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Category: Lifestyle

My Experience with Marks and Spencer Opticians

My Experience with Marks and Spencer Opticians

*I was gifted a sight test and pair of glasses for the purpose of this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Marks and Spencer, to visit one of their stores with an opticians. I’ve been wearing glasses for about 6 years now and I was due for a sight test as well a new pair of specs, so this couldn’t have come at a better time. Prior to this, I wasn’t aware that Marks and Spencer had branched out into eye care. As it happens they have five stores with opticians throughout the UK including; Derby, York, Manchester, London and Bolton. Our closest store is Derby, so I booked myself in as soon as I could. Booking online is really simple and I had an appointment just the next day.

The Derby store –

The Derby store is located inside the Intu shopping centre, this makes parking and getting to your appointment really simple. I parked right outside the M & S doors, you can’t get easier than that. As always this M & S store is clean and inviting, there’s a cafe right next to the opticians too if you’re in need of refreshments. The staff could not have been more polite and helpful on my arrival, an absolute 10/10 for customer service.

First I was invited into a small room full of a lot of equipment! The assistant took photographs of my eyes and carried out a few initial tests, ready for the optician to take a look at during my full sight test. The assistant was very knowledgeable and made me feel really comfortable in her presence. I have a ‘birth mark’ on the back of one of my eyes, sometimes this is picked up and I’m given an insight into what it is. Other times it’s ignored. During these tests they picked it almost immediately and they talked me through its characteristics, showing true competence in their role.

After these tests, I went though to the optician who carried out the rest of my sight test. Again, I was made to feel very comfortable throughout the entirety of this examination. I was told that my prescription had changed and that it was advisable to get a new pair of glasses, to make sure that my sight was the best that it could be.

Choosing new frames –

M & S have a lot of frames to choose from including their home branded pairs and designer pairs. They currently have a buy one get one half price offer on some frames too, which is great if like me you like to swap and change the style of glasses you wear, each pair of glasses comes in three different colours too!

I find choosing glasses quite a difficult task, especially when I’m on my own. I’m not always the greatest judge of what suits me, so I need someone to give me an honest opinion of the different styles. This was what I loved most about the staff at Marks and Spencer. The assistant who helped me find the perfect pair of glasses wasn’t afraid to give me her honest opinion and it was gratefully received. There were plenty of frames to choose from and she gave me her full attention until I found the ones I wanted, I honestly felt like I could have taken the entire afternoon to make a decision and she still wouldn’t have minded.

I had a text from Marks and Spencer just a few days after choosing my glasses, to let me know they had arrived back in store. I was really impressed with how little time it took for them to be made up, this is one reason I’ll definitely be returning. Lucky for me, I had the same assistant on returning as I did on my first visit. As she was so lovely and hard-working, I was really pleased it turned out that way. We tried on my new glasses and they fit perfectly, I loved the look of the frame and I left with a smile right across my face! I took my youngest daughter with me when I collected them too and all the staff really made a fuss of her. Life with littles is always made easier when people go out of their way to make BOTH of us feel welcome.

Writing a positive review always makes me happy and this is no exception. I would like to thank all of the team at Derby M & S opticians for a great visit and excellent service – you’re a credit to Marks and Spencer!

 

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The Neos SmartCam Review – Keeping your Family Connected

The Neos SmartCam Review – Keeping your Family Connected

*AD – This post was written in collaboration with Neos SmartHome.

 

This week we were tasked with testing out the new Neos SmartCam in our home. As a parent, keeping a watchful eye over my children is paramount. There’s never a moment goes by when I’m not preoccupied by what our girls are up to. Over the past few weeks though, both girls have reached an age where playing independently has become very appealing. The love to go upstairs and play in their rooms, without myself or Hubs constantly looking over their shoulders. So when our Neos SmartCam arrived I knew exactly what we would use it for – child watch!

 

What does the Neos SmartCam do?

Amazingly, the Neos SmartCam is packed full of features without the hefty price tag to go with it. At just £19.99 plus £4.99 for tracked, next working day delivery it’s a complete steal for the amount of spec that you get.

Top features –

  • Motion detection – any movement is picked up and a notification is pushed straight to your smart phone.
  • Night vision – Day or night, this camera provides a clear image.
  • Cloud storage – 12 seconds clips are automatically recorded and save to the cloud upon motion detection.
  • SD card enabled – enables the camera to record video without a Wi-Fi connection.
  • 8 x digital zoom – available in live streaming and playback.
  • Two-way audio – listen in and reply when necessary.
  • Auto-arming – automatically kicks the camera into action when you arrive at or leave home.
  • Live stream – see what’s happening anytime, anywhere using the Neos app.
  • 1080p full HD – picture perfect images.
  • Downloadable clips –  save clips to your phone to share later.

 

 

Setting up the Neos SmartCam –

Setting up this super compact camera could not be more simple. All you have to do is download the app, plug in the mains powered unit and follow the set up instructions on the app. The whole process took me less than five minutes with no hiccups along the way. The camera is easy to move around different rooms too, you just unplug, relocate and plug back in. The camera will stay connected to your phone, so you won’t have to re-pair to your device each time you move it. Also, because the camera is so small, it will fit nicely anywhere in the home, without feeling at all intrusive to the look and feel of the room.

 

What do we think of the Neos SmartCam?

The thing I love most about the Neos SmartCam in the peace of mind it gives me. I don’t want our girls to feel like are being smothered by me following them into every room when they are playing. This camera gives our entire family the freedom to be in our own spaces within the home, whilst also making sure that everyone is happy and safe. I know our girls love that they can enjoy spending time in their own rooms, chatting to each other without constantly feeling like they’re being followed.

I was very impressed when I realised just how many features this camera has, especially considering the purchase price is so low. The two-way audio is a very useful tool, especially when the girls are up to no good and they need a little word in their ear! All I have to do is use the audio feature, instead of encroaching on their games. I’m also a huge fan of the night vision feature, which came in very handy when we had a poorly girl this week. We set up the camera to keep a watchful eye over night whilst she slept. This gave us all peace of mind, meaning we got a good night’s sleep!

Overall, as a family we are really impressed with the Neos SmartCam. It’s ease of use, clear image and extra features make this unit well-worth the £19.99 price tag. This camera has only been with us a week and we have already benefited so much from the freedom it has given us as a family.

 

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Life’s too Short to be Afraid – Tips to Overcome your Irrational Fears

Life’s too Short to be Afraid – Tips to Overcome your Irrational Fears

Recently I had to attend an over night work trip by myself. This is something that I would usually avoid like the plague unless my husband came with me, but this time it wasn’t an option. If I wanted to be part of an away day with one of my biggest contracts, then I would have to bite the bullet and go it alone. As it turned out, things weren’t as bad as I thought they were going to be. In fact, they were nowhere near.

Life really is too short to be afraid, so here are my top tips to help you overcome irrational fears;

Break it down –

Think about every aspect of your fear and break it down into bite size chunks. The problem will never seem as big and as scary if you think about it a little bit at a time. For example, I was terrified of heading into a train station alone, then boarding a train and finally staying in a hotel by myself. Each of these areas was easier to rationalise individually, rather than trying to tackle the whole shebang in one thought process. Break. It. Down.

Think about the worst thing that could happen, then work out the likelihood of it actually happening –

Take a deep breath and imagine the worst thing that could happen in your situation, don’t dwell on it though. Move swiftly on to working out the likelihood of the worst actually happening. The chances of a huge disaster occurring in your life are incredibly slim and this is what you have to focus on.

Plan, plan and plan some more –

I find that the best way to get through a difficult situation, especially if there’s irrational fear involved, is to plan what you have coming up to the nth degree. Some might see this as energy wasted, but if you have a thorough plan and you stick to it, things are less likely to go wrong and you’re more likely to get through unscathed.

Compartmentalise your irrational thoughts –

This isn’t always an easy task but if you can, lock your irrational thoughts away. It takes a long time to train your mind to do this and it doesn’t work perfectly every time, but banishing negative thoughts to one corner of your brain leaves more space for a positive mindset.

Think about the positives, without dwelling on the negatives –

There are negatives in every situation if you look hard enough, equally there are always positives. So focus your mind on what is good, what is fun and what you love about the situation you’re in. Positivity breeds positivity, so it’s worth putting your energies into the good things as much as is possible.

Enjoy yourself –

Just that. Don’t let irrational fears hinder your life experiences. Enjoy what you’re doing and leave what scares you behind!

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Reasons Why I have my Car Serviced Regularly and you Should Too

Reasons Why I have my Car Serviced Regularly and you Should Too

*This post was written in collaboration with Calmac Tyres.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be able to drive. So when I reached my seventeenth birthday I made it my mission to pass my test as soon as I was able. In the end I was done and dusted within 3 months, I was that determined to get on the road! Being a car owner has a lot more to it that sitting behind a wheel though. Looking after your wheels is an essential part of car ownership and if you fail to do so, the chances are you car will end up failing on you.

I was taught how to complete basic checks and maintenance on my car from a very young age. I come from a family of vehicle enthusiasts and with two older brothers, I had a lot of help and direction when it came to maintaining my car. I then went on to marry someone who is very skilled in the car maintenance department, so over the years I’ve learnt a lot.

Getting your car an MOT –  

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport Test. These tests are to be taken out once a year on cars that are over three years old, to make sure that they safe and roadworthy. To complete the test, mechanics have a checklist of areas to examine on every vehicle. This includes emissions, tyre tread, lights and wiper function to name but a few. If you fail to get your car an MOT then you risk having your car taken away, you also put yourself at risk of a hefty fine.

My car is usually gets a service and an MOT around the same time. I use my car a lot and these days my girls spend a lot of time in it too, so making sure it is working as it should be is paramount. A very important check that is undertaken during an MOT is the state your tyres are in. Not everyone remembers to check their tyres, which can be disastrous – especially if they are too worn to be roadworthy. I’m always checking my tyres!

The importance of car servicing –

There are two kinds of of car servicing available, depending on how many miles you travel in your car on a yearly basis. I you do less than 20,000 miles per annum them it is advisable to get a full service done once a year. If you travel more than 20,000 miles though, then having an interim service halfway through the year is recommended.

What’s included in a full service?

A full service included a wide range of checks on your car, including some part changes that wear over the year:

  • Oil change and filter change.
  • New fuel filters on diesel engines.
  • New spark plugs on petrol engines.
  • Tyre checks.
  • Damage checks on brake cylinders, pipes and hoses.
  • Handbrake checks.
  • Removal of wheels and checks on the brakes.
  • Checks for leaks, wear and damage within the engine.
  • Testing and replacement of brake fluid.

This list is not exhaustive of a full service, but it gives a good idea as to what should be checked on a yearly basis. The mechanic carrying out the servicing should also take your car on a test drive to make sure things are sounding and running smoothly.

What’s included in an interim service?

As I said earlier, if you do a lot of miles in your car then you might also need an interim service to keep your car running as it should be. These half-yearly checks can include:

  • Checks on tyres.
  • Faulty lights.
  • Topping up your water, brake fluid and power steering fluid.

Again, this list is not exhaustive of all the checks that can be completed during an interim service. It does give a good idea of what should be looked at when getting this kind of service done.

Finding the right people to service your car –

It’s so important to make sure to get people you trust to service your car. You can get amazing car servicing from Calmac in Northampton. Centres such as Calmac tyres offer numerous different types of car services such as; diagnostic testing, MOT testing, welding and tyres. The best things about Calmac is that they have all of the latest machinery and technology enabling them to work with all types of cars and vans.

Staying safe on the road should be a priority for every driver. Regular services are the best way to make sure that your car is in tip top condition. If you look after your car, then it will look after you!

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2019 – Healthy, Happy and Prosperous

2019 – Healthy, Happy and Prosperous

Happy New Year!

Now that we’ve entered 2019, I’m really focused on making this a year to remember. 2018 was a good year, but things are changing for our family over the coming months. Our family dynamics will alter and although a different routine may be unsettling for a while, I truly believe that this new chapter in our lives will be positive.

A full-time mother no more –

The biggest change in our lives this year will come in April when our youngest starts her nursery placement. She’ll spend each morning of the week at school, instead of in my care. This was really hard for me the first time around, but at least I still had the littlest at home. Letting go of our last baby, leaving them both in with someone else will be incredibly difficult for me. This is the year that I thought I’d been waiting for, the one where I’d finally get a little bit of myself back. Now it’s here though, I’m not sure how I’m going to fare.

It’s a cliché, but looking back over the last 4 years has made me realise that I didn’t enjoy it enough. Everyone tells you that the time will fly and that you’ll wish you could have the years back. It’s true. Time has left me behind, now I’m feeling despondent as I watch both of our girls leave their baby years behind forever. The time that I have wished away over and over again, is gone. The times I lost my temper, play on my mind as wasted moments and the tears I’ve cried over the smallest of things seem like tears wasted. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing.

Let the blogging commence –

I am looking forward to having a few hours each day that I can dedicate to work. Ever since the girls stopped napping some time ago, work has had to take a bit of a back seat. I vowed that I would give them the daytime hours, without sitting in front of my laptop. This has left me playing catch up most days, often into the wee, small hours. I love my blog. I want to continue to make a success of my work, so having the time to sit undisturbed will be a welcome change.

I have a couple of blogs aside from The Tale of Mummyhood that I’ve been working on in the background. So far, I haven’t felt like these platforms haven’t been up to scratch. I’ve worked on them when possible, but The Tale of Mummyhood is the main event so they always get pushed to the back of the queue. I’m looking forward to putting more time and effort into building them up.

Time for me –

This may sound a little self-indulgent, but one of the things I’m most looking forward to this year is finding myself again. A few hours by myself to just be ‘me’ without being ‘mum’ is something I’m really going to enjoy!

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Is Female Success Only Judged by Achievements in the Workplace?

Is Female Success Only Judged by Achievements in the Workplace?

If you’ve been reading this blog of mine for a while, you’ll know that I’m in a constant battle with myself about work. The individual in me wants to hold down a full-time job, bring in a full-time wage and rise through the ranks. Whilst the parent in me, wants to spend every waking minute with my children, to make sure I’m bringing them up as soundly as I possibly can. What struck me and unsettled me recently, was the realisation that some people only judge female success on achievements in the workplace. Leaving being successful as a mother down by the wayside.

The reason this bothers me so much is that even though I go back and forth regarding my own work situation, deep down I know I’ll always be a mother first. I’m not prepared to go back into full-time work, outside of the home until they are old enough to look after themselves. I’m not ashamed of that, but sometimes I am made to feel a little insignificant. I was recently told that I ‘still have time to make my mark’, but what if my children are my mark? What if bringing them up to be happy, stable and respectful human beings is very best achievement of my life?

Am I privileged or lazy?

When I’m in conversation with working mums, they often refer to my situation as ‘privileged’. They think that because I stay at home, I am somehow married to a millionaire who keeps the little housewife. This just isn’t the case. Becoming a stay at home mother takes a lot of sacrifice. It’s a team effort. If i didn’t work hard in the home, my husband wouldn’t be able to work hard outside of the home. I don’t get to go out everyday and ‘do lunch‘, in fact some days I’m that busy I don’t get to eat lunch at all.

Others think that I just don’t want to work. That it’s easier to stay at home, rather than bring in the bacon. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have put all of this effort into building up an online business. One that means I can still be a stay at home mum, but also means I can still be recognised as a ‘worker’. As a side note, whoever thinks staying at home with children is for the lazy among us, is very much mistaken. Children are hard work.

You do get some people who understand what I do. They understand what it takes to bring up children and to give up a huge part of yourself to do so. Even though they seem to understand, I still feel my status as a female would be markedly higher if I had a working role outside of the home. Mother’s get judgement and sometimes empathy, whereas working mothers get celebrated.

Someone came up to me on the school run recently, handed me a leaflet and said ‘you don’t do anything once you leave here do you?’ It was for a group that I would obviously be able to attend as I’m not a ‘working mother’, I should surely be grateful for something to do with my time. I’ve no doubt that this wasn’t meant at all maliciously, but I have to admit that it cut me a little bit. I DO work hard, it just appears that all I am is a mum and you can’t judge success on that.

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Going the Distance – The Diary of a Nervous Traveller

Going the Distance – The Diary of a Nervous Traveller

I’ve spoken about being an anxious person before and I don’t want to flood this platform with mental health posts. However important I think it is to talk about it. Over the past few weeks though I’ve had a bit of a revelation and I wanted to share my success, as someone who previously relied on other people to get along in life. As I write this, I’m on a train by myself, travelling long distance for the first time in my life. The best thing is, I’m OK with it!

Usually my husband would travel with me, even if he had no need to. He would busy himself whilst I worked, purely to make me feel better about being in strange cities and so that I didn’t have to stay in a hotel room by myself. A year ago I wouldn’t have entertained travelling long-distance to work by myself. I would have shut it down immediately, not even taking the time to think it through. The worst thing about this is that I set myself up to miss out on so much. I was so intent on worrying about what will never happen, that I turned down opportunities just to ‘save myself‘.

Finding the courage to go it alone –

I know that to some people this may seem trivial. Travelling for work is something that happens every day for so many individuals. It’s just work and they do what they have to do to make a living. I know this, so I’m not sure why I’d blown the whole scenario up in my head. Trains were scary to me, something I was genuinely afraid of. How could I possibly catch a train, change platforms and get to my destination all on my own?

Guess what? I could and I can! When I got the details through for this work trip, I agreed to it before I had the chance to think about it. As a mother, the last thing I want to do is pass on my irrational fears to my children. They need to see me being strong and getting on with everyday life, without restricting my own experiences or theirs. The world doesn’t have to be a scary place and they need to realise that as much as I do.

I have to admit that on the run up to this trip, I worried myself sick. I didn’t want to do it and I was imagining every single negative scenario under the sun. On the morning I travelled though I felt good, because I knew I’d done it. I was going to grab a pastry and a coffee. I was going to work on the train and I was going to a job that I absolutely love.

Positivity breeds positivity –

The best thing about pushing myself and grabbing this opportunity with both hands, is that I felt much more positive about my future prospects and working life. I feel good about myself knowing that I’ve knocked down those barriers and I know that a fear of travelling will never hold me back again.

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It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want to…

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want to…

November is my birthday month and it’s coming up rather rapidly. I used to love birthdays, in fact I’d have a birthday week. Yep, I’d celebrate each and every night of the week surrounding my birthday. It was great fun! These days with family commitments, work and general knackeredness, I simply can’t think of anything worse than a birthday week. No only that, I’ll be 28 which is another step closer to 30 and 30 I do not want to be!

Life begins at 28 –

Actually when I look back over the past few years, 28 seems as though it’s set to be one of the best. Our work on the house is almost finished. Come April, both girls will be settled in at school and both Hubs and my work situations have never been better. As a family we are working quite nicely, I really don’t have a great deal to complain about.

What is it about age that frightens some of us so much? Why do we let age define us, when actually it’s about where we are in life, not how long we’ve been here. It’s about what our experiences have moulded us into and about the plans we have for the future. It’s inevitable that we’re all going to age, maybe it’s about time that I accepted my age and stopped focusing so much on turning the big 3-0.

Celebrating who I’ve become –

In the latter part of my twenties I’ve had two children, I’ve created an online business and I’ve become the homemaker that I thought I could never be. I’ve helped provide my husband with the chance to further his education and career. I have successfully gotten our eldest daughter ready to start preschool and she’s settled in amazingly. I’ve also had a few rough times, including a post natal depression diagnosis. All of these things have been valuable experiences that I am and should be grateful for.

I wouldn’t be who I am today if wasn’t for the rough and the smooth of the last few years. I wouldn’t be the happiest I’ve ever been, literally, if I Hubs and I hadn’t pulled together as a team and worked things out. When I started writing this post, I wasn’t exactly sure where it would take me, but it seems I have a lot more to be grateful for than I had initially realised.

Happy Birthday to me –

It might feel like time is leaving me behind sometimes and it might feel like I’m ageing a too quickly. What it also means though is that I’m still here and I’m living my best life. So I’m going to take the bull by the horns and say ‘Happy Birthday to me’. 28, I’m coming at you!

 

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Kids VS. Parents Games Night Challenge with Little Tikes

Kids VS. Parents Games Night Challenge with Little Tikes

*This post was written in collaboration with Little Tikes. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

Now that our girls are well and truly growing up, we have a lot of family fun with board games. Hubs and I love to play all of the traditional board games with the girls, so when we were asked by Little Tikes  if we wanted to take part in a games night challenge, we couldn’t wait!

Little Tikes have a new range of super fun games out, ideal for kids aged 5 plus. They’re the kind of games that are that so much fun to play, the girls have no idea how much they’re learning whilst playing. So to kick of our Kids VS. Parents Games Night Challenge, Little Tikes sent us their Crazy Toaster and Hot Hoops games. As well, a music voucher and a Just Eat voucher to keep up the energy of the competitors!

Crazy Toaster – This is a pop up toaster game that will have you and your littles giggling all night! Slices of toast pop high out the toaster and you have to try to catch the flying pieces in your pans. If you catch them and they match the toast on your plate, they’re yours to keep. This game is fun, energetic and can be played for hours, but be warned – it’s not as easy as it looks!

Hot Hoops – This is a head to head challenge game and it’s perfect if you needs deciding points on your games nights! It’s fast paced and is bound to bring out the competitive streak in the whole family. The best thing about this games is that it’s compact and east to take on your travels.

 

Our family games night –

 

We had so much fun on our family games night, but unfortunately the parents did not come out on top! The kids of the house had scores well above ours and it was our eldest who was victorious and took the medal! We had such a great evening thanks to Little Tikes, their new games range is a lot of fun for both adults and children. Now all we need is a rematch to knock the kids off of their winning spot!

 

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Five Things being a School Run Mum has Taught Me

Five Things being a School Run Mum has Taught Me

I’ve had the joy of being a school run mum for a few months now. The novelty is wearing off and I’ve begun to countdown each term, eager for the holidays to start. It’s not because I don’t like school, we are very pro-education over here. It’s that the school run can become a bit of a bind! It’s a rat race, with everyone believing that they’re in more of a rush than the next person.

The good thing about the school run is meeting people on your wavelength. There will be at least one other mum, or dad, that you really get on with. You’ll laugh and cry with them as your children go through school and they will be your school run ally. Other than that, the school run is a real eye opener. So much so that if you did stand-up comedy for a living, you’d have fresh material for life!

Here are five things that being a school run mum has taught me;

Parents will KILL for a parking space –

Yes I drive to school, but in my defence we do live a couple of miles away. With a two and three year old to transport, walking each and every day is not an option. I’ve learnt though, that if you’re going to be driving to school then you need to be prepared to stand your ground.

People park their cars anywhere and everywhere and they get really shirty if you get in their way. The working parents are the worst, they want the space closest to school, so they can run in and run out in double-quick time. I understand they have to turn into work, but being a few minutes late is probably something they ought to have made their peace with when they had kids.

Kids are all sweetness and light until you get them out of the school gates. Then they turn into ‘hangry‘ monsters –

My kid is always happy at school. She’ll walk out with her friends talking and behaving like an angel. As soon as she gets into the car the ‘hangry’ monster appears. She wants food NOW and will be grumpy until she gets it. Why do parents always get cracked with the ‘hangry’ stick?

You’ll come across so may different types of parents. Remember though, you’re all knackered and you’re all stressed –

You’ll meet parents you like and parents you don’t. You’ll meet the ones whose kids you don’t mind your kids mixing with and you’ll meet ones you’d prefer they didn’t. What you shouldn’t over look though is that all of these parents are most likely knackered and completely stressed out, just like you are. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.

Hold back on the smug when your kids goes into school meltdown free. Your time will come. Believe me –

When our eldest started her school placement she went in like a dream. I would see the parents with screamy kids looking fraught as they tried to get their little one to go and play. I’ll be honest I felt a little smug, mine was doing so well, we had no trouble. Oh the naivety! Of course once she’d settle in and got her feet well and truly under the table, our angel daughter felt comfortable enough to wail at the top of her lungs one morning as I tried to leave. Not so smug now hey?!

Play dates are a thing. Deal with it –

I was so inexperienced at school mum life until recently, that I honestly never realised that I would have to schedule play dates into my already brimming diary. It wouldn’t be so intrusive if I dropped the kids off and picked them up tired and ready for sleep, but at their tender ages I have to stay with them. Now I’m all for being sociable, but I find squeezing work into my day hard enough as is it, never mind when I have to leave my own four walls for hours. Yes the kids love it and yes it’s good for them, but I won’t half been pleased when they can head off and see their friends without me!

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