If You’ve Just Had Eight Hours Sleep I Don’t Want To Know

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My kids aren’t sleeping. Not at all. Which means I’m not sleeping, either.

If you don’t like reading about how shit not sleeping makes you feel then look away now, this is not the blog for you. Come back tomorrow when I’ll be talking about sunnier things like food or interiors or divorce ;)

The not sleeping is ironic perhaps, after all my grand promises on Monday to make changes to my bedtime and morning routines with vows to finally rid myself of my night owl tendencies. Let me tell you, this has not happened: the last four nights I’ve had around four hours of broken sleep with a disturbed sleepless Hux, getting up each morning with my early riser Elfie at around 5.30. Ain’t nobody a morning person at 5-sodding-30.

It’s hurting.

If there’s one thing I can’t do it’s cope on little sleep. The newborn stages were really hard for me for this reason exactly and I thought that with slightly older children I’d move past this. Hoped I’d move past this. Hux has regressed to this stage and become restless, getting in and out of my bed all night, as if he’s back wanting to be fed at all hours. It hasn’t been this bad in months – years, even.

Sleepless nights make everything that much harder. I fudged so many emails yesterday, wishing my boss a lovely day in Prague (he’s in Budapest). I am so short and snappy with the children, something I absolutely despise in myself, but my patience is wafer thin. I cried at something that was completely inconsequential and could not spend two minutes concentrating on anything, even Grey’s Anatomy.

I don’t want to do anything, I don’t want to see anyone. It took me a while to remember when I last washed my hair (Sunday? I still don’t know), my legs could do with a shave and I’ve been wearing outfits soley consisting of black lycra and jersey. I’ve been eating to feed my tired body and mind: croissants, pasta pesto, jacket potato, a whole apple crumble. The last thing I want to do right now is eat clean though it would probably be the best thing for my body; without the energy to shower I definitely don’t have the energy to bring out the spiraliser and make bloody sweet potato noodles.

Everyone is annoying to me. Nobody can say the right thing (with a few exceptions: my parents, some select mum friends who just get it because they’re in it and weirdly my ex husband, what a turn up for the books ;). If one more non-parent gives me friendly advice – “have you tried putting them to bed later?” WHAT DO YOU THINK, GENIUS??!!! – there will be punches thrown. It’s no wonder that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, I literally feel like I could be going insane right now.

I tried to nap yesterday, went to bed after lunch in the hopes of grabbing a well-needed 30 minutes of sleep before a conference call. But it never came – I’m at that stage of such thorough exhaustion that I’ve made myself so alert that I can’t sleep. I remember it well from the newborn days and never wanted it back. Bastard bastard bastard.

So I think it’s fair to say I won’t be a morning person this week. Sorry to let you down, internet, but my teeny tiny dictators had other plans. Maybe next week we’ll get on it, eh?

Should Children Share A Bedroom?

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When I moved house almost two years ago post-separation I got a bit sniffy about downsizing my home. This was in the days when I believed that the size of your house was directly relevant to your happiness, you understand, and not because I was a massive insufferable snob back then (HONEST). But I’d been spending the last few years in a four bedroomed house and I literally did not know how my life would adapt to two bedrooms.

HAHAH.

I’m one of the luckiest people I know in that I rent a house off my mum and dad. I still pay them rent (so maybe not THE luckiest) and do everything a normal tenant would do – but it means that whenever anything goes wrong or the grass needs mowing my dad will come to do it. And when, as a newly single woman, they offered to rent the house to me, I bit their hand off. It’s in a great area of my town and is a truly wonderful home, but it only has two bedrooms.

Two bedrooms.

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Before moving here I was seriously concerned about two bedrooms. How would I survive with no spare bedroom? How would my not-out-of-nappies-at-night children cope without their own space? WHY ARE MY DIAMOND SHOES SO TIGHT?!

The truth is that two bedrooms is one of the loveliest things that ever happened to us.

Elfie and Hux now share a bedroom that has a small separation by way of IKEA’s Stolmen, which I use to store their clothes and give each of them their own identifiable space. Though they were once children that had their own rooms, they now share, and despite me thinking this would not work out well it’s actually been a dream.

Haha, just kidding. I don’t have dreams any more, I just tend to pass out until the next sleep interruption.

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In all seriousness I love the closeness that bedroom sharing has brought to my two. They were as thick as thieves before but their bedroom arrangements has turned them into co-conspirators, bosom buddies. Upon waking up (far too early) in the morning they first chat to each other before coming into wake me, and they like to have a bit of a natter before they go to sleep at night… usually the finer points of Woody vs Buzz, or whether or not Spiderman lives in a zoo (Elfie: no, Hux: yes).

I went to check on them at 9pm a couple of evenings ago to find Hux had turned the lights on, piled all his toys on top of a fast asleep Elfie and was playing with Buzz and sitting on her legs. Goodness knows what had happened in the two hours since putting them to bed but it was pretty cute.

I no longer feel sorry for myself for my poor two bedrooms. I LOVE what two bedrooms have given us. Closeness, friendship, hugs, laughter, early mornings… all of it. Sleeping in one room means for Elfie and Hux that their best friend is next to them when they fall asleep and next to them when they wake up. It means they are constantly there to reassure, wind up, comfort and tease. They love it. I love it. All my hesitations were proved wrong pretty quickly. Yes if one wakes up then the other is sometimes disturbed, but they both soon learned to sleep through a loud noise Skream would be proud of.

Last night I heard Elfie say, “You’re my best friend, Hux. I love you sooo much I don’t want you to go to sleep”.

Would you have your children sleep in the same room?

The Best Gifts To Make A New Mum Feel Human Again

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When you have your first (or second… oh my, witness the cuteness) baby you are completely inundated with presents. Birth is such a special time and this always resonates massively with pretty much every single person who knows you – you find yourself inundated with cards, bunches of flowers, soft toys, babygros and teeny tiny outfits, all sent with so much love and squeals of delight at the new baby.

I was no different. I remember my house was literally full to bursting with all manner of gorgeous presents and it was just wonderful that my family and friends were so very thoughtful to appreciate my new baby when she (and he!) was born but to be honest I was so knackered I didn’t quite process it at the time. Having been in labour for ages (four days with Hux… four days!!) and spending the subsequent nights breastfeeding a newborn baby I was completely high on sleep deprivation and hormones. The teeny tiny outfits were worn a couple of times and photographed to death but soon grown out of, the beautiful displays of flowers lasted a few days, the cards soon came down and before long we were back to normal. Well, not totally normal. I’m still waiting for my full 8 hours. Any day now, right?!

All those hormones and lack of sleep meant that as soon as motherhood was upon me I could see it in my face. I saw wrinkles, eye bags and an uneven skin tone… in short, not only did I feel knackered but I felt a bit ugly as well. My face seemed to lose its youthful radiance and even tone overnight thanks to being woken every two hours, and most importantly this tiredness meant I didn’t see it as an important time to take care of how I looked.

I WAS WRONG.

Re-discovering your identity as a new mum is one thing that really takes it out of you. I can’t tell you how important it is to make sure you look after yourself as much as possible at this time – and it’s one thing I neglected. Well, I’m happy to tell you that this is no longer the case, I’m all about the self-love these days and I think it’s important to help my friends to give themselves as much TLC as they can when they have new babies.

Which is why I’ve discarded the teddy bear gifts, rejected the teeny tiny BabyGap outfits and thrown out the supercool onesies. From now on I am giving my new mum friends the gift of a new face when they give birth; I’m gifting them the same products that helped me re-juvinate my skin and in turn my mind when I first became a mum, all from the geniuses behind Sanctuary Spa:

Facial Oil

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Listen up: I firmly believe that facial oil is my number one favourite thing about my evening skincare regime. I’ve been using this particular product – Sanctuary’s Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil (£17.50) – for three weeks now and have no less than four compliments on how good my skin looks. FOUR. And I hardly ever think that someone’s skin looks good enough to compliment so I think it must be doing something very right.

I apply this post-cleanse and tone and pre-night cream and literally wouldn’t be without it. In fact I still remember the time Elfie topped up my facial oil with the tap aged 2; there were tears (mine not hers) and I’ve only just forgiven her (hahah only kidding, I still haven’t forgiven her). If you buy one product for either you or a friend this month please make it this – you will not be disappointed.

Night & Day Cream

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I have combination skin that seems to have different moods at different times of the day. It’s thirsty during the evening which is when I adore coating myself in overnight potions to make my face plump and radiant by morning but just requires a small bit of priming pre-makeup when I’m getting ready for the day.

These two products – Sanctuary’s Peptide Protect Day Cream (£20) and Night Concentrate (£15.50) –  work completely in sync for these times, providing the exact amount of moisture when and wherever I need it. The day cream really does seem to create a look of radiance too, no idea how but probably something extremely sciency. SPF is included as well which is fabulous for the times I brave the barefaced look (more and more common nowadays!).

Facial In A Box

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I firmly believe there is no bigger treat you can give yourself than a night in your bathroom with a steaming hot bath and a DIY facial. This Brightening Facial In A Box (£16.50) is the perfect accompaniment for nights like this – it contains everything you need to give yourself that spa glow at home. I was so impressed with the glowy skin I had as a result that I took an awkward selfie: I will definitely be re-enacting this facial when I’m next in need of a lift.

Facial Glow

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Relaxation Products
You don’t think I can get through a whole blog post without mentioning scented candles, do you?! NEVER!

I find I need some pretty solid bathroom products for these lovely long soaks I’m taking and this Bath Soak and Scented Candle hit the spot perfectly. The scent of the Calming Luxury Bath Soak (£10) and Daydream Candle (£15) are the same and they work beautifully to help prepare and relax my mind before getting an early night.

Sanctuary have handily put together some time-saving beauty tips that are perfect for new mums – I had Brazilian Blow Drys on the regular when I had newborns and it made ALL the difference.

What was your favourite gift as a new mum?

Thank you so much for The Sanctuary for sponsoring MTT and sending me these products for the purpose of review. I really do love to use them and wouldn’t write about them otherwise – now go get glowing skin!

How To Fight A Cold The Single Mum Way

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I’ve had one of those colds. You’ll know – the ones that go on and on and on and on (and on and on and on). It started a fortnight ago, knocking both Hux and I down. Then I thought it got better that weekend but it didn’t (which is definitely the reason why I couldn’t handle my cocktails…) and I was eventually completely and utterly KO’d, unable to do anything but whine by the next Friday. I even missed a very very important work night out because I just couldn’t face a night of Prosecco.

I know. Poor me.

The work stress has been cranked up to ten this week which is probably a big part of the reason why I just can’t shift this effing lurgy and, in all honesty, I am really not good at being ill. I feel tired, useless, slow and all-round miserable which manifests itself in a self-perpetuating cycle of self-pity. I HAD A FLU JAB, THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.

In my desperation I’ve been reading blogs in an effort to feel better (seems legit) and lo! One of my favourites had a piece all about my exact problem: how to cure your cold, featuring advice from people on Twitter and Instagram. Only I read it and realised that literally none of this advice applied to me; there is literally no ‘get better from flu’ advice that helps when you are the sole carer of two tiny humans demanding attention, love and food from you. And how inconvenient this is.

Seriously though there’s no harder time when it comes to single parenting than being ill and having to be a responsible adult. It’s tough and the support system you take for granted when in a relationship just isn’t there; I can’t exactly ask my ex-husband to cancel all his weekend plans and drive 60 miles to come and give me a hand. Wouldn’t be very strong independent woman of me now, would it?

And so we cope. This is how.

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Get as much sleep as you can
Ahahahahahah. Are you joking? You can bet your bottom dollar the one time you’re ill is going to be the one time your kids get up at a truly ungodly hour. Yay… In absence of sleep I choose caffeine or guarana. Healthy it is not, but I can sleep next year. Or in 2017. WHATEVER.

Eat lots of vitamin-filled foods
Saturday: Green juice, KFC lunch followed by curry and a beer because nothing else was working on the sore throat so why not?.

Sunday: American pancakes with bacon followed by more curry and enough chamomile tea to make me feel nauseous/virtuous (it’s about the same point).

A handful of satsumas cos Vitamin C.

So I won’t win any awards for this weekend’s food but at least I got us all out the house (drive thru!) and involved in some cooking. Plus there was so much goodness in Saturday’s green juice I basically don’t need to eat any vegetables for at least another couple of weeks. Bosh.

I force fed the children grapes so they don’t get scabies.

Watch your favourite feel-good TV shows
Like Monsters Inc, Toy Story, Shrek, Horrid Henry and Thomas The Tank Engine. Yeah, those.

Relax
Again, AHAHAHA.

Instead I say: charge up all your devices. The last time I had a phone upgrade I cleverly kept my old iPhone (GENIUS move which was well worth the £100 or so I would’ve got for it), which now lives in my bedside drawer for such emergencies as Single Mum Flu. Once charged it entertains the littlest child whilst the iPad entertains the big one. Model parenting it ain’t but when your head is pounding more than a bad hangover and you just need 30 minutes to lie down in silence it does the job. Thank-you Apple (and CBeebies. And Netflix. And Frozen).

When they’re bored of the devices I like to get the messiest, busiest toys out and let them go wild for a special treat – this weekend it was the Playdoh and I let them mix the colours together. To be honest it was past its best anyway but they literally had three hours of blissful fun playing with it.

For my entertainment and so I wouldn’t lose the will to live I washed my sheets and cooked a really easy curry (when you have two little people it’s impossible to spend much time resting on the sofa anyway). Took my mind off feeling like death and meant we all had something to eat that day – bonus.

Take a long relaxing bath
Or fill the bath for your children and quickly get in it before they realise. You’ll have five minutes tops, probably shouldn’t light candles and won’t have time for a DIY skin-boosting facial but hey, at least you’ll be clean.

And there you have it. Your recipe for health. I can guarantee you won’t feel much better, but at least you’ve tried, eh?

Becoming Mum

There hasn’t been a lightbulb moment or a bolt from above. But there was a second today when, all of a sudden, I thought – this motherhood thing isn’t hard anymore.

It’s taken a couple of years (OR MAYBE ALMOST-FIVE) but I can now truly and honestly say that I think I am a mother. I have finally – FINALLY – got used to it. I’m used to the responsibility, the relentlessness, even the sleep deprivation.

OK, that’s a lie, I think the sleep deprivation is something you never get used to.

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I really don’t mind saying that four and a half years ago the reality of having children hit me in the face like a big wet fish. A big rotten wet fish that smelled like baby poo, never slept and made my nipples hurt. The worst kind of fish, basically.

Because the truth is that babies are hard. Really hard. Unlike the shiny happy view that the media and Hollywood give us of parenthood (weird, because Hollywood/the media is so truthful about everything else, right?) it really isn’t like that. You don’t look like Katherine Heigel right after you’ve given birth and you probably won’t even look as attractive as a pregnant Arnold Schwarchnegger in the nine months preceding, either. From the word go it’s vomity tiring struggle: you’re the one that throws up for almost a year and then baby arrives and teaches you the wonder of posset (I’m not referencing the dessert here). It is, quite literally, a bit sick.

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In all honesty for me the first two years were a blur. And then Hux arrived: repeat, rinse etc. OH GOSH the tiredness.

But now – but now. It’s all coming together.

You can have actual conversations with both the children. You can reason with them about why it’s not wise to put things in their ear canal – they probably won’t listen, but at least you can try. When they get up at 5.30am you can ask them nicely to go back to sleep and they actually do it. They say adorably gorgeous things that you can bore all your friends with and you can proudly display their attempts at writing their first words over Social Media. Elfie told me the other day that I was “the most special mummy I have ever met” and Hux says “I love you” totally unprompted. It’s pretty cool.

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Don’t be fooled, it still isn’t easy. But I always think about that saying: “the days are long but the years are short”. Soon Hux will smell like a combination of cheesy feet and Lynx and Elfie will dye her hair black and think I’m hugely uncool. So I need to make the most of Hux wanting to share my pillow and Elfie creeping in at 5am to kiss my forehead.

Believe me, you’ll get there. It might take five years but once you become a mum it really is the best.

What’s Your Best Mum Advice?

When I first started my blog I was five weeks pregnant. I called it ‘A Womb With A View’ which at the time I thought was absolutely hilarious – thank god my sense of humour has matured, even if I haven’t – and wrote anonymously about my experiences in case anyone from work stumbled upon it. Back then I knew no pregnant people and none of my friends had babies or children so I was somewhat of a lone ranger. My lack of knowledge about pregnancy, birth and motherhood was based on American sitcoms and the occasional flick through my mum’s Good Housekeeping magazine so I guess you could say I had an idyllic view of it all.

Which is why, since having children, I’ve been so passionate about writing about my life as a mum. It’s an incredible tale, one of highs and lows but most importantly the unexpected. I had no idea how difficult, tiring, euphoric and downright weird this journey as a mum could be and so I like to write about it for the benefit of those who are considering buying a ticket for the parenting train. I wish I’d had a blog like mine when I was a new parent to help me through that time; I tell you, it can be a pretty isolating experience being a new mum and I would have really appreciated a bit of solidarity.

SMA Nutrition have just launched a new campaign which will provide just that. B.A.B.Y (Baby Advice By You) is a campaign providing an extensive library of advice and golden nuggets of information from the best experts in the field: us, the mums! Containing personal experiences and opinions from those on the front line of parenting (*takes a bow*), the B.A.B.Y project will be what so many first time mums are missing – a best friend who’s done it all, seen it all, and has bought the baby-vomit covered t-shirt.

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