To smack or not to smack – that is the question?

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Big decisions – not always easy or makes everyone happy

My husband and I had an interesting scenario the other week that I thought would be a good one for a blog post – the big bad topic of discipline!

Ryan and I have been together for 13 years and in that time I thought we would have discussed everything, even many years ago before Clara arrived all the areas around parenting and what type of parents we wanted to be. Yet, nothing prepares you for the moment you actually have to make those decisions  and when you have children it is a whole different scenario, because now all of those idyllic scenarios where your children behave and you don’t have to worry about telling them off, saying no or even giving a little smack on the hand or bum, don’t even come into your rose tinted spectacle view of parenthood. How different it really is!

So it all started a couple of weeks ago as Clara has taken to deliberately throwing things on the floor (which a very cute Uh Oh which doesn’t help the me trying to be stern mum face) and as she is still too young to really understand my stern voice or the fact she just laughs at me when I do. I thought I would think back to when I was growing up and how a little tap on the hand might do the job of realising she wasn’t supposed to do that.

As the weeks progressed and at 16 months she really is now trying to push boundaries and I have been using this great app called Wonder Weeks which said that Clara is at a stage where you really have to lay down the ground rules so they learn where the boundaries are which should help when they reach ‘the terrible two’s’. So with a couple of taps on the hand and bottom over the last couple of weeks, Ryan said to me he doesn’t know if he feels comfortable with using any form of physical forms of discipline. Which really got me thinking, as much as she had got a couple of taps, was I either?

There has been many difficult moments over the last 16 months, but this was one of the first ones where I really felt like a parent to make one of my first big decisions about how we as parents, were going to discipline her. She is too young yet to be spoilt or really know what many things are, but this was a big one for me. So what did we do, well we used our monthly date night to have an adult conversation about it over a drink (yup it needed that to make this big discussion). It was really fascinating hearing each others sides of how we want to discipline and what was the most comforting is that we both came to the same conclusion. Not that we are against a good smack if it is warranted but we aren’t going to use physical discipline as that isn’t the environment we want to create or that we have to use either in our home or in public.

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A happy family and a happy resolution

I don’t have anything against people using the occasional smack to discipline their children but it is a personal choice for us. I want Clara to learn about consequences to actions and be explained them. It definitely isn’t going to be the easy route but  Ryan said that when he was growing up he never got smacked (okay maybe once or twice) but just the threat of the 1,2,3 counting was enough to not make him do anything.

We may be wrong and in a few months I may write another blog asking for HELP. I would love to hear about what your discipline methods are and if you have found they have worked or any advice on what hasn’t. Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts.

Lauren – workingmummablog

Have the ‘ladies that lunch’ had their last meal?

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Doing a blog has meant over the last few months it has given me the chance to meet some incredible and inspirational women and open up a dialogue about being a working parent. One of the topics we have discussed is about the different generations as some of the mothers have children in their 20’s and 30’s and some are brand new parents, is how society has changed and it has been fascinating understanding how much really has changed since our mums had us.

I realised that through my conversations that not one of my friends, who have had a child isn’t going back to work, yet 20/30 years ago the norm and what was accepted in society was to not to go back and that women accepted (okay not all the time, but I am generalising) that their place was in the home. Fast forward 20/30 years and is there now a prejudice against women not going back to work as a lifestyle choice?

Granted there is a big discussion with parents about one not working due to the cost of nursery fee’s and child care, but that is a very different conversation to the one about making a choice because you can, not to go back to work and stay at home. So my question is – have the ladies that lunch, had their last meal? This is no way a judging women who are stay at home mum’s, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for and is definitely not something I could do because if I am honest, I find really hard. I am just not creative or have the patience, but just like I wouldn’t want to be judged for being a working mum. There needs to be a mutual respect because motherhood, however you deal with it, is certainly not always easy.

I do believe that as a society we have grown and adapted and there are a lot more opportunities out there and that women have fought hard to be treated as equal in the work place (although we still have a long way to go) and as we see more and more inspirational women balancing it all and men supporting more, it is only going to become the norm.

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Trying to juggle it all, isn’t always easy

Society is incredible and each decade we have evolved  and there is a defining moment in each that has summarised what people remember that decade for. I would love to see that maybe not in this decade as we are still setting so many foundations, but that maybe in the next, working women have found the equality we deserve. I find this increasingly interesting the longer I have been back at work, as I realise that a lot is unequal and I don’t feel that I am asking for a lot – but just to have equality. Whether that be my pay, my hours, invitations to events, opinions on matters that affect me and my team or the way I dress.

So the big question is how are we going to get there and what needs to happen in order for 2020 – 2030 to be defined as the decade working women got their equality in the work place…

  • Gender Pay Gap – this finally came in from April 2017 (about time!!!) and businesses with over 250 employees have to report the overall gender pay gap between all men and women . This will need to be reported annually, not just on the organisation’s website, but also a dedicated Government website, which means that the information is accessible to all. I think it is going to be a while before this really starts making an impact as there seems to be quite a process to go through before even then being able to make the change happen.
  • Shared Maternity & Paternity Leave – As much as this is great in principal in reality, it won’t work unless companies really do support it culturally and financially and that men are comfortable to do it. However, for me it needs to first be made financially viable by companies to warrant it happening as you are so financially constrained anyway when you have a child and aren’t working, you won’t do shared maternity and paternity leave unless it financially makes sense.
  • Flexible Working – I am hearing about more and more business that are doing this and not because of working mothers in particular, but because of the change in society or the cost of having a full work force in the office all the time, or even the work/life balance debate we seem to struggle with so much as we can’t switch off. This can only be a positive change for parents also as it allows you to get the job done, be trusted to do it but most importantly do the nursery/school run and be there for the moments that matter for your children and still respond to emails!
  • Positive Role Models – these amazing people are what make our society great but in today’s society there is such a blurring of what a role model is. For me though the more we can see these people raise above the norm and get their story out to showcase that working mums can do, we can be treated equally and we won’t be penalised for doing so!
  • The Media – as someone who works with the media and has a lot of friends and contacts who are journalists, I only know the power that they hold. They can be an incredible ally to have and it needs to become part of the media agenda that they tackle the stereotype and challenge business and people who aren’t treating working mothers with equality and showcasing the positive role models out there who are doing it right for themselves and others.

The reason I started my blog was to show that with hard work, support and perseverance you really can take the working world by it’s horns and I hope that as I talk about Positive Role Models in this blog, I can live my life through my work and being a mother, that is a positive role model to other working parents. I may only be a very little cog in changes that need to happen in society for equality to happen, but I am here, saying my piece and will support and fight my little battles so that in hopefully the not so distant future – we are all be treated as equal.

Lauren – workingmummablog

My first six months back at work

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Six months in and still here and loving being a working mum

Someone asked me the other day how long I had been back at work and without thinking I said three months and then it suddenly dawned on me it was almost six months! How did that happen so quickly and the first thing that came to my mind was, when was I going to get to the point where I found this all really difficult, hated it, wanted to sack my job in and all those other things that you expect when you think about going back to work. Yet for me they hadn’t happened and I slowly realised that it’s because I’ve given myself space and time and somehow I had survived, I was still standing, I hadn’t developed an alcohol habit or not seen my friends or family. Somehow miraculously I had made it, a key milestone in any working mums calendar and I am here, writing this blog to tell the tale, who would have thought.

 

Not only does this mark six months of being back at work, but also six months of my blog and with this also being my 25 blog post, I have to give myself a big tap on the back, open a bottle of champagne (okay maybe I have developed a penchant for a tipple, but I don’t go out as much) and celebrate! For any parent just going back to work, six months probably feels too big to comprehend, in fact a month back probably feels too far away, so I thought what would probably be helpful is writing down the things that have helped me and us as a family to get us here in one piece, one family, not on the verge of divorce and can even say I have had some brilliant nights out and holidays away, plus banked some amazing work experiences and moments.

Be organised and plan ahead

I have talked about this before, but being organised has kept me sane. It is a bit of a joke, but I have already planned out and allocated all of our holiday for next year. I know that doesn’t leave much room for being sporadic but when you have a child and work full time, those moments don’t really exist anymore (sorry). Don’t worry though, you can still have fun but it needs to be a bit more organised. So firstly and I have talked about this before but if you have an iPhone set up a joint calendar and if you don’t then get yourself an old fashion hanging calendar and write down everything you and your partner do. That way nothing gets missed off and you can plan ahead.

Now for planning ahead, it is really important to me that I have at least one thing planned a month that is a day off work and is either something for me or as a family. You don’t have to plan out every single day of your holiday but just knowing that every month you have some time off is so important. I am a but of a nutter when it comes to planning, so if that doesn’t work for you, do it in three month periods. That way you can take that stress off yourself and that even includes looking ahead to birthdays and pre ordering presents and getting cards, buying your little ones clothes in advance (in the sales are a great way too) so you don’t have to do a mad dash and be stressed when that whole wardrobe change over happens which luckily becomes less as they get older.

Invest in a babysitter or ask someone you trust to give yourself a few hours off in an evening once a month. You don’t have to use them all the time but if you can have date night, catch up on personal admin, go to the cinema, see friends, go to the gym or whatever it is that means you get a night off is more valuable than gold.

One thing to also mention is work and you are going to have several incarnations of what a working parent means to you. Give yourself time to find your working parent groove and if you are struggling with managing it all, talk to your manager and ask for help or HR. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and everyone’s situation is different and at the end of the day you need to make this work for you, whatever or however that is.

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An apprehensive mummy and Clara six months ago

 

Develop a good healthy TV habit

Welcome to the world of being a working parent, goodbye to sporadic nights out (unless you have a full time, live in nanny which for most is not the case) and hello to nights in, probably in front of the laptop catching up on a few bits of work like most of my evenings (but keeps me sane and on top of work and still allows me to leave early to pick up or drop off Clara at nursery). So this is where your home becomes your sanctuary and your entertaining space. You know what at the age of 32, I have done all of those mid week late nights, drinking sessions but now I LOVE my nights in with my PJs and my little family. So this is where you need to develop a good healthy TV habit and also some great books for some pre-bed reading.

Invest in Hello Fresh

Making your life as easy as possible as a working parent is key and as much as I love cooking, my brain capacity for planning our meals has gone out the window. Yet it is important for me that as Clara starts developing her taste in food I want her to have a varied diet and want her to try everything. I have mentioned it before and I will again how amazing Hello Fresh is and we have been using them for about four months now and week in week out it is saving my life. Also because the meals only take about 30min to cook, we now also make a conscious effort when we can to all eat together as a family at Clara’s dinner time (which is also healthier to eat earlier) but then I find she is developing important social skills at a dinner table.

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Even Clara loves the weekly Hello Fresh delivery

 

Book holidays and plan ahead

I’ve always been organised and plan ahead but since having a child and being back at work this has become so important. As I already mentioned, I have  mapped out all of our holidays for 2018, I find it really therapeutic but also it means I know that we have these wonderful blocks of family time, a break and a chance to still explore and see the world. Also I like to make sure that every month we have at least one thing as a family to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a trip away, it could just be a visit to a farm or park or a national trust venue we have wanted to visit. I like to read lots of other blogs and make a list of great things to do with kids and plan them out. That way you know that no matter how busy or crazy life gets you have those special moments booked out and in the diary. One thing I have booked already for August ’18 is the Big Feastival in the Cotswolds which apparently is amazing for kids. We also recently did a trip to the Isle of Wight and I can’t recommend Tapnell Farm enough – one of the best farms we have ever been to and the burger restaurant attached Cow & Co is super yummy!

Be honest with your work/life balance

This is so personal for each person and is not a one model fit’s all approach. But what I would say is that you have to be honest with yourself and the amount of support you have around you. If you follow my blog you will know I work full time (but still using my holiday from maternity leave to not work Mondays) and have a lot of support around me, including a husband that works from home. However, when he is away for work which has been quite a bit recently I find my balance goes out the window and it’s a real struggle to keep on top of things. My big piece of advice here is don’t push yourself too much in one direction – remember you now have a job, husband, baby, friends and family and also time for you to balance. If you give too much to one area, all the others are going to suffer so you really are going to become an expert juggler – so much so your life probably will feel like a circus, but a good one that you wouldn’t change for the world.

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Clara visiting the office and loving it.

 

Learn which battles to fight

As you time becomes reduced, you are going to have some big and small ‘battles’ you will need to fight, whether that is work ones which could come in many forms from really big ones like inequality or prejudice to smaller ones that may come from your own inner demons trying to figure out who this new working mum person is. I have had quite a few of both big and small battles to fight and I know there will be many more to come, but I feel that I have hopefully got over the worst and can now just focus on being a working mum.

Make some YOU time

Lastly and definitely not least, finding time for you is probably the most important thing about being a working mum. It’s so easy with the stress of being back at work, balancing the pressures and trying to live up to this perfect image that you have it all put together, but then somewhere beneath all of it is little tiny you. So find your thing – doesn’t matter what it is but find it and give yourself time to do it.

Always love to hear from other working parents, their experiences or any questions. Mostly I hope that for any parent going back to work, you enjoy it and you find the balance you need.

Lauren – workingmummablog

 

Champagne popping fun in France with kids

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Everyone trying some lovely Moet et Chandon champagne

A dream of mine has always been to visit the Champagne region in France. Not only growing up in South Africa and being spoilt with all of the beautiful vineyards we have but also last year seeing Micky Flannigan’s Detour De France, it kicked me into gear to finally tick this one off the bucket list. Obviously having a little one makes any trip slightly different these days, so instead of turning it into a completely boozy weekend away in France, we decided to turn it into a wonderful week away with a few trips to the champagne houses but also a time to rest and have fun.

There was 14 of us in total so a big group of 10 adults and four children (all under four years old) which turned out to be quite an experience with some fun kiddy bathtimes and a few disturbed nights sleep but on the whole an amazing trip. It also made me realise that all those childhood holidays I went on and how much fun we had with all the other children, how that is now Clara  and yet it feels like only yesterday that was me as a child. Talk about feeling old!

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Dinner time was fun all round in France

 

I found this beautiful place on Airbnb called Domaine de Senercy which was in a small town near Picardie, about an hour away from Reims. I highly recommend where we stayed as it was perfect for such a big group of us as it had more than enough space, plus a pool, tennis court and a pool table. Also an added bonus about France is that it is so close, in fact took us less time to get there than Cornwall when you get stuck on the dreaded A303 during school holiday traffic!! Also the kids loved going on the Eurotunnel and meant we could pack up our car to the brim and have become those people with a back box on the car (eeekkkk).

The first Champagne House we visited was Moet et Chandon and wow, it was really amazing. What a building and the caves! We went for the Grand Vintage Tour which was €38 each and we got to try the Grand Vintage and the Grand Vintage Rosé after the tour. I was a bit worries before about taking such young children but they loved it, there was so much to look at and yes they did want to run around but the staff at Moet were so accommodating. Following a fun trip to the Moet shop and although we didn’t buy anything, there was some lovely champagne bought by the rest of the group. We also decided as were a group of 10, we would treat ourselves to a magnum of champagne each night, which is a great way to enjoy the champagne region.

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Not everyone found the Champagne tour as fascinating as we did!

 

We then spent the next few days just relaxing by the pool, playing tennis and once the baby’s were in bed the fun really started as we each took it in turn to make a meal and wow everyone pulled out all the stops with gourmet three course meals on the menu each night. Also I do love a good foreign supermarket and we certainly filled up our trollies with amazing wine, cheese, artichokes and lots of yummy breads and croissants.

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Pool chill out time

 

We then booked to go into Reims to visit Veuve Clicquot which was a must for me as it my favourite champagne. It was really great and on one of our hottest days, a cool relief going down into the caves which are much cooler. The history of Madame Veuve Clicquot is fascinating and for all the working mums out there, is truly an empowering story as she was the first powerful working woman of France and broke down so many taboo’s and barriers due to her husbands very sad and early death, leaving her a young widow with a daughter called Clementine and instead of the business being sold off she took it on to run. It’s real success came during the Napoleonic Wars when Veuve Clicquot was the first Champagne house to ship champagne through the blockades to Russia. During this time she also gave champagne to the Prussian Guards who enforced the bloackades and used to open the champagne with their swords, which started the technique of sabring Champagne. There is so much more to the history that it really should be turned into a movie! So if you are visiting the area, Veuve Clicquot is worth a visit.

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Sun, Champagne and an afternoon nap

 

Now that I am a mum, I want to make sure we are finding the balance of having fun and different holidays which Ryan and I have always done but with a child friendly twist. This is certainly one of them and as a mum and as all parents will know, you always have the fear that you are going to take your kids to something that you would have always thought would be a disaster and then they pleasantly surprise you. I am learning every day that you can still do everything you did before, maybe sometimes with a bit less sleep which makes the champagne induced hangovers slightly worse, but nothing a good cheese baguette couldn’t solve.

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Just a casual night in with a Jeroboam of champagne

 

Apart from the shock of getting on the scales but nothing a few gym sessions can’t solve, I would highly recommend the Champagne region and France to any families, who are looking for holiday ideas for next summer. I would also recommend going in a big group as it really was great fun and then the more of you, the more you can warrant that magnum bottle of champagne each night!

Bon Appetit!

Lauren – workingmummablog

Why I don’t feel guilty about being a working mum

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Another successful Aegon Championships complete

Why hello there everyone! Sorry I have been MIA these last couple of months. Following finishing up a very busy tennis season over a month ago now which I can’t quite believe. I am coming out of a few lovely long weekends away and a dream trip the Champagne region in France (which I will write a blog about). It has been a bit of a whirlwind and as any mum knows it has been quite nice to keep these last few weeks as simple as possible and just give myself a bit of a brain break.

We also had a few weeks of Clara waking up around 5:30am and with also working full time, I have found my brain just hasn’t had the head space to write. I also knew that going back to work, I had to just get to Wimbledon, work through the crazy few weeks before and during and then it’s just been a bit of time to reflect and actually focus on now being a full time working mum.

As I also write this blog, I know a few friends are going back to work after their maternity leave and how hard that day is, but trust me it gets so much easier. Once you get into a routine it’s quite enjoyable and you are so proud of these little human beings being by themselves, making friends and being so fiercely independent, it makes it all worth it. Oh and also to have a break and remember somewhere deep inside you aren’t just a mum but you, which I love for those few hours every day. So I digress…

Now that I have had a few weeks rest (which just shows how importance  rest is), my brain has kicked back into writing and my creative side is coming out again. What I have found is that with these last few weeks having lots of time with Clara again, which has had it’s amazing but also really hard moments, how difficult it is being a full time mum and how much you relish those times they have their afternoon naps. Also the demands on a parent to make sure you are challenging them, educating them and teaching them the things they need to know all the time, like when they are at nursery is hard.

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Another working day at Wimbledon with Clara off to nurser

With any working mum, you will have many times when you go back to work and as your little ones grows up about what the right decision is/was. Never mind taking into account the nursery fees, managing lack of sleep, a busy and sometimes unmanageable social life, housework, friends and family quality time. It has definitely come into my mind a few times about how easy it would be to not work and just have the days to organise my home, my life and even get a bit of me time!

The thing is as much as this sounds wonderful, it just isn’t me and I have this deep down desire to work. What can I say I love it! As much as it is lovely to have a few days off and I know I could definitely fill my time if I didn’t work (I mean hello gym every day, a dream Victoria Secret body and long lunches with friends) but I couldn’t do that forever. Also I enjoy being a working mum, I love feeling proud that I am able to balance it all, that I provide an income to our family that allows us to be able to go, do and live a wonderful life and that I worked hard, on my own to achieve that.

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Filming with BBC Breakfast launching our Transforming British Tennis Together initiative

I love that I have a busy day at work that is just about me and then I can’t wait to get home for bath time with Clara (rather than counting down the hours to bath time). I love that she learns new things at nursery and when she does them I am so proud (never thought I would be that person when she says new words I didn’t teach her). Most of all I love that Ryan feels proud of me, for what I have achieved and what I carry on achieving. That we can end our day over dinner (with our yummy Hello Fresh meal) and talk about work. When I think about all the amazing experiences I have had being a working mum and this year alone, achieving some incredible results with my team, meeting amazing people who I thought I would never meet in my life like Shania Twain (my father in law was so jealous), it definitely makes it all worth it.

So yes it is a balance and it’s not always easy but I am really proud to be a working mum and I will carry on being so as long as I can be and be a role model for my daughter. I would love to hear from all the working mums and stay at home mums – what makes you proud, what do you find hard and would you change anything? Also to all the mums going back to work this week, you will be amazing, your little ones will be more than fine and in a few weeks when it all just becomes normal again, you will look back and realise how proud you should be of yourself. It will also make you realise how precious time is and how fiercely important your family weekend time is.

New working mums – if you did want to read my blog about my first week back, you can find it here and hope it helps and sheds some support and light for the first few days and weeks back at work.

Lauren – workingmummablog

Babies, their food and a family recipe for success

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Clara’s and mummy’s favourite – Spaghetti Bolognaise

 

Ever since day one, Clara has loved her food. In fact even from the moment she was born and Ryan was having his first skin to skin cuddle, we could hear this sucking noise and wondered where it was coming from and then realised she was already searching for food and she was only a few minutes old. She was even pulling out Ryan’s chest hair, unfortunately though she was going to be a little disappointed if she thought he could help in that department.

It was also the reason we had to introduce the dummy, she would over feed herself when I was still breastfeeding (which I stopped at four months) and have these enormous projectile vomits and so we realised quite early on that we should introduce a dummy to help her with this as she wasn’t to know any differently. We actually found it really easy to get rid of the dummy around 10 months old which I would say to anyone who only wants them to have it only for a certain period of time, worked for us. We also didn’t want her having it at nursery as it would just be an extra faff to remember.

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Thanks goodness for the dummy!

 

So on the dummy front before I go into this blog which is about babies and their food, is that one of my wonderful mummy friends had some really good advice about the dummy and that is you HAVE to go cold turkey with it as babies don’t know the difference between when they can and can’t have it. So if you are going to do it, make sure you have a clear week as you may have some sleepless nights, especially if you little one wakes at night for their dummy. Chuck the dummy’s away and trust me be strong, they will be a bit grumpy about the whole thing, but it’s so worth it in the end. I would definitely use dummy’s again if we have another baby one day, but do the same age and process again as it seemed to work so well.

Okay now on to the food side of things, I really wanted Clara to have a healthy relationship with food (don’t we all) but also to have a really varied palate. Although I grew up in South Africa, you would have thought I would love seafood and it’s only something in the last couple of years I have started eating. So for Clara I want to introduce her to lots of different type of foods and luckily my husband Ryan eats everything, so she will hopefully learn that from him. Although we are going to France in August and he said he will feed her a snail, which I can’t say I am that amused about! Gross!!

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I promise I’m just going for the cherry mum

 

As Clara ventured off milk only and started eating solids around five months, she was really good at trying lots of food with some of her first favourites being melon, banana, avocado, cheese and tomato’s (although we now think she might be slightly allergic to tomato’s as her cheeks always flare up). I also was keen she learnt to enjoy and play with food so we did a mix of baby led weaning and spoon feeding as some things were just too messy like soups. However we quickly got into a pattern of giving her a bath every night so she could enjoy her food and just make a general mess if she needed to. Until about a month ago, we were making her a different dinner to ours every night or she got left overs from the night before, if they were baby friendly enough.

What has really changed our life recently and I can’t recommend them enough are HelloFresh who are a fresh food box (£4.90 per box) with recipes delivered to you every week and you can choose between three or five meals a week and also a choice of about eight recipes a week and they are all so yummy. This has been great as Ryan will confess he can’t cook, but he loves following a recipe and the food is restaurant quality and he loves it! (Bonus as less cooking for me) also we now try and eat at 6ish with Clara which is good all round and she has the same dinner as us and she loves it. It means that we are having really varied food and have got ourselves out of a rut of always having the same thing.

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I love my food and I love HelloFresh

 

The other thing that I found really helpful was I went to one of the Sheerlux parenting seminars back in February when Clara was nine months old. It was so helpful as they covered everything from making the most of family time, addressing technology with young children, healthy sleep routine, the value of money but most importantly for this blog post – improving your child’s diet, health and nutrition and the Paediatric Dietician Bianca Parau was just brilliant! Some of the great advice she shared was:

  • Don’t get stressed if your child goes through a phase of not eating vegetables, they aren’t going to be sat when they are 30 not eating any vegetables. They are exploring and learning.
  • If your child goes through a phase of not eating that much, don’t worry. Like adults we sometimes have days or weeks where we aren’t that hungry and then others when we eat a lot. Their little bodies are clever and are telling them how much they need.
  • If you have a fussy eater, it might be worth looking at how you deal with food. Babies are constantly watching and learning and don’t make a big deal out of things. Don’t reward bad behaviour but also don’t force them as it will start bad habits at the dinner table.
  • Babies also need a lot of calcium and good fats in their diet. So as much as we are all crazy about our soya and almond milk these days, babies need full fat milk, cheese, yoghurts etc and it is not recommended to give these alternatives to milk to children under the age of two due to the nutritional inadequacies.
  • If you are worried about intolerances, it is also worth reading this Q&A with Bianca as she gives some good advice about what to look out for, how to deal with it and what you can substitute.

 

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A bit of mummy’s ice cream in the sun – yum

 

For me, who initially got worried about the whole food thing and how much time it was going to take up, don’t! Make it work around you and no one is going to judge you if they have your left over spag bol three nights in a row, or a little bit of your ice cream on a hot day. It’s about balance and making it work for the whole family no matter how that is and if you find one week they don’t like something, just introduce it again in a couple of weeks and it might be their favourite food. I’m not saying this advice will work for everyone, but it has really worked for us and meal time is definitely one of our favourite times of the day.

Lauren – workingmummablog

Can fathers be the biggest role models to our daughters?

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Special Daddy and Daughter time

 

As we celebrated Father Day yesterday, it got me thinking about the role that fathers now play in our society with our children and in particular our daughters and how they can really become the most important role models to our little ladies, growing up in this ever changing world.

To add a bit of background to this I should talk briefly about my father, who I had a difficult relationship with over the years but when I was younger he was the person that introduced me to my sport and supported me in my swimming and triathlons. They are really happy memories and sport is still something that resonates so strongly with me today and very much has defined me as a person in terms of how I look at life, friends and work.

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My Dad teaching me how to swim in the good days

 

What was difficult later on was how badly my father dealt with my parents divorce and at an age when the relationship between a father and a daughter becomes quite a defining one, he wasn’t around and made the relationship very difficult. Which has taken me a long time to know how to deal with and in particularly the role of a father and his daughter. I was very fortunate to have an incredible step father and also having been with Ryan for almost 13 years now, a wonderful father in law, who both have allowed me to rebuild the incredibly important relationship that a young woman should and needs to have with a father figure.

When it comes to that male role model for our daughter, I hope Clara will one day understand and appreciate the incredible men she has in her life (and of course the women too but that is another blog for another day) and as I watch these wonderful fathers build their relationship with her and how she is going to hopefully have a really positive experience that will allow her to have a healthy and balanced view of men. Especially, as our society is changing so much and the balance and equality that women are fighting for now, hopefully by the time Clara gets into the working world, she won’t know half of what we are battling for now – whether that be the gender pay gap, balanced gender representation at Senior Management, Executive and on Boards or a more equal option and equal treatment around maternity leave and pay.

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Clara with her Grumps – such a special relationship

 

Therefore for men to become role models to our young daughters, what is it that they actually have to do to make this a reality?

  • Firstly, it needs to start at home with a fair, loving and balanced relationship that is open and honest. In most cases a father is a daughters first love and can and will define the way she deals with men for the rest of her life. Therefor the impact this can create is huge and so important.
  • The working world is changing, roles are becoming less defined by gender and yet many women are still stereotyped into roles from a very early age. Fathers can do so much in this area from a young age, to not exclude but rather include their daughters in the career path and job they do. This is a critical role to the development and choices of their daughters into the working world and providing them with a million more options and to not be afraid to challenge the norm.
  • Allow the relationship to change, the one fathers have at the very beginning will change, especially as daughters grow up and develop relationships with other boys/men. Whether that be social or work related, still being a guiding and caring role model and someone she can turn to when those relationships become difficult.
  • Men and women are different and we should embrace that and take the strengths from each and support them, which is why seeking guidance not only from a mother for a daughter, but also making the time as a father to have quality time with your daughter is so important. Keeping the lines of dialogue open and understanding the world they live in, like social media for example which is going to be such a big part of Clara’s life when she grows up is one area Ryan can just own.
  • I know that Clara and I will fight, notoriously mothers and daughters do and I can already tell that she is a strong willed little individual and I am too. This is one area where I feel Ryan will be able to really support and act as a mediator and allow Clara to have a voice and feel like she is being heard and supported.
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Teaching our little girl so much and just being an all round amazing Dad

 

As I had a strained relationship with my father, it has made me so determined that Clara and Ryan will build their own special relationship that works for them. It has started from right at the beginning where Ryan has Clara on a Tuesday morning and they go swimming or to a soft play centre and just form a very special bond that I hope will guide her through her whole life.

Lauren – workingmummablog

 

LOVE Tennis this Summer

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Summer is certainly starting to poke it’s little head out and say hello, which just makes me smile as everything seems a bit more beautiful, relaxing and happy. This last weekend we have had some glorious weather and as I have already been busy working, as our first Major Event tournament the Aegon Open kicks off in Nottingham. So thought this was a perfect time to share some info on how you can get into tennis this summer. Now before I go any further I have to admit that I try and play as much tennis as I can (which is not very much at all, only once this year so far) but simply trying to juggle being back at work, being a mummy, eating, sleeping and just functioning each day means I am lucky if I get any form of exercise in, let alone tennis. Although my friend Natalie and I did have a hit a few weeks ago and when you get playing, you forget how much fun it actually is and also a brilliant work out. Plus we are rubbish so just laughed the whole time and definitely felt like I had worked every muscle in my body the next day.

So for my blog this week,  I thought I would rave about all the brilliant things tennis can do for you, but also where you can go play either in a group, family or with your partner and also in some cases for FREE. If that wasn’t also enough, take some inspiration from all of the celebs who love tennis including Olly Murs, Miranda Hart, Greg James, David Haye and Romeo Beckham to name just a few.

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Me with the lovely Olly Murs last week playing some tennis

Now for some serious stuff…according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, recent research has revealed that as well as being a fun activity, tennis could help you to live longer. It was found that those who played a racquet sport had a 56% reduced risk of death from heart disease and stroke, compared to those who didn’t participate in such a sport. A bit serious but there was a lot of coverage about this in the media a couple of months back and you can’t argue with science!

With over 5.3million people in Great Britain playing tennis (about 11% of the population ages 14+) at least once over the last year, and with a certain Andy Murray inspiring people to get on court, as has our female British No.1 Johanna Konta, you can’t help but be proud of Tennis in Great Britain at the moment. Now during the month of July when Wimbledon is on we see a lot more people on court and talking about tennis and we have over 2,715 LTA registered venues to play, so if all of that isn’t enough here is some more fun info…

Health benefits of tennis:

  • Tennis is a whole body workout, as you are constantly running, stopping and changing direction according to the ball. The stop-start nature of tennis means you require short bursts of energy, and these varying intervals are great for your stamina much like a HIIT work out when you go to the gym
  • It is low impact which means fewer injuries and means you can maintain your physical well-being
  • Tennis increases flexibility due to the constant stretching and manoeuvring to return the ball to your opponent
  • Some people can burn up to 300 calories in 30 minutes of play however the harder you work, the more you burn
  • Playing tennis regularly is beneficial to your heart and lungs and has could decrease your risk of diabetes

Psychological benefits of tennis:

I have talked before about mental stigmas and there has been a lot in the news recently and especially being championed by the incredible Bryony Gordon for Heads Together about the benefits of being active and your mental well-being. Giving yourself the head space is so important and I really do find that playing sport, no matter which one really does help. So I have also included some psychological benefits of playing tennis

  • Effective accommodation of stress because the physical, mental and emotional stress of tennis will force you to increase you capacity for dealing with stress
  • Learning how to recover by adapting to the stress of a point and the recovery period between points, which is similar to the stress and recovery cycles in life
  • Planning and implementation of strategies since you naturally learn how to anticipate an opponent’s moves and plan your countermoves
  • Learning teamwork since successful doubles play depends on you and your partner’s ability to communicate and play as a cohesive unit.

Ways to play:

  1. Find your local court www.lta.org.uk/play/find-a-court/
  2. Tennis Tuesdays – the ever-popular all-female training sessions (in partnership with Nike) runs May to October. Women can hone their tennis skills while getting fit in a fun environment. No racket? No problem! All coaches provide rackets and balls. Simply turn up ready to play! Tennis Tuesdays will be available at over 200 venues nationwide, including London, Birmingham, Oxford, Glasgow (prices start at £5, venue dependent). Visit www.tennistuesdays.co.uk to find your nearest court
  3. Local Tennis Leagues aimed at adults of any ability, Local Tennis Leagues offer friendly, competitive tennis at nearby park courts all year round. Players are grouped with those of a similar standard and can arrange matches at a time and venue that suits them. Scores can be submitted and winners of each group receive a prize. With over 100 leagues available nationwide, everyone has the opportunity to get on court. Visit www.localtennisleagues.com for more information
  4. Great British Tennis Weekend – the UK’s biggest free tennis event returns for its fifth year, where parks and clubs will be opening their doors to offer free tennis sessions and events to families and friends. This will take place on 22nd & 23rd July 2017. To find your nearest session and reserve a place, visit www.lta.org.uk/gbtw
  5. Tennis for Kids –  a free 6-week tennis coaching programme for children aged 5-8 and children also receive a free racket too. This was first introduced on 2016 and over 10,000 children tried tennis for the first time. Due to the programme’s success, we doubled our target this year and over 20,000 children across the UK have taken up lessons and got on court. If you haven’t got your child signed up this year yet, there are still some courses running, if not worry we will be back next year and you can find some more info at http://www.lta.org.uk/tennisforkids

I hope that has given you some inspiration and also ways you can play some tennis this summer, as always any questions pop me through an email on workingmummablog@gmail.com and if you are playing tennis – make sure you make a big song and dance about it on social media with @britishtennis #gohitit

Lauren – workingmummablog

Two months back at work – game, set and match

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I know I am writing a lot about milestones at the moment, but feel they are pretty key as I take each day as it comes, as you truly never know what to expect. We have been really lucky so far that Clara hasn’t got ill and so I haven’t had to take any time off to be at home with her. Also that Ryan, luckily apart from a couple of trips a few weeks back when I wrote my blog about amazing single mums has been around, which has been a massive support. Especially as I am about to go into a very busy tennis season, the next six weeks are going to be a little crazy.

I wanted to use this blog post to capture any work learnings I have had, but also talk in a  bit more detail about my job and what it entails, as we build up to the biggest sporting event in the world…Wimbledon (well I am a little bias).

The last two months

For any mum going back to work after having a baby it’s an unsettling time. On the one hand, it’s not like starting a new job, so you have to do all the meet and greats and getting to know what everyone does and how they fit into the organisation – so that’s an easy one. In most organisations, things don’t change that radically in terms of day to day process or people, so again another easy one to slot back into work. What isn’t so easy is perception and what magic you bring to that role, that in your absence has been forgotten.

After nearly two months, I feel like I am slowly and finally settled back in and I don’t think we give ourselves enough time to do that and I really do feel like a phased approach, should be offered to any mums returning to work. Obviously it’s your choice if you want to take it based on your circumstance and I have found incredible value in having my Monday’s off at the moment.

What I have learnt in the first few weeks and months of going back, is that you are going to have to get a backbone about work (not that you should have to) but at the moment, whilst many businesses and people are still not properly set up for returners and just people’s general perception of returning mum’s, you are going to have to face some personal and professional challenges. Some may be big work ones that need addressing at a much senior or legal level, but most are just having to overcome your own perceptions of yourself, as after all your priorities will have changed. If you are a bit of a worklover as I like to call it rather than a workaholic, one of the biggest changes I realised is that I couldn’t take on as much as I did before. However, really this is about balance, for me now it’s about doing less but really bloody well, as my role has changed and the organisation has changed, so there is a lot more value I can add, but also just saying a supportive no. I am working closely with my team at the moment about processes and planning to make sure time isn’t being wasted on unnecessary work or doubling up.

I am using this time to take a fresh pair of eye’s on my role, our team and the business to see what may need tweaking. Using the excuse of not being there means you haven’t been involved in the day to day, so can take an overarching look at things and what might need a slight change, to make things easier for everyone but at the same time benefit you the most. As I always say, just take it easy, don’t rush into anything and be kind to yourself, you have grown and kept a human alive these last few months and so enjoy going back, but just enjoy it for what it is, if you can.

My next six weeks

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As I head into the next six weeks which is the busiest time of year for us, I am going to be juggling a lot of balls and so thought it would be nice to write a bit more about what I have been up to, the exciting projects coming up and what exactly I do over Tennis season. Wimbledon as everyone knows is the pinnacle of the tennis world and there are a number of events that the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA or British Tennis) put on to give the players enough time on the grass courts to get them ready for Wimbledon.

These events take place in Nottingham, Birmingham, London (Queen’s as most of you will know it as ) and Eastbourne. In the lead up to all of these events including Wimbledon and post Wimbledon, my job and my teams is to promote tennis to a consumer audience (so everything but the sports media) in a way that makes people want to go and play it. Now all the hard work that we and the business have been putting in is working, as tennis a few years ago was in heavy decline, but currently is in a 9% increase year on year – which is amazing news.

So what exactly do I do, well I head up the PR team which not only includes PR but also the Social Media for British Tennis (which you can find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), Content and Video & Photography – so it keeps we quite busy. However, anyone that asks what do you do for the rest of the year when Wimbledon isn’t on, is well a silly question as we really are busy all year round. If we don’t have Davis or Fed Cups on then we are planning, implementing and building relationships with key stakeholders over the year, which we can then activate and get us to support during our key period which is May – September and sometimes even earlier. Plus we also have the ATP World Tour Final’s in November so it really is a year round job. However, like I mentioned, we are about to go into our really busy time, so wanted to let you know what we mainly do then:

  • A number of stories about the benefits of tennis including a story about why you should continue playing when you are pregnant. Also promoting our British Tennis Awards and our newly launched British Tennis Membership.
  • Photographing and videoing all of our events to support our social channels, website, live blog, emails and to keep for promotion in the future.
  • Our Live blog and news updates on our website here
  • Working with a number of celebrities and social media influencers and our own tennis stars to promote tennis in a fun and engaging way – which you will be able to see across our social channels during the summer
  • Hosting media, celebrities and social media influencers at our events including Wimbledon and talking to them about British Tennis and the work we are doing to gain their support.
  • Attend and supporting our events like our President’s Women & Girls Lunch at Wimbledon and a She Rallies event which is one of Judy Murrays projects.
  • Working with the BBC and a number of other partners to promote tennis and Wimbledon.

These are just a few of the more fun things me and my team will be doing over the next six weeks, so to see what we get up to on a daily basis remember to follow me on my social channels (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) and also follow my team on our British Tennis social channels.

Lauren – workingmummablog

 

A Reflection One Year On

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As Clara reaches that big milestone of her first birthday on Wednesday, it has got me thinking about the last year and being proud that we got here but also all the things that have changed and that I have learnt in this incredible year. For many a year goes so quickly and yes you can look back and pick out certain moments that have defined that year; a new job, holidays, a few weddings, new romance and for some it is difficult to remember much. For me their are a million moments that keep on popping into my head and as the days creep up to her first birthday I can remember so clearly those days leading up to her birth – all the pineapple I ate, long walks, acupuncture, spicy food and a few other old wives tales we did to get our little girl on her way.

It was also a really special time as the weather was lovely and I remember Ryan and I going for some lovely relaxing lunches, knowing they would be our last for a while, whilst watching some frazzled parents chase their children. I am proud to say we are now those frazzled parents and there has definitely been some highs and lows over the last year and as Clara starts becoming a tiny human who can walk, say words and express what she wants and how she feels. I am loving it even more and starting to develop and build a relationship with her. The last year has been hard and I know many parents say the first year is the hardest and I would have to agree, as a first time parent which is stressful enough and then to add all the societal pressures we now have – you spend your whole time worrying about their salt content, sleep quality, development milestones, have I done the wrong thing stopping breast feeding at four months and all those awful pressures we put on ourselves. I now feel like I am coming out the other end and not having so much to worry about and just enjoying my gorgeous little girl.

What I did want this blog post to be about is my year, what I have learnt and anything key I can share, as I know when you are in the depths of that first year, sleep deprived and feeling rubbish it’s hard to sometimes to see the fun that is about to come. I have heard many people say that when they start walking that is the hardest, but I am actually finding it the best bit so far as she has gained a little more independence and can really entertain herself and interact with more things, which she is so much happier about as felt we had a good six weeks of a frustrated Clara who just wanted to move.

So I digress!! Right, here are a few area’s I wanted to capture and talk about that have been so important to me this last year, some I have covered in my other blogs but with a lot more time to reflect including being back at work now for almost two months, it has really made me realise what a year it has been and how much I have changed…

Family & Friends

These wonderful, incredible people have really made me realise that all those years of memories, family holidays, drunken uni nights and late night chats have meant that I have some of the most awesome people around me that just adore our little girl and make so much effort with her. Recently one of her Life Parents (we aren’t religious but still wanted to recognise the people who are going to shape her life) sent Clara a postcard from Paris, to tell her all about it and that it was a special place where we got engaged. It choked me how special it was. So make sure that you have these people in your life as they will be the people that will support you through the down times, laugh with you through the good and make memories for you as a family.

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Work

This has been one of the biggest changes for me and in a way only a mum who has gone back to work can understand and I wish I could have told myself this many years ago, but I can now honestly say I have some perspective on what is important and making time for the things that matter. I love working and am loving being back at work as I really do feel like I have the best of all worlds and have time to be ‘me’ and make decisions and be part of some incredible projects. The thing that has changed is I realise that is doesn’t matter if that email doesn’t get answered straight away or having to work at 10pm at night. What is important is balance, being strict and efficient about your time at work but that it is important I get home for that precious hour I have with Clara before she goes to bed. Don’t get me wrong, if there are a few things to finish off in the evening, I will happily do them. But, I am finding balance to make sure I get as much time with my little girl as I can.

Being Kind To Myself

This is so important and as someone who likes things just as they should be and can find when things go wrong or not as expected a little stressful, this has been a big lesson for me. This last year was hard and I think because you can’t control babies, you don’t know when they are going to kick off, be hungry, get ill, do a massive poonami or throw up all over you (or in my case projectile vomit all over a velvet sofa in a new restaurant in Windsor) and this I found hard and I don’t think I realised how hard until she has started gaining her independence a bit more. I don’t think I will change and I am sure one day when I have another one, I will still find it hard. What I have found easier is just not really caring what other people think so much anymore and in turn this has led me to be a little kinder to myself and not always trying to have my clothes or hair done, it’s okay sometimes to not.

Plan Ahead

This has been so key to my year and meant that not only has it given me some sanity but also that we have done some wonderful things as a family. So if you can find some time, just once a month to sit down for a few hours to plan out your next month and more of your year. It also gives you some nice head space to reflect on everything that has happened, because trust me it is one big blur and anything you can do to just let life continue on in a planned fashion, which means you still have some quality fun time together just makes parenting so much easier. Also I do things like look at friends and families birthdays a month in advance and write all my cards and do presents so you aren’t running round on the day trying to put together some sort of a card or present!

‘You’ time

This is probably the most important thing on here and I have talked before about how hard this can be and that sometimes the planning takes longer than the time you are actually enjoying a bit of ‘you’ time but it is so key. My sanctuary was getting into the gym as it served a dual purpose for me but I also found Hot Yoga which was amazing and I always fell asleep right at the end I am sure snored a couple of times, but those 5min of sleep plus the 90min of Hot Yoga gave me time to work on me and have time to switch off and reflect.

Things I Couldn’t Live Without (and have learnt)

It wouldn’t be great post without sharing some of the amazing things I have used this year which has really helped me and made me survive it but also quite special.

TinyBeans – this is a great app which is an online baby journal so you upload a picture every day of your baby. I know this might sound a lot but you will probably be taking 100 photos a day anyway and then it is all in one place. The best thing is that you can invite whoever you want to see the pictures and receive the weekly email. So you don’t have to bombard social media to keep all the family happy (and your friends not so happy) but also means you can look back at the pictures and video’s over the year. They also have a handy service where you can turn them into a calendar or other things. Plus it’s free!

Baby Monitor – buying a good baby monitor is key and we got the Motorola MBP853 (which I talked about in my last blog post) but it just meant you don’t have to keep on going in and out of their room to check they are okay, plus you can take it away with you so means you can have some ‘you’ time.

High chair – We made a bit of a booboo with this one. We wanted an all singing all dancing one that would suit our kitchen and don’t get me wrong the Bloom Fresco baby chair does look great (we got it from the baby show so didn’t pay as much as £450) but in hindsight it is a pain to clean and if I could give any bit of advice, go to Ikea and get their Antilop baby chair for £15, it is perfect, easy to clean and store and that is all you really need from a high chair.

Amazon – get Amazon Prime, it is a the best money you will ever spend as with babies they change every other day and having a service that you can order and it arrives so quickly saves you so much stress and time.

Lights – babies love lights and many a time the only way we could soothe Clara was by having some lights on (or having the hairdryer app on). We got given the Summer Infant Slumber Buddy (£24.99) which she is mesmerised by still. Also Clara just got the Cloud B Tranquil Turtle which are used for the first time this morning as a sleep aid when she woke up at 5:30am and she then didn’t wake up until 7:45am (Hallelujah!!!!!)

SleepyHead – a little lifesaver for those first few months and also when we put Clara in her own room at about two months, we initially put her in this in her cot and she loved it.

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My final bit of advice is remember whatever you do defines who they are and will shape their patterns and routine, so before they get here think about what your life involves and what you can do to make it as simple as possible. For example we always have Classic FM playing when Clara goes to sleep, partly because it is quite soothing but also I didn’t want her to get used to only sleeping in a quiet environment as our lives are busy and I wanted her used to noise.

I hope this blog post has resonated with parents but also helped any parents who are either about to go on this journey or are on it to know every day gets a bit better and now I can’t wait for her to wake up every morning for those special morning smiles and cuddles.

Lauren – workingmummablog

 

 

 

 

The Pig at Combe – weekend away review

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Special memories for my first Mothers Day

So much has been going on these last few weeks and so many topics I wanted to talk about that this little gem has had to move down the list, but here it is for you to enjoy!

For a Mothers Day surprise and our last little get away before I went back to work, we escaped off to beautiful Devon to one of our favourite hotel groups The Pig which has a perfect balance of family fun and things for the adults. The Pig at Combe has 30 bedrooms with prices starting from £145 so won’t break the bank. We have been lucky to have stayed at most of them now including Bath, Studland Bay and eaten a few times at the one in the New Forest. We also stayed at The Pig before we had Clara so highly recommend it for a weekend away without the little tots too. What I love about The Pig group is they have found a perfect balance of county chic living and do promote themselves as ‘a restaurant with rooms.’ They were also great with providing lots of child friendly meal times and choices for Clara and she particularly loved all the breakfast options – like a right little super hero.

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Breakfast of champions

It took us about 2 hours to drive there from Windsor, which we timed perfectly with Clara’s nap so she slept most of the journey and so by the time we got there she was rested and it was lunch time. We checked into our room which was huge as it was a family room and had two bedrooms, our massive master room with en-suite and then a children’s bedroom with the comfiest bunk beds and an en-suite. When we often go away and stay in a hotel, we have felt really cramped and had to find a space somewhere for her cot that means we don’t have to hush around her, but here she had her own room that meant we could also have a bit of a break. I already have visions of taking her back in a few years to actually make use of the bunk beds and bring a friend, which would be so cute.

What is great about the The Pig at Combe is they have two restaurants and offer room service so you don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to. They have The Foley which offers oven baked flat breads (which Clara loved) and cake and drinks. Then the restaurant does breakfast, lunch and dinner and they are very accommodating for children. If you do have lunch or dinner at any of The Pig restaurants, make sure you order the Hock Egg (posh scotch eggs) – they are amazing!

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She loved the flat bread

One little tip I would recommend is we recently bought the Motorola MBP853 Video baby monitor (after Marlowe kindly ate the last baby monitor) and as we felt very safe there, we set up the camera and used their private wifi so we could connect to to our phones and then leave her in the room sleeping, whilst we went down for dinner and were able to watch her and get alerts if she moved or made a noise. It was so lovely to feel like we were able to have some ‘us’ time but also know our little girl was safe and in her own cot and didn’t have to move her or worry she was going to wake up mid meal.

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A bit of us time, whilst keeping an eye on Clara

I should also caveat that Clara also got a little ill whilst we were away which was a pity as there were some great family days out we were going to do and we found the website Things To Do & Family days out a real help and has over 6,000 activities around the country you can search for with a postcode. So we were going to plan some activities with her and we did manage a trip to see some of Ryan’s family in Charlestown, Cornwall which wasn’t very far either. Unfortunately, though with a little sick baby, meant we chilled out more around The Pig and walked around it’s beautiful grounds rather than venturing too far.

One little surprise Ryan did organise for me and I would highly recommend is the Potting Shed treatment options which really help with all the back aches and tired muscles from running around and picking up your little ones. Whenever we go, I normally do try and squeeze in a treatment which they do in these little sheds which are wooden and smell so fresh and amazing. With the staff dressed in outdoor walking clothes, they really do continue on the dress theme throughout with I love. I had a full body massage and felt like they worked every aching muscle and knot and I came out a new and refreshed woman!

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What is also worth mentioning is that The Pig do a great event each year called Smoked & Uncut one day festival and the one at Combe will be on the 9th September. It is a family friendly music and food festival and you can make a weekend of it or just pop in for the day, but if you can treat yourself at the end of the summer with the whole family and relax, definitely do!

Lauren – workingmummablog

All the single mums, put your hands up… you amazing human beings!

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The Guilt Fairy being a pain in the bum as always

 

I can’t begin to even understand what it is like being a single mum, let alone a working single mum, whether that has been the case from the moment you had your baby or in the time following, but whatever has led to that situation and this goes to the dads to, I am in absolute awe of you and if you don’t hear it, which I am sure happens very rarely you are amazing and should be very proud of yourselves.

The reason this has really resonated with me this last week and like I said I can’t even begin to appreciate what it is like being a single parent although one of my closest friends is and I have always admired how she has done it, had a career and just been an awesome mum. For me though and I have mentioned this before, but my husband Ryan sometimes has to travel for work and is gone pretty much the whole week. It isn’t all the time so I am lucky on that front, but this week was the first time he has gone away when I have been back at work and I am just absolutely exhausted, emotional and just need to find a bed somewhere and a switch that can turn my brain off from the million of things to do list that constantly goes round in my head.

Ryan travelled several times when I was on maternity leave and each time was really hard but eventually I got used to filling my days and having quiet evenings so I could catch up on as much sleep as possible. Which by the time I went back to work, I had got into quite a good routine with it and also had my family around me to help. Well, with now being back at work this is a whole new ballgame…

By the time I have spent a whole day at work, looking like I am balancing it all and giving off the persona that I can do it all, my real day hasn’t even started. When I think of my colleagues who don’t have children and what their evenings will entail, it feels like a foreign world, a million years ago I can somewhat remember but might also be a dream (much like my hopes for a lottery win). So I then have escaped from the office at 4:30pmish (with the guilt fairy firmly on my shoulder and telling myself a million times over that everyone in the office gets it and no one has even seen me leave). I then do a mad dash through to Clara’s nursery, swearing and cursing anyone who is just about following the speed limit or daring to let someone else in front of them. (I mean come on, we don’t all have to be nice today do we). Finally make it through to the nursery at 5:58pm, to pick up my gorgeous girl, feel guilty that I couldn’t get to her earlier to spend a little bit more time with her. Get home, feed her some of the same pasta dish she has had all week as I am worried she may starve to death (but has already had her dinner at nursery) then have bath, milk and bed.

Finally I can have some me time!! Oh no hold on it’s now 7:30pm, I need to make myself some pathetic excuse for a dinner, tidy up the trail of destruction since I have come in the house with Clara, get her bag ready for the next day, do the washing up, put a wash on and finally sit down at 8:30pm with my dinner. Quickly eat so I can crack on with some work, oh and a pile of personal admin (including spending a bit of time googling if vampires actually exist, as quite like the idea of not needing any sleep again and reminding myself that Twilight isn’t actually real), send apology whatsapps and texts to all my friends and family I have been ignoring and suddenly it’s 10:30pm and I wanted to be in bed for 10pm and can’t say I am feeling very relaxed at all. To only then begin it all again the next day when Clara wakes up at 5:30amish from her 11hour sleep, looking all refreshed and ready to take on the day and I will be lucky if I have had half of that and only wishing like her I could also have an afternoon nap!

I luckily have only had to go through this for a week every now and again but to all the single parents out there, I salute you, I will aim to support you in anyway I can through the parents I may encounter through my working life and just know when you are having a really bad day and think the world is against you, just know there is little old me over here who just thinks you are amazing and well if it was an election, you would get my vote every time.

Lauren – workingmummablog (and massive, huge, gargantuan supporter and fan of single parents)