The Truth about Staying Home

The Truth about Staying Home

Well hello there. Yes, it’s been a long time. Yes, I know you know that I haven’t had anything better to do so I don’t have an excuse…well I’m here now aren’t I?

It’s been a long and tumultuous few months. I could bore you with going through all the highs and lows in detail but I will burden you with that another time. For now here are some highlights: crying in the middle of a muddy ditch with my toddler daughter, crying because I miss Southend Road Tesco’s, crying because I ran out of snacks, crying because I didn’t get my own way. You get the general picture. There have been some good times too. Lockdown failed to ruin my daughter’s 2nd birthday, despite being at home we haven’t gained much weight and I am not clinically insane yet. Lockdown has also given me time to discover new things- good and bad.

In this post I will run you through some of the cool and not so cool things I have discovered during lockdown. DISCLAIMER ALERT* this is a blog post written in lockdown- limit your expectations and don’t expect too much excitement.

1. The Hinch Army

In all fairness, I have known and been following Mrs Hinch and her Hinching trend and its many Facebook groups for a long time now, but lockdown really enhanced the effort I put into all of this. With more time at home unfortunately comes more time to stare at your crumby carpets and dusty skirting boards. The need to clean incessantly during lockdown hit me HARD and I have definitely saved my landlord no money at all through all my dodgy DIY home improvements. I have all the cult classics such as the Pink Stuff and Elbow Grease and more funky stuff like laminate wax crayons and grout marker pens. My daughter has also made friends with the hoovers which is a bit jarring.

2. Overseas Zumba influencers

Again, Zumba is not a new interest of mine but lockdown has turned my ‘workout’ attention to an exclusively male, Filipino dance crew who seem to have the clout of BTS and the wardrobe of every TikToker ever. I have been following their YouTube workouts religiously, dancing to all the latest Reggaeton hits only to find out the English translation and end up crying in the shower that very evening. But on a serious note, I owe any fitness I have to them. It can all be a bit cringe but their enthusiasm for dance is something I haven’t yet witnessed in this part of the globe. I’m not sure what they’d make of a heavily pregnant woman desperately trying to keep up with their clean-cut dance moves however.

3. Perfect parenting pros

So another thing I discovered in depth was the big wide world abyss that is professional parenting. Owing to my daughter’s sudden onset of explosive tantrums, I decided to take to Jo Frost’s ‘toddler rules’ series. In all fairness, I cannot fault Jo for her methods, though I found that introducing them into our life wasn’t as clinical as they make it out to be on Supernanny. For example, what to do when your daughter finds the ‘naughty spot’ hilarious and a great place to be.I also followed a handful of influencers- who seem to live in an almost Olympia like world in which immaculately clean homes and children peacefully co exist, and baby weight is a farce. The most invaluable thing I probably embarked on was a Level 4 Child Psychology course which helped me not only to understand my daughter better, but also why I went for teaching in the first place. It’s great to see some of the apparent glitz and glam that accompanies Instagram parenting, and black and white methods but understanding how a child’s brain works has really been fascinating.

4. Not going out turns you into an psycho

I’m going to apologise, because this could just be me. But for a long time the ‘Stay at home’ message hit home too hard for me and I decided to forgo going outside altogether. This inevitable decreased any risks to do with the virus, but I’m honestly not sure that it was even worth it. At one point I struggled to open the windows and anything that came into the flat had to be heavily disinfected to an inch of its life. All of this had me obsessing over accidentally touching ‘outside’ things in case the disinfectant didn’t touch any part that I was touching. All of this came crashing down at a scheduled Antenatal appointment in which I was suddenly prodded by health professionals after 2 months of no contact.

So yeah, that was me in a not-so-small nutshell. I guess I also rediscovered that pregnancy sucks and that being heavily pregnant with a toddler who loves to kick can be sometimes problematic. But another time.

A Different Sort of Mothers Day πŸ₯€

A Different Sort of Mothers Day πŸ₯€

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 πŸ‘›

Keeping it in Your Wallet πŸ‘›

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.

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

You’ve put your career on hold for a 24/7 parenting haul, but the full-timers just don’t get it. Instead of understanding you get judgement and opinions stuck to you: “but what do you do all day?”, “It’s good some can afford to stay at home with their children”. Yes Karen, thanks for your unwanted opinion.

It’s fair to say we all have an opinion on something, and it would be even more accurate to say that mums are some of the best ‘judgers’ judges. I’m guilty of it- I’ll put my hands up to that, but I recognise that everyone’s situations are different.Since using ‘Mum’ tinder, I’ve realised just how much your occupation can draw battlelines between you and other mums. Sometimes there’s resentment, anger, jealousy, disgust and also admiration, but always judgement.

Here are some common judgements about stay at home mums, and how you can verbally slay these bitter mother fudgers.

1.”So you’re a housewife”

A wonderful woman said this to me recently. The vision of me with rollers in my hair, wearing a cutesy little apron and treating the day effectively as one big preparation for my partner coming home made me reel. She looked at me like some dusty old artefact from the 1950s. No. My role is to look after my children, not the house. Let’s be clear, if my children weren’t here I’d be in work. Housework isn’t my job, running after my children is.

The slay: agree and tell her you’re a kept woman. Your husband pays for spa days every week and for you to get your hair and nails done. Watch her face screw up in jealousy.

2.”I’ve worked all my life”

Yes Karen, you were born working. That’s right, I sit on my bum all day watching Dickinson’s Real Deal drinking Pina coladas. I don’t at all run about after my daughter all day wearing sportswear and drinking the strongest and most disgusting instant coffee I can find. Doing the childcare yourself is working. Some people get paid to do it but instead you do it for free.

The slay: Tell her if she was better at her job she wouldn’t have to work all her life. Only joking. Or am I…

3.” It’s good you can afford to be a stay at home mum”

Yeah, because paying approximately Β£1400 a month on childcare is an affordable option for most: not. I cried when I realised the price of childcare, and for alot of people the cost of it wipes out what they’d be earning. So whats the point? Working has become a luxury for alot of mums.

The slay: go with it and tell her how you won’t have to ever work because you inherited a small fortune. Even though it’s a bald-faced lie.

4. “Don’t you have a relative who can look after you child ?”

Okay, firstly: it’s none of their business. Secondly, not everyone has that luxury. As well as the divide between working mums and those who don’t, there seems to be a big divide between those who have relatives who can do the childcare for free, and those who don’t. It seems unfair and shouldn’t be taken for granted. But that’s life… And luck.

The slay: just tell them that everyone in your entire family is willing to drop their careers at the drop of a hat to do your childcare. Again, a lie but it will infuriate them knowing that you’ve chosen this path for yourself and your child.

The bottom line:

People will always have an opinion- tale as old as time. I’ve always been brought up to believe that not spending enough time with your child is worse than too much. When I worked in schools, the most damaged kids I met were those whose parents were hardly there for them. Enough said.

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.

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

First Word Problems πŸŒŽ

First Word Problems πŸŒŽ

You’ve waited a long time. But it’s not what you think it’s going to be..

.It’s been no secret that I have been anticipating the arrival of the first word for a while now. As a first timer, I had no idea what to expect. However, after hearing other babies of the same age piping up, I knew it was on the cards.

I’d been talking to Arielle since birth, but I really upped the ante at 1 when the chance of a word really was lingering on the horizon. I saw potential in any object within reaching distance: cup, shoes, ball… And then the not so cutesy things- remote, table, filofax, council tax… Only joking. But I wasn’t going to rule anything out.

In the park, I’d point to the trees and shout “tree” to spark a response. In Tesco’s I would shout out the names of a variety of objects- putting me in the vulnerable position of looking like a complete and utter weirdo. And I did. Everywhere we went I did this, and all that happened was that I looked like a crazy. Responseless and disillusioned I suspended my efforts. There was no point in trying to force the issue.

It’s an incredibly hot Monday night and after putting Arielle down to sleep, the silence coming from the room means the coast is clear- let the Love Island final commence. After a few minutes, I can hear what can only be described as a stampede of elephants coming from her room. I walk in to Arielle doing laps around her cot. After 20 minutes of deluding myself that she will settle down, I cave in and she joins us for the final. She suddenly runs over the her knitted bear in the corner and says “beh”. Coincidence, I thought. But then she continues to do it a couple more times, each time becoming clearer until we get to…”bear”.

I couldn’t believe it… This is it! Her first word. But why bear? I had no clue. As any mother would be, I was just glad it wasn’t a profanity that got let slip. But bear was quite low down on the list of exposed-to words.

Next thing, bears popped up everywhere. Bears in books, bears in the living room…bears in my coffee. Even if it wasn’t a physical bear, it would still be “beh”. Great, I thought. This is going to be fun…