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The Year That Was 2017

The Year That Was 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great evening, whether you decided to celebrate or not. If you’ve been on social media over the last few days, you will have seen an abundance of 2017 round-ups, highlights and #2017bestnine. We all love bit of self-reflection don’t we? Some of us will gush about buying a house, having babies or getting married. Others will reflect on their own personal journey, the people they’ve met and the things they’re grateful for. Either way, it’s a great thing to do, to keep yourself in check (and of course set some new goals for the coming year, if that’s your bag!)

It’s easy to forget that we all portray our best moments on social media, rather than the good, the bad and the ugly (even if we don’t mean to.) We shouldn’t compare our own reality to the highlight reel of our peers.  There will be some years that are naturally quieter and that doesn’t mean it’s been a bad time, or we haven’t achieved anything; we can’t always have huge, exciting milestones every year, after all.

Here are my top moments from the year that was 2017!

Skógafoss, Iceland
Skógafoss, Iceland

2017 Highlights

Travelling to Iceland.  Both myself and Ashley turned 30 this year and we celebrated by doing something we’ve wanted to do for some time, but as parents of a young child, never thought we would, with a long weekend in Iceland. It was truly out of this world (seriously, it felt like another planet at times), dreamy and lovely to spend some time just the two of us (and then bring B to bed with us as soon as we got home, four nights later!)

Christmas. I realise Christmas happens every year, but this year just felt truly magical. B is nearly six now and totally gets it. It was so beautiful to see him completely immerse himself in the festivities and count down the days until Santa arrived. We had a perfect few lazy days at home before the big day to get him excited too!

Career changes. At the start of 2017, I was three months into a new job role and now as we start 2018, I’m three months away from a completely different career path and starting my own business. I thought I’d be in that job for a while, however sometimes things change unexpectedly; but I believe that everything happens for a reason and I’m excited for the journey ahead!

Friendships. I feel like my circle of friends has got stronger and smaller with my closest pals and expanded in others; I have a whole new set of people in my life with the school mums, reconnected with old friends and made other friends along the way too.

Brighton

Days Trips. We’ve had some great days out as a family and I’ve had lovely Mummy Dates with my boy, including an unexpectedly warm trip to Brighton in February, visiting the farm with friends, a day out at Legoland, ice skating, queuing up at the Lego Store & indulging at M&M World and seeing the animals at Port Lympne Safari Park. I’m very much a homebody, but days out near or far from home make a welcome change!

Lego Store, Leicester Square

Bruno Mars. I was extremely lucky when Ashley surprised me with VIP tickets to see Bruno Mars at The O2 in April. It was hands down the best show I’ve ever been to. If you ever get the chance to see Bruno Mars live, you must go!

B completed his first year of school. He’s come on leaps and bounds in just a year and the fact he can just read now still blows my bloody mind. (And it also makes it really difficult to communicate by spelling words out to your husband that you don’t want your child to hear!)

So, here we are. 2018; I can still remember celebrating the turn of the millennium and it doesn’t feel that long ago, if I’m honest! Is this what my dad means when he says he still feels 21?!

Bring on the next 12 months!

A Day Trip to Brighton

A Day Trip to Brighton

I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment when I first fell in-love with Brighton.

I’m sure we must have ventured to the pebbled beach as a family during my childhood. Perhaps it was when I was old enough to jump on a train with my friends in my teenage years though, that I truly became enamored with the seaside city.

You can’t deny that the area very much caters for tourists. Fortunately though, it still has it’s quirks and has a great atmosphere, that is still ever-present, despite the massive increase in popularity over the last few years. I love the eclectic people, shops and cafes; the creativity; the sound of the sea.

We have friends who have made the move from South London to Brighton, which might have tempted me in previous years, but I do wonder if living there, the novelty would eventually wear off and that’s not something I want to risk.

B has visited Brighton once or twice before, but at under an hour away, I’m not sure why I’ve not taken him again sooner. There’s something available for people of all ages, but I can’t deny that this place seems extra special when you are, or are with, a kid!

The Easter Holidays

We smashed our first day together over the easter break with a Mummy Date in Brighton. There was lots of scooting along the promenade, fish and chips, exploring the pier, throwing stones in the sea, hot fresh donuts (my fave!) and an obligatory trek around the lanes. We lucked out with the weather too. It was meant to be overcast, but it ended up being warm and sunny enough for bare arms and legs!

For my little train enthusiast, every moment of our commute was exciting too.

For me, the vibrant colours everywhere and the amazing views, make it an absolute dream to photograph and edit.












Having Fun (and Relaxing!) During Half Term

Having Fun (and Relaxing!) During Half Term

The last half term holiday seems like a distant memory now. Quickly approaching though, is the Easter break; I can almost smell the chocolate Mini Egg Shredded Wheat nests! Mmm. The last school break was the first one since starting school in September, that I had the whole week off with B too. I knew we’d both want to get outside, have some adventures and visit some new places. I also knew that I didn’t want to go back to work feeling like I’d burnt the candles at both ends, having missed the opportunity for me to relax too.

And that’s the trouble with being a working parent. Unless you have a term-time only job, even the most generous of holiday allowances at work doesn’t cover all of the breaks that children have from school. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never take a ‘random’ week off of work anymore. It’s always going to be well thought out and planned around school holidays. I could take a week off during term-time. But that would be one less week with my son and that’s not something I want to give up.

The week leading up to half term, was spent brainstorming places we could go and things we could do. I wanted to get this fun and adventure vs. relaxing and chilling equilibrium, just right. I read my favourite parenting blogs for inspiration, Googled local places and made lists. Before I knew it, we had an abundance of places we could go to; city farms, soft plays centres, London parks, museums, attractions et al.

As it turns out, we didn’t use the list much. I realised that we didn’t have to spend money and go further afield to have fun; there was much more that we could do that was on our doorstep. It’s no secret that we don’t get to do much together Monday – Friday, as I don’t get to do the school pick-up. There’s lots of simple things we did over half term that many people would normally do during the week. Perhaps they may take those activities for granted, but for us, it was perfect.

Simple Half Term Activities

Joining the library. We read lots of books together at home. B will always get some for his birthday and Christmas. Now that he’s able to read, I thought it was time to strike while the iron’s hot and get him his own library card. He loves books and learning new things right now! It took a matter of minutes to sign-up. I can remember a librarian visiting our class when I was at primary school. She told us that libraries were one of the only things in the world that were free and that really stuck with me!

Leicester Square. After watching a documentary about the new Lego Store in Leicester Square a few months ago, we (my mum, my sister and I) thought it would be the perfect time to take B to explore it. As it turns out, so did lots of other families, as there was a queue to get in at 10:30am! Luckily it moved quickly and B spent most of his time looking at a crane that was working on a nearby building or being placated with food (parenting rule #no.1: always come armed with snacks.) B spotted the Nickelodeon Store and M&M World opposite, so no prizes for guessing where we went after lunch at Jamie’s Diner? We all spent too much money on M&M’s and marveled at just how many things you could get SpongeBob’s face on. Plates, bowls, bags, hats, onesies, t-shirts, purses, lunchboxes, water bottles, dressing gowns, straws…

The Cinema. A trip to the cinema is a half term must. We went to the first showing of the day to see the Lego Batman Movie. That meant it was only half full and those that were there had kids around the same age, so I didn’t feel guilty about B talking or rustling his popcorn! (And, surprisingly, I enjoyed the movie too!)

Ice Skating. For the last month or so, something (on Netflix, no doubt) has sparked an interest in ice-skating in my nearly five-year-old son. He has been wanting to go for weeks, so we finally booked tickets. B thought he’d be able to “just push, push, glide” but it was a lot trickier than he thought. We hired a penguin for half an hour though, which meant he could use it to steady himself, or I could whizz him around on it. We managed a few laps just holding hands after our time with the ice-skating aid was up. Much to my surprise (and fear for those little fingers!) he only fell a couple of times!

The rest of our week was filled with trips out for coffee, playing games at home and going out for lunch or visiting the park. Here’s to the next half term (and hoping I can achieve this balance again, like a boss!)

A Cold & Frosty Morning

A Cold & Frosty Morning

So far, 2017, has had more than a frosty morning or two. We’ve had short, dark days. Days where it’s so cold that my car engine just says, “Not today, thank you.” Days where I’m not even sure the sun made it’s way into the sky! It hasn’t been a terrible start or any different to the beginning of previous years in the UK, but I guess I always forget how grim winter is, until I’m living it.

However, it’s also been party central in our household. And I don’t mean myself or Ashley demolishing a few bottles of wine, or debauched nights out out. I mean our son; our four-year old son who has a better social life than us.

Excellent.

There are classmates that he mentions regularly and seeing the way he interacts with his peers, is something I adore. It’s lovely to see for myself, the friendships that B’s formed since he started to school and it’s not something I get to see all that often.  Working full-time means I’m not always there waiting for him at the school gate or interacting with other parents, so kids parties are a great way for me to put names to adult faces too!

I’ve come to realise, that amidst all the socialising, sometimes, you just need a bit of mummy-and-son time. It’s these little, seemingly insignificant times away from it all, that make up the bigger picture and create memories.

A Frosty Morning Date in the Park

B was given this bubblegun months ago, when a family friend was clearing out her cupboards at home. She said he could give it to his school, who were collecting bits for the Christmas fair at the time, or keep it for himself he really wanted to. If you’re going to give a child a choice like that, it’s only going to end one way. And so naturally, he chose the latter!

On our first party-free weekend of the year, we ventured to our local park. It’s a bit of a hidden gem and is nearly always empty. It was cold. And it was a frosty morning. The bubble solution ran out quicker than you could say, “Stop just shooting bubbles at the floor!” But he didn’t care. And he was having so much fun running around being a superhero, that neither did I. We even discovered some woods that we didn’t know where there— something we’re planning to return to and explore at another time!






Mummy Dates and The Work/Life Balance Saga

Mummy Dates and The Work/Life Balance Saga

In September last year, B started school and a week later, I went back to working full-time. At the end of a busy week of school runs and learning to read, the weekend is very much welcomed for us both! It’s refreshing to spend time together that doesn’t involve a battle to get dressed or teeth brushed. Those precious weekend days can be as slow, fast, adventurous or as lazy as you like.

However, it’s also my time to catch up on things that I haven’t had a chance to do during the rest of the week. Think washing school uniform, tidying up or other boring errands. I’m a bit of a stickler for housework these days, it’s true. That’s something my teenage-self would laugh at while tripping over my floordrobe. Even when I started living with my husband at age twenty-two, we’d let our flat slip into disarray all too often. Pregnancy completely changed me though and I’ve never grown out of that cursed nesting phase!

“A place for everything, everything in it’s place.” — Benjamin Franklin

I don’t live in a show home by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there’s two loads of clean washing sitting on my dining room table right now, waiting to be put away! But I do find it really hard to get on with my day, if I know our home isn’t in the best shape. I can’t relax knowing that the kitchen’s in a state or my son’s sprayed the bathroom sink with his toothpaste. This is the year I need to let go though and find a happy medium, so I can spend more quality time with my boy (before he becomes too cool to hang out with his mum.)

A coffee date

Last Saturday was a horrible, dark, rainy day so we didn’t get much further than Costa. Luckily, it’s one of B’s favourite past times though. We had cheese toasties, hot drinks and sweet treats and caught up on his week at school. We chatted a lot about ‘Home Alone’ and recited all of the things Kevin does to the ‘baddies’. There were cuddles on the sofa and snuggles under the blanket when we got home. He hasn’t quite managed to shrug off Christmas, so we watched festive favourite ‘Home Alone 2’ too. And then, before bedtime he told me, “You’re the best Mummy I’ve ever had. I love you all the way to Jupiter.” It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

So, it doesn’t always have to be wild, adventurous days. Sometimes a coffee with your son and his best teddy, is the key to being the best mum in the world.

This post was inspired by Louise Pentland’s Mummy Dates Project 2017. If you’re a mumma, you should join in too!