I’ve decided it’s time to stop Belle watching so much television, effective immediately, with an additional complete ban on the Disney Channel. It’s a tough decision, given that the TV represents a significant chunk of my childcare, but I fear I have to do it, for two reasons.

Partly it’s because she seems to have become possessed with the spirit of Hannah Montana, and just cannot do as she is told without either hideous amounts of heavy sarcasm and talk-to-the-hand style arms gestures, or furious door slamming and feet stamping.  Also, I’m becoming seriously concerned about the amount of advertising she is being exposed to. View Post

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When Littlewoods asked me to take part in their style challenge, to choose my perfect child-friendly holiday outfit from their women’s clothing range, I felt it only fair to warn them what they were letting themselves in for.

“I’d love to take part,” I said, “but I should probably make it clear upfront that I have no style.”

Sad, but true. I really have no sense of what looks good, and am renowned amongst friends and family for having always had a ‘unique’ dress sense.

“Interesting choice of outfit,” my sister said when I was staying with her recently.

“It’s my Easter outfit!” I replied, beaming. “See? It’s yellow like a chick.”

“It wasn’t really the yellow I was concerned about,” she replied, eyeing my leggings, bright yellow t-shirt and denim ra-ra skirt combination suspiciously.

If I’m going anywhere important I’ll always get Bee to check what I’m wearing. Sometimes it’s immediately clear I’ve gone horribly wrong. “No,” she’ll say, shaking her head pityingly, “just no.”

Other times it’s less certain. “Well… I wouldn’t go out in it, but it looks very you.” I don’t think that is meant as a compliment.

Littlewoods assured me that it would be fine to get help, but I thought perhaps it was time for me to go it alone, so I tried to pick something all by myself. I started in dresses. I like dresses.

Initially I found a rather colourful long pink and purple one that I liked, but I’m guessing it doesn’t really fit with the whole practical/casual beachwear thing.

So I looked a bit more, and found a natty stripy number, which is very me. I thought it might look nice perhaps with some cropped leggings underneath. Wonderfully practical for when I jet off on my child-friendly summer holidays.

Given the British weather though, I thought I should be prepared. So to go with it I’m taking this lovely hat in case it’s sunny and a nice rain coat to protect me from any sudden spring showers.

And that’s me done. I’ll be looking pretty hot don’t you think?

PS I am currently on the short list for the ‘Style’ award in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards. Please take half a minute to cast your vote and tick the Slummy single mummy box.

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I am middle aged.

It’s official.

This week I stuck my new National Trust members badge inside my car windscreen, and on Sunday I actively chose to watch Antiques Roadshow. And enjoyed it.

“And my periods are getting closer together!” I moaned to my friend Lucy.

“Well that’s it then,” she said, “early menopause. It’s downhill all the way now.”

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This week I have spent a significant amount of time on Sarah Beeny’s dating website My Single Friend.

I’m not looking to get rid of New Boyfriend already, (what with being rather fond of him and everything) – I’m actually looking for a special someone for my friend Jacqueline.*

The idea of My Single Friend is that you get a friend to recommend you and the whole thing is slightly less like a painful self-marketing exercise. The principle is sound, but don’t be fooled. It’s basically a way for your single friend to get you to do all the work for them.

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A little while ago my friend Emma at Me the Man and the Baby tagged me in a post, asking me to open my fridge to the world. When she tagged me, I looked in my fridge, and just couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of what was basically cans of lager and some cheese. I have been waiting since then for the day when my fridge looked as clean and wholesome as Emma’s, but unfortunately that day has never come.

This is the outside of my fridge, covered in magnets, including the rather funky scrabble magnets that Belle bought me for my birthday this week. The top of my fridge is covered with all manner of junk, including my collection of ‘milk jugs in the shape of chickens where the milk comes out of their beaks’.

Fridge magnet collection

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Yesterday I made a classic slummy mummy error.

After over a fortnight of being at home with children I was looking forward to having six hours a day again to call my own, and as we drove up to school I was planning in my head all the things I was going to do during the day in my lovely, peaceful, empty house. I found somewhere to park easily. Too easily. Where were all the cars?

I spotted another mum, kids in tow, and was briefly reassured, until I noticed that she too was looking around nervously. We both eyed the locked gates suspiciously.

In service training day. Crap.

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Trying to sell you raincoats in the midst of an unseasonable April heat wave might seem a little foolish, but hey, I always like a challenge. It’s much like trying to get Belle out of bed for school in the morning – difficult, but not impossible, and very satisfying if you do manage it.

If you clicked on the link last week to my creativity feature in Inspired Times magazine, which I’m sure all of you did*, you’ll have read about my friend Sally. I met Sally on a writing retreat in 2009, where we bonded over our shared hands-off parenting style and, although we didn’t realise until later, a mutual crush on one of our tutors.

Since then we’ve become very good friends, so much so that last summer I dragged my kids across the country to stay with Sally and her family in their beautiful cottage in Cambridge. At the time, Sally was very excited about her new business – the Cambridge Raincoat Company – which was in its early stages, and between lounging around her house eating, drinking and generally making myself at home I was allowed to cast my eye over fabric swatches and coat samples. All very exciting. View Post

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It is very distracting. You try to focus your mind on the things you know you have to do, but sometimes it just won’t. Sometimes it just floats about, and you can’t pin it down. You spend a large amount of time staring unhelpfully into the distance and sighing.

Time speeds up and slows down. At all the wrong moments. The time you spend apart feels like years and then when you want time to drag, it’s gone in an instant. Perhaps someone is fiddling with the clocks.

Being in love makes you selfish and boring. Other people try to talk to you about their lives and their problems but you find it hard to be interested. Instead you’re just looking for an opportunity to turn the conversation around, to drop in a name. It’s oh so casual though, surely no one will notice if I just mention him one more time…

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Last week I had a bit of a recycling frenzy. All my boxes were already out on the pavement, and the lorry was due any minute, but suddenly it felt like a Very Good Idea Indeed to see how much paper I could get rid of. I even fell down the stairs a little bit in my excitement, but no one saw that, so we’ll brush over it and move on.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve used my new-found writing career as an excuse to buy and hoard magazines, believing I will spend hours reading and gaining inspiration. Of course it doesn’t happen, because most of the magazines out there are utter shite, full of make-up ads and air-brushed models that make me feel like I should be fasting or sticking my fingers down my throat, so instead I line my study with shelves full of useful boxes of unread magazines, just in case.

“Blimey, this one likes her reading doesn’t she?” I heard one of the recycling collectors say to his mate as they heaved box after box of my old glossy magazines into their van.

Not anymore. Now my shelves are clear, and I can eat guilt free.

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Do you like waking in the night to find a snoring walrus sprawled diagonally across the bed, leaving you curled up in a ball on the edge?

No?

Surely everyone likes being woken by a swift kick in the shin?

Really not?

In that case, you probably want to make a mental note never to share a bed with me.

When I was younger, I was a ridiculously deep sleeper, to the point that I would often seriously worry my mum and my sister, who could shout in my face and forcefully shake me and I wouldn’t wake. When you become a mother though, deep sleep goes out the window and you’re resigned instead to nights spent with one ear open, just in case. View Post

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An hour ago, Belle left for her very first sleepover.

A few months ago I did pose the question, how old should a child be before they go to a sleepover? I was a bit concerned about Belle’s rather dubious sleeping habits, and was imagining having to do a mercy dash in the middle of the night to rescue her.

I’ve decided though to take the chance, partly because we are five days into the Easter holidays now and quite frankly I could do with a break. This afternoon, after listening to her sing ‘snood, snood, snood, look at my snood, snood snood’ for what felt like five years, and consequently snapping at her to ‘shut up, please!’ I think someone else’s house is really the best place for her. View Post

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

I haven’t decided yet.

I always quite fancied being a ballerina, but I think I’m past that now. I never really had the thighs for a leotard anyway.

At school, I remember filling in one of those career questionnaires and it telling me I should be an insurance underwriter. Honestly, how dull must my answers have been that the quiz thought I’d get my kicks organising family travel insurance?? Weirdly, years later, I found myself working for an insurance company, training to be an actuary. It was the most hideously boring two years of my working life. Every day I would go to lunch and want to run away for ever. Afternoons were spent resisting the urge to smash my head into my PC screen.

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