This week was our last of the Summer term and we are now well and truly into our “Summer Holidays”! It has been a really great week, with a mock wedding performed by Ethan’s class at the beginning of the week to celebrating our little Alice turning 2 on Thursday! We have had more wonderful weather, picnic teas, and I have had some lovely long chats with great people and friends.

We have been to the Deep again in Hull, ate lots of Ice creams, and I literally skipped all the way home after our final school run on Friday (yahoooo!!)! Yesterday we enjoyed some time at the coast together and had a boat ride, some chips and ice creams, as part of our birthday celebrations for Alice. I am so happy school is out and we have a whole 6 weeks ahead of us to relax together, enjoy some adventures and generally just have a great time!

Grateful For …

This week I am grateful for Alice and her warm, fun and loving presence in our family. It was an absolute pleasure to celebrate her on Thursday as she brings us all so much joy! I am grateful for her love, her healing presence, and that she lets me squidge and kiss her when I am sad or just need a boost! I am grateful that she is so lovely and so much fun to have in our home and lives.

I am also grateful to be moving forward with feeling better myself. I have recently being diagnosed with PTSD and whilst it makes a lot of sense it has been so hard – you can read more about it here.

Succeeded At …

We succeed at finally cleaning out the car – it was awful! But there was no way that we were going to start off our Summer hols driving round in a bin on wheels. The kids were so helpful, clearing it out and then with some anti bac wipes, they willingly scrubbed all of the surfaces!

I also succeed at getting the kids to tidy their rooms  and they have done it twice already this week! It took a lot of perseverance and strict mummy, but and the house looks better for it and everyone is a lot happier – especially me!

Finally (and my most favourite) I succeeded at winning the To Tuscany blogger competition. This means we will be heading to Tuscany some time soon(ish) to stay in one of their gorgeous villas and we are going absolutely nuts over it! What an incredible opportunity and wonderful treat for us all – I am still pinching myself!

Found Beauty In…

The mock wedding Ethan’s class did at the local church on Tuesday afternoon. They were all dressed in wedding clothes, playing their parts, and we sung the hymns and joined in as “guests”! Ethan played the part of best man and he was great. The whole experience was so funny, brilliant and simply gorgeous!

I also found beauty in Alice playing with my friends dog, loving the fish again at the deep and playing with her little pal on Friday. The most beautiful thing though this week, the thing that made me calm and my heart sing, was being on a boat all together yesterday as a family. We travelled up to Bridlington to have a boat ride and some seaside treats as part of Alice’s birthday and it was so lovely. The sea was super calm, the coast line beautiful and it was a really nice end to the week. The kids loved and so did we.

I am going to be signing off for a week now – I have wanted to have a break from blogging and social media for a while now to clear my mind (its only for a week or so) but with having a few collaborations I needed to do I haven’t had the opportunity as I have had to work and wanted to get on top of things. I have done that and now with the first week of the Summer holidays starting and no urgent posts to write, I am going to schedule a couple of things, and then I am going to switch off until next weekend! I am looking forward to stepping away from social media and seeing what difference it makes to my well-being and life generally (if at all).

I  hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a joyful first week of the Summer holidays – let me know where you are planning on going on holiday to this year – I love hearing about people’s adventures and find it inspiring!

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As of 3.20pm yesterday afternoon our kids are officially on their half term break from school and it couldn’t come soon enough! Megan isn’t a fan of school and it is a battle every day, so she is excited to have her time as her own! And I am excited to have my kids back… I thoroughly enjoy the time we get to go out together and hang out during the school holidays, and with all of the lovely weather we’ve been having so far, I have been super excited to spend some time going on little adventures together! I always enjoy these moments and feel like a proper mum (if that makes any sense?)!

Anyway, tonight they will kick off their fun with an epic sleepover/fun times (which is lasting all weekend) with their cousins at Grandma Smith’s house! It sounds unbelievable what she has planned, and completer madness, but I know each of their cousins are as excited as them and cannot wait to go. With 8×4-7 year olds, I wish her much luck…but I am sure it will be hugely exciting and a wonderful, memorable weekend!

Meanwhile, I am very much looking forward to a bank holiday weekend and having some time with Nath working side by side to spruce up our home and finally put our stamp on it (with our little helper of course).

Usually our half terms are planned around daily themes (read more about it here) which works out wonderfully for a balance. This time round however I decided to mix it up a bit and have a more spontaneous approach. Instead of us brainstorming and planning together around our daily themes, I asked them each to pick a day they wanted and then decide what we be doing on that day – anything they want they can plan it for the rest of the family! They loved this idea so much and are now looking forward to their days, as well as sharing in the fun that one another has planned!

So here is what we are looking forward to this June half term…

MONDAY – The kids will still be living it up at Grandma’s so we will be taking advantage of the Bank holiday to either be finishing any DIY jobs on our list that we didn’t get done Saturday, or simply chilling at the coast with Alice.

TUESDAY – After a busy weekend, we have reserved Tuesday to be a chill out day. I think it’s important when they are off school to have one day at least where they can relax, play out, wander to the park and watch movies. Tuesday will be our day for this!

WEDNESDAY – This is Alice’s day, and so weather permitting we will be visiting an RSPB spot and take a picnic. She loves Birds and animals, and as we have membership I thought it would be a nice day out and a lovely day chasing Nature!

THURSDAY – Megan chose this day as hers. Without hesitation it was swimming and pirate golf at the coast! This will probably be a good day to meet up with cousins on my side and have some fun over that way!

FRIDAY – Ethan really wants to go to “THE DEEP” in Hull! I thought this was a splendid idea as we rarely go to places like this in our school holidays. He thought we could go on the Friday and so there we are – fun at The Deep on Friday! We will probably have a walk around the marina too, and if it’s warm weather, wander to the fountains in the city centre!

SATURDAY – On Saturday we will be returning to Hull to go to Hull Truck Theatre family open day. It is a FREE event from 10am til 4.30pm I have been looking forward to for a while (and I think it will be fantastic). As a theatre lover, I can’t wait for my kids to get hands on and involved with the things I love. It will be great to experience the joy and mystery of the Theatre together! Ethan is especially excited to check out (and hopefully have a go) at lighting and sound, and I think Megs will enjoy the crafty side of things and dress up! I am really looking forward to our family doing something together that makes me so happy!

Later that day we are meeting up with Ethan’s bestie from Leeds for some swimming or just some hanging out!

I am so excited for a week together – having fun and exploring East Yorkshire! Can you believe that next weekend it will be a year since we moved over here? I can’t! It has been such a different pace of life, a refreshing change to life in the City, and I am excited that nearly all that we have planned together is embracing our new favourite spots here in East Yorkshire! I can’t wait to hang with my kids this coming week and have some fun this Half term!

Hello to June Half term – we are so ready for you (once they’ve cracked on and cleaned the house this morning!) – let’s hope the sun shines brightly on our adventures!

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Being organised (or at least trying to be) and having routine and plans is something I love to have in my life. It is both crucial when raising a family, and also something that is a huge part of my character for my personal sanity. I love to write “To do” lists, keep on top of things, have things written down, and have goals and some kind of structure in our day to day lives. I am a spontaneous person in many ways, but mostly I find comfort in having some kind of plan and structure. I feel there is a lot of stress and unnecessary chaos in family life where there are no real plans or routines!

Being a stay at home mum raising 3 kids, as well as being a blogger, a student at night school and the president of the girls youth organisation at school is a challenge, but is also very much my reality. Throw in trying to have date night with Nath, a social life, keeping track of extracurricular stuff and general life – it is no easy feat. And so I feel it is hugely important to be organised and keep some kind of balance for all of the demands of life, and to ensure self care.

For me, in order to do this I have in place things to keep organised and to keep some balance to my days. These include recording appointments and schedules in various places, and “My 3 job rule” to keep on top of the home without it becoming a complete drag or dominating pull!

How I Keep organised day to day 

I have had a lot of people observe to me that they find it interesting that I still write the majority of things we need to do with a good old pen and paper. It fascinates them that for someone that spends so much time online why I don’t use a digital calendar like google? The truth is that whilst I do record reminders on there, my brain seems to much prefer the act of writing things by hand, and seeing it all there to monitor and tick off. I don’t know why but I much prefer to write it all down, as oppose to type it!

I record things in 2 places – A family Calendar and a Diary!

A family calendar – For several years now we have had hung in our kitchen a family calendar where we have to hand all of the families appointments, classes, schedules and social events. It is useful fo Nathan and I when planning weekends and school holidays, and it is also good for us all to just be aware of what the coming week looks like for one another!

I love the flexibility of being able to look up and see at a glance what is planned that day and in the coming weeks!

A Diary – I love a Diary for my own personal goals, “to do” lists, notes and family stuff. I have tried numerous types of diaries, but my favourite has to be the one I have now that Nathan bought me from TKMaxx this Christmas. I love that each month is in sections, and each section has inspirational quotes and such an array of spaces to write lists, appointments, goals and birthdays (to name a few). I find my brain likes the layout of it, and how I keep things in order within it’s pages!

In my diary I pretty much copy everything off the family calendar (only this one is able to move around with me) and then add in all of the little things I do day to day; like food shopping, seeing friends. playgroups, cleaning, assignments, blogs etc. I used to love to bullet journal things like my goals, bucket lists, blog ideas, gratitude and blessings, and last year I did try a bullet journal for everything, but I found the creative style too much work, and it all hurt my brain not having it prewritten, so now I love the balance of my new diary with all of its little sections – most of which I would have previously written into bullet journal format, but it is already there!

A new addition to my life, and something I really love for an organised life and journaling, are the new filofax notebooks – again they have the option to be divided into sections, some with pockets to keep letters/bills/leaflets in, and the mix of lined/squared/plain paper, as well as the option to add extra sheets in to, make it the perfect option for bullet journaling or as a general family organiser. It is a good space to brainstorm ideas, make plans, set goals (with more plans), and keep lists of all sorts from all areas of life!

The leather look cover and bright colour options feel lovely, and it is a really useful and versatile piece of stationary for anyone looking for a more free way to keep track of (and organise) various areas of life!

My 3 Job Rule (for Balance and Sanity)

I love the saying “all work and no play makes ______ a dull boy/girl”! And so whilst I am one who enjoys routines and structure, there is an element to me that loves and craves some adventure and spontaneity. I suppose keeping a diary and track of everything, creating routine etc gives balance to my life and helps me to enjoy and be on top of the day to day demands, whilst still making space in my weeks to have fun and live life!

When Ethan was a baby however, things became very out of sync and I developed a very unhealthy cleaning obsession which included unrealistic expectations on myself to have a very orderly home all of the time. I don’t know how it got to that point, I suppose I saw it as being a sign to the outside world that I was coping well if my home was tidy when I had a new baby. But, reality was that after several months it was one of the tell tale signs that I had PND, and I soon realised (at breaking point and since) that motherhood wasn’t about having a clean and tidy home all of the time, but living life with my kids. Yes part of motherhood is creating a clean and safe environment, but it is also the responsibility of parents – not just me, and that it was unrealistic to expect it to be so. In time I began to enjoy being a mother more and have since been able to get more of a balance by living my 3 job rule mantra!

As our family has grown, so has the food bill, laundry pile, and the lack of order – I quickly realised in all of this that my days could quite easily be spent going round in circles and being dominated by the demands of a family home. Hours could be spent cleaning, Ironing, doing laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and hoovering. I knew that whilst I was a stay at home mum, this isn’t what I wanted all my days looking like. Yes I wanted to care for my family and keep our home in order, but this wasn’t just my sole responsibility – I am a mother, not a cleaner! And so early on, when Ethan and Megan were young and both at home full time, I realised I couldn’t do it all everyday, and nor did I want to. So, to help my mind and mental well being, and to be a more present mum, I Introduced for myself “the 3 job rule”!

The idea is that each day (except for Mondays which has become my cleaning the house day after the weekend and is more intense) I do just 3 jobs in the house – only 3, and then I go and do other things I need to do or want to do. The jobs are things that can be done quite quickly whilst the kids get dressed or for 20 – 30 mins after the school run, but they help me keep on top of the home! I do my 3 jobs, and then we might go out with friends, or on adventures somewhere. We might go to local groups, or swimming, or to the park…for a walk out, or simply snuggle and watch a movie. I do all of these things without the mum guilt or worry that there is loads to be done at home, because I know I already did the 3 most pressing jobs that morning and that is enough!

For me I always want to make sure they are done in the morning so that the day can be ours. I don’t particularly enjoy coming back to a messy house when we have dinner to make/eat, and other things to do, and so daily (often before or right after the school run) I always  1. Clean the Kitchen  2. Put on a load of laundry and then 3. (which is more flexible) usually clean the lounge. But Sometimes it might be to put the dinner on if it can be in the slow cooker, or it will be a quick hoover round, or maybe some ironing, or folding laundry.

Having the 3 job rule ensures the house stays in order and is clean, without dominating my day. It means I have a sense of achievement each day because my home is in a decent state, and I have done several things before leaving the house. But ultimately it means that I am more than a cleaner of our home! I keep my home clean yes, but within half an hour, meaning I have time with my kids and a social life with other mums and family. I means I have time to do things for me as well as my family, and I love it.

Organization and routine are very important to me, and I love the feeling of being in control of my day’s and making good use of time each day. Now that there is just Alice and I during the day, we tend to stay fairly local for school runs, and so that when she naps I can then blog or do college assignments. On an evening Nathan and the kids usually help tidy up from dinner, and Nathan always takes care of the bins!!! I love this balance as each day I can shut the door and go out with the kids to school and not stress, knowing I have accomplished something in my home and keeping on top of what needs doing without being dragged down by it all! I like that when we come home the downstairs is almost always clean and tidy, and for me it is a real sense of accomplishment to be able to balance everything I am and do.

It is so good for my mental well being and soul to have some structure, time out of the home most days, and just time with my kids to be mummy and go places and do things! I find that keeping a diary/notebook to track my goals, plans and schedules, as well as setting little daily goals in the home, all help me to accomplish this huge goal to raise a family (with all that that entails) and have some personal development and goals too. Whilst some days are a complete write off, most days are good and I flop into bed knowing I have used my time well and done my best!

*I received the Filofax notebook recently as a gift from them, and so wanted to share with you how lovely it was!

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Here we are at the end of April and what a month it has been – super busy and filled with adventures, a 10.5 hour flight, Jet lag, madness with 2 cousins sleepovers, and a week of glorious sunshine (remember that?!). We started this month off in the USA and our pictures this month are of us on the Vegas Strip – it was a brilliant day and feels like so long ago now!

When April began we were in Utah enjoying the Spring sunshine, and a lovely Easter Sunday with family. 2 days later we went on to Vegas, before heading to LA and home again to the UK! It was such an epic adventure to share together (that you can read more about in part 1 of our USA holiday ) and Vegas was such a fun place to visit, that we wish we had scheduled in more time to be there and see more things! It was a great place for kids and an excellent way to end our 2 weeks in the USA. We all miss the root beer, hanging with friends and family, the heat and just our general adventures. I love these pictures though because they reflect how much fun we were having, and how relaxed we all were chilling in the states together.

Once we had returned and taken a good week to recover from jetlag, life resumed as normal and we welcomed some routine and less fast food in our diet. Id say that the kids struggled that first week back after Easter with a lot of tiredness but it didn’t do them any harm in the long run as Megan had star pupil 2 weeks ago, and Ethan has gone up another reading level. He is doing really well with school his work, and after a now resolved incident with another kid last week, he is a lot happier too which is great.

We loved that heatwave week we had – the sunshine just puts everyone in a good mood and I always feel so much more motivated. Alice and I especially had some wonderful adventures to the seaside to make the most of the sun and had plenty of ice cream and walks with friends! She is doing great at the moment and is so much more interactive with us all. Instead of pointing and grunting to get her own way, she is talking more and loves being in the midst of mayhem with Ethan and megan. They seem to find her more and more entertaining as her speech and character develop’s and it’s lovely as parents to see her fun and loving side coming out (as well as their growing love and fondness for her).

Megan is doing really good at the moment with her gymnastics, and wowed everyone with her awesome moves on Friday night at the churches talent show…she makes us laugh so much and she loves to perform for us and make up crazy dances. Both her and Ethan were keen to perform in the Church talent show, and with Megan’s (improv) dance, and Ethan’s singing, it was both hilarious and a very proud moment!

Both Ethan and Megan very much into the “Match attax” trend, and doing odd jobs for cash so as to build up their collection’s. It’s funny how things do full circle as I remember the same from our childhood and it’s funny how into them they are! Once home from school I rarely see either of them as the lighter nights have meant they have enjoyed a lot of playing out with their pals (one of the things I really love about living here). Myself and the other mum’s have a “what’s app group” so as to keep tabs on them all, and I always think what a vast difference it is to their Spring/Summer evenings when we lived in Leeds!

A couple of weeks ago we cleared out our garden and garage, decluttered a few other things and had a massive tip run in hopeful preparation to start putting our stamp on this house (it’s only taken a year), but the less cluttered garden has meant a lot of friends end up playing here too, and that’s also lovely!

This month has also been good for Mr Smith and I, as we managed to squeeze in a date out as oppose to a take out and Netflix… and I have been doing a lot more in raising awareness for Stillbirth and baby loss with Channel 5, as well as getting on with my course in preparation to finish in June!

It’s been such a random and extraordinary month, and in addition to our holiday over Easter we have also managed to squeeze in a trip to the circus, explore historic houses and churches in this area, and then just this weekend…have a rather eventful Saturday in Hull city centre visiting a couple of cool museums with our 3 nephews in tow!

Next month will be a whole year since we moved, then its into June with Megan turning 6 and lots of family birthdays. We are excited for May… with a couple of bank holidays in there, half term, and hopefully lots more adventures and joyful times!

This Month we are grateful for

Our Epic America trip
Returning home safely and drama free
A tip run and tidier garage/garden
Enthusiastic kids
An opportunity to share Poppy and our story
Family (for helping us out with childcare)
A week of glorious sunshine
MInt chocolate Ben & Jerry’s
A trip to the circus
Living close to the seaside
A village in full bloom for Spring!
The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful
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