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.

Dating as a teenager vs. dating as a single parent.

Granted I didn’t get a lot of practice dating when I was a teenager as I had two boy deterrents – glasses and frizzy hair, but hey, swans and ugly ducklings or something like that. But as a grown up, if you’ve been dating someone for more than a couple of weeks the likelihood is you are going to want to do a few things. A few things that are as difficult to do as a single parent as they were when you were a teenager.

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1. Cook a romantic meal – this is difficult for different reasons. When you were a teenager
a) you could probably only cook three basic meals
b) you didn’t own your house so had to get your parents out of the way
c) you also didn’t own a car so had to get to the supermarket and lug all your shopping back on the bus or your bike. Now I seem to be in one supermarket or another most days so this isn’t an issue. Not taking a list with you and failing to purchase a vital ingredient is much more likely!

As a single parent if you manage to get your child to bed before said date comes over (a feat in itself) then you still have to actually prepare the meal, remove all playdoh and colouring paraphernalia from the table at the very least and make yourself look vaguely respectable. If you manage all of this then you’re probably superwoman but it will, no doubt be just as you sit down to ear that a little head pokes round the door asking for a glass of water.

2. Going to the cinema – as a teenager this was just an excuse to get away from your parents, sit in a darkened room having a snog and a fumble in the back row and not get caught by the attendant who specifically put you in the middle row as that’s what your ticket said. As a single parent (or any parent I would guess), if you put me in a darkened room I’m quite likely to fall asleep very quickly.

If I manage to stay awake and drink the inexplicably fizzy and cold Pepsi that you pay £1000’s for then I will be trying not to have to visit the loo every 15mins or to stop the building heartburn.

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3. Watching tv and snuggling – as a teenager watching tv with a date always involved lying down, taking up the whole sofa, eating and the odd quick kiss hoping your parents didn’t walk in. Trying to do anything more than a kiss was just asking for trouble.

It’s much the same as a single parent, apart from the fact that, again, if I’m comfy and lying down I will am probably going to fall asleep, but if anything frisky does start happening there’s always that fear that you’ll hear the door being pushed open my little hands as soon as you take an item of clothing off! Kissing with one eye on the door is very difficult and probably quite unnerving for the other person!

4. Sleep together – as in stay over and wake up together in the morning. As a teenager this is all down to whether your parents are ever away and whether your date can tell a convincing lie and has friends who will back up that lie.

As a single parent its pretty much down to who has their child(ren) when and whether you can get away with asking your ex or your parents whether they could possibly swap weekends or have your child overnight without having to fully explain why. You’d either be telling your ex that you’ve found someone you want to have lots of sex with or you’ll be telling your parents that you will be having sex full stop and no one wants to have to have either of those discussions!

Dating like a teenager can be quite good too though I guess. Kissing ALL the time, walking hand in hand, feeling those butterflies in your stomach and not getting sidetracked by the mundane day to day stuff.

Yeah I suppose I can take the bad with the good.

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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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The three dates of Christmas: the epilogue.

IMG_2262-0.PNGI hope you enjoyed reading about my festive dating experiences, from the (very) good to the (extremely) bad and that it gave you some giggles. I now definitely know which of my friends read my blog after posting the ‘coffee date’ one as well!

I said I was chatting to five guys over the holidays and I haven’t lost touch with the missing two either. I haven’t managed to meet up with them yet either, but really hope to. The fact they’re still talking to me and I haven’t got bored of them after a month of messaging can only be a good sign surely? If we haven’t run out if things to say to each other maybe we have more of a chance? (Ever the optimist, even after The Worst Date Ever!) The only problem is everyone is back to reality with full time work and childcare to juggle, leaving little time for swanning around going on dates and such like so diaries are being scoured to try and find some time.

I have also realised it’s been nearly a year since I started my dating journey. There were times when I wasn’t actively looking and times when I was ‘seeing’ someone but that is quite a long time! I also worked out that, so far, I’ve been on dates with 12 different blokes. I could actually make a calendar from my dates! Although some I’d leave out and put Channing Tatum in their place if that’s ok? Who knows, maybe 13 could be my lucky number?

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Promise to keep you posted!

The three dates of Christmas. 2) The ‘coffee’ date.

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James seemed like a good guy and good to chat to, I wasn’t sure if I actually fancied him though. His profile picture on Plenty of Fish didn’t really help and when I asked for a couple more they were group shots and I still couldn’t work out what he looked like. He was one for fairly loaded innuendos or changing the conversation path so we ended up talking about something a bit risqué but it was fun and not necessarily a bad thing, so I just went with it.

He had his son 50% of the time and had him over Christmas, as I had had Charlotte so the earliest time we both had available was Boxing Day afternoon/evening and we decided to meet for coffee.

When he walked in he was much taller than I’d thought and was quite good looking. He’d just come from a family lunch so was wearing the obligatory Christmas jumper and cords which gave him a boyish look like his mum had told him what to wear. He also had a very cheeky twinkle in his eye. I don’t think I’ve come across them before but these were definitely ‘bedroom eyes’. I was wearing lots of layers and had also got rained on on the walk to the coffee shop so Lord knows what he thought about me! Although it couldn’t have been that bad…

We had our coffee and talked easily about our families and work and moving houses etc (he was about to after living with his parents for a year and I wanted to) but all along he was looking at me with those eyes making me go a bit mushy. I couldn’t concentrate and, despite it being cold, I could feel my cheeks flushing and before I knew it we were kissing on my bed! I can’t even blame any alcohol!

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Now, I didn’t know whether I should write this, but sometimes this is what happens on dates and I’m really not good at lying (and it would have been quite difficult to end the story if I hadn’t!). I’m also not entirely sure who suggested changing the venue but it didn’t feel odd or too fast just that it was the right thing to happen next. I didn’t question it and something in me (no pun intended) decided that I deserved a belated Christmas present and this was the best sort of present to receive.

So we had some – read ‘a lot’ – of fun. We chatted a bit more about the everyday things and then arranged to see each other soon and he left. A little bit different from the turkey curry buffets you’d normally find yourself at on Boxing Day!

We have messaged each other quite often since then and although he’s adamant he does want a relationship and not just sex, his messages aren’t necessarily saying the same thing. We haven’t managed to meet again just through lack of time and mutual availability but I’m not sure if we will. I don’t regret sleeping with James but it has definitely made me realise that, despite everything you’ve just read, I am actually looking for a relationship and for someone I can spend time with, out of the bedroom, as well as in.