Reclaiming me After Motherhood

It has taken over two years, but I finally feel as though I have found ‘me’ again, not just mam, but me. Don’t get me wrong I love being Aria’s mam but boy I have missed being me, being Leanne.

People used to say that I was funny, I made them laugh. I lost that person, I struggled to make conversation let alone make people laugh. I became lonely and boring. The only thing that I was able to talk about with any enthusiasm was Aria and my parenting wins and woes. This very quickly became my go to subject, became who I was.

I always have struggled to make friends, unless I’m drunk and then I can talk the hind leg off a donkey. Small talk is not my forte.

Before becoming a mother I worked in an office for over ten years, an office full of women, women who I knew very well. Women who I would regularly engage in conversation with and just be ‘me’ with. In fact I was often pulled up on for talking too much!

I left these women behind to work from home, and to look after my daughter, the only regular adult conversation that I had (apart from my husband) would be if I attempted to make small talk at baby groups. I missed regular free flowing conversation, I missed gossip, my baby became my security blanket and I lost myself. I forgot who I was, I forgot how to just be me.

More recently I’ve made time for me. I’ve made time to reconnect with old friends, time to connect with new friends. I’ve found myself again. I’ve found myself over those small moments. Bonded with other mothers over a coffee and an eye roll when our kids had that similar strop, smiled with other mother’s when our kids became friends. Those little moments are the ones that count. The ones that helped me find me again.

Whether it’s meeting up with old friends, some who are now parents too, some who aren’t, or making new friends through common interests, and of course, children. It all helps to find you again, to reclaim yourself.

Make time for adults. Even play dates and baby groups are important, they are when you bond with adults, when you get to become you again. Even if it is while keeping one on eye on your wild child.

The Clumsy Gene

I often wonder if there is such a thing as a clumsy gene. In fact I’m 99% sure that there is one. I am ridiculously clumsy, and now, my daughter is too. I’m forever falling over things, I’m almost always covered in bruises and most of the time I can’t even remember which of my calamities caused any one particular bruise.

Aria is already following suit. Her knees are constantly covered in grazes, she very often has mysterious bruises and I feel like I am forever telling her to watch where she is going. If I leave a drawer open she will walk into it, if I don’t beat her to it of course! My most used phrases now are “Aria! Watch where you’re going!” and “Aria! Open your eyes!” usually in a panicked, loud voice.

Despite all of this I’ve never broken a bone in my body and have only been to Hospital once which was when I was eighteen months old and caught my thumb in a caravan door and needed stitches, I didn’t even go to Hospital when I gave birth!

Another surprising fact is that I have never had an accident at work, even when I was younger, earning a half decent wage and living with my parents with little to no expenses. Back when I made the most of being young free and single and went out and got drunk. A lot. Back when I would go to work hungover, sometimes quite possibly still drunk yet I never had an accident.

When you consider that young employees aged 16-29 are the most likely to suffer an accident at work it’s really quite surprising that I didn’t! What’s even more surprising is that only one in four of these young people who suffer genuine accidents at work go on to seek legal advice which is whyHayward Baker has launched a free to use interactive injury compensation calculator.

Survey results surrounding young people and accidents at work

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A Work From Home Mam – The Reality

I had so many plans for when I became a work from home mam. I would cook from scratch daily, bake regularly and make my own bread. Aria and I would spend a lot of time crafting, and also go out on play dates at least once a week. My house would be spotless and the washing baskets would never overflow again. Who was I trying to kid!?!

The reality has been somewhat different. In fact, the only one of those things that happens on a regular basis is the bread making, and, to be completely honest, The Hairy Biker bread maker from Ideal World* makes it so easy that there is no reason I couldn’t have made my own bread back when I was working and blogging, so there is definitely no excuse not to do it now.

Review of the Hairy Bikers bread machine from Ideal World

It’s a  winner though, and I am glad that this is one of the few things that I actually do. Aria loves the bread maker, she sits on the worktop watching it, giggling when it kneads the bread and mimicking the whirring noises as the machine does it’s thing. I’ve yet to get her to eat the actual bread but getting her to eat most things is a challenge, except stock cubes of course (see facebook for more on this particular subject!). Spencer and I on the other hand absolutely love the beautiful, thick doorstop bread fresh from the machine. Getting used to it has taken a while, the paddle got stuck in the bread on the first few attempts but a good coating of oil on it seems to have solved that problem now.

As with most things in life I love to cut corners which is what makes the Hairy Biker’s bread maker perfect for me. I’ve decided to ignore the booklet full of recipes that comes with the machine and just buy ready made bread mixes. I simply measure out the required amount of water and pour it into the machine followed by the bread mix, close the lid and press go. As simple as that. Around three hours later I have a delicious loaf of super fresh and tasty bread. Winning.

blog review of the hairy bikers bread maker from ideal world

As for the crafts, well I was a bit clever there, I know that I always put crafts off so I signed up to become a Bostik Blogger which means that I HAVE to do crafts with Aria at least once a month. It is usually a last minute panic a few days before (or on the day of!) the deadline but she loves it all the same. My crafts are made with a lot of help from Aria so they never look great but believe me when I say that Aria puts a lot of effort into them and yes, I get incredibly frustrated watching her do them, especially when she sticks eyes on bums and that type of thing. It takes a lot to stay strong and not take over.

toddler crafting - the realities of a work from home mam

I dreamed of having weekends and evenings off when I become a work from home mam, and I do tend to take weekends off which is lovely. As for the evenings they are usually spent on the ‘gram, although I do try and stick to a posting schedule of Sunday – Thursday so that I get some evenings off. I’m putting a lot more in now and as a result I am getting a lot more out. My Instagram feed is nicely curated and my following and engagement have increased, and I’ve managed this without neglecting my blog. None of this would have been possible if I were still working part time and running a blog.

I wish I could tell you that I was now more organised with my working schedule. But that would be a lie.

And my house is still a tip. I like to spend my days off with Aria having fun, not cleaning and I like to spend my working days, well, working.

While being a work from home mam isn’t exactly what I had expected it to be, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

*Disclosure – The bread maker was sent to me in exchange for promotion*

The Toddler’s Dream Garden

As mentioned in my bid to get fit, the sun has well and truly got it’s hat on and it’s making me all proactive. My to-do list has suddenly gone through the roof as a little bit of sunshine makes me want to take on the world. I’ve got plans to paint, de-clutter and organise, but most importantly I need to create the toddler’s dream garden, a safe haven for Aria to run around and play in.

We’ve been putting off work on our house for so long as the house as been on the market so we didn’t necessarily want to spend time and money on it. Now that the sale of our house has fallen through for the second time I think it’s time we gave in and gave this house some TLC. If we’re stuck here for a while we may as well enjoy it after all. It’s time to stop moaning and instead buy some tools and get working, I could even get Aria involved, how cool we should look in this fab children’s bib and brace!? I love that Engelbert Strauss stocks such a wide range of things from DIY tools to protective clothing meaning that we could just order everything from there and be done with it all.

So, what would my dream toddler garden contain? First off it needs to be pinterest friendly, because, well, why wouldn’t it? Within my, I mean Aria’s, perfect pinterest garden there would be a perfect pastel playhouse, a mud kitchen, a toadstool seating area and rubber flooring.

Ideally we wouldn’t want to spend too much money as hopefully we will sell our house at some point. My current thoughts are to buy a plain, cheap playhouse, similar to this, and decorate it ourselves, that way we can make it exactly how we want it and it will be one of a kind. With regard to the mud kitchen I have visions of us creating a beautiful master piece using the pallets that are sitting in our garden doing nothing, but in reality it would probably be a disaster so maybe I should buy one similar to Kelly‘s from My Mud Kitchen. I don’t mind splashing out on the toadstools as they can quite easily come with us when we move, and I am absolutely in love with this beautiful set from The Range.

Have I missed anything from my dream toddler garden do you think? What do you think your toddler would like to see included in their dream garden?

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The Uncultured Brit

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, I’m not very cultured, though it seems that not many of us Brits are. Did you know that more than one in ten Brits have fibbed in a bid to make themselves seem more cultured?  A new study shows that popular fibs include claiming to have visited a place they have never been to, enjoyed a book they’ve never read, or eaten food they secretly can’t stand! It’s all very bizarre isn’t it?

I’m not very cultured, but I’m not ashamed of that fact either. I do what I like, or at least what I can afford of what I like! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been abroad a few times but I don’t think drinking vodka shots in places like Kavos and Magaluf really count towards culture. There I am back in 2004, being anything but cultured, in Kavos, Greece.

The uncultured Brit - drunk on an 18-30s holiday

However, I do quite enjoy avocado and quinoa and I LOVE dark chocolate so I’m not a complete loss, unlike some of our fellow Brits who even fib about enjoying those yummy foods!

Don’t get me wrong, I have, at times, uttered the words “I wish I liked that” but I’m not going to eat something that I don’t enjoy in a bid to make myself seem more cultured, neither am I going to fib about going somewhere that I haven’t for that very same reason. At the end of the day, I’m just a Valleys girl who loves to spend time with family and friends, loves taking photos, loves drinking pints and dreams of one day, going on a Caribbean Cruise so that I can do all of those things while visiting several different countries and only having the stress of packing once.

infographic regarding uncultured Brits

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