The Preparation Has Begun!

It was around this time last year that I had just finished our Christmas shopping.  Lets be clear this was only because of the timing of the arrival of #6, there was no way I was going to be worrying about Christmas presents after having a baby.  I wanted to be at home, snuggled with my new addition so I got my bum in gear and by the end of October everything was wrapped and ready!

I don’t think for a minute that I am going to be that organised again this year, as I don’t have the same drive (or finances!) but I have to admit that I am feeling quite smug after a shopping trip today.

My eldest has a massive make-up addiction and is contantly showing me new products that she just must have!  Now I blame myself for her expensive taste as I told her right from the begining of her new found love never to buy cheap make-up, always buy a good quality products that are kind to your skin.  My mum used to work as a make-up consultant for Estee Lauder when she was younger so she taught me the value of good quality make-up and I felt that this was worth passing on!  Financially I don’t think I thought this through.

As the mum of 3 girls, this could potentially be very expensive.   Ok, my younger 2 aren’t old enough to worry about make-up other than a little bit of tinted lip balm but my eldest is completely obsessed with all the high end brands and last year she discovered Cosmetic Advent Calenders. We were however a bit late to the party and everywhere had sold out, so this year I’m on it.

They range from the quite reasonable £15 to the totally ridiculous £300 and beyond. It seems everyone is jumping on the wagon now with M & S offering a make-up and skin care calendar for £35 (available from 9th Nov), John Lewis have one which contains both full and travel sized products for £149 (available now), Charlotte Tilbury offers one for £150 (available in stores from 5th Oct) and Jo Malone has one (exclusive to Harrods from Nov) for £300.

Some of the best ones I’ve found have to be the Benefit calendar (exclusive to Debenhams) for £34.50 (available from 11th Nov) and my favourite Decleor which offer 3 full sized products inside for £65 (available now).

 

My oldest daughter would love any of these but the main problem I have (aside from the price!) is that half the products in them she wouldn’t need. Anti-wrinkle cream for a 13 year old? Night cream? And they’re not suitable for my younger girls.

But, I found this lovely calendar in Superdrug, which is perfect for younger girls. It’s has 6 mini lip glosses, 6 mini nail polishes, 6 mini eye shadows and 6 lip and cheek tints, and it’s on offer (as at 24/09/17) for £8 instead of £16! Perfect, it’s not massively expensive, doesn’t have inappropriate make-up in and they will feel “all grown up” for having make-up.

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For my older daughter, I’m going to make my own calendar for her, that way I know she is getting the products she will actually use/want and it (hopefully) won’t cost the earth. I’m going to be cheeky and ask at make-up counters for any testers and put in make-up remover, blenders and cotton wool pads – A win, I think!

 

The Fun Bus

Our family car, well mini bus I guess, our trustee 9 seater – The Fun Bus! This is how we travel around as a family of 8, and I have to be honest, I couldn’t love it more.

We’d always had a 7 seater which yes gives you the physical space for bottoms, but actually there is no extra space for bags, buggies and those ever growing legs. Whilst the children were toddlers there was no problem putting them in the back seats as they didn’t need any leg room, but once they hit 5/6 years old we struggled for space.

It was a blessing (although not actually at the the time) when our trustee S-Max died. I had been telling Mr H that we could do with a bigger car for a while but finances didn’t stretch that far at the time.

Mr H found our new car, the Ford Tourneo and it instantly made life so much easier. It has 9 individual seats which means that no arms or legs touch so no one shouts “she touched me”, well not as much anyway.  It has armrests, air vents above each seat, sliding doors, loads of space and plenty of leg room. The best bit – the boot! It is enormous and I don’t even have to fold the buggy up to put it in, I just lift in it!  I cannot tell you how much easier this makes my life.

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The downside, parking. The height restrictions in car parks means that we can’t get in all car parks so we have to check the height limit first. We always try and park in a parent and toddler car parking space to give us the most room at the supermarket.

And so the Fun Bus was born, yes it really is a bus full of fun! The children love it, no one seems to be embarrassed by it (yet!). It’s taken us on many road trips, ferried children to parties, and we always have plenty of seats for extra children to come round after school!

When Do The Chocolate Buttons Come Out?

You’ve lovingly prepared purees and healthy meals giving your baby the best quality food and ingredients.  Avoiding sugars and all the sweet treats, but when do you introduce chocolate to your baby/child?

The official line is that no chocolate should be given to babies under 1 years old.  Once they reach 1 they can tolerate small amounts of white chocolate because it has less caffeine in however it’s high sugar content doesn’t really make it an ideal snack.

With my first child, I think he was two and a half before I even thought about giving him chocolate, he was perfectly happy with his dried fruit!  He had no idea that such things as chocolate even existed, so why rock the boat?  I have to be honest, as we have added children #2, #3, #4, #5 and now #6 I’m sure they had chocolate before my firstborn, purely because the others were having it (and lets be honest we’re a little bit more relaxed the more children we have!).

I think the time to introduce chocolate is when a child is old enough to be bribed with it, that’s when it has a use in my life, such as potty training!  White chocolate buttons were my tool of choice for potty training all of my children, and it really did work.  Whilst they were small enough for me to have control over what they ate, they saw chocolate and sweets as a treat or reward.

My oldest son doesn’t like chocolate, whether this has anything to do with the fact that he ate very little as a toddler, I don’t know, probably just a coincidence.  My middle son loves chocolate but won’t eat any gummy or chewy sweets, completely crazy!

When did you decide to give your children chocolate?

Tag-Team Parenting

Me and Mr H are seriously outnumbered by our children and when we go out we really do have to have eyes everywhere.  I have been known to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 to check we have everyone before leaving! Back to the real world of packed lunches, school run and house work I sat thinking about our holiday.

We had our own villa and pool which was perfect, however it was far from “baby friendly” so with a 10 month old rolling around everywhere we were on constant watch to keep him safe.  There were hard marble floors (great for speed army crawling), doors leading out on to balconies, steps and high drops leading down to the pool. We had to make sure that there was always someone with Milo to keep him safe, obviously we do this at home but there are places where we can leave him at home (jumperoo, play pen) where he’s safe.

Mr H is a very hands-on Dad and I very rarely have to parent glare at him (yes it’s a real thing) to get him to help out.  We have this unspoken arrangement where we tag-team parent. We naturally share the parenting of all the children, sometimes he’d be with the younger ones whilst I was occupied with the older ones and vice verse. This just happens, no discussion, we just do.  Not just when we’re out and about but in everyday life.

If I’m doing school pick up and Mr H comes home from work, he’ll start preparing tea (no I’m not organised enough to have already done it!) We share football training duties and taxi-ing the children to friends, we alternate putting the children to bed and reading books, we definitely share the parenting responsibilities and I have to be honest some things he does better than me!

I think this is the secret to our 22 year partnership, surviving six children, being completely outnumbered and still being relatively sane.  I am only one person, with one set of hands and I can only be stretched so far but with Mr H around and our tag-team style parenting we get to share the best (and worst) of all of our six children and keep our sanity at the same time.

What’s the parenting balance like in your house?

Buried In Clothes

One thing about having a large family is the amount of clothing that we have floating around. Not just waiting to be washed or put away but also clothes that children have grown out of.

I find doing the washing really satisfying and am quite organised, but tend to shuffle piles of clean washing around for a few days before actually putting it away. I start with good intentions. I get up and sort the clothes on my bed ready to put away and then seem to forget all about them! They’re still there when I go to get in bed, I move them back on to the floor and repeat this for a few days usually until someone asks for a clean school t-shirt!

It’s the clothes that the children have grown out of that is the problem.  It’s a full time job keeping their wardrobes sorted out.  Children grow so quickly out of clothes, nothing seems to get worn so the clothes are still in great condition.  I keep anything that can be used again for younger children, and that’s a lot of clothes!

We are drowning in clothes; we have bin bags in the garage, piles of clothes in the bottom of wardrobes, bags of clothes that we have no one to grow into, clothes which I have no use for but just can’t bring myself to part with and clothes that I’m going to be creative with and turn into something else!

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So now I’m on a mission to completely cull the clothes in our house. I am going to donate, sell and re-home anything that isn’t being worn. I’ve put some of the designer clothes on Ebay to make a little bit of money (to buy more!) and this is great, if you can be bothered to package and post the clothes.  Car boots are great as well but I find that I buy just as much as I sell and the weather’s not that great at the moment.

Having a good clear out is very therapeutic and it’s always great to clear a bit of space with an ever expanding family isn’t it.  What do you do with clothes that your children have outgrown?

A Little Bit Lost

The children are all back at school and slowly we are getting back into a routine of the fun things again, packed lunches, school run and homework.  It’s bitter sweet because it’s nice to have a bit more structure to the week but to be honest, I’ve been completely lost without them.

Looking back over our summer holidays, it was probably the best one we’ve had since our first born started school 10 years ago.  We had days out, days at home, days doing nothing and crazy days.  Mr H was off for 4 weeks of the holidays as he’s fractured his back, and it was wonderful (him being off not fracturing his back!).  We had precious one-one time with each of the children and crazy fun family time together.   Late nights, lazy mornings and no clock watching!

Yes, I have a baby to look after and 101 things that I should be doing, the house should be sparkling, but somehow I am feeling just a little bit lost.  I feel as anxious and sad about them all going to school as I did on their first day!  I’m back to trying to ask the right questions to find out what they’ve been up to at school and the older ones are bogged down with homework when they get home.

I know that this will all become ‘normal’ life again in a flash, but for now it’s a really strange place to be.

Am I the only crazy in the bunch or does anyone else feel in no man’s land?

 

 

 

 

Back To School Resolutions

The summer holidays are well and truly over and normal business is resumed. Every new school year I promise myself I’ll be more organised and be a better mum so this year I decided to make some resolutions.

Like resolutions I’ve made in the past, I’m not sure they’ll last but it’s the thought that counts isn’t it?!

-Laugh more
-Shout less
-Tell them I’m proud
-Give an extra kiss
-Read more books together
-Try to say “yes” instead of “in a minute” more-Meal plan
-Accept that families argue
-Stress less
-Try and drink hot tea
-Be thankful
-Use my expensive make up
-Eat less
-Move more
-Bed hair, don’t care
-Don’t fuss about untidiness
-Spend time snuggled in blankets watching the stars
-Embrace the sand instead of sitting on the stones
-Get uniform out the night before
-Be the mum that rocks!

It’s Ok To Have A “Meh” Day

We've all had one of these days haven't we? It's a lovely sunny day outside and your life is skipping along quite nicely, no dramas, you've nothing major to complain about yet you feel like you got caught in the rain (usually on the school run!) and you're soaked through to your knickers.

You don't want to get out of bed. You don't want to tidy up (again). You don't want to cook tea. You don't want to move off the sofa. You don't want to make polite conversation. Sometime life and all it's hectic day to day 'things' makes you feel a bit off. These are the days when we should be kind to ourselves and prioritise what's important for that day. It's ok to not hoover or dust and this is why we have fishfingers and chips in the freezer.

There's much more awareness today about mental health and depression. I have suffered with post-natal depression so I'm well aware of how it can make you feel and am always very conscious of my mental wellbeing. There is a difference between "meh" days and "meh" weeks or months.

Getting out of the house to walk the dog or to do the school run can actually make you feel better. Having something to occupy you can change the day. The benefits of being active and in the fresh air have been widely reported. Sometimes you just need to indulge the 'meh' day and give in, be kind to yourself and do as little as is possible. Tomorrow is another day where you'll feel differently and unfortunately, unless you have a fairy godmother, all your household chores will still be there!

The best medicine I think, a cup of tea and gossip with your friends (even better if there's cake) because there's no one in this world that hasn't had a "meh" day!