Breaking The Spell πŸ¦„

Breaking The Spell πŸ¦„

Its a crashingly average Wednesday afternoon. It is raining- yes. It is also hot- but that unsexy kind that creeps up on you when you’re wearing 3/4 length sleeves. My mood: irritated.

It’s one of those days- I am destined to have a collision with spider man; she is currently bouncing across my new sofa with no care for my new cushions. It’s going to be a long day, I will probably spill a few tears but I will for sure be going to bed with a jarring headache.

But despite the constant clanging of toys against furniture, and the racket coming from kid’s television, I am completely at peace with myself. No, I haven’t lost my mind just yet. Its just that I’m now free from the shackles of caring what other people think about me.

It’s such a clichΓ© thing to say, except this isn’t ripped straight from some ‘life hack’ podcast. Caring what other people think when you have a toddler absolutely sucks- you are always going to be doing the ‘wrong thing’ in others’ eyes. You’re either a soft touch or you’re a control freak. You really can go from Jo Frost to Britney Spears circa 2008 (sorry Britney) real quick.

Sometimes you have to shut the windows when the draught gets in to your ridiculously small london home- and that’s exactly what you have to do with other people’s thoughts and opinions: crush them in-between the double glazing panels just shut them out.

In a very British way, I have always aimed to do the ‘right thing’. Since having a child, I have realised this is the most exhausting thing to achieve. People always have negative things to say. When I was pregnant, I was constantly wracked with anxieties because people were always bursting with ‘warning’ messages. It got me nowhere.

Remember: There are always going to people doing better than us, and those who are doing WAY, way worse. We are all just pretty average tiny fish in a big, big sea.

Whose Birthday is it Anyway? πŸŽ‚

Whose Birthday is it Anyway? πŸŽ‚

It’s your birthday. You’re gonna party like it’s your birthday – except you won’t. Not because you don’t feel like a bucket litre glass of prosecco, but because looking after a toddler with a hangover is a possibility you have to avoid at all costs (unless the seventh circle of hell is your thing). Lying face down in the bath is something you can only do childless.

So the day is about you. Wrong. The day is about you taking it in turns with the rest of your family to run after your crazy toddler. Your toddler doesn’t care about your birthday- but she does care about the ball that the older kids are kicking about, or someone else’s dog.

So for your birthday you are taken to wide open space. There are no restaurants for your toddler to scream and throw food in, this way you can relax and have some sort of self-peace. Your day becomes about laughing at your child who is currently pretending to be on your partner’s phone, shouting. The Zara dress that you decided to wear has peculiar but tiny smudges all over it, your face has mud stains on it- heck knows. You’re laughing, not crying.

After horrifically overreating at your parents, You come home exhausted – you probably haven’t burnt off that slice of birthday cake… Your partner hands you a tinfoil box, but you’ve had enough food for today. Except it’s actually your birthday present. He also tries to tell you he hoovered but you weren’t born yesterday- and neither was the sea of breadcrumbs lying all over the linoleum. At least he tried.

You put your daughter to bed and fall asleep watching YouTube clips that you’re probably now too old to watch, but you couldn’t care less.

We Need To Talk πŸ›Έ

We Need To Talk πŸ›Έ

Having a decent holiday is a good respite from a full-time job. But what happens when your full-time job is an all-demanding 24/7 set up. But this job doesn’t demand time on your phone or emails, just your forever undivided attention.

If your toddler is anything like mine then they nap for all of half an hour in any given day. So what? You might think. But a rookie stay at home parent will tell you that naps are like gold dust. Oh No Hun, they are gold dust. They might be fair and few, but you grab hold of that napping opportunity with both hands as soon as you see those eyes dancing around the room.

Toddler naps are your friend. Your best friend in fact. They can help you get through the rest of the day without turning to stronger substances. You won’t have to worry what the neighbours will think with this one. But beware- naps are like Tinkerbell- catch them while you can!

Your toddler’s nap schedule is a more NHS friendly way of saying “my bloody time for ME “. They are your only natural break. Technically so is your toddler’s bedtime- but whoever says that they consider their sleep time a ‘break’ from work needs psychological help, fast.

There comes a time when suddenly your child’s naps are simply not enough anymore. Picture this: Your eyes are red, your hair looks like it’s caught some sort of infection- unbeknownst to science- and you have made a shrine of nappies because you have changed your kid’s nappy five consecutive times. FIVE! Your partner walks in and you are crawling out of your well like Samara from ‘The Ring’ and fill his shoes and laptop cables with water.

When this happens, you need a DAY OFF- yes, just like you would in a 9 to 5. So go stand on the rooftop and scream this from the bottom of your lungs- or alternatively ask your partner to look after their child for a day/weekend.

The trouble is so many of us feel guilty about needing the time off. After all, it’s your child you’re needing a break from. Doing the full time childcare is a job- a job that some get paid for but you don’t. It’s not natural to be glued to your child for weeks/months on end. Mentally, yes. But when your toddler is hanging off the end of your skirt in a bid for twinkle twinkle for the 57th time, it can get a bit much.

I love my toddler more than anything in the entire world, like most normal, competent parents. But we are humans. All this time I have felt guilty but also shackled with anxiety about needing my own space. But I’m learning that if I’m tired, cranky and on the brink of insanity that my daughter isn’t going to get the best out of me. I want her to see the fun mum who runs around with her, not a Taylor Swift impersonator from ‘Blank Space’.

Time to have a day off!

Post Summer Survival πŸš‘

Post Summer Survival πŸš‘

It is now that time. Ten or so years ago you would be reeling. But now the dog days are over and it is the end of a long and incredibly hot summer.

Baby and Toddler groups are back on and holiday is now a thing of the past. ‘Life’ with a toddler begins again after a long and barren period of nothingness… But what now?

You are tired and weary- you’ve had numerous hits to your routines, little personal space and limited time on your own together as a family. You might’ve swapped your summer dress for a pair of cool trousers but you look anything but rested. Those bags under your eyes are shouting out for some concealer TLC and probably time away from Mr Tumble.

Its now time to think about going forward. You know what has worked for you and what hasn’t; staying anywhere for large periods of time is a no no. Staying at home alot can make you feel cut off from the rest of civilisation. It’s time to make a few changes:

1. Cut yourself some goddamn slack

It’s so easy to lay into yourself. It’s also so bloody easy to look at others- other mums, other women and think about how much more successful they are, how much skinnier they are, more patient.. whatever. There’s always going to be people doing more than you and those doing way less: fact. Being kind to yourself is HARD- but just like your kids, you need love too. Time for a sassy quote from Ru Paul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else”. True talk, Ru.

2. Set time aside for your goals

Whatever you want to do, set time aside for it. I know for a fact that doing freelance writing work in the middle of the day while my daughter is more interested in the backspace button than anything else is not a great time. Plan a proper time and stick to it like gorilla glue.

3. Think about your relationship

As it’s easy to forget about yourself, it’s also too easy to see your partner as ‘daddy’ to your child and forget about your relationship. Before you know it, you will be putting each other in the friend zone. ‘Thrown’ together through circumstance- like in a naff sitcom. Except believe it or not you actually chose eachother. For god’s sake make an effort. Partners are like plants: if you don’t give them water, good sun intake and a bit of love then they will probably turn away from you. Your plant may also die.

4. Remember that everyday is completely different

So yesterday you were crying into your pillow and today you are singing starships into your TV remote while your child is running around in circles. No you are not bat****, you’re a parent. In fact every hour is different. Go with it or be prepared to be on mood stabilisers by the end of the month.

5. Do what’s right for you and your family

You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone out there other than to yourself and your family. They are the people that you are going to have to come back to at the end of the day, after all. If you want to stay in eating cake all day in yor PJs then do it. If you want to go back to work or change your hours then do that too. There is nothing wrong with making a bold decision. At the risk of sounding like a crap rapper (crapper) the haters are going to keep hating any way.

D is for Depression

D is for Depression

We all go through times in our lives when depression pitches up at our doorstep. It can be nowhere in sight for a while and then suddenly it’s back like a crappy villain from a mid 20th century movie. But depression doesn’t always allow you the cliche happy ending.

I am no stranger to depression. There have been times in my life that it has completely and utterly taken over. Here, I’m talking about the unsexy kind of depression. The one that isn’t wearing Raybans and having a cigarette out of a loft window in Paris. This depression is a parasite, and it lives in your head.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been left alone by it completely, in the first year of my daughter being born- a luxury that I didn’t think I could afford.

But it eventually caught up with me. It started as a niggling feeling- like an itch. Why was I so damn irritable? I wanted to work. So I became a Gmail warrior; a princess of pro-activity, productivity and podcasts. But then the goalposts would change, the itch became unscratchable and I longed for something different.

The problem obviously was never my daughter. I loved my time with her. Sure, I had realised that doing full-time childcare was definitely no walk in the park. But what did I want? I just didn’t know- that was the problem. I thought activities would help, but the baby groups were lonely places. Most of the people there seemed to be born friends. I loved meeting up with friends- but what about the long days of headaches and nothingness?

The worst thing that I did was not only to compare myself to other people- but to their social media posts. I knew this was ridiculous and not an accurate depiction of ANYONE’S lives… But I did it anyway. I bought into it all- why did I always lose my patience so quickly? Why couldn’t I have a proper job and be a perfect mother? Why wasn’t I a size 8 yet? Why couldn’t I do yoga in the mornings and eat nothing but chia seeds?

I felt lost- yes. But worst of all, I had been in denial for months. So worried about being branded with a scarlet ‘B’ for bad mum, I didn’t want to admit it even to myself. I was so taken up with ‘defying’ my old foe that I was inadvertently letting it win. It is only now that I am prepared to admit it to myself that things can get better. That’s the great thing- things can now only get better. Sure, I might have bad days but at least I’m prepared to acknowledge it that it isn’t all hunky dory.

I hope this post can inspire others to take the time to think about their feelings; there is nothing wrong with being depressed. Using it as a crutch to lean upon and utilising it as an excuse for everything is. Feelings are never criminal.

The Holiday From: [insert here]

The Holiday From: [insert here]

I love a good holiday, who doesn’t. I love that infectious summer feeling that reverberates through me before we head off. I love ordering the clothes- sassy styles that don’t at all suit my body shape. I love that old worn out summer playlist that- yeah, you get it my stick. It’s pretty easy to enjoy a holiday, but when that plus one is your angry toddler you have to work for your fun.

Having a child has helped me appreciate The Staycation. Going far is a faff so staying somewhere where a Tesco is somewhere in the middle distance is very attractive. Plus, England is great.

So here we are in Suffolk. The weather is great- not too hot. Spirits are high, and the seaside is on our doorstep (10 minute walk). But going away with a toddler is hard. Last year we took a cute 3 month old away with us, now we have a temperamental toddler who just wants to run away from us all the time.

Here’s a few things I’ve learnt about going away with a toddler:

1. DO NOT forego nap time… But don’t be a rigid robot either

No one likes a routine-reveller on holiday. But sacrificing your toddler’s nap time could mean hours of screaming. Your choice.

2. Cut your toddler some slack.

Taking stuff off of your toddler all day can mean coming home with a headache. If you don’t want your ears to ring at the end of the day: if it’s not going to hurt them then it’s probably fine. Here is a picture of my toddler’s idea of fun ie throwing stones down the drains outside:

3. Expect to be a pillar of sand

If your toddler decides they enjoy the whole beach experience then be prepared to bring half of the seaside back with you. For me, this meant picking sand out of my hair for days… And days. The thick layer of sand on my face has acted as a natural exfoliant which is an added bonus. Go me.

4. You will soak up some rays but not in the way you thought

Fear not- you shall have that golden tan that you wanted. But you won’t be sunbathing. You will be chasing after your child on the beach making sure they don’t ruin some other child’s sandcastle masterpiece. A sun tent always helps.

5. Those silly windmills they always sell on the beachfront will become your new BFF

Remember those windmills that you forgot about? Yes. Those will become your best friend. Give one to your toddler and you’re guarunteed at least 5 minutes of mess-free entertainment.

FINALLY: enjoy your bloody holiday.

For god’s sake, enjoy your holiday. It’s all too easy to become a holiday buzzkill when you have a toddler. But don’t do it. I have learnt to leave my quibbles after the first G&T.

Ps. I’ve had a great time β˜€οΈ

Toddler vs Football: Surviving the First Game βš½πŸ‘Ά

Toddler vs Football: Surviving the First Game βš½πŸ‘Ά

You’ve been trying to ignore the other woman for a while, but now your partner wants your toddler to get to know that other love of his life… Football.

If your partner is a fan of the footie then you know how it is. If you yourself are a fan of the game too then good on you, that’s so great. But if you’re anything like me, then you probably have an ‘arrangement’. This ‘arrangement’ consists of allowing your partner to watch some of the games he wants. Though I’ve had to go one step further than this and limit it to strictly three games a week. This is simply because if there is a group of men, a ball and a grass pitch on a screen, then my partner will sure as hell be in front of it.

There then comes the time when your partner wants to go one step further and watch a game at [one of] his football club[s]. Great, I said… Except he wants to take our Duracell bunny of a daughter.

I wasn’t about to stop him but instead I anxiously awaited what was about to happen: an afternoon of hell. With no prams allowed, Arielle would be running around the stadium and pushing to play on the pitch. She would then freak out everytime the crowd became a little excited and we would come home looking like a pair of Edina Monsoons after a night out.

When it came down to it, we grabbed the reins (so she couldn’t go AWOL), and I anxiously searched for a pair of ear defenders in the club shop… And there were none. Fab start. At kick off she was smiling and happy – she saw the crowd clap and joined in. I started to think I’d given my partner a headache for no reason. I shuddered at the thought of his head turning with that silly look on his face as he said those loathsome words, “I told you so”.

But for better or worse, it wasn’t so. Within minutes of this, a goal was scored by the home team. The crowd went wild, but Arielle lost her s***. She started howling as fans all around celebrated. I face palmed. Then I face palmed again two minutes later… And then it all got too much.

Suddenly it was half time…Funnily enough, I had no recollection of the entire first half- like some sort of black out, yet I’d had not one drop to drink. Instead, my toddler had guzzled up all of my consciousness in a kind of attention Dyson; all of my energy was sucked out of me.

By the second half, I started to look the part of an extra on Absolutely Fabulous; my hair was all over the place and the sunglasses managed to secure themselves as a permanent fixture on my face. I was a mess. Arielle seemed to have more energy then ever, and when she wasn’t trying to run away, she was upset by the inconvenience of the seating.

By the end of the game, we were both exhausted. But it wasn’t all gloom- the atmosphere was fabulous and everyone was really accomodating. Despite our mishaps. The game might have been a rollercoaster of emotion for us but we’d still somehow managed to have fun- even if I’d managed to absorb none of the actual match.

Luckily for me, my partner has decided that football and toddlers don’t mix; she’ll have to be quite a bit older for the next game. For now, I can rest assured that football will be limited to the TV screens.