The Secret Signs They’re Growing Up

Baby monitor

We usually judge how old our children are getting by their age or their weight or their height. Although I haven’t had my three-year-old weighed since I last went to a health visitor many moons ago and I only know she is 1m tall because she was able to ride in the dodgem cars with us at a funfair recently. But that’s OK because there are less obvious signs that your child is growing up…

You stop buying nappies… and start buying teeny weeny pants.

You pack away the stair gate.

Your child’s preferred mode of wheel-based transport changes from pushchair to scooter.

You start forgetting to switch on the baby monitor, when your child goes to bed.

They can dress themselves, and actually manage to get everything on, the right way round. Continue reading

The Blog Widow

Do you have a blog widow?

My husband, Mr P, is fantastic. I’ve probably mentioned it before. He’s the kind of man who is happy to do 50/50 around the house (*cough* there’s a chance he may do more than 50%) and he doesn’t see parenting as my job, he sees it as something we’re equally responsible for. Well, I mean really, what did you expect from me? I wouldn’t have married a man who’d be the type to dart out to the pub, leaving me to cook dinner every night and put our daughter to bed, would I?

He’s also really hands on. He takes the three year old swimming, plays rough and tumble, pretends he’s a monster who’s coming to eat everyone, makes tissue paper flowers to stick on a robot… You know, standard A* dad stuff.

But in the past year or so, I’ve started to feel a bit sorry for Mr P because he has to fight for my attention on a regular basis. Once our little girl is safely tucked up in bed, he often spends evenings in his own company, even though I’m there in the house with him.

Why? Because he is a blog widow. Night after night, once we have eaten dinner, instead of settling down together on the sofa to watch a box set on Netflix, I’ll open the laptop and tap away on a blog post or tinker around with some element of my blog. Mr P, meanwhile, will watch Mad Men/Battlestar Galactica/F1 (aka stuff I’m not interested in) or go for a manly bubble bath while listening to some Podcasts.

I guess it’s similar to being a football widow, so it’s not a new concept, but it’s new to us. Before my blog came along, we spent hours watching TV together and before we became parents, we’d go to the pub regularly or out to dinner, to set the world to rights over wine and pasta. Continue reading

10 Signs Summer Is Here

1. Your daily teeth brushing fight with kids has a new friend – the daily fight over applying sun cream. (Oh and how DO you apply it to a child without getting it all in their hair and making it greasy?!)

2. Your Instagram feed fills up with images of rosé wine, Birkenstocks on grass and amazing looking sunsets. Mmmm summer with a filter.

Birkenstocks and prosecco

3. You sneeze. A lot. Despite this, you forget to take antihistamine to calm your hayfever. Ah well, puffy weepy eyes are on-trend, right?

4. You say “Put your hat on” at least eight times a day, as your child runs around in the baking heat.

5. You don’t just have a drink, you have a drink in the sun. Which is 80 times better than just having a drink.

Prosecco in the sun

6. The soles of your kids’ feet (oh OK and yours too) are black with dirt from padding around the garden with no shoes on. Continue reading

Too Fat For Zara

Of all the signs that I need to go on a health kick, there is just one that has made me actually do it. Others, I ignored. Like the time I wore a maternity top to work (well it was the only clean plain black top I had…) and that day when everything I ate was beige. Oh and that moment my three year-old said to me, “Mummy, is there a baby in your tummy?” was one that filled me with joy.

But I’m now two days into a new healthy lifestyle (blergh, hate that phrase) and what’s the reason? I’m too fat for Zara.

Zara

Not being able to shop in Zara is quite possibly one of the worst things that can happen in life. Let’s forgive the fact that I’m being slightly melodramatic here and consider that it’s the best shop for basic tees, colour pop blazers, cute skirts and on-trend dresses, never mind the winter coats and knits when it’s cold weather. Nine times out of ten, when you admire something that a friend is wearing, she’ll tell you it’s from Zara. It’s the new Topshop, now that Topshop only seem to be catering for super-skinny fashion students. And it doesn’t even matter that lots of people have the same top/skirt/trousers as you, because it’s Zara and we’d choose wearing the same Zara top/skirt/trousers as everyone else over living a life without Zara.

But recently, my Zara purchases have been limited to jewellery (they do a ridiculously good statement necklace) and the occasional XL top (but not everything comes in XL – oh and it’s just brilliant that some of their clothes only come in S and M *eye roll*.) I can’t even buy shoes there because I’m a size 8 (their biggest size) and their shoes come up small. So I’m basically a big-footed fatty in their eyes, which does wonders for my self-esteem.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I genuinely needed to start eating more healthily anyway, I’d start a one-woman mission to get fashion brands to extend their sizes to reflect their customers’ needs. It’s crazy that so many high street retailers only stock up to a size 16. And don’t get me started on Oasis, who a couple of years back, changed to sizing some of their products as S, M, L (Large is a 14-16 according to their staff. How is that even helpful? It’s probably too big for a size 14 customer but too small for a size 16 customer.) Needless to say, after years of shopping in Oasis, I haven’t been in, since. If you ask me, fashion brands should do away with plus size ranges (which are usually stocked with JOLLY floral patterns for fat women’s BUBBLY personality) and just concentrate on offering their regular range in more sizes.

But it’s time for me to make a change. A change that I’ve ignored making until now because – bizarrely – I appear to have the reverse of body dysmorphia. I look in the mirror and see the slim person I used to be. I walk along the street and in my mind, I’m a size 12. It’s only when I catch sight of my reflection in a window or the time I saw a photo of myself at a kids’ birthday party and thought ‘Wow, who’s that fat lady?’ that I remember. Shit. I’m fat now.

So while I don’t believe in diets (The 5:2 can jog on, as far as I’m concerned) and I don’t think you need to be skinny to be happy (read Bryony Gordon’s ace piece in The Telegraph on this and Daisy Buchanan’s The Debrief piece on finally feeling happy about being a size 14) I do believe in making small changes for the better. And it’s time for me to stop ignoring the fact that I got fat. So sweets, chocolate, cakes are out. Chips are gone. Fizzy drinks are in the bin. It’s all about salads, lots of protein and veg, and small amounts of carbs. Two things I might still indulge in are my skinny lattes and wine. Don’t make me give those up. Please.

A Day At The Races

Back in 2003, I was 24 and the MOST FUN THING EVER was a day at Royal Ascot with my friends. To someone who was more used to Soho pubs and studenty clubs with sticky floors that played Girls Aloud songs, it felt ever so grown up and sophisticated to be going to the races.

A group of around ten of us bought tickets, booked a nearby hotel and then the real preparation began… looking for an outfit. I remember spending endless weekends in department stores, trying on dresses and fascinators until I found one I loved in Warehouse. I also wore it to my engagement party later that summer – back then it was much easier to wear the same dress to different events. Facebook didn’t exist in the UK so there was no risk of everyone I know seeing my frock. This snap (below) was taken in a pub near the Ascot racecourse at around 11.30am (rock. and. roll) and believe me, I thought I looked ace at the time. Now, of course, I’m thinking that side-sweep fringe was a mistake and that lavender fascinator? What was I thinking?! My friends’ outfits have definitely stood the test of time better than mine. In fact, my best mate Kim (red coat) could easily wear that outfit to Royal Ascot 2014 and look hot.

Royal Ascot

Of course the brilliant thing about 2014 versus 2003 is that now, there are more options when it comes to shopping for the races – trousers look just as good (and on many people better) than a frock. If I were off to Royal Ascot this year, I’d probably go for an outfit like this…

Royal Ascot outfit

Yes! No hat or fascinator. They just don’t suit me (see top pic for proof) and I’d much rather feel comfortable on a day out with friends. What would you wear to the races? Would you stick with the tried-and-tested frock and heels or try something different like trousers?

 

Huge thanks to Betfair for sponsoring this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.