Put the phone down and look up.

I’m setting myself a challenge. To put the smart phone down and look up more. Live in the moment if you will. It sounds crazy that I even have to set myself this challenge, but what with my blog, the Facebook groups I run, my love of scrolling through Instagram and my self-diagnosed addiction to all things social, I need to nip it in the bud and focus on what is important.

 
My daughter.

 
A poll was recently taken by Digital Awareness UK of 2,000 11-18 year olds and, amongst many other upsetting stats, it showed that:

 

“36% of pupils asked their parents to put down their phone… [of these pupils]…46% said their parents took no notice while 44% felt upset and ignored.”

 
I don’t want to be in that 46%.

 
Everyone says it all goes so fast and I’m now worried that I’ll miss the bits I am lucky enough to be around for, when not at work and when she’s not at her dads, because either she or I or both of us have our noses buried in a tablet or a phone.

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It’s unnecessary. It’s antisocial and it’s not how I want to parent.

 
Mum guilt is a bitch and there’s so many things I feel guilty about but can’t change. This, however, I can.

 
So, from school pick up to bedtime, my phone is going away. The tablet is only being used for half an hours entertainment if needs be whilst I get dinner ready (my tv is currently kaput) and my thrilling social life (ha ha) will just have to wait.

 
Who else fancies joining me? Let me know in the comments so we can be strong together!

I’m sorry I’m the mum you hate. 

I’ve recently realised that I’m one of those mum’s. 

I sewed buttons and cuffs on one of Charlotte’s dresses and hunted down gold balloons so she could be Veruca Salt for Reading Week’s fancy dress day.  

Veruca Salt with Golden Egg and Golden Ticket of course.

I sent my daughter to school on Red Nose Day with her face painted. 

Just a quick face paint job before school.

And I have just spent the last weekend
and a couple of evenings
cultivating a floral masterpiece that is Charlotte’s Easter bonnet. 

She has had a hand in all these ideas, and is particularly fussy about what chicks and rabbits go where but, I realise, I’ve put too much effort in. 

Maybe the most over the top Easter Bonnet ever made?

This is not because I have oodles of spare time after I’ve been to the gym and had a manicure(I wish)

This is not because I want my daughter to win the
Easter bonnet competition I promise.

It’s because I actually love doing these things and there’s pretty much no other time I get to do this stuff! 

As a single parent who has 6/7 evenings stuck at home whilst Charlotte sleeps, it’s sometimes a choice between being creative and making something that Charlotte will be proud of or watch yet another box set on Netflix (If you haven’t watched Frankie and Grace yet, get on it)…or even more dangerous upload a dating app and chat to a variety of men who will all, I can guarantee, turn out to be knobheads at one point or another. 

Unfortunately my job doesn’t give me much room for manoeuvre when it comes to creativity either, unless I manage to sneak through a document typed in Calibri rather than Arial up the sign off chain. 

So, rather than pop to the supermarket to buy something ready done or not do something at all, I look like the ‘pain in the arse mum’ who has spent ages helping and curating something, has spent £100s on craft paraphernalia (I didn’t, I somehow already had everything in stock) and may even have her own glue gun (I do).

And for this, I’m sorry.

If it helps you to forgive me at all, I have not once baked cakes for the cake sale and Charlotte’s decided she now hates the Easter bonnet. Naturally.

Sayonara 2016, welcome 2017.


Happy new year everyone. I hope you had a good one last night, whatever that may mean. 

Despite being childfree, I spent the evening at my best friends house and drank absolutely nothing. I got back home just as Big Ben chimed on the car radio so went inside, put my pyjamas on and went to bed.

But all of it was exactly how I wanted to ‘celebrate’ at that moment. This week, let alone this year, has been emotionally draining for so many reasons so being with my best mate and having an ‘early’ night was perfect for me this year. 

Way better than strappy high heels!

Like everyone else, 2016 has been pretty shitty.

Personally I’ve been in pain for 6 months or so with gallbladder trouble, I’ve been messed around by more men than I can count, work has been awful and has not got better.

I also went on a stressful holiday to Lanzarote which was the least relaxing holiday ever. My flat sale fell through three goddamn times.

Charlotte was diagnosed with coeliac disease in April which created so much overwhelm for me I went into a bit of a decline and along with all the rest of the world’s goings on it could seem like a bad year but… 

On the plus side, I went on an amazing holiday to Portugal with my friends, I was also lucky enough to go to France with friends in October who also had had a new baby early in the year. 

I had my gallbladder removed fairly swiftly (for the NHS) and I’m on the mend, I’ve also lost a few lbs because I can’t eat very much! I’ve also worked out how to make my hair look awesome (post to come on this shortly!). I had a perfect week with Charlotte before she started school. Charlotte actually started school and is thriving, which is a joy to watch and we’ve just about got the hang of her diet with support from school and all of our friends and family who have been on a steep learning curve like me. 

Oh and the two big ones, of course, I got divorced and I have a boyfriend. The latter has not been without its stresses (the former hasn’t either)  because he’s also had a really difficult past few months but hopefully this is something we can both work through. I’ve had a lovely weekend away with him which was perfectly timed when we both needed to escape from norm. 

My own #bestnineof2016

So, looking forward, I’m optimistic that there will be lots of positives in 2017 and I will be able to cope with the negatives whenever they arise. I am starting a bullet journal (for the third time), and have just started the KonMari method of decluttering to organise myself better and life *is* going to be easier this year. 

Last year my main goal was to say ‘no’ more and I think I’ve done well but still need to work on this…along with my 10 other new goals for this year! 

What are your goals this year? Let me know in the comments and here’s to a fantastic, fulfilling 2017! 

I get by with a little help from my friends. 

Sometimes when I’m sat alone on a Saturday night I do question whether I have very many friends. Sad and depressing I know, but being a one parent family can sometimes be a quiet and lonely life. The evenings especially so, as you know that that’s when everyone else is having their family time, or couples time, or some lucky buggers are even free to go out in the evening without having to book a babysitter weeks in advance and you’re stuck at home with a sleeping child upstairs.

However, my perspective changed dramatically this weekend, after Charlotte was admitted to hospital and we had to stay in overnight. I now realise more than ever before that I do have many, many friends.

Poorly girl.
With these friends we may not be able to meet up very often, we may have known each other for ever, we may not have actually known each other that long, we may have met because of babies or toddlers, or work or where we live, we may have met through the powers of Facebook, we may not exactly even remember when or how we came to know each other but, that night I had so many offers of genuine help that I could feel this amazing support system around me and, oh my goodness, did I need it right then.

Those who didn’t live close were messaging straight away, checking on me and Charlotte and giving me strength to cope with the situation. Those who were close were offering practical help like phone chargers (life lesson no 1: never go to out of hours with 9% battery), dog walking, popping to the shops for food and drink or a toothbrush or just desperately needed moral support. 

They all had their own stuff going on that evening and they were willing to stop that stuff, even briefly, and help me and that made me feel very honoured.

Luckily we came out of hospital the next day and, despite more tests that still need to be done, lots of things returned quickly to normal. But those 12 hours of hell really made me appreciate those around me and realise that I am really lucky and that I do have my so called ‘village’. 

So, in this season of gratitude, good will and thanksgiving (a bit late I know), I want to thank all my friends, from the bottom of my heart. Because without them I wouldn’t have made it through half the challenges I’ve faced and I’m sure they’ll help me through the next lot too. 

To Elf or not to Elf, that is the question.

This time two years ago Amber the Elf started to visit us during advent and left little notes with little treats in the gorgeous advent bunting I had bought.  Nothing big. Just a little chocolate, a hair clip or something we could go and do that day. Coordinating that was bloody hard enough work!

Love having a fireplace I can hang these on.

This year, for some unknown reason…or the fact that I’m an overachiever who has a lot of time on her hands at the moment (still off work after surgery)…I was umming and ahhing about doing the full Elf on the Shelf experience.

I asked on forums, I asked on my Facebook page and after some mum’s admitting they got bored of it quite quickly and knowing that I can be quite a lazy mummy, especially at the end of the day (especially after a glass of wine), I asked myself why fix something that isn’t broken? 

During my internal debate and after approximately 1000 hours on Pinterest (ref. Time of work again) I did, however, find out about the Kindness Elves which is a cute, fluffy version of the slightly demonic looking, mischievious Elf on the Shelf but instead of being spied on to check whether the child is being good or bad, they spread kindness and suggest good deeds that help others which sits a lot better with me than the ethos of an elf spying on the child.

I have now amalgamated our original Amber the Elf with a splash of Kindness Elves and have found a concoction I’m happy with. So happy in fact that Amber has even written her first poem to say hello again. 

Amber the Elf’s first poem.

Let’s just hope I can keep this up for 24 days and Charlotte starts to sleep through the evening so I don’t have to hurriedly hide things that I have already set up at 10.30pm. 😬 

Happy December everyone! Would love to hear if you have your own traditions in the run up to Christmas.

The gall of it…

Two days ago I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed. It was planned as I’ve been having issues
with it for a few months but up until the very last minute I didn’t think about the fact that I was about to go into hospital to actually have an organ removed, and when I did I started crying. I realised that I had organised for my daughter to be looked after for the first few days but I hadn’t actually thought to make sure that I would be looked after. 

My mum was dropping me off at hospital and would then pick me up after all was done but it dawned on me that I’d be waking up in the recovery room on my own because, stupidly, I didn’t think I’d need anyone there.  My boyfriend would have been there if he could but has been working away and is poorly himself, my mum and dad reacted like it was just another normal day and nothing out of the ordinary was happening, my best friend is out of the country feeling very helpless as she couldn’t be there but it was my own fault.  I’d pretended that I’d be ok, I’d pretended that I can cope with being on my own all the time but as you’re walking towards the anaesthetists room in a backless gown, compression socks and slippers you kind of wish that someone else would be walking with you. 

Nothing sexier than compression socks

I did wake up on my own, in a lot of pain and, after crying because I couldn’t breath without it hurting, the nurse asked if anyone was with me I just started crying all over again.  She then asked if anyone was coming to see me and I had to say that I didn’t know and cried a bit more. I was all alone at one of the most vulnerable times and I’d let that happen. 

I had to stay in over night as me and morphine do not get on well and my blood pressure dropped quite drastically.  I did get a visit from the boyfriend who looked almost as broken and tired as me but it was a lonely few hours waking up expecting to have slept for hours however looking at the clock and realising it was only 45 mins. 

I am now at my parents house because, as Mum had to help me get my shoes on when picking me up, I think they realised I’d probably not survive on my own straight away and they have been looking after me ever since. 

It has taught me something though, that I really should put myself first more often. Or at least a close second after Charlotte because there are times when you just can’t do everything yourself and sometimes you need to accept that and just ask for help.

10 reasons why having a messy car is a good thing.

A few weeks ago Charlotte and I went on a trip down to Devon to visit some friends. She said she had a tummy ache the night before but, unfortunately, because of her Coeliac Disease this can be a common occurrence so I have to say I kissed her goodnight and hoped it would go away by the morning.

 

It didn’t, she woke saying she was feeling sick, but, yet again I dismissed it especially as she ate a tub of yoghurt! So I gave her some calpol and packed her in the car along with our luggage.

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It started so well…

25 miles from home on a bypass with no lay-bys she began complaining of feeling sick again so I just said we’d stop for some food soon and she was probably hungry. Turns out she wasn’t hungry, she was actually sick and proceeded to vomit over herself and my car.

 

After driving another 4 miles before finding a lay-by, I pulled in and ran around to her side of the car. It was a massacre, she’d covered everything so I looked around for anything that could help me and, because I’m a lazy, messy mum and my car is an outpost of my kitchen, bathroom cabinet, wardrobe and toy cupboard combined I found everything I needed.

 

Multi suface cleaner wipes for the chair and car seat. Check.

 

Half a bottle of water for Charlotte to wash her mouth out with. Check.

 

Tesco carrier bag to put all contaminated items in. Check.

 

Change of clothes for her. Check.

 

Raincoat for me as it was also pissing it down. Check.

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My ingenious homemade sick bucket…craft bloggers will be quaking in their boots! 
This life event made me realise that actually a messy car isn’t so bad.  Yes, it can be embarrassing when you get tricked into having to give a non-parent a lift somewhere but I also came up with 10 reasons it’s actually essential that your car is messy.

 

  1. You will always have baby wipes somewhere in the car. This can clean sticky fingers, sticky faces, sticky dashboards, sticky steering wheels (hey, I’m not one to judge!)
  2. You can fashion a miniature sick bucket for a miniature human being because once bitten, twice shy.
  3. You will always have reading material. That time when you’re stuck on the M5, everyone’s turned their engines off and your phone battery dies. What’s better than Biff and Chips ‘Sit me up’ or an old cereal box that was an art project from nursery.
  4. You will also always have something to eat. Granted it may have been on the floor under the seat for an undetermined amount of time but, if it ever gets to the point where you’re contemplating a Bear Grylls type survival technique, fear not. That half pack of Wotsits will keep you alive for at least another half hour.
  5. You will always have a coat. It may not be for the right season or go with what you’re wearing but it’s another layer so stop whinging.
  6. Your child will also have a spare set of clothes should you need them. Maybe a ‘hold on, we’re just near the services’ accident, or a ‘just take a little sip and then put the lid back on’ accident…whichever you will definitely be able to change them. Ok, the tights might be a bit small but no one will know under the Tangled fancy dress outfit.
  7. And speaking of fancy dress outfits you will never be caught short at nursery’s Pirates and Princesses days that you heard nothing about until that morning. That blunt eyeliner rolling around your footwell is perfect to draw a couple of scars and an eyepatch! Voila!
  8. About to send your car for an MOT and realise you don’t have any windscreen wash? Rather than being charged £5 for them to fill it up for you so it passes just empty all the half drunk bottles of Evian into the water tank in the lay-by before you get to the garage (and then use a baby wipe to clean your hands).
  9. If you can’t stand to hear ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ one more time then have a feel down the side of your seat and you will definitely be able to find a CBeebies CD or a Greatest Hits of Bonnie Tyler CD there. Pick whichever will make your ears bleed least.
  10. Hair not quite sitting the way you want this morning? Dig down the back of the passenger seat and there will definitely be two Peppa Pig hair clips and, if you’re lucky, a headband with fluorescent pigtails protruding from the top. New look, sorted.

 

You’re welcome people!

Have I missed anything off? Let me know what you have found in your footwell recently in the comments below!

First days of school.


We’re three days in so I think I can officially say we’ve survived school so far!! (OK, so officially they’ve only been half days and I’ve been working from home but we’re both still alive so please indulge me!)

So far, to date, we have only had: 

3 tears – hers not mine. 
2 grazed knees 
1 grazed chin
1 hair clip lost 
3 tantrums over kinder eggs at the end of the day. 

All fairly standard yes?! 

The tears were, bizarrely, this morning as I started to walk away. I think this may be the slow realisation that she’s got another 14 years of this routine before she’s free! And now I’m crying because I’ve just realised that too! 

I’m a bit nervous about still working my 30 hour weeks now she’s at school but, thank goodness for flexible working, I’ll still be able to drop her off everyday and pick her up at school finishing time three days a week. The rest of the time will be in the hands of after school club.  

I’m also, selfishly, a bit nervous about whether I’ll make any friends at the school gates. I didn’t make it to the ‘new parents’ social over the summer and the next one is on a Tuesday at 8pm so think that’s unlikely too but hopefully I will spot a few friendly faces and get chatting to some other real life parents. No fake yummy mummies here please! 

So my baby, who turned 5 ten days ago is at school. 

Bloody hell. 

Proud mummy.

I hope she’s ready. I hope she’ll love it. I hope she makes life long friends or, at least primary school long friends. I hope she’ll be reading in the next few months which will blow my mind and I hope that her writing will develop even further than it has already. But most of all, I hope that she will grow and develop into an amazing, bright, well-rounded child who aspires for great things to happen. 

That might seem a bit too much but I know she’s got it in her. 

Maybe she’ll inspire her mum to do great things too. 

I’d love to know how everyone else’s first weeks have gone. Hope you’ve survived too! 

Living for the weekend – mum style.

This morning I have, so far, done two loads of washing and hung them out, cleaned my bathroom, unblocked a u-pipe (or whatever it’s called), been adorned with stickers, watched crap kids programmes and had the obligatory morning argument with Charlotte. 

Despite all this I really do live for my weekends at the moment and this one is no different. 

I’ve had a pretty rubbish week. A scan which showed I have gallstones (even though that wasn’t actually what they were looking for), a hot and sweaty trip down to London, a horrendous pain in my abdomen that has lasted three days and counting, which apparently has something to do with the aforementioned gallstones. Work is just awful at the moment. We’ve had tantrums every evening either due to over tiredness or the heat and I’ve also been messed around by yet another sociopath. So yeah, it’s been emotional. 

So I’m hoping this weekend is better. 

Whether I have Charlotte or whether it’s one of my child free weekends I’m determined to make the most of them so after a bit more tidying up we’re off out to find a gluten free and now low fat/no fat lunch and then heading to a street party in the heart of Warwick. Then dinner with a friend. 

I will not let one shit week crush me but if next week could be better, that’d be great! 

Also I’m starting Blurt Foundation’s #365daysofselfcare challenge as I know I’m rubbish at looking after myself and it’s becoming apparent I need to for my health and sanity! Come and join in with me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The perils of being a working mum. 

Today I left the house in my usual work attire. I’ve given up on trousers and skirts and dresses are the choice at the moment. 

At 9.15 however, I realised, as I nonchalantly ran my hands down my legs, that I had one horrendously hairy leg and one beautifully smooth leg! 

Granted this has meant I’ve had a warmer leg due to the Baltic conditions of works air con blasting out, but this is definitely one of the perils of being a working mum. No time to do any one job properly. 

Let me take you back…

A couple of months ago I bought an epilator. I’d heard good things about them, I’d also heard bad things about them but thought – ‘I’ve had a child, the pain can’t be that bad’. Oh how wrong I was!!

If you have never heard of an epilator or tried it it is a torture implement that I have voluntarily purchased. However, now I have spent a significant amount of money on it the Yorkshire genes in me insist I get use from it. 

Whoever invented the epilator either has an abnormally numb body or is actually the devil. 

To cut a long story short I started my second attempt at using it last night in the hope it would be less painful and quicker. I had been assured this would be the case.

Despite the gin and tonic I had consumed that evening and the ibuprofen I’d taken because of my headache (a great mix I know!) it still felt like somebody was plucking each of my hairs from my body slowly with minute tweezers…oh wait…

After completing one leg I got up to have a breather and wipe the tears away and promptly stubbed my toe, shouted ‘fuck this shit’ and watched another new episode of Orange is the New Black whilst holding an ice pack to my swollen toe. 

So this is how I now have one gorilla leg and one as smooth as a baby’s bum. But in order to get a matching pair I have to go through the whole ordeal again on the other leg and I’m not quite ready for that yet so this evening I’m still Tarzan on one leg and Jane on the other. 

I will sort it before Monday though…hopefully.