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

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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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.



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.


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.



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



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



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.


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.


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.


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…….😉


How to sabotage your own run

Last week was one of the best running weeks I’ve ever had -after being stuck at 8 minutes constant running for the last few months on Monday I broke the cycle and ran for 10 minutes without stopping. Then on Friday to my overwhelming surprise I ran for 15 minutes without stopping and I felt like I’d just got a gold.

I am a round person who is unfit and unhealthy but I ran for 15 minutes without stopping – something that this time last year seemed impossible.

Today I was aiming for 17 minutes and I grabbed my running kit and headed out the door not realising I’d left something really important behind.

I dropped my daughter at nursery and headed down to the local lake and started my warm up. I noticed lots of uber fit people running around me so moved onto a more quiet spot where no one could see me. I felt my leg twinge as I warmed up and focussed on it a bit too much. I felt my tooth start to hurt again as the painkillers I’ve been taking for it hadn’t started to work yet.

I started to doubt myself.

Maybe the 15 minutes was a fluke? Maybe my watch was wrong and it was actually 1.5 minutes? Maybe I imagined it? Maybe the wind had been behind me? Maybe the painkillers I’ve been taking for my tooth disguised the pain when I ran last time? Maybe I actually wasn’t good enough?

Seems like when I left the house this morning I’d remembered my running shoes, comfy top, socks and capri trousers. I’d remembered my watch, I’d remembered my phone and my kick ass running playlist but I’d totally forgotten to bring any self confidence or a postive mindset to my run.

You can be the fittest person in the world but if you let self doubt into your brain you are fighting your body and your mind which is exhausting. The easiest way to self sabotage your own running experience is to start off by telling yourself why you can’t do it. If you let that doubt get settled in your brain it can be a disaster and knock you totally off your game.

Which is what happened to me today.

I ran for 8 minutes without stopping which is good but it’s also 9 minutes short of where I wanted to be. My legs were hurting but no more than usual so the only thing that was different between this week and last week was how I was feeling when I set off.

Todays run was ok but not what I was hoping for – tomorrow I’ll try again and hopefully remember to bring a little confidence along with me.

Tomorrow is a new day and maybe that 17 minutes will feel more achievable.


Coaching Cards for New Parents

When you find out you are going to be a parent thousands of questions start to run through your mind and it can be hard to find structure and answers to those questions. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed and instantly buying four or five books that only served to confuse me even more!

I was recently sent some Coaching Cards for New Parents from Kim Morgan at Barefoot Coaching Ltd and I instantly wished I’d had these cards when Little Miss MIP was born. The pack contains 50 cards that each have a question on them that is designed to encourage honest conversation about your experience of being a new parent. Not only do they make you think about your everyday parenting life but they also help to focus your thoughts on what kind of parent you’d like to be in the future.

I’m really pleased to be taking part in Kim’s #yougotthis blog tour and to answer the question on one of the cards for you now as an example of the questions the packs contain.


This made me laugh when I read it because I feel like the honest answer is “all the time”.

I feel frustrated when she doesn’t listen to what I’m asking, I feel frustrated when I feel like she isn’t eating properly, I feel frustrated when she won’t go to sleep and I feel frustrated when she doesn’t focus and pay attention to what I’m trying to teach her.

Feeling frustrated as a parent is a permanent mindset I think and I think it’s ok to feel like that as long as you can capture why you feel like that.

I get frustrated and cross when she won’t listen and do as she is asked – I feel like she is actively ignoring me and not making the choices I would like her to when ask her to do something. I feel frustrated and often like I’m failing but sometimes I can take a step back and try to identify why she isn’t doing what I ask. Sometimes she is just being a little minx and pushing boundaries but quite often her behaviour is a result and reflection of my behaviour.

As an example in the mornings I’ll often say – “can you pop your coat on please along with your shoes and pick up your school bag so we can go to nursery and see your friends”. Most mornings she’ll ignore me or start to have a tantrum and if that happens it’s pretty much my own fault. I’ve given her too much information and now she doesn’t know where to start – I’ve overwhelmed her and she isn’t quite sure what I want her to do so she responds by doing nothing. I then end up repeating myself until we end up at me counting to three, her shouting at me, both of us feeling frustrated and everything taking a million times longer than it needs to.

If I’d just asked her to put her coat and shoes on and left everything else out of the instruction it’s 90% likely it could all be avoided and we have a much more peaceful morning.

When she goes to bed she always gets over excited and I end up frustrated and the pattern repeats. I mostly go into bedtime and dinner time braced and ready for conflict but the times I don’t start off frustrated and anxious it generally ends up ok.

Frustration is a natural state of mind for parents – I’m frustrated I don’t have the flexbility I used to before children to enjoy sunny bank holidays in the beer garden, I am frustrated I’ve to put my hard earned career on hold and I’m frustrated that I don’t feel like I’m getting it right most days.

But I’m also happy – I’m happy this tiny terror has landed in my life to frustrate and delight me in equal measure. I’m happy that I’ve got this whole new life together to explore as a family and I’m happy that almost every day I can go to bed knowing that while I might not be the person I was a few years back the person I’m turning into is ok.

The coaching cards are a really interesting concept and I would recommend them to others. You can buy them from the Barefoot Coaching website here from the 1st September at £15 per pack and I’ll be giving away a pack on my Facebook page shortly.

You can follow the #yougotthis blog tour by using the hashtag or visiting the blog pages below – Mums The Law will be posting next followed by Squished Blueberries, This Glorious Life, Beautiful Things and finally Glossy Tots on the 9th September. You can also catch up on the ones you missed from Barefoot Blog, Messy Blog and Beauties and the Bibs to find out what they thought of the cards and what questions they answered. Blog tour graphic for Barefoot blog_Saira_0

I was sent these cards for free in return for an honest review – all opinions are my own


Are holidays with young children worth it?

I was talking to a friend recently and she said that she’d never been on holiday with her daughter because she didn’t see how a holiday with a child was worth it. She thought that a holiday with a family was just doing the same things you usually would just in a different location. I couldn’t disagree with her more though – I think family holidays are a special and important time for people to step away from their normal busy lives and experience something different together.

We are in the lucky position to be able to afford to go on holiday each year and I know this isn’t the same for everyone but I don’t think family breaks have to be expensive. You can camp, hire a caravan, book onto a coach trip or book a package and if you can’t get time off work then a one night weekend trip is just as valuable as a 5* break to Mexico.

Because for me it isn’t about where you go – it’s about the fact you go together. You could stay one night somewhere half an hour from home but it is still an adventure. It doesn’t matter that beds still need to be made, it doesn’t matter than dinner still needs to be cooked and it doesn’t matter than tantrums will still be had. By spending that time somewhere new as a family you are creating out of the norm memories and those are the things you will remember.

I once slept in a tent with a river of water running under it from the monsoon of rain that had been released overnight on a camping holiday to France. At the time it felt like the greatest adventure I’d ever had – I walked on the bubbling tent groundsheet the next day and thought that this must be what it was like to walk on a rain cloud.  My Dad threatened to wash my hair in the river running under our tent if I didn’t go to the shower block with Mum and being sorely tempted to see if he actually would just because it sounded like so much fun.

I don’t remember us going on those holidays because they were cheap at the time – I remember my Dad being there every single day for an entire week. My Dad has always worked extreme hours so for him to be there every single day was incredible. Some of my happiest memories of my childhood involve being sat in a field with my Mum, my Dad and my brother while we ate cheese and bread carved up with my Dads swiss army knife. It doesn’t matter where those memories took place but the fact I’ve got them and want to recreate them with my own daughter shows how powerful they were to me.

We’ve been really lucky to see some amazing places in the world before we had a family and I look forward to taking our daughter swimming with the fish in the Maldives, to visit the ruins in Tulum in Mexico, on safari in Tanzania and snorkelling in Egypt but these are all bigger dreams. I’m just as excited to take her out on a boat with in Penzance to see the dolphins and basking sharks, to take her to cheddar gorge to see the views, to take her to Snowdonia to see the looming peaks and to take her to the New Forest to see the ponies.

These are all things I want to share with her and I want her to remember but mostly I want her to remember us spending time with her, exploring new places with her and trying new things together as a family. Because those memories are precious.