What I Read 53

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Well I'm finally back with a What I Read, I took a couple of weekends off and things got a big crazy but I've managed to squeeze in some time to share some great posts.


With the summer holidays upon us is it time to reflect on how you've been doing this year? I love to take the summer to think about my plans for the next year (school year) and work out what I could be doing better at. Jacqui's post 16 Habits of Successful People is a great start - it gives you an idea of what other people do. There are a couple of top tips in this post that I intend using over the next six weeks to see if it helps me at all. Can you work out which ones?








Now I love a good poem, and usually I would stop by Dawn's blog for my poetry fix. So you can imagine my surprise when I found a post that wasn't poetry! Even better though was the fact that I learned something from her post, Group B Strep - Our Story. I had no idea what Group B Strep was, or even how it came about but after reading Dawn's post I'm aware and can spread the word. Please head over to read Dawn's scary story that thankfully has a happy ending. 






When you become a parent there's a switch that seems to flick on. It's the worry switch or The Fear as Isabella puts it. As soon as your children are born you see everything as a threat, something to be avoided or to "be careful" of. Since having children I've said "be careful" more times than I care to admit! Do stop by and give Isabella's post a read.







I read a post this week that left me with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Laura's post Dad is a truly touching story about the loss of her father. I cannot imagine how hard it must've been to deal with but I am glad that Laura is able to see some hope.







It's always great to read posts about the "normal" life of a stay-at-home parent and this week I loved Bridie's post My Filter-less Feed. In it she talks about the pictures we constantly see on Facebook and Instagram and how they're so perfect. She discusses the fact that we always seem to compare ourselves to those pictures and punish ourselves because life isn't that "beautiful". I wholeheartedly agree with Bridie when she says "we're all good enough". Stop by and give her post a read.







Finally I couldn't not share this post from The Laughing Mum: I AM a Yummy Mummy! In her post she talks about being the parent of a pre-teen and a teen and how much she loves it. This I can understand, I am a mum of a pre-teen and a tween-in-training. I nodded along while laughing out loud as I read The Laughing Mum's post and couldn't wait to share it. There is no doubt that I related to this post!

Post Comment Love 22nd - 24th July

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Welcome back to another Post Comment Love, the last one before the boys descend and my house is enveloped in chaos!

This week has been a weird one, I've had so much on that my blogging has had to take a back seat. I both hate and love when that happens. It's given me time to live life and enjoy time with my boys as well as an opportunity to re-evaluate why I blog. But I do hate not being able to write every day!

The summer seems to have arrived suddenly this year and we've been enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. I spent the last weekend and most of Monday preparing our pool ready for Tuesday when the weather was absolutely wonderful. It was just the perfect day for the pool!



The boys break up later today and with lots of days out and activities for the boys I imagine there's not going to be much work done over the next six weeks. One thing you can be sure of though is that I'll be back every Friday for Post Comment Love!

Do you have anything planned for the summer?



Newbie Showcase Cécile from The Frenchie Mummy Blog



Bonjour! My name is Cécile, aka Frenchie Mummy.

Originally from France (bien sûr!), I moved to London 8 years ago to work as a languages assistant. It was supposed to only last a year, but I am still here, now working as a teacher in a secondary school.

I live in the South-East of London with Grumpy Boyfriend and Baba, my baby boy born in January. 

First-time mum, I started my blog because I wanted to create my little space while I had some time off work. This project soon became a passion and 2 months later I am now officially addicted to blogging. My mum thinks it’s dangerous to put my son’s pictures all over the internet. My dad doesn’t even know what a blog is and probably thinks that his daughter is mad. La preuve, she even decided to stay in the UK and have a baby with a roast beef… Grumpy Boyfriend is keeping quiet, but I can see that he is very doubtful, while Baba loves the life of a babe (go and check out his pictures; you will see what I mean!)

The Frenchie Mummy Blog is not about being a super maman, with gorgeous Frenchie recipes. Instead, you will read my thoughts, my faves, my dislikes, my rants, my moans. It’s all about Me, Me, Me… and Baba. Oh and let’s not forget Grumpy Boyfriend! Genuine, honest and (hopefully!) funny, I will share all my adventures dans le monde des mamans.



Bienvenue to our Frenchie World!

Twitter: @FrenchieMummy
Email: thefrenchiemummy@hotmail.com

My top 5 posts are:



I've enjoyed reading Cécile's posts over the last few weeks and I think you'll enjoy them too. Please do stop by her blog and say hi.



Pocolo


Each week you'll be able to link up from either of our sites and between us Stephanie and I will comment on every post linked.

The rules; Link up your best post written in the last week and we'd like you to comment on at least two other linked posts, as well as the hosts.

Help us spread the #PoCoLo word on Twitter and include the badge on your post.

Please do pop over and say hi to this week's Newbie, you remember what it was like being a new blogger right? It's always nice to get a comment or two.

If you'd like to be featured in our Newbie Showcase please get in touch.


Thank you for popping by.


Post Comment Love
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How to cope through the summer holidays

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My boys are still at school at the moment but they break up on Friday, the summer holidays are imminent. The summer is always a stressful time if we're not going on holiday because I have to find things for the boys to do for a whole six weeks. It is especially tough when they both like such different activities. While LP likes to be outdoors running around BP would much rather be indoors sketching or watching TV.

The other thing to cope with is the fact that there are no breaks until the boys are in bed. There's no six hour break during the day when they're not nagging or fighting. They're at home. 

All. The. Time.

Being a stay-at-home mum to school-aged children means the six weeks holidays are the most taxing time of the year. You have to find activities, plan days out, and keep them busy so they don't drive you absolutely crazy.


Here's how to cope through the holidays:


Make a list

When it comes to daytime activities you can be overwhelmed with ideas from your children and the best way to organise them is to write them down. That way you get to see what the ideas are, you can add your own, and you can plan when you'll do them.


Top tip: don't try to cram too much in, yes it's six weeks but you'll be wiped out if you try to do something amazing every day.


Diary Dates

Once you have your list written have it in hand while looking at your diary. Try to work out when you can fit in specific activities and pencil them in. Take note of any special dates during the summer, for example it is BP's birthday in August and we need to plan to do something special then. 

If you're planning a weekend away perhaps do some research into the area you'll be staying to find out if anything special is happening during your stay. It could add that extra something to your trip.


Tablet Guilt

The guilt you feel when your children spend time on their tablets should be banished during the holidays. You cannot entertain them 24/7, it is okay to let them have time on their tablets. 


Movie Nights

The summer is a great time to find new movies, a lot of the animated movies (think Finding Dory, The BFG) schedule their release for the summer. There's always plenty to see at the cinema and the children will love a trip where they can scoff popcorn and watch their favourite characters on a huge screen. 


Talk to friends

If your children are anything like BP they'll want some time with their friends. Older children will be able to arrange meeting their friends on their own but the younger children will need your help with this. Be sure to get in touch with other parents to arrange play dates or trips out together. The children will love the opportunity to play together when they're not at school.


Visit family

Both sides of our family live far away, my parents live in Grimsby and the Hubby's are in Stoke-on-Trent. Although it's tough not seeming my family enough I do love the holidays because it means I have the time to see them. We always plan at least one day for visiting my family and the boys love it because they get spoiled. 

Visiting family is great, it's a chance for your children to talk to other family and it gives you a little break too. If you can arrange an overnight stay somewhere even better, then the children get to have a mini holiday too!


Days out

Research your local area, the council will usually organise free and paid activities for the summer holidays. From sports activities and classes to music festivals and culture days there will be plenty to choose from. Local activities are great because if they turn out to be dull or the children just aren't interested you're still close to home. Win!

Looking further afield you may find some gems. As we live in the East Midlands there are plenty of places to visit, like the English Heritage sites which the boys always love. You may find adventure golf, castles and museums, or even caves to explore! We usually set a limit for how far we're willing to travel in one day, there's only so much time stuck in the car that you can all take.

My boys in front of the Star Chamber at Bolsover Castle

The summer essential

Every single parent of school-age children needs one essential item to see them through the summer. Alcohol*. There is nothing like an ice-cold glass of bourbon (or tipple of your choice) at the end of a taxing day.

*Okay, so it's it's not essential but it certainly helps with the relaxation! 



Of course, being a parent you'll know that all the planning in the world cannot fight the inevitable chaos that will descend on your house during the next six weeks. 

But know, we're all in this together.

Being a stay-at-home mum when you're not a "natural homemaker"

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Two weeks ago I wrote a post about NOT being the breadwinner and how it's okay. A comment on that post was about not being a "natural homemaker" and it spoke to me. I am not a natural homemaker, far from it, and yet I'm a stay-at-home mum, so how do I do it?
muffins

I have never been the baking, cleaning-loving, stay-at-home mum I'd dreamed I would be. The "natural homemaker" thing never came to me and I found it quite a struggle when I became a stay-at-home mum.

Over the years I have learned to love my stay-at-home mum status and I'm going to show you how.


It's not all about the cleaning


As long as you're not walking over lego pieces and trampling crisps into your carpet the cleaning isn't essential. Just because you're a stay-at-home mum doesn't mean you need to spend all of your time cleaning the house. 

When my kitchen resembles a rubbish tip I tend to clean, I'll take a day and get it tip top again but it's not something I like to spend all of my time doing. The same goes for the vacuuming, dusting, washing, etc.

Cleaning is essential but it's not necessary to spend 7 hours a day doing it. It's also great when you have older children because you can get them doing some of the chores, so you don't have to!



Not Nigella


When it comes to baking lovely cakes and fantastic feasts I leave it to the professionals. If I need a cake I either ask my sister (who is amazing!) or I buy from a supermarket. They can do a far better job than I ever could.

death-star-cake
My sister's creation for LP's birthday.

Don't get me wrong, I do cook but the majority of the time I leave it to the oven or the slow cooker to do all the work. I'm not terrible in the kitchen when it comes to main meals, I mean I can cook a Christmas lunch for nearly 20 people without much trouble, but I don't particularly enjoy it. Cooking is not something I want to spend a lot of time doing.

If you enjoy cooking and baking, go for it, but if, like me, you're not that bothered about it it's easy to find other ways of keeping your children and partner fed without spending hours in front of the cooker.

Pasta bake is a brilliant, and easy, recipe to try out - and the cooker does most of the work!
The slow cooker is a god-send. Chop up ingredients and throw them in the crock-pot - 8 hours later you have a wonderful meal for your family.
Spaghetti bolognese (using a dolmio sauce) is a fantastic meal everyone will love. It's super easy too.



Crafty Mama?


A lot of the stay-at-home mums I know are fantastic at craft. I am not one of those mums. I cannot make an amazing dress-up outfit, I can't come up with crafty ideas for my boys because, basically, I'm rubbish at it! Splodges of paint on a piece of paper is pretty much the best I can do, which means my boys aren't going to learn a lot from me in that respect.

Again though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. When my boys were younger we didn't spend our days doing crafts, we went out and visited nature parks or went shopping.

The one thing I can do is draw, I'm not great at it but I do enjoy it and can copy a picture. Both BP and LP enjoy drawing some of the time and we have spent many hours working on drawing particular things. BP drew a fantastic stitch a couple of years ago and LP is getting pretty good too.

It's nice to let the little ones play with paints and learn but you don't have to be fabulous at it. Once they go to nursery they'll get to do that kind of thing every day. Spend the time with them doing something you'll all enjoy.



Venturing outdoors


I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with the outdoors. Sometimes I love nothing more than going for a long walk along the canal or enjoying some time at the local park. But there are times when I just cannot be bothered to go out and want to lounge at home in my PJ's.

When you have little ones a short walk outdoors can turn into a wonderful adventure searching for bugs, birds, and plants. They learn about animals as you walk along the canal or through the woods and they think they've been on an adventure.

With the older kids it's more important to get them away from the technology and screens that they spend so much time in front of. My boys do enjoy a walk once we're out, although there are lots of complaints before we actually go out. The great thing about walks with older kids is they can run off ahead, leaving you and your partner to enjoy the walk together. It is great to be able to walk along holding hands.



Finding a hobby


While your little ones are taking up most of your time it is easy to forget the things you enjoy doing. You are so consumed with making sure the little ones are enjoying themselves and are healthy and happy that you forget who you are. I know exactly what that is like, I completely lost myself after having BP and it took me a long time to find myself again.

When LP started nursery I was terrified, I had no idea what I would do with all that time. After all I didn't want to spend it cleaning, or cooking, so what on earth would I do?

It was at that time I read an inspiring blog post and turned to writing. I drafted a novel within the first two months of LP starting nursery. I'd found something that I truly loved to do and I began to learn who I was again. The words seemed to flow from me, it was like they'd been trapped inside for years and the release was amazing. As time passed and I tried my hand at blogging too I found that blogging appealed to me more than the novels and I put the books aside to concentrate on blogging.

Being able to write every day is what I LOVE, I can express myself using the written word much better than I can with the spoken word. If I didn't write I have no idea what I would do instead.

Now that my boys are at school every day I can take time to write and I am a much happier person because I have time for me, I do something I truly love to do.

stay-at-home-mum-make-you-happy

You need to find the thing you love to do, whether that's crochet or knitting, sketching or writing, find the thing that makes you whole. There will be something, a thing that, when you're doing it, makes you smile. It could be that you return to something you loved to do when you were a child, it could be something you're trying for the first time, but it is something that allows you to be YOU.

Whatever you do ensure it makes you happy!



You don't have to be a "natural homemaker" to enjoy being a stay-at-home mum. It is okay to be a little selfish and enjoy the time on your own.

There is nothing to feel guilty about - it is an opportunity.

Grab it with both hands!

Post Comment Love 15th - 17th July

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Welcome back to another Post Comment Love and a chance for you to showcase your best post of the week. Or perhaps you want to give some extra love to a post without comments? Go ahead, the only requirement is that you wrote the post this week.

Yesterday I spent the entire day cleaning, from the moment I dropped LP off at school until around 5:30pm with a few breaks for lunch and picking LP up from school. The trouble is, with all those hours I only managed to finish downstairs. I was completely exhausted but there's still upstairs to do. 

The funny thing is I needed to do it, I've been feeling a bit down lately. Everything has been getting on top of me and I'm ending every day stressed. I'm putting pressure on myself to get things done and it's causing me to worry. A cleaning day allows me to escape from everything that has been stressing me out and concentrate on cleaning the house. The only thing that occupies my mind is the next cleaning job and how long it will take to finish it. It's a great release.

I'm feeling better today, still tired but glad I had a cleaning day.

What do you do to escape when you're feeling it's all just too much?


Newbie Showcase Jacqui from Recipes Made Easy



Jacqui is a cookery writer and has been for many years and is now a newbie blogger. She tried it out after her children left home and now she loves it! Read more about Jacqui over on Stephanie's blog.

You can find Jacqui here:



Pocolo


Each week you'll be able to link up from either of our sites and between us Stephanie and I will comment on every post linked.

Help us spread the #PoCoLo word on Twitter and include the badge on your post.
Please do pop over and say hi to this week's Newbie, you remember what it was like being a new blogger right? It's always nice to get a comment or two.

If you'd like to be featured in our Newbie Showcase please get in touch.

Thank you for popping by.


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10 things you'll learn from being a parent

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When I gave birth to BP I had no idea how much he would change our lives. Becoming a parent really is a life-changing thing.

Sometimes I'll think back to life before we had children and wonder what on earth we did with all the time we had.

Being a parent is a learning experience too, from learning how to feed a baby and change their nappy to knowing how to deal with tween tantrums (not that I've mastered this one yet). The learning never ends and I'm sure that when I'm a grandma I'll be talking about how I'm still learning.



1. You can deal with anything


A poorly child with a high temperature? No problem.
Nappy explosions? Easy.
Projectile vomit covering bedding, people, and clothes? You're on it.

The things that you never thought you could deal with suddenly become easy, even when it's 2 am and you've only had an hour's sleep.



2. You're ridiculously soppy.


Before you had children you could watch a romantic comedy and laugh.
After children you can't watch romantic comedies without crying, big wet, soppy tears.

Ads on the TV have you in tears, any baby within a 2 mile radius makes you broody, and when your child runs out of nursery with a blob of paint on a piece of paper you have to hold back the tears of pride.


Embrace your stay-at-home mum status!

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I have been a stay-at-home mum for more than 11 years and in that time I've been through many stages. I've hated it, got used to it, and even enjoyed it. I have driven myself crazy with boredom, I've tried new hobbies. After 11 years I am finally embracing my stay-at-home mum status!

If you're a stay-at-home mum you'll already know the disadvantages, from cleaning to being blamed for everything, but that's not what I want to talk about today. It's about time we began to enjoy staying at home and take advantage of being able to do so.


Spend the day in your pyjamas


The children are at school, the shopping is done, and you have no plans to leave the house - it is perfectly acceptable to do cleaning in your pj's. It's bad enough that you have to do the cleaning at all so you may as well be comfortable while you're doing it!



Your children know where to find you


You're a stay-at-home mum, which means the majority of the time you're at home, and the children know that. If there's trouble at school, if illness strikes, or if they just need something from home they know they can ask the school to call you and you'll be there. 



The day is yours to spend as you wish


With the rug-rats spending the day at school you are free to do what you want with the day. Admittedly that involves cleaning most days, picking up after the children, and making sure there's food in the house but on the rare occasion that all that stuff is done you have a day for you. You can leave the house (shock-horror!), you could go shopping (and I don't mean food shopping), you can even spend the day in front of the TV if you so choose.


Post Comment Love 8th - 10th July

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Welcome to another week of Post Comment Love, link up your best post of the week no matter what the topic.

What on earth has happened to the weather? It was so lovely a few weeks ago and now I'm sitting in my office with my jumper on and my nose is freezing! That might sound daft but my nose always goes cold when I'm cold, do you think there's such a thing as a nose-warmer? You know, like ear-muffs but for your nose? 

So I'm sitting here wondering if I should put the heating on or just get an extra jumper. How is that happening in JULY! The photo above is our garden a few weeks ago when the weather was so lovely. I'm hoping the sun makes an appearance during the summer holidays, there'll be many days when my boys need entertainment and we'll get cabin fever if we're stuck in every day. 

The awesomeness of being a mum to school-aged children

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While I loved being a mum to babies and toddlers I enjoy being a mum to school-aged children far more. There are so many things that I couldn't do with them when they were little that we do together now.

And it's not just about doing things together, you can do things separately too!

My boys are 11 (BP) and 7 (LP) years old, they are both very different children and enjoy polar opposite activities. While BP enjoy sitting and drawing or writing LP likes to be outdoors playing football or, if has to, be indoors and playing with his cars. They both like to be independent and although that can be difficult to come to terms with it's also great.

I am truly enjoying being a mum to my school-aged boys, and here's why:



Morning routine


Getting them up in a morning is entertaining. Whether your children are morning people or not you end up smiling. With a morning person you get to see their bright smile first thing and with a groaner (probably a teen/tween) you get to laugh as they drag themselves out of bed looking grumpy.

Breakfast is easy. The older children can usually make their own breakfast, be it toast or cereal, and the slightly younger ones simply sit at the table and eat. No need for high chairs and 40 minute struggles getting them to eat.

You do not need to be involved in getting them dressed. They go into their rooms and emerge a little while later fully dressed. A great time to grab a hot coffee!

School runs are much easier. For the older ones, whether you drive them to school or they get the bus there's not much input from you. They take themselves into school and that's that. For the slightly younger ones you just take them in, watching as they enter the school. Again, job done.

Why it's okay to NOT be the breadwinner

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Ever since meeting the Hubby nearly 14 years ago I've struggled with the fact that I will never be the breadwinner of the family. Compared to the Hubby's skills, mine are pitiful and I could never earn as much as him in a 'proper' job. That's not me putting myself down, that is fact. 

The Hubby is a programmer, and right now he's a company director. The kind of money he's earned in the past, and possibly in the future, is something I could only dream of earning. I trained as a secretary - I can type, I can file, I can do admin. In a 'proper' job I'd be lucky to earn £20k per year.

Society is so focused on 'Girl Power' and making sure women get equal opportunities where jobs and pay are concerned that they're forgetting it's actually about choice.

Of course I agree that a woman and a man, both qualified and capable of doing the same job, should be paid the same. Of course I believe women should have the same opportunities as men for the top jobs. But I also think we should be allowed to choose for ourselves.

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