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. 

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30 things I’ve learnt since being 30.

It was my birthday last week and I’m now the ripe old age of 32.  A huge amount seems to have happened over these past two years, some of which is documented on this very blog as I started writing just after my 30th birthday.  I feel like I have learnt a lot, sometimes the hard way and some I have just happened upon through pure fluke so I’ve jotted them down to remind me.  Some are a bit deep, others entirely the opposite but all are true to me.

  1. Having children doesn’t mean you must cut your hair shorter. I for one look awful with shorter hair.
  2. I can, pretty much, make it through any challenging situation…just.
  3. You only live once. A cliché but a damn true one so make the most of it!
  4. Your health matters, so pay attention to it.
  5. Experimenting is a good idea in all areas of your life…food, fashion, f…(you get the idea).
  6. Making a mistake is not the end of the world.
  7. Tell your real friends you love them.
  8. Unfollow or unfriend people off Facebook or Instagram whose posts irritate you.
  9. I still don’t like goats cheese no matter how many times I try it.
  10. If I stop moving I seize up and it’s a lot more difficult to get going again.
  11. You will meet amazing friends in the strangest places if you are willing and open to find them.
  12. I wear my heart on my sleeve which can sometimes means it gets bruised more easily..
  13. Earl Grey tea is actually very nice.
  14. My wardrobe now has less clothes that are better quality, rather than the other way around.
  15. Same with my make up.
  16. Bright lipstick isn’t actually that scary.
  17. Sometimes I would rather eat an amazing salad that something deep fried.
  18. Saying ‘No’ and standing your ground is amazingly empowering.
  19. You are allowed to aspire to be in a job which you love…goals are good.
  20. Dresses actually suit me much better than trousers.
  21. Being selfish isn’t always a bad thing.
  22. Doing something good for someone (even if very small) is one of the best ways to boost your mood.
  23. I now ‘mum dance’ but I still do it anyway.
  24. All parents are winging it.  They are lying if they tell you other wise.
  25. Despite all my body hang ups people still seem to find me attractive, therefore I shouldn’t worry about them so much.
  26. I’m now much less tolerant of just smiling and nodding.
  27. My eyes are my best feature. (Sorry boobs)
  28. Netflix is definitely worth the membership fee.
  29. Being a single mum means my daughter is my best friend and my enemy number 1 all at the same time.
  30. Being a single mum is incredibly hard work but incredibly rewarding.

Barefaced

I never thought of myself as a ‘make up’ person.  I just wear mascara because as a ginger/blond-ish person I generally look half asleep if I don’t. I wear some sort of base just so that my rosy cheeks don’t make me look like I’ve been on the wine all day (I promise I haven’t!) and so it covers some of the dark circles under my eyes, but that is usually it. I was also briefly an Avon rep but had to give it up as I was spending all/more of my earnings on the very same make up I was supposed to be selling, but I definitely wasn’t a ‘make-up’ person…or so I thought.

However, a couple of weeks ago, on a Friday night before going to the theatre with a friend, I lost my make-up bag.

 It was my own fault for a) trying to apply make-up whilst walking, b) having a small bag which was, as usual bursting at the seams and c) not being remotely aware of the world around me and, in my defence it was the end of a stressful week. I’d just finished work after a 9-hour day and I was knackered and somehow between the carpark and the restaurant I was meeting my friend at, I lost my make-up bag…with all my make up in it.

And I cried.

I’ll just go back to the bit about my stressful day and week for justification but that seemed like an overreaction to losing some make up, even to me!  But it wasn’t just some, it was all of it.

I’d lost my beloved Bare Minerals brush which made applying foundation or BB cream quick and easy, meaning I could do my make up in the 3 minutes from when I drove into the work carpark and when I actually exited the car to go into work. 

I’d lost my blusher which made me look a bit more alive on a cold day. 

I’d lost my bronzer which led me to believe (even for just a brief second) that I do actually tan when I go on holiday (I don’t).

I lost my eyeliner which I had just about got the hang of applying and made me look slightly more grown up and sophisticated – well I thought anyway and,

I had lost my Cath Kidston make-up bag which my brother and sister-in-law got me for my first birthday after splitting with my ex and when everything was, pretty much, falling down around my ears.

So I sat in the car and I cried…and then I realised I couldn’t fix my face because I had no make-up, so I cried a bit more.

So apparently I am a make-up person.

I also hadn’t realised how expensive the stuff is! Generally, you don’t buy your make up all in one go.  You slowly build a collection, working out what brands, colours, textures you like, spending time and effort culturing this collection that will help you face the day. £5 here, £7 there.  So having to walk into Superdrug on a Sunday and purchase everything in one go was a bit of an overwhelming situation for both myself and my wallet.  I forgot what skin tone I had, I forgot how some mascaras just irritate my contact lenses and I look like a panda by lunchtime. I forgot that, unless its fool proof, I’m going to fuck it up and unless its quick I’m not going to use it. But after what seemed like hours hovering over all the make-up stands (so much so the ‘security’ had started to loiter close to me) I put all the novelty items back. I gave up trying to fit everything in with the myriad of BOGOF, 2for1 and spend ‘£20 get a free contouring set’ deals and gathered together a selection of, what I think, are fool proof items to start my new collection, and do you know what?  I don’t think I’ve done too badly.

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An open letter from a curly girl.

Dear supermarket buyer, hair product inventor and curly girls,

I have curly hair. It took me about 15 years but I now love it. Not everyday, but I generally embrace my curls, I look after my curls, others like my curls and comment that they wish they had my hair (even if I think it looks like a birds nest that day). One thing I do not like about having curly hair is the utterly crap choice of hair products I have to choose from.

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Apparently around 60% of the worlds population actually has curly hair, and, despite what you would assume, curly hair is the dominant gene in Caucasians. Yes all these curls are different, yes, the same product will not necessarily work for those with afro hair and those with a slight wave, however, looking at the beauty aisles of my local supermarket today you would really think that no one had curly hair or ever wanted it. Every high street brand of shampoo and conditioner was there and most styling products were also available but when trying to find something that was specifically for curly hair I came up empty.

The Phil Smith range, exclusive to Sainsburys used to have a whole range for curls called ‘Curly Locks’ but it was no longer on my shelves. I had used these products for over eighteen months and thought I’d finally found something that did the job and at a price I could afford but it would seem there wasn’t enough demand. I then went to look for previous curly products I’d had. Pantene – no sign of their curl shampoo and conditioner and after checking their website they no longer even make it. Herbal Essences – no sign despite taking up loads of space on the shelves and the fact they even they have a ‘Totally Twisted’ line. Elvive – I don’t think they’ve ever done one. The same with Tresseme although they also do have a ‘Flawless Curls’ line. The only products available to me were Frizz Ease which has a much higher price point than any other brand.

At this point I would also like to say that curls do not necessarily equal frizz. Yes, if you put me in a humid environment I will start to look like Monica from THAT episode of friends and yes, the French word we’re taught at school for curly is ‘frise’ but there is also ‘boucle’ which we’re not taught which also translates to ‘loop’. I do not necessarily need de-frizzing. I need moisturising, yes but I do not need slippery silicone to make my curls fall out the minute my hair is dry. I don’t want ‘lightweight’ hair, I definitely don’t want ‘sleek’. I not even really need ‘sparkling shine’ I just need a product that is designed for my type of hair like everyone else seem to have available.

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Curly girls this is also a plea…pretty please, love your hair. Love your waves, love your tight ringlets and all those kinks and twists in between. Stop trying to iron out your natural beauty. Look at all the famous artists and who they were painting as the epitome of beauty? The curly girls! (They also usually had curves in other places – shock horror!) Now put down the GHDs and start asking your supermarket for affordable products to help you work with your gorgeous curls not against them. You never know hairdressers might start knowing how to cut curly hair as well! Now that would be a miracle!

Thank you for listening from a very frustrated 3a/b type curl girl.

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The difference between nights out in your 20’s and 30’s.

IMG_2521.JPGThis weekend I went on my sister-in-law-to-be’s hen do. I am still recovering, two days later. After ten months of being thirty I’m starting to see that there is actually a difference in how I approach a night out and how I react to the aftermath of said night out. For instance…

Organising:
20’s – phone call…night of the party/drinks etc
“What you up to?”
“Not much, you?”
“Not a lot…fancy going out for a drink?”
“Yeah, sounds good. See you in an hour”
30’s – phone call three weeks before party/drinks etc
“I haven’t seen you in ages, we need a night out…are you free three Saturdays from now?”
“Can I get back to you? I need to check my diary, see if I can get a babysitter, we’re on a sleep routine so not sure if I want to rock the boat…”

Preparation:
20’s – shower, blowdry hair, apply make up, put on one of the many dresses you have, pick a pair of shoes and matching bag.
30’s – book in to the salon to have a spray tan to try and make you look slim and less tired, browse the range of Spanx online, dive into Outfit the afternoon of the event after doing your big shop and realise that you hate your body and nothing you try on looks good, give up and go home, throw everything out of the wardrobe whilst having a breakdown, realise you now haven’t got time for a shower so use a baby wipe and put on your staple ‘smart jeans’ and floaty top to cover the muffin top (gave up on the Spanx after pulling a muscle trying to put them on).

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The going out bag:
20’s – a sleek clutch style bag which only contains a lipgloss, your bank card, your keys and your phone.
30’s – an over the shoulder style bag because it’s more practical and so you can fit in your entire wallet, your phone, your phone charger because you inevitably forgot to charge it and won’t have enough battery to show everyone pictures of your gorgeous daughter, your entire make up bag, some tissues, an odd child’s size sock (how did that get in there?) tampons (because you never know) and condoms (because you never know!).

The hair:
20’s – long and flowing, straightened or curled with some form of heating iron or up with 1000 hair grips and a gallon of hairspray keeping it there.
30’s – you’re lucky if you get time to wash it, let alone dry it. I work on the natural look and bed head’s meant to be sexy, no?

The legs:
20’s – naked legs, shaved all the way up and fake tan beautifully applied.
30’s – 600 denier tights, no one will get a look at the hairy pasty legs hiding underneath.

During:
20’s – drink, flirt, drink, dance
30’s – drink, have a sit down, drink, sneak a cranberry juice in, check your phone to make sure the babysitter hasn’t called, cast your eye around the bar and realise that all the guys are 10 years younger than you, flirt anyway, drink, dance, but feel really self conscious as you do so in case you are doing a ‘mum dance’.

The aftermath:
20’s – throw up when you get in, but feel well enough to eat a fry up the next day around 12pm when you finally rise from your bed.
30’s – not be sick, so still feel sick when your evil body clock (or worse, a toddler) wakes you up at 7.30am. Eat toast gingerly and try and stop the head from exploding with water, coffee and ibuprofen whilst telling said toddler that mummy needs a quiet day and hoping they’ll be happy watching cbeebies for the next couple of hours.

Memory:
20’s – not remembering what happened so thinking you had a great night.
30’s – remembering everything that happened, so knowing you made a complete arse out of yourself and exactly why you have that massive bruise.

Lessons learnt:
20’s – none. You meet your friends in the pub that evening and order a beer, claiming hair of the dog.
30’s – none, you vow you will never drink again. Alcohol is empty calories anyway. This lasts two whole days until you realise that you miss wine.

Despite all if the above I had a great time this weekend and will no doubt be doing it all again shortly…maybe a couple less Jäger bombs next time though.

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Trimming the hedges.

Just on the off chance that something might happen with a potential ‘love interest’ at some point, I have started having waxes of an ‘intimate nature’ shall we say. Not so I look like a child, but more than your average high leg (more money too I found out!)

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I started this ridiculous habit by being the only person stupid enough to say yes when my friend; who is a beauty salon owner and trainer, asked whether anyone was available to be a model for a training course she was leading in Advanced Waxing Techniques.  Having been with the same person for ten years my need for personal grooming to this extent had pretty much diminished around the six month mark and I had never gone to this length (or short!!) before, so I was intrigued.  I had no prudish nature left in me after childbirth and as it was free and as I’m one for a bargain, I was lured in.

It wasn’t as painful as I had expected and it did look and feel good once the horrendous redness had subsided. However, as I was a model again a month or so later and, due to staff changes at my friends salon it feels like more women have now seen my lady bits in recent months than men! This was not the desired effect! The only thing it has generated so far is the need to send out a lot more Valentines Day cards out in February! Well it’s only appropriate don’t you think?