Firstly, disclaimer: I’m not claiming to be an expert on parenting, at all. In fact tonight I told my kids to F off, yep. Im THAT parent. But in all honesty they’ve broken me this week and while im sat reflecting over a glass (bottle) of wine, I think its probably because I need to take a bit of my own advice!
Greg works away due to being in the military, we are currently involuntarily separated which means that he has been forced to work away from where we currently live, or we have been forced to live where he currently works. Either way you look at it, its pretty crap! We’ve done it voluntarily before, but it just doesn't work for us as a family. Because, well, we all love each others company funnily enough! So when we got the news that Greg in fact would not be joining us in our new home, which is miles from family, surrounded by empty houses and is as rural as it gets, I was not impressed. The good thing is that he will be back weekends, so until December this year, I will be solo parenting from Monday to Friday every, damn, week.
So, one question I get regularly is, how do you cope?
Somedays, I don’t even know how I get through the day. I get to the point where I could either cry, scream, or get in the car and drive off leaving the kids to fend for themselves. Most of the time its either of the first two. But the other times I am very stringent, very organised and I’ll say it, I parent the shit out of life.
Organisation is key!
Plan everything! Your days out, your meals, your outfits, your toilet breaks...you get my drift. Write it down and go with that plan. I find when I plan our outfits I will get them out the night before, iron them if needed, and lay them somewhere they cant be thrown on the floor by irritating miniature humans, it saves 20 minutes in the morning, which will mess up our routine and push back the time we can get out of the door. It may seem like just 20 minutes but that could be an entire journey somewhere and it all adds up! Getting up 30 minutes before the kids for a shower is also a great way to wake you up and really feel ready to take on the day. Doing your makeup with scratchy fingers grabbing at your ankles just isn’t ideal, so I always try to do it before they even think about opening their eyes in the mornings! Planning meals is also fabulous for my urge to be in total control of my schedule. Its great to plan meals you can slow cook, so prepping a meal in the evening is less of a strain and you’re not constantly back and forth keeping an eye on the kids making sure they’re not sticking fingers in plug sockets or picking up chickens by their tail feathers (don’t ask).
Planning your days out not only gives you that structure for the week but also gives you something to look forward to each day and as stressful as it is taking all of the kids out for the day, it’s also so liberating doing it by yourself. Just because your partner isn't with you doesn't mean that the littles cant make memories with mummy!
As well as a week full of plans, I like to plan some down time, whether that be a morning, afternoon or a full day is up to you. I like to do a lot of stuff in the mornings so we can get home for the babies main nap, that way I get a little break or some alone time with the girls. But most weeks I will plan to stay in for a whole day, slow things down and don’t put pressure on myself to be somewhere. I’ll get in some munchies and just watch films all day, or prep the garden for a day of lazing and slow living! Soak it all in because you will need a bit of down time too, and so will the kids!
Find your tribe!
You know what I bloody hate that word, but I’ve drunk two glasses of wine and my brain is slightly fried so I cant think of another word. A friendship group is needed. Being surrounded by your offspring and talking to them as mummy all day is draining. I love them but theres only so much sympathy I can give for a tiny pin prick injury to the little finger. Get your mates round, let the kids play and have some adult conversation. Its also a good idea to choose your friends well, you want the ones you know will support you no matter what and vice versa, and if they piss you off you need to tell them, or at least feel like you can! In this type of situation where we move regularly and are forced into new friendship groups it can be really difficult to find the ‘right’ ones. But they always find their way to you, so be patient. (can really tell I’ve had two glasses now…)
Don't be afraid to have a drink. Responsibly of course!
While we are on the subject of wine…a drink in the evening can really help you relax. I don’t drink every night, I don’t even drink every week, but if I feel particularly stressed I will treat myself to a bottle, sometimes I’ll drink it all over a few hours, but I wouldn't get smashed while I was in charge of all the kids alone. Calling out an ambulance because your kid has a fever and you are too pissed to drive to the shop and grab some calpol is apparently a waste of NHS money…so yeah, don’t do that. Be responsible but don’t feel guilty for that wind down tipple!
Make time for yourself!
Last but not least, a snippet of time for myself in the evenings is always worked into my schedule. Whether its for a bath in silence, a paint of my rancid toe nails, or binging on a box set. Whatever works for you then go for it. Being on duty 24 hours a day with no help is hard work, and to work harder we need to look after ourselves too. Self care is actually less selfish than you may think!
I really hope anyone in the same or similar situation than me can take some of these tips and make their days solo parenting a little easier, and if you have anything to add, please let us know!
My biggest piece of advice for a first time parent is to find your tribe. Tribe - cliquey AF right?
Now, I've not really been apart of 'tribe' since school, I have different pockets of friends and it works for me. What I love the most about my friendships is that they cross over and my different friends mix together perfectly, I might have pockets, but my friends all have very similar qualities.
When I found out that I was cooking Rudi I realised quite quickly that for me it was a priority to find baby friends, I didn't want to feel alone, become isolated or resent that I had no life beyond motherhood. I knew that they wouldn't just land on my lap, so I went in search of them, scary but totally worth it. I started a pregnancy yoga class which, if I'm honest, was more about napping and complaining about how shite we all felt, I LOVED that hour that I got once a week. Our babies started to arrive and I honestly don't think that any of us expected for our friendship to develop into what it has. I have a full on dog lump** writing that because those beautiful women have been the key to my survival. They just get it, they get me! Our babies are the same age, we're usually up at the same times on whatsapp; the same trials, the same tribulations. We laugh, we cry, we watch our babies grow up together. We are incredibly lucky and I knew without them that I would have gone completely batshit crazy. They saved me and maybe I saved them?!
Our friendship is strong. We are honest. No topic off limits... literally nothing! Our friendship allows me to see that I'm a good Mama, it allows me to know that I'm a good friend and that I am enough. The thing about friendship is that you have to nurture and care for it, you get out of it what you put into it. We're three years into our hot mums (whatsapp group name) friendship, we have grown, we have changed, we've added sisters and old friends and I think that's what a tribe should be about. A tribe doesn't need to be cliquey and mean. Be open to change and allow for growth, you won't always get on with everybody or have the same opinions, but be kind.
In the past three years I have gained two boy humans, 15 other small humans that I beyond love and I have found 7 inspirational women that will be a part of my life for a really long time, hopefully forever.
If you're just starting your journey into motherhood and you're worried about being alone or feeling that bite of loneliness then get on to the internet and research your local baby groups. I'm pretty bloody certain that you wont be the only one that's feeling the pressure of motherhood, that's tired AF or feeling isolated. Why not go in search of that 'gem' of a friend that you just can't live without?!
**Dog Lump - A very technical term for when you become emotional and get that lump in your throat, some might compare it to the lump that you get when watching adverts about homeless dogs.
Mama Roo And Boy
By now we’ve all seen THAT quote that sent us into deep thought, or perhaps you looked at it differently and saw something that was untrue? However we look at it, a parent gets a period of time to spend with their children at different stages in their lives.
For me, I looked at this and felt panic, reality of how little time I have with Cailyn while she’s a little girl. She’ll soon grow up, flee the nest and have her own life. One thing's for sure, me and Chris will always look at her as our baby girl. We don’t just have 18 summers, we have a life time of summers, winters, autumns and springs. We have birthdays, Christmas and all the fun in between. There’s every day, night and morning to enjoy each other, make memories, and you know what? We'll make sure that our little family is close & cared for no matter how old we are.
We’ve made many memories, explored and created the best childhood we can for Cailyn to run free, be wild and have that muddy life kids should have. There’s nothing better (in our opinion) than letting your child play, be outdoors & make a mess. I was brought up mostly on my grandad's farm as a child so for me messy play & animals were always a massive part of my life. And I want that for Cailyn too, as well as to travel - another massive part of my life, I moved out when I was 16 & went traveling when I was 21 - I didn’t return until 27 years old. Cue Chris and then Cailyn who followed months after.
I feel that yes the quote is beautiful and scary but it also makes us look at what’s important and that’s family, Family, above 'things,' and making moments together mean so much, no matter how big or small. For us there’s no shop that can sell me what time can give us with Cailyn.
Schools out!! ...... what are your plans this summer?
We love travel so much so I booked 3 holidays this year 2 weeks apart .... oops!! We do love our U.K. holidays and living in Scotland does provide the most beautiful and, quite frankly, best views around.
The next trip is a log cabin booked for November - in this family most birthdays are in November so it’s a combined break for myself, mum and Chris. So keep an eye out for this treat (@cailynsmummy) as it’s gorgeous! The first time my mum went there I had bought the trip for her 50th birthday while I was living in Jersey and it looked amazing. One of those proper wooden style lodges (unlike a few I’ve seen that haven’t kept the wood inside to show off). Same month birthdays though - anyone else? Why is there always that month of birthdays so close together that they could practically share the wrapping paper?
We went to Italy in April, just myself & Chris for 3 nights in Sorrento, which was unbelievable and just the most beautiful city! We love Italy. It really is the place to be for everything fashion, food & colour. Two weeks after that we went on our first family trip to Lanzarote. Chris’s family, mine and friends joined us there. 7 days of heat, stress, great times and amazing tapas times! Would I do it again? Yes, but I’d want more time to do things alone with Chris and Cailyn and not have to feel like I had to please everyone. The pressure of not getting enough time spent with people for Cailyn’s sake got to me a little and I felt I didn’t see my best fiend enough, Cailyn wouldn’t settle with anyone properly other than us so this precious time was taken away as we would of loved some down time. Plus there’s that pressure of not drinking like we used to, you know before kids. Life changes and Cailyn is our priority, but nowadays I’d much rather cuddle her in bed than go out boozing with friends. However, some down time to spend with our friends, Joanne and James would be fantastic and very needed! We’re both engaged now and still haven’t celebrated. They live in Jersey & it costs £500 return from Scotland - yeah! Sort it out. I’d like to see my friends more EasyJet!
Have you ever done a family holiday? Did it work? Talk to me!!! I love my own space and that’s what I need on holiday, so I hope that next time I’ll feel more relaxed & ready to just say no and not feel guilty. Ahhh that word guilt! Mum guilt is the worst, right?
Cailyn’s Mummy X
Today we meet Maricarmen, a mum of 2 young boys, personal trainer and the creator of The Pre & Postnatal Health & Body plan- a membership website which helps mums get fit and healthy around their family and a busy lifestyle.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Maricarmen, a mother of 2 busy boys, a partner to Dean, the owner of The Pre & Postnatal Health & Body Plan and a 1-2-1 Personal Trainer. I have a passion for health, wellbeing and exercise and finding ways to live a healthier lifestlye around the kids while still enjoying life! The want to be healthy for my children lead me to become a personal trainer and my passion has lead to a hobby of competing within the bodybuilding world in the tall bikini category.
reason I have created different levels of membership, each with a varying level of direct support from myself but with every membership adaptable to individual members and their own personal goals. Our memberships start from £9.99 a month with our bronze package, which gives you access to safe pre or postnatal workouts, guidance on planning your food intake, delicious and nutritious recipes suitable for all the family and guidance from myself and guest contributors on general health and wellbeing. Our silver and gold memberships include more direct support from myself with personal check ins and monitoring of progress.
How do you find juggling mama hood and running your own business?
I will start by saying my boys are the most wonderful little boys, but they can be a handful and I honestly believe the way I manage both of them and running a business is by having a routine. My life consists of late nights and early mornings! I am continually working on the PHBP; creating and uploading content, adapting the website, creating my marketing plan, scheduling social posts and generally building the business. My 1-2-1 PT sessions are generally of an evening, so the admin side of things begins at 9pm (now that love island is over). We are very lucky that Dean works shifts and we manage the boys, between the two of us, around his shifts. Weekends are our own at all times! There are very few weekends we don’t have something scheduled in for the whole family. We are very active as a family so whether it’s a bike ride for the boys and a run for me, a trip to the beach for ice cream and sandcastle building, a chilled day in the garden with a BBQ and paddling pool or a full weekend of camping we ensure we are solely focused on our boys and they get the best of us.
Do you have any other exciting news or upcoming events?
For the month of August we have been running a #mumstakeover feature where friends and clients of the PHBP are sharing their own personal journeys of motherhood on our blog, so head over there if you fancy a read of some truly inspiring stories. When September arrives we will be giving you a daily tip on how to be a healthier you so stay tuned for that. Also, really exciting news, September and October will see the PHBP attending two baby shows at the baby and toddler show at Manchester event city 28-30th September and the baby show London Olympia 19-21st October so come and say hi if you’re there!
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I love the job satisfaction I get from helping mums and I love working with clients who I can relate to when it comes to their goals. It may be that they want to get their confidence back after putting on weight during pregnancy, becoming more confident with working out, going for their first run or making small lifestyle changes, all of these are achievable goals with the PHBP and having the opportunity to be the support that mums need to smash these goals is just the best feeling.
Where can people find out more about you and PHBP?
You can find out all about me and the PHBP at www.phbp.co.uk and you can keep up with all our daily goings on by following @thephbplan on Facebook and Instagram. I am a BIG fan of Instagram stories so if you want to see what me and my boys get up to on a daily basis we’ll see you there!
Thanks so much for taking the time out to chat Maricarmen. PHBP sounds like a wonderful resource for busy mums looking to stay fit and healthy. Wishing you all the best with PHBP in the future!
MARICARMEN HAS ALSO KINDLY OFFERED ALL SEPTEMBER BOX SUBSCRIBERS 10% OFF ANY PHBP MEMBERSHIP. BUY A ONE OFF BOX OR SUBSCRIBE BEFORE AUGUST 31ST TO RECEIVE YOUR EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE!
How humble are you? Kindness is on the rise, but are we all inclusive? My Nana used to say ‘never look down on anyone. You never know when you might be looking up at them’. I always thank the cleaner at work and so I blinking should!
worse still, they assume I don’t work because my husband should be out raking it in every day while I stay home spending money and entertaining the kids. If that’s your jam that’s totally fine with me, but I like my job(s). I have friends with amazing jobs and I’m exceptionally proud of them and their success. I also have friends who stay home with kids all day and I’m just as proud of them. Regardless of whether you’re a cleaner or the CEO of a company it doesn’t matter. Your job doesn’t define you. A cleaner can end up a CEO and vice versa. You don’t know everyone’s situation and situations can change very quickly.
Money isn’t important to me. I’m grateful I have a roof over my head and food in the cupboards, but happiness is my driving force. Money is some people’s driving force and that’s okay too. We are all allowed different motivators. Can you imagine how boring life would be if we all wanted the same things?
My group of friends varies so much and that pleases me. I don’t care who rents, who has kids, who is on benefits etc. I like people for who they are. If you invite me over please don’t ever tidy up for me. I don’t care about that kind of thing. Although if you don’t give me a biscuit I will be silently judging. Kidding of course... okay, half kidding.
I’m the annoying person who talks to people at the park. Everywhere I go I make friends. It’s a blessing and a curse. On the one hand I meet new people, but on the other hand if you go out with me you might never see me because I’m off saying hi to someone else. Not everyone is like me and it’s just as well really. How annoying would that be? We’d never get anywhere!
Some people are shy. They’re not cold or stand offish. They just need a bit longer to feel comfortable. At a night out I was dancing and chatting to random people as my introverted friend watched on. I spoke to her and tried to get her involved as I didn’t want her to miss out. She explained she wasn’t missing out at all. She got her enjoyment from watching others enjoy themselves. She was more than happy to watch on. We’re all so different and I love that.
Kindness can be frustrating. You don’t always get gratitude, but that’s not a reflection on you. Remember that. People can be hostile, but you don’t know where they're at in their lives. Don’t be put off. Overall the nicer you are the more love you’ll get back. Don’t write people off because they’re different from you. Give everyone a chance and if you don’t get on you’ll know you tried. Manners cost nothing. Smile at everyone and say please and thank you. Everyone deserves to be appreciated. Let’s celebrate different.
Champagne and Snotty Noses