How to…

…Use Nap Time!

Again, as with most things I write about, I don’t really know! What to do with the little time I have when my child naps for what could be five minutes or could be an hour and a half (and there is no way of knowing in advance how long he will sleep for!) is a conundrum that plagues me daily. Everyone says “just sleep when they sleep,” which is sound advice but difficult for several reasons:

  • Housework – everyone also says “oh just leave the house work and sleep,” but if I did that every time he naps then my house would very quickly become a biohazard zone.
  • Timing – but how long will my child sleep? NO ONE KNOWS. What if I’ve just drifted off and he wakes up? That would be so much worse than if I was loading the dishwasher when he starts to scream, that way I’m just leaving dirty dishes to go and desperately persuade him that 15 minutes is nowhere near a long enough nap instead of the gentle embrace of my soft bed.
  • Alone time – if I sleep when he sleeps WHEN OH WHEN will I just be able to sit and be? When will I be able to watch Naked Attraction and knit? WHEN!?

So, here’s what I suggest you do at nap time, preferably on some kind of random rotation:

  1. Cry. Get it all out. You’ll feel so much better afterwards. Put on the last 15 minutes of The Notebook and have yourself a little weep party for one, while you stuff your face with cake or crisps because you’ve haven’t been able to eat yet today. Which leads me on to…
  2. Eat something! Do you remember when you thought maternity leave would be a time when you’d be able to prepare fresh and healthy meals daily and get your pre-baby body back in no time? LOLS. No. It’s 12:30pm and whilst you’ve had avocado lovingly rubbed into you hair, you haven’t actually had time to put anything (healthy or otherwise) in your own mouth. Sometimes you look in your fridge and the only edible thing in there is mayonnaise and who knew mayonnaise on a cracker could taste so good? Someone who hasn’t eaten for over 12 hours but has spent those 12 hours constantly feeding someone else, THAT’S WHO. My caring husband recommended that I make myself a “warm oats breakfast smoothie” to keep my energy up. I tried not to laugh too loudly and then today I actually used a nap time to make the suggested smoothie, I followed the recipe he sent me and everything. I spent the whole time worried the juicer would wake Douglas up and then when I tried said smoothie it was genuinely hideous. I wrote it off as a mini fail and sat down with a cup of tea – at which time Douglas woke up. EPIC FAIL. Moral of the tale: eat whatever you find and eat it quickly.
  3. Sit down. Just sit. Take a minute to sit down and stay seated. So often I sit down by accident, I didn’t mean to but my body just decided it was time. And it feels amazing, but I know I have to get back up in a matter of seconds to attend to the next (and probably moist) thing. So just have a little luxury sit.
  4. Do a thing. A thing you used to do before you had a baby. I knit. And write blogs. Sometimes I only get to knit two rows or write two sentences but at least I did the thing. I had a tiny taste of pre-baby life and it was bloody delicious.
  5. Meditate. Let me just say that I NEVER do this, but wouldn’t it be just great if I did? Wouldn’t I be the most relaxed and fulfilled mum ever? But sitting down and eating something/anything while crying at the TV and look at my knitting wistfully always wins. IMG_3574

If there is one thing you don’t have time for, it’s guilt. So whatever you choose to do with the time you have, enjoy it (as much as you can enjoy things like cleaning!) with unadulterated pleasure. You’ve earned it!

So there are my suggestions for nap time! Dear reader, please take them or leave that at your own incredibly limited leisure.

How To…

…Birth a Baby.

I KNOW.

Eight months ago I gave birth to a human child and it was the hardest, most effervescent experience of my life. Recently there has been a lot in the news about the rising number of caesareans in the UK and the reasons behind this. I practised Hypnobirthing which has a bad rep but is really just the most practical, level-headed way to approach childbirth. I learned that childbirth in all of its forms is a wonderful thing, epidural, c-section, home-birth, whatever, as long as its on YOUR terms. This is the most natural thing in the world but unfortunately because we live in a patriarchal society, women have been convinced through an historical rhetoric that we’re not strong enough to take on the challenge that our bodies were actually designed for. Which makes NO SENSE! More and more I realise how strong and capable woman are. Our resources are deeper, our resolve is stronger, our capacity for love is wider. WE ARE SO CAPABLE.

I’m not going to try and tell you that my experiences of childbirth are completely beautiful and amazing and painless because that would be a lie but in talking to other mother’s I’ve realised that my natural, calm birth isn’t the norm. So I wanted to put together a blog on why that is, because I am no stronger or weaker than any other mother out there. So here are my tips for childbirth… Continue reading “How To…”

How To…

…Stay Sane!

Sometimes life just feels like its on a constant mission to make you crazy and I think things are particularly mental just after you’ve had a child, whether it’s your first, second, third, fourth…(if it is your fourth then you’re actually legitimately insane and you either don’t really, or really do, need to read this article) the adjustment is always huge and things can take a long time to settle.

I have a couple of things I need to do to stay sane, but mostly I’m not that great at doing them, so I thought I’d write it all down… Continue reading “How To…”

How To…

…Sleep in This Heat.

The hashtag #toohottosleep has been trending for a good couple of days now and I am not immune to this. A solid night of sleep has evaded me for almost a week now. So, I’ve come up with a couple of tips on how to try and sleep during this pesky heatwave.

Continue reading “How To…”

5 Reasons Why…

…Weddings Are Actually a Good Idea.

Who knew!?

Well not me, thats for sure. In the lead up to my wedding I was a mess, the three days before – a wreck. I was snotty and ill and crying and dreading the ‘big day’ (it makes it worse when people call it that). However, something amazing happened – when I woke up on ‘the morning of’ I was calm, happy, relaxed, still a bit poorly but nothing a lemsip and glass of fizz couldn’t fix. I loved getting ready and then when the actual event got started I actually had the best day of my entire life. It was the opposite of what I expected, but actually exactly what everyone said it would be. I can’t wait to see the wedding video because at the moment it all feels as though it was a really wonderful dream! Yesterday I received these beautiful pictures and they’re really helping it all seem like reality.

We got married!
“We got married!”

Continue reading “5 Reasons Why…”

How To…

…Work From Home!

Now that I’m freelance I find myself spending a lot of time in my little home office, resisting the temptations of YouTube, day-time telly, a spot of cleaning or just going out and about round the local charity shops!

So incase any of you dear readers  are suffering from the same cheeky temptations I have put together a list of tips to help keep you on track (I’m hoping this will benefit me in a follow your own advice way).

How To Work From Home:

  1. BAN YOUTUBE (she says, whilst playing a Eurovision Song Contest Concert on said media channel – it’s got all the hits! And Graham Norton!).
  2. Set yourself specific times, I charge an hourly rate anyway so it really helps me to turn every distraction off, put an hour timer on my phone and then when that goes off I can pause and have a little break (a Euro Break).
  3. Get up and at ’em! Even though you don’t have a boss tapping their watch when you walk into the office anymore, you should probably get up at a reasonable time. If you end up waking up at 10am it’ll just make you feel bad and that’s not a good way to start the working day!
  4.  Get up and get out! No I’m not talking about your one night stand – I get up when Chris gets up (sometimes before – he’s a last minute man) and walk with him to work. Then I either jog or walk back home, which gives me really good time to think about the day ahead and the exercise puts me in a really good mood. I would thoroughly recommend a walking start to your day!
  5. Get dressed! This might seem like an obvious one but back in January I spent a lot of time working at my desk in my jammies but now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bad idea – it never puts me in the right headspace to work. I’m not saying put your suit on or anything, right now I’m not wearing what I would wear to a meeting but I am wearing clothes (and even a bra!) which makes me feel a lot more ready to work than my dressing gown does.

There are my five tips from working home – and I’d have written this blog a lot quicker if I didn’t have a cat on my computer the whole time…

Tips for working from home

How Not To…

…Buy Clothes!

I have mentioned before that this year I have decided to buy no new clothes, for the entirety of its course, but someone recently enquired how on earth I refrain from purchasing said items, so I’ve put together the traditional five bullet point list on How Not To Buy Clothes:

Continue reading “How Not To…”

How To…

…Dress for Work.

I work from home, so technically I could wear whatever I want to work; my cape, my onesie, my pyjamas (not that I’ve ever done any of the above…ever) but there does come the occasion when I have to leave my home office and venture into the outside world to meet with other business people – for business purposes.

Previously I’ve always known what to wear because I’ve known what was expected of me by the business I was representing, but these days I’m just representing me which poses the question, how should I dress for work?

How to dress for work

Because it took me a while to get into the swing of what I really should be doing with my life I have had the benefit of working for a variety of different types of business, in one of my first jobs out of uni I worked in an office where my immediate boss came into work every day looking like a cross between a slightly musky teenager (despite being around 30 years of age) and a painter and decorator, it seemed all he could do to change out of the t-shirt he’d slept in before moping his way to work to sit with his hood up (I kid you not) in front of his computer screen. Now this didn’t sit well with me, work is important, and you have to get yourself in the zone mentally, if I was to go to a meeting wearing tracky-b’s I’d be in my ‘watching Geordie Shore zone’, which I don’t think would be entirely beneficial. I think it might also appear that I honestly couldn’t care less about the meeting and that would also be very bad.

However, I have worked in a couple of suited-and-booted, office attire, pencil skirts all-round, offices and I have to say that didn’t sit well with me either – quite literally, pencil skirts are not great for spending a day sitting in – they’re not so great for walking either, really not sure why they were invented other than to make bottoms look good, which was probably the crux of why I didn’t like wearing them. I felt a little bit too sexy, in all honesty I probably looked like an incredibly tired mum desperately trying to be smart and fit into her pre-pregnancy, slightly sicked-on work clothes. But I felt quite sexy, and I didn’t think that was the right mental zone to be in either. Heels make your bottom wiggle when you walk, and pencil skirts are tight on your bottom – I’m kind of fine with that on a night out but not really in a business meeting.

I have met many women throughout my life who have had the opposite response and encouraged me to embrace the sexy side of business (in a completely non-illegal way – I’d just like to point out). And I do understand that there are arguments for using ones feminine wiles to a beneficial business outcome (again, I’m talking non-illegal, like cleavage, nice legs and some gentle flirting wiles, not “well they do say I’m great with my hands” wiles) and it has been described to me before as using all the weapons in ones arsenal. I’m not sure how I feel about this and it certainly is a larger subject for another blog post but me myself, I prefer not to think of business as warfare.

Having thought about it, I very much believe I’ve found the uniform for me – Smart Casual! The middle road of every dinner and party invitation, the ultimate cinema attire and the I’m hungover but having lunch with my parent-in-laws today outfit. You may think that this is not necessarily the right mental zone to channel during a business meeting but I have come to the realisation that how I present myself to potential clients must be a complete representation of the true me. I’m a smart casual kinda woman, even when the invite just says casual, I’m tend to turn up in more smart attire, when the invite says formal, I’d still prefer to be in slacks and flats (although I do tend to go all out – one mustn’t offend). It’s like handing over a business card – it has to represent you and what you do perfectly, and it’s no different with your attire. If I were to turn up to meetings in suits it wouldn’t at all represent what I’m all about. I’m a writer, writing isn’t what I do, it’s what I am, so if I dress completely like myself I’m kind of hoping that will come across! And if the person I’m meeting with has a lower opinion of me not turning up in a suit then we probably wouldn’t have been a right fit to work together anyway.

How to dress for work

So my advice to anybody looking in the wardrobe tomorrow morning and thinking “what to wear, what to wear” is wear what best represents you, lets perhaps go with the best version of you, not the I-really-shouldn’t-have-had-that-extra-glass-of-wine-last-night version. If you’re a suit-up kind of person then go for it, it obviously suits you (ha!) and represents all that you’re about, if you’re tempted to wear tracky b’s then you may be either need more sleep or to review whether the job you’re in is really right for you (if you’re a gymnast, or you work in a gym, or you’re some kind of sports teacher then you’re completely sorted – worry not). Embrace what you’re about, inside and out (rhymed), I honestly believe the day, and the business will be better for it!

How to dress for work

How To…

…Get Seriously Self-Righteous

My new year’s resolution this year was to buy no new clothes for the entirety of 2015, so I thought I would let you know how it’s going; pretty well! The other day I did have to go shopping with my soon-to-be Mother-in-Law (for her wedding outfit!) and it was a little bit like taking a sugar-addicted Diabetic to a Ye Olde Sweet Shop UNTIL I found a top and dress in the French Connection section of John Lewis which was made from exactly the same material that I bought for £3 a metre in Vietnam and have also made a top and a dress from. There are only three differences; that my material is purple not white (although the pattern is EXACTLY the same); some lining choices and that in its complete entirety my dress AND top cost me around £20 to make (including material, pattern, zips and lining, etc) and the French Connection Dress is £125 and the top costs £85. This is EXACTLY why I decided to do No New (well one of main the reasons anyway). I have been walking round with an entirely self-righteous air ever since.

The dress:

Make your own dress!

The top:

make your own clothes

An image of the material the French Connection top and dress is made from:

If you wish to see the remarkable similarities between the four garments I would suggest you type ‘French Connection Nebraska’ into the search section of the John Lewis website.

I know that I was lucky enough to stumble across (quite literally, the market was very small and the stall owners insisted on napping on the floor) this fabric in a far off land but doesn’t it just go to show what we’re actually paying for when we buy expensive dresses from highstreet designers?

I will be posting up more pictures of my No New year shortly but for the meantime I’d just like to say SUCK ON THAT MODERN CONSUMERISM.

#justsaying (/shouting).

How To…

…Plan a wedding when you couldn’t give a shit about weddings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for two people celebrating their love in the traditional way of getting  married and most weddings I’ve been to I’ve balled my eyes out and had a great time with everyone else but in today’s “Which Disney Princess Are You?” society, I feel that weddings have kind of lost all sincerity about them. People seem to get married because they want a wedding not because they want a marriage, which is why the wedding industry has become worth a huge £10 billion in the UK alone and why the average wedding costs around £21k, because who cares about a deposit for a house, I want to wear a Cinderella dress!?

I’m digressing…and also getting married. It’s nearly two months away now and I really haven’t had that much to do with the planning, so far I’ve felt like my wedding is happening to me instead of me feeling like I’m actively participating in it, but that is nobodies fault but my own. I’ve wanted to marry Chris since our fourth date and I always just thought we’d decide the time was right, call up our immediate loved ones and say something like “are you free next Wednesday? We’re getting married” but then when we actually did get engaged (and that’s a whole story in itself) it turned out that actually what everyone else wanted (I must say including Chris) was a big, family wedding. So here we are with two months to go, a day-time guest list of 80 and having to come up with a table plan so that the ones who don’t like each other don’t have to look at each other, and the ones who are really fussy are sat exactly next to the people they want to be.

A couple of weeks ago I realised that I was so un-excited by this prospect that it was genuinely depressing, I was excited to be married, just not to get married, so I’ve decided to take control, I’m getting my wedding-on.

In case anyone else is feeling disillusioned about their forthcoming nuptials, I’ve put together 5 top tips for planning a wedding when you actually couldn’t give a shit. Enjoy:

  1. Realise that your wedding is not for you. People will constantly tell you that what you want for your “big day” is the most important thing, they’re lying to you. You’re getting married for you, you’re having a wedding for those who want to celebrate with you, and actually the more people you have in your life who want to celebrate your love with you, the luckier you are, so embrace it, do it for them, it’s a hella better reason than doing it because you’d like to be an animated “princess” for a day.
  2. Delegate. I’m really lucky because I have a sister and a mother who are AMAZING at this sort of thing. The amount of times when they’ve asked me a question like “what about favours?”, seen my blank and blinking expression and said “don’t worry, I’ll sort that out.” Literally would be having a reception in a completely blank room with no decorations or seating plan without them to help me.
  3. Choose good music. Now this is where I would say to anyone to really go for what YOU want. So many couples’ relationship and memories of each other and of special points in their lives together, are based around a love of certain songs. Use those songs, tell the relative who’s telling you to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon to shove it and walk down to whatever means the most to you as a couple. Those moments really are just for you two, so make sure you stick to your bridal guns.
  4. Make things! Emotionally invest in the things you would never normally care about by making them yourself, that way when you see them hanging somewhere in your venue or on your tables you’ll feel really good about them, instead of thinking of them as the useless little touches that no-one cares about anyway. Plus it’s WAY CHEAPER. All the invitations for our wedding have been handmade (although, alas it would be an untruth to tell you that I did them – I provided comedy and alcoholic support).How to plan a wedding when you don't care about weddings Now I’m on to bunting and attaching vintage chandelier crystals to things (too many things probably). Getting into it.
  5. Try. Even if table plans make you roll your eyes and you’re quickly loosing all respect for the guests who instead of having thanked you for the invite, have gotten their knickers in a twist because you haven’t invited their other half (who you’ve NEVER MET before), just try to be excited. Focus on the stuff you are excited about; seeing the person you’re marrying standing at the end of the aisle waiting for you, having a glass of fizz and getting ready with your nearest and dearest, having a good old dance with your mates. Forget about the people who have pissed you off, you don’t have to spend any time with them on the day if you don’t want to anyway. Bridal prerogative.Handmade wedding invitations

I hope these have helped! Let’s go get hitched (not you and me…that would be weird)!