30 minutes peace….

​Today’s *incredibly* bold look is brought to you by 30 Minutes Peace. Just 30 minutes between work life, home life and mum life gives me enough time to have a quick hot cup of tea, a 7th Heaven face mask and a shower without interruption. 

30 minutes is better than no minutes and I intend to make the most of them. 

If you have any minutes at all – 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 30 minutes make sure you do one thing for you. Just one thing. One thing for yourself can make you feel so much better and so much more in control when you’ve got a few hundred plates spinning at once. 

Me

Learning to be alone again…..

​One of the things that I’ve been most surprised about since the Tiny Human started school is how hard it’s been to get used to spending time on my own again. For over four years I’ve had a loud, funny and constant companion so having her disappear off to school has been a bit of a shock to my senses. 

Sometimes between school drop off and work I have a moment to myself and I almost don’t know what to do – I have a massive list of all the usual household bits but still…….there is time.

Time to have a cup of tea, time to face time with my friends and just time to…..be me. 

As part of my mission to reclaim this time I’ve started running and working out again. My legs were still a bit painful from yesterday’s exercise so today I went for a walk. Nice little 8.5k stroll in a beautiful part of the world and in total silence – I didn’t see another person for nearly 2 hours. 

It was a lovely walk and lovely to be able to enjoy that time but it still feels alien – I’m constantly looking around for my daughter and still feel guilty for taking that time for myself.

I’m sure it gets easier – it must do right? Does the point come when you can just enjoy having time to yourself and not feel guilty or that you should be doing something else?

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It’s a half arsed life…..

​Because some days are just crap. Some days are full of the feeling you are half arsing everything – struggling at being a good and patient parent, not giving work all the attention you’d like because you are trying to maneuver work with the school run, trying to be a good wife and friend and somewhere inbetween that trying to still find five minutes a day to be you. 

I’ve not been running for around three weeks, I’ve not had a shower without the tiny human accompanying me for a week and I’ve made a stupid promise to myself not to drink wine during the week.

So today I found a packet of sparklers and, while my ever patient husband out the shopping away, I went and stood in the garden and played with a sparkler for a few minutes. 

It was brilliant. 

It was only five minutes but man did it count. Five minutes alone in the quiet brought me at least another thirty minutes of keeping a cool head. Which is a good job because Miss MIP has been exploding with rage for three hours now and I’m not drinking wine. 

So here’s to all the parents half arsing it. We might not be great but we’re doing the best we can.

Go find your sparkle. 

dkms

How to save a life……

Today I am mostly very proud of my husband. Last year we registered as donors with Delete Blood Cancer  who match people with blood cancer like leukaemia and lymphoma with donor matches. Around 2000 people in the U.K. are registered and less than 1% of those registered will ever be a match.

Turns out Mr MIP is a match though so next month, after a series of injections, he’ll be giving his stem cells through blood donation that will take between 4 and 6 hours but could save the life of someone with cancer somewhere in the world.

And that’s it – a most swab, a match, a health exam and a blood donation and that could be someone’s life changed forever.

How amazing is that?

If you’d like to register as a donor you can visit www.dkms.org.uk

In the meantime I present to you my wonderful, giving, happy and stem cell filled husband.

Well done chap x x

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fine

You are doing just fine

It’s hard not to feel judged from all sides when it come to parenting. It’s hard not to measure yourself against the perfect parenting images we see blasted at us from all sides on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TV and magazine advertising and that’s not even taking into account the hundreds of thousands of parenting books around.

So let’s’ break it down.

If you are feeding, loving, caring and helping your children to grow up into kind, giving and confident human beings then you are doing just fine.

Put the magazine down. Put the parenting book down.

Ignore the pictures on Facebook and Instagram – I am guilty of taking perfect parent photos and they usually take 7 or 8 photos before you get one that makes it look like you are all having a good time.

Please stop comparing yourself to other parents. We are all different and at some point we were all new to this as well. No one comes into this game as an expert and one of the things children are truly marvellous at is throwing a can of self doubt into your thought process.

Children shout, children throw things, they have tantrums where they lie down in the middle of the shop ands refuse to move and they quite often appear to take pride in driving their parents to the very edge of sanity. This is all really normal behaviour for children and it’s no reflection on you as a parent.

You are doing just fine.

Happy Only Child

When one is enough

“When will you be having another?”

“You don’t want to leave it too long”

“Too long and the gap will be too big”

“Ahhhh – she’d love a sibling”

Anyone who has one child is probably overwhelmingly familiar with all of these sayings and lets out an internal sigh every time they hear any of them.

I’m so bored of justifying the ongoings of my internal organs to other people and mostly total strangers at that. I’m just so fed up with the assumptions we even want another child so I’m going to start answering honestly rather than politely.

So here it is.

I don’t know if we’ll have another baby because I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t see into the future. I don’t know if we could and even if we could I don’t know if we would.

I can’t even begin to explain how much I didn’t enjoy being pregnant. I had SPD from 18 weeks and was on crutches from 22 weeks, I had low fluid, the baby was breech and I was sick a minimum of 3 times a day until I was 30 weeks pregnant. I had heartburn, headaches, couldn’t sleep and my hair fell out in handfuls.

I didn’t glow. I’m still owed a glow.

If I’m honest I’m in no hurry to repeat that experience.

Then we were blessed with this amazing, funny, wilful and spirit filled little girl who doesn’t stop moving, has a mild speech delay and still doesn’t sleep through the night very often. We are so tired. We are incredibly happy and love our little family group but we are bloody tired.

We all fit in one car, we can live in a smaller house, all fit on one row when we fly and aren’t outnumbered by tiny humans v bigger humans.

For us this currently works – that’s not to say it’ll always be that way but I feel pretty comfortable in saying that this isn’t going to change anytime soon.

I just don’t understand why the amount of children people have is up for public debate? I’d never dream of questioning anyone about how many children they have so why would it seem ok for them to do that to me? That’s not even taking into account the hurt that is felt when people tell you it’s cruel to only have one child or ask you questions about your fertility you aren’t prepared to answer.

The trick is to just mind your own damn business – if you choose not to have any children, just one or two or a bigger family then that’s your own choice and no one has the right to question you on that. If you can afford it and you are happy with your choice then just do you and let everyone else keep out of your business.

 

Spa

My tips for a great Center Parcs break

We’re off to Longleat Center Parcs again this month and I’m so looking forward to our 4 night family break. It’s been a big year for us all so the idea of some family time out is very welcome right now.

If you are able to go term time it is possible to get a break at a reasonable price as well – we booked in January for a September break which came to £299 for a 2 bed standard woodland lodge. For a 5 day break this works out at around £75 per night which isn’t bad for self catering accommodation.

It’s possible to spend a fortune there and ram pack your days but we try to do no more than 1 or 2 activities a day and make the most of the free swimming, lakeside walks and bike rides. Last year I managed to get an early morning run in and while it was much much more hilly than my usual routes it was lovely to run around the lake in the morning.

Here are my top tips for your Center Parcs Longleat break.

Pre-book your activities

It is possible to book activities on site but if you want to make sure you can do things on the day you want to you should use the online booking system. This is a great way to keep an eye on your itinerary to make sure you aren’t booking too much in but also a good way to keep an eye on costs. You might not be able to get into your accommodation until 2pm or 3pm but you can book activities from 10am so you can get full use of your days. This goes the same for your checkout day – you have to leave your accommodation in the morning but you can book right up to the afternoon and evening of the day you check out so book your activities to make full use of your time.

Cafe Rouge

A sneaky restaurant in the corner or the main plaza that does a really lovely childrens menu and they’ll get to watch the fish swim past. They do an ace breakfast as well – my favourite is the freshly cooked bread with jam, butter and a cup of tea and hubby loves the granola. Many of the restaurants at Longleat can be very busy and full of stimulation for the tiny humans but Cafe Rouge is always very chilled out and a good place to spend some quiet time. The Grand Cafe is good for somewhere quieter than the sports bar as well.

Asda in Frome

There is a shop on site and it’s a really good little store but it isn’t the cheapest – I’d compare it to Sainsburys prices but without any of the deals. For us we find doing a click and collect shop from the big Asda in Frome is really helpful. You can order it all online before you leave and just drive in to collect it without any of the actual stresses of having to do a proper shop with the family in tow! Doing an online shop is also a good way of meal planning and keeping your meal costs under control – we usually plan for lunch out but dinner at home. Do bear in mind though that firewood and BBQ’s have to be brought from the onsite shop for safety purposes.

Bikes and trailers

The Longleat site is huge and there is a tractor train to get you around and about but for a bit of independance I’d recommend hiring or bringing your own bikes. They can be a bit of a slog – especially the hill up from the lake – but the site is well laid out with cycle paths and clear routes for you to use. We’ve always hired one of the trailers as well to make it easier to get around and about although now Miss MIP is 4 years old I’m not sure how easy it’ll actually be! Either way the trailers are fab for transporting swimming kit, shopping and stroppy children who refuse to walk another step…….

Onsite childcare

A family holiday is a holiday for all of us but we do enjoy some time to ourselves as well. Each year Miss MIP has gone to the Pirates and Princesses party at the Creche which gives us 2 hours to enjoy breakfast together or to go for a swim while she plays with her new found friends. The childminders at Centre Parcs are just fab – they are experienced and Ofsted registered and were able to deal with Miss MIP’s speech delay issues without any problems.

Wifi and phones

If, like me, you pretty much always have your phone in your hand Centre Parcs can be a challenge due to its almost impossible to find enough signal to make a call. The good news is you can pick up Wifi in most places but be prepared to be uncontactable for most of your stay.

Accommodation

When you book your stay you’ll be offered a range of accommodation – we’ve stayed in standard and executive and rate both. For the three of us the standard is fine but if having a second bathroom would be useful to you then the executive rooms are good for a treat. I haven’t stayed in the the tree house accommodation but if someone at Center Parcs wants to upgrade our stay I’ll be happy to review it  ;-) I’d particularly like the look of the treehouses and they could be amazing for special occasions or group hire.

 

I hope these tips help you enjoy your break and I’ll update it when we get back with any new ones we come across.

 

run

A letter to my smallest friend

Hello little one

You are about to embark on the craziest adventure and your biggest adventure to date. Today is your first day at school and while I’m heart broken at losing all the time I get to spend with you now I’m also so excited for you.

You are going to make new friends, play new games, learn new words and learn how to write your name. You get to learn to read…….oh the books that you’ll get to read and the adventures you’ll have with those books as you imagine what the author is seeing and describing. I’m so jealous you get to read those books with fresh eyes and having never heard them before.

You are going to experience the dizzying independence of your first school trips, of dinner at a friends, of walking to class without an adult and the sheer joy of a sleepover at a friends house which absolutely must include a midnight feast.

You are going to learn how to skip, how to climb, how to dance and how to sing. You are going to learn how to brush off people who are mean to you, who to turn to when you need help or if you are in trouble and you are going to learn that sometimes if you make the wrong choices you’ll end up in detention. We’ve all been there sweetheart.

You are going to learn the joy and disappointment that comes with sports day, you are going to learn how to win and how to lose gracefully and you’re going to find something that you really enjoy.

You are going to learn other languages, you are going to learn how to count and how only your Daddy can help you with your maths homework.

You are going to learn how to stick up for children who are being picked on, you are going to learn how sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is give them a hug and you are going to learn how to be a good friend.

You are going to do so much on your own over the next 12 years but you’ll always have us to support you. We’ll drop you off, pick you up and we will only ever be a phone call away – you starting school does free up more time for us as parents but we will always have all the time in the world for you.

My heartbreaks at the thought of you spending so much time away from us but I know that learning how to stand on your own two feet is just as important as having the reassurance of us always being there.

I might not be ready for this but I think you probably are. You are in for some brilliant adventures little one and I can’t wait for you to share them with us.

Now give me a big hug, tell me you love me and run into your school without looking back. I might shed a tear when your back is turned but I’ll be here when you finish to see the big smile I know you’ll have on your face.

Love you

x

classroom1

Dear Teacher

Tomorrow I’ll introduce you to my daughter and she’ll have her fingers in her mouth as she tries to take in the new situation around her. She’s really excited to start in your class and has been talking about going to big school for months now – I’m not sure she really understands what’s happening but I’m glad she’s looking forward to it.

It’s me that’s the problem – I look at her and I still see that little 6lbs baby that landed in my arms just over 4 years ago. Everything changed then and everything is changing again now.

Her joining your class means she isn’t that baby. It means she doesn’t entirely belong to us anymore and she is now part of an education system she’ll stay in for at least the next 14 years. It means that slightly wild and feral part of her that I love so much will be slightly dampened down. It means tests, standards, homework and exams will start to appear over the next few years. It means my crazy little wonder who constantly has mud on her face, scrapes on her knees and grass in her hair will probably become a little less wild.

How do I know she won’t get lost? How do I know she won’t disappear into the background in a large class setting? How do I know she’ll feel confident enough to tell you when she needs the toilet? How will you understand what she means when she uses her odd but cute little turns of phrase? How do I know this is going to be ok?

How do I know that this is the right thing and the right time for her?

How do I know she will be ok?

When she falls over (which she does a lot) how do I know someone will be there to pick her up? How do I know she’ll be a person to you and not a number? How do I know you’ll be able to notice if she’s struggling?

I’m so worried for her and I can’t show her any of this. Instead I laugh and smile with her while she gets so excited about leaving this stage of her life while inwardly my heart is breaking. I’m regretting every single moment I ever wished for a bit of time on my own. I’m regretting every time I counted down the minutes to bedtime. I’m regretting every time I said no to getting into her bed and cuddling her at 3am. I’m regretting not making the most of all that time with no expectations and the freedom we enjoyed to just go to the beach or woods without worry of attendance records.

I know it’ll be fine because it’s been fine for millions of children her age to start school for decades but this is a bit different because this time it’s our child.

So when I drop her off tomorrow and she takes you by the hand please could you let me know it’ll be ok? Let me know you’ll remember her name? Let me know that you’ll look out for her? Let me know that you’ll cuddle her when she needs it and reassure her when she is confused or scared?

Let me know you care. Please. Because to you she might just be part of your new intake for the year but to me she is the most precious, funny, mildly infuriating and annoyingly brilliant gift I’ve even been given. She is a gift I didn’t know I’d ever get to have and I’m so scared to let her go.

Tomorrow is a new chapter for all of us and we need you to teach us as well as her how to walk into this new challenge.

Thank you

x

Flight

Flying with a tiny human

We recently flew to the other side of the world with our wilful, impatient and fun loving four year old. To me the idea of taking her on a 35 hour flight to New Zealand was terrifying – I’m not a comfortable flyer myself and I was worried she’d pick up on that.

I did loads of research on what to do and what to take and ended up taking far too much so I thought I’d do a little list of what I’d do next time.

Here is what I’d recommend.

Snacks

In over 35 hours of travel we weren’t served one thing that the tiny human would commit to eating. We are really lucky in that our daughter will eat almost anything that is put in front of her but as it goes the food we were given on the flight was either bland, too salty or just not very nice! I’m pleased we had planned for this though and had our failsafe box of snacks.

We thought long and hard about what to pack as we didn’t want anything too sugary, anything that would get sticky or anything that would be messy. In the end we filled up a sectioned off lunchbox with raisins, cocktail sausages cut in half, dry cheerio cereal rings, sausage rolls, squares of cheese, some blueberries and some plain popped popcorn. On any flight over an hour I’d consider taking snacks for children – anything to avoid a hungry tantrum.

Take a couple of bottles of water and some straws as well – those cups they give you on a flight are a wet lap waiting to happen! Sport bottles of water are great for helping popping ears on takeoff and landing.

Toys

This was a tough one – with our hand luggage allowance from Qantas was quite limited so we had to be really careful what we took with us. Some of the stuff we took was totally unnecessary but some of it helped us out of a few tight spots. The things I’d recommend would be –

  • Playdoh – they’ll probably eat it but the small tubs were great and easy to tidy up. It is quite heavy though so if you are tight on weight allowance some sticks of plasticine might be better as it lighter and flatter to pack
  • Playmobile – a couple of the little sets were fab to keep her distracted and filled up several hours with good imaginary play
  • Shopping List Game Shopping List Game – play for her brain as well as her hands. She loves this game and it was easy to pop it all in a zip lock bag to save on space while keeping everything safe.
  • Magnetic Transport Puzzle  – this was our favorite. Really easy to pack down, very light, came in its own packaging and lots of fun for us all
  • Stickers – because all four year olds need 60,00,000 stickers on their person at all times
  • Colouring – don’t rely on the ‘fun packs’ airlines give you and make sure you take your own pencils and a pencil sharpener as well. We also liked the water colouring books as they don’t involve plane seats or trays getting drawn on and no leaking pens in pockets either.

TV Entertainment

Everyone told us not to worry too much as she’d just end up watching films and TV on the behind seat entertainment systems. Which would have been true if she was around 4 inches taller. As it was she needed two pillows to be able to see the screen which wasn’t comfortable for her – for this reason alone I was so so glad we’d taken a tablet with iPlayer on it. She managed to watch a couple of films but it didn’t hold her attention for anywhere near as long as we’d hoped.

Tablet

This has now become an essential part of travelling with our tiny human. She loves to play the Cbeebies games, Mr Potato Head, Justin’s World, Jigsongs, Little Fox and Magic Fingers drawing games. Stay on the safe side and take a power bank charger with you as well in case your battery starts to run low. I’d also recommend taking a pair of headphones of your own that are comfy enough for your little one to use.

The most important thing to bear in mind when you travel though is that children will be children. If your child is anything like mine you can be 98% sure that there will be a tantrum at some point and while it is embarrassing there isn’t anything you can do about it. They are young children who don’t understand what is happening and who are over excited and over tired – you can only try your best but you must also try as much as possible not to get stressed and overwhelmed by the situation. If you start to really struggle ask the cabin crew if you can move around a bit to give the people around you a rest but ultimately you and the people on that plane have to spend a few hours with each other and then you’ll go on with your separate lives. At the most you’ll be an inconvenience but as long as most people can see you are trying your hardest they tend to understand.

And get some wine or gin from the drinks trolley. It might not help with the tantrums but it’ll make the not caring part a little easier…….😉