Tag Archives: parenting

A Whole New World

Today marks the beginning of a new dawn, (ooh sounds a bit Avengers that, doesn’t it?) it’s 08:12 and I’m on the bus to work. The first day of the 9-5 beckons.

It might sound the start of millions of other Monday mornings too, but this one is pretty monumental for me. I haven’t worked a 9-5 job in almost ten years. The freelance life has afforded me the school run, leaving dishes and bed making until mid morning. Leisurely making random lunch combo’s such as Heinz Oxtail soup with a sprinkling of grated cheddar, three snack size sausage rolls and a CapriSun – it’s a winner!

I worked 9:30 -2:30pm most days, then picked up the laptop again from 6ish and worked until I fell asleep in the chair. Usually with Brooklyn Nine Nine on in the background. Then I started picking the laptop up at 4pm, the kids ensconced in front of Cartoon Network. I started forgetting spelling sheets and our regular reading routine abandoned.

I would jump up at 5:45am to put uniforms in the tumble dryer on the day they were needed. I’d begin to order in more during the week, instead of a just a Friday night treat, Pizza Hut was becoming a staple. I was failing my kids.

So something had to change. And it has. I bid farewell to freelance life. Juggling work at all hours of the day and night, trying to make ends meet and feeling like my professional exams were a complete waste of time.

This morning I was up at 6. The sun is shining, which is a great start. Weekend washing done and out on the line. Uniforms ironed, day bags packed, and everyone out the front door to breakfast club by 7:45am.

My little son shine (that’s his nickname) she’s a few nervous years going in to breakfast club with his sister, but I know in a few minutes he’ll be totally fine. In the long run, I will be too. I know that regulating my working hours, income and career expectations will benefit us all. We’ve just got to tough out this first week or so. Corona Virus pending!

By writing this I’ve stopped myself from eating my packed lunch. Although, I fear it may not make it til 12pm! To everyone starting their first day, or planning a fresh start today, best of luck to you!

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Rescue Me

I spent some time in hospital this week but it turns out being in the comfort of my home proved more dangerous. 

I’m typing this with a concussion. Sadly there’s zero chance of a ‘No Win No Fee’ payout because the whole Scooby Doo style escapade was entirely my own fault. It all started back in December.

The lovely people at Whirpool recalled my washing machine due to some faulty whatsit or other and my shiny new, non-french speaking replacement (don’t ask), arrived today. It’s rare I move my washing machine to brush or mop behind it because I’ve convinced myself the dark corner of my kitchen resembles the set for Arachnophobia back there.

With the new arrival imminent I decided an act of heroism was required. Move the machine out, detach the overflow and cold water feed, pull out the plug and mop the empty space. Also, potentially run like hell and set fire to the house, should a spider appear.

Steps 1 – 4 went swimmingly. No spiders either which makes me more suspicious than calm. As I finished my Mary Poppins routine, my phone rang on the other side of the room. I leaped into action, forgetting the floor was awash with Zoflora and proceeded to skid, slide and tumble to the floor, hitting my head, knee and hip off the kitchen cabinets and lastly, off the floor, before welcoming swirly patterns on the inside of my eyelids.

Oh my word, it hurt so badly and as expected with any kind of trauma, my nose exploded and bled all over my top too. My poor mum is heading for a heart attack any day now with the stress I’ve caused her this week alone. Paramedics, appendixes, kidneys oh my! And that was just Sunday! Now concussion. It’s been one hell of a week.

I’m bruised and sore. I’m also in awe of the fact I’ve managed to keep three children alive and well for as long as I have considering my personal safety and spacial awareness skills are f&cked.

Here’s to the NHS, incredible front line staff who work their asses off, still manage a smile and a bit of banter throughout grueling shifts. Here’s to the bed managers at Aintree Hospital – I was parked up next to these women on Sunday night while they tried to get me a bed and I’ve genuinely never seen a work ethic like it.

Here’s to the paramedics lining the corridors with their patients, waiting to be transferred before once again going back to fore for those in need. Including the impromptu case of my 14-year-old who collapsed watching a cannula being inserted into my wrist.

Here’s to mums. Bloody superstars.

 

 

 

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Malted Milk

I dunked my malted milk a little bit too long and en route to my mouth, it landed with a splat, in my pen pot. Saturday mornings in bed with my laptop – summed up in one FFS moment. 

I woke up with an urgency to write today. Which is awesome. I made a coffee, grabbed a haul of inspirational prompt books which sit on my bookshelf and dived back into bed with a stack of biscuits and a determination to get 500 words down on the page.

What started out as a desire to create, it slowly turning into a procrastination exercise to avoid having to clean my pen pot. All my good pens, the ones I keep from the kids, the hotel pens my boyfriend has swiped from hotels when he travels with work, and all the ace freebies, now coated in a thick layer of malted milk and coffee.

Is it considered old school to still write with pen and paper? To put a blog post live I obviously have to transcribe my writing into digital format, but it feels more personal and real to write a first draft on paper.

I got a tonne of photos printed out yesterday too. Is that old school now? I’ve reverted back to my teens and stuck a load up on my wall above my desk. Pics of the kids, the dog, the boyfriend, snaps I took in Paris a few weeks back. The woman in the photo shop explained that people rarely print now unless its to go straight in a frame on the wall. Or in a cute keyring, snow globe or Valentine’s Day gift (yep, it’s almost that time again), but more on that later.

Playing board games, that’s old school. ALthough I heard yesterday there’s now a 10 minute game of Monopoly available. Probably because no one can afford to buy anything and they’ve swapped out Jail for moving back in with you folks.

Speaking of board games, I took the kids to see Jumanji: The Next Level, at the flicks last weekend. Since watching the original and first instalment reboot featuring Karen Gillan, The Rock and Jack Black, they’re been obsessed. I found myself saying “You know it started out as a board game, right?” quite a lot, as the digital SNES looking game in the film, brought the story up to the modern day expectations. Still, at age 5, 8 and 14 it was a refreshing change to find a film we all wanted to see.

SPOILER ALERT: Danny Devito and Danny Glover are in the latest film and make it a must see if you’ve followed the franchise.

Back to the old school. Tell you what else I absolutely love doing, hold on to your hats here people, it’s about to get raucous. I love doing Sudoku in the free Metro paper you get on the buses and trains. My commute into town seems to go much quicker while I’m wracking my brain trying to get the squares lined up with the correct digit. It’s probably the only time of the day I’m not talking, or listening to music. I’m fully engaged, kicking myself for not trying harder in GCSE Maths and wondering if the woman next to me is silently screaming out ‘YOU’VE F*CKED UP THE TOP RIGHT HAND BOX, YOU TIT.

I dabbled a bit in Brain Training on the DS when I could be arsed remembering to charge it. But providing I’ve got a pen, which come on, who hasn’t got a random biro in their bag? I’m good to go, even if it needs a wipe clean first. Malted Milk, FFS.

 

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1, 2 Back Again

As you might have gathered from the previous post, things haven’t exactly plain sailing of late. It’s time to move on. 

I’ve been working as a freelance journalist for the last 4 years. I loved it. Until a few months ago when I realised I’d stopped being fun. I shouted at my kids, for being kids. I was living hand to mouth because I’d prioritise doing fun, work-related stuff instead of making sure I had enough money for a rainy day.

It’s hardly the crime of the century, I know. I mean who has money to save in the current economic climate? But the reason this has bitten me so badly in the ass, is because it’s now three weeks until Christmas and I have a grand total of £87 in the bank.

WHY did I stop being a freelance journalist so close to Christmas? Why not see it through until I had another job, or at least until January? Well, mainly because I was so ridden with anxiety and down about it, I walked around the Christmas Markets with my kids, randomly bursting into tears. That’s usually a sign something isn’t right.

For four years I’ve (just about) managed to juggle everything. Three kids, a full time, pretty demanding job, a house, a dog and a boyfriend. Working in the media is like having another child. 24 hour commitment and this overwhelming feeling of not being able to switch off and never quite being good enough.

Every update my Iphone spewed out about how many hours screen time I’ve accumulated (Approx 7.58 hours per day FYI) I’ve felt increasingly like I’m missing out on my kids, yet I wouldn’t put my phone down. I’d work harder to get my workload done so I could chill out, only for another deadline to arise, and another and another.

A steady stream of work is absolutely nothing to be sniffed at, again, especially not in the current climate. But my god it’s so hard to keep up. I got teary. My persistent nose bleeds got even worse. I got the shakes and then the random bouts of crying my eyes out started.

I woke this morning to the sound of my electricity metre beeping. This means it’s low on credit. No credit, no internet, no work, no money – no electricity. Who’d have thought it? Someone having such an amazing time, bossing it at work, going to parties and meeting famous people – would be wondering where the hell the next £10 electricity is coming from?

It’s two weeks before Christmas. I have £85 in the bank and I’ve spent so long applying for jobs and ticking ‘I Am Not A Robot’ Captcha boxes that I think I actually am a robot.

It’s terrifying. But it was still the right thing to do. My mental health has taken serious nose dive and while it’s going to be a really tough few weeks, it can only get better. I took the advice of a friend and looked at Universal Credit while I’m applying for jobs all over the country.

I would genuinely rather pluck my own eyes out than have to go through that absolute shit storm of an application process, which at the minimum takes 5 weeks to reach a decision. Now I can fully understand just how desperate it must be when even though you’ve worked and paid into the system, there is nothing to help you bounce back when you need it. Thank god for family and friends.

Back to square one it is. I’ve written this primarily to look back and realise how low I’d gotten before I did something. Wanting to do you best at work is a great attribute. Letting it blind you to the reality of a situation, is a curse.

Catch me on Linked In!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Almost There

If you’re not singing ‘Almost There’ from Disney’s Princess & The Frog right now, we can’t be friends. 

It occurred to me the other day, as a friend rapidly approaches a big birthday, that I’m halfway there. Almost done. Seriously. I don’t mean to be morbid about it, it’s just a fact. I’m 36. With my high sugar diet and penchant for stressing over things out of my control, it’s highly unlikely I’ll make it to 80. Diabetes and its best mate, cardiac arrest are always watching.

Clearly I need to make a few life changes, which I’m working on. Back out running, attempting to eat less sugar and plan my balanced meals (now that all 17 Easter eggs have been inhaled). But this impending birthday (not even mine – see what I mean about stressing over pointless stuff) did make me stop and think. What have I actually achieved in my 36 years?

Society used to say that by the age of 36 a woman should be married and raising children. Ticked those boxes. Turns out kids are absolutely immense, husbands….mmmm not so. And besides society can kiss my arse. We’re marching to the beat of our own drums these days.

Are bucket lists still a thing? Is there a 2019 version (a short YouTube video maybe?) of making a list of stuff you really wanna do before you croak? Should it take news of ill health or a monumental life event to motive us to live more? Surely the biggest regret in life is to get to your dying breath and wish you’d done more? Taken more chances, worried less about the consequences.

My personal bucket list has gone from worldly adventures to ironing all the school uniforms on a Sunday. Or getting all the washing out on the line on a sunny day. Sometimes I set a target for my daily word count, other times its my step counter or calorie count on My Fitness Pal.

Maybe I’ve become uninspired and bogged down with the practicalities of parenting. The kids need a solid education, to be settled, see their friends, get enough sleep etc. And they get all that. But I’m always blown away to hear stories of people who’ve upped sticks on gone traveling with their young families for months on end. Can a school with ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted results really question the education of world travel?

In reality, the inspiration still burns inside (oo-err). I don’t want to be on my death bed content with never having travelled further than the M62 but its okay because all the laundry was done in a timely matter and I scored highest on My Fitness Pal for calorie deficit.

We’re all heading the same way. I’m almost there, but the second half of my story will take a different path.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

 

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Dear Liverpool, I think I love you

It’s been one of those on/off things for 36 years. I think it’s love. 

Adopted as my hometown, I grew up in this spectacular city. I’ve spent the longest time under one roof here (5 years) and moved away only to come running back when the shit hit the fan. I couldn’t be any more of a wool if I tried. Born on the other side of the world, my mums scouse roots pulled her back to Merseyside when I was just 7 weeks old.

Living in the North East for a while as a kid, my favourite memories of coming to Liverpool were going to the markets, bonfire night in Sefton Park and absolutely anything from Steve’s chippy in Aigburth Vale. Not much has changed.

I’d go back to my little market town with all the latest gear. Clothes, trainies, hair accessories. My country-bumpkin friends jealous of my modern threads. I first went to school in L8 at the age of 8 with a Geordie accent. Safe to say I was ripped mercilessly for that and it soon gave way to ‘shiiikkkkennn’.

After a stint in Germany I was back again at the age of 10 to join a rough as shit school in L14. Having the audacity to tower a whole inch over the tallest girl in my class, I got my arse handed to me one day after school and was promptly moved to the upper echelons of……another, much nicer L14 school.

I moved back home to Sydney in 2000 for a short time. After working the Olympics I fucked up massively and needed my family and familiarity. So I came home, properly home. That’s when I knew this thing with me and Liverpool was serious.

I’ve made life-long friends here. I made vows here. Twice. I made some of the most incredible memories within Liverpool’s cityscape that will stay with me until my last breath. I know this city like the back of my hand. Each and every bump. It’s soundtrack, pulse and layout.

Liverpool Women’s hospital is an important place on the map for me. It’s where I changed. I shed my skin and took a new path. I grew up.

All three of my incredible little dudes were born there. Aided by equally incredible, local staff who work around the clock delivering miracles. I left my dignity at the door in exchange for knowing what love really feels like.

I’ve truly lived here. My life has fallen apart here. I’ve grafted, cried, hurt, loved, messed up, laughed til it hurt. Walked home from town in the small hours, watched the sun come and go and stared, open-mouthed as the full moon passed over the illuminated Liver Birds – for real, this actually happened.

I love the people. The polar opposites of the north and south of the city, red and blue. The scouse-ims, the drive and ambition. I adore the ‘don’t give a shit’ and ‘because I said so’ attitude. More than anything I love the solidarity. Scousers care, they love hard. And because of that, so do I.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

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For Hire: Expert Juggler

I cannot juggle balls. 

I can juggle a young family, school run, parents evenings, dentist appointments, hospital check ups, daily nosebleeds, domestic shiz, seeing my friends, meetings, writing, sketching, way too much social media, running every day and dating – ish. That’s level expert kind of stuff right? Apparently not.

2019 is an age of influencers and the belief that we can be and achieve anything our heart desires. Manifest your best life, work hard, don’t drop the ball and you shall receive. Absolutely nothing wrong with a positive attitude and strong work-ethic.

I see that go-getting, ‘no-stopping me’ approach everywhere I go, especially on social media. Inspirational quotes based on having it all, reaching for the stars, it’s all about working on your hustle. I meet friends and colleagues who are constantly in a rush. Working on this, that’s in the pipeline, meetings for this, planning for that. It’s fascinating and fucking exhausting in equal measure.

Just because we can have it all, it doesn’t mean we have to.

I’m self-employed. I’ve juggled freelance journalism/copy writing for a number of years and I love my job. I adore it. Journalism, listening, writing, stories, meeting people, working with clients, planning media strategies, learning. It constantly challenges and frustrates me. The perfect mix.

But in 2019, is a little job satisfaction enough? How many of us believe the old adage ‘find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? I love my job. But I also love switching off my laptop, muting notifications on my phone and re-watching Sex And The City for the 74th time.

How many of us feel that working as much as humanly possible is the only way to get ahead or be deemed successful now? How many of us, and I’m definitely counted in this one, feel like a day off work is a day wasted? Maybe its the nature of freelance work. Don’t work, don’t get paid.

I’ve officially adopted my laptop. You know the way people in the US can marry door knobs or classic cars? My HP laptop is now my fourth child. It’s not even my favourite (that’s Cleo) but it’s the most needy and dependent. Or is that me? Is it lazy to be satisfied with one job and simply, get by? Is it not enough to boast about on social media? Should I be spending every waking moment trying to be ‘successful’?

Juggling is great. I think I’m really good at it. I have glowing references and it pays alright too. I’m going to give acrobatics a go next. You know, as a side hustle. That’ll look good on Instagram.

 

 

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Can You Say That Again…?

My house is all about decibels. Friday night kitchen dance-offs give Alexa a headache from K Pop overload and Lee Butler’s 051 mixtapes…..

My three are early risers and so the racket begins from around 6am with renditions of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ as my alarm wakes the street. Cue jumping on the bed (them not me) and scootering around the kitchen when the washing machine hits full spin and Channel 5’s Milkshake presenters cry ‘Stomp and roar like a dinosaur’ for the 15th time that morning.

After hair dyers, tumble dryers, Radio City and Beats have been turned off and put away, the morning traffic, school kids, mobile phone alerts, blaring horns and schools bells replace the din.

 

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Day-rider toting, bus wanker complete with Kanye morning playlist turned up on Beats.

 

On the way to work the buses are packed with fellow commuters chatting too loudly on phones or to each other about how late/tired/overworked they are. Other people’s headphones vibrate with every genre, prompting me to turn mine up, much to the annoyance of the lady who sits next to me on the 10a from Knotty Ash. She’s not a fan of early morning Kanye.

At work the banter (I love that word, sorry not sorry) ranges from quiet words and carefully orchestrated meetings, taking turns to speak and listen in turn….to mad office sing alongs, multiple takes during filming and raucous laughter on location with clients. The thoughts, conversations and ideas running through my mind to their own beat.

Afternoon school run is again chaotic. Singing, chatting, talking about our day, what’s for dinner, homework and bedtime negotiations ensue. Dinner time at the table always, ALWAYS involves a spilled drink, which is swiftly followed by shouts of blame, rolling eyes and tired smiles.

Bedtime is a softer kind of noise, and man, I make those stories last as long as possible, knowing that when I’ve finished the 4th rendition of Oh No George….it all stops. At 8pm the only sound is the TV, or if I chance throwing the Dyson around.

The silence is deafening and it reeks of loneliness. You’d think that after a busy day with three kids, work and a 5km commute on busy roads, I’d be glad to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet? Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t last. The bird song and the far away sonic booms make me crave someone to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet with.

Alexa…….play…..anything

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Close All Browser Windows?

It’s 08:21 and so far this morning……..

I have stripped beds, put laundry on, made breakfast for the kids, washed up last night’s dishes, emptied the household bins, tripped out the front door in my pjays and ugg boots with said bin bags, re-wound my toddlers first yo-yo 3,985 times, checked to see what’s in for dinner, stuck the heating on, put cartoons on, organised colouring in, finally nipped for a wee and boiled the kettle……..twice.

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Whatever

I was supposed to be writing a minute by minute account of what my day is really like. It’s Thursday morning, the kids are off on half term break and I necked two Kopparberg and two glasses of wine while watching Sleepless in Seattle last night, so I’m less than fresh.

 

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Where Mummy’s go for a bit of peace

 

I’m taking the kids into the city today to do some cultural shiz, art gallery, museum, central library etc. They’re so desperate for a Gumball and Darwin figure from McDonalds that they’re willing to appease me through a couple of stories and ten minutes admiring my favourite Impressionist painting of all time. It’s the little pleasures that matter on days when you’ve got 469 mental browser windows open and battling with being all things to all people.

 

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I wont look better than this today

 

A friend suggested writing a blow by blow diary of a ‘normal day’ to see if I can take a different view on how I manage my time and commitments. It’s a great idea in essence but because I suck as time management I’ve not been able to fit it into my day – hmmm.

So here I am, typing with one hand, the other is holding Miraculous Ladybug as she kicks Spiderman’s arse, I’m being forced to watch Power Rangers and I’ve still got a 500 word article due before I bath the kids, wash breakfast dishes, grab a shower, iron, pack a day bag and head out the door for some R&R.

What’s your day looking like?

x

 

 

 

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Cake & Balloons

Ever had one of those nights where you’re so messed up you think your nose has fallen off, you can’t stop hysterically laughing while devouring Cadbury Dairy Milk and watching Waking the Dead because that Trevor Eve is a solid 10 for an older man..?

That’s pretty much exactly what I was doing 12 years ago today, in fact right now, I was telling my anaesthetist, Michael Moneypenny (no word of a lie, that’s his name) to keep it down while he was putting a freakishly large needle into my spine to curb the crippling pain I was experiencing while attempting to give birth to my eldest daughter.

Ellie One

I was 11 days overdue, had been subjected to the most god-awful induction earlier that day and despite 12 hours of labour, the kid just didn’t want to come out. Typical obstetrics of 12 years ago…’Here, lie down flat, get comfy, you’re going to be here for a while’. As opposed to move your wobbly ass, get moving and let gravity/nature bring that little curly haired whopper out.

I was indeed there for a while, a further 12 hours as it goes. From a quiet, darkened room at 06:25……just me, my hubs, my mum and the most knackered looking junior doctor ever, to blazing strip lights, spot lights, may as well been car headlights for all I knew, a registrar, two midwives, a consultant, the blurry-eyed junior doctor, Moneypenny and what dignity I had left and 10 minutes and the clinical version of a Dyson later……Ellie was born.

 

Ellie Three

Picture Credit: Matt Bowen Photography

 

She looked like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, which isn’t too far from the truth I suppose. First thing she did was poop in the scales. Never lived that one down since. 8lbs 11oz, with a superman curl on her forehead (she’s still got it too) the kid with the cerulean eyes changed my life forever.

Ellie Five

I’ve barely spent more than a few days away from her since that tumultuous first morning, and she generally still causes a riot wherever she goes. She’s generous and loving, witty and smart mouthed, almost a little too smart at times, I know, chip off the old block. She doesn’t know when to shut up (gets that from her dad) she gives the best hugs, she can twerk like a champ and can speak Japanese with surprisingly fluency (providing its the lyrics to a RWBY song).

She can quote Ghostbusters beginning to end, she adores Bill Murray, she’s a budding artist, song-writer and digital genius. Yet she can’t make toast, boil a kettle or locate the iron. I’ve still some work to do.

Ellie Four

She’s also 6ft 9′ (slight exaggeration), wearing women’s size 8 clothes, the biggest stationery nerd going and has the biggest, curliest mop of hair that even Side Show Bob would be jealous of. Having just started high school, Elle (Smelly Ellie, Elles, Crap Bag, Curly Witch, Elspeth) is working out where she fits in the world all over again, and she’s doing it in her own sweet time.

She’s my greatest achievement and whether she’s still causing a riot or peacefully going about her way, I’m confident that she’s going to change the world.

Happy Birthday Ellie, love Mum x

 

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