How To Become A Morning Person

How to become a morning person

There aren’t many things I would change about myself A slightly smaller nose, maybe? A speedier metabolism, or hair that isn’t quite so unruly, perhaps?

NO.

One thing I have always been unhappy with is the struggle I face each and every morning to get out of bed. I am not, nor have I ever been, a morning person. Waking up is literally the worst part of my day and I’d do anything to make it easier to get up and at ‘em in the mornings. And as the mother of an early riser (5.50am today, WOOHOOH) this does NOT work at all.

I’ve been trying to think of how to describe just how excruciating it feels to wake up: OK so that might be over-egging it a bit, but it really is tough. My brain feels like it’s stuck in syrup, I can’t open my eyes and the only thought I have revolves around going back to sleep. SLEEP, lovely sleep. It literally seems to take me at least half an hour to get over this feeling and it just feels horrible. Is it like this for everyone, or just me?

After 29 years of being me I know my body clock. I’m a night owl and if left to its own devices my body would sleep at midnight and wake up about 8am. This is what happens when the children stay with their Dad, but when they’re at home I revert to going to sleep at midnight and rising at god-knows-what-hour. So I usually get six hours of sleep (usually interrupted) – not enough.

After four years of being fairly sleep deprived (I know I know, I never mention it, you’d never know) I’ve decided to take charge a bit more and work on getting a better quality sleep in each night – and more of it. I’ve done extensive research (i.e. Googled the hell out of this) and have come up with some guidelines to follow over the next week or so to really try and feel more human in the mornings. An experiment, if you like.

I’d love to know how your nights and mornings go: do you feel like you get enough good-quality sleep? Let me know if you have any help on this journey of sleep discovery…

How To Become A Morning Person

Switch off devices

On a usual evening I will be on my iMac, my MacBook, my iPad, Apple TV and one or both of my iPhones (work/home), right up until I go to sleep. It’s a terrible thing but the sidebar of shame really seems to help me drift off. I work a lot in the evenings and need to start limiting screen time so I can switch off and get my brain ready to sleep. I’m making 10pm the device curfew and will turn off everything at this time.

Go to bed (doh)

Do you have a bedtime? I need a bedtime. 10pm is going to be the nominated time I’ll turn the house off and go upstairs to get ready for bed. And no dawdling, either: teeth, face, pjs.

Read

Pre-kids I’d get through three books a week, easy. I loved reading and I miss the way a good book makes you feel – I’ve forgotten how a good book makes you feel! I’m going to make every effort when I get into bed at just-past-10pm to spend at least 20 minutes reading a book in the hopes it’ll help me relax. I even bought a new reading light to help!! So I’m obviously destined for success.

Tidy up

I pretty much do this anyway, but I really don’t like getting up to an untidy house. I’ll make sure the house is sparkling before I go to bed, the thought of which will entice me up out of bed.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

It’s really hectic when you have to fill school bags, make lunch, sponge-clean school clothes (we’ve all been there, sodding stealth yoghurt stains) and hunt for water bottles before you get in the car in the morning. I will do all this the night before.

GET UP

When Elfie wakes me up pre-6am I send her back to bed to read books (hoping this will train her to just stay in bed one day. I am very optimistic). I then lie in bed, not going back to sleep, just waiting to get up. Meditating (well, you know, not meditating). Thinking about how good sleep feels. It’s kind of a waste of time and I really should just get the hell up and start the day rather than just prolong the agony.

And that’s when my inspiration ended and I Googled ‘how to get up in the morning’. I found this article which was almost completely useless because 50% of the points revolve around an alarm clock and my alarm clock has arms, legs and answers to the name of Elfie. She does not respond well to being placed on the other side of the room.  

So come on, give me some inspo! How can I be better in the mornings? Blog world, you are my last hope.

Let’s Protect Our Skin – Caudalie Polyphenol C15

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I’m constantly talking about how tired I am. The affect this tiredness has on my all-over wellbeing: my skin, my eyes, my fitness. My sleep deprivation touches every part of my life and I wholeheartedly believe that if I got more sleep my life would be completely different. You hear that, kids?! GO TO SLEEP!

So I’ve always been very aware of taking care of my skin when I’m this exhausted. There’s truly nothing worse than someone doing that sympathetic head tilt when they look at you and saying “ohh, you look tired”. Because we all know that tired = bad, yet it just so happens that motherhood=tired. Womp womp.

But what makes our skin tired? I know this answer for me. It’s the lack of sleep, the busy life I lead haring around London for meetings, blowing my nose of black snot when I get home and wondering what all that pollution has done to my poor face. It’s the glasses wine I might have drank one too many of on a Friday (or Monday) night, my big load of work stress or the accidental burger I took the kids for (Five Guys are coming to Milton Keynes, I might die of happiness).

In a nutshell, most of modern life isn’t good for our skin and we must do what we can to reverse these aspects of our day-to-day. Short of giving up the wine (THE HORROR), I reckon this means drinking as much water as I can, eating well, getting my arse down to the gym and using super duper face products.

In 2014 Caudalie launched a new anti-oxidant, anti-wrinkle, skincare range called Polyphenol C15. The range was developed for busy women like me who live a fast paced life and are faced with daily factors like pollution and stress, both which all cause free radical damage, which in turn leads to skin ageing. The active ingredients in this skincare range are a combination of the two most effective antioxidants on the market, Grape-seed Polyphenols (a Caudalie patent) and stabilised Vitamin C.

The products in this range include an Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum, Protect Fluid, Eye & Lip Cream, Overnight Detox Oil and Anti-Wrinkle Protect Day Cream with SPF20. These products treat dry skin and protect skin against daily aggressors – which for me is pretty much everything I want in a skincare range.

I’ve been trying this range and have loved it. Two weeks in and I’m definitely noticing a difference in my forehead. My skin feels tighter, less dehydrated, protected and well-looked after. I got ID’d by the Ocado man at 7.30 this morning so I must be doing something right, yeah?

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Caudalie have launched a special app on their website where you can create a personalised movie based on your busy day – mine involves lots of driving, a packed work agenda, computer time and being (almost) a perfect mum – and share with your friends. You can also win an Anti-Ox Box which includes the whole Polyphenol C15 range (it’s well worth it!!)

Thank you Caudalie for supporting MTT. Because of you my skin looks younger :) 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas (For Me)

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This Mother’s day my children are going to be with their Dad. I don’t know how I will feel about that – we all know that Christmas was pretty ‘different’ without them – but I’m such a big believer in them having a good routine with their fortnightly dad time that I didn’t want to swap the weekends around. I’m planning to do something terribly indulgent to make up for the fact they aren’t there, a facial, shopping for a dress I don’t need, a champagne brunch? And let’s not forget the fact that, at 2 and 4, they probably won’t remember it’s a special day anyway.

But listen up, Elfie and Hux – if you’re reading – I’m still expecting a present. And to make it super easy for you I have put together an exhaustive list of things I would love to receive this Mother’s Day. Or Birthday. Or general Saturday. Whenever, really…

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Jewels

I can’t get enough of jewellery at the moment, especially that created by inspirational enterprising women (yep, still on that feminist tip, now and forever). Épanoui has long been a favourite of mine and I’d like one of these Heritage bracelets, please! (£42) Or if you’re feeling a bit more spendy I’d like you to head on over to to Rock & Raw, a jewellery company founded by Lucy who really understands the power of strong, spiritual and powerful women. It’s hard to choose a favourite of her pieces but right now I am in love with the Clear Intention Pendant (£225 and worth every penny).

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Candles

I have made progress in my quest for the perfect scented candle since I last posted (I know, I’m so good to share my findings). An assistant in John Lewis suggested I give the Paddywax candles a go and they have become a firm budget buy-favourite – I absolutely love the Basil and Cucumber scent. Otherwise if you bought me a Diptyque Baies candle for every occasion from now until the end of time I would still be very happy.


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Flowers

What woman doesn’t love flowers, eh? I am a flower NUT and, though I hate to admit it, I’m pretty excited about peony season. But for now I’m happily gazing upon this absolutely gorgeous bunch that the lovely people at Appleyard sent to me for an early Mother’s Day flower treat. Arriving in the post (my postman is convinced I have a secret admirer) the bunch transferred beautifully to one of my vases, before I decided to create a more Pinterest-worthy display. There were enough flowers to be split between four pots and, one week on, the lilies are still going strong.
Appleyard would like to offer MTT readers 40% off their luxury bouquets! Just use the code ‘BLOG40′

If you’re on a slightly tighter budget do take a look at the range of Mother’s Day Flowers from Debenhams as they have some absolutely gorgeous blooms on offer. Enter the code ‘DFBLOG25′ for 25% off everything except their ‘flowers by post’ range. Mother’s Day sorted – you’re welcome!

 

What Feminism Means To Me

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What is a Feminist?

This morning I tweeted about International Woman’s Day and said simply that I have never been happier to be a girl.

And it is true… this is why.

Pre-separation I didn’t really think much about the concept of the Feminist. I’m ashamed to say that for me at that time it brought to mind men-hating bra-burning women with radical political views and clothes made from hemp.

Back then I was a woman who definitely enjoyed being one, but not for the right reasons. I enjoyed having an interest in clothes and make-up and having doors opened for me, I believed that you had it pretty good if you were supported by a wealthier partner and didn’t really see myself as a strong or powerful person, woman or not. A Feminist to me was someone I would never identify with: a bolshy, potentially offensive and masculine woman. The opposite to myself.

So what is a Feminist?

I had lived with a strong male presence in the same household my whole life – my Dad has always worked very hard and was the breadwinner in my family and then I moved in with my ex-husband at the age of 18, who always earned more than me. As many of us do I associated earning with power and easily fell into my role of the wife: cook, housekeeper and general caretaker. It never crossed my mind that it would possible for me to push forward in my career and achieve that same status or higher; I assumed that as the woman I would be the one to have a baby or two and stay at home to care for them. And this was a life plan I was happy with.

One of the hardest things about my divorce was the deviation of my life from this plan. All of a sudden I was be expected to think ‘like a man': lead a household, make all the decisions, earn all the money. It was a situation I’d neither pictured or wanted myself to be in and it was terrifying.

On the contrary for me this divorce journey has been hugely positive. I have learned that I am strong, I am capable… that I am a Feminist. Just because I am a woman does not mean I have to fall in with a set of outdated values dictated to me by society. I am not a man-hater but a woman-lover and my gender will not hold me back from being who I want to be.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her famous essay, We Should All Be Feminists (the first feminist text I ever purchased and very highly recommended, see an excerpt here):
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important… marriage can be a good thing. It can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?

Valid point

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A Feminist is not a woman who hates men. She is not a woman who believes in crushing men, in being all-powerful. To me a Feminist is a woman who has the power to embrace her femininity yet make strong and informed choices about her own working, family and personal life, to know she is able to decide whether she wants to go out to work or raise children, or to work and then raise children and then work again… it’s her decision. The right for a woman to choose to live her life in a way that suits herself and her family best and feel strong and empowered while she’s at it – for me that is Feminism.

Since my split I have a wonderful new appreciation for other woman, the likes of which I hadn’t had before. I was always a guys girl, feeling uncomfortable in the company of women I didn’t know or women who seemed to be by my judgement overly feminine. I was worried of being judged by other women (ironic…), of the bitchiness that I know can be so prevalent in larger groups of women (sadly still true). Give me a group of men over a group of women any day and I would have been happy.

But now I thrive off other women. I enjoy the energy of women, especially that of mothers who, having gone through the inhumane sleep deprivation, hospital stays, teething, disastrous nappy changes and heart expanding love know that our gender can do anything. That is the most important lesson that motherhood has taught me – that our potential as women, each and every one of us, is absolutely limitless. I believe in the sisterhood, that by and large we are here for each other. I feel I belong here and I support my fellow women in our journey in motherhood and life.

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The struggle between family and working life is still real and I don’t know how to conquer this. I doubt if any of us will ever discover the answer. I start a new job tomorrow as an Account Director for a Marketing Agency close to home and though I have managed to negotiate less than full time hours I know the juggle will still be difficult. I have the yearning that my children are so young and they need me – the days are long but the years are short - but then I also have the instinct to push push pusht to get ahead, smashing that glass ceiling, working as hard as I can on behalf of me, my family, women of the world and Sheryl Sandberg to show just how good girls are.

want to be out to work, I want to be showing my children by example that they can achieve absolutely anything if they work hard enough and I want to feel proud that I myself worked as hard as I possibly could, every single day.

And I can do that, in lipstick and heels if I want to, because I am a Feminist. It might never be easy but it is real.

Happy International Women’s Day!

The Redundant Life

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My job, my lovely lovely job in the brilliantly wonderful ad agency has gone.

It has moved down to London without me, like a 23 year old bright eyed graduate leaving home with stars in her eyes. Along with the rest of my lovely lovely team’s jobs, it’s migrated down the M1 to the big city for bigger and better things.

Obviously I, the mum of two children who are well and truly happily based 40 miles north of London, have not moved with my job. Remember when I left my previous job in London to spend more time with those children? Yep. I had to say goodbye once again.

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In a not-so poetic metaphor: redundancy is rubbish. This is the first time it’s happened to me and it’s been well and truly awful. Seven of us in total have been left without jobs in the department move and in truth it’s been a very sad situation. I loved my job, enjoyed going to work very much, saw my colleagues as friends and confidantes and to have that taken away quite swiftly was a bit shocking. As one of my work buddies put it (though she brilliantly illustrated this through the medium of unicorns so it was obviously heaps better) you go through the different stages of redundancy; you’re gutted, then angry, then you accept the news, return to being sad, and then move on to being mind-numbingly drunk.

Only I missed out on the drunk part because I had a stinking cold. WHY ME, WORLD?!

My team left a week ago and I had my final day in the London office last Thursday, having agreed to work from home to help manage the new staff bed-in for a couple more weeks. But it’s difficult, it’s hard. I miss my work friends, I don’t have a job to go to when this one ends and I’ve never been in this situation before. I am a fan of routine, I like knowing where I’m working, when I’m working, where I’ll be in six months (as much as I can, anyway). Not knowing makes me nervous. Not earning makes me nervous. Kids need shoes and all that.

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I have, however, enjoyed being a bit more present in the children’s lives. Being able to dawdle on the school run and chat with the other mums rather than scoot straight off to the office has been lovely. Taking Hux to pre-school (I was always at work for the 9.15 start) is amazing. Not having to plan my free time down to the second is pretty cool. I have freedom for the first time in a long time.

It’s a shame you can’t use freedom to buy your groceries, eh?!

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I know I will be OK, I always am. I work hard and I will find work again, whether it’s freelance or in a new agency, I have faith that a combination of my career history, work ethic and the universe will make sure the next step is a good one. Until then, here’s to that freedom.

And if anyone needs a freelance digital guru you know where to look (here! here! here!).

Sometimes It’s Hard To Be A Woman, But At Least We Have Karma

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Sometimes you just have one of those weeks. Those weeks when you feel you’re tired and unmotivated, nothing goes right, you hate all your clothes and you just want to crawl back into bed and sleep your weird mind-funk off for a couple of days. Maybe only to be woken by someone bringing you sausage rolls or cheese toasties. And as we’re in fantasy land I’d like to specify Jamie Dornan to be the one bringing me baked goods, if you please.

I realised I was having one of those weeks by Wednesday this week: I’d ugly-cried at Call The Midwife (seriously took me hours to get over that episode), the jacket of Rachael’s new book, a random advert I don’t remember and the finale of The Office (ALL THE EMOTIONS). I’d diagnosed myself with manflu on Monday having been flat-out knackered with a sniffle all weekend and dosed myself up on chamomile tea and sympathy. My productivity was low which is always the worst feeling for me and I felt like I couldn’t even put an outfit together (the horror…).

Jamie Dornan never appeared, FYI.

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I generally felt out of sorts and not myself – blaming January with its freezing skies and miserable commuters – until Mother Nature reminded me that HEY, I can eff up your week just cos you’re a WOMAN. And so I switched my blame from January to my bloody bloody hormones.

I’m fairly lucky with my womanly ways, as it goes. I remember being a teenager, listening to songs about love and passion and the cruel cruel world and just having all these FEELINGS. These teenage feelings that nobody really knew what to do with, least of all me. Back then it was all so new – the hormones, the boyfriends, the dealing with life – there was soooo much dramatic teenage turmoil that usually ended in screeching at my mum and wailing on my bathroom floor about how life wasn’t fair (sorry mum).

Now when I feel a bit hormonal there’s more grown-up situation of tucking yourself into bed nice and early to watch an uplifting film (my go-to is 500 Days of Summer for happy or sad situations), treating yourself to a glass of wine at the weekend or browsing TED Talks to re-ignite your inspiration. There’s more geeing yourself up by listening to Bruno Mars, cooking a lovely dinner and browsing ASOS.

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The grown-up version of hormonal turmoil is much more pleasant, it has to be said.

But it’s times like this that really re-affirms my faith in the universe. I know I’ve mentioned this before and I still feel a bit ridiculous writing this down – 19 year old me thought ‘Karma’ was nothing but the title of a Culture Club song – but since I started my singleton journey 2 years ago I have really felt the universe looking after me when I’m feeling a little bit rubbish.

It’s the little things. Sian, my lovely manicurist, giving me 3 extra stamps on my loyalty card because she knew I was having a hard day. An odd man at Costa telling me my cold-ravaged hands were beautiful (all down to you, Sian). The man at the tapas place around the corner from work giving me 10% off and sneaking me a free glass of wine. Winning a £50 voucher for Boden, one of my favourite shops. Sam at Ena Salon inviting me in for a haircut and making me feel (and look!) so good that I left walking on air.

Seriously, if you need a re-style please go and see him. Sam is hands down the best stylist I’ve ever been to and the blow-dry he gave me this time around was nothing short of magical. It made me feel like a million dollars. Look at all these smug selfies I took after visiting him!

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It’s more than that though – karma is how other people react to you when you’re having a slightly rough time. It’s how you react to other people when they’re experiencing the same. It’s when you know you haven’t been the best person you can be and something external to you recognising that – a broken egg shell at the supermarket or a rude shop assistant.

Bear with me on this, I think ‘Karma’ may be the only religion I’ve ever believed in.

Today is Friday so I have declared that The Week of Funk will be officially over. Bring back my productivity, my excitement, my ability to get dressed. Hormones are SO 2014…