How to look like you've got your business together at drop off


Recently Roscoe's dad told me that our boy had reached the top of the reward chart at nursery! I was shocked, not (just) because he's a little tyke who thinks he has an exemption from the rule of sharing, but because I had never heard of this chart. I was a little embarrassed, had I missed another letter? It turns out, for once, I had not. I didn't know about the chart because none of the staff had told me about it. It didn't take me long to work out why. I didn't look like a parent who would care about charts. I sloped in in the morning with sleep in my eyes and an outfit that screamed 'I woke up like this' and I guess it doesn't inspire the lovely nursery workers to keep me updated on all the classroom intracacies. It wasn't just the staff, the other parents seemed to give me a wide berth too. Don't give me that 'don't see colour' crap. My son is the only black kid in class, so I know they know who I am. It's sad really, we all know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover but the reality is when we only have the cover to go by, what else are we to use? No one is going to look at me and think, she's probably a lovely, vibrant lady with a touch of depression and a strong aversion to morning activities, let me start a convo. They're going to chat to the mum with the fabulous lippy. I needed to make a change. For my boy's sake I needed to get engaged because whilst I will never be the type of woman who makes things for the bake sales, I can look like the type of woman who might bother to show up to one.

BE SORT OF ON TIME
One major barrier to my ability to converse with staff and other parents was the whole turning up half a minute before the end of breakfast and hustling Roscoe in shouting, 'Can he still get toast?!' Naturally lateness is associated with lack of organisation and (in my opinion very wrongly) lack of organisation is associated with lack of caring. I now make an effort to show up early on a Monday, I feel like it sets the tone for the week and the tone is, I got this.

SEEM EVER SO SLIGHTLY HARASSED
Polite but brisk is the best way to describe it. No time for mindless chatter, please just pass on the key information. This might seem counter productive but it works, it's why we all have a couple of frenemies on our phone list - people are drawn to important people who have stuff going on with their lives. I remember one morning when Roscoe was a little unsettled and his key worker took him and said, 'Mummy has to go to work now.' I laughed and told her that I planned to go back to bed and she looked at me with sadness in eyes. I was actually, extremely excited about having the opportunity for a little siesta but I now understand not everyone views inactivity with the same joy I do. 

SPORTSWEAR
The thing about getting dressed is that it takes vital minutes away from snoozing. My original system was to grab the first thing that came to hand which resulted in my school run style not being very on trend. Then I discovered sportswear. Primark have a particularly jazzy range. When you wear sportswear people naturally assume you're going to do sport! People who do sport are healthy and active and motivated! Also if you're going to do sport it makes total sense that you haven't done your hair and have no make up on. 

SUNGLASSES
Is she tired? Is she hungover? Has she been weeping? No one knows because she is shielded behind a barrier of fierceness. It's probably rude to leave glasses on indoors but it's also rude to allow others to experience your haggard face. 

Since making these changes I have graduated from 'Roscoe's mummy' to my given name and Roscoe has a play date this week and it's been a wonderful experience to know that life isn't always about getting your shit together just looking like you have.

OMG I wrote a book: The Execution


What does a blogger do when they're not blogging - sleep, eat, binge watch Celebs Go Dating (have you seen it? It's wonderfully horrifying) and I have been doing all those things and more but also, I finished my book! As I mentioned I was selected for mentoring by Penguin Random House as part of their  amazing Write Now scheme. I was matched with Francesca Best, senior commissioning editor at Transworld Publishers and she pulled me through two hundred pages of fiction and this summer, you'll be able to read it! 

After writing a book I learned that a lot of people (a lot) also want to write a book, it seems it is the number one (PG) secret ambition. A few people have asked me about the process and I told them the truth: Sit down and keep typing for as long as it takes to write 100,000 words. However, as I get stuck into my second novel, I thought I should give a little more thought to how I do things and to share some of the journey because another truth about writing a novel - it's frickin' lonely. So, lets start with the basics, how I got the completed book from my head to my hands.

PREPARATION 

1) Tell people you're making time to write. You don't actually have to make time, if you've ever seen an episode of The Great British Bake Off - you have time. However, saying this out loud means that people will periodically ask you how the writing is going and if you don't actually write anything this becomes awkward.

2) Write a chapter. Following this you're allowed to ask for feedback. Many people will say your book is garbage, ignore them and plough on. 

3) Entertain dreams about how you will be published and what it will feel like. This is very unlikely to be how you will be published and it is certainly not what it will feel like, this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that dreams are amazing creativity fuel.

EXECUTION

1) Think of a title. This will not be the title. This title is very likely a steaming pile of crap but a thing isn't really a thing until it has a name. Give your book an identity. Make it real.

2) Find a very successful writer who (for whatever reason) you cannot stand. When you don't feel like you can do anymore have their words close. Dive in and remind yourself that there's room for all of us.

3) Use alcohol for the first draft, caffiene for the second and sugar for the edits. If these vices aren't your bag, you're just gonna have to run with self discipline - good luck with that. 

DELIVERY

Well, this part is new to me. My book is scheduled for release in July and I'll be learning as I go, I'd love you to join me. 


The Reinvention of Martha Ross (Not the working title) is available for pre-order.
Are you writing a book? Tell me how you did it.

To the one I'm learning to love


I've got a new routine. After nursery drop off, I head to a local coffee shop in an attempt to evade the pull of procrastination. However, when a girl has her laptop, she still has a million and one discractions at her fingertips. Yesterday, I found myself cruising around online, looking at sentimental trinkets that might convey my adoration for a special someone. The exercise left me feeling empty, I was pretty sure no one wanted to be the recipient of a gaudy mug or embarrassing keyring and I realised that my true aim was not to make someone else happy but to trigger an outpouring of affection towards me. Today, during the celebration of all things lurve, I have decided to cut out the middle man (or in this case just the man) and offer some appreciation to someone I'm learning to love - myself. 


I like that you share your stories, even the gross ones, because you know that it might help someone feel less alone

I love that you listen because you want to understand, even when the situation seems unkind or unreasonable

It's great that you try to be organised and you never stop trying in the face of repeated failure 

I adore that you sing and dance spontaneously and that you never worry about looking stupid or giving people earworms

I think it's good that you're such a low maintenance friend and that you don't let time or distance affect your bond 

When you make an effort, you have really nice handwriting

You forgive the important people and that's great

It's fab that you always have a pep talk ready 

I love that you call people out when they're treating you like crap but that it doesn't happen often because you don't often let it

It's cute that you give so many kisses to those that will let you 

I adore the joy you get from making others laugh and that you yourself laugh so easily

It's wonderful that you're willing to own up to your failings 


I't great that when you call people beautiful you mean it




Happy Valentine's, show yourself some love!
























Staying in is the new going out


The biggest night out of the year will soon upon us and I think I already know what I'll be doing this New Year's Eve. I won't be crowded around a significant monument nor will I be dancing on a table in a funky club. I'll asleep long before midnight as I have been for the past few years, because after motherhood New Year's Eve becomes just another night before a very early morning. And to be honest, I don't really miss it. I don't long for pushing crowds and triple priced taxis and, always, the heavy sense of disappointment. There are many positive things about parenthood but perhaps the most wonderful is a consistent excuse to stay at home. Still, even at home a girl's gotta have fun and this is how you do it. 

Spa  - This is all about soundtrack. For the most authentic atmosphere you can find that creepy whale music they play on Youtube but anything soft and relaxing will do. Break out the expensive bath bombs and wear your dressing gown for the evening, you'd never know you weren't in a fancy hotel. 

Cinema - Movies are all about the snacks. Get yourself some popcorn and pic n mix and it will be like having the best seats in the house. Okay, you won't get to see the latest offerings but who cares when you're free of the anxiety of rushing home to relieve the babysitter. Just make sure you eat all the treats before you start the film though. 

Bingo - My grandma introduced me to Bingo, she used to go every week. For years I didn't understand what the appeal was; then I went along with her and it was about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. But if you really want to play with your clothes off you can do it at home playing online! I don't think there could be better entertainment than one that might actually gain you money? 

Pub - The pub is just a living room you have to walk to, you can save your energy and your pennies and buy a bag of nuts and a box of wine when you do your big shop. Chuck a bit of beer on the carpet for that rich public house odour, just remember to leave quietly - the kids are asleep. 

What are your New Year's Eve plans this year?

This is a collaborative post

Christmas is here but so is Uncommon Goods

I can no longer deny it, Christmas is coming. I like the music; I love the food but the anxiety inducing part is the gifts. Generally I spend eight weeks in denial and then try and buy the perfect thing for everyone in a mad, sweaty dash, a couple of days before the big event. It's always unsatisfying and I always keep the receipts. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could find something beautiful and unique for everyone special in your life, without getting out of bed? With all the amazing goodies on offer at Uncommon goods, you can do just that. Here's a sneak peak of my favourite picks from their current selection. 


I always struggle with present ideas for the men in my life, my Dad especially, usually ends up with socks. I figure there's no reason to break tradition but this pair is both sophisticated and fun and would be a great stocking filler for any guy.



Mens Favourite City Socks 


My mum uses her mobile phone as an address book because she can never actually find it to make a call. Whenever she finally gets back to me she tells me she was out at the shops and I have to remind her that mobile's are called mobile's because they are just that. Maybe if she had a place to keep her phone, she would get more use out of it. Which is why I'm thinking this stylish phone holder would be great for her (and me) this year. 


Beside Smartphone Vase


On every night out I go on, one of my girlfriends ends up begging  me for a hair tie. That lovely blow out never seems like a shrewd move after a few turns round the dance floor. How cute is this hair tie bracelet? I'm getting one for all my girls, so they never have to wonder where all their hair ties have disappeared to.

Hair Tie Bracelet


I don't have a baby to buy for this year but can someone have one so I can give them this! I mean who doesn't want a teensy, tiny mermaid or man in the mix on Christmas day! 



Baby Mermaid Tail

For all these fabulous gifts and so many more, head to Uncommon Goods all your Christmas shopping needs. You can thank me later. 

This is a collaborative post




Avoid Getting Ripped Off With These Valuable Tips

No one wants to be taken for a mug. Spending your hard-earned money, only to find out you paid much more than you needed to, is enough to make your ears steam. You feel angry, and a bit humiliated that you were taken for a ride. Fortunately, there are ways to address is afterwards, as well as things you can do to prevent it happening in the first place.

Be Aware of Scams Firstly, be aware of the ways that people try to scam you and take your money. Some of them might be obvious emails from Nigerian princes, but others come dressed up as ways you can make money in your spare time. Watch out for scams in all their forms.

Knowledge is Power The more you know about the things you spend your money on, the more money you can save. If you don't know what you're buying, someone can easily take advantage of you. So before you spend your money, make sure you know what you're getting - from car repairs to a new computer.

Take Your Time One of the worst things you can do is rush your purchase. Companies will try to make you panic and believe you have to buy right away, but there's almost always time to make a calm decision. In fact, sometimes going away and coming back can help you save, like when you buy a car.

Bargain for a Lower Price How good are your haggling skills? If you can talk the price down on something, you certainly won't be taken for a ride. In fact, you could get the upper hand.


Infographic Design By Sunny Good Vibes

This is a contributed post

The Big to Small House Move: Apps to Help You Get Packing

If you have moved a lot in your life already, you’re probably quite savvy when it comes to packing, organising, and being as efficient as possible. Or maybe not; moving is something we tend to do with several years of preludes in between, and the amount of stuff we accumulate makes the process such a hassle every time.

Image via: Pixabay

While it’s tricky to make the most tedious part of moving easier on you, such as wrapping up all your plates and cleaning out your wardrobe, it is possible to make it lighter on your wallet. Technology is a wonderful thing, and new ones may have popped up since the last time you moved which can make your life so much more organised.

Here is a handful of the best apps and technology to help you get moving from your large home to a slightly smaller one.

Find sites to sell your stuff Discovered that you have way more stuff than you can even be bothered to bring along? Sell it, sell all of it, and do it right away through Letgo - a hyperlocal, Craigslist-style app that lets you buy and sell your stuff online. Your new place should be neat and simple, in any way, and not crowded with long-forgotten hobbies you tested out five years ago.

It’s easy to use, and you can also buy some furniture from other sellers while you’re there, in case you should discover that you need that extra side table after all.

ThredUP is another app that lets you sell whatever you can’t make use of any more, just specifically made for helping you clean out that wardrobe. Get rid of the clothes you can’t be bothered to pack as you haven’t worn them in years in any way, and you’ll be able to spend the extra cash you make on something you’d actually enjoy putting on.

Find apps for movers Now that you have mercilessly kicked out the clothes and furniture you’ve fallen out of love with, you should be left with a few neat boxes of valuables. Make sure you get the best quote on hiring a moving van through Shiply so that you’re not spending more than you have to. This site compares rates from several different moving companies to find the best option for you; just plot in the date you’d like to move, and off you go.

Luckily, they’re even focused on saving the environment by utilising spare capacity of the vehicles they have running on the roads so that you can feel a bit more confident about your move.

Test the safety of your neighbourhood You’ve probably found your new home already since it’s all about packing for the big day, but have a closer look at your destination through Crime Map for England and Wales. It makes it a lot easier to figure out the crime rates without having to call the local police station, and it shows everything from petty theft to violent crime.

Nobody wants to move to an unsafe neighbourhood, and this site is gold when you want to know a bit more about an area before moving. You should have more than enough time to do it too - since you’ve gotten rid of all that unnecessary stuff and even cleaned out your wardrobe.


This is a contributed post