A Different Sort of Mothers Day ๐Ÿฅ€

A Different Sort of Mothers Day ๐Ÿฅ€

So it’s almost been a full week since we’ve been in social ‘lockdown’ and we are probably all a few pounds heavier and have a few brain cells fewer for it. I’ve exhausted myself, probably everyone else in the household, with particular attention to my poor debit card.

The hardest thing so far has not been being all couped up together, but the general change of routine. Not being able to visit my own mum, and not have the freedom to do the things we usually do in the day is devastating. It’s mad to wake up everyday and think that I’m not able to set foot into even the local Tesco to get a pint of milk, and have to stay away from people at all costs. Even my own family. The worst part is, we have no idea for how long.

The cherry on the cake is that it’s Mother’s Day today. If I could just postpone it to another time maybe six months down the line where we’re not living under house arrest then all would be fine… But I have no control over national holidays, nor am I American. In 26 years, this will be the first Mother’s Day where I will not see my mum, and if I’m honest it completely sucks. For me and the hundreds and thousands of other people that don’t want to take any chances.

It would be a lie if I said that today isn’t a reminder that I feel like a failure. I know that I am obviously doing what’s best for all of us in the long run by keeping us away from normal life and the ‘outside world’, but a 2 year old doesn’t understand that. I cannot reason with a toddler, the answers aren’t simple enough for her to comprehend. She knows we’re not going out as much or making our regular trips and I can see she is clearly frustrated. The tantrums are becoming more frequent and explosive, and I can only hope that we all get used to this way of living.

I was looking forward to spending my second trimester doing lots of things with my daughter, before the exhausting bit of pregnancy took hold. I guess now I can look forward to spending all of that under one roof with the space we live in getting smaller as I progressively swell like a huge balloon. Oh well.

This whole thing is also making it pretty difficult to prepare for a new baby. I’m constantly worrying about what might happen, or if my baby will be okay. With this being my second pregnancy, naturally I have not paid as much attention to the actual pregnancy as I did with my first. That, I have learnt is an unspoken given. With this thrown into the mix, it could be easy to completely forget that we have another one on the way. That is a sad thought. The world is a scary place right now and I have so many questions. How the HELL am I supposed to prepare for a baby when it feels like I’m stuck in a recurring nightmare…

So here I am on the evening of Mother’s Day. Somehow I am exhausted, my hands look like E.T- if he was sunburnt and I am crippled with antenatal angst and anxiety. It would be a lie to say that things aren’t 50 shades of crap right now, but I’m sure that lockdown will teach us a few things and help us to appreciate our immediate family a little more. At least I hope.

Keeping it in Your Wallet ๐Ÿ‘›

Keeping it in Your Wallet ๐Ÿ‘›

So it’s that time of year already. With festive season just a little more than a stone throw away, it’s the time to start your Christmas hustle- and to destroy your bank account in the process. Most of us won’t go unscathed by the Christmas shopping dragon, but you don’t have to feel the BURN. The secret? Cheaping out. But this doesn’t just apply to the festive season- it’s actually an all-year round philosophy. It’s a way of life.

A few years back, I managed to tank my credit score to a socially unacceptable level- I overspent in practically every area and lived WAY over my means. Since then, I have made it my mission to scrimp and save. I saved thousands during university and this eventually helped pay towards my maternity leave and the costs of having a child.

Now as a mother, I really feel the burn . But it’s not just my daughter burning a hole in my pocket- it’s rising bills, prescriptions and other hidden costs that just love to jump out and shout ‘BOO’ whenever they can, even though Halloween has been and gone. Here are some ideas to keep your financials in the 100.

1. Shop around

If You’re impatient, you could land yourself with one hell of a hefty transaction leaving your bank account. I recently bought a storage cube unit (riveting, I know) from B&M and could have paid double elsewhere if I wasn’t careful.

2. Charity Shop Haul

People get very funny about this one. ‘being proud’ can be the most damaging thing; not just to your bank account but as a way of thinking. Some charity shops are better than others, you don’t have to look like Beryl in the ’70s. You just need to look carefully. Top tip: go to a charity shop in a ‘better’ area. You might find some hidden gems- especially when it comes to toys and kids’ books. Just give them a good wash.

3. Don’t be a brand brat

If you have a thing for brands then you might land yourself in a rather big, chanel- shaped ditch. Buying own brand nappies can save you a small fortune. This also applies to clothes by the way. Brands for you is an investment if you’re into that sort of thing. Dressing your small person in brands is the same as throwing money down a well. End of.

4. Save up

Want something specific? Save up. This doesn’t have to be in lump sums- we’re not rich. This is as and when. It could take a while but you will get there. Alternatively, think about ditching your daily sugar fix or your hardcore coffee habit. Micro saving is also quite cool. Get yourself a pot and put in any loose change and it can pay for all sorts of funky things.

5. Make festive/birthday list

Make a list of things you think your child could benefit from from for celebrations. This is a great way to get help with things for your child and reduce waste. Don’t be afraid to ask for clothes!

6. Get on social media

There are tonnes of groups in which people sell their things for no cost or next to nothing. Be tech-savvy , get clicking and see what you can get. This can be great for clothes, toys, household appliances and storage.

7. Think about your buggy

Would a range rover style pram be the best and most practical option? Think about heaving that huge ass thing all over transport and in the boot of the car. So many people I know have ditched their fancy pram for a lightweight affordable option on Argos. You could save yourself thousands.

8. Alternative shops

This is my favourite one. There are plenty of trendy apps/sites out there that sell near new or brand new and unworn clothes without tags. You can spend a quarter of the price someone else has paid and no one will know. You might not be dripping in finesse but you’ll look decent and have a healthy bank balance.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t let your debit card go for a slippery sleigh ride this Christmas. Being ‘proud’ can be so damaging. When things are tight financially it is important to remind yourself what’s important. Showering your kids (and you) with love is so very important- showering them with expense isn’t.

Swiping Right on Mum Tinder๐Ÿคฐ๐Ÿคท

Swiping Right on Mum Tinder๐Ÿคฐ๐Ÿคท

You’ve been to the baby groups but you’re still on the hunt. Time to let technology do the talking. So you hit up the app store and stop swiping left: it’s Mum Tinder.

It’s really no surprise that becoming a First time mum is the most alienating and lonely thing that can happen to you; it is also the most brilliant. But like a snake sheds it’s skin, you will inevitably shed friends. You might also not be able to fit into your old skin for a while…

Losing friends is painful, you’ve just destroyed your body to squeeze out a human being and now suddenly your satuday night drinking buddies are running fast back into the woodwork. Ouch. You have also lost a big part of yourself; Your identity.

All this is necessary, however. Your life has naturally moved on. Rather than mourn friendships based on sambuca-fuelled Saturday nights, its time to buddy up with the most sassy and sarcastic mums you can find within a 5 mile radius.

Its hard to make mum friends, and you could well end up with some deja vu in the process. Just like anyone can get drunk after too many drinks, mums come in all shapes and sizes from all walks of life. On the flip side, there is something wonderful about this. But being ‘a mum’ alone is not enough to cement a friendship. Having a baby is not enough to keep the chat going- there’s only so much you can rattle on about teething.

I’m lucky that I do have some mum friends that I’ve made along the way- and I can safely say that having kids the same age is not the only thing that anchors our friendship. But I thought I’d give the apps a go.

I downloaded an app – it’s like Tinder but for mums. You can decide based on appearance and a short bio whether you want to ‘swipe right’ and connect or left and leave it. It felt weird treating other mums like a commodity but it definitely cut out the BS.

I bit the bullet and decided to arrange a local meet up. It was nice- but it was very clear that we all had absolutely nothing in common, all of our children were completely different ages. My daughter also made at least one of their babies cry by shouting ‘star’ too loudly. Not a great start.

I then went to another but I forgot to bring my scarlet letter; I got told repeatedly by one mum just how ‘young’ I looked. She then went on to ignore me for the remaining time. This was not the first time that I had been made to feel like I was a teen mum at 26.

Luckily since that debacle I have met and am talking to some lovely mums from all walks of life who are friendly, funny and not catfish[es?]. I have also spoken to some people who I just have not gelled with, and others that I can’t relate to at all. That’s just life.

Breaking The Spell ๐Ÿฆ„

Breaking The Spell ๐Ÿฆ„

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 clichรฉ 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? ๐ŸŽ‚

Whose Birthday is it Anyway? ๐ŸŽ‚

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 ๐Ÿ›ธ

We Need To Talk ๐Ÿ›ธ

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 ๐Ÿš‘

Post Summer Survival ๐Ÿš‘

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.