have ended my life over the life I was living at the hands of an abusive man, who quite frankly wasn’t even worth crying over, makes me shudder. The thought that I may have deprived myself of the opportunity to meet my husband and fall in love, bring my two beautiful children in to the world, make precious memories with my family and friends and lead a life that brings me such happiness and satisfaction, makes me feel physically sick to the stomach. I love my life now.

 

Just keep breathing. Do whatever you need to do to get through it. This is temporary. It is not forever.

4 Time Saving Beauty Products for Busy Mums!

Now I don’t know about you, but on the days I actually find the time to apply a full face of make up, it is usually a case of only applying products that can be applied with one (very shakey) hand because I am usually holding a baby on my hip with the other. My Little Miss is going through a very clingy phase (please please let it be a phase!) at the moment so she almost always wants to be with me when I’m getting ready and she’s pretty impatient, hence the need to apply a face of make up in nought point three seconds whilst she wails like a banshee beside me.

There’s a few products I’ve been using recently that have been saving me valuable time on a morning so I thought I’d share them for anyone who, like me, has limited time for this sort of thing.

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  1. STYL’s Siligel Blender

I’d been using a blending sponge for a long time, particularly to apply foundation and to blend when contouring. It doesn’t take hours to wash the sponge through but when you’ve got a screaming baby throwing the wobbler to end all wobblers, it can feel like an eternity. So, when I saw that a Siligel blender had been brought out to rival the blending sponge, I was interested to try it. The main benefit with this is that it is much easier to clean as it doesn’t absorb the product, a quick run under the tap and it is cleaned of all product. Another benefit of using this style of blender is that because it doesn’t absorb the product, you use much less of it. My products are lasting much longer than usual with this blender, which is a significant advantage in itself. It did take me a while to get the technique right with this blender as it applies very differently to that of a sponge blender but once you get the hang of it, it’s fab.

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  1. Pixi by Petra Eyebrow Gel

I need to ‘fess up. I don’t have the time I used to have to make sure my eyebrows are suitably tamed. In fact, I got my fringe cut back in once I’d had my baby girl to hide the bloody things! But this product definitely helps keep them looking neat and tidy. It’s not an expensive product but it is a very effective product. I’ve tried eyebrow gels that have felt heavy and claggy but this is a light and airy gel that does its job well. You only need apply a little bit of this gel to keep your eyebrows looking tidy and it keeps them that way all day. The applicator is a handy brush so you can actually brush through your eyebrows as you apply the gel making it even easier to get the neat and tidy look you are looking for. It is quick, it is easy and it works – what is there not to love?

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  1. Bellapierre Banana Powder

If I could climb up on to the roof of my little semi detached house and scream from the rooftop about this product, I would. I absolutely LOVE it. I have gone from never using any sort of setting powder to using this banana powder every single day without fail. I have read that there are many different ways you can use this sort of product but I’ll tell you how I use it. The silky powder is a light yellow colour so it is a really good product to use to lighten and highlight. I use my usual cream concealer under my eyes, then I apply this powder generously underneath my eyes, dipping my sponge in to the powder and blotting it on top of the creamy concealer and then I leave it for a good few minutes whilst I do my eye make up. I also apply it down the centre of my nose and I apply a small amount across the bow of my lips. The idea is that you apply the powder generously and just leave it sitting there for a few minutes whilst it ‘bakes’. I then use a fan brush to remove the excess powder and ensure it is all blended in properly. I have never received more compliments about my make up than since I started using this powder. It is a product that saves time and saves product because it sets the make up in place for hours. It ‘bakes’ the products and ensures that they are fixed in place effectively. I used to have to re apply my concealer and highlighter half way through the day before I discovered this product but now I can forget about my make up knowing it will last all day.

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  1. NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray

I LOVE the matte look. I always wear matte lipsticks for that very reason, I just love the finish you get with matte products. This spray is very effective. Once I finish my make up, I hold the bottle a few centimetres away from my face and spray a couple of times, ensuring the product is evenly applied all over my face. Once I’ve done that, I never give my make up another second thought for the whole day. It is the perfect partner to the Banana Powder because the powder sets the make up in those key highlighted areas and the spray ensures the rest of the face is completely set too. This was not an expensive product and using it right, it lasts a considerable amount of time; it is fantastic value for money and it yields the kind of results you would expect from a much more high end product. It even sets my lip colour. I usually have to reapply my lip colour a couple of times throughout the day but if this spray is properly applied in that area, I have found that the lip colour lasts a lot longer too.

Dear Perfect Parent,

Dear Perfect Parent,

I see you. But you already knew that; you wanted me to see you.

I see your posts on Facebook, Instagram and the like. Whether it be the perfectly poised photographs you post or the self indulgent status updates you put out there, they always leave me drawing comparisons. I try not to. I tell myself I’m a good mum, secure in the knowledge that my children are clothed, fed, clean, loved and happy, but sometimes your life appears to be so dramatically different to mine that I can’t help but compare.

Sometimes the comparison is even laughable. I read your ‘Yay! I’m back in to my size 8 jeans three weeks after giving birth!’ post whilst sitting in my maternity leggings almost a year after my baby was born. I saw the selfie you took in a nightclub mirror looking all glamorous with a full face of flawless make up, holding a pretty looking cocktail whilst I nursed a cup of tea in my frumpy pyjamas watching a boxset at home with the day’s mascara smudged across my eyes.

I see your ‘she’s only 7 weeks old and she’s sleeping through!’ posts too by the way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting ‘mummy wins’ as, let’s face it, we all know that parenting is a tough gig but when I’ve had all of about twenty minutes kip in three weeks, I don’t feel much like celebrating with you. On that subject, where do you find the energy to go out on a night time? I’m in my PJs by 4pm. I don’t blame you, though. You should have a social life. I’m glad you do. It’s just my eldest is almost 15 and I haven’t actually regained my social life yet. So it just makes me wonder where I’m going wrong.

Then there’s the mummy video’s. You know the one’s – the video clips of your child playing the violin on one foot whilst reciting the alphabet backwards. In French. You certainly make smart babies. If they carry on like this, one day they might run the country. I can’t even begin to imagine how many posts would be dedicated to announcing that on your social media if that happened.

And then there’s the photographs. Gah. The photographs. The ones where your kitchen looks absolutely immaculate bar some carefully placed icing sugar sprinkles across a home made cherry pie sitting proudly on a hand carved wooden chopping board or some jars of home made jams with hand written labels and gingham checked cloth lids. Your kitchen looks like something from the Bake Off tent whilst mine more resembles ‘the morning after the night before at Glastonbury’ type look. And the fact that you have your shit together enough to make homemade jam impresses me on a whole new level. My kids are lucky if they get offered a spoonful of Hartley’s for their toast. Not a single gingham cloth lid in sight.

The truth is that I admire you. I admire that you are doing such a sterling job of raising your family whilst keeping an immaculate home and I admire that you have a baby who sleeps through, an exciting social life, the energy to make home made jam and the time to document and video every one of your child’s talents. And so you should. That’s totally your prerogative.

But on the days where I am feeling really pushed. Pushed for time, energy, lust for life or whatever else, seeing someone making such an amazing go of being a Mum can only serve as a stark reminder of what I could be doing better.

So when I see the photograph of your family sitting around a pretty looking camp fire at the beach roasting meat on the barbeque to go with a side salad made up of organic vegetables you’ve grown yourselves at home, I compare it to what I’m seeing; my children, most likely sitting at my very chaotically laid dinner table, stretching their necks to see what’s going on on the television ,whilst they eat their very average pasta and cheese.

BUT (and it’s a big ‘but’) does that mean I love them any less than you love your children? Absolutely not. That’s one thing that is simply not up for debate. But it is part of my genetic make-up to be hard on myself, be self critical and continuously feel guilt at not being a good enough mum.

I do think that a lot of that guilt comes from being a working mum. By the time work is over and the nursery pick up has been done, it’s very usually a case of throwing whatever is quick and easy in to a pan for tea whilst running a bath for the baby whilst helping the big’un with his homework whilst trying to reply to five and a half work emails (and usually whilst pouring a sizeable G&T) all at the same time. It gets too much some times. In fact, it gets too much a lot of the time. And yet in the same vein it never feels enough. It doesn’t matter what I do, I always feel that my children deserve better than what I can give them.

So when I see your photographs or your posts on social media sometimes they serve as a reminder of the mum I would love to be one day. But one thing is certain: I may not have an immaculate house all the time, and I might not grow my own organic vegetables in the back garden and a year on I might not be back in to my pre-pregnancy clothes (there’s no ‘might’ about it actually, I’m definitely not.) but one thing is for absolute sure: my children know they are loved. They are loved to the ends of the earth and beyond and I’m sure if they were asked they’d say their mummy does her best by them. And that’s enough for me.

I have no doubt I’ll hear from you soon (via your chosen social media outlet),

Keep going Supermum! You’re doing an awesome job.

 

Mamma_B x

Family fun and frolics in Florida.

We’ve been promising our Big Lad a family holiday in Florida for years. He has, for years now, spent countless hours on youtube watching home videos following families as they experienced the theme park rides and water parks. It has been his ultimate dream to go there for so long. Not that he would admit it, but I think his love for the US was ignited when he was an avid viewer of Hannah Montana at the age of five or six or something. I distinctly remember getting cross at him for saying ‘Sweet Niblets’ to me in an appalling country-bumpkin accent every time he got in to trouble. I banned him from watching Hannah Montanna for a month but hell hath no fury like a child deprived of Disney Channel so we lasted all of around three episodes. He’s not quite an avid Disney Channel fan these days but he never lost enthusiasm for going to the US to experience Disney and everything that comes with it.

For years, a big trip to America just hasn’t been possible due to being self employed with a number of businesses and not having the staff to leave them with but when our circumstances changed, we took advantage of the situation and got booked up. Little did we know that months later we would discover that we would be visiting Florida as a family of four and not the family of three we had initially booked for. I have to admit that once I found out I was pregnant, I did have my reservations about taking a ten month old baby on an eight hour flight to a place so busy and so hot but we had promised our Big Lad we would go so that is exactly what we did.

I had been dreading the flight with our Little Miss. For weeks leading up to the holiday I had built up a goodie bag of new small toys and books in a bid to keep her entertained. I was also acutely aware of the fact that she had developed quite a strong talent for high pitched squealing and I was dreading the impact that may have on the other travellers sitting around us. So much so, infact, that I ordered sixty little gift boxes and filled them with industrial grade earplugs, a few sweet treats and an ‘I apologise in advance for any crying I do’ letter from the baby. We popped these on the seats that were closest to us on the plane. It turned out that I needn’t have bothered because just over 30 minutes in to the flight, Little Miss became poorly with sickness and a high temperature. Her projectile vomiting skills within such a confined space were truly majestic. Sitting in vomit soaked clothes for the duration of the remainder of the flight (only a mere six hours or so) was a particular highlight. On the up side though (Did I really just say there was an ‘up side’ to being showered with warm sick?!) she was so poorly that she napped a lot and just cuddled in to me quietly. She didn’t cry once so the earplugs weren’t needed. I bet they wish I’d gifted them a peg for their nose though. The smell of that vomit lingered in the air for bloody hours.

My husband had holidayed in Florida multiple times as a child so he had planned our trip really well, I had nothing to do with it. We stayed for part of the holiday in a hotel on International Drive and the second part at the Disney Dolphin Hotel on resort. We decided not to accept the car that we had been offered as part of the holiday package (my husband and I argue enough about driving at home without throwing the driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road dynamic in to the mix too) and instead we have used Uber throughout the holiday to get us everywhere. We took the baby’s car seat so that we could easily and safely fit her seat inside any Uber cab that picked us up. I must say on this subject that I know that Uber has had bad press in the past but we have experienced nothing but outstanding service whilst in Orlando. We never waited longer than three minutes for a car to collect us from the point of ordering one. We always received a full description of the driver and the car that were due to pick us up so we never felt vulnerable in any way and most of the drivers we met were lovely, outgoing and bubbly people who shared with us their local knowledge and recommendations. We used them at least twice daily picking us up from International Drive and driving us down to Disney or Universal and the running total that we’ve spent so far (with only two days to go until we depart for home) is around $250 which I think is really reasonable given we have had almost had a driver at our fingertips for two weeks.

Our hotel on International Drive was pretty basic but did the job. It was in close proximity to bars, shops and restaurants at Pointe Orlando, just opposite Wonderworks, so from that perspective it was really helpful to be central. I struggle to walk distances so we hired a wheelchair from a local company who dropped the chair off at our hotel the day after we booked it. This has been invaluable, and given the usual attractions charge for the hire of wheelchairs on a daily basis, hiring a chair from a local company for the fortnight afforded us a huge saving and it meant we had the chair at all times for if we wanted to head out for a walk or go somewhere local.

Given three days before our arrival Florida was battling with Hurricane Irma, we were greeted by a hot, sunny and calm Orlando. Apart from a couple of ten minute downpours, we had fantastic weather day after day after day. With temperatures spiking in excess of 100 degrees on certain days, it was extremely hot – particularly when going around crowded theme parks. I was worried the weather was going to be way too hot for the baby but as long as we ensured she stayed cool, wore her hat, bathed her in sun block and kept her hydrated, she remained pretty happy. There are so many distractions when walking around the attractions that I doubt she even noticed she was hot anyway! I expected her to spend much of the holiday flaked out in the pushchair in the heat but she napped as usual for around thirty minutes twice daily and that was it. I suspect she didn’t want to nap incase she missed something as she loved every minute, particularly at the attractions.

If there’s one thing I despise about the reality of living with chronic disease and disability it is having to ‘give in’ and travel by wheelchair instead of walking. Call me proud, stupid – call me whatever you like but I hate it. My husband and Big Lad were amazing, one took the wheelchair and the other took the pushchair and acted like it was no problem at all but I knew I was slowing them down and it did make everything a bit more challenging at times. It is harder to navigate a wheelchair through crowds of people than it is to walk through. They never complained once, bless them. After a few days we ditched the pushchair and my Little Miss sat on my knee in the wheelchair instead. She was much more settled there as she had a better view of what was going on around her and it meant that I could easily see to her needs (and give her random cuddles and squeezes along the way!).

Disney were incredibly supportive and have schemes and initiatives to ensure disabled guests and their families are not at a disadvantage whilst in their parks. The staff were friendly and welcoming and constantly asking how they could help, and there were schemes that enabled me to access and enjoy certain rides despite being in a wheelchair. I have never been a typical Disney lover, even as a child, but you can’t help but be immersed in the magic of it all. Walking down Main Street at Magic Kingdom, with my Little Miss not knowing what to look at first, her eyes widening with wonder, and my Big Lad who left the teenage angst at the door and instead lapped up the magic and allowed himself to enjoy it as if a young’en all over again, it doesn’t get any more magical than that. Everything about the place is magical – from the dreamy fairytale-esque backdrop to the emotion evoking music, from the ‘Disney smiles’ given by the Disney crew to the smell of the cinnamon pretzels and popcorn – there is no better place on earth.

I was really worried that with Little Miss being only ten months, she wouldn’t be able to participate in the rides and things but I needn’t have worried. Disney make a very real and avid effort to involve even the teeniest of family members. Obviously there are minimum height requirements for some of the bigger rides but the majority of them were very family friendly and we were therefore able to enjoy them all together as opposed to me waiting outside with the baby whilst the boys had all the fun. Our firm favourites were the Little Mermaid ride and It’s a Small World at the Magic Kingdom, the Toy Story ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Nemo ride at Epcot and the Avatar inspired Na’vi River Journey ride at Animal Kingdom.

We were privileged enough to see a number of the incredible shows put on by the Disney cast. For me, they were some of the most memorable moments of the entire holiday. We saw the Beauty and the Beast live show at the Studios which was really well put together and had both the Big’un and the Littl’un totally captivated. Nemo, the musical at Animal Kingdom was absolutely outstanding – it was so well constructed and the cast and crew made the entire environment inside the theatre come alive through the use of light, puppetry, music and a live cast. It really was quite special. Our absolute favourite had to be The Lion King show at Animal Kingdom though. I absolutely love the theatre and have seen a number of productions in the West End and what we saw there today at The Lion King far superseded anything I have ever seen before. It was an absolute spectacle – a feast for the eyes and ears. It had everything – from gymnasts cast as monkeys to stilt walkers, fire eaters, song and dance. The show was really interactive, drawing on the involvement of the audience on a number of occasions throughout the show which made it all the more engaging. I am going to sound like a total wet mess but the whole show had me in goosebumps and I really struggled not to become emotional as I watched the kids’ faces as they watched it all unfold in front of them. The fireworks were a real hit too. We found it difficult with the baby to stay at the parks until late to see the late night fireworks but we did manage to rejig her routine a little on one night which meant we were able to see ‘Fantasmic’ at Hollywood Studios which is a breathtaking production combining water, lighting, fire, fireworks and a live cast. I would highly recommend making a point of waiting it out til late on at the park to see this show as it was something special.

Prior to coming to Florida I had been more excited about visiting Universal than I had been about Disney and my Big Lad had felt the same. My Big Lad is hugely in to his action and superhero movies, and loves Harry Potter, so he was really looking forward to seeing what Universal had to offer. We visited both parks at Universal and tried a number of the restaurants that made up City Walks, the strip that joined both the parks. Whilst certain aspects of the parks were incredible to experience – such as the Harry Potter world, Simpsons world and the like, I really felt that neither place accommodated families with very young children. We were really disappointed to find that rides that were extremely similar in style to rides that our baby had been welcomed on at Disney, had height restrictions which meant she couldn’t ride. I didn’t realise the scale of the unsuitability of the place until we got talking to a member of staff at Universal who told us that there wasn’t a single ride without a height restriction and that our Little Miss would not be able to participate in any of the rides. I was gutted for her as she had loved the rides at Disney and my Big Lad had loved us all being able to experience things together as a family. However, as I didn’t want this to ruin the fun for the Big Lad, I sat with Little Miss when the boys did rides and we did use the baby swap initiative a couple of times which allowed my husband and I to swap in and out of babysitting duties so that we could both enjoy the ride without having to queue all over again. I joined the Big Lad on a couple of rides as I felt it was really important that we had some one on one time together too but I was secretly really gutted that the four of us weren’t able to enjoy the experience together as we had done at Disney.

Based on my personal experience, Universal also didn’t seem to be as accommodating for those with disabilities as Disney had been. They do have some sort of access initiative but when we enquired about it, the member of staff wanted me to detail exactly what my disability was and how it affected me (in front of a long queue of people in earshot) despite me having formal proof of my disability with me. I’m way too proud to start shouting about my physical limitations in public and so decided to abandon our request for support with access there. As it turned out, there weren’t many things I could go on anyway so it didn’t really matter in the long run. There was a stark comparison between the way both companies managed their guests’ access restrictions though. Disney were incredibly accommodating and extremely friendly with it whereas I felt nothing but a burden or a hassle at Universal. At the end of our day at both parks, even the Big Lad remarked that he would rather spend more time at Disney than come back and finish Universal. The atmosphere and the way in which families are welcomed and looked after are just in no way comparable. I’m glad we went to Universal as it would have been a shame not to have gone along to see what it was all about but we have already agreed as a family that should we return to Florida for a second holiday, we will not bother with the Universal parks and will instead devote more time doing Disney instead.

We had to take a couple of ‘rest days’, or ‘chill out days’ as we prefer to call them, during the fortnight as doing the parks can get exhausting. I would highly recommend spending a day at the International Premium Shopping Outlets which is situated on International Drive – it is an excellent place for shopping. The place is huge and it is filled with huge global high street brands such as Gap and the premium designers such as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren. Most stores offer a minimum of at least a 30% discount on the ticket price so there are huge savings to be had. As we visited in late October we took the opportunity to start a bit of Christmas shopping and took advantage of the discounts to buy nice Christmas gifts for the family. We are, at this point, not entirely sure how we will get all the shopping home again but och, we’ve got two days to figure that out. We’ll not concern ourselves with that just now!

Staying in the Disney resort is an experience like no other. Everything is just so easy when you are staying on resort. There are complimentary shuttle buses to all the theme parks running every 20 minutes from the hotel and the hotel itself offered fantastic activities such as children’s clubs, special activities and celebrations etc. There are some fabulous dining options on resort, including a character dining experience which we went for a couple of evenings ago. This was really magical, with characters such as Goofy and Pluto joining our kids for their evening meal. Instead of the ‘photo and run’ you usually get when queueing to see the characters in the parks, the characters really spent a lot of time with the kids during the dining experience, communicating with them in their own way and stopping to play peek-a-boo with the baby and fist bumping with the Big Lad. It was really lovely. The restaurant was airy and spacious with a beautiful big tree in the middle and there were only a few other families eating at the same time so the characters just made their way round from table to table, meeting and greeting the families eating there. I think this sort of thing is offered at all the Disney hotels but we experienced it at The Swan Hotel.

What I loved about The Dolphin and Swan Disney Hotels was that it offered a really nice standard of hospitality and service to us as adults. Naturally a lot of the Disney thing is aimed at the children in the family but these hotels were beautifully presented and the rooms so beautiful that it didn’t feel like we were staying in a themed hotel whatsoever. It felt like we were staying in a high end boutiquey hotel and this really appealed to me. I’ve been called a ‘Hotel Snob’ before, and in fairness, whoever said that was probably bang on the money as I do like my little luxuries when I am away from home, and this hotel really delivered. It was fantastic for the kids as there were numerous pools with water slides and kids clubs galore but also nice touches for the adults such as cocktail pool bars, an on site spa, spa bath and so on.

The food is worth a mention. I’ve really struggled with the food. Like, really struggled with the food. The choice and range of food available over here is nothing short of outstanding. Want steak? There’s a steak house over the road. Chinese? No problem, there’s a Chinese restaurant round the corner. You fancy going to an American Diner? There’s five at the complex across the road. You want pizza? There’s a Dominoes within a two minute walk from here. You prefer Pizza Hut? Well, you’re in luck! There’s a Pizza Hut next door! Literally, you name what you want to eat and I’ll bet you there will be somewhere within a very short walking distance in Orlando that does it. You might ask what my problem was then in that case. My problem wasn’t the choice of food on offer, it was the sheer how much of it that is on offer. Everything seems fried or bread/dough based and the portion sizes are indescribable. Many a time over this holiday my husband and I have been reluctant to order two main meals between us because we knew that sharing one between us would be more than enough but it never seemed very fair to take up a table in someone’s restaurant and share one dish between us! At first it was a novelty – we followed the smell of pretzels and churros and fried dough-nuts and we filled our faces with the most delicious tasting treats ever. But after a few days we really felt it. I felt sluggish and bloated and in desperate need of eating something green. It hasn’t been too easy finding something green based and balanced to eat as meals, particularly at the theme parks. It tends to be fried chicken and chips or pizza on the menu. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love fried chicken and pizza as much as the next person but after almost two weeks on the diet , it doesn’t feel so good no more. It’s things like when we ordered an ice cream each to get us through the mid afternoon slump in the peak heat and we received an ice cream as big as our face (and I’m not even exaggerating), I literally felt like crying at the sheer challenge of getting through it all. Americans know how to do food. They definitely do. Everything I have tasted has been so yummy, I just don’t think the scales are going to be too happy when I get back home, I’ve actually reached the point in the holiday where I am now actually pretty sick of the sight of food to be honest and I’m looking forward to getting back home and regaining a better balanced diet.

We are yet to try a water park as yet but I think we are going to give Volcano Bay or Blizzard Beach a try over the next couple of days. I don’t expect there to be much for the little one there but she loves the water so I am sure she will be just happy to splash about in the pool.

All in all we have had the most magical holiday ever. I can’t believe that in a couple of days we will be back on the plane to fly home but it has been just the most amazing holiday from start to finish and I would recommend it as a destination for anyone with a young family. Our Big Lad is almost 15 and he lapped up every second of the magic but I do sort of wish we had brought him over when he was a little younger. Before we came here we kept referring to the holiday as being a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday. Within days we were no longer calling it a ‘once in a lifetime’ because it became very obvious that we loved the place just too much to only visit it once. We are determined to return as quickly as possible and have already decided that we will stay on resort in a Disney hotel for the entirety of the holiday next time.

We have made the most amazing memories with our beautiful family; memories we will hold dear to us for many a year to come.