Balancing working and parenting

I have always worked full time. When I got pregnant I said I wasn't going to go back after my maternity leave full time, but maternity showed me that being at home is just not for me.

I have never said being a parent and working full time is easy, because believe me it really isn't. Its a very precious balancing act that can fall apart with the slightest wobble and wobbles come thick and fast.

Nearly 4 years in I think I've worked out a way to juggle it all pretty well, although I usually still manage to forget something!

Here are my top tips for balancing work and parenting.

1. Organisation - You need to know whats going on pretty much every moment of every day. For me, this comes down to knowing who is where, and especially who is picking up or dropping Harry off that day. I use a family calendar to map all of this out, including Sam's shifts, Harry's hospital appointments and any other things that may jump up at us!

2. Backups - While you can be the most organised person, at any one time something could happen to throw all of that out of the window, so make sure you have backups, and backups of backups, because honestly you never know what is going to come up.

3. Use your free time wisely - It can be very easy to 'waste' your days off work doing very little, not that this would be a waste, you work hard you deserve a break, but you may often find that doing little means you are behind on everything and its then usually the time you have with your child that suffers. I try to do all my 'chores' and writing blog posts and anything else that is clogging up my to-do list (there is a lot) when Harry is in bed and then make the most of the time we get together by doing something together, like crafts or baking or even just snuggling and watching a movie.

4. Take advantage of help - Someone is offering to cook you a meal? or do your ironing? or even clean your bathroom? Say yes! One job off your long list means that you may at the end of the day have time to sit down with a hot cup of tea (or coffee) and have half an hour (or more if you are really lucky) to yourself.

A Letter to my Love on Valentines Day

To Sam On Valentines Day,

Almost 10 and a half years ago, you chose me to be yours. I was a loud, outspoken and very annoying 17 years old who was using my outside to hide from the world what was really going on inside. You instantly saw through my mask and immediately set to work bringing that person to the surface.

We have been together through some of the hardest times, and you were my shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most.

Seeing you take on the role of a father has made me fall even more in love with you. Nothing brings me more joy than watching you with our beautiful boy. You cannot know how much it means to me when I see you with Harry.

I am so proud of you. You saw your dream and went for it, even when you didn't know it was your dream. You work so hard at your job and I know it is not easy for you to be away sometimes but you do it every day and make us proud.

I couldn't cope with everything we have going on, especially with Harry, without your love and support. I'm not the easiest person to deal with and I have plenty of problems of my own but you have never run away. And for that, I love you even more.

I can never tell you how much you mean to me but I hope that this shows you a percentage.

Happy Valentines Day my love.

Forever yours

Dear Harry...

Dear Harry,

It has been a while since I have written you a letter. I'm sorry, I have been busy enjoying life with you and honestly, I felt like I didn't have much to say, but we've had a busy week and this is something that I want to be able to talk to you about.

Yesterday you had your first train ride. You were so excited. You love trains at the minute so being able to take you on a train made my day.

We travelled down to London and you were such a good boy. You behaved beautifully which isn't always the case as I'm sure you will have heard about plenty of times! You took everything in your stride as you always do.

I wish I had been able to take you on a train for something really fun, but this was aa very important trip. I have told you that you have a poorly heart and I think you understand, and you know that the doctors are going to make it better but I don't know how to explain to you that you will soon, very soon, be having a major operation. So we travelled to Great Ormand Street hospital for your Pre Op appointment.

You had EKG, echo, blood tests and X-Ray all in preparation for your surgery, again you took it in your stride and nothing bothered you. I don't think I have ever been so proud of you. You seemed so grown up and I had to pinch myself.

I will honestly never know what I did to deserve being your mum, but I'm bloody glad I did it!

I love you Bug

Mummy x

Our favourite things to do as a family!

Family time is so important to me, especially as we really get so little of it where the three of us are all together, thanks to Sam's shifts.

When we are all together we have things that we really love to do!

1. Seeing family - Seeing family is something we try and do as often as possible, but having a big get together with either side of the family (mine or Sam's) takes a lot of planning! We are really lucky that everyone is happy to be flexible to try and fit it around us, even if that means that sometimes we go quite a while before we see people because schedules just don't tie up.

2. Day trips - I work a 9-5 and Sam works shifts, which means, unless I book some holiday, we only get 2 weekends out of every 5 together. We will try and squeeze as much as possible into those four days and that usually includes some sort of day trip, whether that be a trip to the local farm, soft play or even a picnic in the park. We are so lucky to have so much close to where we live, especially for Harry and he loves the time that is just the three of us.

3. Tech free time - This one isn't always a strict rule but, on weekends that Sam is home we try to turn off the TV and put down our phones and really get into it with Harry, we will read a million and one books, drink thousands of cups of imaginary tea, build hundreds of towers, paint pictures, bake, and basically enjoy time with each other. I feel like this is so important these days and I love to take time away from the 'online world' ignore Facebook or Instagram notifications and just be with my boys!

Things as parents we need to remember...

I know from experience, as a parent I often feel at a loss, or even sometimes like I'm failing. Having severe anxiety probably doesn't help! But sometimes, I look around at the state of my house, or myself even and have to remind myself of some facts, so I thought I would write them down to remind all of you too!

Firstly, you are not a failure! I can pretty much guarantee that while you are thinking this, your child is smiling at you. So your house is a mess and you haven't done your hair and makeup

in weeks? Your child is happy and healthy. They are fed and loved. They don't think you're a failure, so give yourself more credit.

Secondly, please stop comparing yourself to what you see of social media! I am way too guilty of this. I obsessively scroll through Instagram wishing my page looked like some of the others I see but at the end of the day I'm a normal mum, who works a normal job and sometimes its just not possible to have everything perfect all the time. I can also bet the pictures I see on Instagram or Facebook are only part of the story, those mums have days, just like me, when they are a complete mess and everything gets on top of them. No one is that perfect!

And finally, one of the most important things to remember as a parent is to be proud. Be proud when you are nailing it. Be proud when someone compliments your child for their behaviour or manners, Be proud when you put that final load of washing in away! You did that! You taught that tiny human to be something people take the time out of the day to mention it to you. You spent that time out of your busy day getting the chores done. You did good and it deserves to be recognized! Hell, when everything is falling down around you, be proud that you made it through the day!

My 2019 favourites

2019 is over and what a year it was. I discovered some really great things in 2019, so I thought I would do a little round-up post for you all.

Favorite food - Has to be, for me HelloFresh meals. We signed up to HelloFresh this year and honestly have loved about 95% of the meals we have tried! I think my absolute favorite meal we had was the lamb meatball curry!

Favorite Film - This year I watched so many films this year but my favorite film of 2019 has to be Aladdin. I was so nervous about seeing this film because let's face it Robin Williams just made the original, but I LOVED that film! Will smith was EPIC as Genie and I loved the little extra bits Disney threw into the film this time.

Favorite series - RIVERDALE. Hands down. I had not watched this for so long and honestly, I have no idea why! It is brilliant! I think I'm a little bit in love with Jughead Jones!

Favorite book - I didn't get to read as many books as I wanted to in 2019, but I did get to read (or listen to, thank you audible) a few. My favorite was definitely Eve of man. What an amazing idea and so beautifully written.

Favorite Youtube channel - This year I discovered Phoebe and Me on Youtube. Jess is a brilliant mother and I wish I could budget like her! P is also an amazing little girl. I love their vlogs so much and cant wait to see all of the new content coming for 2020! You can find Jess here -

Favorite 2019 memory - Our first family holiday wins this hands down. What an amazing experience and I am so looking forward to having plenty more in the future!

Hello 2020... My 2020 goals!

Well, 2020 is here and time for my annual 'goals' post. I'm not going to write a massive introduction for this because let's face it, we all know what these posts are about!

Here are my goals for 2020 -

1. Stop buying things unnecessarily - I'm terrible at realizing I have money left and blowing it all on something ridiculous. This year I want to get my S**T together and really think about what I'm buying. My plan is, especially for big-ticket items, to not buy it for a few months. If I then still really want it, then I will sacrifice something else (normally Costa) to save for it.

2. Make healthier choices - I said lose weight last year, and while I came into 2020 a few pounds lighter then I started 2019, I definitely didn't get to where I wanted to be. I don't like to feel pressured and I think that's why I gave up with slimming world. So this year I'm just planning on enjoying myself, learning to love myself and make much healthier choices. I have already uped my water intake (not hard I never drank water) and eat so many more portions of vegetables than I did before. Things can only get better.

3. Make the most of my time with Harry - I realized last year that Harry is growing up really fast and in September he will be at school and won't be asking me to play with him constantly. So I'm going to make the most of it while he still asks me. You never know when it will stop

4. Take more photos - I'm never not going to have this on my list. With Harry growing up so fast I don't think I'll ever be happy with the number of photos I take.

5. Be happier - We have a very hard year ahead of us but my goal is to get through it and come out of it smiling!

Goodbye 2019...

2019 was a very big year for us, as a family, as parents and even as individuals. We definitely had lots of highs and plenty of low points too! I thought it would be really nice to write a round-up post for our 2019! I love reading these and I think that it will be lovely to show Harry in the future too!
2019 started pretty well for us. Sam and I working at jobs we enjoyed with great friends. We decided in January that it was time we started introducing Harry to the potty. He had been obsessed with the toilet for a good couple of weeks before this point and was bringing us a nappy to change him when he filled his nappy. Harry is still not potty trained but knows what the potty is for and making great progress! January was also filled with cold walks and warm coats. February for us was pretty uneventful, to be honest, but we made lots of effort to see our friends and Harry had some wonderful playdates! We are looking forward to plenty more this year!

March brought with it preparations for Harry's birthday, We didn't do anything different for Harry's 3rd birthday apart from he was super excited as Nanna, mumbles and Doo Doo (my mum, sister, and brother) came with us this time. I honestly think Harry has had enough of sea life for a while, he's still obsessed with sharks, but for his 4th birthday, we are considering either Woburn Safari Park so Harry can see some real elephants as he ADORES elephants or Peppa Pig world. Whichever we don't do for his birthday we will be doing over the summer holidays so he won't miss out at all!

April, May, and June were fine, nothing really worth mentioning, but then we got some very bad news at the beginning of July when the company I worked for went bust and I was made redundant. I love working and so to be suddenly out of a job was a hard thing to cope with at first. I went to a very dark place mentally for a few weeks, to be honest. But then the summer holidays started and I had Harry with me every day. I haven't been able to spend proper time with Harry in so long so this was AMAZING. I really felt like we were bonding in a way we couldn't before because I was always working. We got into an amazing routine and with the way Sam's shifts worked out we also got some great family
time over July, then mid-August I went back to work but that really didn't stop the fun. Harry and I finally got our first ever passports in August, ready for what was possibly the highlight of our 2019... Our first ever family holiday! 

We were incredibly lucky that my mum, brother, and sister paid for Harry, Sam and I to go to Menorca with them for our 10th anniversary in Septemeber! We honestly had the best time and
Harry loved the villa and especially loved going on an airplane! We had the best time and honestly are hoping to go back very soon.

October was uneventful for us but then in November, we decided that at 3 and a half it was time Harry got rid of his dum. It was a night full of mixed emotions, only really for us! Harry didn't even seem to notice but I was a mess! I definitely didn't want him to get rid of his last 'baby' thing, but proud of him for doing it so brilliantly!
December was a difficult month, usually, in December I'm full of Christmas cheer, but I just wasn't feeling it, which is funny because it honestly turned out to be on of the best Christmases.
December was particularly hard because in the middle of the month we found out that Harry will have to have his open-heart surgery in early 2020. It's not something we expected but I don't want to go too much into it in this post. Maybe I'll do another closer to the time or just after letting you know our experience.

But that was pretty much our year. I think my favorite thing of 2019 had to be hearing Harry say gracias (thank you) while in Spain. And seeing his face Christmas morning of course.

How was your 2019? 

My top tips for starting a new job

So this week I started my new job! Being made redundant really affected my mental health and I knew I wanted to get back into work as soon as possible and while I had the best time off with my monkey, I was over the moon to be offered a new job!

I am currently working as a claims handler for used car warranties. It's Monday to Friday 9 -5 which is perfect with Sam's shifts. I've moved jobs a couple of times since Harry having Harry so thought I would share some tips I've learned to make the whole experience easier, because let's face it, starting a new job is never easy!

1. Put your outfit all together the night before.

This one may seem like common sense but honestly, it is the biggest time saver for me. I like to put my whole outfit on one hanger and then hang my weeks worth of outfits in my wardrobe. In the morning when I need to get ready I can just grab the hanger and I'm ready to go! No running around looking for tights or trying to decide which top goes better with my jeans or shoes. Obviously, if you wear a uniform, do this with the uniform too for easy access.

2. Get your bag ready the night before.

I LOVE watching what's in my bag videos on YouTube and watch these obsessively in the days leading up to staring my new job. I then write a list of all the things I need and buy these specifically. I then rewatch the videos while packing my bag the day before to ensure I haven't missed anything. My bag is then ready and all I need to do is to pop my phone and whatever lipstick I'm using that day in as I'm leaving and go! I'll be posting a 'what's in my work bag' soon if you are interested in knowing what I take to work with me.

3. Relax and pamper!

The night before my first day I go up around 7pm just as Harry is going to bed to start my relax and pamper routine. I'm a firm believer in making a good first impression and while you may have already met your new boss at your interview, it is important to me to make a good first impression on your new colleagues too! So the night before my first day I have a long soak in the bath, wash my hair, do my skincare routine and usually a face mask. I will also shave my legs, even though no one will see then because I NEVER have bare legs, but it makes me feel more put together and comfortable.

4. Get yourself used to getting to bed early and getting up early.

If like me you have a while off before starting your new job you may have gotten into the habit of waking up later and staying up late. So about a week before starting I force myself to get up at the time I would normally be getting up for work, I then try to get to bed at a decent time meaning by the time I need to get up and ready for work I'm completely used to it and I'm not in a rush or worried about being late which is a big fear of mine!

5. Plan your route before you need it. 

Make sure you know exactly how to get to work, whether you be going by car, bus walking or cycling. Always make sure you know how long it's going to take you and leave in plenty of time. I like to make sure I have time to grab a cup of coffee when I get to work so leave around 10 minutes earlier than needed.

I hope you find these tips helpful next time you start a new job! And good luck to you!

Making the most of having some time off!

Working full time as a parent, let me tell you, it is not easy. So when I was made redundant back in the beginning of July, I was worried about how we were going to cope moneywise but I was a little relieved. I was finally going to be able to spend some quality time with Harry. 

As you are probably aware, I went back to work full time when Harry was 7 months old. While this was totally my choice and what worked best for our family, it was one of the hardest things Ive ever had to do. But now I was getting to have some time with him and i really wanted to make the most of it. 

I am now back to work full time and got really lucky that I am working a perfect 9-5 job. I was out of work for a total of five weeks. After my first week, Harry broke up from Nursery for the summer. We had decided this year to take Harry out of Nursery in the school holidays as it would be expensive and my mum was happy to help out. Lucky we did because we would have never been able to pay the bill while I was off. 

It took a week or so for Harry and I to get into a routine, working around nap times and Sam's shifts, but when we finally did it felt great, I even found time to do a proper clean of the house which it seriously needed and Harry and I got some fun times in too! 

Here are some of the photos we took! We also tried out some of the Free things to do in summer I spoke about in my last post! 

I'm really going to miss these times with my little man but I get every single weekend with him now and am looking forward to some more fun days! 

Big Changes...

So, this post is quite a personal one. If you don’t follow me on Twitter or know me personally, this will be all new information for you, but something big has gone on in our personal lives.

I debated for the longest time about whether to even talk about this on here, because its so personal, but also it affects lots of the posts and I write and had been planning on uploading.

So two weeks ago, I was off work with Harry as he had picked up chickenpox. Sam and I have always worked out taking time off fairly and take it in turns. We knew when Harry had been diagnosed with chickenpox we would need childcare for around a week, so decided that I would take off the Monday and Tuesday and Sam would be off Wednesday and Thursday – I then would be off for my normal day off on Friday.

Around quarter to six, I was sitting in our living room and my phone started to ring. I looked at who was calling and saw a mobile number I didn’t recognize so I ignored it. Am I the only person who doesn’t answer numbers they don’t recognize? Basically, if you aren’t saved in my contacts don’t bother calling me. I’m not answering.

I had a voicemail so listened to it. Then I googled the company the woman was calling from and it came up auditors. She had said in the message she was calling about the company that I worked for so my anxiety started up. What had I done? If you didn’t know I worked for a small car insurance company.

I then got a call from a friend at work who told me the company had gone into administration and we had all been made redundant.

So I am currently job-hunting and being a stay at home mum. I’ve never not had a job and it been really hard for me to adjust, but two weeks in, I think Harry and I have fallen into a nice routine. I’m really happy with the timing as Harry now only goes to nursery in the term time so he’s off for the summer.

I have a few interviews lined up which is scary. I hate job interviews, but I think the scariest part is not actually getting another job because we actually can’t afford for me to be out of work.

I wanted to put this post out here as a lot of my content is about working full time, which I am obviously not doing right now, so a lot more of my posts may be about being at home and job searching for a while. Please bare with me! 

Fingers crossed for me guys!!

Have You Read...?

Where It All Started

Birth Story

Harry's birth story seemed like a fitting first post on here. Bear with me because it was written months ago. More posts to follow ever...