Should I cut my four year old's hair?



Should I have cut my nearly 4 year old hair?? Some people think I'm odd for never taking her to the hairdressers (Including her dad!) - Kate 


The cliché of motherhood that I have found to be the truest is that it all goes so incredibly fast and the pace is made even more disorientating by the fact that there is so much to take in. You're changing daily, the kid is changing nightly; it became so intense at one point, I thought I was going to wake up to be greeted by Tom Hanks in a babygro. 

The worst thing about this is that we encourage it. Societal pressure and the inbuilt desire to see out children succeed sees us pushing the tot towards the next milestone with dogged determination - no sooner have they rolled we want them to crawl, they crawl we need them to walk and when it happens we sigh with relief, instead of bidding a fond farewell to the immobile days. 

What does this have to do with hair? Everything. Don't feel weird, hair is an amusingly common source of angst for mothers. I've known friends to cry hot, angry tears over some unwitting relative doing them a 'favour' by giving their cherub a trim, even when the tot was literally blinded by their overgrown fringe. For many of us, never is too soon for the first hair cut. 

My personal belief is because this is the only thing that we can leave unchanged without feeling like we're holding our child back. Those long locks are the very last piece of evidence that your baby is still your baby, in fact the hair on the end of those tresses is the very same hair that you stroked as you fed and comforted your newborn. 

Sometimes I think the early days is a bit scary for the parent that isn't the primary caregiver, particularly when a mother is breastfeeding. It's such an intense relationship, I imagine it can feel a bit isolating for the old man to be reduced to an in house jester/pizza delivery service. As your daughter has become older his role has been able to grow and solidify and become something just as special and unique as the one you have with her. I might be going a bit Freud here but it would make sense to me that he is eager to get rid of the last vestige of those baby days. 

So are you odd - no. Should you cut it. In my opinion yes. Partly because, who has time to braid three feet of hair every morning? And also because it's important for you to know that however high she grows and however far she roams, she will always be your baby. 

Kate makes the most darling handcrafted creatures over at her shop Grace and the Monkey


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photo credit: ~ spa day ~ via photopin (license)

Mission Acceptance - Accept another way


Last Sunday I asked my friend Adele to make me my favourite dessert - a beautifully light tiramisu made with lots of love and lashings of booze. She instantly agreed and added that she was pleased that I as finally asking for help. I was confused. Do I not reach out to others? If anything I thought I asked too much. I'm the non driver always bagging a lift; the the technophobe getting some poor soul to talk me through yet another iphone update but I'm open to suggestions and if I needed to try asking for a helping hand or two I was going to accept that. The mission was to ask someone for help everyday. It felt like quite an easy one, I pictured a week of lovely smiling minions carrying my bag. 

I went through day one feeling great but I try as I might I couldn't find a single person willing to give me a hand. It's not like I was crying in a ditch or anything but no one was rushing to my aid at any point. The second day continued in much the same vein, I'd all but abandoned the mission when a man stopped me as I was bouncing Roscoe's buggy up some inconveniently located steps, 'Can I help you?' he asked. I was just about to wave him away when I stopped myself and gratefully allowed him to grab hold of the bottom of the buggy. To be honest it was pretty awkward and I spent the whole time anxious that the dude was gonna do his back in. This help malarkly wasn't all it was cut out to be. 

The next day I decided to be creative and asked a friend to help me organise a night out. He did great, picking a fab venue and starting to spread the word but instead of feeling grateful I felt a bit antsy; I didn't just want to sit by a helpless bystander. I wanted to be in on the action. Despite asking for help I muscled in and started contacting people myself. I was the worst helpee in the world. 

I was getting frustrated with myself. I couldn't ask for help if my life depended on it and then I thought maybe that's what I have to accept. It was quite wonderful really, I've always thought of myself as a little bit hapless and really quite needy, it was quite a revelation to know that maybe I had some stuff together, it takes strength to ask for help but it also takes strength to get up, get out and get it done all by yourself. 


If you want to join Mission Acceptance you can sign up here.

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My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows






Mission Acceptance - Accept you have it easy


Last week I was in a funk, not the good Chaka Khan kind but the rubbish 'woe is me' kind so I decided to make my mission about counting my many blessings or at least one. Unlimited access to clean and most importantly hot water. 

New mothers talk a lot about showering, partly because it's one of the first things to fall by the wayside after a baby takes over your life. As an aside I am so annoyed I didn't just leave the kid in a baby bouncer and shower for hours at time because now I have one episode Peppa Pig to get all my lady stuff sorted. Anyhoo in order to get some perspective I spent a week accepting that in a lot of ways I have it easy and I did this with one small change. For one week I was going to have my daily shower cold. I figured if I started the day with a cold dose of reality maybe that sense of perspective would carry me through until bedtime. 

The first day was easy. I just didn't shower. I totally meant to shower, if anyone asks I absolutely wash every day, but so many other important things kept getting in the way - like cleaning my dishwasher filter. By lunchtime I figured it was only me and the boy at home and so what if he thought I was smelly. I birthed him. 

On day two I decided to grow a pair and went for it. It was two and a half minutes of hell. I do not like the cold. Being cold is such a sorry state; I pretty much wear an anorak to bed and still take a hot water bottle with me. At first I tried to perform some self hypnosis and convince myself that the water falling onto my body was steaming hot but after a minute I decided I just needed to get on with it. I finished the job vaguely clean and very grumpy.

On day three I woke up and decided to take my son swimming. Although Roscoe loves swimming, I very rarely do this because for some reason my son thinks he's an Olympic swimmer in a toddler's body and insists on breaking free of my grasp and launching himself into the water as often as possible. He then screams bloody murder when I try to take him home. It was only as I was holding my howling child under the pool showers that I realised I WAS A FAKER. I had undertaken my most hated parental chore only to experience the hot water of our post swim shower. Let's just pause and think about the absurdity of that, I had given myself a world of pain just to avoid three minutes of it. In how many other areas was I making my life very difficult just to avoid getting on with something a little bit difficult?*

The next morning I just went for it! I turned the taps on full and hit that shower like a boss! And it felt good; it felt invigorating; it felt like I was a person that just got sh*t done. And that's how the week went on. The tasks that I was hiding in the back of my notebook got brought to the fore; I said yes to challenges when in my hot shower days I might have been inclined to say no. 

In the end I really appreciated my week of cold showers and as I write I am sitting in a fluffy dressing gown following an extra long, extra hot bath. A bath which may well have been the greatest bath of my life; a bath during which I was grateful that every time the temperature dropped even minutely, I was able to top up with freely available hot water straight from the tap. A bath which showed me that sometimes to accept you've it easy, you've got to make things a little bit difficult. 

Join Mission Acceptance here
Being a list member gets you an entry to my latest giveaway.

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Everybody needs good neighbours with Corgi HomePlan (COMPETITION UK ONLY)


I have a very specific strain of social anxiety. It is the fear of small talk within 50m of my home. I don't love small talk in the best of circumstances, I sometimes joke with my friends that I only do big talk. This usually has very positive or very negative results but whatevs, I'd rather be entertained and impolite than bored with every human interaction. 

I understand the purpose of small talk, it is a quick no intrusive means of connecting but despite my happy go lucky exterior, I like rules and the rules of small talk are constantly evolving (like are we allowed to ask people about their job now?) I think it would be easier if there was an alternative to small talk, like joining in with a chorus of a popular 90's hit (Backstreets Back anyone?). 

Apparently introverts don't like small talk and I think I'm an introvert. Although I'm as exciteable as a labrador puppy and have a mild case of showy offiness, I do find constant interactions quite draining. This is why I think small talk close to my home makes me feel scared. My home is my sanctuary. I can pad about in fleece, talking to no one and thinking about nothing and my social skills reignite like a rechargable battery. If I have to make small talk near my home there's always the fear that the conversation will find it's way into my house! My safe space. This fear makes life with neighbours difficult. Making benign chat about greenfly is good neighbour 101. Or so I thought...

Corgi HomePlan have launched a campaign called How Safe Is Your Street and it's all about encouraging people to make sure their neighbours are okay. That means less chat about the weather and more talking about what life is really like behind closed doors.

60% of people surveyed by CORGI HomePlan said they would like to know their neigbours better and would like to do more for their community. A more connected community is a safer community and it all starts with a conversation. For lots of ideas about how to build a better community have a looksie at the How Safe Is Your Street hub.

For any readers that want to prioritise safety both inside and outside of the home enter the competition below to win a carbon monoxide alarm worth £40. 


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photo credit: 13 February 2011 via photopin (license)

My Given Name Personalised Children's Book (Review)

              

I am so grateful my son loves reading. What I'm not grateful for is his desire to read the same book over and over again for weeks at a time. You see my boy is obsessed with planes and trains and automobiles. Any form of transportation actually. Most of our days are spent stopping to check the mechanisms of anything we spot with wheels, from diggers to wheely bins. This did not come from me, I'm the girl that asks about your new car and gets bored after the colour. I love reading to my son but the horns beeping and the engines chugging can get tiresome. I wanted to steer him toward something a little more interesting for yours truly and a lot more in line with my parenting goals. That's when I remembered My Given Name, the personalised children's book that is choc full of positive affirmations that help to create positive attitudes and thinking habits. 

The ordering system is simple and you can get a preview of your book before you order it. I absolutely love the beautiful artwork, there's so much to see on every page. This meant the book kept the attention of my little boy and I hope it will continue to do so until he can read along himself. One of my greatest wishes for my son is that he has a positive personal identity, in this tale Bindee the stork meets a variety of characters that share words of wisdom and self affirmation. 



It will be so fun to repeat some of these phrases whilst going about our day. Positive parenting made easy! After ordering your book arrives at blink and you'll miss it speed, so within a week you'll have a brand new favorite bedtime story.

Check out the My Given Name video above and find more details on the website. Books start at £19.95 and they also offer group discounts.

I was given a copy of My Given Name for the purpose of review

Mission Acceptance - Accept letting go


I'm struggling. I was going to skip a week of my mission because I'm just not in the zone. I'm not anywhere near the zone. If I stare off into the distance and squint a bit, I might just be able to see the zone but probably not because I can't find my glasses. The first thing that goes when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed is my ability to make decisions. I'm talking there's three or four beats after someone asks me if I want sugar in my tea. Decisions are life's taxes dressed up as birthday cards - ooh how pretty and sparkly then, ugh responsibilities. Sometimes I think we'd all be better of without them.

That's part of the reason why I choose last week's Mission Acceptance, to show that constantly striving for control was not a need but a toddler like want. I don't want to feel scared, I don't want to feel vulnerable so I'll make sure I keep everything exactly in it's place, exactly where I put it. And who feels the impact of this more than our children?

So I decided to hand control over to the boy and actually I was quite looking forward to it; accepting yourself also means accepting your fate. The only non negotiables were that he had to have his nappy changed and he had to go to his speech therapy.

Roscoe spent the first day with his father and when he got home he was just about ready for bed. He usually settles by himself but on this night he gripped his grubby little hands around my neck, forcing me to hang awkwardly off the edge of his toddler bed as he drifted off to sleep. It probably wasn't the ideal way to spend the first half an hour of precious adult time but it was nice. 

The next day I was feeling positive but Roscoe was not. It was one of those 'I hate everything but yoghurt and Peppa days' and I had to go along for the ride. It started with asolutely refusing to brush his teeth. I had to make myself take deep breaths as I put his toothbrush away, one week of plaque wouldn't do long term damage, would it? He also refused to have a bath. He was happy to go to speech therapy but didn't really want to do any of the tasks. I had to sit on my hands and cringe as he chucked wobbly after wobbly. I finished the day with a stinky, snack filled boy who didn't seem ready for bed in any way. I cracked. I put him to bed against his better judgement but he was asleep within a minute so what does he know?

The next morning, Roscoe threw all his toys into the bath. Convinced that giving him the space to choose he had made the right decision, I excitedly filled the tub. He point blank refused to get in. We went into town. I have a system for our weekly expeditions into the town centre - one shop for mummy, one shop or activity for Roscoe. I know how to do compromise. It worked well for H&M, I was allowed a sixty second dash around Primark and then Roscoe point blank refused to go into Zara. With Roscoe in charge we checked out the loos, I had to spend a hard earned pound on the ghastly Thomas ride and I apologised 168 times as Roscoe ran full pelt into other shoppers. 

Eventually the boy settled, at BHS or more specifically the lighting department. Roscoe has a thing for lights. Big ones, small ones, round ones, tall ones but especially lamps. BHS was heaven. As I watched the lights reflected in his eyes and the joy radiating from his face, I realised what a gem I had missed with all my parental planning. Roscoe's fab activity choice was worthy of a treat so we went for a milkshake. Roscoe didn't like his milkshake and wanted chips, so we had both. 

On my days at work I had planned to spend my time being a bit more 'Roscoe' but my mission had showed me that I don't really know what that is. I tried to stay present and react from an emotional place rather than an intellectual one but it was hard and made me feel too vulnerable in front of my colleagues. I think this is why I finished the week confused rather than enlightened. I had been imagining that not making decisions would be freeing and but I ended up feeling scared about what was coming next - tomorrow, next week, in ten years. I will still give my son more space to choose than perhaps I did before but I have to accept that, for me, freedom needs to exist within a framework that I set. A framework that starts and ends with brushing your teeth. 


Could you hand the planning over to your kids? 
Find out what's coming next on Mission Acceptance by joining here.


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Absolutely Prabulous

What the Drake and Morgan scandal showed me about teaching my son to keep it classy




Me and my mates from uni like to get drunk and gossip but we be classy like, so when we want to get drunk and gossip we book in a brunch. I can't speak more highly of the benefits of day drinking - the deals are better, recovery time longer and I can still get to bed before midnight. 

My mate V is our unofficial (actually pretty official, we should probably pay her but don't tell her) social secretary. She makes organisation look sexy and she can always scout out the classiest venues and the most inviting menus. I'm so grateful as when choosing a dining experience my imagination doesn't venture much further than Nandos. 

Last Sunday we had a brunch scheduled. I had told V that it was one of my dreams to go to a bottomless brunch, an experience when you can drink as much as you like for an entire meal - a booze buffet if you will, so she booked a table at Drake & Morgan. The night before, I went online to choose what I would eat (I'm not the only one that does this right?) and I noticed an apology on the website. The apology stated:

'....Drake & Morgan as a business do not discriminate on the grounds of race, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or colour.'

Intrigued I investigated further. It seems that a table had received a bill that clearly stated 'No ice ni**a'. Shock and horror indeed. The assumption was that the message was directed at the only black member of the party and the employee involved was duly fired. And whilst the incident is sweat inducingly shameful, I couldn't help but take note of the fact that the message read 'ni**a' and not its predecessor 'ni**er'.  

Ni**a is accepted in common vernacular as a term meaning friend or compadre. I have met young folk that have never even heard the word in its original form, a fact that warms my heart. I imagine the missive 'No ice ni**a' was a message to the staff member preparing the drinks (and having visited the chain I can confirm that the person taking the order and the person preparing the drinks are different staff members), a sad attempt to inject some humour into a long shift. 

I remember holding office chair races in my first job and trying to get away with slipping rude words into telesales pitches. The difference being that when I was doing these things Twitter didn't exist, a catfish was just a lunchtime special and Donald Trump was an odd little man fronting a mildly interesting reality TV show. Times were very different and a lot less scary. 

It made me think that somewhere out there is a 22 year old lass or lad feeling very sorry for themselves. Imagine having your youthful exurberance mocked globally. This is something I would like to protect my own son from experiencing so I think I'll try and teach him the new rules of keeping it classy. 

ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR END GOAL If what you're trying to achieve will gain you less than what you stand to lose, don't do it. In this scenario, a laugh from a colleague vs instant firing, a bad reference and online humiliation. No contest. 

IF IN DOUBT, DON'T Sometimes it's not always clear whether you should commit to an action or not. I don't want to raise a child that acts from a place of fear but it is rare that a decision can't be put off for another 24 hours. A good night's sleep can bring a lot of perspective. 

LOCK IT DOWN You will be googled. Every job interview, date and prospective in law will look you up. Learn about privacy settings and use them. 

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST This is one of the four agreements, a code for life devised by Don Miguel Ruiz. I think if you follow nothing but this, it's difficult to go wrong. The waiter in question was trying to find job satisfaction but was going about it the wrong way. It would have been far more rewarding to focus their energy on getting a really fat tip. 

My friends asked me if we should cancel the booking in light of the scandal and I said, 'Are you serious? The service is going to be exceptional.' And I was right. Drake and Morgan is a beautiful venue, it has my absolute favourite balance of intimacy and elegance. I'm a burger and chips girl and can sometimes end up feeling a bit short changed but Drake and Morgan elevated this classic dish to a ladies wot lunch level. The booze was indeed bottomless and this girl left the venue drunk on life and a little bit drunk. I loved it and I would certainly go again so if you're booking, holla at me ni**a. 


Mission Acceptance - Accept your sexy



'Sexyyyy, everything about you so sexyyyyy' 

When I was 21 I lived with a guy called Mal. He had a weakness for good red wine and a signature dish called 'pasta surprise' (the surprise being that it consisted of whatever we had rotting at the bottom of the fridge). Having just graduated and being in questionable employment, we lived for the weekend and many nights of those weekends were spent in a Birmingham club called DV8. 

At some point every night the song Just A Little, by Liberty X would come on. At which point we would clear a considerable space on the dance floor and in it we would perform a semi choreographed routine involving a lot of body rolls. Despite the song's core message, it was not sexy. And that was okay. I wasn't trying to be sexy because deep down I have never believed I can be sexy. I hope you appreciate me sharing this with you because I'm not in the habit of drawing attention to my shortcomings. My general theory is that, on the off chance you haven't noticed them, I'm not gonna point them out. 

Recently I was having a drink with a friend and shared with her that it had actually felt like an advantage not feeling sexy in my youth. It meant I could step out of the 'race' and focus on other aspects of my life. She looked at me earnestly and said, 'But you are sexy.' No matter how much I dodged and weaved her assertion, she kept repeating it like some sort of gin fuelled flood therapy. She didn't convince me but I did think that if she could see it, maybe I could find it... 

On day one of my mission I had my first migraine. At this point I must apologise to the migraine sufferers of the world for my years of secretly believing that migraines are just headaches with hype. It was a waking nightmare. I tried the self care method and smothered myself in moisturiser and put on nice PJs but I went to bed feeling more sticky than sexy. 

The next day I tried the full face of make up route. Generally when given the choice between sleep and slap, some extra zzzz's wins every time. I made an effort, employed Peppa Pig for ten minutes, and got my face on. Unfortunately I eat like I'm training for a sport not yet invented, so I spent the whole day worried about my lippie and self conscious is not sexy. 

The next day I thought I'd cracked it. I went to a dance class. I love dancing but since Roscoe's birth I spend much more time thinking about going dancing than doing it. As I tried to trot along with the steps I felt silly and excited, in the arena of sexy but in the really cheap seats. 

So I decided I just don't have any sexy and that's okay. I didn't need sexy, sexy wasn't my soul. I woke the next day feeling confident I knew myself and I had my post down and that's probably why when I was going about my business and a street charity fundraiser approached me, I met his gaze. I listened carefully to his spiel on how my support could save hundreds of orphaned sea turtles, after which he said, 'Could you spare just eight pounds a month?' I smiled warmly and said, 

'I could, but I don't want to.' His eyes opened wide in surprise and then he laughed and said, 

'That was blunt but very endearing.' I walked away with a kind of fizzy feeling inside me that crackled and buzzed and made me feel a bit light headed and suddenly I realised, I had found my sexy! 

I sent my husband heartfelt text messages and not just missives to get milk; I offered cheeky but honest advice to my colleagues. I replied to my emails with a bit more sass. My sexy is opening my heart and letting it pour out through my words, with no fear of the consequences. What's yours?


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