Friday at last! This week has been a varied one to say the least. As well as being a single mum to two gorgeous girls, I also juggle three home based jobs – writing, marketing and fundraising. Add to this my obsession with checking my emails and blog stats and a chronic inability to concentrate properly on anything for more than five minutes at a time, and I often find my weeks become a jumble of writing features, lurking on forums and trying to flog baby towels.

To illustrate my point and to try and give myself a sense of having achieved something, I thought I would write a brief summary of what I’ve been up to this week workwise. Picture me doing the following, whilst of course at the same time blogging, emailing and maintaining some kind of relationship with my family:

Monday: Writing day today. Wrote and filed a feature on green baby products for The Source and a piece on breastfeeding and friendship for The Green Parent. Did you know that oxytocin, the hormone that causes the let down reflex, has been shown to increase levels of trust in humans, making the friendships you form while breastfeeding deeper and longer lasting? Well now you do.

Tuesday: Today I was very excited as I went out of the house for a meeting with real people. I wore a dress and everything. I am Marketing Manager for Cuddledry (remember them from Dragons’s Den?) and we were planning a revamp of the website. I came up with a fiendish plan for a relaunch of our blog with a month of guest Mummy Blogging – please get in touch if you would like to contribute!

Wednesday: Not a productive start to Wednesday. After dropping Belle off at school I felt a little bit overwhelmed and, unable to face returning to my empty house, I walked around for a bit trying not to cry until the snow made my feet too cold. However, after an hour or so of mild panic and several cups of tea, I managed to write a feature on food labelling for The Spark. In the evening I watched Avatar and felt rather silly wearing 3D specs over my ordinary glasses.

Thursday: Hmmm… what did I actually do on Thursday? …consults work book… Ah yes, I was in baby towel mode today, finding Mummy Bloggers for my blogging month – I have lots already, hoorah! – and trying to find a celebrity parent to be a judge for our Baby Bubble Beard competition. When I needed something non-towel related I pitched a few feature ideas, mooched about on facebook and ate some of the leftover Christmas chocolates.

Friday: This morning I had another meeting away from home (aren’t I the social animal this week?) with my two lovely colleagues from my charity consultancy. Next week we are pitching to run a capital appeal for the building of a new community hall, so we met to discuss our proposal and plan our pitch. And I had a lovely scrambled egg and smoked salmon breakfast. Yum. After a very successful visit to the St Margaret’s Hospice shop, where I bought a Next suit for £4, I returned home to write the appeal proposal, recruit some more bloggers, try and woo Dr Miriam Stoppard and think up marketing ploys for the women’s news website I have recently become involved in. Oh, and I just ate a bowl of porridge. Rock and roll.

Time for a little sit down.

Flickr image by Helico

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I had my first baby when I was just 17 years old. Not on purpose you understand, but that is another story… Now I was under the illusion that young bodies were stretchy and supple. I imagined my baby would form a neat bump and that I would spring pertly back into place two weeks after birth.

Oh how wrong I was.

At about eight months pregnant my stomach erupted into a mass of hideous purple stretch marks – it turns out my young skin just couldn’t take the strain. I know I’m not alone – a friend of mine recently wrote about the frightening array of pregnancy body nasties, and it turns out that all kinds of things can happen to you – cankles anyone?

Two babies and over two years of breastfeeding later and my 31 year old mummy body could certainly do with a bit of work. Not of the surgical kind of course, just the ‘me getting myself off the sofa once in a while’ variety. I kid myself that typing counts as exercise, but I know I am clutching at straws.

I was pleased therefore to read in The Mail today about It’s Complicated, a new rom-com starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. The Mail claims the film is testimony to the fact that ‘wobbly bits can be sexy too!’ I really hope that is the case, as I certainly have my fair share.

As a single mum, I feel more conscious than ever about the parts of me that are not so perfect. When you are in a relationship with the father of your children you can take comfort from the fact that at least they can remember what you looked liked before your tummy bulged over the top of your jeans. When you’re single, you have to deal with the daunting prospect of at some point having to reveal your naked body – stretch marks and all – to a new man. A scary thought indeed.

But then as It’s Complicated shows, perhaps we should be a little more accepting of ourselves and realise it’s not just women who feel the effects of aging. At least I don’t have to worry about balding. Well not yet at least.

Flickr image by bies

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As a single working mum, I often find myself bogged down in the day-to-day nitty-gritty of parenthood, so busy finding everyone matching shoes and remembering to at least offer fruit regularly, that I forget to notice the wonder of life.

One of the joys of having children though is that they make you stop, think, and see things through their eyes. Their enthusiasm and imagination is infectious and if you spare some time to step into their world, you can gain a whole new and inspiring perspective on what you would normally take for granted.

Take last night for example. Yesterday was a busy day, and in my rush to meet deadlines I forgot to buy yeast for the breadmaker. A forgivable crime I’m sure in the grand scheme of things. On our way home from Badgers therefore, Belle and I stopped off at our local newsagents for a loaf of bread.

When we got home, I gave Belle the bread to carry in, and as she picked her way carefully to the front door (I obviously haven’t done anything sensible like clear the snow from the path) she looked at the bread curiously.

“Mummy,” she asked me, “is this bread sliced?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Already?” she asked, a look of amazement on her face.

“Yes,” I said again.

“Wow!!” she exclaimed.

If only we could all see the wonder in something so simple… 

Flickr image from nettsu

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As many of you know, I have something of a soft spot for Lib Dem politicians… if you haven’t already, you can read about my Clegg-crush here at Mookychick.

Clegg’s appeal increased further today then when he openly scoffed childcare guru Gina Ford and her controversial childcare routines.  Talking about his experience of using Ford’s ‘Contented Little Baby Book’, Clegg is quoted in the Times as saying “With our first one, like all new parents, we religiously followed Gina Ford. Instructions like, stick him in a broom cupboard at 7.46am. At 7.48am, take him out, do not look at him . . . Absolute nonsense.”

I couldn’t agree more! Although millions of parents swear by Ford’s strict regimes, I have always been shocked by her attitude to raising children – not just because of the trauma I believe her harsh routines can expose babies to, but also the pressure it puts on parents. How can it feel good to have someone tell you to just sit and listen to your baby cry??

Books like Ford’s take the power away from parents, making them question their own judgement and instincts. As a species, we have managed to survive for thousands of years without parenting manuals like these – as women, we are designed to bear and nurture our children. We don’t need anyone to tell us how to do it.

Ford hit back at Clegg, warning him that his outburst could cost him much-needed support at the general election. I think she’s wrong – anybody who is prepared to stand up to Gina gets my vote.

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Make cup of tea, stare vaguely out of the window for a little while, check emails in case someone interesting has decided to spontaneously offer me work and/or a love affair…

And so begins my first day back at work.

I work at home, and most of the time I love it. It can be difficult sometimes to get motivated, and admittedly a lot of my time is spent in forums, obsessing over blog stats, or compulsively refreshing my emails, but I’m pretty sure that’s what most people do in offices anyway, I just have the bonus of not having to worry about anyone looking over my shoulder.

School holidays are hard though. My study is right there at the top of the stairs, trying to lure me in every time I go to the bathroom. My laptop stares at me, sometimes I swear it winks – it is trying to seduce me.

I want to switch off, to be spending Quality Time with the children, baking cookies, toasting things on sticks around an open fire and other such wholesome activities I am led to believe happen in other families. But it is difficult. How do you leave work behind you in the holidays when your office is inside your house??

Today Belle went back to school and I had six whole hours in the house on my own, the solitary day to myself that I have been craving for nearly three weeks. Oh the joy! The decadence of roaming the house alone, no Disney channel soundtrack to my day, nobody asking me things or wanting things! It is bliss.

For an hour or so anyway. And then it gets a bit dull and I wish there was someone there to gossip with, to look over my shoulder and ask if facebook really constituted work. Perhaps I’ll just have a little check of my emails, who knows what the last twenty minutes may have bought me…

Flickr image by Tambako the Jaguar

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