Learn to Love Christmas - GIVEAWAY

I hate Xmas, lots of people do but generally they have loss and/or grief associate with this; I'm just a miserable cow. Kids love Christmas - they love the magic and the mystery; the glitter and the lights; the silly songs and (climate permitting) the hope of snow. I actually like all those things too but just not all at once. That's what I find hard, the excess of it all. I get that too many minces pie feeling in November. But I got a kid now and what is motherhood but faking enjoyment? So here's how I plan to learn to love Christmas.

Decorate - Acknowledge the season with a few subtle touches at home, you don't need to dive in with a life sized Santa straight away, these days you can get pieces so lovely you'll want them up all year. Hema have some really cute and quirky Christmas decorations but check out Homesense for things you'll look forward to getting out every year.

Be giving - The end of the year is a great time for a clear out. I don't know about you but I get so much satisfaction from sorting out a much neglected drawer. You can give all the stuff you don't need to charity to remind yourself and your children what the yuletide is really about. Smart Works donates high quality interview clothes to women in need and keep your local toy library going with your no longer loved play things.

Be rebellious - My favourite Christmas was probably the year that I ran away to Goa, it felt so cheeky eating a lamb curry in the blazing sun. Sometimes Christmas can start to merge into one big festive fuzz but when you break the rules you create a holiday to remember. For an escape the kids will give a big thumbs up to try CentreParcs.

Start a tradition - It wasn't until I started writing this post that I realised I already have a Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve I stay in bed and watch a full season of Sex and the City; that's what's important to remember - traditions aren't about the time of year, they're about you. So have a make your own pizza night on Christmas Eve or host a silly socks contest. I'll probably switch out Sex and the City for a more child friendly film fest, no Christmas movies allowed. 

The best way to beat Christmas stress is to get organised so I'm giving away an Organised Mum life book diary. It's changed my life, let it change yours. Head back next Tuesday for another post and another giveaway - see I do love Christmas :)

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Make up therapy - GIVEAWAY (UK & IRELAND)

My relationship with make up is like  a bell curve (okay Mrs Bates, I did use it). When I'm feeling really down, like Orange is the New Black, season 4 finale, low, I wear no make up. There doesn't seem to be a point, in anything, let alone lip liner. When I'm feeling okay, I like to stick on some slap; I'm motivated to cover up some of the dodgier bits of my mug. When I feel really, really good; I'm talking Beyonce level fierce, which is rare but it has happened, I go bare faced again because why do I need it? I'm fabulous already.

Make up often gets a bad rep, it's seen as silly and frivolous and ridiculously overpriced. I agree with the latter but I for one, do not think the investment is a waste. Most women have a very personal history with make up but for some of us it's a genuine form of support. Here's how I use make up as my own personal therapist. 

EXHAUSTION: Make up took on a whole new meaning when after motherhood. It's bad enough spending every day feeling like you could fall asleep standing, without everyone pointing out how exhausted you look. There are some amazing concealers and highlighters that can help you reconstruct eight hours. 

YSL TOUCHE ECLAT is the original and the best but I also like SLEEK LUMINAIRE HIGHLIGHTI for a cheap as chips alternative. 

LOW CONFIDENCE: Nothing says 'I'm a strong independent woman' like a strong lip. Let's be honest it was Candace Brown's lips that was the real winner of Bake Off. The great thing about a brilliant lipstick is you barely have to bother with anything else. Jeans, T shirt, messy bun and bright red lips - so French chic darling. 

MAC RUBY WOO is a gorgeous, brick red lipstick. It's matte look gives it a really retro, film star quality. If that doesn't float your boat something from MAX FACTORS THE MARILYN MONROE LIPSTICK COLLECTION will. 

FUGLINESS: I think if you're feeling low on self esteem, it's all in the eyes. Go for something that will make you feel all fluttery and girly and like bluebirds are waiting to help you hang out your washing. 

If you haven't tried THEY'RE REAL! PUSH UP LINER today is the day. This is the only product that I have been able to get that flicky, sexy liner look with. It's sister product THEY'RE REAL LENGTHENING MASCARA makes my eyes water but I imagine they're a powerful combination. I've never been able to get the hang of falsies but now I've found JML MAX LASH FIBRE LASH EXTENSION MASCARA (yes the mop people!) I won't have to.

DISORGANISATION: When I'm low my ability to organise is the first thing to go and it isn't that hot in the first place. When I need to feel put together, I always paint my nails. Go for glossy, grown up colours for that, I'm busy and important vibe. 

I fell in love with CHANEL ROUGE NOIR when I was fifteen but I still can't afford it so MAYBELLINE COLOR SHOW BURGUNDY KISS makes an effective alternative.

I'm giving away a tube of my favourite red lippy - Mac Ruby Woo. To win leave me a comment and let me know your favourite part of your makeup routine and/or watch the video below and let a comment to let me know something about your everyday routine.


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Cuddle Fairy
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Don't have kids, do this instead

There are a few people who read my blog who don't have children. I don't know why they read or maybe I do. Maybe, like I did, they are searching for an answer, an answer to the age old question - should I have kids? If you have the means to do it and you are standing on a cliff edge, looking down into the sea of parenthood then just jump; I promise you will not regret it. I have worked with vulnerable families for many years and have only met one woman who regretted having her child and even she regretted her circumstances and not the adorable boy she was raising.

I didn't always think like this, a few weeks after my son was born, when I reentered the world of adults, many people took me aside and asked, should I do it? Exhaustion is real people and at the time I told them, 'No. Unless you feel a burning, unshakable need, do not destroy your life in this ridiculous manner.' Whilst I don't necessarily think this way now, I don't think you have to have a child to reap all the benefits that having one can bring. If you are a child free reader looking for answers consider this one - don't have kids, do this instead. 

PLAY It's hard to take life too seriously when a toddler is trying to convince you that Sainsburys is a good place to get naked. I've probably laughed more in the last three years than I have in the all the years previously. Adulthood is filled with so many responsibilities - work, bills, chores. Having a child reminds you that even with all these things there's always time to be present and have fun. I don't think it's a coincidence that in motherhood I have become my most creative; I think when we're playing we move closer to our truest self. So run, skip, shout, dance in your kitchen; forget about being a grown up for a bit, stop pretending and just be.

GET UP EARLY Number one in the top ten of parenting complaints is the fact that kids aren't partial to a lie in. I love my bed, I love my bed more than some people and yet I have created a situation in which everyday I must leave it long before I'm ready. Here's the thing though, nothing gets done whilst you're asleep - your novel doesn't get written, your body doesn't get exercised, your dreams don't get initiated. Get up and get out, the world is waiting for you to show up. 

COMMIT When you have a child you have no choice but to commit. There is no waving a white flag and calling it quits when it all gets too hard and believe me it gets hard. This, in my opinion, is probably the most wonderful thing about parenthood. Little is more affirmative than tenacity and it's the things we hold on to tightest that flourish the most. So make a decision to commit to the things you care about whether it be your relationships or your audacious ambitions. You will not regret the time and effort if you put in everything you've got - for eighteen years at least.

LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY My son was the first thing I have ever loved without ever expecting anything in return and it was wonderful to love so freely. Cherishing things in this way means never feeling left down and never feeling your care is wasted. The other thing I found was it was easier, far easier than all the unspoken negotiations of my other relationships. Choose to love others unconditionally and the irony is that you will get back more than you could ever imagine. 

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7 things I miss about my marriage

I said I probably wasn't going to write about my separation because my ex was all, hashtag boundaries but I'm going to bend the rules a little because this isn't really about us, it's about me. It's about the little losses I'm feeling right now, aftershocks following the earthquake. And it's also about you, if you have a partner it's a reminder to stay present and look after the little things because if you're very lucky, the big things will look after themselves. 

A COLD CUP OF TEA On mornings when I was struggling with the whole life thing my husband would bring me a cup of tea in bed, a caffeinated nudge and a small act of love. Almost always I would fall right back to sleep and wake thirty minutes later to something cold and film covered. This was the best bit, knowing that someone cared for me enough to make me tea that I would forsake. 

SITTING IN SILENCE WITH SOMEONE I'm an introvert of sorts, I love people but I do find the experience of interaction draining sometimes. For a person like me it is wonderful to be with someone and feel no pressure to say or be anything. 

MY SNACKS GOING MISSING My ex is a very healthy eater, I am not. The cupboards were a food war with quinoa jostling up against Monster Munch. Sometimes I would come home to find that my biscuits had been snaffled or a Terry's Chocolate Orange had found its way out of the fridge. I take a slightly sick pleasure out of corrupting people and it saved me some calories. 

TEN MINUTES Raising toddlers is like living through a storm, you try and plan for it but you really have no idea what destruction will ensue. Having someone to whom you can say, please just take the child so I can pee/get milk/stand in the garden and cry, well that's shelter from the storm. 

POCKETS Why don't chicks clothes have pockets? Infuriatingly many of them tease you with fake pockets. Sometimes you don't have a bag that goes with your outfit and you need somewhere for your phone and your lip balm, that somewhere was my husband.

WORK ANGST ABSORPTION No one cares about the petty dramas of your working day except the people that work with but you can't talk to them about it because that would be like, so unprofessional. Your partner is contractually obliged to pretend to care about that nonsense and now I'm practically bursting with unexpressed office angst; so if anyone wants to hear about what Dave turned 'round and said to me on my last shift, drop me a line. 

SNORING My husband snored sometimes (all the time but he'll want me to play it down). It was so annoying. Sometimes I'd go to bed first praying I would be unconscious before the evening's snuffling commenced, I never was. Now I miss the steady rhythm of the sound, like nature's white noise machine, reminding me that even in the dark, even in his sleep, he was always there. 

If you are going through a separation or divorce here's a video what I did on how we're trying to co-parent positively.

Women I love writing about separation: 
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