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Self care – making time for yourself in the midst of motherhood

Day 18 of #blogtober is ‘relaxation’ – something I don’t do a huge amount of, but something that is so vital to your well being!

The past 7 weeks I’ve been working full time, whilst juggling home life and parenthood. It’s been really really hard work, and 2 days away from half term, I’m feeling incredibly burnt out. There’s been a lot of burning the candle at both ends going on, and so this post is really a memo to myself: you can’t pour from an empty cup. 

Me time used to be a shopping trip with friends, or coffee and lunch in a pub. Sometimes I painted my nails, or fake tanned my legs… Since becoming a mum, relaxation and me time sometimes reaches the dizzying heights of treating myself to a 49 second poo in peace. 

So how do you make time to relax amidst the busy goings on of life?

Nowadays, for me, it’s with a cup of tea (preferably piping hot, no sugar, a dash of red milk; leave the tea bag in, thanks). Sometimes I don’t even have time for a cuppa full stop, but when I do have time to sit and enjoy one, it can really keep me going!


I rarely get a bath in peace, so I can’t say that’s necessarily a go-to for relaxation, but occasionally I get treated to a child free bath, and I absolutely love Lush bath bombs when I do! A friend recently gave me this one – I can’t remember what it was called, something with honeycomb, but ahhh it was bliss!


Sometimes me time is pub night with my girl friends. A rare treat, but all conversations over a bottle of prosecco seem to soothe the soul! 


Sometimes relaxation is reading a blog post from another inspiring Mama, or catching up on the goings on on social media. 

Occasionally, I get to read a book – something I absolutely love to do but don’t often have time for. I have quite a collection of books on audio so I can be read to – Harry Potter is my favourite!


Lastly, sometimes relaxation is curling up on the sofa with my hubby and chatting about our days. This seems to happen less and less nowadays – we’re both often still working until 10pm, but I love it when we do get a chance to chat about nonsense! 

How do you make time for yourself? 

See you tomorrow,

Love, Squidmamma x🐙

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Four parenting mantras I live by #blogtober day seventeen

Squid on Saturday just gone… at a restaurant for a family birthday, I am not sure my blood pressure has ever been so high! On top form, Squid took great pleasure in crawling on the floor, eating dried bits of rice, screaming if anyone but me touched him and generally causing havoc!

#blogtober day 17’s prompt is ‘quotes’ – and there are many quotes that I parent by, so I thought I’d share the 4 that have often kept me going when the going gets tough(er than usual). Parenting is hard work. There’s no two ways about it, but keeping these phrases in mind can really help!

1. This too shall pass. 

Everything is a phase, and usually, at the point you think you’re really going to lose your shit, they cut the tooth/learn to stand/have a language explosion and things get easier again. 

Mischief personified

2. It won’t always be like this. 

This one works 2 ways for me: it won’t always be this hard, and also he won’t always be this little, and I’ll miss it. This helps me to try and maintain a rational position on the situation – because I do really miss each stage as it passes! 

ONLY Owl Ice Cream can brush his teeth…

3. He’s not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time. 

Ahh. This one is so important. I think it every day. When Squid is having a shit-fit because I’ve cut his toast into triangles, not squares, and even worse: I’ve put the toast on the orange plate and he WANTED THE PINK ONE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, EVEN THOUGH HE ASKED FOR THE ORANGE ONE, I have to remind myself that he’s just asserting himself, he’s having a hard time making his opinion heard, he wants to be understood and validated. (Though I’m sure he also thinks I’m just plain stupid for not knowing about the plate-colour preference that day, and not guessing that when he says marmite he actually wants peanut butter…) Toddlers are a bloody mine field at times, but I remind myself that he’s learning and growing at a rate of knots and that really can’t be easy! 

A highly unimpressive Twister…

And finally…

4. There’s a cold bottle of Pinot in the fridge. 
Yes, this often keeps me going. Because who on earth can parent without wine? After 6pm, of course…

See you tomorrow,

Love, Squidmamma x🐙

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Why it’s okay NOT to ‘love every moment’ #blogtober day twelve

I love… family days out


You hear it all the time: ‘Soak in every moment of motherhood, because it goes by in a flash!’ and ‘Don’t you just LOVE this age?!’ 
Today’s #blogtober prompt is ‘love’, which got me thinking about the things I love, which would have been a very easy post to write: I love many things, namely my family, my job and my cat.

But the thing I kept coming back to was the expectation of the things I should love, especially as a parent. You’re told to appreciate your children’s youth, to find wonder and beauty in every day, but honestly, sometimes that’s just hard to do. 

It’s not that I don’t love being a mum: I do, very much. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. But it’s also the hardest job, and sometimes, in the thick of the shittest of shit days, I find it hard to savour each moment. 

I don’t love… losing an argument with my 2 year old over footwear


I spent much of Squid’s first 4 months of life feeling pretty damn shell shocked, wishing the days by until it was easier, feeling a huge sense of expectation that I should be loving every moment, but actually feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing instead. I loved my son, but I didn’t love the sleep deprivation, my changed body or the 2am feed where I’d be chundered over. 

I love… sharing in his joy


So, although I do look back on each stage with rose tinted glasses, and yes, I am astonished at how quickly time has gone, parenthood is really tough; enjoyable, amazing, incredible… but also hard work. And it’s okay not to love each second of it. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less! 

I don’t love… meltdowns because I won’t let him drink my wine…

I think the most important thing is to be realistic and honest about parenthood: I love to share our highs (the fact that Squid gave his friend a cuddle today at nursery because his friend was sad) but I’m also honest about the lows, too (like Squid weeing all over my feet in the shower this evening). Because, as try as I might, I just cannot find something to love about pissy feet…

See you tomorrow!

Love, Squidmamma x 🐙

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#blogtober day four: Dates which changed me

date

Today’s prompt: dates

Welcome to day four! Pretty impressed with myself for managing to post for four days in a row, I must admit!

Hexmumblog’s #blogtober writing prompt today is: DATE.

Now, there have been several significant dates in my life.

21.10.1990 – the date I was born;
6.4.94 – the date my brother was born on the lounge floor;
19.9.09 – the date I started university;
28.10.10 – the date I met my husband;
21.10.11 – the date he proposed;
12.4.14 – our wedding date;
18.1.15 – the date we found out we were going to be parents;

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A pretty life-changing date

…and many, many more memorable dates which have shaped my life in one way or another.

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The dates we saw our baby 

Another pivotal date in my life was September 11th 2015. Our baby’s ‘due date‘ (a term I now seriously resent, and one which I will not think about if we have another baby – more on that here!)

Except, this magical date, the one we had spent months waiting for, came and it went. And so did the 12th, and the 13th, and the 14th of September. In fact, lots of days went by, and there was no signal that our baby was imminent. We had planned a home birth, and everything we needed sat in a box, waiting to be used.

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Our due date came and went

I had a sweep, which did nothing, and I was booked for an induction for 40 weeks + 12 days, if baby hadn’t arrived by then. This would mean no home birth, that our baby would be born in hospital. My god, I tried everything to evict Squid naturally to avoid induction! Pineapple (so.much.pineapple!), curries, raspberry leaf tea, stomping on the beach stones, bouncing on a birthing ball and as much sex as a small whale can manage, but absolutely nothing was going to convince my womb-fruit to vacate!

And the 12th day after my ‘due date’ came and our baby had not arrived. So off we went, to the hospital for our induction.

(I didn’t know there were other options available to me – in the naivety of being a first time mum, I agreed with my health care professionals when they said that I ‘needed’ to be induced at 12 days ‘over due’, despite a text book pregnancy and no signs of foetal distress. I know for next time, but that’s a whole other blog post!)

At around 10am, I was induced via a pessary, and we were sent home to wait. Cue much more stomping around, up hills and staircases, and I began to have contractions. This was it! It was happening! We were going to meet our son.

The date was September 23rd 2015.

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The date of our first induction passed without much action

Except… by around 5pm, the contractions had tailed off and were much less frequent, though still painful. At 7am the next day, again we hauled ourselves to the hospital for another round of induction via pessary, but this time, we weren’t allowed home: we would be at the hospital until our baby was born.

The date was Thursday, 24th September 2015.

The second induction didn’t work. I was contracting, but not dilating; in pain, but for no reason. No bugger would give me any pain relief, and it was agony. I was marching up and down the hospital stairs, bouncing on the ball and contracting away on the maternity ward, surrounded by other mamas who were being monitored for reduced movements and other pregnancy complications.

Between contractions I remember eating a chicken tikka baguette – the best baguette of my whole life, I’ll tell you! That was around 5pm, and after this, someone ran me a bath.

I spent about 4 minutes in the water before needing to get out – the pain was so intense that I felt as though I had lost my mind. I kept being told that I ‘wasn’t in labour’ to which I can remember retorting that if this wasn’t labour, someone would need to shoot me right then, because I couldn’t handle it for another second.

Finally, finally, someone listened to me and I was examined. And it turns out that, in actual fact, I was in labour, and already at 8 to 9cm dilated. All on one chicken tikka baguette. The midwives panicked a bit then, after realising I hadn’t been exaggerating about the pain, and whilst I was bouncing on the birthing ball, humming Humpty Dumpty to myself (it helped, okay!), someone, an angel, wheeled in the gas and air. Oh, gas and air. It was glorious. It was 7pm, I was finally ‘in labour’ and the gas and air was making me feel like I had drunk a whole bottle of gin. It was bliss and between contractions, I felt like I was on cloud 9!

After a while, the midwives asked me to walk to the delivery suite, and upon this instruction I am told that I apparently legged it, wearing nothing but a hospital gown, out of the labour ward and down the corridor to delivery!

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Cheese and biscuits anyone?!

The rest is a bit of a blur, but highlights that I do remember include:

  • Declaring to the midwives that it felt like I was at the student bar and everyone was my best friend;
  • Asking the midwife if she liked cats or dogs, because I couldn’t let a dog lover be present at the birth of my baby;
  • Declaring that my legs had turned into tentacles and I was, in fact, a squid!
  • When the midwife asked if I had been drinking plenty, I replied ‘Who do you think I am?! I haven’t had a drink in 9 bloody months!!!’
  • Getting cross that no one believed me that I wasn’t having a baby, I just needed a poo…

And then, finally, after all the commotion, I birthed our beautiful baby boy, all 9lb 9.25oz of him, in silence, untouched, in the birthing pool. It turned out that I didn’t need a poo, and the midwives had been correct: it was a baby…

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Not on his due date but on the perfect date

It was 8.30pm exactly, on September 24th 2015.

The most eventful, the best, the scariest, most emotional date of my life.

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Our long-awaited first date

What are the dates that changed your life?

Join me tomorrow for another #blogtober post – all about education! Catch up on my other #blogtober posts here!

Find me on Facebook and Instagram!

Love, Squidmamma x

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#blogtober day three: birthdays on a budget 

So #blogtober day three’s prompt is ‘cars’, and I thought I’d merge two ideas into one! The link to ‘cars’ may be very tenuous, but bear with me!

Squid turned 2 a few weeks ago, and as anyone knows, birthdays can be very expensive! However, with most of my wage going straight back out of my bank account to pay for child care fees, we like to save money where we can, and for us, birthdays are no different! Most of our furniture and clothes are second hand, and I get a real buzz from finding something lovely!
I absolutely love searching through charity shops and boot sales for bargains, and so Squid’s 2nd birthday presented an excellent opportunity to hunt around the local charity shops to find some cut-price presents. We’re not fussed about ‘new’ things – so long as I can clean up a pre-loved item, if I want it, consider it sold!

Squid’s birthday goodies!

We did buy one new thing, which was this Aldi puppet theatre – and at £29.99 I thought that was a great gift to invest in – plus we purchased it in June, so it was a nice bonus for us to have that stashed! I think this will be the kind of gift which lasts for years and we will get lots of play from! I made some Gruffalo puppets to use with it – printables from Twinkl, on lolly sticks!


Squid is an avid fan of all things Julia Donaldson and so I jumped for joy when I picked these books up for 20p at a car boot sale! These books complete our JD set and Squid absolutely loves them. The rhymes are so fun and child friendly, Squid knows ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ and ‘The Gruffalo’ word for word!


Next I found this Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler interactive magnetic farm book for £1. Absolutely hours of fun, and in excellent condition!


I thought this would be good for out and about – in restaurants when bored toddlers want to cause mischief!

This Early Learning Centre aeroplane was also just £2 – complete with 3 little characters! A great addition to our Happyland sets.


Finally, I found this. A beautiful, vintage wooden farm (£2!) and stable (£1). They go perfectly with the wooden farm animals we already have – also a charity shop find!


Squid ADORES this farm set and has spent many happy hours playing with his animals, feeding them hay and herding sheep!

£37 well spent, I’d say! Considering how much money all of these things would have cost new, I was really pleased to keep the costs down.

Birthday boy!

And the ‘car’ element of today’s post? Well, Squid’s beloved ‘Daddad’, my dad, turned up with THIS monstrosity… I can’t exactly put this on the Kallax next to the wooden farm can I?!

Where I am supposed to keep this?!

What’s been your best second hand bargain?! Share it in the comments!

Join me tomorrow for another post, and on Instagram and Facebook to see what I’m up to!

Love, Squidmamma x

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#blogtober day one: about me

In an attempt to give myself a kick up the bottom and get back into the swing of writing again, I’m taking part in blogtober: a post a day for a whole month! Let’s see if I can manage it…

Day one is All About Me. 

I’m pretty ordinary so I am not entirely sure there’s much to say, but here are 8 facts about me which hopefully give you a bit of an insight into my life!

1. I was born in County Durham, in October 1990, and I lived up north until I was around 6 years old. I used to have a very broad northern accent – old home videos are quite hilarious! It always amuses me that my accent is so ‘southern’ now – not a hint of Geordie left!

Baby with dad

Daddy and I – no he’s not Freddie Mercury!


2. I am a teacher, currently teaching Year 5, which is, in my opinion, the best year group. I love my job, and a teacher is the only thing I ever wanted to be when I was growing up! I am shockingly disorganised and untidy though – so I am always losing bits of paper and my mission this year is to keep my classroom tidy! 

Stationery

Best bit about being a teacher! New stationery!


3. My name is Emily, but 99% of people call me ‘Em’ – though my mum calls me Lulu or Loulabelle – on account of my middle name being Louise! Highly embarrassingly, my husband calls me ‘Pickle’…!

4. Speaking of husbands, I met mine at the student union bar at uni – we were 20 (just!) and as soppy as it sounds, I knew straight away he was ‘the one’ – despite being very anti-men at the time 😂 The student bar was called Sparrows (Greenwich Uni, anyone?!) and we now both have sparrow tattoos permanently etched into our skin – a bright idea from our younger years! We were engaged at 21, married at 23 and parents at 24, and the rest is history! 

Husband and I 💛


5. Together, husband and I are the proud owners of one child (aka Squid), who is 2 years old, and one cat (a British Blue Shorthair named Boofulcat). They are the loves of our lives. 

Our boys


6. Our son is nicknamed Squid for a few reasons. Whilst in labour, at the point I had lost my marbles on gas and air, apparently I was telling anyone who’d listen that I had lost my legs and they’d turned to tentacles – and I was a squid! This squid theme continued when we got home, as feeding our baby boy was a bit like wrestling a many tentacled creature… and so Squid got his nickname. 

Oh, baby Squid 🐙😍


7. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. I am feeding Squid and we will continue until he decides to stop, whenever that may be! Want to know why I breastfeed my toddler? Read more here

Ain’t no milk like my mama’s milk 💛


8. Raw carrots make me gag. I honestly cannot swallow them 😂 

Well, if one of the most interesting facts about me is about carrots, maybe I should just stop here…! But, ever onwards!

See you tomorrow for a post all about… babies! 

Catch me on Instagram and Facebook for more life snippets 😘

Love, Squidmamma x

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Story time: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!


Ahh. Bank Holiday Mondays. Every Brit loves them right? A free day off and all that. Not that it makes much difference to me – I work Wednesday to Friday so never have to go in on a Monday and anyway, I’m a mum. That’s a full time job right there in itself. 

But in the spirit of enjoying a ‘free’ day off with my husband, we took a stroll through a deep dark wood with our friends, Squid’s godparents. And what an experience it was.

I had wanted to see the bluebells in bloom for ages so we all trekked to a local wood which was full of them. Squid’s godparents have just got a new puppy so along the pup came too. Squid calls him ‘Bank’ so we’ll go with that. 


You know how the saying goes ‘never work with children or animals’? Well, yes. That. Never do. 
Three days off together really is just too long, isn’t it? Especially after 3 years of marriage. After a morning spent bickering over whose turn it was to change the small boy’s nappy, or whose job it was to replace the loo roll, we should probably have just stayed home. 

Nevertheless, we persisted. To the woods! I wanted some pictures of Squid, candidly frolicking amongst the bluebells. You know, like on Pinterest? So into the bluebells we went, as I ‘candidly’ placed my mini human on a log and asked him to smile. 


No such luck. Toddlers don’t have Pinterest. Squid wouldn’t play ball and looked, quite frankly, disgusted at the bluebells. I was beginning to feel the same way too. 


Squid wouldn’t stand with Bank for a photo either, and Bank wouldn’t keep still or look at the camera, so my Pinterest worthy snaps were out of the window!


Nevertheless, we persisted. You know I said ‘never work with children or animals’? Well, I have a third thing you must never work with: husbands. My husband and Squid’s godfather, let’s call him Bobby, insisted on throwing the tennis ball (meant for Bank, the pup) to each other, using a cricketing type throw, for the duration of this relaxing stroll. I think they thought they were actually competing in the Ashes, as our walk was complete with a running commentary of the precision of ball-throwing. Men and their balls… Squid tried to join in but I had to draw the line when the ball bounced off his head. 

Nevertheless, we persisted. Squid wanted to be carried, no, walk, no, be carried, which was excellent fun. Eventually, after another minor marital disagreement, Squid settled on daddy’s shoulders, holding on to his ears as reins and commanding ‘go go go!’ And all was happy and good in the world. 

And then Bank did a poo. And then Bank ate the poo. 

Why? Why do dogs do that? It must’ve been delicious, because he was sniffing the ground for more. More delicious poo! Yum!

Which got me thinking: there are SO many similarities between toddlers and puppies:

– Neither have a fear of danger

– Both want to be carried at every opportunity 

– They’re both unpredictable 

– Both have a tendency to do unpleasant things with their own faeces

– Both can be very easily clicker trained *

– Both are really bloody adorable (which is a good job. Because poo.)


After the poo eating incident we were all a bit horrified and so had to very quickly find our way to the nearest pub. 


I don’t think I’ll bother with the bluebells again. Can’t quite see what all the fuss is about, anyway. 
(Of course, though, I did gush on Facebook about the lovely afternoon we had, complete with angelic looking photo of Squid treading candidly through a blanket of bluebells… because you have to keep up appearances, right?!)

Catch me on Twitter and Instagram @squidmamma and on Facebook for daily Mama-baby-life-work-family updates! 
Love, 

Squidmamma x

*As Bank is just a pup and is learning the dos and don’ts of ‘walkies’, Squid’s godparents use a clicker, which they click when he does something good. Every time the clicker clicked, Bank ‘sat’ beautifully for a dog treat, which Squid gave him – so in the end, every time the clicker clicked, both Bank and Squid were there waiting patiently for the treat!