This week in college we were talking about Ethics and the BACP Ethical Framework for counsellors. Whilst all very interesting (I assure you), I had to laugh when I was reading it, as it got me thinking – imagine if we as mothers and parents had a code of ethics we had to adhere to, in order to be “fit for practice”! I think with how nuts and ratted our days get sometimes, we would all be in breach of it on an almost daily, if not weekly basis!

It also got me thinking, on a more serious note, just how important self care is when you are a parent and how not practising this can have a huge impact on our well being and our ability to deliver good “service” to our little humans. I realised that we could learn a lot as parents from this seemingly irrelevant to us code of Ethics. Especially the section on “Fit For Practice” – It states:

We will take responsibility for our own well-being as essential to sustaining good practice

*Take precautions
*Monitor and maintain own psychological/physical health
*Seek professional support 
*Keep a healthy balance or work and life 

As I read this I realised how true this could be for parenting and life. In order to really get the best out of life, and to have an ability to appreciate what we have and see the hearty moments around us, we need self care – to take more responsibility for our well-being and maintain good physical and psychological health. We need to recognise that our well-being is essential to good home and family relationships and that it has a direct impact on our little ones too.

We need to keep a healthy balance, ask for help if we need it and care for our mental and physical health.

I see taking precautions as being more prepared and organised – saving to avoid stress when things crop up, packing bags the day before so it’s not a mad rush in the morning, or resting when we know a big day is coming so we can reserve our energy. It’s eliminating negativity so it doesn’t make us feel naff about ourselves, or causes us to take on others issues when we need to focus on our own.

I recognise that this is often easier said than done, and I also recognise that we live at a time when everything is very fast paced. Taking on multiple roles is “just the norm”. Our lives are always on the go and many parents talk about how life is often a balancing act or spinning multiple plates, and it can be easy to assume that this is what life is. It is easy, with so many people sharing only the good in life on social media, to fall into the trap of becoming clouded by comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. We can feel like we aren’t doing enough or aren’t enough, even when we are in reality more than that. At best we can just generally feel drained with life with all of the directions we are being pulled in.

Life is exhausting and busy and when we add into it the everyday parenting challenges of financial pressures, little sleep, sick kids, tantrums and chores and work that all need doing, we can see how we can quickly become swamped by life.

SO STOP!

Stop for a moment and think.

Are you giving your best self to those who need it the most?

Are you truly happy with the routine of your life?

when was the last time you stopped and listened to yourself?

When was the last time you asked “What do I want to do?”

Are you really aware of the effects that others are having on you and your well-being?

I have been asking myself these types things recently as I realise that these simple questions can go a long way to helping you identify your needs and being more aware of what affects your life is having on you. I have seen that I take on too much sometimes, and I have highlighted the needs I have to be happier and more balanced.

Self Care

We talk a lot these days about self care – how important it is and necessary for our mental health. But how many of us take that seriously and truly understand what self care means to us?

I know that for me it is only recently that I have felt that I know how to listen to myself and what types of thing’s I can do to practice self care. It has taken me a bout of PND 8 years ago and losing a child to stillbirth, to come to really know myself and listen to what I need and what I want my life to be like. These experiences, and being in a state I can only describe as “rock bottom”, along with people saying “be kind to yourself and go easy”, for me has helped me to figure out how I can be kind to myself, and that has made a huge difference to my happiness and confidence.

With this awareness and thoughts on well-being in parenting, here are some of the ways I see that we can practise self care and therefore take more responsibility for our own well-being:

Eat Well – It will set you up for the day, provide energy, stop you feeling sluggish and also help your body stay healthy so that you are in a better place to do all you need to.

Allow yourself guilt free treats – With holding treats when you fancy a chocolate bar or an ice-cream is no way to live. It can make you feel annoyed or like you are missing out (and consequently binge later on). I am a great believer of “everything in moderation” – I have a healthy lifestyle, so I refuse to feel guilty for some giant buttons, a pizza or a cookie. Treats, and a little bit of what we fancy are good in life – especially when we don’t self sabotage over them.

Be KIND to yourself – This leads me onto kindness to yourself. Recognise that you are doing your best and avoid telling yourself you are rubbish, ugly, not enough, not doing enough, lazy etc etc. It is exhausting and drains your happiness. Of course it is fine to be aware of ways we can improve, but it is not fine to sabotage yourself for things that are normal, things that are out of your control or shortcomings you feel you have.

I am always working on ways I can tell myself I am great and appreciating my unique self – it isn’t prideful or egotistic, rather it is empowering and a form of self care. Try speaking nicer and being kinder to your body and mind. Celebrate your accomplishments and see that you are a fantastic and unique person – and then embrace that.

Get enough sleep/Rest If you need to – Sleep with kids or a new baby is hard. But how much better does a day go when we go to bed at a decent time? I also find that if I can grab an afternoon nap, or leave the laundry and dishes for a day to rest now and then, I feel so much better for it.

Learn to Say “No” – It’s not selfish or harsh to say no to things. Don’t take on things you know you cannot manage and say no to people who drain you or leave you feeling inadequate.

Are you taking on too much? If you think you are, then perhaps it’s time to say “no” to a couple of things and evaluate what you want from your life.

Learn that ‘fixing others’ can take a lot from us – It is not our job to fix people, and there are people in life that will, if we allow them, always take from us and our time. Be aware of these people in your life and what it is taking from you. You may need to create some distance, or sign post them to someone better equipped to give the help and advice they need.

Take a duvet day – Contrary to common belief, It is not lazy to rejuvenate and take a day to rest. It is not lazy to stay in your PJs and binge watch some stuff you love (if you fancy it). It will go a long way to relaxing and feeling better and it will help you to rest and gain more balance in life.

Go to places that make your soul sing – I have recently become aware of how good I feel at the beach, in old manor houses, eating out, at the cinema etc I suppose it is mindfulness, but being aware of how these places make you feel and recognising the impact on your mood is so good for self care. I know, if I go to places that make my soul sing, I feel happy, joyful and life is good and blessed!

Get out in Nature – Everytime I walk on the beach, through a wood, in the hills or over the fields, I breathe in deeply and life feels good and lighter. It helps me feel closer to God and it helps me feel like it’s good to be alive. I see so much beauty in the world and I feel gratitude.

Nature helps us gain perspective and clarity. It is good for the mind and soul and helps us keep healthy and feel grateful. When things are too much, getting out in nature to walk or just sit and be, really helps feed my soul and ignites my mind.

Take a Social Media Fast– Last year I took 2 social media fasts. 1 was for a week, the other for 10 days. They helped me focus on the here and now, be more present, and stopped me comparing to others or feeling bad about me. If social media is taking up a lot of your time or causing you to feel naff, unfollow or take a fast. Also, try to remember that likes and followers do not determine your worth!

Ask for Help if you need it – If you need to talk to a friend then call them. If you need some extra help at home because you are sick then ask someone. If you need a night off then call a sister or parent or friend to watch your kids – it is not a big issue and people who love you want to help you where they can. Stop feeling like it is a failure to ask for a hand, like it is weak or feeling like you might be burdensome to others. It’s okay, every now and then to ask for a hand. We all need to and It takes a village to raise a kid!!!

Stop listening to others opinions – We are all good at passing judgements and giving opinions and if you are anything like me, then you may have spent far too much time seeking the approval of others or internalizing the opinions of them. Part of self care is realising that people can have an opinion but it isn’t necessarily the right one, or right for you. This is YOUR life, and you can make your own choices. It is okay to seek advice from friends and family, but choose wisely from who this comes. Remember that ultimately it is your opinions that need to be prioritised and it will either be right, or a lesson learnt.

There will always be voices all around us and comparisons to be made. There will always be someone with advice or an opinion on your life. But this is your life and your family, and being the best for both, is down to what you want and what you feel is right.

We may not have a code of ethics as parents that we need to adhere to, but I believe that self care is essential to sustaining good practice for life and parenting. I cannot stress enough how much we can learn from these things, and that by taking more responsibility for our well-being, we can keep a healthy balance, find more joy and appreciation, and embrace more of the hearty moments in life.

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It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were booking flights to LA and planning our incredible USA road trip. It is a holiday we absolutely loved and remember with great fondness and certainly not a “once in a lifetime” thing. We saw so many wonderful places and people, and did loads, that as we drove back to LA from Vegas, we talked about how good it would be to go back again sometime soon and perhaps have a week in California and then drive and see family again in Utah. We would also love an extra day to see Vegas on the way back – because that was a lot of fun and one of the best parts for the kids.

The drive to and from LA was incredible; with desert scenes and national parks, it was beautiful. California is such a varied state, compromising of a stunning coastline, desserts and even mountains, that it would make for a fab family adventure. The more we talk and think about it, the more we settle on the idea of a “fly drive” up the coast for a week. I like the idea of booking our flights and then renting an RV for the week, but there are also great deals on Californian package holidays too.

I visited the Santa Barbara region of California back in 2004 and stayed with friends. I must say – it was absolutely amazing. It had the most beautiful beaches and was a lot of fun with my girlfriends as a 20 year old. We did things like early morning rollerblading down the boulevard next to the beach, before having banana pancakes for breakfast, and we played volleyball on the beach and body boarded on some waves – it was totally the American dream and moments where you feel like you’re in a film (or is that just me?)! I would love to recreate similar experiences with my own kids, plus more.

Here is our “Bucket List”/Hopes for a future family trip to California – The Golden State! Perhaps it will inspire as you plan for your holidays and vacations.

We would most likely fly into LA again from London as it was really straightforward. From there  we would like to drive to San Diego where the road trip and Californian Coastal adventure would begin. Here we would do Sea world and our first beach, before going back up to LA and doing all the things we missed last year. From LA we would then head up the coast towards San Francisco where we would finish up.

When we were in America last year, we spent a lot of time driving in the canyons and deserts between Nevada and California, and also California and Arizona, and if we went on to see our family we would experience that again, so wouldn’t include it on this trip. This first week would be solely focused on famous landmarks, Californian Cities and plenty of time on the beach/in the Pacific!

San Diego

San Diego would be fun for the first couple of days to see Sea World and enjoy it’s beaches (perhaps have a go at surfing?) . It also has the USS Midway, which is an aircraft carrier turned into a museum, which I think would be super interesting.

From here we would go back to LA to really explore it…

Los Angeles

When we planned our trip last Easter, we banked on doing loads in LA. The reality was however that it took several hours to get through border control (the most tedious part of the trip), and then we woke up to tropical storms! We decided to drive straight to Arizona and see what we could on our way home. On the way home it was Spring Break and the traffic was nuts, which was just funny in the end, but we did manage to see the Hollywood sign on our way home, which was exciting for us all. We hoped we could have done and seen more and that is a huge reason for this Californian dream.

The things we want to do in Los Angeles are simply the things we didn’t do last year, along with maybe universal and Disney, but as that would crank up the cost of this trip a tonne, that idea is still very much up in the air! We would however most definitely love to –

*Walk the Hollywood Boulevard

*Drive Through Beverly Hills

*Visit Muscle Beach and see them working out

*Have fun at Santa Monica Pier

*Hang out at and around Venice Beach

And for the excitement and benefit of Megan (our Barbie lover) I think from here a trip to Malibu would be in order before a quick stop in Santa Barbara again – both for nostalgia and so the fam can experience its beauty.

San Francisco

San Francisco has been on my bucket list for quite a while and I cannot wait for the day I can hop on a tram up those incredibly steep streets and see all of the colourful houses we see on films. I want to drive over the golden gate bridge and take a trip to Alcatraz. After visiting LA and driving up the gorgeous California coastline, I think we would spend a couple of days in San Francisco. We would explore the city on trams, go to fisherman’s wharf to eat something seafoody, and then drive the Golden Gate Bridge and finally see Alcatraz. It would be so much fun and a super interesting part of the trip – I can just feel it.

Finally after a Californian feast of beauty and fun, from San Francisco we would of course head to Utah to see our family again. Driving across from this area as opposed to LA, would take us through the beautiful forests of Cali, giving us another scene of this beautiful state.

There are also some cool Sand dunes outside of San Diego/LA area that my Arizona pals go to on Sand dune buggies – I think this would be a lot of fun to try one day, and whilst I don’t know if we could squeeze it into this trip, it is something we one day would want to do, and that you may prioritise.

We all love America a lot and all of the many great adventures you can have there. We love the food, the famous landmarks and the beautiful coasts and deserts. We hope that one day soon we can make this California dream a reality.

*Collaborative Post 

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As the girls are getting older, I am enjoying more and more the opportunities to match their outfits. One way I can see occasions to do this is through matching dresses. Whether for church or a party, matching dresses are adorable and very cute, and if budget will ever permit, there are some fantastic styles in girls’ designer dresses. Ruffles, embroideries, opulent fabric and colourful prints — are all stunning for little girls!

All of this got me thinking: with such a beautiful and timeless investment of a kids designer dress, how could I be sure to make the best out of these beautiful girls’ dresses?

In this post I’d like to present you some tips and tricks on curating your girl’s wardrobe around a statement designer piece.

Keep Everything Else Minimal

More often than not in the world of fashion, what goes for adults also goes for children. And when it comes to curating the perfect wardrobe around a statement piece for your daughter, I am a firm believer that adopting the capsule wardrobe strategy is a great idea. If you are not familiar with the term, a capsule wardrobe is a minimal collection consisting of around 40 or fewer items that all match with one another. A capsule wardrobe is all about having fewer pieces but endless combinations (which in the long run saves time and money)! Most items should be neutral, with a few pops of colour, and at least one statement piece!. This gives the look some personality and joyfulness.

My top tip on curating a capsule wardrobe economically is to first and foremost use what is already there. This isn’t about throwing everything away and starting afresh – Quite the opposite, really! Take time to see what fits and will continue to do so for a while, ask your daughters what they love, and start from there. You’ll be surprised at how much de-cluttering and adding in a few new basics will give a breath of fresh air to any wardrobe. Clean things up and pick a few new items wisely! The sales are good time to start this. 

Designer Dresses: The Choice Is Yours

Now that you’ve set the foundation of your girl’s closet with a few basics, it’s time to pick a statement piece that pops and wows, and leaves them feeling like a princess each time they wear it! And this is where things really do get exciting for the girls. While it’s true that we’re always looking forward to special events and occasions to dazzle everyone in their beautiful girls’ designer dresses, what they love more than anything is to be able to continue wearing their favourite dresses any other day of the year too. For this, all you need are a few strategic pieces.

A chunky neutral knit, a pair of cotton tights and some Wellies can work wonders to transform a special occasion dress into a fun daytime outfit. The fashion trendsetters have said it all along: to tone down any glitzy special occasion wear and make it into a daytime classic, pair it with some casual, down-to-earth pieces. A woolly jumper; some chunky boots; a denim jacket — the contrast is fun and surprising. Don’t forget to let your kid be engaged in the creative process of getting dressed, too! That’s all part of the fun with styling kids. 

Picking a Colour Palette

Setting a colour palette around your girl’s party dress will make your life so much easier and ensure the dress can be worn time and time again. If the clothes follow a matching colour palette, combining the pieces will be a breeze. This also makes getting dressed in the morning easy and foolproof, especially when they’re left unsupervised.

Generally speaking, neutrals are your best friend for maximum compatibility, but, chances are, your party dress will have a dominant colour. When it comes to this, you may decide to follow the latest trends or you may let your daughter make her own choices. This is entirely up to you. Whatever the case, pick a second complementary colour that matches the dress closely and let everything else be fairly neutral.

If you worry your colour palette is too neutral or boring (or not you/them), jazz things up with a few accessories, such as a flower hair tie, a cute brooch, some textured fabric like velvet or wool, or some patterns and prints. Pick a few little extras that suit your daughter’s personality and that will bring life to her everyday outfit.

Dressing girls is so much fun and I would love one day for them to have some proper fancy dresses for parties, weddings and church!

*This is a collaborative post and I have been compensated for sharing it. 

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A couple of weeks ago, whilst shopping for vests and tights for the kids in Primark, I picked up 2 new slogan tees for myself. For the Bargainous price of £2.50 each it was a right deal! I love a good slogan tee to make a statement and you can’t go wrong with a price tag of £2.50.

I am quite a casual person overall and though I love my accessories and a bit of bling and sparkle, day to day I like to be chilled for busy mum life, school runs and who knows what! Slogan tees to me are a wardrobe staple – especially in warmer weather, but work well too with a chunky cardi during Autumn and Winter too. I wear them with with everything, from all of my jeans to denim shorts, patterned trousers and even with skirts for a more fun and casual approach! Paired with either sandals, boots, trainers or pumps, they are both a stylish and yet practical look for mums on the go and I love that I have 2 new additions to work with, without costing the earth!

I went for the grey “I’m not listening” which made me laugh (and also wish I could get matching ones for the kids – sums them up to a “T” ha). I also loved this yellow one which said “Good Vibes” – so true! It’s a great colour to go with all sorts, and will be nice and bright on sunny days. I am wearing the grey one right now with my funky animal print culottes (New look Sale) and reduced H&M tassel earrings (£3) – paired with my Nike trainers I feel fab, comfy and stylish (and a little smug that it’s all sale stuff paired with a £2.50 Tee).

One of the best thing about slogan tees is you can also wear them with leggings and joggers when lounging about or exercising (not my forte), or (something I am more comfortable with) for bed with Pj bottoms when you get bored of them! To me I love them because they are comfy and bring a bit of attitude to your outfit and day. For only £2.50 you need to get some – make a statement with a new slogan Tee from Primarni – so versatile and chill!

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