Sleeping Safely…

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Scarlett changed me. In many ways; my stomachs less flat now, my torso is decorated with tiger stripes and I quite often don’t brush my hair on a day to day basis (ok so that happened before Scarlett but what can I say, I have very curly uncontrollable hair!) I knew my life would change when I had her, as I have a brother a decade younger than me, I had experienced a second hand version of all encompassing love for someone you look after. What I didn’t realise is how much it opened up my protective feelings and a want to do better and be better in the world. It breaks my heart when I see how difficult it is for other children who don’t choose what family they are born into and don’t choose the life they lead. I’m not trying to be smug, I’m not saying that Scarlett is lucky to grow up with such perfect parents or anything, far from it. But she will always have hot meals on the table and she will always have a safe warm bed to sleep in. Many others don’t, and this isn’t necessarily because of bad parenting, or the famed stereotype that they must have an alcohol or drug addiction. 

I recently read a heartbreaking story of an 18 year old girl who lost both her parents and through a variety of reasons, fell through the system set up to protect people. She ended up on the streets because at 18 and suddenly responsible for looking after herself, she had no idea where to turn, or how to help herself. The thought of her not having anyone to protect her and look after her makes me cry every time I think about it. My beautiful daughter will hopefully never have to be in such a position that she finds herself with nowhere to turn. But I’m sure the aforementioned girl’s parents never once imagined that their precious daughter would have to end up on the streets after a completely unforeseen set of circumstances. As soon as I read the story it made me want to reach out to the parents and tell them that I would find her and help her. Luckily, in her case, she was helped, on the cusp of being taken advantage of. A life of prostitution and potential addiction was a single hair width away. But how many people’s stories aren’t published with a happier ending? How many young people and older people for that matter, find themselves, due to a certain set of circumstances, on their own, on the streets, desperately grasping for survival.

For all my grumbling that I can’t work out the boiler so sometimes it’s too hot, and complaining that it’s been so long since I’ve been to the cinema (I know, I know, someone should do a fundraiser right…?!) I have SUCH a charmed life in comparison and since becoming a Mother, it’s become hugely important to me to try and help other people, even in just some tiny way.

One of these ways, is that on Friday 6th March, I am sleeping on the streets with some others, for the Cheltenham YMCA’s Sleep Easy 2015 campaign. Now firstly, I almost feel like a fraud because we will have a cardboard box given to us, and we’ll be in a safe and guarded area, more than most homeless people get. But the closest I’ll be able to get to experiencing what life must be like for thousands of people in the world. It can often be frustrating to see a problem and not be able to solve it, homelessness is a big problem, even when just looking at the UK and although I know it won’t be solved by my one night sleeping on the street, it may mean that one other person looks into what can be done, or a few pounds go towards helping a few needy people in my home town. 

My online fundraising link can be found here http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LadeyJordan and if you can share it with others who may be able to help, or donate a few pennies or pounds towards the cause, I’d be hugely grateful. 

Since Scarlett, I feel things more deeply and I care about things in a different way; it’s not that I didn’t care before, I’ve always thought that raising money for charities was important but, and I don’t know if other Mums have felt this, but I have this need to know that if my loved ones were ever in a tricky situation or going through a really hard time, that someone would reach out their hand to help them. And if I’m not willing to do so myself for others, I can hardly expect to live in a world where people will do that. 

So yes I still complain about the boiler not working properly, and I get grouchy when we’ve unexpectedly run out of milk, I often live the first world problems stereotype! If you are able to complain about these things or see them as problems, take comfort in knowing that you must have a very charmed life. I am very lucky that I have the time, money and resources to help out others in a much more desperate position than myself and since having Scarlett, it’s become much more important to do so. I was brought up with the message that you should treat others as you wish to be treated and it’s a message I wish to install in my daughter. The world is generally a nicer place when we’re all working together to help and support one another, and I know I sound a little bit like an idealistic hippy by saying that problems can be solved with kindness and togetherness. But it’s worth a try, after all, the Beatles famously sang, “All You Need is Love” didn’t they? Yes I know, they also sang, “We all live in a yellow submarine”, but it can’t all be solid gold! 

It was raining heavily tonight, my husband and I listened to it outside our window as we curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea with our infant daughter fast asleep upstairs in bed. Having set up my Just Giving page, it occurred to me that I hoped it didn’t rain on the 6th March, and then it occurred to me that for a lot of people, every day is the 6th March and they don’t have any choice if it’s raining or not. Right now there are people all over Britain doing all they can to escape the weather.

I knew life would change when I had a baby, I knew my body would never be the same, i had no idea what an impact it would have on my heart. But it’s an impact I am grateful for, Scarlett gives me inspiration and motivation every single day and I hope that when she grows up and always, her world remains a safe and happy place.

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Working ‘Wisdom’…

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My husband and I live together and work together, and it’s definitely not something that works for everyone. It also doesn’t come with handbooks or three month reviews so you have to make your own guidelines. This is not necessarily easy and my husband and I after our first year of doing so, came up with five tips for making it work. The most important thing to do is whatever makes it works best for you. If you similarly work and live with someone, please do add your own tips!

1) Have your own individual hobbies – as daft as it may sound, when I have an hour to myself, I like nothing better than a cup of tea in my pyjamas with an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or an hour of DragonAge
on the Xbox. And my husband thoroughly enjoys the tranquility of painting or drawing. These are not exclusively things we won’t allow the other to do, but is an example of the things we do when we have some time on our own. When living and working (mostly) together with a baby, we don’t have loads of time on by ourselves, which is by choice, but when you have some time, make the most of the head space and find something that works for you!

2) Communicate! With the amount of ad hoc stuff, travelling about and the administrative side of what we do, there’s often periods of high stress. As a naturally irritable person when I’m tired (and especially when I’m hungry!), I can sometimes get quite snappy. Likewise, with lots going on, if my husband has a bad day, I’m the one around to be moaned at. The important thing is to let each other know as and when these bad days happen! You’ll be amazed how much easier it makes things with a simple “I’m in a foul mood this morning because I’ve just seen how many emails there are, love you”! With one small sentence, the other doesn’t have to worry they’ve done anything, can give you some space or help out or even just give you a cuddle which can make you feel much better anyway! By talking to each other you’ll know where you’re at and can handle the tough times.

3) Allow for change. One of the first things we said when we started working together was that if it interfered with our relationship, we’d stop doing it. Family is far more important than work and if it meant we were going to be bringing work problems home, it definitely wasn’t worth it. We also said that we should keep changing how we do things to make sure it’s always working best for our family. For example, at first we dealt with emails whenever they came through, but as is common in theatre circles, it means we often receive messages late at night. As soon as we realised we had no definable ‘home time’, we set ourselves ‘office hours’. We may receive emails round the clock and we’ll often be working at unsocial times but in terms of administration and organising things, we strictly run between 11-5pm Mon – Fri. Anything else can wait till the next day or after the weekend. It’s a flexible rule as we inevitably have to deal with some things as soon as we hear but for the most part, evenings at home together are kept protected! We’ll continue to adapt and change the rules depending on Scarlett’s needs and our family priorities.

4) Keep work and home life separate. Not happy with the change in schedule that’s been made for you? That’s something to discuss with your business partner not your spouse. More often than not, it’s a natural work gripe but if it’s brought into your home life, add that to home life stresses and you could easily end up just constantly rowing. Very early on my husband and I arranged regular meetings outside of the house; we had one after our first course finished, to discuss what worked and what didn’t, we hold meetings about contracts to accept and how to work in the things we individually want to take on. And we’ve got really good at ensuring that the meetings or any work issue stays there. One of the ways we do so is to really make the most of home life; we play games, make theme dinners, go for a drink. As our work life is so hectic, it’s easier to appreciate our home life, but keeping the two sides separate makes for being much more productive and happier in both!

5) Protect yourselves and each other! When self employed, you have no pension, annual leave, or even necessarily two days off a week. When you have a family, or when your work and personal life are with the same person, being protected in the future or being able to take time off is much more important. When possible, try and make sure you get at least one day a week off, and if that means having a bath and sitting on the sofa with a cuppa when your partner is hard at work at the computer, don’t feel bad or make your partner feel guilty. It’s really important to not point score or feel bad if you’re relaxing when they’re not. Taking different days off will probably be a necessity but the best thing you can do is either go elsewhere so you don’t feel tempted to help out when it’s your day off; or if you’re hard at work at the computer and your partner comes downstairs in their pyjamas, remember how much you both deserve downtime and don’t ask them to ‘quickly check this’. Likewise, look into creating your own pension, and have a separate account to put a bit aside each week or each month. With a little bit saved away regularly, you can then give yourselves some annual leave without having to worry about being short. It’s really tough to not dip into it when you’re having a tight week but when you’re sat on the beach in Portugal with a cocktail in hand not having to worry that you’re not working that week, it will be worth it. We make Christmas and one week in the Summer our official annual leave to make sure we get some time off together, and we save for both, it’s not easy to be disciplined and we often slip up but its so worth it. As self employed people, you don’t have designated time off, pensions, health plans or even lunch hours! But if you protect yourselves and each other, it’ll be much easier in the long run.

Living and working together is a rather intense way of life but can be hugely rewarding, especially when you’ve got twice as many people working towards the goals you want to achieve. However you make it work for you, always remember the reasons you chose that person as your business partner, and more importantly, why you chose them as your spouse!

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Living life choices…

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We recently had a lovely few days working in St Ives, and obviously as I’ve written about several times before, we’re used to the hectic lifestyle. This time was slightly different; we were staying in a beautiful house overlooking the sea with a few other practitioners. But these weren’t just colleagues; involved in the half term week were fellow colleagues yes but also some very dear friends. Friends that we don’t get to see very often (three of whom we didn’t realise we were going to see until they jumped out on us on a tiny Cornish road at 1.30am line dancing…but that’s another story!) and therefore as well as the very full days, we made the most of the evenings too! Like I said, we were in a beautiful house, and it was large, so worked as an ideal base for everyone to come back to for a big Chinese takeaway or mammoth roast dinner. Then after dinner came wine, prosseco, whisky, and all kinds of other bubbly beverages! Now my husband and I were the only ones there with a baby; a very sociable baby who happily went to bed at 8.30pm each night and slept through till 7am (except one night but we’ll skip over that for now!). But however ‘easy’ Scarlett is, staying up till 3am and getting up at 7am definitely starts to take its toll after three nights of doing so!

Coffee was in vast supply, and every day it took till at least 2pm to feel human again! The fresh sea air and plenty of walking definitely helped, but we couldn’t have done it any longer than we did! There were younger people there staying up till 5am and being (relatively!) fresh and healthy at 9am but (they didn’t have a baby!) and that’s the joy of your early twenties! A close friend of mine when we got back exhausted and doing a second load of washing whilst making my third cup of coffee still in my pyjamas at 3pm in the afternoon, asked me the very sensible question, “why do you do it to yourself?!” And it’s a valid point, and the answer is simple, ‘because I love it!’ My priority is that Scarlett is well looked after and as long as that’s happening (and she was more than doted on for the few days and certainly wasn’t negatively affected in any way!) then everything else I hugely do by choice!

After getting home, I had two days with no plans except staying in my pyjamas with only extravagant dinner plans (we do love an extravagant dinner!). Scarlett and I have enjoyed naps on the sofa and we’ve relaxed enough to be able to give Daddy some TLC when he gets back from the couple of workshops he’s had booked in since getting home. Early nights all round and we now feel recuperated. Now I know these extremes are not everyone’s cup of tea, another friend regularly tells me she couldn’t do what we do because she needs her routine and we happily share stories of our days, because equally I couldn’t do the same thing day in day out as I love the randomness and the adventures. This doesn’t make us clash, this gives us lots to talk about when we meet up! The people we saw over the few days, we won’t see again until August, and in the future, we won’t remember being tired, we’ll remember an amazing ice cream cake that had 18 flavours between 18 people; we’ll remember our friend Gareth giving one of the Strictly Come Dancing stars a manicure at the dinner table whilst we were all out with her and her dance partner on the last night. We won’t remember the headaches in the morning, we’ll remember the view from our bedroom window or the countless ‘family eleven’ jokes and laughs. We won’t remember the five hour journey home, we’ll remember getting bored on the way home and taking a spontaneous road trip to Weston Super Mare to have an evening walk along the pier and the beach!

Things like half terms, Summer holidays and other bank holidays are always busy for us, and we could turn some things down to try and ease our schedule…but then we also have some weeks with very little on when we can spend plenty of delicious hours at home playing with Scarlett or going on day trips in the countryside. When we have a particularly busy period, we ensure we have a quiet period following it, even if sometimes (in particularly busy times) means keeping one day in the middle of it sacred, we’ll make sure our family time is prioritised so we can make the most of days like we’ve just enjoyed.

Yes we’ll definitely be staying off the red wine for a few days, and yes it was so nice to have a quiet night in when we were back home. But both are completely different sides to our not so ordinary lives!

I completely understand why our lifestyle wouldn’t suit others, it’s unpredictable, it’s exhausting and it involves a lot of time away from home. I know my own family often find it hard to understand why we make some of the decisions we do. I grew up in a very typical 80’s way of life, Mum worked part time, Dad worked in the office and I had an idyllic upbringing; my lifestyle is not any kind of rebellion, I was able to grow up developing my own passions and my life so far lead me to where I am. I say this because I’m not worried that Scarlett will be forced into a similar lifestyle. She’ll certainly grow up with lots of vibrant and different experiences but we don’t know whether it’ll be who she wants to be. It’s just as likely she’ll want to be an accountant as it is circus performer!

We spoke to lots of people this past few days with really varied lifestyles, interests and skills. In the house on the Sunday night; I had a discussion with someone about the benefits of their vegan diet, chatted to someone about their upcoming stint on Strictly, got my nails done (and my husband got a massage) from a beautician, spoke to a singing teacher about becoming a Grandmother and discussed life passions with a call centre worker. And that’s just mentioning a fraction of the amazing people we spent our time with. Between the early hours of Friday morning and leaving on Tuesday evening, we barely stopped laughing and I learnt so many things about so many different roles, interests and hobbies.

Next week we’re off again for a few days although I very much doubt it’ll be quite as hectic as this past one! Our trip to St Ives was an amazing one and an extreme example of our chosen lifestyle, getting very little sleep on this occasion was more than worth it, and always makes us appreciate our nice quiet little house when we return to it! But one of the best things about getting out and around is learning about other people’s lifestyles, and hopefully when Scarlett’s older, she’ll not only know that we support whatever path she chooses in life, but that it’s so rewarding to experience other people’s with an open mind. A lot of things won’t be her cup of tea, some things she sees she won’t understand, but by keeping broad minded, she will find that her own life is enriched.

As for us, you’re never too old to try out new hobbies (and we are only in our thirties after all!) and after only this few days, we’re going to give a vegan theme week a go sometime soon, we’re going to watch Strictly Come Dancing for the first time (vote for Phil and Janette!), we’re going to travel to Bristol for some singing lessons, and regular massages are now definitely on our agenda!

Who knows what we’ll learn on our next working week adventure, but right now…I’m off for a nap!

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Second Sibling Statistics…

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I was recently asked to write an article about ‘the best age gap between siblings’. Many hours of discussion with Mum friends, and even more hours of research led me to my original hypothesis. Of course there’s no ideal age gap! Each baby is individual, each parent has their own original set of circumstances. Trying to plan exactly when to have a second child is as easy as stapling water to a tree, and that’s assuming that when you decide you’ve reached this magically perfect moment in your life, you can get immediately pregnant.

There are lots and LOTS of statistics for a massively wide variety of pros and cons, medically for the mother, financially, socially for the children, what parent age is best, what first sibling temperament suits second siblings better at different stages of their life. The list is endless, and I say this with confidence when I had to physically stop myself researching so I could get some sleep, the topic is so vast and I think that’s because there are no answers, only opinions.

In the same way that the discussion about religion can and has gone on forever (am I really comparing religion to child rearing?! Yes I am but I have a valid point, stay with me!) so can the discussion about parenting, ANY aspect of parenting. So although all religions can agree that loving one another is good and we should live good, honest lives; there’s always a few extremists who take things too far one way or another. With parenting, we all agree that we should love our children and raise them the best we can, and there’s always a few (slightly less dangerous) extremists who insist the nursery mix special herbs and boil them in dolphin tears because baby Jemima is to be brought up as one with the sea. 

When it comes to sibling age gaps all I can tell you is my personal opinion and assure you that whatever your personal opinion is, even if it completely and utterly contradicts mine, it is still absolutely valid and no more right or wrong. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s the bottom line. Not that it’s not really interesting to hear other people’s views, my only warning would be: stay away from the internet ‘facts and figures’. It won’t take long for every possible age gap to be far too dangerous, whether an increased risk of low intelligence, decreased risk of carrying to term, we are quickly bombarded with terrifying statistics.

On reading said statistics closely we find that often the increase or decrease is less than 1%, and with chances so slight, there really is very little use reading them, unless you like horrible dreams! 

For my husband and I, our view is this; as our siblings are so important to us, it’s a no brainer for us that we want Scarlett to have a sibling. With a smaller age gap they’ll truly grow up together, and it won’t be such a huge shock to us to go back into ‘baby mode,’ the sleepless nights, the nappies, the bottles. Financially we’re doing well, and career wise, it makes more sense to both of us to have a closer gap.

With all that in mind, it may take ten years for another baby to come along, you just don’t know what nature has in store for you. The fact remains that whatever the eventual age gap, whether we have a boy or a girl and whether or not it happens when we plan, if it happens at all, we will love any and all children we have. 

The only question you really need to ask yourself is this, “do you want another baby and do you feel as ready as you can be?” If the answer to that is yes, there is millions of pieces of information you can take into account if you want to, but really, that’s all you need to know.

Hindsights Handy Hints…

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The other night I got thinking about what I’d learnt in the last year. Don’t worry, I’m not going to list all the things; I got married and became a Mother, two of the biggest experiences I’ve ever been through! It seemed impossible to even come up with a top ten…but that’s what I’ve attempted! So here it is, my top ten tips list of the wonderful world of becoming a parent!

  1. Before you even read anything else I’ve said, please remember to ignore it! Every child is different, every parent is different and every single experience is different. The biggest tool you have is your instincts and getting to know your child. You will have other people telling you what THEY think about parenting but that ONLY applies to THEIR individual experiences. People who give advice are well meaning, but they don’t know you and they don’t know your child like you do. Your confidence WILL be knocked because you’ll constantly be questioning yourself, but that’s only a sign that you’re a good parent, not necessarily that you’re doing anything wrong. So your child is being brought up differently to your sisters child, great! You’re not supposed to be attempting to bring up clones. Always also bear in mind that people from different generations to you have information that is already out of date. I’m not knocking Grandma’s homemade soup that makes everyone feel better, but if a stubborn relative insists you have to do things in a way that were last endorsed in 1960, don’t let them make you feel guilty for doing things according to 2015! You know deep down what’s best for your baby and have the most up to date professionals to guide you. Essentially what I’m saying is that in the 1920’s, smoking was thought to be good for breathing problems (seriously..!) so if you’re Great Grandmother thinks it’s modern mumbo jumbo that you should keep your precious newborn away from smokers, by all means check with your health visitor (and perhaps report her if she says smoking by your baby is ok…!) and remember that you know best.
  2. Enjoy it, but don’t feel pressured to enjoy every second. Parenting is really hard, we all know that before we know it, our beautiful babies will be grown up and we’ll crave those early days back. HOWEVER, that’s from the beautiful view of hindsight! Becoming a parent is hard and sometimes; when you’re not sure what you’re doing and you can’t seem to stop your baby crying, it’s not fun, and the often quoted instruction to ‘enjoy every second’ puts an added pressure onto you that you’re being a bad parent for not loving it. Those moments that no-one takes photos of and puts on Facebook? It’s because we don’t want to remember those moments! They’re difficult, everyone goes through them ,whatever life they lead. So when you just want your child to quieten down because you’ve had no sleep for four days and can’t ease their cold, don’t punish yourself and think you’re horrible. You’re human, you’re a parent, it’s all going to be ok.
  3. Lose yourself but come back. The first six weeks are ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous, you don’t know what you’re doing, you get given a screaming banshee to take home with you with no clear instruction manual. Days aren’t broken up by nights because you don’t know when day and night are. You reply to messages a few hours later than normal and then realise it’s actually days or weeks later than you thought. Your newborn will finally get to sleep and you’ll find yourself staring at them in wonder or disbelief depending on how you’re feeling. Let that happen, just accept that you have absolutely no control and do what you can to get through that time. Don’t feel pressured to put on makeup, dress up nice for visitors or ensure the house is sorted, allow yourself to get through as unscathed as possible.Then after the first few months, when you get a slightly easier day, straighten your hair, or paint your nails or dress up nice, treat yourself and remember that you’re a woman. After the birth your self esteem will probably take a hit, no surprise, you’ve had a ten month takeover and your body has been thrown back at you. But you probably have your tiger stripes to show what a superwoman you’ve been and so give yourself a break but then remember to bring yourself round and remind yourself how great it is to feel womanly. If you can, set some time to reconnect with your partner, parenting is a tough job and one you’re doing together, you’ll be amazed at how much stronger you’ll be as a team if you give yourselves a break at the beginning and then remember the connection that meant you decided to start a family together in the first place.
  4. Listen to other parents. This isn’t me contradicting my very first point of trusting your own instincts, but look around at all your fellow Mums, they’re not the competition, they are your comrades. You are a generation of men or women all doing it together in this point in time. Follow your instincts but also remember that you’re not an encyclopedia, (especially not with pregnancy hormones) and the greatest discovery’s happen by mistake. So if you listen to your fellow parent friends you may just discover a little trick you’ll later depend on. A tactic that saves you another sleepless night. Of course listening to all parents has a similar effect but your fellow ‘right now’ parents are in the trenches with you with all the up to date medicine, up to date gadgets and ’today’ experiences. I’m not one to go to Mother/baby classes, it’s not really my thing but I do have some very good friends with kids Scarlett’s age and some of the things they’ve mentioned in passing has become a staple part of my parenting technique!
  5. Don’t be worried about making mistakes. You’re going to, you’re going to make loads, seriously loads. Not necessarily major ones; inconsequential ones. You’ll use the wrong size nappy, you’ll forget to take a bib out with you, you’ll wake them up by dropping something after spending half an hour getting them to sleep. What you can’t do is let these mistakes chip away at your confidence, parenting is about finding your groove, learning how to be the parent you are going to be. You wouldn’t start being a lawyer with no training and then be surprised if you lost a few cases or didn’t know the lingo to use in court? It’s no different with parenting. Except with law there are textbooks to teach you what to do; with parenting you can read every book ever written on babies and you’ll still not know how to parent your child. because none of the books are written about YOUR child, or YOU! So you can be as prepared as much as humanly possible but blaming yourself for making mistakes is only going to make the learning curve harder and more punishing than it already is.
  6. Look the other way. Parenting is all encompassing, it’s all you can concentrate on at the beginning because you find yourself out of your depth. And so when you feel that eternal love for your child and get that feeling that there is nothing in the world you wouldn’t do for them, remember that your parents felt that about you when you were born. Appreciate all the things you never realised they did for you. A Grandparents revenge is being able to interfere and give advice you don’t necessarily want to take. They’re gifted with a baby that’s just as precious to them as you were but the emotional roller coaster doesn’t include the journey they remember so well, the sleepless nights, the choices they made. Most Grandparents will tell you they’re pleased to have all the fun with none of the rest of the responsibility, but if you imagine how much you love your child, imagine what it would be like to not having the final say in their upbringing, and give your parents a break. 
  7. Be you. You know when you go on a first date and you want them to like you? You dress up to look at your best, you talk to them about your most attractive hobbies, you show them the absolute best of you. It’s only once you’re in the relationship that you let out the little bits of crazy! You can’t keep up the facade and they see your negative points, and if you’ve chosen well, they love you all the more for it. It’s sort of the same when you become a parent; you want to be the best parent you can be, you vow to read a bedtime story with them every night, you promise yourself you’ll never say no to playing with them and you’ll always prioritise them. But then, you’ll have work to finish off so a few bedtime story sessions will be missed and you won’t have the energy to go and play with Sir Frog for the 20th time. That’s ok, you don’t need to be the speed dating version of a parent. What your child needs from you is who you are. The most honest version of yourself will be the best version for your child, for better or for worse. Did you struggle with reading at school? Don’t pretend to be amazing at it, share it with your child, show them that they don’t need to be perfect and help them with their own weaknesses. Have a passion for cooking? Involve your child, your passion and enjoyment will shine through and it will encourage them to develop their passions, even if they’re not the same as yours. Your weaknesses make up who you are just as much as your strengths and right from the beginning, make sure your child knows that it’s ok to have weaknesses. Have a daughter that has a temper? Help her control it and point out that it shows she has passion, and enable her to channel that passion in positive ways. This is all obviously easier said than done. For example, I have quite low self esteem and a temper and I don’t want Scarlett to have the same problems, but it’s embarrassing to face up to your own faults. But if I pretend it’s not the case, how can I tell Scarlett that she can beat her temper or help her have a healthier view of herself? If we all went to speed dating with a more realistic show of ourselves, we’d probably save ourselves a lot of time in our early twenties, so do your child a favour and let them see you, all of wonderful you.
  8. Note down your child’s achievements, right now we cannot imagine not being able to remember when they took those first movements, shone their first smile, gave out their first giggle but give it a few years and it’ll take a while to think. If asked when they’re an adult, it’d be impressive if you can reach that information from memory alone. These precious moments now will be gone in a flash and being able to look back and have those memories will be priceless.
  9. Breathe, relax. You’re doing the best you can, almost all parents are. This goes for all kinds, financially – unless you’re in the real minority, none of us can really afford children, and there’s no ‘right’ time to have a baby. Worrying won’t mean any bags of money will be delivered to your door, stress won’t help the situation. In all things, unless your problem is that you don’t have enough things to worry about, worrying won’t improve the situation. At the beginning of last year we moved into our family home and worried that we didn’t have enough money, at the time I told my husband with a smile that ‘this time next year’, we’d be in a better position so we had to stay positive and relax. Throughout the year we both built our careers and pushed forward and worked hard to make sure we had the best phone deals and utility rates and all those little things they recommend doing. The result of this is that we are significantly better off this year than we were last year and our plan is to be in an even better position next year. This isn’t to say that a smile and positive outlook meant it was all easy and guaranteed, it was a lot of hard work; but looking back, stressing about it wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome. Quite the contrary, any worry would have made the year even more difficult. Did I know for absolute sure in January 2014 we were going to be better off in 2015? Not at all, but by grabbing my husbands hand tight and telling him it was all going to be ok, we were in with a much better chance. 
  10. Live, love and don’t be sorry. This was the advice written by an amazing girl from my school year who passed away a couple of years ago whilst she was doing her best to fight what eventually took her from her friends and family. She wasn’t a parent but it’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard and ever likely to hear. So please, friends; live, love and don’t be sorry.