Dear Motherhood Sisters & Friends. 

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What would I do without you?

 

Who would pick me back up again after I’ve fallen?

Who would text me late at night during the loneliest of hours?

Who would be my coffee partner in crime?

I’m so grateful to you…

Your support, your honesty, your perspective, your kindness, your tips and helpful advice but most of all, your shoulder to cry on.

While we all have our own families, jobs and responsibilities to tend to. There is no one else in the world who will understand the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, the tantrums and those days spent covered from head to toe in a variety of bodily fluids.

Thank you for your patience and understanding for when times get tough and for not ever judging my parenting skills.

But most of all, thank you for the memories we’ve shared on this journey together so far.

Thank you for accepting my child into your world and for being an inspiring role model throughout their early years.

 

We’d be lost without you.

The Terrible Twos Or The Terrific Twos? 

We’ve all heard that phrase ‘the terrible twos’ at some point in our lives and whilst I understand the term ‘at times’, I don’t actually believe the two’s are that terrible…

Ok, so I could be writing this and in about a months time be eating my own words but honestly for me, the ‘two’s’ have actually been my most enjoyable time in motherhood, yet. Yes, at times we do face some challenges but overall, this is quite possibly the happiest I’ve been since the day I gave birth.    

I’m not going to lie, I half dreaded the 2nd birthday approaching because I had no idea what to expect. Although what I did get, and numerous times in fact – was the typical phrase…”Ooh, it won’t be long until he reaches that terrible twos stage’. 

Well, that sentence literally planted a seed full of fear into my brain. So much so, that all I could think of was the fact my sweet, precious one year old would soon become this tiny, evil monster that these people speak so dangerously of….although, fortunately for me – I’m still waiting for the arrival of Mr Terrible Two!  

Instead, what I do have – is the most ‘terrific’ two year old. A little boy who is learning so much and building up his confidence every single day. A little adventurer with a big imagination and one who loves to explore the great outdoors; walks, the beach, the park, the garden – you name it, he takes in every surrounding and every moment and makes every single memory count. 

The random songs I catch him sweetly singing when he’s playing on his own. The spontaneous dancing I suddenly detect in the corner of my eye when he thinks no one’s watching, the simple ‘please’s’, ‘thank you’s, ‘sorry’s and ‘love you’s’, and the kisses I lovingly receive after he’s just grabbed my face and looked me deep into the eyes are moments I’ll treasure forever. 

Now, I’m not saying my two-year-old is perfect because believe me, we do face plenty of difficult times of our own. They are a clever species and easily know how to push your buttons. However, distraction is my best friend and sticker charts are my survival!  

I just think it’s important to remember how big and scary this world is to a two-year-old and how frustrating it must be for them to not be able to express what they want and need at times. Those challenging moments are all about them growing as a person and at the same time, we’re learning with them, too. The testing and pushing are not always negative traits and are ones we all require as we go through life, so although it can be tough at times – it’s the companionship, love and friendship from that little human that totally outweighs those minor negatives.  

So, to anyone with a child about to turn two, don’t be fooled…it’s not all that terrible! 

Baby blues – what is it and how to cope with it?

Day 8

‘It’s a little later than normal’, said the Health Visitor.

‘It usually starts around day five. We ought to keep a close eye on you really’.

The darkness had been slowly creeping upon me for the past 24 hours. At first, I brushed it aside, but nothing could stop those tears from suddenly falling down my cheeks at random intervals throughout the day, and night. Anything would set me off! I even cried at my Mum’s roast dinner she kindly brought round to us for supper the night before. My excuse – I was overwhelmed, extremely hormonal and very, very tired but I also felt more than that.

Or did I? Because actually, what I was feeling was quite simply nothing. I was an empty fuel tank. It’s such a strange feeling that the only way I can describe it is how I’d describe the worlds worst coffee…low, flat, cold and very, very weak.

After living off a euphoric adrenaline all week, I was simply worn out. I hadn’t slept for more than 90 minutes at a time and we’d had visitors galore daily. I was a constant feeding machine and I was also recovering from just giving birth. I was in pain. I couldn’t walk properly, not just because of the ‘exit’ location but also because I’d done my back in giving birth. The anxiety made its appearance and a chronic condition of mine also flared up due to the sudden changes and stresses to my body, causing many of my joints to swell and flare. Even my eyesight changed during the first two weeks that my glasses had to go up two prescriptions.

Questions constantly flew through my mind. What’s happened to my body? Why do I feel like this? Is how I’m feeling normal? Will I ever feel like me again? Am I a good mum? Am I doing this right? Can I do this?

So many questions. No answers. No energy. I was scared. All I wanted was my Mum and Ry. No one else seemed to matter in this post-baby bubble. I had no idea what was happening in the outside World. I’d instantly dismiss any phone calls, texts & FB notifications from friends and loved ones because I just couldn’t face talking to anyone. The visitors were cancelled and all I wanted to do was just hide away in the dark with my newborn baby lying sweetly next to me.

After about a week, the dark, deep, flatness began to lift. It didn’t completely go right away, but it was much better and I could finally go a whole day without crying…that was an achievement in itself! It was a big hurdle to face, especially during that first part of the journey to motherhood. However, I promise everyday life got much easier after that. 

What is the baby blues?

Baby blues is so common that the majority of all new Mums experience it in some way or another. It is thought to be linked to the changes in chemicals and hormones shortly after giving birth and the symptoms can involve: feeling emotional, irritable, irrational, anxious and depressed.

What did I learn from my experience? 

This feeling is completely normal.  It doesn’t matter whether your baby blues start on day 5 or day 10. We’re not all programmed the same way, we’re all different and we all go through our own unique experiences both during and after giving birth. Some women are fortunate enough to never get the baby blues but if you are one of those women that do, I have some advice for you.

How to cope with baby blues: 

  • Give yourself plenty of time, patience and rest.
  • Tell those closest to you how you’re feeling, no matter how silly you may feel.
  • Inform your Health Visitor/Midwife/GP so that they can keep an eye on you.
  • Don’t tear yourself down because of how you’re feeling…your body has been through a lot!
  • Cry when you need to.
  • Drink plenty of water. You’ve just had a baby, it’s important to stay hydrated.
  • It’s easy to forget to eat with a newborn. Make sure you have snacks dotted around the house to remind you.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Just go with it. The feeling will soon subside. However, do let your Health Visitor/Midwife/GP know if you’re concerned in any way at all.
  • Limit your visitors.
  • Find ways to help you relax: a bath, relaxation meditation videos on youtube, listening to podcasts, watching television, reading…anything that reminds you that you are still you!
  • Try and get out the house for a bit, even if it’s just the garden. Fresh air works wonders! 
  • Talk about it. Don’t hide it. It’s ok to feel this way!

Positivitea.

I decided to turn my baby blues experience into something positive. Therefore, ‘Positivitea’ is an idea I’ve created for when new Mum’s need that boost of positivity during those first few months after giving birth! They can open one of these envelopes, have a cup of tea, sit down, relax and read a letter from one of their loved ones to give them strength but also to remind them of who they are and that they are not alone. 

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Hopefully, this is an idea that may help someone one day.

Six Ways To Save Money On Your Babies & Toddlers This Christmas.

Although I’ve always been a sucker for this time of year, since becoming a parent the idea of Christmas has suddenly become even more magical. The lead-up, the build-up, the adverts on television, just everything about it has me squealing with excitement.

However, last year was my son’s first Christmas and although he was only 9 months old, it was one of the Christmas’s I’ve looked forward to the most. But, instead of being together as a family, opening presents and stuffing my face with a yummy roast, I actually spent the majority of the day with my head stuck down the toilet with a sickness bug. Nice!

So yes, it really did suck! Yes, I cried all day and yes, I was broken hearted for months afterwards but life really does go on. I can now safely say that I am finally over the grief and disbelief of losing last Christmas and extremely excited to try again this year. Harry will be 21 months this Xmas which is a great age as he is so much more aware. Over the past month, I have been introducing him to legendary Christmas gold such as; ‘The Snowman’, plenty of Christmas Songs and various cute Xmas-related stories. He also now say’s ‘HO, HO, HO!’ when he hears or see’s an image of Santa. It really is truly magical!

I have built up a lovely collection of items over the past few months for Harry’s Christmas presents, which overall hasn’t cost very much at all. To me, Christmas isn’t about spending ridiculous amounts of money. Whilst it’s going to be lovely to watch Harry opening his presents, he will probably be more interested in the boxes and wrapping paper, so in my opinion, spending a huge amount of money just isn’t worth it. Bargain hunting is within my nature, I am a great believer in the beauty of second-hand items and I’m always on the look-out for any deals or offers. Therefore, due to these reasons, I have been able to accumulate some good quality gifts but at a fraction of the cost and here are my top tips on how to achieve it…

eBay

Ok, so I am a huge fan of eBay and have relied on this selling platform a lot over the years. Whether it’s been a purchase for myself or for Harry, I’ve always received great quality products and even sold my own items on there too – a great way to save up some pennies for Christmas! Going back to when Harry was a Newborn, I used to buy bundles of clothing which always arrived in amazing condition. These clothes consisted of excellent, good quality brands such as; NEXT, John Lewis, The Little White Company etc, but because they get such little wear, you can even sell them on again after you’ve used them! Once I’d gone through a size, I’d sell that as a bundle and then I’d be onto the next search for the following size up. I’ve spent many of sleepless nights scrolling the depths of eBay, it was seriously my best friend on maternity leave!

Over the past year, I have also used eBay to buy books, jigsaws and toys too. Plus I have also recently discovered an amazing seller on there called ‘cashstreettoys’.

Link here: 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/cashstreettoys/m.html?_ipg=50&_sop=12&_rdc=1

This seller sells pre-owned toys which all undergo quality checks to ensure that the items are safe and to a high standard before selling. It’s worth a look, some of their products are fantastic and although I haven’t bought from this seller myself just yet – I currently have a few items in my basket that I’m pondering over and their site is just too valuable not to be able to share!

So, if you’re looking for cheap bargains or a way to make some extra cash during the Christmas period, eBay is a good place to start!

Charity Shops

Who doesn’t love a charity shop, seriously? I guess it sometimes depends on where and when you visit but even if I’m not successful, I enjoy the mooching around. It’s practically like searching for treasure, and I love the feeling I get when I finally do discover that ‘find’. Now I’m no fisherman but I can imagine it’s a similar sort of feeling to when you finally catch that fish you’ve longingly been waiting for, it’s liberating! I just adore knowing that these once treasured items have a history behind them and I also love that they’ve been given the opportunity to be re-loved and used once again. Knowing that you’re recycling items at a good cost, whilst also giving to charity is a win-win situation, right?

My favourite charity shop is a local Children’s Hospice Care store located in our nearest town. It’s an amazing shop full of all children’s items ranging from prams, clothes, toys, books and much more. I tend to pop in whenever I’m in town ‘just in case’ I find that special something, but I’m not always that lucky. I have, however, found some amazing discoveries in there over the past year. I recently bought a couple of great condition books, which I have put aside to give to Harry in his Christmas stocking (he’s getting plenty of books this year!)

Luckily Harry is at the age where second hand just doesn’t matter because to him, it’s still brand new. Honestly, the look on his face when he’s received pre-loved items in the past is just as amazing as the look he gives when he’s received something brand new. It just doesn’t matter…I am savouring the innocence whilst I can!

Facebook

Not only is Facebook one of the Worlds largest social media sites, but it is also a genius way of discovering many money saving opportunities. Whether you’re on the hunt for the latest deals or looking to sell your own items, this is a site you can certainly depend on!

Facebook’s selling groups are an incredibly popular way of buying and selling items efficiently. From local selling groups to Facebook’s recent addition ‘the marketplace’, you can upload your items for free without any fees and in most cases, the buyer will collect the item, therefore dismissing any postage costs!

Over the years I have become a member of not just the selling groups within my local community, but also groups Nationwide. Whether I’ve been bargain hunting for our Wedding day, baby essentials, household items and more, I have actually been hugely successful and even sold a few items of my own.

One of my favourite FB purchases to date was a huge ‘Happyland’ toy bundle by ELC. One of my friends advertised this bundle on one of our local selling groups for £15 and I, fortunately, managed to see it almost straight away. Within this toy bundle was a variety of little male and female figures, various pets and lots of zoo animals. Plus, lots of cars, village furniture and much more. My friend kindly delivered it to me as she was passing through my village. However, I couldn’t quite believe it when she arrived…the box was full! A set like this from ELC would have cost way over £50, so I was very happy with my bargain. I actually decided to split half of the box, so I gave Harry some of the toys roughly six months ago and I still have half a box left, which I’m going to wrap up and give to him either for his birthday in March or this Christmas.

 

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Happyland Bundle.

Another item I recently bought on the same selling page was a ‘RAA RAA The Noisy Lion’ toy set. It comes with an interactive tree house, all of the animal figures, a car and a train, all for £8….what a steal! The condition is fantastic, so once again I have put this away for Christmas, and I know Harry will absolutely love it!

 

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Raa Raa The Noisy Lion Bundle.

The last selling page ‘win’ of mine was a Fisher Price car garage for just £5. I have put this away for the big day, too. It’s a little dusty, but it’s quite large and still works really well. With a little bit of TLC, I think this will make a fab pressie!

 

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Fisher Price Garage (Needs a good clean-up!)

In addition to the selling groups, you can also ‘like’ pages that are designed to promote certain products, which also inform you of the latest deals and any up and coming store events.

Here are some links to my favourite money-saving Facebook pages:

– Bump Baby and You

https://www.facebook.com/bumpbabyandyou/

– Money Saver Online

https://www.facebook.com/moneysaveronline

– Money Saving Mummy

https://www.facebook.com/MoneySavingMummy0/?ref=br_rs

– Baby and Toddler Bargain Bay

https://www.facebook.com/babyandtoddlerbargainbay

– Play Pennies

https://www.facebook.com/playpennies/?ref=br_rs

– Bargain Hub For Little Ones

https://www.facebook.com/BargainHubOfficial/

– Bargain Hunters – Don’t get stuffed by Christmas

https://www.facebook.com/turkeybargains/

I could go on and on, the list really is endless!

So, if you’re on the hunt for some Christmas bargains, please ‘like’ the above links and be prepared for your timeline to be filled with big product promotions, store events, discount codes, current deals and much more. I promise you won’t regret it!

Supermarket Baby/Toddler Events

ALDI, LIDL, ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Boots, Mothercare – you name it! They all offer brilliant baby/toddler store events at certain times throughout the year, bringing to you some amazing deals either online or instore.

My favourites so far have been…

ALDI – Unfortunately I missed this year’s event but I’ve previously found it to be very successful. I remember grabbing some great bargains from there when I was expecting but I also found it to be very useful during the first year of Motherhood, too. With products ranging from all those handy essentials such as; calpol, nappies, baby wipes etc, to more exciting items such as baby books, nursery items, wooden toys and much more. The variety really is huge, along with some mega money saving deals too!

Sainsbury’s – The most scariest event to date, but also one of the most victorious! If you haven’t been before, unfortunately, you will now have missed this year’s date. It usually happens during mid-October and is one not to miss. Although, saying that – you have to be prepared to walk into a store that will be jam-packed with hundreds of toys everywhere, endless amounts of overflowing trollies, crowded aisles, lots of screaming children and a number of sweaty and stressed Mothers. It’s a scary World in there!

It was so busy when I went that I actually couldn’t bare it. Although I did manage to persevere, and thankfully my Mum came with me, so she kindly helped with Harry whilst I made my way through the sea of angry Mothers. Thankfully I came out alive and luckily with a few great items, too. My steal of the day was Harry’s main present, ‘A chad valley fire engine set’ for £16. Harry loves anything with fire engines and figures, so this is the perfect gift for him. I also bought a bag of ‘Thomas the Tank’ mega blocks for £5, a few books (1x interactive and 2x lift the flap types) for £8, and a set of toddler ‘pairs’ playing cards for £2 – all ideal stocking fillers.

 

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My Sainsbury’s bargain buys. 

My Mum also managed to get a few presents for her Grandchildren, too! So, despite the challenges faced, this event really is worth a try!

Amazon

Amazon is one of my favourite places to buy from because it literally sells everything you can possibly think of! I pay monthly for the Amazon Prime subscription, which eventually happened after many free trials (until I ran out of accounts to use) and many months of pondering over whether I should take the plunge or not. Although I’m so pleased I finally did!

We used to have Netflix, which is great but when you’re a parent – you don’t really get to experience the full benefits of a Netflix subscription. Therefore, my reasons for changing were merely down to the fact that as a parent, I benefitted far more from Amazon Prime’s services for exactly the same price each month but with other luxuries included, such as; free next day Prime delivery service, special membership deals and discounts on certain products, Amazon Video (with a great selection of Children’s on-demand TV shows), Amazon Music and discounts on the Kindle book app.

As you can probably tell by now, I absolutely love my books and fortunately for me, so does Harry. Therefore I wanted to share with you one of my Top Amazon tips for buying books at Christmas

If there is a book you’re interested in or you know you want to buy, search for it and click on the item as normal. Once you’re on the item’s main page, scroll down gently to the option ‘used and new offers’. This is Amazon’s selection of pre-loved books, which are sold by other companies who use Amazon as a selling platform.

Now, this option isn’t always successful. But most of the time I have been able to find good condition books for as little as 1p, and all you have to pay for is the delivery charge. Amazing, right?

Here is an example:

This ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ story is advertised on Amazon for £5.24. However, if you click on the link ‘used and new offers’, you will find others for much cheaper.

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If you try this, please just make sure the option states that the book is at least in ‘good’, ‘acceptable’ or ‘like new’ condition and that the company it’s coming from looks reliable and has good ratings, too!

The Works

I’m sorry if I’m boring you with my book buying tips but I couldn’t not share with you my recent experience with theworks.com

This site is especially ideal if you have lots of children to buy for as you can do the ‘10 books for £10 deal’. I recently managed to buy a charming selection of Christmas stories which I have decided to split between Harry and some other tiny people. So not only did I get more stocking fillers for Harry, but I also got some brilliant gifts for others within that deal too! The best part about it is you can individually choose the selection of books yourself to cater to your own preferences.

These were my choices:

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To get yours, follow the link here:

https://www.theworks.co.uk/c/multibuys/10-for-10

They also have a gorgeous selection of Winter/Christmas colouring and sticker books – from as little as £1.50 each. These are perfect for stockings, as well as great gift ideas for other children too. 

So, there you have it…my guide towards creating a cheap but happy Christmas!

Please just remember, Christmas isn’t about being materialistic. It’s about spending time together as a family and appreciating one another. Anything you buy for your little one, whether it’s second-hand or not – I can guarantee will be loved and adored just the same. So please take the pressure off yourself and enjoy Christmas for what it truly has to offer. A time full of love, joy and kindness!

If you have your own money-saving top tips, please feel free to comment and share any links. I think this could be a great way to help others this Christmas!

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Mumma Goes Abroad

‘The Week Before’, 12th September 2017 – Time: 2250

I’m currently lying in bed, wide awake, whilst listening to the howling wind and heavy rain splattering against our bedroom window. I can’t help but focus on the fact that this time next week I’ll be in Nice with Carla, a very close friend. I can imagine that I’ll be doing the exact same thing as I am right now…lying in bed and writing, but with a belly full of lovely French food! However, the difference is I won’t have my Hubby lying next to me and I won’t have the sound of the baby monitor humming in my ear. I also won’t have a Harry to comfort during the night…it’s going to be very strange.

Although I am really looking forward to this trip, the Mum guilt and anxiety is slowly beginning to kick in. The heart-wrenching pain I’m feeling about leaving Harry for four days is absolutely terrifying. Can I do this? Will I cope? Will Harry and Ry cope? Will they miss me? Am I doing the right thing?

I’ve only ever travelled abroad with Ry or my family so this will be my first holiday away with a friend. Whilst it’s extremely exciting, it is also completely out of my comfort zone and a fear that’s always haunted me. Even before the days of Harry, the idea of leaving my home comforts scared me. My anxiety is 100% to blame for this. It always got the better of me, and because of this, I’ve missed out on many opportunities in the past. So, this time I’m pushing myself and I’m going for it!

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you will be familiar with my anxiety struggles and my passion for mental health. Even though my anxiety has improved a lot since Harry has come into my life, there are still many issues I battle with every single day. I did struggle post-natally for the first six months but thankfully, that soon lifted. Over the years I’ve discovered strategies to manage my attacks and have finally found the courage to open up about my experiences. At long last, I’ve learnt to accept myself and welcome those anxious quirks. I’ve also learnt to be patient with my mind. The mind that continuously worries about future events that never happen. The mind that also constantly flicks from one movie to another, and the mind that makes me question everything.

I know this disorder will never go away, but I am determined to embrace this part of me. I want to continue to transform my experiences into something productive and share my struggles to help others. I want to fight and conquer my fears and do the things I never thought I’d be able to do.

Fortunately, this trip has entered into my life at the perfect time, where I am currently the happiest and healthiest I have felt in years. As my anxiety affects me both physically and mentally, it can make me feel quite unwell at times which in turn, hugely affects my confidence. This has improved massively though, and as a result, has led me to reach this wonderful and positive stage in my life. A place where I’ve finally gained the strength to overcome an opportunity as big as this trip away. I’m ready to achieve this, and I’m ready for some much needed ‘me’ time. But most of all, I’m ready to kick my anxieties big fat butt! So, welcome to my new chapter…Mumma goes abroad!

 

‘The Night Before’, 18th September 2017 – Time: 2148

I may have just re-packed my case for the fifth time this week, but who cares? I’m finally ready and prepped for my trip away! I was hoping for an early night but for some reason, my suspicious mind seems to feel the need to keep checking on my passports whereabouts every two minutes. I know it’s neatly stored in my hand-luggage. I know this because I’ve seen it there. I was the one that put it there! But no, my mind seems to think my evil passport has found the ability to grow a pair of legs and is capable of both leaping out of my hand-luggage and running away. I do hope it realises how pathetic it’s being soon because I really must get some sleep.

My parents are also going away this week for their Anniversary and are fortunately staying just outside of Bristol for a few days. This is perfect as our flight is from Bristol airport, so I’ll be able to join them on their road trip tomorrow morning. We are leaving pretty early, which means I may not be able to see Harry before I leave. I honestly can’t count the number of times I kissed and told him I loved him at bedtime this evening. It was like I was never going to see him again. So, at least by leaving with my parents tomorrow morning it’ll keep me nicely distracted. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with them and having a catch-up too.

You’d think writing a blog would be a great way to wind down, but I am still very much wide awake with a mind that is in full swing and a Mum guilt that is on top form tonight. I am also currently being held hostage by Wilson. I usually welcome his lovely cat cuddles but he is lying so close to me that I can feel his whiskers tickling my cheeks. His purr is also so loud that it’s vibrating through my chest and I can feel his yellow eyes staring right through me…I think he knows!!

Ry is also tucked up in bed next to me and is attempting to complete the daily crossword we usually do together on the iPad. I keep asking him if there’s anything I can do to help before I go away but he’s adamant that he has it all ‘under control’. I know he does and I know Harry is in perfectly good hands. Ry is really looking forward to some quality Father and Son bonding time, so it’s an important and special time for them also. I know they’ll be absolutely fine. It’s just a little scary that’s all.

Ry is also going away in February for a few nights with Carla’s Husband Chris, which means we will all get a mini break away. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the both of us and after 18 months of terrible sleepless nights…I do think we both deserve it!

Therefore, to try and distract my racing thoughts, I’ve just spent some time looking up our booking on Air B&B. We will be staying in a one-bed French apartment with a balcony that has a view of the mountains. It looks super cosy, with a fully equipped kitchen and a location that’s close to the port. The temperature is set to be around 23 degrees and our plans so far involve plenty of cafe and bakery stops, a trip to the markets, a spot of shopping, some sightseeing and a chill on the beach.

I’m excited….

 

‘Day One’, – 19th September 2017 – Time: 2215

Bonjour from Nice! We have arrived here safely, and I am currently lying in bed in our apartment…with a belly full of French food. Told you so!

I was lucky to be able to see Harry very briefly this morning, which meant I was able to get in a few extra kisses and squeezes. I did feel pretty sad leaving them all, but on the other hand, I was also feeling ready and excited to start my adventure. The journey to the airport couldn’t have gone any better. I was greeted by Carla in the departures entrance, shortly after getting dropped off by my parents. However, in that short space of time from leaving my parents car to meeting Carla, I did suddenly feel quite vulnerable. I was out of my comfort zone. I was alone. I was unsure, and at one point I struggled to catch my breath. I begged and begged myself not to have an anxiety attack but after taking a few deep breaths, I was fine!

I don’t know if it’s just me that does this but why, oh why do I have to make myself look so suspicious going through security? I just can’t help it. I can’t even look the security staff in the eyes! The process is just so intimidating that I am always totally relieved when I’ve made it through to the other side. But after both successfully getting through without any further and unnecessary searches, we made our way into the departures lounge where we shopped and decided to relax and catch up properly over some lunch.

Our flight went pretty smoothly too. The airport is located very close to the sea, so the views when landing were incredible. We arrived about 4.30pm but were unfortunately welcomed with rain and very grey skies, typical! Therefore, due to the weather and time, we decided to get a taxi from the airport to our apartment which took approximately 15 minutes and cost us 35 euros in total. The taxi ride took us along the whole promenade, a 5k strip of pretty spectacular views.

When we arrived at our apartment, we were kindly met by Claire our Air B&B host. She let us into the building and showed us how to use the tiny lift to the top floor. We only just about managed to squeeze us and our cases in there! During our lift ride, we learnt that Claire is also English but has lived here in Nice since 2003, with her husband and two children. She was extremely friendly and helpful, which has made our stay so far very reassuring.

Our apartment greeted us with clean smells and spotless worktops, with lovely bright rooms, a gorgeous bathroom and a well, fully-equipped kitchen. Our living room and bedroom windows lead to a long balcony, with charming shutters and a lovely view of the mountains. We also look out onto other similar apartments, with some balconies beautifully decorated with plants and flowers, and others decorated with their hanging washing, it reminded me of the film Aladdin.

So far we are extremely impressed. Air B&B apartment link here:

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13872583?location=Nice%2C%20France

As the weather was pretty miserable, we decided we didn’t want to venture too far at first. So instead, we planned to go on a small local walk to get some supplies for our apartment. Not too far away, we stumbled across a lovely bakery called ‘ Boulangerie Patisserie La Gourmandise’, selling French sticks and some very yummy cakes. Our first challenge yet was that the gentleman only spoke very little English, which was not a problem as we desperately wanted to try some French-speaking ourselves. We were a little rusty but gave it a good go, although Carla was much better than I. Somehow, we successfully ended up with a French stick, some very yummy looking lemon meringue tarts and some panne au chocolat pastries for the morning. He also very kindly popped in some mini cake freebies too, all because he was impressed that we had given the French language a good go.

Across the road from our apartment is a convenient local supermarket, with all of the essentials you need! Our spread tonight couldn’t have been more perfect! It consisted of various types of cheese, our bakery French stick, olives, crackers, red wine, vegetable crisps and grapes. Simple, yet absolutely amazing! Plus one of the cheeses we discovered is the best cheese I think I’ve ever tasted. It was quite difficult to work out the name of it on the packaging, therefore the only information I got was that it’s called ‘St.Laurient’. I think I’ll be heading back for some more soon!

After eating and winding down, the skies suddenly began to clear and so we decided to do a little exploring. We discovered the local port and kept walking along the seafront towards CoCo Beach, a spot that’s renowned for its wonderful sunsets. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to be able to witness the most beautiful sundown. It was the perfect end to a long day!


I’ve just been in touch with Ry. They have both had a lovely day today with my Mother in Law, and I’ve received plenty of pictures and updates which has certainly put my mind at rest. It is now very late and I’m beginning to feel quite tired, therefore I’m off to sleep ready for our busy day tomorrow.

By the way, this bed is pretty comfy too!!

 

‘Day Two’, 20th September 2017 – Time: 2246

Opening the curtains this morning was a completely different view in comparison to yesterdays. The storm clouds over the mountains had been replaced with blue skies. The sun was shining and the air was warm. So as you can imagine, we were eager to get exploring.


After eating our lovely pastries for breakfast, we then set off on our journey where we walked a fair distance from our apartment to the Matisse Museum. It wasn’t long after leaving that I slightly regretted my choice of footwear. However, I was easily distracted by the gorgeous views and beautiful surroundings that I soon forgot about the pain and kept going.

The walk was pretty steep, although the higher we went, the better the views were. I just love the designs of the buildings here, they are all so unique in their own little way.

We soon arrived at the museum where we paid 10 euros each for our tickets. I honestly was expecting it to be much higher than that, and I couldn’t believe that within the price you also got 24-hour access to other museums around Nice.

After causally viewing work that definitely didn’t belong to Matisse, we soon realised that we’d actually entered the wrong building and that we should, in fact, be in the one next door. We were, however standing in the Museum of Archaeology which surprisingly turned out to be very interesting.


After viewing the exhibit and exploring the ancient Roman ruins outside, we finally reached the Matisse Museum; a beautiful large, salmon coloured building set within the same stunning grounds as the Roman baths and located in the Cimiez hills overlooking Nice. Matisse’s exhibition inside didn’t just showcase his artwork but it also focused on his whole life, a true representation of the evolution of his work. Carla had studied his work during her Art degree so she was determined to go. I, on the other hand, didn’t really know much about Matisse prior to our visit but I’m so glad I went. I enjoyed the experience, plus it was a great way to incorporate some culture into our trip.

After our culture fix, it was time to then tend to our rumbling tummies and search for some much-needed food. We opted to find the farmers markets, which again was quite a walk. It’s the norm isn’t it that when you head on a city break, you’ve got to expect some blisters right? I knew we had a lot of walking planned so I honestly thought that I’d chosen the correct footwear today. But on the way to the markets, my feet decided to have a big fall out with my sandals, and guess who won?

I struggled with the pain but I managed to stay positive and troop on. Although, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to finally see a pharmacy. Those bright green flashing lights were my absolute saviour and after covering my feet in plenty of blister pads and plasters, I was then set for the rest of the day.

We eventually found the farmers markets but were disappointed to find that the stalls only seemed to sell fruit and veg. We were really hoping for some rather exciting French delicacies and so our quest to find some food continued. Although, with the help of Carla’s Pokemon hunting app, it really wasn’t long before we casually stumbled into the heart of Nice. An exciting and buzzing location full of gorgeous shops, restaurants and suddenly, a lot of people.

We decided to eat in a place called Bagel History which was situated close to Nice’s very own Notre-Dame. The food was really tasty, with a lovely atmosphere, friendly staff and very reasonable prices. The interior was really cool too and full of trendy, retro decor. It was a really nice place to chill, to quickly catch up with my boys and to also give my feet a much-needed rest!


We then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the nearby street and browsing its wonderful selection of both popular and quirky shops. It was so nice to relax and finally go shopping on my own with a friend, and not feel any pressure. Harry isn’t the most restful when out and about shopping, neither is Ry, to be honest. So this for me was pure luxury! We didn’t get too carried away either, but we did manage to purchase a few exciting discoveries.

We were pretty tired after our shopping experience, so we decided to pop back to our apartment for a rest, a freshen up and to refuel on last nights leftovers. We then went for a stroll along the famous promenade to see if we could find a suitable beach spot for our beach experience tomorrow morning. The beaches along the promenade were very pretty but they were also full of large pebbles and didn’t seem to be very clean. Therefore, our mission for the perfect beach for relaxing still continues.

One word of advice for any Mothers leaving their little ones behind….don’t find yourself walking through a park at the busiest time of the day where there are hundreds of kids and prams everywhere! It will play on that guilty conscience of yours and it will make you feel a little sad.

On the other hand, our evening meal tonight was lovely. We went to an Italian restaurant called ‘Cafe La Place’, in the Garibaldi square. I decided to follow in Carla’s vegetarian footsteps so we shared a gorgeous tomato and mozzarella pasta, as well as a very yummy vegetable pizza. We were seated outside, where we were surrounded by a warm and friendly atmosphere with plenty to watch and see. For the second time today, we were very satisfied with the service and food we’d received.


We are now in bed after a long but enjoyable day, winding down ready for tomorrow’s big adventure! I’m actually pretty wide awake and I’m suddenly really missing my boys. Because we have been so busy today I’ve been well distracted, but now that we’ve stopped…all I can think about is them. When I spoke to Ry on FaceTime this evening, he told me that he’d put a picture of me up on our shelf and that Harry would occasionally point to it and say ‘Mum’ at different points throughout the day. That definitely tugged on my heartstrings and guilty Mum conscience! Overall though, Harry has been absolutely fine and has been well entertained today by Ry and his Godfather Dan who’s come to keep them company for a few days. Even though it kills me, I purposely have decided not to FaceTime Harry during this trip because unfortunately, I think it’ll be more cruel than kind.

I am having a little wobble tonight and I’m feeling quite homesick (I blame the park) but I expected that at some point during this trip. I’m just about to stick in my earphones though and switch on one of my reliable YouTube videos for some relaxation. This is my go-to tool if I’m feeling stressed or anxious. It really helps with those racing thoughts you often get at bed-time.

Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IofL1jyGMEQ

I’m really hoping it’ll help me chill as I need some sleep for our big day tomorrow.

So here goes…

 

‘Day Three’, 21st September 2017 – Time: 2342

I honestly didn’t think anything could top yesterday, but today has been absolutely incredible. We set off early this morning to find a beach in a nearby town called Villefranche-sur-Mer, a place that’s renowned for its incredible location. We decided to walk as Carla didn’t seem to think it was too far away. She genuinely thought that the beach was ‘just around the bay’….However, let’s just say that I was rather pleased with my sensible footwear decisions today!

After six very long, but beautiful miles later we eventually reached Villefranche-sur-Mer; a quaint little town full of unbelievably breath-taking views! It may have taken us a while to get there but the whole entire walk was just so pretty that it was totally worth it. The town had such a relaxing atmosphere and also offered a variety of sweet little shops and charming restaurants. It really was a lovely contrast in comparison to what we’d been used to over the past couple of days.


The beach itself didn’t let us down either. We discovered a quiet little spot in the corner near some rocks where we peacefully sat and ate our leftover cheese and crackers for lunch. We were so relaxed that we savoured every single second of ray soaking, whilst also listening to the waves lap against the shore. The water was so beautiful and clear that we enjoyed a little paddle and even managed to find lots of sea glass and tiny shells to bring home with us. It was perfect!


We then gradually made our way back through Ville de France’s town where we grabbed an ice cream each and made the crazy decision to walk the 6 miles back to our apartment in Old Town. I’ve no idea what we were thinking but we were grateful to witness the wonderful scenic route one last time.

It was quite a long walk back to the apartment but when we finally got there we had a freshen up and caught up with our loved ones at home. We also enjoyed a glass of red wine each and some nibbles on the balcony, taking in the warm sunshine before heading out to find some cake and antique shops.

We didn’t find as many antique shops as we’d hoped today but we did discover an absolute treasure; ‘Caprice Vintage’, located within Old Town at 12, Rue Droite. This beautiful vintage shop was full of good quality labelled and un-labelled clothing, as well as accessories all dating from 1920’s through to the 90’s. I was totally fascinated with the Chanel display and the endless collection of shoes. This shop offered such a unique experience that I felt like I’d been transported into another World. A French vintage World. So, if you love your French chic and retro styles then this place is certainly one to visit!

Follow them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/CapriceVintageShop/


We also visited a cafe called ‘Deli Bo’, which is one of those places we have walked passed a few times and thought ‘we must try in there’. Carla had discovered from her online research that it was pretty popular, so we sat outside and watched the World go by whilst enjoying an afternoon cream tea. It was a little different to the Cornish kind that I’m used to and it was certainly missing the clotted cream, but it was very tasty none the less. The staff were also extremely pleasant and the atmosphere felt really friendly and relaxed.

They can also be found on Facebook through this link: https://www.facebook.com/D%C3%A9li-Bo-196570080426527/

So, one thing we’ve learnt about Nice is that they’re not very good at accommodating for vegetarians. This evening we spent hours walking the streets and searching for veggie-friendly places on Google, but the only suitable options seemed to be Italian restaurants. We honestly spent so long looking that we decided to return to last nights ‘Cafe La Place’ because we knew what the food was like and we had such a great experience. Unfortunately though, my food tonight didn’t follow suit as my burger was pretty much raw. However, our friendly waiter who looked just like ‘Greyworm’ from Game of Thrones kindly took care of it and sorted a fresh one fairly quickly.


On the way back to our apartment I witnessed even more of what an amazing person Carla is. We walked passed a homeless man sitting on the floor wrapped up with his dog when all of a sudden Carla pulled out 10 euros from her purse and popped it into the man’s pot. You could see from the smile on his face that he was just so grateful. I really was blown away by her kindness.

When we reached the apartment we both decided that we weren’t quite ready for bed yet and that we fancied a final evening stroll along the promenade. We decided to walk up to the large ‘I love Nice’ sign, which overlooked the rest of the lit up promenade. We could also hear the sea roaring in the darkness, crashing against the rocks. It was lovely, but when I suddenly realised what the time was I did start to feel slightly uneasy. As we started to head home, we were approached by a man who at first, had been sat quite a far distance away. For some reason, he started jogging up to us so Carla and I locked arms and quickly stepped up our pace. I’m not sure what he wanted but he eventually gave up, and I’m not sure if that’s because he thought we were rude or because (I can’t believe I’m about to write this…) I ‘let one rip’ in order to try and scare him off! I’m aware it’s gross but I’m telling you, it was my only available weapon. Either way, it worked….

We are now back at the apartment, wrapped up in bed and prepared for our final day tomorrow. I’ve been in touch with home lots today and Harry seems to be pretty content. I really am having such an amazing time but I just can’t wait to see them both tomorrow.

It’s been a long but incredible day and I’m absolutely shattered, therefore I’m off to sleep. Goodnight folks!

 

‘The last day’, 22nd September ‘17 – 2346

As our flight today wasn’t until late afternoon, we decided to get up fairly early, pack our cases, eat breakfast and have our very last final stroll.

One place we were desperate to visit was the waterfall, located up on Castle Hill. To get there meant climbing lots of very steep steps, although the achy legs were totally worth it. I was truly amazed at what this place had to offer and the views were absolutely breath-taking.

We decided to take a stroll around the cemetery, which was the most beautiful, well-kept cemetery I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. Each grave represented a unique story and didn’t have the dreary, over-grown gravestones like we get here in the UK. It felt like a proper tribute and a place to truly celebrate these people’s lives. It was a really humbling experience.

It was a little walk from the cemetery to the waterfall, with more steep steps to climb. However, once again the views were just phenomenal. The artificial waterfall is absolutely stunning and is a lovely place to stand when you need cooling down. We also discovered a huge park with castle ruins just up from the waterfall. Here you could visit different lookout points that offered some amazing panoramic views of Nice. It was just gorgeous and the perfect end to our trip.


On our final walk back to the apartment, we took a stroll along the Port where we suddenly stumbled upon a few antique shops, full of so many lovely things. I just wish I’d had more money and more room in my luggage. Carla however successfully came away with the sweetest and daintiest hand-painted glass bottle, it was gorgeous and such a lovely keepsake!

Once we were completely packed, we sadly said goodbye to our apartment and took our very last tiny lift ride down to the ground floor. We then walked with our cases to Garibaldi Square and caught the bus for just 6 euros to the airport, which again took us along the whole promenade.

The airport process went fairly straightforward. We got there with plenty of time to spare, which meant we were able to chill and eat some lunch before our flight, plus spend the very last of our euros in the shops and not feel too rushed. We enjoyed a lovely meal in Jamie’s Italian which set us up for the journey home, and we even managed to find a few gifts to bring back for our loved ones.

Luckily our flight was on time and we had a very smooth journey home. We were kindly met by my parents in the departures lounge at Bristol Airport, where we then started our long journey home back to Cornwall. Carla’s Husband Chris picked up Carla from Exeter services on the way, and my parents and I finally got home about 10pm.

I was so grateful to find Ry eagerly waiting for me at the door with a cup of tea, bless him. I was just about to give him the biggest kiss when all of a sudden Wilson appeared down the stairs meowing and swearing at me. Therefore, my attention quickly transferred from Ry to the cat.

“Wilsonnnnnnnnn!!” I called, as I scooped him up in my arms for a cuddle. I then went to look at Ry to say “how cute is this?” but he was stood still, totally unimpressed, with his mouth open staring straight at me.

“You went to the cat before me!”, he said…..

Oops!

I am now in my very own bed with Wilson cuddling into me, Ry doing the usual crossword and Harry sound asleep next to my ear on the monitor. I feel so lucky to be able to call this my home and these guys my family. I can’t wait to see that little boy tomorrow morning!

Although it’s good to be home, I’ve honestly had the best time and I am so proud of myself for achieving this opportunity. I’ve learnt that I can be independent and that I am allowed to do things for myself without feeling guilty. After feeling like I’ve rediscovered myself again, I’ve also learnt that being ‘Cath’, is just as important as being ‘Mummy’.

I want to thank Carla for inviting me on this trip and for helping me to really feel like ‘me’ again. I’m already missing your company this evening. I also want to thank Ry for encouraging me to pursue this opportunity and for being so supportive the whole way through. However last of all, I want to thank all of you who follow and continue to support my blog posts. You’ve encouraged me to develop my passion for writing which has not only helped others but has also kick-started my career as a freelance copywriter. I now feel like life is heading in the right direction!

Goodnight to you all and thank you once again. x
P.S – This is one of my most precious moments. Cuddles with Harry the following morning after arriving home. ‘My happy place’.

The Honest Mum.

I can see the fog slowly starting to disappear and I can feel my identity slowly creeping back. I’m slowly beginning to find myself again. 

Whilst Motherhood is the greatest and most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It’s also been very tough. A whole 17 months of extreme sleepless nights. Feeling totally out of control and feeling like time is quickly slipping away through my fingers. Missing my old life, my old job, my old body, my friends and although I live with him, my Husband. 

With working and a toddler who hasn’t gone to sleep until nearly 9pm each night, then spending two hours of the night wide awake and still waking either side of that, it’s been very hard for Ry and I to make time for each other, let alone ourselves. I feel so guilty saying this but I really do miss those date nights we used to have. I miss those endless amounts of cuddles on the sofa and those exciting, spontaneous trips away. They seem such a distant memory now.

As a parent you do have to sacrifice those ‘used to haves’ and yes, that sacrifice is made totally worth it when you wake up each morning to that gorgeous smile from your 1.5 year old son. Watching him grow, develop and thrive even more each day is just the most incredible feeling. I love him dearly, and I wouldn’t have sacrificed all of that if I didn’t.

But I’ve realised that I deserve some me time too. I did lose myself for a while and I can now see how important it is to start introducing some balance back into my life. I am starting to feel more in control of my life again. My motivation is returning and I’m starting to feel like I have more time for myself, and Ry.

I have decided to give myself a daily three goal challenge. This challenge requires three things I would like to accomplish each day. Whether it’s to tackle some laundry, to shave my legs, to take Harry out on an adventure, to drink more water, to exercise…it could be anything.

I’ve only been doing this challenge since Friday but I already feel so much better. After a lot of perseverance and patience, we have successfully brought Harry’s bedtime forward, allowing us a couple of hours each evening to unwind and have some much needed us time. Each day I have managed a half an hour work out of either yoga, aerobics or a trip to my parents gym in their garage. Ry and I have also sat down every evening and watched an episode of a tv series together, sometimes whilst I have ironed…ironed!!! I never iron. I’ve cooked something new and also achieved housework chores that have been building for what feels a life-time. 

The sense of achievement I get when I’ve accomplished these goals is amazing. It keeps me motivated and positive. It encourages balance and control back into my life, and I feel like me. Not just a Mummy, but a Wife and an individual. 

If you’re feeling a little lost, or a little unmotivated, please give this challenge a try. It helps and it works! 

The Life Of Curls.

Curly hair may be a blessing to some, but to a teenager who was just about to start secondary school…it was purely a head of hatred.

It didn’t help that my two older brothers used to tease me by calling me “mop head” or “wild hair”. Nor the fact that at 8 years old, a girl in my new gymnastics group told everyone in the class not to talk to me because my hair was “weird”. After that, it really wasn’t long before I had decided to quit my new hobby!

It was tough in the school playground, also. It was at the time of the Spice Girls boom where we often played ‘which spice girl are you going to be?’ during break-time. Personally, I always felt I should be Baby Spice because she was my all time favourite. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I put this idea forward to the girls, but I never won. All I ever got was ‘No, I want to be baby spice, I’m blonde’, or ‘my hairs straight…you should be scary because you have curly hair’. Gee thanks, although fair point – I guess!

There is one regret that I’ll never live down and that was allowing myself to get my hair braided on holiday. You know the one where they wrap a section of your hair in the different coloured string, then complete the look with various types of beads? Yep, I had that! I was walking around for weeks with one rather long and straight hair-braid, just hanging freely against the backdrop of my crazy head of hair. Unfortunately, I do have photo evidence!

It sounds silly now, but at the time I just didn’t feel normal. I was so envious of all the other girls my age who seemed to all have gorgeous straight hair that would sit perfectly in a plait or ponytail. My hair couldn’t do that and I couldn’t help but feel so different!

….Then secondary school arrived.

I very clearly remember my first morning of year 7. I woke up, brushed my teeth, got dressed, sorted my backpack and left the dreaded hair until last. I remember just staring into the mirror thinking what was I supposed to be with this crazy bird’s nest sat upon my head. I literally had no idea where to start and that’s when I regrettably stumbled into the bathroom looking for inspiration. I now wish I had powers to change what was about to happen next!  

Suddenly, I spotted my brother’s pot of green hair gel sitting on the side of the sink. ‘That’ll do’ I thought. I reached for the jar and stuck my whole hand in, discovering a pool of a rather thick, sticky slime. I rubbed the gel between both hands and proceeded to use it by scraping back my hair. The front of my hair was then neatly slicked back, whilst the remaining fluff ball was messily tied up into a bun located to the back of my head. Not only was I suddenly sporting an interesting variety of textures, but I now owned a very stiff head!

Entering the world of secondary school opened my eyes to more beautiful girls with long, gorgeous straight hair and that’s when I started to develop a very unhealthy complex. One day a rumor started that my hair wasn’t naturally curly and I apparently used to wake up at 3 am every morning before school to curl my hair…really?!

No matter how many people complimented my hair, it was always the negatives that stuck with me. So then when I reached year 8, my Mum very kindly paid for me to have my hair chemically straightened at Toni & Guy. I was so excited that I convinced myself this would be the cure to end my curls. However, although this helped to relax my hair, it really didn’t do much else!

It really was a tough ride, until that one day, where I was introduced to the most incredible invention known to this planet…the mighty hair straighteners! Apart from my wedding day and the day that Harry was born, I think this moment might have actually been the best day of my life! Since then, my life has changed and I am forever grateful and thankful to the creator of GHD’s.

Gone were the days when my best friends use to brush my hair so much that I could barely fit through a door frame, whilst resembling Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons! Sleepovers then suddenly became about straightening my hair and regrettably, plucking each other’s eyebrows! From then onwards I would spend a few hours every other day trying to get my hair dead straight ready for school the following day, I was obsessed! Therefore, you can imagine the panic over the first time my GHD’s decided to die. That is a day I shall never forget!

I will also never forget the time I had my hair done in a salon where believe it or not, three different stylists took it in turns to straighten my hair because it was taking so long. I was in that salon for 5 hours!

Finally, at the age of 26, I am now able to fully embrace the curls. I am at a point where I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with my hair! A few years ago I got bored of the constant straightening and realised that it just wasn’t me anymore. I started to miss the madness and the volume but most importantly, I eventually learned that my hair was, in fact, a blessing. With special thanks to my GHDs (I still use them), my wonderful hairdresser, argan oil, Aussie products and spray in conditioner…I am now a very happy Curly Cath!

Just a little blip.

This week has just been ‘one of those weeks!’

Picture this. Wednesday morning at 4 am. I’m bent over the toilet being violently sick. Meanwhile, Harry has woken. He seems distressed and has a tickly cough that’s irritating his throat. He is therefore also sick, but in his bed and all over his bedding! Ry has to get up for work in two hours but he’s dealing with Harry all on his own because I currently cannot leave the bathroom. He then proceeds to strip Harry’s bedding, whilst Harry is sat crying out from the bedroom floor. I can hear the commotion but I am unable to assist. Then to top it all off, Ry suddenly jolts his shoulder from lifting up the mattress and ends up spending the rest of the week in agony.

Fast forward to Saturday and it seems that I’d developed a 48hour stomach bug earlier on in the week. I am much better now, although I am now catching a cold that poor Harry currently has. Harry has literally just recovered from a cold that he developed only two weeks ago, which we believe he caught from a soft play area. He has since been back and to my disbelief, has caught yet another one. I know you can’t wrap children up in cotton wool but I can’t help but dread taking him to these places because I know he’s just going catch a new bug. On the plus side, it’s good for his immune system and I do adore seeing him interacting with other children. He just has so much fun, and so the illness is just something we will have to deal with.

Harry also has croup alongside his cold, which causes a nasty barking sound when he coughs. On Thursday night he woke up struggling to breathe and was making the strangest noise when inhaling his breath. This is called the ‘strider’ noise, which is typical with croup. This has happened before, so I was able to recognise the signs immediately. Without panicking, I opened the window to get some fresh air into his lungs and to my relief, this eased the symptoms almost instantly. The Dr told me last time that if it happens again for anything over ten minutes to call an ambulance, but I’m very pleased it didn’t come to that.

We visited the Dr yesterday who prescribed Harry some steroids but only to take them if he has trouble with the breathing again. It was just helpful to know we had something in place for over the weekend in case his breathing deteriorated again. Last night we raised one side of his cot mattress which I believe really helped. Though he did wake up with a high temperature and shivering at 2 am but with the help of the mighty Calpol we were able to control it and all get back to some well-needed rest.

I am currently sat with a rather warm, feverish-eyed boy on my lap watching Mr. Tumble on C-Beebies. Although he looks and seems poorly, he is still smiling and dancing along to the music..what a trooper!

Before Harry, I used to regrettably find Mr. Tumble dressed as a clown a little creepy. But, I love his passion and I love how he encourages children to learn that no matter a disability, we are all equal. The disability may make us unique but with the help of Makaton and body language to communicate, you can still happily live your life to the full. You can have fun, and you can still achieve goals. What a great moral for Harry to learn and grow up with.

It has been a tough week and we’re all a bit shattered, but it’s only a little blip on the grand scale of things. Overall, Parenthood is amazing. Yes I’m tired, and yes I don’t feel 100%, but neither does Ry and neither does Harry. We will get through it likes we always do.

These last few months have seriously been a lot of fun though, and have probably been my favourite part of being a Mummy so far. Since Harry turned one in March, we’ve welcomed his new baby cousin Emily into the family. Harry’s taken his first steps and even added some new words to his vocabulary. He’s learning constantly and copying everything we do – this is definitely the time to watch what we say! He now barks like a dog and meows like a cat…totally mind blowing! The one noticeable change that really sticks out though, is how much he can understand. I find it amazing that although he cannot communicate verbally, he’s still able to answer our commands and achieve tasks we ask him to do. He dances to music, he waves to everyone, he claps every time I say ‘clever boy’ and he makes a kissing sound when we ask for a kiss. He can also be a little naughty and will test us for our reactions, the latest has been the dreaded biting stage! There are always obstacles to cross but it’s absolutely fascinating and I am thoroughly enjoying every single second of this journey.

Breathe, Believe and Be yourself.

As you have all probably guessed by now, my favourite word is ‘breathe’. This word, for many reasons, has been my rock over the years.

This word is particularly useful if I’m scared, stressed, frustrated, worried or anxious. Breathing is a simple function that our bodies do so naturally but during times of distress, it can be quite easy to forget how to breathe.

Focusing on my breathing helps to distract my brain and as a result, this will help my body to calm down. This doesn’t always work straight away or even work at all but it is a great skill that I’ve learnt in order to cope during the difficult times.

The word breathe is what encouraged me to write this blog. Anxiety has been a huge part of my life, so after finding strategies to help tackle my anxiety and finding the strength to talk about it, I couldn’t not share it.

I really want to encourage anyone who suffers from anxiety or any other types of mental health to please open up about it. You don’t have to tell the World, but by choosing at least one person you can trust and talk to, it can really help to reduce that heavy weight you may have building upon your shoulders. In fact, since writing my blog, it has become even clearer to me that I am not alone and that there are many people out there who too are battling daily. I couldn’t believe the response I received after I explained about my own unique experience with anxiety. My inbox was flooded with emails from many people, friends, and strangers, who also suffer from this illness.

Suddenly, I felt I had hope. I was relieved and finally, I wasn’t alone!  I had achieved one of the most incredible objectives. My goal was to share awareness and my goodness, did I accomplish it?

The one response I will always remember is: A Mother who’s young daughter had been suffering from anxiety got in contact with me. The Mother hadn’t suffered with it herself and was therefore struggling to understand. She messaged me after reading my blog to tell me how much my post had helped her to understand what her daughter was going through. That really was a proud moment for me. I had already built awareness and helped even those that don’t suffer from the illness to understand what their loved ones might be going through. Finally, I had turned my own experience with anxiety into a positive one.

Other responses were from people who had been told they may have anxiety by their Drs but they hadn’t quite accepted it themselves yet. They were able to relate to my posts and were finally able to accept that they too, were going through the same thing. Opening up to me was their first step to dealing with anxiety. I encouraged them to go back to their Dr to try and find strategies to help; such as counselling. Some of these people have been to counselling now and are finding their own techniques to cope.

I have even rekindled friendships from the past and become a virtual friend via email for others, just by listening to those who just require someone in their life who understands and knows what they are going through.

The fact that writing this blog actually helped others to feel accepted, to open up and talk about it, is just the most amazing feeling!

The reason I have titled this blog Breathe, Believe and Be yourself is because I wanted to share that not only has opening up about anxiety made me feel so much better. It’s also helped me to find a hobby I love and really enjoy, which is writing. This blog has benefited hugely in many ways and I am now really lucky to have a part-time job that also allows me to work at home and in my own time. Another exciting opportunity has also arisen and I am currently working on a blog post project for a Motion Graphics Design Company. This company is actually our friends business but since reading my blog, they have offered me a position to write regular blog posts for them. My first freelance copywriting job…for now!

I am currently being encouraged to pursue this as a career. I will continue to build on my experience but for now, I am currently enjoying the balance I have between work and being a Mummy. Though, I am hopeful that my future is now bright and the doors that I didn’t even know existed before ‘breathe’ are starting to open for me.

Please don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, take risks because the knock backs will only make you stronger. Please open up if you’re struggling, it doesn’t make you any less of a human. It makes you a strong, real and honest human! Remember to believe in yourself and just be you because, behind those foggy glasses of yours, there is a positive and bright looking future ahead. Plus, the people that accept you for you are the important ones that truly matter.

Dear Mum.

You are not just a Mum.

You are my World.

My best friend.

My strength.

My guide.

My support.

My shoulder to cry on.

My pantry of advice.

I look up to you in every single way possible.

What ever you put your mind to…

You will achieve it!

I am inspired by you.

I know I want to be just like you.

You work extremely hard but still have time for everyone else.

You are caring, kind, supportive.

An Idol in my eyes.

I truly appreciate everything that you do.

You have the most incredible set of multi-tasking skills that I have ever seen.

The talent is endless!

You just don’t realise it.

I am in awe of you and how truly special you are.

I love how your cooking always looks and tastes divine.

I love how you can quickly whip together a batch of scones and toasted tea cakes within minutes!

I love what an excellent craft-maker you are.

I love that I can come to you, no matter what.

Anytime, any day.

You’re always there!

I love how you can instantly brighten my day.

I love how you make the greatest Nurse when i’m poorly.

I love how the silliest, little things make you laugh.

I love the funny things you do by mistake…

like accidentally writing the contents of a card on the envelope instead!!

I love how similar we are.

Being a Mum is not an easy job,

but somehow you have always made it look like a breeze.

You created four children

and still always try to do your best for each and every one of us.

I am so thankful for that.

You are now a NuNu to two gorgeous grandchildren,

with a little girly on the way!

Our family is growing.

Isn’t it the greatest feeling?

Thank you for treating Harry with such love.

He absolutely adores you

and I just love seeing your relationship grow closer.

Thank you for looking after him on the days I need to work.

I feel at ease knowing he’s in safe hands

and spending time in a place he truly loves.

Thank you for being the greatest Mum.

Thank you for being my inspiration,

My idol.

My rock.

Thank you for you being you!