Half a Year Blogging

I can hardly believe its been 6 months since I started my blog Cockney in the Countryside. To be honest this time last August I didn’t know too much about the blogging world and never did I imagine how much starting my blog would change my life. That sounds so dramatic a statement “blogging changed my life” but it actually has. At this point in my life I can now see so many opportunities opening for me rather than going back to teaching.

Autism

I originally began my blog as a place for me to talk about my journey from London City life to Countryside living. However it quickly became more than that after I decided to start writing about my life as an autism parent and my son’s autism. Many other autism parents started to message through my various social media platforms, just to chat mainly, and to discuss topics I had written about and it was comforting to be able to communicate and relate to so many other autism parents who may be in the same position as myself. Autism parenting can be a lonely and scary place at times and this communication with others out there was and is such a positive I have found from blogging.

Reality Parenting and Radio

I was always very adamant when beginning my blog that I was going to tell the truth about parenting in all my brutal honesty. When I became a parent 7 years ago I was overhwlemed by the amount of “perfect parenting” advice I see. I felt under so much pressure from social media and various other parenting blogs to be this super mum who baked cakes with their children in a spotlessly clean kitchen and crafted on a Sunday afternoon creating sophisticated works of art. However soon I realised this wasn’t a true reflection of many families and that these were just small snap shots of a life and the true reality of parenting wasn’t being seen. I thoroughly enjoyed writing posts such as soft play guide, flying with a toddler. All of which outlined some of the scenarios parents may find themselves in and discuss them with humour and honesty rather than make believing that life always runs smoothly!

I am proud and so very greatful to discuss, those blogs in particular as a guest on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Blogging Community

Through social media groups and forums I have found a whole range of different bloggers who I love interacting with and meeting up with at times. Blogging is so diverse in topics and I have learnt a multitude of skills from reading other’s blogs and sharing eachother’s posts. Twitter is a great platform for reading other blogs and sharing your work and gaining support from the blogging community. I was overwhelmed to be nominated for a UK Blog Award in November and can’t thank my followers and fellow bloggers for their support in the nominations process.

Life and Family

It wasn’t until October that I actually told any of my family or friends about my blog. I felt slightly embarrassed for some reason, I hadn’t wrote for so many years and was still finding my feet. However, once I did let them know, I was so happy and encouraged by their ongoing support. I’m sure I drove my husband mad at the start with the constant demands for proof reading before I published a post and ideas for new posts we discussed.

I made the decision to give up teaching and be a stay at home when my children were born and at times this can be quite a lonely job. You can feel as if you are “just a mum” but starting my blog has given me another purpose in life and made me feel slightly more human again. I love that my brain has slowly kick started again and I’ve woken up a talent I had many years ago for writing, in a positive way. My confidence has grown since August and I know as a person I have become happier and driven once more.

Writing gives me an outlet to vent what’s going on in mind and all my crazy ideas and I have found it extremely therapeutic and a positive experience for my own mental health.

Awareness

Now with 15,000 followers I am driven to raise awareness for those topics that have affected my life such as autism and sepsis. I am honoured that I have been approached on many occasions to talk about and discuss some of my posts with local radio stations and newspapers.

Advertising and Promotions

I admire bloggers who make a living through paid posts and advertising on their blogs. I have been given these opportunities and approached by companies and am greatful each time. Admittedly I have turned down more than I have taken on. This is my own personal decision as I made a conscious choice not to promote or advertise certain products or endorsements which do not fit my blog type. For example I’ve been offered many make up opportunities. Unfortunately a quick flick of mascara is about as much as I can manage each morning with 3 young children and the majority of my blog posts highlight my chaotic life and so therefore an image of me perfecting contouring each morning just wouldn’t have sat right with the style of my blog. Although a day out at a wine tasting festival was greatly recieved and most enjoyable!

The Future

I am so excited about what my future may hold with another 6 months blogging experience. Still as a relatively new blogger I am looking forward to continuing my journey making some more great connections and furthering my experience with much more writing. With three children I have a constant stream of content and my notebook and pen go with me everywhere to record all my ideas. I can’t wait to share more of my work with you!

Here’s to another 6 months!

The Cockney in the Countryside

A Honest Recount of Flying with a Toddler

12 Years Ago

19 years old and flying to Miami. My best mate and I have carefully planned and prepared our flight outfits for weeks prior to the trip, along with a change at the other end to ensure we were beach ready and looking our best on arrival to Miami. We arrived at the airport excited with plenty of time for pre flight cocktails in one of the many bars at Stansted. Leisurely shopping in the duty-free, excitedly chatting about what our latest trip will hold for us in the sunshine state. During the flight we relax with a book, the latest copy of Cosmopolitan and listen to our I-Pods in blissful calmness…

Fast forward 12 Years

I arrive at Stansted with a stubborn toddler in a buggy. I keep repeating to myself to keep calm and keep a positive mental attitude. Toddlers sense fear. I was adamant not to let the Boss Baby defeat me on this occasion. Unfortunately I had no option but to take the last flight out of Stansted to Ireland therefore the Boss Baby is already 3 hours over his bed time. Alas I am confident and in control… It’s only an hour flight, what could possibly go wrong?!

The Aftermath

The flight is over. I am back in England on the train from the airport. He is finally asleep and I am sitting (slightly rocking) in peace for the first time in hours. Why am I so defeated? Why do I feel like I have been through the midst of an almighty riot? Mainly because that is what travelling with a toddler or young child is actually like. I read many articles before beginning my trip, one stating how “rewarding and pleasant” travelling with young children can be. Lies. I am here to tell you the truth about travelling with a toddler, in all its brutal reality.

Flight Preparation

Packing

It depresses me to think back to how stressed I used to be packing for a journey. As you may know by now I am definitely not the most organised of people but back at the age of 20, what did I really have to remember that was so important? Sun glasses? Packing for a flight with a toddler brings a whole new level of stress. As I was only flying to Ireland, I decided to simply take a carry on bag with the reasoning that I would only be there for 4 nights, at my in-law’s house. I set myself out 4 outfits which quickly dwindled to 2 as I realised there was zero chance of taking anything more for myself with all the added toddler paraphernalia. My son has multiple outfit changes per day (only when we are actually out… at home he is dressed “feral chic”) as well as nappies, baby wipes, lots of vests, sleepsuits and outfits for all types of weather.


Bags
Buy a back pack. If you are like me and hadn’t owned a back pack since you were in primary school this will be an alien experience. However after making the mistake of using a “trendy” / “feminine” holdall for my last flight with toddlers I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. Two days prior I ventured into the depths of a “country-type-hiking shop” where warmth and sensibility override any desire for fashion and style. I needed a heavy-duty back pack and that was what I purchased, there would be no struggling whilst chasing a sprinting, escaping toddler this time!

Airport Attire

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, one of the main preparations for a flight when I was younger was the outfit. Why do we feel the need to try to look so glamorous for a flight? Perhaps its the multitudes of photos we see splashed across magazines of celebrities arriving at their destination looking immaculate and serene but they are most definitely not travelling with a toddler. With my restricted baggage options I decided to wear a set of dungarees and converse as my outfit of choice. My thinking behind this outfit was they would be practical in terms of pockets and carrying items, also that I could still pass off a half stylish look. However, as I sat in the departure lounge in my dungarees, backpack at my feet, watching the herds of young holiday makers in my Miami style outfits, I realised I definitely was pulling off the country – mumsy look much more than the Shoreditch hipster I may have been rocking 10 years ago.

Airport – Checking In

Security

Security must be my biggest anxiety regarding a flight. Why is it when I get to security that I start hyperventilating that I may have accidentally smuggled an exotic, endangered species into my bag or that some secret, criminal enterprise has sewed 10 kilos of cocaine into the lining of my bra, whilst I chased my toddler for 30 seconds and left my bag unattended. There’s just something about security that makes me panic and that is heightened more so by the presence of my toddler. This flight in particular was especially nerve-wracking as I inevitably always have to be searched, I have no idea why, I must just have a look about me. Of course off went the alarms as I walked cautiously, doing that funny walk you only seem to adopt when walking through security gates (similar to the one you use when someone asks if you’re drunk and asks you to walk in a straight line to prove it) I was asked to go into the tube thing (actual terminology) and then patted down, with all sorts of checks going on with the pram. Meanwhile my poor Boss Baby was unable to be comforted by anyone as he was restrained by a hairy chinned, Trunchbull type character screaming his little lungs out. The singular most distressing part of my journey was this. Alas after realising my pockets and body were mostly padded with soggy baby wipes, random old receipts and a couple of melted milk buttons I was reunited with my inconsolable child. He promptly gave them “knuckles” which is to shake his fist, for treating me as the dodgy criminal I must indeed look like.

The Departure Lounge

Hooray! We have arrived in the departure lounge! London Stansted’s departure lounge shines at me with all it’s wonderfully sparkling duty-free displays, bars and eateries. For a fraction of a second I get those excited butterflies in my stomach. There’s even a Prosecco and cocktail bar with people chattering merrily. Then I hear a squawk and am snapped back into reality as I gaze at the chocolate/snot covered creature gazing up at me angrily from the pram. His chubby, sticky finger is jabbing in the direction of the Hamley’s store opposite him with rows of one of his favourite characters Paddington Bear. I sigh, perhaps a little Paddington Bear will soothe him after the distressing image of his mother being patted down by two security guards. We venture in and I tactfully pick up the smallest Paddington (approx. size of the palm of my hand) before reading the £16.95 price tag and exiting with lightening speed before Boss Baby had the chance to even notice.

Arriving ridiculously early for once in my life, I now had over 2 hours to kill just for my gate number to appear. Intending to treat him to a happy meal from McDonalds I realised there wasn’t any. Instead I had to sit down in an actual restaurant type bar with the Boss Baby and order him a kid’s meal. At first he was well-behaved but as I have expressed in a prior blog post The Eating Out Guide – For Parents this is not a situation I relish. The wait for his meal was agonising as I chased him around the tables of young holiday makers, fought with him to put him back in a high chair and caught every condiment he aimed off the table. I smiled politely and made the usual remarks to onlookers “terrible twos” “he’s really hungry” whilst I sat defeated. After 2 hours of standing and walking and trying almost everything on earth to make him sleep in the pram (he was still awake) my gate arrived and I headed onto the next step of the journey…surely it couldn’t get any worse?

Boarding and the Flight

Boarding

Whilst waiting to board in the queue I took the opportunity to make as many new “friends” as possible around me. I had been here before and knew that there were many flights of stairs ahead of me and that at one point I would need one of my new-found friends to assist me, especially as I was on my own. I ensured the Boss Baby, who loves to perform for a crowd, was demonstrating all his cutest tricks for the surrounding travellers. It worked exactly to my plan and at one point someone had the baby, someone had the pram and someone else had my bag…I was carrying nothing that’s how impressively my plan worked!

On board I was lucky enough to get a window seat as it meant one less person for my son to terrorise. Flying with a child under 2 has one major catch (if you discount all the above I have mentioned) and that is that the child sits on your lap for the entire flight, unless you want to pay for their own seat. They are attached to you through a belt that loops through their belt and must remain on your lap facing forward. I would say this would be a pleasant enough journey for parent and child under the age of 5 months. However anything over that is pure hellish. Two year olds do not enjoy being held, they want to explore and climb and basically cause mischief. Consequently, when they are being forced to do something such as sit still on your lap, they become uncooperative and volatile. The Boss Baby at the moment has perfected the ultimate balance of making his body as rigid as possible, as to not bend into a seated position, versus heavy/”dead weight” to give him the maximum upper hand as I struggle beneath his arched body, with his heavy head wedged underneath my chin, pinning me to the back of the plane seat. Coupled with that position, every now and then, he would decide to sit like a compliant human mainly so he could continually pull down the tray and smash it back up again into the back of the passenger’s chair seated in front of me. He took great objection to me stopping that game in particular and in a fit of rage began head butting me with the back of his head. How I survived the flight with my front teeth intact is inconceivable.

Findings from flying with children:

  • Window seats mean nothing. They lose interest in around 4 minutes.
  • The dinner tray is one of the main attractions.
  • Constant entertainment is needed; I must have played peekaboo with his blanket for a good 20 minutes straight, luckily we are at the “again” stage where the relentless, tedium of peekaboo is still welcomed by regular joyous laughter.
  • Nobody wants to sit next to the parent with a baby on her lap. The look of nervous trepidation was evident in the eyes of the poor soul who had drawn the short straw with the seat next to me and Boss Baby.

Everyone comments on how short a flight to Ireland is. Yes it is approximately an hour maximum but that hour you will feel every second ticking by at a painfully slow rate. I love my son dearly but travelling solo with him took away a small part of my sanity which I may never regain.

I hope you have enjoyed my recount of my recent flying experience with my toddler. Have you flown with a child? What was your experience like? Hints and tips always welcome in the comments section.

The Reality of Half Term

As half term approached, the week before last I was feeling confident and organised about my week ahead at home with my children. As always I have learnt the key to a successful half term with my three young children is organisation, which doesn’t necessarily come easy to me and predominantly the main reason I end up crumpled in a heap of failure and self-pity. Alas I put in place a non demanding schedule to show my eldest two via visual timetable format, specifically designed for my middle son who is autistic. The timetable included grueling trips to the dentist, hair dressers and less horrifying parental experiences such as parks and walks.

action activity boys colors
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

However due to some extremely upsetting news at the beginning of the week our whole week was turned upside down. I was to fly to Ireland at very short notice, meaning lots of packing and organising from home. Luckily my children sat wonderfully watching our new 4K LED TV from Panasonic. Shock! Horror! From all the perfect parents who claim not to allow their children TV time. With its sleek design and beautifully bright, colourful display the children love some time out watching their favourite Netflix shows. The children’s laughter at the Boss Baby series on Netflix always lifts my spirits, the elder two claim our youngest baby is in fact the Boss Baby and it has given us great amusement over the last year. I will undoubtedly be dressing the little creature in a suit for any upcoming fancy dress parties!

Whilst on the flight to Ireland with just the youngest in tow I reflected on the concept of half term and the pressures that parents put themselves under to try to create the most action packed, fun-filled break for their children. Numerous events on my Facebook page popped up prior to this week, advertising bouncy castle days, all day activity events and a whole host of variations of craft days. Is it really so bad to spend some down time indoors? I have always felt my children need some time to relax in their own home and play with their toys, watch some films and just relax! My children love nothing more than a spot of indoor “den building” with duvets, tables and chairs which they can then picnic in and watch their favorite films.

I believe that some people like to sugar coat their half terms. They like to give the illusion of perfect parenting but in fact there are some realities of half term which are unspoken for all parents. Here are my realities of half term:

Starvation: Your children will ask for snacks regularly. Regularly as in every 15 minutes, leaving you to wonder how on earth your little cherubs ever survive the school day without frequent snacks. The beginning of the week will consist of strict healthy snacking times but as the week progresses and you become more and more defeated by the constant snacking demands your thoughts turn from;

  • Concern – does your child in fact have some kind of condition? Do they have worms?
  • Anger – “I bet you wouldn’t ask Mrs Smith for extra snack times!”
  • Defeat – leaving the biscuit tin left open for them to help themselves whilst you have 20 minutes peace from the relentless dictators whom you have spawned.
assorted color fruit decors
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Illness: Your activities are planned, you have pre-booked some exciting events perhaps even a little trip away, all is set for an amazing week. Then a sickness bug hits! Any type of illness chicken pox, colds, viruses, bugs plan it wonderfully to ensure that they hit either you or your children on half term week. It is as if the body finally relaxes from the stresses of the daily school run and those nasty bugs recognise the change in defense and… Bang! There you are knee-deep in vomit covered duvets, with greying children and diarrhea and snot stains on your carpets, walls and encrusted in your hair.

Socialising: Even as a child I always remembered being dragged to one of my mum’s friend’s houses to socialise with their children. Children we only ever saw during school holidays. Some of them become good friends to my brother and I and we loved spending time with them. However others were not the type of friends we would have chosen, no matter how much our mum and their mum liked each other. Now as a parent I already can see these “arranged friendships” developing with my own children. The pressure they have to endure to like my friends children to ensure my friend and I can have a chat and cup of tea.

Other Children: It is ok not to welcome other children and their parents. You are only human to dislike other families and unfortunately half term will be full of them, at the parks, soft play centres etc. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringings and I,100 per cent know that some families in my neighbourhood actively feared me as a child “playing out” with their children. My plotting and scheming knew no bounds and I was always aiming to be the ruler in all games. To the extent that one time a few days after Brownies, I had learnt some first aid and decided to put it to good use. Therefore the next day of the summer holidays I rummaged through my mum’s first aid kit and perfected a professional sling for my younger brothers arm. We snuck out to play with the other kids in the banjo (green area on a cul-de-sac – for anyone non London) I demanded we played whatever game my brother wanted (which of course I had picked) due to my brothers injuries sustained through “being run over by a car.” We had a great day playing my games until I got home and one of the other parents had made a phone call enquiring after my mother and how she was after my brother’s recent, imaginary road incident. One of many sneaky schemes but they do make me think about my own children and how I would actively dislike a child like myself playing with them!

British Weather: It is February and my child is asking for the paddling pool out. In usual circumstances this would have been laughed off but in all fairness it was 21 degrees in London yesterday. Is it so absurd for them to believe it’s paddling pool weather? The main point being here; you can never trust British weather, you may have all types of beach type activities planned in august and it will thunderstorm. It is inevitable and us British do love a weather rant!

I do hope whatever your plans were in half term you survived and are enjoying the peace from snack demanding and constant whines, which act as the soundtrack to many of our half terms. I would love to know what you got up to and perhaps how your plans were thwarted by the realities and inevitabilities of half term.

This post was part of a paid collaboration with Panasonic.

The Most Overrated Valentine’s Gestures

Whatever your relationship status may be, there is no avoiding the stifling volume of red hearts and loved – up caricatures glaring at us, creepily from shop and restaurant window displays as February 14th looms.

Unlike a lot of people these days, I enjoy Valentines Day, not because I want my husband to spend money on me or anything vastly romantic to happen but because I like people spreading love rather than the usual anger, bitterness and negativity that seem to plague our newspapers and social media.

Lately I have heard and read so many opinions on how overrated Valentines Day is and how it is too commercial. I do agree with this and whilst researching for this post I have come across countless “Perfect Valentine Date Guides.” The sickly cliché examples are, in my opinion, the exact reason Valentines Day becomes overrated. These ideal date scenarios that in reality are nothing what they say on the tin! I am here to expose the truth behind the “perfect Valentine dates” especially if you are a parent of a young family:

Food and Drink

There are various angles in terms of dates and gestures involving food and drink for Valentine’s Day. Here are some of the most common and reasons they actually become problematic rather than romantic:

table in vintage restaurant
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Eating out: A hot, peaceful dinner where you can sit for the whole entirety of my meal without having to leave the table to change a nappy/break up a brawl or see to another toddler emergency sounds like bliss to any parent. However I would still gladly take that hellish meal time over a Valentines meal out. Your average restaurant takes bookings at least a month prior to February 14th. Commonly, if a table is still available, the restaurant aims to pack customers in like sardines leaving you suffocatingly close to the couple next to you to the point of intimacy. You are surrounded by other couples which is great, if like me, you like to play the “what’s their story?” game (involves elaborate story making regarding how many dates, children or no children? an affair? heading for divorce? etc) However ultimately, immensely aggravating when trying to enjoy a meal with your partner surrounded by bickering, excessively loving or just slightly odd, other couples.

A Romantic Home Cooked Meal: In all my years of marriage the extent of my husband’s culinary skills have reached the heights of Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodle, which even then I felt was too watery. My own cooking skills are of a high standard, my husband is always grateful for his meals and is complimentary. However the idea of cooking a “romantic meal” for Valentine’s Day feels like the least appealing idea ever. In the depths of the front room lies my dining table, usually the dumping ground for toddler/childhood paraphernalia. Yes, I could clear it all, light some candles, bring out that posh cutlery from my aunt to eat with and make the most divine meal. However ultimately, I will be sat in my front room with Buzz Light Year staring at me menacingly from the toy box, my dog dribbling on my knee waiting for a scrap and frequent interruptions from 3 small creatures traipsing through the front room to use the toilet, asking for a drink, whining they can’t sleep and general parenting duties will resume. Romantic? Let’s not forget the washing up!

Picnic: The whole picnic idea always makes me feel slightly queasy. There’s nothing more off-putting than scotch egg and sausage roll breath on a date, plus February is not really ideal picnic weather in the UK is it? Nonetheless I have stumbled across an equally nauseating variation of the outdoor picnic, which is the indoor picnic. It does sound idyllic, a little folding basket with all the essentials and a bottle of champagne but again, if you are a parent, where is this taking place? On the living room floor surrounded by dinosaurs, Barbie and the family pet? Also who actually owns one of those pretentious picnic baskets, the closest food hold-all system in my house being either my daughter’s Trolls lunchbox or my trusty Aldi bag for life.

Breakfast in Bed: Crumbs on the bed sheets, 3 children in the bed or hearing said 3 children screaming down stairs whilst I enjoy my “peaceful breakfast in bed.” Need I elaborate more?

Valentine’s Themed Gifts

I am aware I may be coming across as a slightly, spoilt madam about the whole Valentine’s Day spirit of giving. Nonetheless I would much rather my husband spend his money on anything other than the following which in my opinion are overrated and cringe-worthy.

  • Fluffy Teddy bears holding “I love you” hearts/balloons
  • Balloons in general
  • Singing fluffy teddy bears, holding hearts/balloons, crooning away repeatedly to Elvis when you press their paw…
  • Roses – as much as I love flowers, I do not wish my husband to send us into mounting debt for a dozen of the thorny beauties.
brown bear plush toy holding red rose flower
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

Public Displays of Affection via Social Media

Brace yourself. Here they come, the endless photos on Instagram of candle lit baths with gnarly toe nails peeping out at the end, couple selfies of that couple you know despise each other at the best of times and garish arrangements of milk tray/Blossom Hill, accompanied with the captions “how spoilt am I?”

Once again social media at it’s ugliest. Enticing other’s to either compete in the bragging war of Valentine love or to simply feel hopeless and even more lonely. Personally I am glad my husband is not on social media and that we have never had to declare our undying love to one another online. We equally know how much we love each other without the need to express it via Facebook and involving the town and country!

Other Gestures

Paths of Rose Petals: Seriously who is cleaning that mess up…seeing as though my husband wouldn’t be able to locate the Hoover if his life depended on it…I guess that’s me! HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Serenading: I have mentioned this recently on my social media sites… is there anything more uncomfortable than somebody singing acoustic to you unless they are in fact an international song writer/musician. Even then, one to one, I still find this hideously squeamish. Do you try to maintain eye contact? Do you clap or sway along? Do you close your eyes? Or do you just wait for the ground to open up to escape the enormity of this unbearable cringe-fest.

ukulele beside a floral box and string lights
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

So there we have my overrated Valentines gestures. You may be viewing me as an unromantic soul but that would be so far from the truth. I do feel Valentine’s day is a special day and a great day for those to show other’s how much they mean to them. Although I have never been materialistic and do not wish my husband to shower me with unnecessary gifts, the gifts I have recieved from my husband over the years may have been smaller in price and opinion, compared to other people’s elaborate displays on social media but nonetheless are always held so special to me. Likewise he has sponatneously bought me flowers throughout our relationships and we love nothing better than a great night out drinking in an old backstreet pub with a kebab on the way home.

I would love to hear some of your funny/diastarous Valentine’s stories! Feel free to add your comments! Sending you all lots of love this Valentine’s Day!

The Eating Out Guide – For Parents

Once every couple of months my husband and I decide it is time to attempt “eating out” with our children. With hopeful anticipation we venture out with the best intentions of having a relaxing Sunday dinner as a family in a cosy little eatery somewhere. All previous experiences seem to have disappeared from our memories as we arrive brimming with confidence that this will be the time we crack it and have a peaceful meal out as a family. Dressed in our Sunday best clothes, miraculously with not a hair out of place we enter the building. The children, currently on best behavior after being read the riot act in the car, appear like miniature angels at our sides. Other customers may coo and remark on what well turned out children we have. The Front of House arrives and you begin to see their eyes widen in what can only be described as fear, when we politely ask for a table of 4 and room for a high chair. An hour later (maximum) we are seen leaving in a disheveled state, perhaps with strands of spaghetti glued to our hair, outfits covered in ketchup, ironically symbolizing the blood of the full blown warfare that we have endured. The baby is shoeless, sockless and waving his nappy in pride above his head in victory like the mini anarchist that he is, whilst the elder two walk out unperturbed and victorious that even though they behaved diabolically, they were still rewarded with ice cream! Join me on my survival guide to the soul destroying venture of Eating Out with Children.


Waiting Times

One of the main ingredients in this already conclusive recipe for disaster, is timing. Think carefully about waiting times. Realistically a meal out with children can only last an hour at most. Long gone are the days where you could casually browse the menus, begin with a starter and then eat your meal followed by a few alcoholic beverages. Therefore no matter how hungry you are, combined with your reluctance to find another restaurant, if the Front of House staff tell you there is going to be a 45 minute wait for a table…leave. Leave immediately. 45 minutes waiting with hungry children in a place full of so many possibilities such as creating table dens, making “snow” from salt pots or simply just running around the mazes of tables, is not going to end well.

Top Tip: Pre – Book a table online or by phone.


Menus and Ordering

No matter how appetising that prawn cocktail or sharing platter may be for starters, keep it as a distant dream for that heavenly time you will have a baby sitter and can eat out as an “adult” not “parent.” Even if you kindly request your children’s meals to arrive with your starter you are entering dangerous territory as the time your main arrives, your children will have finished theirs and are now fueled with chicken nugget energy to create ultimate devastation at your table. The children will be presented with a wonderful, colourful children’s menu which may capture their attention for a whole 45 seconds before it has been folded into an aeroplane and aimed at the poor old dear’s head on the opposite table and the crayon set has been digested by the baby.

Top Tip: Order your children something they will genuinely enjoy no matter what your views on “healthy eating” are at home. Let them know it is a treat, no child wants to sit eating a plate of grilled salmon fillet accompanied with spring greens when little Jimmy on table 4 is eating hot dog smothered in ketchup.


Condiments

If your children are anything like mine the allure of their very own bottle of tomato sauce accompanying their meal will be the fixation of the whole afternoon. “Can I have a little bit more sauce?” will be repeated at least a million times as your little cherub, high on tomatory added sugar, will know it is there on tap throughout the meal. Salt and pepper pots will be cast as leading roles in any games to be created at the tables, frequently being toppled over dusting the table with a salt and pepper sneeze-athon.

Top Tip: Remove all condiments immediately when being seated and hide them. Allocate the carefully judged amount of sauce when meals arrive and ask the waiting staff to hide them until the children are safely strapped into their car chairs on the way home.

Entertainment

As mentioned above…one minute into proceedings and those carefully designed menu/activity booklets, possibly created by somebody never having encountered a child, are now shredded into a million pieces littering your table. Images on the website illustrate the “child friendly” ambience of the restaurant with a family smiling and laughing in conversation. The difference being between your family and the picture perfect family on the website, they were paid to be jubilant and yours is a real life scenario. As riveting as my 5 and 6 year olds conversations are about bums, poo, wee and bogeys (number one topics of all ks1 conversations) I am fully aware we will not be engaging in indepth conversation. Therefore take supplies. Ask you children to bring one toy each and assess the toy before leaving. Toys to rule out are; those that are ridiculously cumbersome in size, toys that make any type of repetitive sound (the ones you “accidentally” smash with a hammer after hearing them still singing 3 hours after the kids are in bed) or a toy that they actually never play with at home. Tablets and iPads are always going to be a winner if your children enjoy a bit of screen time.

Top Tip: If you are going to take a tablet/iPad ensure that it is fully charged and also that the restaurant has WIFI. Nothing causes an emotional breakdown more with my children, than a buffering slow internet during those excitingly tense moments of another toy being unboxed on YouTube. (Whatever did we do as children, without the thrill of unboxing videos?)

Desserts

The ultimate bribe. Even as an adult I ask to see the dessert menu along with the main menu. Who doesn’t want to know what type of ice cream, chocolate, amazingness awaits on the other side of dinner!? Also this acts as the perfect bribery for your children to behave (unless they are feral like mine) “Oh well you will have to behave or you wont be getting the rocky road, super duper, marshmallow, chocolate, candy floss, popcorn sundae you see on the menu.”

Other Tips to Consider:

  • Research the clientele of the restaurant before hand. It may boast to be “child friendly” on the website but I have worked in a pub claiming to be child friendly which was regularly subjected to police raids…do your research!
  • Be confident to ask for another table, if as being presented with your table, you spy the diners nearby to be child haters or a family with similarly aged children; yours will either combine forces with or declare war against them.
  • Positive mental attitude. Children smell fear a mile off. They will sense your trepidation and seize all control of the situation. Be strong and fearless in approach. Confident that this is the meal whereby you will transform your much loved, wild, creatures into civilized human beings.

If you are planning to venture into the minefield that is eating out with children I hope you find my survival guide useful. I would love to hear stories of survivors of meals out with children and any tips you may also like to add!

Quarter Life Crisis

Over the past few years I have encountered many individuals suffering from the affliction diagnosed as “quarta discrimine” Latin for Quarter Life Crisis Syndrome. After extensive research, conducted through emotional phone calls, from mainly inebriated patients, expressing their rising concerns about their own quarter life crisis, here are my findings.

Definition

Quarter Life Crisis Syndrome occurs between the ages of 25 and late 30s. It is a period of life where by the patient feels they are transgressing from youthful adult to severe adulthood. Heightened by the overwhelming desire to remain young.

30th Birthday Phobia

At origin, the predominant panic will begin as the patients impending 30th Birthday rears its ugly head. Usually on the horizon from around their 25th birthday. This will either display in a need to prove they are completely accepting of their 30th by planning elaborate events such as trips to Vegas, to see in their new age group or with outright avoidance causing the patient to seek seclusion and not be seen until they are at least 35.

Companionship and Reproduction

Anxiety will manifest as yet again another engagement and blurred scan photo emerges, pervading every channel of social media. Those with long-term partners will fear the impending pressure of engagement and wonder if this is the right time to commit? Are they too young? Whilst others will have their condition heightened by the long term partner, forcing them to engage in child rearing practices such as baby sitting for friends or holding random bawling babies to ensure they are “Parent” material.

Settlement

Another commonly seen image of a couple or successful singleton with a house key and selfie at the front door of their new home. Coupled with “can’t believe I actually own my home”, “Got the keys” #homeowner statuses. Meanwhile the patient feels the increasing pressure, as they are sat either in a rented room in a town house, with a group of practising students playing beer pong, eating noodles or still having their socks and underpants pressed by mummy at their childhood home. Should they have saved for a mortgage by now? They question their position, or lack of position, on the property ladder and whether they should go travelling before they commit to a home and family. What if they are never able to see the world? What if they will never experience all those unique traveller experiences such as dancing at a Full Moon party in Thailand, fruit picking in Australia or backpacking through europe.. How unmeaningful their life will be, surely?

Employment/Career

Around this time our patient will question their purpose in the working world. Do they in fact have a career or are they still in the same job they were 5 years ago as a “stop-gap” before launching their ultimate business idea? Either way – isn’t there more to life than this?

Social Media

With Facebook a significant 11 years down the line, it is now for many suffering their Quarter Life Crisis, one of their longest standing relationships. The horrendous “Time Hop” feature constantly there to remind our patients of what they were doing on that very day for the past 10 years. Constant photographic reminders of those days when wrinkles weren’t evident and youth was very much on our side. What the patient must remember is that as with all photographs, there were times when everything wasn’t as rosy as they appeared through that particular lens.

Music

Sufferers may listen to the radio, especially those stations that feature “Time Tunnels” or “Kisstory” music described as “golden oldies” But what if the music on these featured shows are actually the tunes from the patient’s own generation? A sense of ageing defeat will engulf them as they realise that, as a matter of fact, their music is now “vintage.” Alternatively, songs such as Anne Marie’s 2002, will cause the patient to evaluate their own age at 2002. Realising that they were perhaps leaving school by this year, rather than the mere age of 11 that the singer is referring to. Music may be being recovered by new artists and the patient will find themselves remembering the original and preferring it!

Retail

Clothing is a confusing time for our patient as they wonder what shops are acceptable for them to shop in. Are they too old for Miss Selfridge as they scour the dress rails alongside an eighteen year old?

Gift shops display nostalgic gifts such as sweets, board games and toys with colourful, bold lettering clearly referring to them as RETRO!

Older Generations

“It’ll be you next” – when a relative has a new baby.

“You know what they say… New house new baby”

“Have you heard about your brother’s promotion? ”

“30..I had you and your 3 brothers by that age”

“So what age will you be the time you’re finished paying your student loan? ”

“You know private renting is just like throwing your money down the drain”

Some of the remarks made by older generations to those suffering from Quarter Life Crisis Syndrome.

In summary to my findings and extensive research into Quarter Life Crisis Syndrome I feel that the Millennial age are suffering due to a world of constant comparison and judgement of themselves and others through the evolution of social media. It is important to remember that we all progress at our own paces. Whether you are the oldest clubber on the circuit and not ready to hang up your dancing shoes yet, or the mother, on your second marriage, with 5 children and another on the way, there is no need to compare yourself to anybody else. Therefore buy yourself that bag of retro sweets, eat those Sherbet Dib Dabs and dance to Destiny’s Child in your kitchen!

All other cases and research welcomed in the comments from those suffering, survivors or family members of those with Quarter Life Crisis Syndrome

Medical Qualifications: I spent the majority of my Science Biology lessons in the corridor due to my excessive talking and am yet to study anything remotely medical or psychological since.

Things only the Millennial kids will understand…

Recently I have written a few posts regarding life in the 90s such as 90s v Present Day Christmas. I recieved many comments on social media about how the 90s weren’t classed as the “past.” Apparently because we were not born in an era where we bought tapes and cds not records we are not worthy of our own nostalgia yet. However I disagree! It is time we were recognised as the greatest of all generations. The late teenagers and early 20s class us as old and the over 40s class us as babies! Here is my tribute to the Millennial kids. I have complied a list of those memories you will only understand if you were born into the millennial age! (apologies but it is more aimed at the girls!)

Every fortnight you went and bought your copy of Smash Hits Magazine.

You drank strawberry jelly and ice cream Panda Pops but never the blue ones because apparently they could kill you…funnily enough no scientific evidence came to light.

Girl Power arrived in the form of the Spice Girls and you would argue with your friends in the playground as to which you would be in your playground reenactments.

You woke up every Saturday morning to watch SMTV live with Cat Deeley and Ant and Dec.

Mobile phones began to arrive with teenagers asking for the mind blowing Nokia 3210. You spent much deliberation deciding which interchangeable cover you would choose. The battery would last a week, it was impossible to crack the screen and everyone knew someone that had apparently completed Snake and won a million pound. (Yet to actually meet anyone to validate this myth)

Leonardo Di Caprio arrived and sank to the bottom of the ocean leaving teenage girls heartbroken and constantly debating Kate Winslet’s selfishness for not moving over on that wardrobe!!

You purchased your CDs from Woolworths with a sneaky bag of pick n mix.

Eyebrows were plucked to a bare minimum, eyelids were layered with metallic eyeshadow and you constantly prised hair from your ridiculously over glossed mouth.

If you were allowed to highlight your hair, it resembled a zebra crossing, with slashes of bleached blonde layered on to your natural colour.

After school your only form of communication with friends included a telephone box, the house phone or the long awaited arrival of the Internet.

You can remember the distinctive alien sound of the dial up tone and your parents yelling at you to get off “that Internet” because they needed to use the phone. (yes, we couldn’t use the phone and Internet at the same time back in the old days!)

MSN messenger and MySpace began our journeys into social media and you would spend an agonising amount of time choosing the correct song to depict who you were on your MySpace profile. Thankfully I cannot remember what mine was but undoubtedly was something horribly cringe worthy.

Before the Internet you checked football scores and watched your parents book holidays via teletext.

Boys would have worn Ben Sherman shirts that were at least 3 times too big, untucked with hair in perfect McDonald’s “M” style curtains slicked with gel.

At least one boy in your class would have dyed their hair bleach blonde to replicate the ultimate bad boy of the era.. Eminem.

There were no selfies… That’s right no selfies! Instead someone took a digital camera out for the night or prior to the digital camera… A disposable camera which need developing in a shop!

Girls engulfed themselves in the scents of Charlie Red, Exclamation or Versace Red Jeans.

Friends were born and every girl wanted hair like Jennifer Aniston.. I clearly remember asking my hairdresser to style my hair like hers. I never pulled it off, my hair being more like Monica’s in the Barbados episode…. IT’S THE HUMIDITY!

We listened to the charts on TOTP (Top of the Pops) or the radio and it genuinely mattered who was going to be number 1!

You corrupted your family computer with Limewire to make CDs, whilst your parents fretted that the police were going to arrest you for illegal music downloads.

The last generation to write letters and have a random pen pal you met on holiday when you were 8.

You had a Walkman and a Discman and you actually new the bands at the Brit Awards.

If you happened to become stranded you would anxiously reverse the charges at a pay phone to your mum’s house, awaiting the inevitable acceptance of the call and rath of rage over the cost of it.

Ultimately we were the era to see the birth of social media and how it has evolved and changed our lives. Thankfully we just missed it in our teenage years, which to me is a huge relief. I cannot imagine growing up as a teenager with social media and am thankful I didn’t as it means that era of mine and my friends lives was thankfully unevidenced for all eternity!

I would love to hear from anyone that grew up remembering some of the above! You spend your whole life before 20 wanting to be 21 but what a combination of fun, excitement and heartache those teenage years brought! Would you do it all again in this day and age? Would love to know any of your memories! Thanks for reading!

Is it really #NewYearNewMe?

Happy New Year! Social media has been awash with statuses claiming “New Year, new me/fresh start.” However, after a week or so, the positive statuses start to disappear and are replaced with some of the usual negative vibes that can be found on our news feeds. “2019 off to a bad start” “Can’t wait for this year to be over already” etc.

Understandably many of us view the new year as a time for a fresh start or to implement changes in our lives, after reflection on the previous year. Although, statistics from www.statisticbrain.com, show that a mere 9 percent of us actually achieve our resolution by the following year. So why are we as a nation so incompetent at keeping our resolutions? Are we just weak-willed? Do we set ourselves impossible targets? My theory is that the reason for our failure is quite simply… January.

Join me as I look at some of the most commonly made resolutions and the reason January obliterates them…

To Eat Healthy/Lose Weight

Healthy eating is one of the most popular resolutions for the start of the new year. December transforms many of us into gluttonous creatures who graze on chocolate, alcohol and other foods steadily through the Christmas period. Worst case scenario is that you began this grazing, like myself, back in September. Now it is January and the perfect time to start your new healthy eating plan. I am currently condemned to wearing leggings and anything else elasticated while my jeans lay lonely in the wardrobe, the top button glad of the rest after the increasing pressure of the last few weeks. However it is January and none of this is going to be as easy as you may think.

Mountains of selection boxes, chocolate, unopened desserts, snacks and crisps seem to lurk in every crevice of my home. I am entering day two of my sugar detox and am in need of locking myself in a padded room to escape the temptations that are surrounding me. I go to the supermarket and see aisles of discounted products. Visitors seem to arrive laddened with armfuls of sweet items from their own homes in an attempt to rid their selves of them. Then, just as you are beginning to wean off your sugar addiction, the shelves will be weighed down with arrival of Easter eggs!

To be more organised

My yearly resolution is to become a more organised person. This includes keeping on top of house work, ensuring children are on time for school and generally maintaining a normal element of domestication. A challenging resolution for me at the best of times but January is here to make it even more difficult.

My house at the moment resembles a disused, toy warehouse after an illegal rave. Since Christmas morning I have barely been at my house, due to visiting relatives in London and Ireland. Therefore my house is basically how I left it on Christmas morning. Boxes and strewn wrapping paper, mountains of toys, piles of unwashed laundry and even more piles of new clothing to be given a place. Does anybody really have a chance to become more organised in January when they are beginning their resolution in the depths of utter chaos?

To start exercising

Juxtaposed to the aisles of discounted selection boxes are the aisles of new sports wear, water bottles and gym equipment. Any regular gym attendee will tell you that in January you will witness the influx of awkward looking humans entering the gym dressed in shiny, polished new sports attire.

From Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day I averaged a daily step count of 1000 steps a day. On Boxing Day I walked a pathetic 260 steps. Now imagine my new year’s s resolution is to exercise more. I arrive at the gym in my gleaming, gym kit ready to throw myself into a brisk run on the treadmill or a spin class. Confident that muscle memory from my days of peak fitness will see me through. Alas the next day I am unable to move after straining every muscle in my body which has lay dormant for the whole of December. It will take at least a week for walking to be achieved without discomfort and for me to gather the courage to enter the gym which I am now shackled to, at an expense of £40 for the next 12 months.

To save money

Christmas is the most expensive time of year for the majority of UK families. By the end of the month credit cards are receiving a good work-out of their own and as January begins, the Christmas cards are replaced with the less merry arrival of bills and statements through the letter box. Coupled with the excessive spending is the fact that many workers are paid on the last working day of December, making January the longest month of the year as we countdown the days till pay-day. Essentially the worse month to begin saving!

To be a happier/calmer/friendlier person

January is possibly the least “happiness instilling” month of the year. Miserably cold, usually raining and bleak, January is basically 31 Mondays. Keeping spirits high in this dismal month is difficult for cheerful characters, let alone those who struggle with smiling and friendliness in general.

How can we defeat January?

In conclusion to my theory that January destroys resolutions I have some tips that may help with beating January’s misery and achieving our goals.

  • Keep January resolutions small and targeted. For example “I will start exercising” becomes “I will take the stairs not the lift at work” Eventually, a couple of months down the line, you will be ready to embrace the gym rather than destroying yourself on day one!
  • Don’t expect too much. Take time to think about the positives of each day and how you are working towards your resolution rather than achieving it in the first month. For example if I can have my children’s uniforms ready the night before it will be a step in the right direction rather than the furious, foraging for clothing that encompasses my usual morning routine.
  • Be social. January can be such an unsociable month where many decide to hide away due to the weather and lack of funds. At Christmas we are surrounded by fun and people, even if you are alone there are generally more people around. Go out for a walk, try something new, join a new group and communicate with people. Having support through January is essential especially if you struggle with your mental health.
  • Finally if all else fails reschedule all resolutions to start in the summer!

Did you make any resolutions this year? I would love to hear your views on January and resolutions! All comments are welcome as always!

New Year’s Eve from the 80s onwards…

1988

1988 – New Years Eve parties at my parent’s house were legendary. How many people could possibly squeeze into a 3 bed, terraced, council house in East London? As the year 1988 drew to an end I was just 3 years old. My future husband was barely a twinkle in my father – in – law’s eye and Cliff Richard had hit the Christmas number 1 spot with Mistletoe and Wine. My mum was rocking a perm, along with most women in the room. Red and gold, shiny foil garlands adorn the ceiling as London’s Capital Radio, counts down the final seconds of 1988.

My dreams at this age would have been unknown and if asked perhaps simply to watch Button Moon. Life was simple but something has remained constant from that New Years Eve… I was loved and surrounded by a family who would always be there no matter how far away I was.

1998

1998 – 13 years old.. A delightful age I am sure my parents would agree.. Next year would be the last year before the millennium hit and the world was rumoured to explode into a million pieces.

Geri Haliwell had left the Spice Girls, leaving them in uncertainty, their single “Goodbye” topping the Christmas charts. I pretended not to care and listened enough to my Pure Garage CD to pass the “cool” grade at school but secretly I’m devastated about the future of the Spice Girls.

Family parties had now been transferred into the local Catholic Club Hall, which we hired for our gatherings due to a rapid growth of the family over the last decade. Each year I would be introduced to yet another family member. With my great-grandmother having 14 children there was always room for yet another long-lost cousin! My cousins and I would have sneaked a bacardi breezer while our parents danced the rest of the year away. At 1am the priest would come to lock up the hall but my father would persuade him to have a drink with them and so the party would continue.

I cringe at the thought of what my 13-year-old new year resolutions may have been. The less cringe worthy ones would have involved my swimming career and how I would excel to new levels in my sport. Even at this young age another resolution would have been to keep my room tidy and complete my homework on time. I changed a lot when I started secondary school as many children do and was torn between the conflicting trials of wanting to fit in and wanting to make my parents proud. I received regular detentions, which my brother covered up for me, pretending I was at athletics/netball practice. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt, regarding the lies I was telling my parents, and know that around this time I would have been telling myself that the lies would stop and I would behave better at school in 1999!

2008

2008 – Thankfully the world did not come to an apocalyptic end as Big Ben chimed out the final seconds of the millennium. In 2008 I was entering my first New Years Eve as a fully qualified primary school teacher, with my own little flat which I believed was a palace but in reality I shared with a family of mice and was as damp as Hackney marshes.

23 years old and the world at my feet a year of trying to define a balance between a social/work life and failing miserably. My cousin and I waited hours in a blazing August sun to watch the truly unforgettable icon that was Amy Winehouse. A performance that will stay with me forever and I feel truly blessed to have witnessed. Along with the Prodigy, Arctic Monkeys, Stereophonics and The Pogues, among others, it was an amazing year for live music!

However my high-flying lifestyle was hard to fund now I was privately renting. Not to be one to let that stop me I found a little piece of plastic magic in the form of a credit card.. then I found a few more. Before long the bills were mounting and with no real understanding of finances I did what many young people my age did at that time and stashed the unopened letters. My 2008 resolution was to open those letters and start to “adult” but alas I failed miserably and as a result was declared bankrupt 3 years later at the age of 26. I am a firm believer that financial education should be taught at school. I had a complete lack of knowledge in regards to budgeting, paying bills and savings in general and will definitely be teaching my children about money from an early age.

2018

2018: Here we are at the end of my 34th year. Content and settled at last (a little wobble here and there) in my new country life. Two children in full-time education and another running me ragged. My wonderful in-laws have flown over from Ireland and we are set to see in 2019 in the stunning surroundings I now call home.

I feel this year certain elements of my life have finally clicked into place. Obviously I am still an unorganised, chaotic human and although commonly sleep deprived I am starting to make concrete plans for our future not just “maybe one days.” I have faced some trying times this year which have made me realise that things can change without warning but I am learning to deal with these changes with the support of my husband and family rather than hiding from them.

Beginning my blog in August has changed my outlook on life in a way I never would have imagined. I feel I have an outlet for my emotions and have confidence in my own abilities once more. It has enabled me to have a greater understanding of myself and equally be able to reflect on past experiences. Therefore, in regards to 2019, it will be to continue on the same path as 2018. (perhaps a couple of stone lighter)

I wish you all a fabulous 2019! I would love to hear your new year’s resolutions or even your resolutions from previous decades. Thanks for reading and your continued support!

Account of my Unorganised Christmas

As I have mentioned in previous posts and if you follow my escapades on my various social media accounts you will know I am an unorganised human. Unorganisation is half allowed when you are an unattached person with no responsibilities but when you become a parent it can present untold stress. Here is an update of my organisation issues this Christmas.

Saving and Buying

This year I was adamant I would be organised. Due to my inability to control my finances, let alone save, this year I began buying a gift card a week. Since August I accumulated gift vouchers for the shops I mostly use for my presents, such as Argos, Debenhams and Next. The idea of gift cards was that I wouldn’t be able to dip into the savings. Success! By December I had a healthy amount of savings and a lack of financial stress. However something I couldn’t bank in vouchers was time. With the momentous amounts of school activities, a hard-working husband and lack of baby sitters I was left desperately trying to find time to shop. Why didn’t I shop online you may ask? Oh how I tried.. I filled my online basket with carefully selected gifts, only to realise the gift cards I had purchased were for in-store use only.

Note to self: organise a shopping day with a babysitter. Check all details on back of the store cards.

Wrapping

Wrapping is not something I dislike. In fact, with a drop of Baileys over ice, some Christmas music playing, an evening wrapping sounds like a lovely festive night in. However my previous experience with present wrapping evenings has seen a whole series of unfortunate events unfold. Lack of cellotape has left me finding alternatives such as masking tape, duct tape or stickers from my little girl’s sticker book. Absence of wrapping paper has meant presents have been wrapped in bags, parcel paper, foil and homemade creations using A4 printer paper and felt tip pens.

Note to self: Buy the wrapping paper after buying presents so you can judge how much is needed. Also wrap at least a week before Christmas Eve to prevent the stress of having to find an open shop on Christmas Eve to replenish cellotape and wrapping paper.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is magical if you have completed all items on your Christmas “To Do” list. If you haven’t even had time to write your “To Do” list and are now staring into a desolate, abyss with time rapidly slipping through your fingers, it is not so magical. Christmas Eve saw another day of shopping with 3 children in tow. Having failed to organised my time effectively I had to cancel my hair appointment, booked for 8 that morning, a wonderful idea of pampering and self-care before Christmas. Instead I have dragged myself through Christmas with 3 inch roots, reeking of dry shampoo in a desperate bid to blend them into the blonde. After another exhausting shopping trip and all last-minute items bought, it was time to conjure up some Christmas magic with my 3 little darlings. Their merry faces beamed with excitement as we dressed them for bed, chattering away about the big day. Conversation turned to what we would leave out for Santa… Unfortunately in all 27 shopping trips, during the previous 3 days, I had forgotten mince pies, carrots and basically anything that could be justified for leaving out for Santa. Therefore this year Santa was left a bag of quavers (his favourite crisps) a bottle of Lucozade (not enough milk to share out between Santa and the baby’s bottle) and a stick of celery to share between the reindeer. My children looked doubtful that this was an adequate offering for Santa, but were pleasantly surprised when all items had seemingly been consumed the next day.

Note to self: Remember mince pies and carrots! Write a list and complete all before Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day

Christmas day was a great day, like most parents we were sleep deprived but the happiness and excitement was infectious. After the present opening we made our way back to London to stay with my family. Although we left 2 hours later than planned, I didn’t have to worry about my poor organisation much longer because as soon as I was with my parents they took over and looked after my little family and I, in what was a wonderful Christmas.

Note to self: Stay with parents every year.

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas. I have a second Christmas arriving, as my Irish in-laws fly over for New Year’s Eve celebrations. I have so many exciting ideas and opportunities coming up in the New Year and I thank all of you who have supported my blog since starting in August. If you are new to my blog please sign up via email for updates on my posts. I wish you all a wonderful 2019 and can’t wait to share more with you in the upcoming new year.