Mama in the club

After 9 months of pregnancy and an additional 6 months of caring for a newborn, there is nothing quite so exciting for a mum, as a night out or any social event involving no children and available alcohol. It is a recipe for pure, blissful, mum madness.

You might have experienced mum madness this summer: at a hen do or a wedding; or you might just have witnessed it: hoards of mothers joyfully pouring wine into their already full glasses, pulling their partners by the ties up onto the dance floor, giddily reapplying makeup in the ladies, pulling up their Bridget stomach-holding-in-pants and drunkenly rambling on about their children. Not to mention breast pumps flying under the partition to the next toilet cubicle, rounds of delicious-but-lethal cocktails and so many pouting selfies.

I have had a whale of a time this summer celebrating with my friends doing all of the above and yesterday was the last big event, so tonight I am feeling: socially content, absolutely exhausted and a tad hungover. Not a perfect combo for writing; so bullet points will have to do for you lovely readers (probably just as well if you are all hungover too?)

Here are my highlights of the summer of mum-madness:

  • My two friends disappearing into the single cubicle of a club to pump out their breastmilk, emerging 15 minutes later to some bewildered looks from the queue of scantily-clad, orange faced, slug-eyebrowed girls.
  • The wonderful cleavage suddenly developed by said friends halfway through the evening – ENVIABLE!!
  • Having child-free time to apply my makeup, get dressed and do my hair. Which actually resulted in about 2 hours of fidgeting to wait for the girls without children to get ready. Turns out us mums were just too speedy…
  • Adult conversation. Even if we did end up discussing turkey basters and poos at one point.
  • Prosecco. Lots of it.
  • Properly engaging with my friends. Hearing what they are up to/think/would like to do without someone whining “mummy….”
  • Wearing dresses and heels.
  • Wearing clothes without sick/snot/food on them.
  • Having a LIE in on a hen weekend.
  • Having smooth legs every weekend, even if it did mean having shower schizophrenia.
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Here are the not-so-highlights

  • Joyfully arriving home at 2am (“can you believe we stayed up til 1.30?! We’re so rock & roll!”) then being woken up by demanding children at 6am. Or worse, after falling into that first deepest of deep sleeps, at around 3am. The pain! The pain!!
  • Being leered at by gross checkered-shirt, silent-but-deadly-farting men in clubs. Why, oh why, do these said males (always, always on their own) think that a group of happy, child free, gorgeous ladies on their one night of FREEDOM would just LOVE him to join them all in their circle for a dance. BUGGER OFF.
  • Having to pack the children’s stuff up for childcare as well as our bags, and plan an outfit and de-fuzz, wash hair, paint nails and ACTUALLY GET THERE.
  • Being told that I dance like a mum (…?)

But it was worth it. So worth it. No one appreciates a night out more than a mother.

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Blurred happy photo of us mamas in da’ club

Thanks for the happy times, ladies. Now I think I need a little detox before we get to Christmas…

Have you experienced mum madness this summer?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please comment below!

And WAIT! Before you really go-go, if you liked this article, please like or share it on Facebook or Twitter. That would be superb. Thank you!!!

 

 

 

 

How did I become a mum cliché?!

In the last two and a bit years I have witnessed myself change dramatically. I don’t mean a personality transplant or a shed load of weight loss. Characteristics that I have always had have simply become stronger; and any parts  of me that were pretending to be something else have taken a step backstage. I have become more honest and confident. I have cared less about what people think of me and more about what I think of them. I have become more open minded and I have put up with less s–t. Oh, and I’m not proud of this… I have also started to swear. Mainly in my head and in text form, but occasionally it slips out in real life, like that time when I impatiently said to my toddler “are you going to put your shoes on or *muttering* just piss about?!” and she replied “just piss about, mummy!” OOPS! Other stuff is that I have reignited my long love for writing and at the same time not worried about keeping up to date with the career I qualified into. In fact, well, I haven’t gone back to work.

So that’s all great.

But.

I have noticed a few other traits. These I unaffectionately refer to as ‘mum clichés’.

Here’s one example.

Enjoying orgasmic coffee

You know the coffee adverts where the woman comes in from the rain, closes the front door, and pours herself a frothy coffee? Well I always thought, “who is this women? I have never met anyone who does that?! Who finds themselves free at 11am and practically wets herself over the excitement of a hot frothy coffee on their own?”

Mums.

Me.

I am a mum cliché. I did it today. Dropped the toddler off at pre-school, fed the baby, put her down for a nap and after I had whizzed about the house clearing up some morning debris (the Tiny Tears doll staring vacantly at me from our bed; baby porridge smeared all over the wall and high chair; wet towels on the bathroom floor and full nappy pants discarded at the bottom of the stairs), I put the kettle on, popped a generous spoon of sugar in with my coffee and sat down at the tidy kitchen table breathing in the creamy caffeine fumes – with a cosy jumper on, just like a cliche advert mum – but with no makeup and in my pyjama bottoms because they are much more relaxing on the waist.

Which leads me onto my next cliché…

Having a muffin top

Adverts such as Activia seem to portray us mums as having quite a problem with bloating and indigestion. The truth is, if you have had a baby, you are left with a baby belly; and eating branded yogurt by the bucketloads, just like Tiffany from Eastenders or Gok Wan do, won’t actually shift it. But wearing slightly bigger clothes will make you feel more comfortable…which is where I find myself…

Dressing like a mum

Here’s my current outfit of choice for public:

Black vest (so I can throw it on in the morning and not work up a sweat from rushing around with too many clothes on. Preferably one that covers the flies of my jeans so you can’t see if they are gaping).

Skinny jeans (with a lot of hidden stretch. Removed immediately after getting home).

Long cardigan (for covering inevitable marks of milk and bogies, as well as builders bum in skinny jeans).

Converse. Practical on the school run, and makes me feel ever so slightly cool.

Having mum hair

During my twenties I experimented twice with a bob. Comments I got were along the lines of “you look very smart”, which was actually what I was going for: to look professional after university. However I always grew my locks back again because I just didn’t feel comfortable being that person.  I felt boring. I have recently had a bob cut again. I LOVE IT!!! There is no way I look professional. I simply look like someone who occasionally gets their hair cut. I can also run a brush through it, which is more than I could manage before in the busy mornings. And when I emerged from the hairdressers, with my new bob blow-dried under and glossy (never to appear like that again), I felt sexy. I felt…what’s that other mum cliché? Oh yeah, I felt like a MILF!

Looking stressed on the school run

This increases more if you are lovely/silly enough to buy your little darling a scooter and/or have a toddler off their reins and/or a baby in the buggy. I have the last two. Every morning I am asked by my eldest if she can have a scooter. “One day…” I reply. Which leads me onto my next cliché:

Saying things like “be careful” and “we’ll see…” Toddler: “I want to run really fast!” Me: “Ok, but be careful…”

…Sometimes I will even add “honey” onto the end of that sentence. Cringe.

Excitedly talking with friends about Ryvita thins or a new toothpaste I haven’t actually talked to my friends about how excited I am about ryvita thins like the adverts suggest BUT I have talked about this amazing sleeping bag thing you can get for cooking jacket potatoes in the microwave. Which is probably ten times as sad. Do keep reading.

Drinking like a mum -This is essentially, talking about what a wild night you are all going to have, chinking your first drink glasses together victoriously at the thought of being free for the whole evening…but not making it to a club because you are all too tired.

Wearing tops with a kooky parent logo “Maman”, “Mother”, and “Gin & On It” are in my collection. I need to stop.

Blogging …So to top it all off, 8 months ago I found myself become one of those ‘mummy bloggers’. But do you know what? That’s one cliché I really do feel happy about.

 

Do you find yourself being a clichéd mother? Does it make you smile or cringe?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please comment below!

And WAIT! Before you really go-go, if you liked this article, please like or share it on Facebook or Twitter. That would be superb. Thank you!!!

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A Mother’s Quest for Sleep

“Make the most of your sleep” my work colleagues said to me, before I left for maternity leave.

“My one tip for you” said my friend, already tired and graced with two children, “sleep now. Sleep as much as you can. Binge on it. Lie in every single day. Go to bed early. Take naps. Sleep, sleep, sleep!!!”

“I think the most difficult part of having children, was missing out on sleep…” said the lady in the post office. “rest whilst you can!” she added, smiling knowingly at the bump bursting through my non-maternity coat. The bump that was already keeping me awake at night, thank you very much.

Despite these generous pieces of advice….

Nothing could prepare me for what was to come.

Surprisingly, when I was sat up in bed for the umpteenth time, trying to get a bit of boob into my beetroot-faced newborn I did not think, “oh well, at least I made the most of my sleep when I had it…”

When I lifted up the toilet lid to dispose of my dirty underwear down the loo instead of into the wash basket, and when I found myself staring intently at a tiny speck of dust on the wall for what felt like an hour, I cannot say that I was better off thanks to the lie in I took 10 weeks ago.

The best piece of advice is:

“You will never sleep the same, ever again.”

And I’m sure it’s true. I remember my mum casually saying to me when I first started going out to pubs and clubs, that she never really slept properly until she heard the door click at 2am (or whatever ridiculous time I decided to rest my youthful, ungrateful head – my words, not hers). I pretty much went to the same places with the same group of friends, so I couldn’t really understand this. Now I get it. Of course I do! And I have realised that even when we get past the teething stage, the sleep regression stage, another bloody growth spurt, the potty training, the nightmares, the colds and sickness bugs…there will always be the nights out when they are 17, lurking in approximately 15 years time. So I have to accept this now and I realise I can only do one thing: try and make the situation a little bit easier.

You may have noticed the blog has been incredibly quiet of late. This is due to the school holidays (no childcare), a husband working away (no childcare), and a house move (luckily, this did involve some childcare). After we all survived the house move, G went back to work away and I was left with my two little gems who were going through a beautiful “yes they sleep through the night” stage. Smug face. Well of course they were, because they were waiting until mummy was alone in a new house to unveil their latest trick:

…”Operation No One Sleeps”

The baby, despite being only just being 5 months old, decided to grow two bottom teeth. At the same time, she lengthened about a cm and turned into a terradaptor, night and day. The toddler, meanwhile, having tortured me with all these sleep deprivation tactics months and months ago, came up with something new…….she thought she was on holiday.

Yes, very cute.

I know, very cute.

Ahh isn’t that lovely.

NO.

After two weeks – no. We are not on holiday. We are living in a nightmare of no sleep in a house where mummy isn’t quite sure where she put that dribble bib/soother/bottle opener/stash of kit kats, even if I have slept.

I soon adjusted to 2 hour sleep cycles. Generally each child would take it in turns: babies cries; alternating between toddler’s shouts of excitement (like running into my room saying she’d seen a dolphin in the ‘new bathroom’).

“How are you finding the area?” asked people.

“I haven’t been out of the house for three weeks,” I would reply, “but our garden is lovely.”

“You must be so excited to be in your new home at last!”

“Yes, if my feelings weren’t 100% taken up with exhaustion, despair and a basic need to function, then yes I suppose I would be excited.”

Luckily this torture didn’t last forever; the teeth have popped through, the baby’s legs are in sleepsuits 3 months bigger than her age and the toddler has accepted that we are not “on holiday” (but still stubbornly maintains that our home is to be called “the new house”).

During this time two companies approached me to review their products. This is not a line I have gone down before, although I have been asked – the first being Japanese nappies (thanks but I think the UK supermarket standard do the job just fine) and a book teaching children French (a lovely concept but we are still working on saying please in English). I’m also very aware that I don’t want to put people off by suddenly appearing to sell them stuff. I didn’t set up a blog for that purpose, to get freebies or make money; I did it because I love to write and communicate honestly with fellow parents – and this will always be my intention. The other thing is, at the end of the day, I’d much rather write my ramblings than do a dull old review. But when I checked my emails one bleary eyed morning I couldn’t help but be interested. Sleep has become as essential as food and water in my life right now. Two things cropped up: Fadeaway Sleep Sounds asking me to take a look at their soothing sound to download to help my baby go to sleep (the night before I had the hairdryer on for 20 minutes – in 25 degree heat) and NaturalMat with a mattress to help toddler with her restlessness (she has occasional night sweats…which lead onto nightmares…) Hmm. Anything’s worth a try for a few extra z’s, right?!!

So keep your eyes peeled for these reviews, including a giveaway – coming to this space soon, with hopefully a slightly fresher faced me.

In the meantime, I hope you all sleep well tonight. It’s Saturday tomorrow so remember children get up at least an hour earlier than weekdays…ouch.


 

 

 

 

10 alternative work colleagues for the modern mother at home

Once upon a time I had a full-time job in an office. The days were long, or so I thought, the work was repetitive, or so I thought and when the going got tough at certain busy times of the year, it was the team I worked in who kept me level.

Now my full time job has turned into one that has longer hours, more repetitive tasks and when the going gets tough I don’t have my colleagues to keep me level. In fact, some days I don’t see anyone apart from my two tiny ‘bosses’ (I’m talking about my children, not my post-baby breasts). I miss them dearly (my work friends) yet I remain positive, and thankful for their replacements. We shall start with number 1: my dishwasher.

The One Who Shared the Load

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In most work places, there is usually one particular team player who stands out, who you can always rely on to help you when you are drowning in tasks, who will take some work off from you and say nothing more of it. My dishwasher is now that person. At 7.30 each night it will gratefully take the bowls of soggy cornflakes from the morning rush, tackle crusty scrambled eggs stuck to the saucepan and baked bean covered everything. It struggles with weetabix of course – that stuff, once dry, is stronger than concrete. My dishwasher is my saviour. It helps me when I need it most. I don’t give it much love back. After I give it all my dirty plates, I press power, switch off the lights and go to bed. In the morning everything is sparkling and new. What an absolute gem. We must do lunch sometime.

The Talker

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I loved chatting with the talker at work. Sometimes, ok, most of the times, she was a complete distraction, but without her the office would have been dead. She was the most entertaining person in there and no one could help but love her. My alternative now is my iPhone and social media. I need it to stay in the loop, to keep up to date with everything that is happening on the go. I haven’t got time to read a newspaper – crikey, I can hardly get out of my front door to buy one; and my only chance to read a magazine is my quarterly trip to the hairdressers (“what – Cheryl is divorced?! Katie Price is friend with Peter Andre?!”…)

The One Who Helped Me Forget It All

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Occasionally I would also meet up with one of my friends outside of work. Since she was often working night shifts, she would be in need of a good breakfast and me, in need of something slightly tastier than my usual soup and a roll (Ha! How spoilt I was then! I had half a cold fish-finger today). We’d meet at the pub near my work and after a few minutes I’d forget I was actually in work at all. Netflix does the same thing these days. As soon as I have pressed that red and white button, I forget that I have been changing nappies, removing bogeys and arguing with a tiny person about eating one more spoonful of potato…instead I am a rich girl in Manhatten with endless cocktail parties to attend and if it all gets too much, there’s summer in Paris.

The After Work Drinker

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There’s at LEAST one in every office. If they don’t actually go for a drink after work, they talk about what tipple they are looking forward to when they get in.

Now, I am the after work drinker.

The Motivator

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My “work-wife”, you know who you are – she always motivated me. I loved sitting next to her because if I was ever flagging I’d glance to my right and she’d be head down working, moving files from under her desk into a tower next to her. I seriously wish I could parent with my work-wife beside me every day. Instead I use coffee and tea (nb: the herbal ones I used to drink about 10 a day of in my 9-5 job are gathering dust in my kitchen cupboard). Caffeine you are the closest thing I get to The Motivator.

The Annoying One Who You Sometimes Need to Call On in Times of Need

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This one worked in another office but in the same team as me, so despite them regularly irritating me, I had to keep them sweet because they often helped me out. I grin and bear CBeebies most days in the same manner, but actually, sometimes I am genuinely grateful for it’s existence.

The Mumsy One

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The one who could be your mum. It’s so lovely to have this sort of work colleague in your team. She will always stick up for you and is the nicest person to bump into in the kitchen or on lunch break. My work mummy now is Lorraine Kelly, at 8.30am every morning on ITV. That is if I remember to turn over from the Furchester Sodding Hotel.

The Clingy One

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Is often some poor mite on work experience who hasn’t a clue where to go or what to do and finds the prospect of talking to anyone other than the person they have been introduced to at 9am, terrifying. Fine to have them tag along for the (paid) working hours, but at lunchtime, if you want to go shopping for a new bra you really don’t need them tagging along asking keen bean work experience questions. But now I find myself even sat on the loo with my teething baby strapped to me. At least the intern waited outside. And new bra? Lunch break? Don’t make me laugh…ha, ha, ha…

The Dramatic One

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High one minute, low the next, best friends with so-and-so and seething with them the next. Fascinating to watch, not so great if you are in the thick of it. Well, now I have a toddler.

The One Who Is Just Like You

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She makes the same mistakes as you, whether that’s leaving the toilet with her skirt stuck up her knickers or heading every letter with the year of her maternity leave. If you do something embarrassing or funny, you run straight to her to confess and you both double over in laughter until you cry (or get told off for being hysterical in a law firm). This is where I shout out to my favourite parenting bloggers, The Unmumsy Mum, Sarah & Louise, Life is Knutts and This Mums Life. I swear we are sisters. Thanks for keeping me sane during the work shifts and for laughing with me.

 

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Flying solo: How to Eat.

Forget smug ‘batch cooking’, forget blending up a healthy smoothie in a Nutribullet and you can completely disregard snacking on handfuls of seeds. You’re not Ma Larkin and you are not a fitness addict. You are NOT a garden sparrow. You’re a busy mother.

There we go – I’ve said it. All the stuff that I feel I should be doing to keep myself healthy and nourished whilst flying solo with two small beings. It’s time to get realistic. Granted, after 5 days of eating a bowl of cornflakes for my evening meal, I feel I need to be a combination of all of the above – but really, I know what the balance is and if I write it down for all to see, maybe, just maybe, I will stick to it.

Firstly, here are the essential items you NEED to stock up on before your partner goes away – for whatever length of time. DO NOT let him/her leave without ensuring that you have the following items:

  • Tea – I say DO NOT scrimp on this one. You need good, decent, tea, – ok? You deserve either Yorkshire or PG Tips. Typhoo is good if you have to keep on a budget. Forget Tetley – they do NOTHING for parents. Twinnings – great, if it’s on offer and you think you will actually sit down to appreciate the flavour. For me it’s all about instant strength. Yorkshire doesn’t mess about. It’s the Royal Marine of teabags.
  • Wine – gradually stock up on the offers (easier said than done if you  drink every new purchase the night you buy it) or buy in bulk – I recently finished a whole case which G had painstakingly picked out online. He never got to taste any of them.
  • Coffee – I get whatever instant is on offer. But the BEST present we have ever been given was something I never thought was essential: a Nespresso machine. It lit up my life.
  • Milk – for tea and children.
  • Chocolate – for moments of despair and relief.
  • Vitamin tablets.

If you can, organise an online shop to arrive the day your teammate departs.

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Try to unpack it before 6pm.

You may also like to add:

  • Cans of gin & tonic – better than sliced bread. Someone on my Facebook Page recently posted about Tesco delivering all of her shopping order apart from the Gordon & tonics. I felt her pain, deeply.
  • Flavoured sparkling water – for when you feel the need to binge drink but can’t because you are responsible for the little ones – and don’t want to feel like dying when they wake you at 6am.
  • Bread/cereal –  emergency dinner.
  • Cheese – see above. Also gives you energy whilst preparing a proper meal.
  • Biscuits – break time essentials or fuel when unintentionally skipping meals. I do have to be careful with these though, because I have been known to binge eat a long packet of Maryland cookies within the space of an hour.
  • Calpol – because a child is likely to get ill as soon as you are left alone.
  • Paracetamol – for your milder headaches.

Once a week I manage to get my act together and do the house shop – usually online, unless I am gripped by a moment of insanity: “let’s just pop to the shops…”

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And don’t they look happy about it.

Here’s what I buy to ensure I eat healthily. It’s all about healthy snacks. Usually you don’t get to eat a proper meal until the evening. So if you fill up on good stuff in-between, that’s not actually too bad.

  • Fruit – wash it all when you buy it (stick the children in front of Ben & Holly whilst you do so) then you can just grab and go from the fruit bowl. Or I put mine on a cake stand to make it look more appealing. I used to be much better at eating fruit when I worked in an office because it was the only snack I took in with me. Now it’s much more appealing to reach for the biscuits or toast. My weakness for beige carbs over vibrant colourful fruit really does annoy me.
  • Yogurts – there are TONNES of ‘mummy yogurts’ available!!! I love the Yeo valley or Onkens – they also double up as a tasty pudding if you need a treat (just steal some of the children’s chocolate buttons to put on top).
  • Hummus and thin crackers/breadsticks or if you are making them for your toddler anyway: carrot/pepper/cucumber sticks…

Main meals

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Gossip Girl. Pizza. Wine. Baby asleep. Bliss.

  • Microwave – There are loads of healthy ready meals around too. I know it’s not ideal and they can be more expensive, but it’s worth getting one or two in when they are on offer, to save you from eating a lump of cheese for dinner. I have at least one night a week when I have zero energy and a mountain of the days washing up to tackle. If I have a tasty prawn biryani in the fridge it cheers me up immensely.
  • Stir fries – a healthy meal put together in less than 10 minutes. Feel the smugness. Pour wine, use chopsticks and you have yourself a romantic date for one fabulous flying solo mummy.
  • Pasta – keep chorizo in the fridge and frozen peppers / mushrooms in the freezer and add some chopped toms and a handful of mixed herbs for a speedy, tasty tea.
  • Friday/Saturday night meals – the weekends are probably the hardest days of the week to fly solo. Toddler/baby groups aren’t on and all your friends are catching up with their families. That is a whole new post – but whilst we are talking about food, listen to me now: organise yourself with a Saturday night meal, preferably Friday too. It will break up the monotony of the week and make you feel a lot better. My favourite for a Friday is pizza. Open up a bottle of wine, get into your PJs and stick a sloppy guiseppe in the oven. And for Saturday night, I choose one of these guilt free favourites from my friend The Slimming Foodie:

Cheeky Nandos

Perfect Slimming World Chips

Slimline Chicken Korma

I also need to mention the Best Ever Pizza Sauce – I have only been organised enough to batch make it once and it was amazing with pasta for the rest of the week!

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Cheeky Nandos & Perfect Chips. Slightly blurry, maybe that was my second glass of wine.

(The other thing I do is you know those packs of slices of garlic bread you can get? Well, it’s a bit sad but put each one into a sandwich bag and you can pull them out of the freezer to go with your solo meal. The same with bread. Buy an 800g loaf but put it in the freezer and use as and when you need it).

Keep in the car:

  • Bottled water
  • Dextrose energy tablets (I have these in my coat pocket too)
  • A long life protein shake
  • Lucazade sport

Which leads on to….

Fluids

If you AIM to drink lots of water, you might just manage a few glasses a day. Really though, it does help curb the tired/grumpiness and also means you won’t pass out when you have a glass of the liquid grape.

Which leads me onto my last tip… 

Don’t open the wine until the children are safely asleep (apparently it takes 15 minutes approximately for them to go off to dreamland properly…ha!) otherwise you will just be slightly pissed and confused and the children will sense your loss of authority and stay up all night. And you will have wasted good wine. Contrary to what they say, when flying solo, it’s much better to drink alone!

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Flying solo highs and lows in one evening

In every job there are pro’s and cons. It’s best to start this series being honest about the drawbacks and benefits of flying solo. Sometimes they blend into one situation.

At the moment I have a palava with the toddler getting dried after her bath and then into her pyjamas every single night. It sounds cute. Well after a 12 hour day it is not. It’s just irritating. Bath time runs smoothly (once she’s in, there’s usually a protest getting in and then getting out) and then getting the toddler into her pyjamas is like trying to get a drugged up jellyfish into a caboo carrier.  Tonight, after a good 5 minutes of ‘drugged-up jellyfishing’ (a term now to be added to the Mummy Rules dictionary), she eventually played ball: using a section of my hair to support herself whilst getting her legs into her bear-printed bottoms. Ouch. Yes, ouch! Most of the hair stayed on my scalp, luckily.

As I endured the pain for the sake of progress, I meditated on this: the gin and tonic I would soon be sipping in front of Pretty Little Liars. I would close the children’s bedroom door, strip naked, get into my dressing gown, pour gin and press the Netflix button all within the space of a few seconds. The dream was not far away…

Soon I had forgotten about my scalp pain; and then I was back in the room. Toddler was demanding her toothbrush. After making a big scene of putting her toothbrush back into each available toothbrush holder hole option and changing her mind several times (there are 4 holes, mine was the only one in there because my goddamn – I mean DARLING husband – isn’t here, and the baby has only got 2 teeth) we eventually zoomed towards her bedroom for storytime and bed.

Minutes later I was in HEAVEN with my canned gin and the Netflix button. Every bit of me ached (particularly my scalp), I’d had a particularly stressful day (not just the kids, other shizznicks) and to be quite honest I was feeling really down in the dumps – not in a depressed way, more of a FFS/I’m knackered/AGAIN/grumpy way. It was at that moment a GOOD thing that my husband hasn’t then returned from work. I didn’t need anything other than Netflix and gin, nothing else could make me feel better. And after a days work did he really want to come into a grumpy knackered wife? (Really G?!?)

So. The pro’s and con’s of a typical evening flying solo:

You don’t have to speak to anyone at the end of the day: this is essential recharging after a day of constantly repeating your words and sentences. It also means you won’t sound like a whinging cow because you don’t have anyone to whinge to.

*Unless you text your husband saying you’ve “had a shit day and feel like shit!!!! and yar-da-yar-da-yar-da….”  I used to do that but most of the time I don’t bother now, because I realise I’m just giving myself bad press when in fact I’ve been absolutely flipping fabulous getting through a tough day and having happy (ish) children that are safe and fed etc. And most of my hair is still on my scalp. Also it doesn’t make me feel better. It can make me feel sad, angry, resentful, lonely. So I’ve stopped text moaning. If it’s been that bad I just message:”goodnight ” and pick up the remote. It also means the next day, the day before isn’t hanging over me on my phone messages.

You can watch whatever you want on Netflix and no one will judge (out loud or silently). I’ve just finished Gossip Girl and now I’m all over PLL. In those moments, I’m a glossy haired, popular 16 year old with issues about who to go with to Prom.

You don’t have to think about dinner – you can just eat a lump of cheese (see my future post on Meals).

You can go to bed at 8pm and just go straight to sleep.

You can starfish in the bed.

***BUT

You don’t get a cuddle.

You have to clear up the trail of mess from the daytime, to bathtime, to bed all by yourself. That sucks.

You have to either cook for yourself, or eat badly. The first is tiring short term. The second makes you tired long term (low in iron, certain vitamins etc, viscious circle).

You can get addicted to Netflix. It’s serious.

The bed is cold. I’m not being melodramatic, it is bloody cold! I have to put dressing gowns on top of our duvet or sometimes put an electric blanket on in August.

You could run out of gin. It happened to me once.

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…Goodnight.

Stay tuned for my next post….it will have useful tips, I promise…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying solo parenting

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Amelia Earhart, amazing woman: the first to fly solo across the Atlantic (thank goodness she didn’t have a toddler or a baby in the back)

There is a new phrase going about the mummy scene at the moment: ‘flying solo’, which means, in parenting terms, looking after the kids on your own – it seems to be most frequently used when a parent is left flying solo at the weekend or on the odd day or week. I have had this idea in the back of my mind now for some time since I started the blog…it’s to reach out to all those parents. Whether you are doing it for a day, a week or a month I think I can help.

When I first started to do this flying solo malarky; with the exception of my mum, I knew no-one else who had experienced it. I felt extremely out on a limb; I couldn’t find any relevant communities in the real world or online. I admit that at the beginning, being with my new mummy friends and their partners made me feel even more of an outsider, especially when they asked (and genuinely kindly) “is G away again? When is he back?” As for my other friends they hadn’t had children yet. I did look at my options: there was a single parents club in my local town, which I really wanted to go to but which would have been hugely inappropriate to attend – because I am married; and a military wives group, which would have been even more so – because my husband is not defending his country/risking his life abroad. One evening I found myself googling “lonely wife” – I have no idea what I wanted it to come up with – this blog I suppose. Anyway that was a bit of a mistake which caused my history to be immediately deleted! (I can just picture my husband recoiling with horror now).

But this is REALLY NOT a sob story, it’s a brief introduction to the series and incidentally, lasted a very short period of time. I soon got used to it. After all, G had been working away on and off since we dated, so I knew what I was signing up for. Every freelance job he takes is a family decision and we are lucky enough to manage a good balance of him being home and away, about 6 months of the year each way. I absolutely love our lifestyle now. I am also more confident at spending time with anyone – I don’t even think about it and haven’t until I started writing this. I recently spent a whole day with my friends and their partners just relaxing in their garden and it was one of the loveliest days I have had this year. As well…I am pretty sure I have enough tips now under my belt to keep my own head up when things get tough. I have had plenty of mornings wondering how on earth I am going to get through the day with my sanity intact.

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So this is why I have decided to create the flying solo series! For all you parents who fall into that little gap with me. If it helps just one of you then my job here is done. My advice ranges from: what to eat when you are truly knackered; how to survive the day when you have had no sleep all night; what to watch on Netflix and how to have a great weekend. And the advice is for anyone who has to fly solo for an afternoon, a day, a few days, a week, or three months. That first week when your partner returns to work after paternity leave, or the day he suddenly announces he’s been called into work and is taking your car. Any longer than three months? Well, I have a vague idea but you’d really have to ask the military wives – and chances are if you are flying solo for this length of time, you are one.

These hints don’t always work, because sometimes the shit hits the fan. That’s parenting for you. But have a read, enjoy, laugh and if it doesn’t work…get lots of chocolate in and avoid google.

(And if it doesn’t quite apply to you, please share with those who might find it useful).

Sports for all…

To the gym!

There are three things that make my toddler’s personality really shine: the great natural outdoors; music and gymnastics. The first two I can understand: both her daddy and I share the same love of the outdoors and music has always been a big part of who I am (not necessarily a good thing, I was once in a band called Spatula). However the last one is alien to me: gymnastics. Which is why I am excited to join her at the start of her little adventure.

I should be clearer here. The toddler didn’t just turn up at breakfast time wearing a one-sleeved shimmery leotard, performing back tucks and dip swings and announcing she loved being a ‘na (“gymnast” – not to be confused with ‘na’na, “banana”). No, it was more subtle that that. She whooped with joy when nosediving off the bed, took to spinning and rolling across the living room at any given moment and began to climb any object, animal or person: “me climb the baby now, mummy…” So when I saw an advertisement for a free trial session at our local ‘baby gym’ I knew it would be perfect for letting her loose.

Uh, oh, Mummy has issues…!

What I didn’t expect was the feelings it would stir up in me. Despite now being in my thirties, with various ups and downs in life behind me, despite having once had a professional career…being an independent woman able to live on my own for weeks on end with two children…having my own circle of friends and my own firm likes and dislikes and opinions…despite giving birth for hours on end with a back-to-back baby on only gas & air…I got scared when we got to the baby gym and I HAD TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF. My stomach actually lurched when the instructor said “ok guys, take your shoes off and we’ll start our warm up on the mat!” The word “mat” was almost enough to make me throw up there and then. I found myself giggling at myself as I unlaced my converse…WTF was going on here?!

The thing is, perhaps I have issues with PE…Sports wasn’t fun for me at school. I can’t remember primary school sports at all. All I can remember is the worry from Year 6 to Year 10. The hormonal years. The sensitive years. The awkward-as-fuck years.

Here are the issues:

Team picking: two popular kids are chosen to head two teams. We’ve seen it in life, we’ve seen it in the movies…the fat/geeky/ugly kid gets chosen last. I was just before that kid. OK, I exaggerate slightly: I think I started middle-top based on my looks at the time: the tallest girl in the class. Then as it became apparent that I was terrible at catching a ball, I downgraded to the middle. Then as my expression started showing that I really would rather be eating peanut butter on toast and watching Friends than cavorting around the cheesy school hall doing the bleep test, I was relegated to the bottom 5. Once you are in that set, it’s pretty hard to come back up again. Once the teams had been picked the games began.

Rounders. With rounders, the worst result was to get out straight away, thus reinforcing your rubbish-at-sports status in front of your disappointed peers. The best result was to get out straight away too: so that you could make a daisy chain and sunbathe. At one stage, catching the ball when I was a fielder was the most important moment in my tiny little life. I would love to go back to my old self and say “who cares?!” Laugh when you are almost last to be picked! Laugh when you miss the ball, sit down and enjoy the sun!!! You are in Year 6 for goddsakes they haven’t even invented the SATS yet! Enjoy life, school, sports…Now I really sound like a mum.

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Catch it, Harry, just catch it!

The showers. You had about 30 seconds to run through cold water, dress and walk to your next class. I couldn’t even get a verruca sock off in that time, even with talcum powder. One teacher even threatened to get out her cold keys if we didn’t hurry up (errrr thinking about it isn’t that a bit dodge…)

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Lovely. This and a spray of impulse and I feel like a goddess.

Periods. Sanitary towels now are ultra sophisticated hybrid pieces of wafer thin foam. I can’t say I felt the same freedom as the girls on the Always adverts do with a 10cm bodyform pad between my legs. Thank god for tampons later on: in and out – literally.

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Oops.

5. Boys. “Hahaha you should run faster, cos you’ve got no tits!” Oh dear Mr, I think you are going to find in 20 years time that you picked on the wrong blogger…watch this space for the next post titled “idiots I have known”.

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“He is only teasing you because he likes you”

6. Forward rolls. I wrote to Shout Magazine’s agony aunt with this problem: I hate PE, I can’t do a forward roll. Why was it so bloody compulsory anyway?!

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Simples.

Enough.

If that was my low point, my highs came outside of school: I won a couple of swimming competitions, a local badminton tournament and later on as a working grown-up (ha) I took up running and yoga whilst working in a very stressful job: it balanced out my body and mind at the end of every 9 til 5. In fact every activity that I had done outside of school I have LOVED. Sport isn’t compulsory, but it’s necessary for a healthy body and mind; it can bring frequent feelings of happiness and confidence. No one should ever be forced to do sports. I’d like to think teachers are less old-skool and kids are less self conscious, but I know the latter isn’t true. But I do know that if my girls have an awful time in PE I know that they will have a fabulous time with me swimming, their dad running about a tennis court and all four of us walking and adventuring at weekends. I hope so anyway. I am naively determined not to let the iPad win (see my future post ‘Why I Love the iPad’).

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So, after loving her first few classes: hanging from monkey bars, balancing on ‘the horse’ *shudder* and generally embracing her climbing, balancing and spinning antics; my little one still surprised me by doing her first forward roll. I could have cried.

Then, she turned to me and said “mummy do?”. I tried, I tried, I tried…! But it didn’t really work…it kind of hurt my head before I had even got off the ground. But that’s cool. She didn’t mind. And I won’t write to Shout magazine about it. Because in all honesty, I really don’t want to do a forward roll. I would rather walk on Dartmoor, I would prefer to try kayaking, I would rather go for a swim and sauna, I would rather take a pilates class and I would rather dance 4 hours on the dance floor to hits of the 90s. Actually I’d rather curl up with a good book and a bar of chocolate.

My budding little gymnast might hate netball. She could dread touch rugby and shirk from the cross country races. But she will always have her forward roll – and, even if she wants to go it alone she will always be in our team.

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For my darling x

 

 

 

 

 

Heather’s Honest Guide to Maternity Wear

Maternity fashion. It’s much better than it used to be, but it could still do with some improvement. If you haven’t got a million pounds to spend at JoJo Maman Bebe then it can be tricky. My fashion savvy friend Heather agreed to write this post for me. She managed to look absolutely scrummy through her pregnancy, possibly even MORE attractive (ignore her modest protests) and with a degree in fashion and her blunt Yorkshire ‘say-it-as-it-is’ personality, I knew she was the right girl for the job.

Maternity Wear

What to wear while you are pregnant is a much more difficult thing than you initially realise. Its not just clothing, it’s a balancing act!
You don’t want to buy too much because you will only be in it for a few months and so it is a waste of money; but then, you also don’t want to buy too little and spend the last two months of your pregnancy wearing a nightie.

I have pooled the wisdom of my own and my mummy friends’ experience to compile a short guide to the Do’s and Don’t Waste Your Money’s of maternity wear.

Jeans

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Whether or not to buy maternity jeans is, in my opinion, purely a matter of what season will it be when you are in your third trimester?
If you will be heavily pregnant in winter, a pair of over-the-bump maternity jeans will be your cosy best friends. However if you are going to be heavily pregnant in the summer I would advise against buying a pair altogether, as under-the-bump maternity jeans are a pain in the bum! They fall down, constantly. Over-the-bump jeans don’t have this problem but with your internal temperature already being set to ‘tropical incubator’, adding warm weather and over-the-bump fabric will lead you to feel like a turkey in an oven.

Leggings
They may not be the most glamorous things in the world but maternity leggings are without doubt the comfiest thing you will ever wear in your entire life; and this is a time you need as much comfort as possible… go wild and buy at least three pairs!

Tops
Maternity tops for the most part fall in to two categories:
1. Loose-fitting flowy tops
2. Fitted tops with a football shaped pouch to put your bump in.
Personally I feel the loose-fitting tops are far better value for money and would recommend buying more of this kind. You can wear them in early pregnancy, late pregnancy and post pregnancy; and they look flattering during all of these stages.
The fitted style tops with built in bump pouch are really limited to being worn in the third trimester. During the second trimester when your bump is just starting to grow; and post-delivery while you are waiting for it to shrink; it’s very normal to be self conscious of your stomach and worry, “Do I look pregnant? Or do I just look fat?”. Whilst the pouch tops look lovely around a big, proud baby bump; they make a small bump look like a jelly-belly, which is generally what you will be trying to avoid.

Dresses

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Dresses make for brilliant maternity wear. If you are pregnant during the summer, maternity maxi dresses are wonderful. They’re flattering, comfortable and they keep help keep you cool. If you’re pregnant in the cooler/rainer months of the year and maxi dresses are a bit impractical, shorter maternity dresses are just as comfortable. You can also wear them with maternity tights (which are, incidentally, as amazingly comfortable as maternity leggings).

Coats
Unless you have a considerable sized bump in the depths of winter, I would not bother buying a maternity coat. Your internal heating system goes into overdrive when you are pregnant: making you much hotter than normal: to the point that even if you need to put a coat on to keep the rain off. You will be plenty warm enough without fastening it up – so one of your normal coats will do just fine.

Nightwear
Maternity pyjamas and nighties are very expensive compared to standard nightwear. As you’re only wearing them for bed I personally think unless it is for a special occasion where you are wanting to look particularly glamorous/racy then they are not worth the money. Instead go to Primark and buy a few nighties in the next size up to what you would normally buy. You’ll probably want to invest in an inexpensive nightie to give birth in anyway, so it kills two birds with one stone.

Underwear

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Like maternity nightwear, maternity knickers are also very expensive in comparison to everyday knickers. Instead of forking out a lot of money for them I would instead embrace your inner Bridget Jones and invest in some lovely pairs of full briefs (the kind that come up to your belly button and your grandma would be proud of) in the next size up to what you would normally buy. These will give you the comfort you need during pregnancy. They will also be a lovely home for your maternity pad post-delivery; and, if you happen to have to have a caesarean, they will also come up above your scar -which you will need to make sure it doesn’t get irritated while it is healing.
When it comes to bras, you will probably find you need to switch to non-under wired bras once you hit the third trimester; purely for comfort. At this point it is up to you whether you buy a normal wireless bra or a maternity bra. The maternity bras are comfier but more expensive. At this stage there is no point investing a lot of money on nursing bras.
If breast feeding is not for you and you choose not to do it; or you intend to do it only for a short time, then I would suggest buying maternity bras from Primark or New Look. You can get these for less than £10 and if you don’t need longevity from them, buying cheap will be perfectly fine.
If you plan to breastfeed long term you will probably need to invest in some good quality nursing bras. These can get pricey, particularly if you want ones that don’t look too old ladyish. Because of that I would suggest not buying them until baby is born and you can have your massive, milk-filled mammaries measured! Otherwise you may find that the nursing bras you bought at 39 weeks no longer fit once your milk has come in and you have to buy all new.
Regardless of how long you spend in maternity underwear, once you get passed the stage of wearing it and return to your normal underwear, after a brief pang of grief for the loss of comfort, you will feel like an absolute sex kitten!

Footwear

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During the last few months of pregnancy you will find it much harder to reach your feet and so slip on shoes are the ideal thing to wear, anything with laces or buckles will be more trouble than its worth. If however its cold and rainy, and dolly shoes / ballerina pumps are impractical; boots are the best alternative. Pregnancy is notorious for causing excessive water retention. If you suffer from this you may find your feet and legs much larger than normal meaning you are unable to fit in your normal boots. If this is the case Simply Be have a huge selection of boots available in wider feet and calf fittings that you will have no problems with.

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Thank you H! If any of my other mama friends would like to guest blog for me, then please email at mummy rules.uk@gmail.com. I am particularly interested in/have limited knowledge of: mummy makeup (every day and night out); quick & healthy meals to cook for yourself when you are beyond tired; and how to be fit and healthy on 6 hours sleep a night. It’s not all funny stuff though: if you would like to voice your experiences on sensitive topic please contact me here too.