A Kid Of The 80’s and Teenager Of The 90’s.

A Kid Of The 80’s and Teenager Of The 90’s.

When I was younger summer holidays meant one thing, the freedom to go out on your bike all day without your parents. We would literally wake up, get dressed and head out the door to meet all the other kids from the area. Around 1pm we would start getting hungry and rush home for a quick five minute lunch. Then we’d be off again and not be home till dinner time.

The independence we felt at 8 or 9 years old was something I can’t describe. Being the oldest of my four brothers and sisters, my Mum used to send me to the shops on my bike (which was about a twenty minute walk away from our house). We had rabbits as kids and I would be sent off to get hay, rabbit food and a selection of lunch snacks that my Mum would need. I always remember the pain of balancing hay on one side of my bike handle and a 2kg plastic bag of rabbit food on the other all the way home. The food would almost always get stuck in my bike spokes and slowly trickle out behind me all the way home. I laugh but it was great being so independent at such a young age. I think it really shaped me and helped us as children to grow up quicker than kids do nowadays.

Saying this, kids nowadays are much more grown up in ways that we weren’t. I mean some of the girls I’ve come across at thirteen, have a face of contouring to rival Kim Kardashian; it’s insane. At 13 I’d have thought contouring was a dance routine you did at the local under 15’s disco. My make up routine consisted of a dash of white natural collection eye shadow and a slick of my heather shimmer lipstick.

I feel like independence is lacking in children now-a-days. One of the factors is everything being online. Most social contact is through phones, iPads or a computer. Kids don’t have to go out to play with their friends because today you don’t even need friends, you can be friends with Bill and Ben, your online gaming buddies and never even meet them.

I don’t consider myself a Stephen Hawkins by any count, but even my Niece and Nephews who range from the ages of 3-12 are quicker on an iPhone or iPad than me. From the age of about two they could all do things I could only dream of on an iPhone.

I remember my school days where everything was paper and pencil. We had one computer in our class in first school, that we would log on to and take turns using for 20 mins every week. In middle school we used to travel to the local technology centre to have computer lessons. I mean imagine getting 30 kids on a coach to go down the road to use a computer?! Without sounding like I lived in the 1920’s, things have come such a along way in such a short period of time. Would we have learnt quicker with access to the internet at our fingertips? How did we ever live without goggle?

I appreciate times have changed. I know that a seven year old isn’t safe to go off to the park on their own anymore, like they were 30 years ago but there is that part of me that feels sad that they will never experience the summer days us 80’s children did.
Is it really that dangerous now? Was it really that much safer back then?There was still the odd weirdo around back then too. I can recall on one occasion when I was 12, me and my two friends walking to local shops and passing through a small woodland area, where we came across a man hanging around by a stream. Something seemed weird about him, he was standing right by the edge. Suddenly I think it hit us all that he had his cycling shorts down and was masturbating. The strange thing was he saw us and continued to carry on about his business like we hadn’t disturbed him!! We weren’t really scared. Apart from the appalling choice of cycling shorts, we actually found it hilarious rightly or wrongly. We walked off laughing, told our parents and the police were informed and that was that.

These things wrongly or rightly made us a bit tougher. We dealt with situations without our parents help or protection. Has the lack of independence and being wrapped in cotton wool made our so called snowflake generation? We cant argue that technology today has definitely made our children more tech savvy. I mean I was asking my 7 year old nephew about editing the other day; ….he talked me through it like he had been editing movies at Warner brothers for years. Clever little pickle.

Which takes me to teenagers of today.
As a teenager of the 90s, I became extremely independent quickly. I never wanted to be with my parents, I’d have been mortified being spotted out with them. So around the age of 14 most of my time at the weekends were spent at the local park much to my parents disgust (and mine now looking back). When I tell you I would be one of about 40 kids its no exaggeration. It was the norm to hang out on the streets before we were able to blag our way in to pubs. Normal and slightly trampy and I’m still not sure why we didn’t all just go to someone’s house, surely that would have been a lot warmer?

The plan would go, meet at the local shops and if no one had succeeded in nicking alcohol from their parents unlocked alcohol cupboard (albeit a cheap bottle of wine or some random beers that went off in 1984) we would ask passers by to buy us some. Cringe I know. Even worse still, our alcohol of choice would be a can of special brew (classy) a bottle of 20/20 or a can of white lightening. Thinking about it now gives me an automatic hangover.

Today’s teenagers just don’t live like this. Which to be honest I actually think is a good thing because getting drunk on the streets isn’t something I’d recommend to everyone. Even so, it was the whole environment of being out of the house, away from our parents, doing stuff we shouldn’t have been doing. Learning, making mistakes and just being who we were, silly teenagers.

Obviously I grew up to be a decent adult and getting drunk up the shops didn’t shape me as a person, However I still look back fondly on those memories. No cares, no responsibility and no inhibitions clearly.

I think there’s pros and cons to growing up in every era. I will never regret and always reminisce of those fun filled summers exploring in the 80s and drinking up the park with my friends in the 90s. Looking back, I’m glad I was terrible at make up, that my fashion sense was shocking and that we didn’t have the pressures of Facebook or Instagram. It makes me laugh that speaking to our crushes meant picking up a house phone to dial their house number, praying it wouldn’t be their Mum or Dad that answered.

If anything, those days and all the mistakes I was aloud to make taught me a lot. No one can tell me that riding your bike in the sunshine with your friends beats speaking to them through a machine or convincing a total stranger to buy you a can of 20/20 doesn’t make you feel on top of the world at 14 , even if you did have to deal with a hang over the next day.

A Realistic Guide To Parenting

A Realistic Guide To Parenting

Many parenting books advise us of challenges a new-born will bring.  They emphasise the delirious exhaustion it brings and the rejigging of a previously carefree life.  We are shoved into debates about breast vs formula,  sleeping rituals or how best to bond.  But once that precious newborn smell starts to fade and the nappies turn to training pants, we are left, without warning, with a small person who wants to navigate the world their way.  Sounds exciting right? Well actually, it can be really really hard and you may feel, at times, like you are going mad. The terrible twos is real, except it starts around 18 months and ends at about 4 years (if you’re lucky).  

After a ghastly nights sleep (if you can call it that) I’ve necked my coffee and have decided that there is categorically no solutions to parenting.  All children are different, the crappy times are unavoidable and therefore we may as well have a laugh about it. I’ve written my own, more realistic, guide to parenting below. 

1)      Tantrums

Tantrums have no limits. I kid you not, some tantrums were/are so out of control that I get a ringing sensation in my ears for days. Once, she threw her shoes in the road as we were walking into nursery, another time she threw her shoe at my head as I drove, and the worse was when she laid on the floor of Tesco kicking and screaming.  This was made more stressful when Brenda who was surfing the fruit aisle for some bananas decided to tut at me. Children may be small, but they put up a good fight, so come armed with supplies. I usually find a hip flask of wine and the ability to pick your child up and run quickly back to the car can help a public tantrum. Genuinely though, do not give in; let them scream it out.  Learn to play an episode of friends in your head and ignore the shrieking. Alternatively you may just go deaf which I guess can be considered a win.

2)      Users

Don’t expect unconditional love from a toddler. My children cheered when I suggested snuggling up to watch a movie together only to be told they weren’t interested when the only snack I had was fruit. They were cheering for the sweets and popcorn they assumed they would get, not me. Whilst we’re on the subject of children being users, expect to only hear you’re the ‘best mummy in the world’, after buying both a kinder egg and a magazine. You must then also expect to be told you’re the ‘worst mummy’, 6 minutes later when you won’t let them play on your phone.

3)      Bedtime

Before I had kids, I imagined bedtime to be wonderful. Me and my child sat arm in arm whilst I read them their favourite book and giggled at the funny parts. They would kiss my cheek and tell me they loved me as I left the room and they drifted off into 10 full hours of sleep. Last night, in protest of going to bed, my daughter slept under her bed. She was so pissed off that she ripped a page of her book, threw it at me and then climbed underneath. And no, I wasn’t alarmed, I was so fucking happy she was asleep I simply slid her out from the bed and tucked her in. She can fall asleep in the airing cupboard for all I care, as long as shes actually going to sleep.

4)      Bedtime Part 2  

Just a word of caution, a child’s bed is magic.  When children get into them, they suddenly remember their need to hydrate or empty their bladders. They also realise they have to tidy their room, need to say goodnight to everyone including the next door neighbour, like light, hate light, hate dark, they’re scared, they’re sad, they’re poorly, they need a poo, they need a wee, they’re going to be sick, they need to wash their hands, their eyebrows hurt, THEY NEED TO CHECK THE TINY PEICE OF FLUFF IS STILL IN THEIR SHOE. Basically, come armed with a bucket of water, install a toilet in their room and don’t expect to be out of there before midnight.

5)      Hair Brushing

If your child has long hair, you should anticipate them turning into the grim reaper if you so much as comb the tiniest knot. The other day, to test the authenticity of said reaction, I merely brushed the air next to my daughters hair she, in turn, held her head and SCREAMED ‘ow’. Fake it until you make it hey?

6)      Disappearing Socks

Children’s socks are not like adult socks. Like beds, children’s socks are magic. They can escape, hide and disappear. I once put a sock on my child and two minutes later it had runaway, never to be seen again. Another time, I wrapped a few pairs and put them in my child’s stocking but when the present was opened, they had gone. The socks had escaped. Socks will leave, you will buy more and they too, will leave. They will never match, and you will spend every day of your parenting life looking for a clean pair of socks for your child. You will eventually need to re-mortgage your property to afford the cost of new socks. Alternatively, it may be an idea to make contacts at a sock making factory.

7)      Toilet Flushing

Your children will be fascinated by flushing the loo for the first 3 times they use it and then they will never bother to flush it again.

8)      Home Décor

If you must choose a colour of carpet suitable for children, then I would suggest the colour ‘it doesn’t exist’. The best advice is to not bother with floor. Maybe you could put some newspaper down, if you’re feeling fancy, but no floor is the best bet. Same with furniture. Don’t bother getting any, before you know it will look like you had a break in, and your furniture was vandalised.

9)      Timekeeping

Astonishingly, none of the parenting books I have read have ever mentioned the fact that children are unable to understand you until you have repeated yourself 53 times.  If you ask them something the poor little soles cannot register it until you have actually lost your voice getting the message across.  If you want them to get ready for school on time, it’s worth waking them at 4am and starting the requests then, as they may have heard you by 7am. Also, all children are born with a defect that causes them to automatically slow down when you are in a rush. This again, is strangely not mentioned in parenting books.

10)   Extra Senses

They say children can see ghosts and their senses don’t just stop there.  They have all sorts of additional powers.  One is knowing what a food tastes like before trying it.  For instance, they know that a chicken dish you’ve spent an hour cooking tastes horrible, but only need to hear the word ‘ice cream’ to know it tastes amazing. Other additional senses include; hearing you eat no matter how hard you try to hide it, sudden ability to adhere to all rules if chocolate is mentioned and the instant hunger they are hit with once they are near a cake.

To summarise, parenting can be so hard and were all blagging it.  And yes, that includes tutting Brenda in the fruit aisle.

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

I spent so much of my time wanting to be pregnant that I didn’t give much thought to the experience of giving birth to my child. It was something I had heard lots of women talk about but not something I had really considered. 

The one thing I did know was that child birth was terrifying and it hurt. Actually it didn’t hurt it was like someone ripping your insides out while you were still alive (a description kindly given to me by my sister). So when I fell pregnant last year it was pretty much one of the first things I thought about once I got past the initial shock.

The first thing I did was totally suppress any thoughts of birth. I spent the first 22 weeks blissfully ignoring the fact I would potentially push something the size of a melon out of my vagina, but as time went on I decided it was probably best to face the music and arm myself with knowledge and information on how this incredibly huge life changing experience could pan out. 

I was really open to all eventualities of how this could go. Whether that be vaginal or cesarean. I didn’t have an ideal situation in my head. I didn’t know a lot but one thing I was aware of was that no birth was the same and if I focused on having one type of birth I’d probably end up having the opposite. 

Let’s be honest it couldn’t be that bad, I mean women have been giving birth for years. Some women even do it over and over again and back in the stone ages they didn’t even have drugs and hospitals! Surely I’d be OK? 

I read a lot! I read book after book after book which didn’t really make anything clearer as I still didn’t know the type of birth I would have. It did give me a better understanding of the eventualities of labour and what my body would be going through, however didn’t resolve my main question; “What does it feel like to give birth?” 

I think by week 32 anxiety set in and I started to really think about the pain factor and how I would cope, bearing in mind I was someone that would cry at the mere thought of a paper cut. 

As my due date drew closer and closer I began to dream of all the things that could go wrong.

I tried to imagine the feeling and the emotions I would feel on the day. Would I love my baby? Would I recognise him? Would he be big or small or have a funny shaped head? I watched reruns of one born every minute like they were going out of fashion. A few times Matt arrived home to me sobbing, eating ice cream on the floor, having watched a sad episode. I’m sure he thought I was a mad woman. 

About 5 days before my due date I started to get frustrated. I was adamant I would be early. I never really understood it when women said they were getting frustrated when they were overdue, but once I was in the situation I totally understood. I was ready for my little tenant to vacate the building (or my tummy) that had been his home for 9 months. I think it was probably the anticipation of being so close to your due date that makes you go crazy. You wait 9 months to get to this point (9 long months) and suddenly it becomes a reality that any day they could be with you. 

I had my first sweep around my due date and it was pretty painless and uneventful. I was told my cervix was still far back and no where near ready to go, which was soul destroying. I was furious. Did they not know it was my due date in 24hours, surely something would be happening. It started to feel like I might be pregnant forever. I imagined meeting people at 58 months pregnant, explaining that my baby just never arrived. Rolling myself around the house as I could no longer walk! 

Everyone was scared of me and disrupting the ticking time bomb I’d become. A family member made a fly away joke about him not having arrived and how funny it was and I went in to melt down mode. I was furious that anyone would find it funny. Furious, extremely hormonal and hugely overreacting, something no one would have dared say to my face at that point. 

You’ll be pleased to know that I did go in to labour, thankfully for my husband and close friends and family who had probably had enough of my constant moaning. 

I went in to labour on the 21st November at 11.30pm. My waters broke just before midnight, I paced up and down for 20 mins before calling the hospital and they told us to pop down for a quick check up. Everything moved extremely fast from that point. We were told that he had pooed inside me and by no uncertain terms was I going home but being induced immediately. I was given an epidural and then induced but within about 4 hours his heart rate dropped so much and it was plain to see he wasn’t going to be coming any time soon so a cesarean was the safest birthing option.

So there you have it, I spent most of my adult life talking about birth, listening to other people’s birthing stories and imagining the pain I would go through, to not having a single bit of pain. 

Do you know the crazy thing I didn’t even feel one contraction. Not one. 

I have to say I’ve heard other women say they felt cheated, I don’t, in fact I feel pretty happy that I didn’t have to go through a single contraction in pain. The one thing I did learn was that when you’re in the midst of labour, your whole focus just goes on getting that little person here safely. I’ve never considered myself a selfless person, but everything went out the window in those final hours before he arrived. If they had to chop off my leg to get him here I’d have done it in a heartbeat.

As they wheeled me down to theatre I remember the feeling of fear set in. I’m still not sure to this day if it was fear of what was going to happen or fear that my life was about to change forever as I entered the room. I remember looking around for Matt. I’m a fairly independent person but I needed him next to me to be able to get through this. I’ve heard women say that they wouldn’t have been able to get through birth without their partner. Not just their partner being present but the mere smell or touch of their partner giving them the strength for those final pushes and I can honestly say without sounding too soppy I’ve never needed him so much in my life. 

As they topped up my epidural I started to panic that I would feel them cutting in to me. I was petrified that the anaesthetic wouldn’t work. I asked the nurse but apparently they had already started so I didn’t need to worry. 

 The fifteen minutes I was on that table while I waited for them to pull him out felt like a life time. I could feel nothing apart from tugs and pulls as if someone was building a Lego toy inside my stomach. I distinctly remember just holding my breath and waiting to hear him cry like I’d seen on all those programmes and as soon as I heard his little cry I let go and burst in to tears. It was the most wonderful, emotional and scary thing I’d ever been through. 

So there you have it my birth story. Totally different but equally as special to all the million, billion others out there. 

I have to say on reflection, one bit of advice I would give to any pregnant women is to try and not plan your birth too much. There is no wrong or right way to give birth. You don’t know what is going to happen when you’re in the situation. Just plan to look after yourself and get your child here safely. 

Women are amazing. To think we grow and give birth to a little human is mind blowing. Every time I look at his face I can’t believe it was him in my tummy for 9 months. Although, the last few weeks of pregnancy were long sometimes, I wish I could put him back in just to have him all to myself again for a day and feel those little kicks once more. 

Rest In Peace Caroline

Rest In Peace Caroline

I had written a light hearted post providing money saving tips for the blog this week, but after Saturday, this just didn’t feel right. I didn’t know Caroline Flack personally, but her death has really affected me.  Aside from the fact that I really liked her, I just feel genuinely sad at such a premature loss of life. I am disappointed that all the efforts to normalise mental health problems appear to have been in vain because the impressive vulnerability shown by public figures, to help those in need not feel alone, seems to have been disregarded the second Caroline was arrested.

Jesy Nelson made a heart-breaking documentary back in October, emphasising the harsh reality of trolling on social media.  Devastatingly, silly ‘jokes’ about her appearance had made her contemplate suicide.  We praised her bravery to speak out, tweeted our support and expressed our sadness at the fact she was ever pushed to feel so low.  We all discussed change and insisted we needed to be kinder.

And then, we all completely forgot. 

Fast forward a few months and Caroline is arrested, then subsequently vilified on social media and in the press.  She had not been prosecuted yet, and her partner had come out to insist her innocence, yet everyone wanted to believe she was guilty.  And I want to focus on why.

We live in a time where our success in life is measured by pitting ourselves against others.

‘I’m not as rich as her but at least I’m not as poor as him.’

‘I may not be married but at least I’m not in recovery.’

‘Did you see that person who posted that odd status about their ex? Let’s all screenshot it and send it to one another and laugh because even though I have massive issues myself, I can feel better by laughing at theirs.’

Why do we do this? I’ll tell you why, because we believe it will make us feel better. That it will bring a feeling of superiority, along with confirmation that we are doing something right. We are not the bottom of the pile after all; there are others below us. A successful, beautiful and talented woman is shown not to be perfect, so of course, we all revel in it.  Without any rhyme or reason, we decide she is guilty to quieten our own insecurities.  Gossiping about the fact that Caroline made mistakes made us feel better for a minute or two, because a person like her becomes less of a threat when she is ridiculed, when she is made into public enemy number one.

Caroline Flack had an argument with her boyfriend. That is all I, or anyone else, knows. That’s it. Nobody knew why it started. Nobody knew what was said or what happened. Not one person was there other than herself and her boyfriend. And yet she was branded an abuser, a perpetrator of domestic violence, without any fair trial. We decided a headline was enough to make her guilty. 

 And look what it did to her. 

Now we don’t feel superior. Now we don’t feel smug and self-righteous. Now we just feel sad and horrified at how much her mental health had clearly deteriorated.  It took a death by suicide for us to realise that negatively hounding a person can cause harm.

Social media has dehumanized celebrities and public figures.  We view them as a higher entity, and assume that because they have fame and money, they are confident, lucky and won’t care about people deriding them daily. When will we realise that they are humans too, with the same insecurities and the same feelings as the rest of us? If anything, we are more privileged as we have access to the luxury of privacy. We can make a mistake and deal with the embarrassment alone.  They cannot. I mean, there are times when I’ve gained a bit of weight and feel self-conscious attending a family event for fear of being judged, how must it feel for the entire country to be judging you? What must that do to a person’s mental health?

Think about all the times you have argued with your partner, friends or family. I will hold my hands up and say wine, especially, makes me feisty. I can be a bit mean and jump to conclusions whilst under the influence of alcohol. Conversely, my partner has done the same to me.  In the heat of the moment silly things have been said or done from both sides.  Imagine then, that you wake up to that awful hungover feeling of dread, knowing you not only have to apologize to your partner, but to the whole country. Imagine not just having to check your phone for messages to your ex, but instead your drunken behaviour (we are ALL guilty of it) being front page news, trending on twitter and worst of all imagine your face now being used as a poster for perpetrators of domestic violence as a consequence.  No matter how loud you scream your innocence or how much both you and your partner deny it, everyone continues to brand you as an abuser, as a violent woman, a danger to men.  Worst of all, all this is based solely on speculation.

We all gossip, and discuss the latest headlines, and if we wish to continue doing so, it may be an idea for us to now start doing this over coffee with our friends rather than in a public domain.  If you feel so strongly about a celebrity gaining weight or cheating on their spouse, that you must review it, then please do so OFFLINE.  Don’t post it out to the world as this goes beyond the realms of an innocent chat with mates and starts a hateful conversation which can be seen by anyone.

Better yet, when people spew hate, react with kindness and see what happens, look at how it makes you feel.

The reality is, that no matter what people post, no matter how strange people may seem or whether or not you agree with the way they post or how they go about their business, there is no amount of other people’s failings that will ever make you successful.

You can tweet hate, and laugh at people’s misfortunes, but you will still go to bed each night with your own. We all have them, so maybe it’s time we focused on embracing all our flaws and mistakes, instead of attempting to minimise them by enjoying watching people suffer from theirs.

Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number

Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number

There’s a few things that I’ve become more comfortable with over the last few years; one of them is my weight (which I’ve spoken about in my earlier blogs) and another is my age.

Getting older has always scared me, dont ask me why but I hated the idea of not being viewed as young any longer or my body and face changing. I remember turning 20 and being devastated that I wasn’t considered a teenage any more. I’ve never been someone who has embraced my age or all the things that come with it. I think a huge part of that is because of the way the world views age. As a woman you’re constantly told that getting old is a bad thing. Anything you do from drinking to eating bad food will result in you looking older than your age. Fertility is another big one, people love to remind women at 30 that their biological clock is ticking. “You’re 30, better get going with babies…you’re getting on now!” Yet men can go on having babies till they’re like 75 (eye rolling emoji!), so it’s engrained in to us that everything associated with age is pretty much negative.

Society says if you’re this age you should wear this or act like that which is just not true. Over the last week the news has been dominated with clips of Jennifer Lopez (50) and Shakira (42) performing at the Super Bowl and talk of how incredible they both looked. This got me thinking about how things have changed especially for women in recent years when it comes to age. There was a point years ago when 30 was considered middle aged (which is clearly not the case anymore) as people are generally looking younger and still living their lives to the fullest, partying at 40,50 and 60. Another thing that’s so frustrating is how women particularly get criticised for how they look as they age but men seem to get better. You hear phases like “he seems to mature like a fine wine”. Men seem to become sexier, more established some how, the older they get. Grey hair and wrinkles give men an extra sparkle but apparently do the opposite to women. I watched both their performances over and over again and it made me understand that age really is nothing but a number and it’s how you deal with getting old that really counts.

I’ve started to realise that as a woman in her 30’s, I have not just learnt a lot but I have done a lot as well which naturally makes you more confident. I know what I like, what I don’t like and what I expect from men or women in terms of relationships.

I think this hit me most recently in my most recent job where I am in charge of recruiting for all roles throughout my company. One of these roles is for a call centre sales type position which mainly sees younger people starting their career in their first job. I think working closely with them, I realised and remembered what it is to be 18. Now this is no disrespect to anyone under the age of 25, I’m just saying that as much as being young and looking youthful is great, there comes a kind confusion on who you are as a person and learning what you want and expect from other people. I realised there was lots of positives about being older.

When I first met my husband who is 8 years younger than me, I lied about my age. I told him I was a year younger than I was…(which is just ridiculous I should have at least said 5 years younger) as one; what difference does a year make and two; if he was worried about age I’m sure the other 7 years would have put him off. I made my family lie for about 3 months we all had to pretend that I was 28 when I was 29 which you can imagine was very awkward, especially as the birthday after we met was my 30th (cover eyes with hands) eventually he found out and to be honest he didn’t care he was more angry that I had lied.

In retrospect I also have been thinking a lot about the fact every year I get older is another year I’m alive. Why do we look at age and say god I’m a year older, why are we not like “yes I’m a year older, I lived another year how lucky am I!” There are so many people everyday that don’t wake up and would give anything to live one more year with the people they love. People die every day in freak accidents or with long term illnesses so the longer we get to be alive shouldn’t that be celebrated? That isn’t to say that when you look in the mirror and have another wrinkle or that tight tummy you once had is harder to maintain, that it isn’t a hard pill to swallow but that’s just what comes with ageing I suppose.

When I watch Love Island and I compare myself to Sarah from Sheffield who’s 19, I really have to take a step back. I’m not 19 anymore and although I pride myself on taking care of myself and still looking good, I can’t be jealous of that youthfulness because I had my time! I too was once 19 and would strut around spending 10 hours a day in the sun drinking vodka like it was going out of fashion and waking up looking as fresh as a daisy!
These are things I can’t do now, well I can and I sometimes do, but if I drink at the weekend or have a proper night out I’m fully prepared that I will be suffering for at least 3 days and my skin won’t recover for another 3 after that. Those young girls on Instagram will one day also have wrinkles and be thirty plus, its something non of us can avoid.

That being said I bring something else to the table now. I’m more confident than my 19 year old self, more established and probably a lot more interesting to have a conversation with.

There are lots of upside to getting older things I appreciate or I have learnt that I wish I’d known in my 20’s:

1- I don’t have to brave the cold in a crop top lining up for a club that’s over priced and overrated, I can stay at home drink wine get a take away on a Saturday night and not feel guilty about it.

2- I don’t have to wear crop tops or dress in the latest fashion because that’s what all my friends are doing. Being comfortable is so overrated and although I thought I’d never say it, is key to when I’m deciding what to wear if I’m going out.

3- I’ve learnt how to tell the difference between people who are worth your time and people who aren’t.

4- The importance of sunscreen. Wearing factor 50 doesn’t make you less tanned it just protects you from looking like an old handbag. Tanning was life when I was young, it was fashionable to be as tanned as you could. I remember on a girls holiday to Ibiza I actually wore baby oil in the sun all day. I was the colour of a red pepper for about two weeks even after we got home. I cringe at how badly I neglected my skin, I tend to lay out of the sun now.

5- Shots are never a good idea. Something that took till about the age of 30 to learn. While on the topic of alcohol never mix wine and vodka or vodka and rum or rum and anything you will be really sick.

6- Home shopping is life. Buying a new hoover is life. Cleaning is even more life. Three things I would have yawned at when I was 19.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to have a drink, I love to go out, I take care of my appearance, you don’t need to hit 40 and let it all go. I can wear a damn crop top if I want to, I don’t care what age I am and I think that too is becoming more acceptable thanks to today society.

I’m so glad that I live in the generation I do and that being a 50, 60 or even 70 year old woman doesn’t mean your life is over and that you can’t be beautiful. You can be beautiful, powerful and confident at any age whether you’re 20 or 80. I want to live like the Jennifer Lopez’s and Jennifer Aniston’s of this world and when someone asks me my age be proud to say I’m 38 because if one thing is promised we are all going to get old that is for certain.

When Two Become Three

When Two Become Three

So many times I have heard people say they ‘don’t want their child to be an only child’. Many assume they will have more than one child if they can, myself included. When deciding on having another child the worries are commonly based around money, logistics and space. So when discussing having two children with my partner, there was understandably a lot of emphasis on the practical side, whereas the emotional side was left on the side lines, only revisiting it when I was physically living the unexpected feelings I felt after giving birth for a second time.

I was 25 when I fell pregnant with my son. It was unplanned and I had only been with his dad a short time. From the start I was sure I was going to have a girl. I pictured myself braiding my daughters hair and getting mummy and me manicures together. I would naturally navigate towards the pink and girlie products in Mothercare – cute dresses and ballet pumps made my heart explode. It was gender stereotyping on steroids. By the time I went to my twenty-week scan I had convinced myself I was carrying a girl. I excitedly laid down on the hospital bed and said I wanted to know the sex of my baby (even though I already knew). The sonographer replied to let me know the baby was lying in an awkward position so she couldn’t yet decipher its sex. But I could. Staring me directly in the face on the screen was a clearer than day outline of ‘boy bits’. I pointed it out on the screen and she looked at me delighted and confirmed that I was correct; I was having a little boy.

I was going to be a single mum, and to a BOY. How? I had never understood boys, I didn’t even talk to my own brother anymore, yet I was expected to singlehandedly raise a boy?

Five months later I became a mum to a little boy. MY little boy, Theo.

He was huge and resembled a chubby ET, but I thought he was just beautiful, all 10lb 7oz of him (yes it was a vaginal birth-lucky me). Instantly, when I held him in my arms, any consideration that I was having a girl melted away.  This was my baby. This was always supposed to be my baby.

We navigated life together as a little family. He was settled and calm and had the loveliest nature. He was so big that he outgrew his Moses basket within 5 weeks.  I couldn’t sleep if he wasn’t in the room with me and I spent countless hours just staring at him as he slept peacefully. I couldn’t believe he was mine.

Life raising Theo was relatively chilled and really happy. He started football at 3 years old and I would sit in the cold and watch him. I never would have willingly watched football (I mean, there was a time where I would’ve assumed Robin Van Persie was a famous actor) but I could watch Theo all day. Every time he scored a goal he would run over and shout to me to check I had seen. When I watched him in his school plays (usually singing – which he hated) he would look to me and I would give him a thumbs up, he would smile and sing that little bit louder. Everyday, when he would come out of preschool and run into my arms. He would even get upset if I was to I go to the shops, making me promise I wouldn’t be too long.

We regularly had movie days, just the two of us. We would make a bed in the living room out of quilts and eat snacks whilst we watched film after film. At just 3 years old he would sit snuggling me, watching each film intently and giggling with me at the silly parts. I distinctly remember taking Theo to a museum when he was about 3. We spent the whole day exploring together, laughing and joking about which animal we looked like most and enjoyed tea and cake in the café. No tantrums and no boredom, he was my little angel, literally, and I was so proud to be his mummy.

So when I then fell pregnant, I assumed it would be the same all over again but double the affection, love and jokes. Right? Plus, Theo was so excited.  He would kiss my belly every time I picked him up or dropped him off anywhere. In the evenings he’d show my bump his favourite toys and rest them on it; his idea of sharing. It was too adorable for words. I was so excited (and to be honest unaware) of what was to come.

I gave birth to Phoebe in August 2016. When I first held her in my arms, the happiness I thought I would feel was overridden by guilt. Lying here in this hospital room holding my new baby with my partner by my side felt wrong. It was as if my heart wasn’t in the room; it was happily playing at nursery instead. All I could think about was Theo. I kept asking when I could see him, counting down the minutes until Tom went to collect him. I was so excited to just give him a cuddle and introduce him to his sister.  I told myself I would be fine once he saw her and if was just natural waves of postnatal hormones.

When he turned up I was desperate to squeeze him. I held my arms out, and to my horror he refused to cuddle me. In fact, he wouldn’t even look at me.   I gave him a playful poke and he pushed my hand off.  He looked at her, expressionless, told us he didn’t want to hold her, then sat in the corner and said he wanted to go home.  Despite my efforts he refused to talk to me and eventually Tom took him home. I felt disheartened, but also considered just how overwhelming it may have been for him. I told myself once we were home it would be fine; maybe the hospital was the wrong setting for introductions.

Once home, I quickly learned that the setting was not the issue. The baby was. Theo was feeling weird and I could tell. He was desperately trying to get everybody’s attention, even if it meant being naughty and making a scene. I hated anyone commenting on his behaviour.  I wouldn’t let Tom tell him off. I would go mad if anybody didn’t respond to his questions in 0.4 seconds.  The guilt I felt was overwhelming, and it was coming out irrationally by attacking anybody who didn’t walk in and give him their undying attention. I just wanted him to be ok, to the point where I started to spoil him. I would buy him sweets if he wanted some. I would buy him little toys he saw, clothes he liked, I even bought him a pink sparkly top that was 4 sizes too big because he said he really wanted it. I was desperate to make him feel better.

He was acting out.  Our previously unbreakable bond felt more than broken, it felt like it was smashed to pieces.  I had no idea how to help him, it was like putting shattered glass back together.  I followed all the advice I could find, the most common one to pop up was to spend time alone with him. I arranged to take him to the cinema and I was optimistic that it would finally feel like old times again. But he wouldn’t even talk to me, afterwards I suggested a McDonalds. He declined and added that he thought the movie was rubbish. I felt completely defeated.

In the meantime, all this energy spent feeling guilty about Theo had started to turn into a constant feeling that everything was wrong and not as it should be. The guilt turned to unease and I started to feel like something bad was going to happen. I would wake up 3 times a night to check all the doors were locked. I had phoebe sleep in my room to check she was ok and constantly went from room to room checking they were both breathing. I started to walk everywhere rather than drive so as to prevent an accident. I was absolutely exhausted and my weight dropped lower than it had ever been.

Furthermore, all this had stopped me bonding with Phoebe. I felt like I was betraying my son by doing so and I had an eerie feeling when I looked at her, as if she wasn’t mine. The difference in my experience after having Theo to after having phoebe was a complete contrast. I started to feel like I was a bystander watching myself play house. I was in complete emotional turmoil and worried constantly that I had ruined our relationship. I felt constantly confused. My mind felt overcrowded and busy.

I’m aware now that I was experiencing severe postnatal depression. And I’m certain it was sparked by the complete lack of awareness of how much my life would change and how badly Theo would react. I was completely naive. What’s more, early on I confided in a health visitor who told me I just needed a good tramadol to calm me down. After her response, I was convinced my feelings and behaviour were all normal and I was simply overreacting.

I couldn’t go on feeling how I was so I eventually went to the doctors. She immediately prescribed me anti depressants and referred me to an online CBT programme as the wait for a therapist was lengthy. It took a lot of hard work and persistance to feel better, and as my mood improved so did Theo’s, largely because phoebe was getting older and they could sometimes play together.

Over time he settled into the role of big brother. They would play for hours, laughing (sometimes fighting). When Theo would go to his dads, Phoebe was like a lost puppy for the weekend. They really are the best of friends. Now, nearly four years down the line I can’t remember it being any other way. I tried so hard to make things ‘normal’ for Theo when she came along, completely unaware that eventually, having a sister would be his normal. Spending time alone with them is a great tip, but ultimately, it just needs time, and the understanding that it’s all temporary and no child ever grew up with PTSD from the birth of their sibling. Theo and I are also back to being as close as we were before. We have fun together, movie nights and days out still, except now with a little added bonus; his sister.

It took around a year to truly feel bonded with Phoebe. I absolutely adore her. She has the craziest character and is pretty much a miniature version of myself. I never thought it would be possible to love any child as much as I loved Theo but I am living proof that it most definitely is.

Having a second baby was nothing like I imagined and it took a lot of adjusting. Not everyone feels it’s a struggle of course, I am just sharing my experience.

Most days, after collecting Theo from preschool, he would ask me when Phoebe was ‘going back’. Every time I explained that we were her family and she needed to live with us at home. One day, when Theo asked this I replied jokingly and said we were dropping her off on the way home. He protested and said it just wouldn’t be the same without his sister.  I knew then that it was all going to be ok.

To The Girl I Used To Be

To The Girl I Used To Be

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed with balancing life, relationships, work and being a good Mother to my two children. Imagine trying to carry six bags full of Tesco shopping, whilst walking a tightrope and reciting the 8 times tables backwards; that’s how I feel most days.  I often think back to my younger self and compare her to who I am now. I view myself then and myself now as two entirely different people, sometimes wishing I could be more like her again even though when I was, I wasn’t too fond of her.

I remember my Mum saying to me when I was a teenager that she had a dream that she was free.  She had no ties or responsibility and the feeling was amazing and one that she had forgotten.  It stuck with me because I had no idea what she meant at the time. Now, I understand just how possible it can sometimes be to miss that freedom from responsibility.

People used to say (before children) that I was selfish…and I was, because I could be.  Don’t get me wrong, if a friend or family member needed me, I would of course be there for them, but if I wanted to do something then I did it; regardless of consequences. If my parents asked me to babysit my younger brother on the same night of a huge party, then I would be politely declining. I used to put my own needs first, sometimes to a fault. I’m not bitter about the fact I can no longer do that anymore (I couldn’t think of anything worse than gracing a nightclub until the early hours) and being a mother is my biggest achievement to date, but how do I be a good mum and partner AND look after myself at the same time? That is the bit I find difficult. And where along the way did I lose my ability to be even remotely selfish? 

The love I have for my little family is too strong to not prioritise them, I want them all to be happy first and foremost. Consequently, self-care falls by the wayside. I truly find it to be one of the most challenging parts of parenting. When is it ok to put yourself first? Are you even supposed to ever again?

I used to tell myself that I needed to be less selfish, but I always ended up making the decision that suited me best. People would pull me up on it; ‘You must think about others Hayley’, ‘It isn’t all about you,’ ‘Here she goes, talking about herself again’, were things I heard often. At the time, I was always really miffed when someone mentioned just how self-absorbed I could be.  I would instantly jump to my own defence and justify myself into continuing to put myself first. In hindsight, I’m glad I did. And if I could go back, I would tell myself that from the age of 30 I won’t be able to be selfish, so it’s worth enjoying it. A quality I used to think was my weakness I now miss and wish I still had to a degree as it is now engrained in my mind that I MUST do it all, so my selfish side, or the ability to prioritise my wellbeing, always takes a back seat.

The issue is that my brain thinks I am failing as a mum if everyone else is not happy, fed, clean and clothed; it just seems that I don’t fit into that equation. I am sometimes so focussed on making my children and partner happy; making sure their lunch is made and clothes are washed, only to realise I have no clean clothes and I forgot to make my own lunch.  

My partner works very long hours, so without hesitation I will sit up with the children if they won’t sleep, same story if they get up early, I always insist on giving up my lay in even when he hasn’t had a long shift.  Whether this is habit I do not know, but it is the only way I feel I’m doing my job properly. Just for the record, my partner asks to take over all the time and is more than willing to do his share. This issue lies with me, and the fact that ever since I became a mum, I seem to accumulate an immense amount of guilt if I accept a hand and don’t complete everything myself, even if I don’t want to. My capacity to allow others to take the reins appears to have been left in my hospital room the day I brought my son home.

Maybe the way I feel is a common feeling amongst mothers, or maybe it is a consequence of my own experiences. Either way, I do sometimes wonder if the traditional ‘man/woman’ role is more engrained in us than we are aware.  Maybe, as women, we subconsciously think it is our job alone to satisfy everyone else’s needs. The trouble is, times have changed and commonly, women now contribute financially, me included.  Despite this, there still seems to be an immense societal pressure for women to take on the majority of the household and childcare duties.  I know of at least seven other mothers who feel the same way. I know of a few who also don’t of course, but it appears to be more common than not, when talking with others mums.   I am not saying it is the fault of husbands or partners at all, and this isn’t a feminist debate, I am simply stating that I think women feel as though need to do it all and end up feeling guilty if they don’t, even when help is offered. 

I’ve previously confided to my partner about how I feel which makes him frustrated. He asks why I do not just let him take over sometimes and why I decline his help. And he is right. How can I be so stressed and in need of a helping hand, whilst insisting I’m completely fine and don’t need said helping hand? It isn’t fair on him and it isn’t fair on me. I want to say ‘yes please do it this time’, but I just can’t seem to allow myself.

A natural progression in life is to mature, and with that comes responsibility. I don’t miss living recklessly and partying in Ibiza; in fact I don’t miss that at all. What I do miss is how much I cared for me.

There are plenty of qualities I have accumulated over the years as I have grown up which I am truly thankful for. For one, I am far wiser and a lot calmer in a crisis, but the thing I miss most is the raw ability to not care what anyone thinks. I used to speak my mind, shout my opinions and not let anyone walk over me. I rejected a lot of people’s opinions and justified that I was who I was and if someone thought I was odd or had said something unkind about me then that was their issue. I laughed at myself and I laughed at the negative opinions’ others may have had of me. Now, one negative opinion can ruin my week, and I don’t know why. I am so conscious of other people since becoming a parent, and I don’t like it. 

I feel remorseful for sometimes wanting to sit in a room on my own and read a book when my little boy wants me to watch him play a game or my daughter wants to show me a new dance, and I assume this is quite a natural feeling, but it is also one I should be listening  to. You only have to look at the conflicting messages society gives to mums to understand why it can be so confusing.  

Have a break/Don’t miss the special moments. Look after and have time for yourself/ You will have plenty of time to yourself later 

I just need a little moment to myself. It’s the little moments with your children that you will remember.

 It becomes exhausting.

If I sit down and start to relax I can guarantee I will suddenly remember an article I read which told me the years ‘fly by’ and how before I know it I will be a lonely old woman sat at home crying because my children won’t come around for tea. I am then unable and completely unwilling to have a bit of time to myself. 

Usually, I’d conclude my writing with some advice. But this time I have none. Prioritising myself is a work in progress. I need to retrain my mind so that I can reach a happy medium; a bit of my younger selves’ attitude would not be a bad thing and I hope to meet that girl again soon and come to a nice compromise.

I can only speak for myself and my situation and I am utterly blessed to have my two children; I wouldn’t change it for the world. But sometimes I do miss the old me. I sometimes grieve the girl I used to be.

This article is why I named this blog ‘Who’s Looking After Mum’.  Because sometimes I wonder, who is? 

5 New Born Must Haves

5 New Born Must Haves

Becoming a Mum comes with all types of challenges and the biggest one for me was where to start when it came to purchasing all the new gadgets and equipment I would need for our new addition. I was so excited to start but as we pulled up to Bump Start (our local baby store), I started to actually feel a bit nervous. What did I actually need to buy? As a first time Mum this was new territory for me. Of course there’s the obvious pram, bottles, car seat…but what about the not so obvious bits? Should we choose a Moses Basket or a Bedside Crib? Should we buy a baby bouncer? Did we even need one yet? Everyone gives you so many recommendations, but a lot of my friends and family had not had a baby in the last two years and things change so frequently on the baby market. 

Just a tip, most stores are extremely helpful when you go shopping for new baby stuff so don’t be afraid to ask for help! John Lewis actually do a baby appointment for free. You can go in (without buying a thing) and they will talk you through everything all types of baby products on the market to help you work out what will work best for you! Such a life saver, even if you end up buying from somewhere else! 

Anyway I did a lot of research on the must haves but really struggled to find recommendations on the necessities for a new Mum and the stuff I would just be throwing away money on buying. So I decided that once I had my little boy and I had tried and tested all the things I had purchased I would write a blog around everything I thought helped me in those early weeks. Please bear in mind, this is only an opinion on what I think worked for us and our baby (this isn’t a sponsored advert). All these product recommendations are genuinely my thoughts and opinions and things we use daily. 

Shnuggle Air Bedside Crib

First of all, we decided we wanted a bedside cot instead of a Moses Basket and the reason for this was purely because at least 3 friends had said after a month or so their baby out grew the Moses basket, so I took on board that information and went straight for the bedside crib. 

After much deliberation, we decide on the Shnuggle Air Bedside Crib. The reviews were fantastic, aesthetically pleasing and it has not disappointed! It’s sturdy and was extremely easy to build even for the note so technical among us (my husband).

This bedside crib has been incredible and Otis loves sleeping in it. There has never been a transition period, he literally slept in it straight away. The main thing I love is the fact that it is right next to me, so on nights he’s moaning or isn’t settling straight away (especially at 2am), I can lean over or stretch my arm out and comfort him without having to leave my bed. Which is AMAZING! Trust me, I can’t tell you enough how much of a luxury this is when you are exhausted! 

The crib comes with a mattress and a small section underneath that you can store nappies and wipes on, which is fab to keep some organisation among all the baby products and means it doesn’t take up space elsewhere. 

The crib does retail at £199.95 but in my eyes is absolutely worth every penny, especially as it will last him till at least 6 months. If you did wish to, it’s the only bedside crib which coverts in to a stylish cot using an add on Complete Sleep System. This eases the crib-to-cot transition and providing a safe and comfortable sleeping space for your baby right up until approx 2 years old.  


Having not purchased a Moses basket, I decided that I would need something that I could take around the house with me when we weren’t in our room. I had heard mixed reviews on the sleepyhead and at £120 my eyes watered thinking about something that was effectively just a blow up mattress! That being said, I am so so glad we did invest the money. The sleepyhead comes in two sizes 0-8 months and 9-32 months. We bought the 0-8 and again, it was something Otis loved straight away. It came everywhere with us due to its functionality, it’s a comfy spot that lets your baby sleep, rest, co-sleep, lounge, play, cuddle and enjoy tummy time.  It’s easy and light weight enough to be portable and take with you around the house or to other peoples houses and he seemed to just drop off straight away in there. 

I know some midwives are not a fan of these and I appreciate that opinion but as long as you use it safely, in other words, don’t leave them alone. The great thing is they can’t roll and the mattress is breathable and air can circulate. 

You can also buy additional covers to match your mood, room and style, which again is great for all the Mums that love that stuff like me! 


Snuggle Baby bath 

This bath is incredible, from 6 weeks Otis could pretty much sit up in it even though he couldn’t support his own head yet, so it made bath time so much easier! 

There’s a foam backrest that keeps your baby comfortable and cosy. A bum bump and anti-slip surface help to secure baby, making bath time much more enjoyable. The clever shape fully supports newborn babies and allows older babies to sit up and play, while the grippy feet help to keep the bath in place.

It also looks great in my bathroom and isn’t an eyesore. It is also an absolute steal at £24.99.

Jungle gym 

This is fairly straight forward and to think I wasn’t going to buy one until later! Otis loved this from really early on. Within a few weeks I found he was more alert and awake and I loved that I could pop him on his play mat and let him look at all the shapes and colours! My sister bought the one linked as a present at my baby shower, however there are obviously many different colours and variety’s on the market. Our one actually plays music and has a keyboard at the end so he can kick his feet and set of music as he plays which he loves. 

Tommee tippee baby bottle making machine

Another controversial product and obviously one for those who are bottle feeding. I am a first time Mum but I have four nieces and nephews, so for years I used to have them over night and have experienced the pain of making a bottle and having to cool it down all while dealing with a screaming baby! I didn’t realise these even existed, so when my husband stumbled across it and recommended we buy one, I JUMPED at the chance!  

Again this cost us £130 (for the updated version) Tommee Tippee digital machine but the older versions retail at £80. The machines makes bottles in 90 seconds and the only real difference between the two are the fact the newer one is quieter and has a digital screen which seems easier to use! 

Beware Midwifes and Heath Visitors don’t seem to be huge fans of them due to reviews about pipes rusting etc but if you keep your machine clean and change the filter regularly you will be fine. 

I know I said 5 products I couldn’t have lived without, but I can’t finish without mentioning a 6th item which I bought about a week before his due date and I’m so glad I did. Although I’m not breastfeeding I was told by a friend about breast feeding pillows. 

They mentioned that when feeding your baby they can get quite heavy and uncomfortable so this allowed you to take the weight off and rest them on a pillow that helped with support. Again, he loves it and I love it and when I am tired or he can’t get comfortable, this makes life so much easier. We also use it to help him sit up after feeds for a short period of time and at £14.99, I really couldn’t do without! I got mine from Amazon, but they sell them everywhere. 

I would also recommend buying dummies just to try them. I actually wasn’t going to. I was really torn as I had read a lot about people frowning upon babies with dummies and the fact that people use them as a a first resort to stop crying. First of all it’s totally your decision, however I cannot tell you what a life saver the dummies I purchased were (we used the Mam Dummies). I know not all babies take to them, but honestly he loved them and when he just needed some comfort they have been a god send. Let’s be honest, there will come a point where we won’t want him using them but I’m sure it will all be OK; I’ve never seen a 30 year old man sucking a dummy. I also recently read a lot about how dummies can help babies with colic and wind as they act as a type of indigestion remedy when they suck! Which again has been great for us as Otis has suffered from wind a lot in the beginning. 

As I say all babies are different so some of the products recommended may not work for you. Don’t stress too much because honestly you can buy stuff once they arrive and sometimes that can be a good thing as you will have a better understanding of what your baby likes. Now he’s a little older, I’m already thinking of the next stages and the new purchases I have to make…it’s never ending. Next it will be high chairs, weaning equipment, bowls, spoons etc, although that’s a few months away yet and a whole other blog post! 

9 weeks with a new born

9 weeks with a new born

I have a 9 week old baby and it is pretty amazing. Actually, correction, he is pretty amazing, being a mummy is pretty amazing and it’s something I will never take for granted (given how long it took me to get here). Sometimes it can be challenging and hard which is slightly worrying as I’ve been told that this is the easy part…APPARENTLY?!).

Don’t people just love to tell you that… “it only gets harder” … “you think you’re not sleeping? Just you wait?!” ….What is that!?!? Why do people think telling you your life is going to be crap and get crapper is OK when it comes to having a baby!? Thinking about it, that was something I heard throughout my whole pregnancy… “you’ll never sleep again” (to be fair that’s marginally true), “your life will change forever”, “forget going out or having fun”, “forget enjoying a nice meal with your husband” (eye roll)!

I love being a mum so far, don’t get me wrong it’s early days and I don’t want to sound annoying or like I’m gloating, but I waited a long time to get pregnant so it feels like the right time for me. That being said I know many women who don’t feel like that immediately, who don’t bond with their baby straight away or feel like their lives have totally changed and that is OK too. Maybe in a years time come back to me and I’ll have changed my tune…who knows!? Just know, what ever your situation and story, one thing we can all agree on is that there’s good times and there’s hard times.
Some days I have my shit together and were both bathed and out of the house by 10am and some days I haven’t brushed my teeth by midday and my baby is still wearing last nights baby grow. I envy Mums on Instagram that look like they have their shit together all the time, the ones who attend a different baby class everyday of the week.

It’s the first time I really understood the term “Mum Guilt” that I’ve heard so many other mothers talk about. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other Mothers around you and constantly questions yourself; Am I doing enough with my child? Is my child learning enough? Are they developing at the right pace?

Some days I look at Instagram and Susie Smith has been to baby yoga, baby sign and baby massage all by 12pm on a Monday, while I’ve eaten half a chocolate cake, have Doritos in my hair and my baby has been sick 4 times in a row. No judgement here.

I remember when I bought him home from hospital I didn’t really know anything about newborns, don’t get me wrong, I read a lot and I have two sisters and friends who obviously gave me lots of great advice but you’re never really prepared until you have that little baby in your arms. The hospital says you can go home, good luck, good bye and you’re ushered away from the maternity ward. I remember going home with this little person and thinking is he happy? Does he like our house? Is he glad I’m his Mummy? (Crazy lady I know).

Another thing that seems to come with motherhood is all the advise people dish out before you become a Mum, things I didn’t believe would be true but have turned out to actually be spot on. Here are the main ones I was told over and over again that are definitely true:
1- Leaving the house is a military operation (this is so so true!!!). It takes hours and you have to plan way in advance. If I have to leave the house by 10am, I’m up by 7am, no rolling out of bed anymore and gone are the days when I used to pop to the shops for a quick errand. Taking my buggy in and out of the car is the biggest ball ache and now walking is actually more appealing than driving.
2- Having sick on your clothing all the time becomes fairly normal. Vomit pre-baby used to make me feel sick. I would say at least 80 percent of my clothing has been covered in vomit at some point. I used to change every time he threw up on me, now I wipe it down with a wet cloth and continue my day.
3- You change nappies all the time. This one I heard a lot but just presumed it was an exaggeration. How can anyone that small wee or poo that much but 10 times a day is no exaggeration.
4- You’ve never been so happy to hear a burp or discuss a poo. Me and my husband actually cheer when our baby burps! Pooing is a hot topic in our house now…has he done a poo today? Was it too runny? Was it too hard? Sexy talk hey! On the topic of poo no one actually prepares you for your first poo explosion and how the hell it reaches the back of their neck and all down their legs? Also why does it always happens at either 3am when your half asleep or just as you’re about to leave the house.
5- When they smile at you it is the best feeling in the world. I can confirm 100 per cent hands down the best thing in the whole world. Never gets old, even on bad days when I’m tired, that smile makes my life!

I’ve also learnt there are so many different views and opinions out there on hot topics such as bottle feeding, breast feeding, dummies, self soothing and with that comes a whole new level of self doubt that you need to face. That said, I just try to remember that I’m doing what works best for us, however I know as Mums we all have days where we question ourselves.
It is fast approaching the time of leaving my little boy for the first evening over night in a few weeks and I am already questioning if it’s too early or too soon. I did the stupid thing of goggling “when is it ok to leave your baby?” and it seems that there is no right answer. Lots of women said they did it after a few weeks, some a few months and some a few years and some still haven’t left their baby. Who am I to judge, I suppose it’s when it feels right for you.

So with 9 short weeks under my belt I’m going to make myself a promise; to remind myself daily that I am an awesome Mummy. To know that I love my little boy and he definitely loves me (judging by that big smile) and to step away from google at all costs!! Remember its not easy being a Mother, if it were easy Fathers would do it!

The Long Haul

The Long Haul

Travelling tips for anyone going to Orlando!

I have travelled to Orlando with my children twice. The first time I travelled when my children were 3 years and 10 months old and the second time, they were 5 and 2 years old.  We made fantastic memories in a place that is special to me for many reasons, but I’d be lying if I said it was all eating Mickey shaped cookies and skipping down Main Street. There were times me and my partner looked at each other and internally screamed.  Please be aware that I am no travel expert, this is simply me sharing some suggestions which I found helped make my holiday a little less stressful.

Before I start I’ll quickly summarise the details of both trips. Both times we opted to stay in a villa, and flew with Virgin Atlantic.  The first time I booked everything separately; the villa through trip advisor – because it was well reviewed and was a relatively good price – and the flights direct through Virgin’s website.  The villa was located in Lindfields which was less than a 10 minute drive to Disney.  I was also attracted to this villa because Lindfields is somewhere I stayed as a child.  I found however, that in the 25 years since staying there the area had aged and had become slightly run down and whilst the villa gave us everything we required, it was very dated with limited facilities (such as a working TV). The second time, however, I booked a package through Virgin Holidays and received an allocated villa located in Davenport.  Location wise we were much further out, with Disney being about a 25 minute Drive and Universal roughly the same, though I actually found that this allowed us to see a bit more of Orlando and all that it had to offer. The second villa was far more favourable; located in a secure gated community and brand-new décor, a huge pool and all working facilities.  I was really hesitant to book a package because the idea of not seeing the villa beforehand really worried me, but I’m really glad I did and definitely would again. Both of these locations were in Kissimmee. 

My first trip was in June 2016 and my second was December- January 2018/9. The weather in June was scorching hot until around 3pm when it would pour with rain until the next day.  Some days it would just rain and thunder all day.  This was a big shock to me as I thought Orlando would be at its hottest in June, but the humidity the heat can bring in peak summer months can also mean rain and thunderstorms are common. In my experience, the weather was far better in December/January.  It was roughly 21-25 degrees each day with just one small rainstorm gracing us within the 2 weeks we were there.  The evening would get quite chilly though so we always made sure to carry a light jacket or jumper. 

Come Armed with QUARTERS!

I’m putting this point before anything else because it cannot be stressed enough. If you are driving to accommodation you will pass tolls and be required to pay with quarters and if you only have dollar notes this will be a problem as they do not have people working on the tolls so you are expected to have the correct change.  If you don’t pay you will be fined. I would suggest using some notes at the airport to buy a drink and ask for some quarters with your change. If you’ve been before then I’m sure you’ll already be aware of this golden rule, but we had been before and the second time around we forgot all over again and ended up having to park up whilst my partner ran to the nearest shop! It was quite frustrating when you’re tired from a long flight and have two tired children in tow!

The Flight 

Flights used to be a relaxing experience; drinks and food at the airport and winding down with a book or film throughout the flight. It doesn’t take a genius to know that travelling with kids will give you the opposite experience. I arrived armed with goodies for my children, but generally you just have to wing it as best you can, it will just be easier if you have a few have supplies to help.  I’ve listed some below. 

–          I took picture cards and we played snap, an easy game that even my 2 year old enjoyed. 

–          I packed a notebook and some crayons for each so they could draw. I also used them to play noughts and crosses and hangman with my eldest.

–          We flew with virgin and their entertainment was fabulous, but children can be very picky, so I downloaded things they like on my iPad beforehand just in case. Also, games on the iPad kept them quiet for a while. 

–          I tried to keep my children awake for most of the flight and timed any naps to coincide with the time in Orlando. It’s so tempting to allow them to sleep for hours but it will make life more difficult once you’ve arrived. 

–          Sweets and crisps are good snacks that can be used in an emergency. My little girl had a screaming fit and a couple of jelly tots saved the day (and the ears of other passengers). 

–          We bought the children their own headphones as the first time around the ones provided by the airline were too big for their heads and stopped them wanting to watch anything. 

–          Lastly, don’t worry about other passengers getting annoyed too much. Some passengers may take issue with children, but if you’re getting a flight to Orlando you’d have to live under a rock to not know they are filled with families. 

Tackling the Time Zones 

My best friend is cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic and has said her top tips for jet lag are to go straight into the time zone you are flying into and to stay hydrated. To elaborate, things as simple as having breakfast at breakfast time or having a shower in the evening.  Our flight got us to Orlando around mid-afternoon so we got to our villa, dropped our bags off and then headed out for dinner. We left unpacking until later to prevent the children from falling asleep. I found that going straight out kept the children more alert and reduced the chances of them falling asleep! If you are staying at a Disney resort I would suggest popping to a park as it will most definitely keep your children alert. Obviously an early night will be needed but try and make it a reasonable night-time hour in Orlando’s time zone to avoid waking too early. The next day-our first full day – we didn’t visit any of the parks and instead did something a bit lower key. We got up and went out to Walmart and then visited Disney springs and had a drive round and explored, followed by dinner and an early night ready for a day at a park on our second full day. This also helped us gain our bearings a little bit and pick up on things we wanted to do.

Breakfast, Snacks and Dinner

Everyone has different desires when it comes to this, it’s quite a personal choice, but there are things that are at least worth being aware of before you go. I have listed some below.

–          The cost of dining in Disney is pricey.  We had Breakfast at Chef Mickeys and dinner at The Crystal Palace.  Both were buffets and came to around $160 with a tip for a family of four, so budget well, as we were quite surprised when we got our bill!  Out of the two I would suggest the breakfast as you meet all of the characters, have great food and the kids get to sing and dance a little bit! The Crystal palace offered the same interaction with fewer characters as it was just those of Winne the Pooh.  The food was good quality and variety but it is clear you are paying to meet the characters.

–          Even non character dining is pricey.  Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs cost us around $200 with a few cocktails and starters, but the food was fantastic.  The nachos there are to die for! We mixed a few expensive meals in with a few cheaper ones and it didn’t break the bank!

–          The restaurants I enjoyed the most outside of Disney parks were; Chillis, Millers Ale House, Applebees and Cracker Barrel. Our bill in all was no more than around $50 for a family of four, and the food is fantastic, offering a wide variety of different options. 

–          Fill up on breakfast! The first time we went to Orlando we ate breakfast at home to ‘save money’ but ended up spending significantly more when we were hungry two hours later and saw the Mickey Rice Krispy bites on display! The snacks inside the parks can be costly and can quickly add up if you’re filling a hole until dinner time. So, the second time we decided to eat a big breakfast out every day to fill ourselves up, in the hope of reducing the need for snacking.  It worked a charm. We spent about $27 on an all you can eat buffet breakfast for the four of us and then took our own snacks bought from Walmart to eat throughout the day. In comparison to eating a smaller breakfast, then immediately buying snacks and drinks for a family of four at $20 – $25 a time and repeating this up to three times throughout the day, we were saving a significant amount of both money and time.  Golden Corrall breakfast buffet is out of this world and by far my favourite.  A family of four will cost about $30.  


The first bit of shopping we did was at Walmart.  We stocked up on essentials like water (the water in Orlando doesn’t taste great), snacks and pool inflatables and games. We went to Publix the first time around only to realise in the last few days that Walmart was actually a lot cheaper and three times the size. Walmart is a lot like a Tesco Extra in that it sells almost anything.  This includes a huge clothing section and a large Disney and Universal related souvenir section. I always buy Disney pyjamas from Walmart as they’re about $5 a pair and last ages! Character key rings, cuddly toys and clothing are all really low-priced in Walmart and I would suggest it if you want to buy little gifts for people back home. I actually bought a grumpy T-shirt as a nightie from Walmart four years ago and I still have it! If you’re looking for cheaper souvenirs give some of the gift stores a try as well!

Florida has two shopping malls; The Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia. Personally, I felt the Mall at Millenia contained slightly more upmarket shops and for me personally with two children, I was on a budget and didn’t buy much.  The Florida mall was my favourite of the two as it fitted my budget (this is an unpopular opinion, most people would disagree with me).  Generally though, outlets were my favourite shopping experience.  The deals you can get on amazing brands and designers is incredible and I ended up buying myself a Kate Spade tote and Michael Kors purse for just $200!

The Parks

–          Disney parks charge $20 a day for parking but this can be used on any car park in one day. For instance, if you want to do two parks in one day you won’t need to pay again.  

–          Universal studios charges $25 dollars a day for parking so make sure you budget for this as we didn’t realise and ended up with less cash than we planned!

–          You are allowed to take snacks and drinks in.  Obviously in places like Epcot you will want to try some of the foods (churros in Mexico to be precise) , but on the days we had more pricey meals we tended to eat snacks from home throughout the day to even out the cost.

–          The parks offer refillable cups.  They are $16 a day and you get a flask which you can refill with any drink whenever you want at any drinks cart or machine (you get to keep the cup too).  Don’t do what I did and think you can reuse it every day, they have a chip in which can register which day the drink was purchased for (I was gutted).

–          All parks offer free water refills, worth taking a bottle you can refill as the water fountain water tastes a bit dodgy! 

–          You aren’t allowed selfie sticks in the parks.  Ours was confiscated!

–          Download the Disney and Universal apps so you can see waiting times for all rides.  The Disney app is essential as it allows you to book dining reservations and fast passes up to 30 days in advance, which helps you plan your days.  With Disney you get 3 free fastpasses a day.  Universal doesn’t offer daily fast passes but instead you can purchase an express pass for the day which is unlimited. Be warned though, they’re pricey! We did single rider on a few rides that the children didn’t want to go on and then did baby swap! Knocked hours off our waiting times! 

–          All the evening fireworks are amazing, but Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom is a must see (spoiler; I cried and I never cry!)

A couple of random tips to end;

– If you’re staying in a villa take your rubbish bin out the morning its due. We put ours out the night before like we do at home and raccoons destroyed it. It was everywhere.

– Visit the Old Town on Saturday night. They have a mini classic car convoy and live music. My children loved it! They also have some really good shopping there and it has an old country feel to it.

– Krispy Kreme’s are $6 for 12 glazed rings in Walmart.

– Wear comfortable shoes around the park as you walk so much. I did 32,000 in one full day in the Magic Kingdom.

–          Luggage trolleys at the airport cost money to use.

To finish, I just want to say, if you have a trip to Orlando booked, I’m extremely jealous!