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Three Ways to Make a Small Garden Work for the Whole Family

Three Ways to Make a Small Garden Work for the Whole Family

*This is a collaborative post.

 

Spring is my favourite season of the year. I love the light nights, the pretty flowers and the warmth! Spring always hold so much hope and it always feels so good to have a long summer ahead of us. Each year I spend the early spring sprucing up our garden, making sure that it’s clean and tidy and ready for spending our days outdoors. As we have quite a small garden, organising our space doesn’t take up too much time. What we do have to think about though, is how we can make the small space that we do have, work for each of us individually and as a family together.

Now that our girls are both on their feet, we just can’t get away without having outdoor toys for them to play with. From trampolines to slides, you name it we have it! Long gone are the baby days when a blanket and a few toys would suffice. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the girls having toys out there, I want them to enjoy our garden too. Having said that, it’s nice to make sure we have an adult space outdoors. So that we can sit out in the evening and relax, or work which is much more likely! We also have two rabbits who love to spend time outdoors when the weather is fine, so we really do have a lot to squeeze in to a small space.

 

Here are three ways we make our small garden work for the whole family;

 

Have designated areas for each member of the family –

Even though our garden is small, we have designated areas for each of us. Granted the kids have most of the space and we do have a lot of brightly coloured plastic around the garden, but we make sure that each item has its own space. We have an area with patio furniture, which we use to relax in. You can find some great patio furniture deals from Groupon, there are pieces to suit every taste and garden size. This area also has a small BBQ in it too, so that Hubs and I can enjoy our evening meals outside on summer nights!

I love to see pretty flowers and I think it’s good to get the kids involved in a little gardening. So, we have a very small but neat garden area that we grow a few seasonal flowers in. This area benefits the whole family and when the flowers are in bloom, it draws your attention to them instead of the kids toys. Our bunnies have their own little space too, so when we’re all outside together everyone is happy!

 

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Be selective with what you keep in your garden, don’t over power your space with too much stuff –

I’ve already mentioned that we have a lot of kids toys in our garden and to be honest, we are on the brink of over powering it. These days, we have to stop and think about the things that we buy, so that we don’t add too many bits and bobs to an already small and crowded area. We make sure that the toys that we buy can be stored in the garden shed and when we recently bought a new table, we went for the smaller option to make sure it fit nicely in the space we have. It’s important to step back and look at what you have. If it feels like things are getting on top of you, then it’s probably time to have a clear out and get some garden back!

 

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Keep your outdoor space tidy –

This is by far the easiest way to make sure that your garden works for everyone that uses it. They say that an untidy house makes for an untidy mind and I’m sure this works when you head outdoors too! I always make sure that things are put back in their place at the end of the day, that way each area doesn’t encroach on another.

 

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#MumisBest Guest Post – Rhian, From Tum to Mum!

#MumisBest Guest Post – Rhian, From Tum to Mum!

Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now I will leave you in the hands of Rhian, From Tum to Mum!

 

Mum is best – Can we have it all?

When you get pregnant, you mentally make lots of decisions about how life might be with a family.

You may decide that you want to follow some kind of “written” guidebook of how life will be (the likes of Gina Forde). Or you might like the idea that you can fit the baby into your life and it’ll be easy to have it all.

Of course, you know it’s going to impact your life and there’ll be sacrifices, but you have no idea what they will really be until that little face pops out and drains every last smidgen of energy you have left. The chances are that the naive decisions you tried to make during pregnancy will turn out to have been a pipe dream.

For most mums I know, even though they may have been super ambitious prior to pregnancy, changes happen. Priorities change. Energy levels change. Work changes. They change.

Priorities

For some Mums, they continue their career path and choose to return to work full time. That’s fine. For a lot of us (me included) they seek a more flexible working pattern because their job is suddenly not the ‘be all and end all’ that it once was. That’s fine too. Many may not be able to change their work situations financially. Equally fine, although I’m sure they’d prefer not to. Whichever it is, that good old “Mum guilt” will go into overdrive.

I am self employed so I didn’t really take a break at all, as I’d work around the clock. I mean, I was up anyway, so I thought I may as well sneak a bit of work in whilst she was feeding. I now have a more organised structure working only during childcare or at night time if I need to.

Energy levels

Once your offspring is sleeping more, you’ll most likely feel more tired. You might now be doing those extra jobs you didn’t get around to during the day well after little one is down for the night. Or you may still be up throughout the night. In short, you’re still going to be knackered most of the time and that’s likely to influence whatever work situation you have.

Work

You haven’t been around for a long time, and in most businesses, a lot changes in a short space of time. So it’s likely that work won’t be the same place that you left.

So what does that mean?

It means that “having it all” might actually not be the easiest thing to achieve. There is a strong possibility that you’ll constantly feel as though things aren’t quite right and you could do something better. You will probably always feel as though you are letting someone down.

So here’s the thing… you’re not.

You’re doing something amazing.

Whether you’re back at work, a SAHM or somewhere in between, you’re showing your child the realities of modern life. It bloody hard and we think we can do everything. Very rarely do I say ‘no’ to much, hence working with a newborn, but seriously, it’s knackering.

There is no perfect solution that won’t make you feel as though you’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.

It’s an ever-growing debate, and there is certainly no right or wrong. You just have to do what is right for your and your family.

The way I work, I feel like my daughter knows that I am always around for then important things, but she also knows that Mummy works too. That’s her time to have fun with her friends at nursery.

So my advice is, don’t try to have it all. Try to have a good balance and continue to be uber awesome, because Mum, you are.

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The Day My World Stood Still. Well, Nearly.

The Day My World Stood Still. Well, Nearly.

Blogging, writing, social media and emails galore. Sound familiar? I’m not moaning, it’s the theme tune to my life and I love it. However, since I found myself on this path I don’t think I’ve downed tools for even a day. I’m always conscious of deadlines, I squeeze work into my day any which way I can and when it’s finally time to go to bed I work for a couple more hours. You know, for good measure.

Well this week something amazing happened. I scheduled all content, put down my phone, closed the laptop, packed the kids into the car and took the whole day off to enjoy being a family. OK I’ll admit that I did have a few sneaky checks of my phone, completely cold turkey was probably a bit of a big ask! For the most part though I just enjoyed some time out, knowing that work would still be waiting for me when I got back.

I’ve written so many times about how taking a break is one of the best things to make your business thrive. It seems I’m not very good at taking my own advice. I’m always banging on about how refreshed a bit of time out can make you feel and how it can give you the motivation to crack through a load of work when you get back to it, I fully believe it too. So I just can’t work out why it’s taken me this long to act on it!

So what has taking a break taught me?

 

  • That the world won’t implode if I don’t reply to an email in 30 seconds flat.
  • That the day goes by in less of a blur if you take some time to enjoy it.
  • That my concentration improves markedly after taking some time out.
  • That going to bed at a reasonable hour once in a while is necessary.
  • That the world looks much prettier when you aren’t looking at it through a camera lense.
  • That I love my job and a break is necessary if I want to succeed!

 

It turns out that taking a break isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact it’s completely necessary for each and everyone of us to stop what we’re doing once in a while and take stock of where we’re at. I’ll definitely be taking another break sooner rather than later, all work and no play makes Zoe a very dull girl!

 

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#MumisBest Guest Series – Vicki from Mumma and her Monsters!

#MumisBest Guest Series – Vicki from Mumma and her Monsters!

Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now I will leave you in the hands of Vicki from Mumma and her Monsters!

 

Being A Half And Half Mum

 

I love being a stay at home mum, but I also need that time for me, when I’m not mummy, I’m Vicki, So half the time I’m a volunteer at the local library, talking with actual adults for proper conversation that doesn’t include boogers is amazing and so refreshing! I volunteer mostly to help my mental health, I really struggle to get out and make friends so this makes me feel 10x better. Sometimes I do get that moment where I feel like I’m missing out on special moments or ‘firsts’ but ill always get to see it another time there is nothing they only do once, ‘Working’ is fun for me, not matter how stressed I get sometimes I know my babies will be waiting for me when I get home and it makes my day worth it.

 But being a stay at home mum brings me so much joy! I love spending time with my children, I mean who doesn’t? we love doing activities or playing board games or even just random adventures to the beach or park, being able to see them grow and learn is an amazing thing! I get to blog and write in my journal and enjoy making memories to cherish forever at the same time, even doing the washing or cleaning is okay, I mean its not everyone’s favourite thing to do but it has to be done and when they’re at school its so peaceful (until the toddler wakes up).

For me there really isn’t a preference between the two, It fits our family dynamic perfect, mike stays at home with Olli (our 1 year old) and I volunteer for a few hours, its brilliant and it works for us, I know not everyone will fit in the same category as me but being a half and half mum works so well!

You can see more from Vicki here:

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#MumisBest Guest Post – Becca from My Girls & Me!

#MumisBest Guest Post – Becca from My Girls & Me!

Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now I will leave you in the hands of Becca from My Girls & Me!

I have always seen what working with children is like as both my parents have done it.  My mum and dad used to work long shifts to support us and they always looked so exhausted. I knew what they were doing and that was giving me and my sisters what we needed by going to work. We always had clothes on our back, food in our bellies and we were always warm.

I have never wanted to have children. There were enough in the family to keep me happy ha-ha! But I ended up having a surprise pregnancy and I was in love, now I can’t help but want more babies! When I had my first, Rosie, I was still full time in school so I got a weekend job at our local pub/restaurant as a waitress. It wasn’t a lot of hours nor was it brilliant pay but I will felt like I was trying for my baby girl.

After a year or so I had some major health problems which made me leave work. I was then off work for 2 years. I finished my GCSE’s and tried 6th form, but my health problems set me back so I was a SAHM.  I loved it; I loved being home all day every day with my babe! Even though sometimes I was extremely bored and we just couldn’t afford to do anything exciting. I loved being at home and watching my kids grow.

Now time has moved on I have started to miss the aspect of work. I applied for many jobs around my home town as I can’t drive and I got an interview at my local restaurant, as a cleaner in the mornings. I started of small but at the time I was debating whether or not to go for a job with longer hours, including the cleaning job. But at the time it seemed too much to be doing up to 60 hours a week. Plus I’m breastfeeding so it would have been really difficult to pump and make sure Miyah still latched to me and we still had that bond.

As time has gone on and we have had a few more setbacks it does seem like a good idea to start working more hours to get that extra income. My partner will be the SAHF and to us that’s fine. We like being ‘odd’ in a sense as you don’t see stay at home fathers very often.

Thank you for reading,

Becca x

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#MumisBest Guest Post – Laura from The Breastest News

#MumisBest Guest Post – Laura from The Breastest News

Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now, I will leave you in the hands of Laura from The Breastest News!

 

Finding the right balance for your family can sometimes be a juggle. I’ve personally worked all of my life so far and have been lucky enough to do so. Pre children I worked a normal Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm office job which suited me fine. It wasn’t exactly exciting but it paid the bills and brought a lot of different opportunities so I was happy plodding along. When my son was born back in 2009 that’s when things started to change for me. I didn’t want to be a Mum who worked full time. I felt like I would miss out on so much but unfortunately after 13 months of blissful maternity leave I returned to work and back to my usual Monday to Friday routine. This meant my son had to go into childcare some days but his Daddy looked after him most days.

As luck would have it (at the time I was pretty upset) not long after returning from Mat Leave my role was made redundant so I had to quickly find something else, bills to pay and all that. Working for such a large organisation meant it was a bit easier to find something within my current environment so no drastic company moving as a few months later I joined a lovely team in a new department. The team I joined were really quite flexible which meant I got my first proper taste of part-time working compressing my hours worked each day and cutting out a Friday.

I loved not having to work on a Friday. It meant I had more time for my son which was fantastic. As my son got older though the hubby and I noticed things weren’t quite right from a development point of view and in 2013 he was diagnosed with Autism. At this point in my life I felt cutting more hours at work and spending more time to help care and support my son far outweighed any financial benefit so I requested to work 3 days a week, 8 hours each day. This was quite a good arrangement as I felt like I was around more.

Roll on 2015 and my daughter was born. Her arrival into the world made me realise how precious time can be and after a fab 14 months of Mat Leave I put in a further request to only come back to work two days a week. The money might not be great but I can honestly say hand on heart it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made about my work life balance. I’m now able to juggle childcare between myself, the hubby and a childminder one day a week for my daughter. My son is at school but I’m now able to pick him up and take him to play dates/ after school classes without feeling rushed and stressed.

Working part time for me is basically the best of both worlds as I get to spend lots of time with my family but also get to go to work and be Laura, not just Mummy, for the day. I can enjoy a hot cuppa and food in peace without anyone trying to steal a bite and my clothes remain stain free! It’s great. I’m happy that I’ve finally found my work life balance. If only I could say the same about my blog life balance!

Bio:

I’m Laura, twenty something tea guzzling Scottish parenting and lifestyle blogger who lives in Fife, Scotland with my partner Kevin, cheeky son Logan, daughter Harlow and two lovely dogs. The Breastest News is my personal blog which I started back in late January 2011. As well as covering breastfeeding, as the name suggests, my blog also encompasses a wealth of family travel, autism awareness and fun reviews.

Blog: www.thebreastestnews.co.uk

Twitter: @BreastestNews

Facebook: /The Breastest News Blog

Instagram: BreastestNews

 

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Is the Key to Success Self Doubt?

Is the Key to Success Self Doubt?

Ever since I ventured into the blogging world I’ve been bugged by my own self doubt. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ve ALWAYS been troubled by my own self doubt. I suppose blogging has just resurfaced old feelings, now that I’m constantly tip tapping them down for all to see.

Becoming a blogger brings with it a lot to think about. Obviously there’s the workload, which you don’t realise is so hefty until it’s too late. Once you get the blogging bug, there’s no going back.  Then there’s the feeling of exposure, when you think about who might be reading your stuff. What do they think of it? Is it any good? At some point, every blogger I know has had a crisis in confidence and has thought about closing their laptop for good.

In a strange way though, blogging has also given me a much needed boost in confidence. I wouldn’t have dreamed that I would end up being a blogger and a writer when I was in the early days of motherhood. It took everything I had to function daily, never mind to consider building up a brand new business with very limited technical knowledge. As time went by though I knew I needed something more. I dipped my toes into blogging and quickly realised what amazing possibilities lay before me.

I think that living with a lurking aura of self doubt can be the unexpected key to our success. Apart from the drive I have to be a someone in the eyes of my children and husband, I want to prove to myself that my demons aren’t in control of my future. Every time I get the feeling that I’ve taken on too much or I get anxious about looming deadlines, I turn that negative energy on its head and convert it into ambition. OK not every time, but I try to ignore the bad feelings and replace them with good. I do my best to ignore the voice that’s telling me I can’t and I amplify the one that tells me I can.

I’ve never had a passion for my work life before I found blogging and writing. I’ve always just gone through the motions. Yes I’ve built up a business before, but I didn’t care much for what I did. Now each morning I get up with fresh ideas, ready to power through another day of doing what I love!

 

So, if living with self doubt is what I have to do to make a success of myself, so be it. I’m only human after all!

 

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#MumisBest Guest Post – Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls

#MumisBest Guest Post – Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls

Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now I will leave you in the hands of Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls!

 

I am a Stay-at-home-mom. My husband works and, is the bread winner and head of our house-hold. I stay home, look after our daughters and keep the house running. 

Some feminists out there might look at my life at surface level and immediately label me a sell-out.

Call me what you like, but this is what works for our family.

All during my pregnancy I was adamant that I would return to work after four months’ maternity leave. Then in the 7th month of pregnancy and after months of us arguing about who would be suitable to look after our baby when I returned to work, I just decided that I had to do what was best for her. I quit my job.

Shortly after she was born we moved to be closer to my family. Life went on, and then I fell pregnant with my second baby.

By this time, life was very hard for us. We were living in Zimbabwe with a declining economy. My husband was working with my dad and they were doing well, but the income we were relying on fluctuated monthly. I couldn’t take the stress and uncertainty anymore and we decided it would be best if my husband went back to working for a company in South Africa.

When my baby was 5 weeks old we moved to South Africa. Hardest thing ever!

The visa I am on here is a Spouse permit which allows me to live in SA, but not to work. My permanent residence application has been pending now since November 2015 … “Never rush a good job” as the saying goes. I’ll just leave that right here.

My husband works in construction on large road building projects so we move around quite a lot, moving to where the work is, up till now. This will stop soon as my eldest is starting Grade 1 next year and we don’t want to uproot her and move them once she starts formal education. Not if it is avoidable. Me not working has also given us the flexibility of being able to ‘follow’ my husband around wherever the work takes us. Whilst it has its own set of challenges, I am grateful to have been able to do this.

In around August last year, I was feeling low and frustrated with life. I felt I had no purpose. My husband’s job was going great, the kids were thriving in school, we were done with babies, nappies, bottles, and had moved on to the next stage of kids – out of the toddler zone! Whilst I love being a mother and I love my girls, “motherhood” the job was not satisfying me and I thought to myself that there must be more than just this. I decided to start my blog.

It has been almost a salvation to me. It has given me a purpose, something to own, a creative space and an outlet for all my emotions. I get to interact with adults online and share ideas and learn about other ways of life. I am committed to sharing the reality of my mom-life. The highs and the lows, the ups and the downs. #thisisreallife. We are not an Instagram Perfect family. My home is a place where we can be ‘normal’ – whatever normal is. I can be quite sarcastic and ranty on my blog, but if I’m not letting my personality out on my own blog, where can I? I like to think I can be quite funny too if you get my ‘dry & sarcastic’ sense of humour.

Our days are pretty standard and routine. My husband is gone from 05.00 until 18.00. I get the kids up, take them to school, then run around doing all the chores, blogging and everything I can whilst they are at school. Afternoons are spent ferrying them from one after-school activity to another, swimming, dancing, tennis, football – to name a few. We try to eat at the table as a family most week nights. This is our time to just be together, catching up with each other. Then it’s tidying up, bath, a little bit more TV, and then bed. When the kids are in bed I get to chill and can usually be found with a glass of wine in hand watching Grey’s Anatomy or some other Shonda Rhimes addictive series. 

We often talk about if whether I should go back to work or not, and the reasons why I don’t are always the same:

·        I am available for the kids and my husband 24/7. This is important as we do not have any family support at all.

·        I don’t speak any other language other than English so living in a very Afrikaans area of South Africa, the chances of me finding a job that was worth sacrificing all the perks of me not working are very slim.

·        We don’t need the money – any income I will earn will be used to pay someone else to do all the jobs I do around the house, plus more will be needed for after-school-care for the kids. It really does not make any sense.

·        My sanity is no longer in too much jeopardy now I have my blog. I’m grateful my husband recognises this and supports me.

So, yes, whilst I am a SAHM, I’m so much more to my family. It’s not fair to them yet for me to go back to work. Maybe when they’re older … isn’t that always the answer. Not too sure what my husband will do if/when I go back to work, but I’m sure the kids will be fine when the time comes.

You can see more from Carly here:

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Freelance Writing – The Low Down

Freelance Writing – The Low Down

Freelance writing is a great way to earn a living from home. It often means that you can work flexible hours, this is especially convenient if you have children at home. I decided that I wanted to become a freelance writer and blogger soon after my eldest daughter was born. I left my old job behind and decided building my own freelance business was the best way to ensure the happiness of my family and I.

Although it looks easy, writing for a living has its challenges. Doing so from home and around a family just amplifies those challenges. If like me, you too want to be your own person outside of being a mother. If you need to work for your own sake, to thrive and to be content then freelance writing could be for you.

There are a few key points to consider before you make any decisions:

Are you familiar with basic grammar?

You don’t need to be an expert but having basic grammatical knowledge is a must. We all make mistakes, that makes us human. However if you know that grammar isn’t your strong point, it might be worth rethinking your next career move or spending some time brushing up on your core skills.

Do you have a good imagination?

Writing requires a lot of imagination. Think about staring at a blank page knowing that you have to fill it, often with only a keyword to start you off. Are you able to think quickly, providing yourself with a clear direction. Research is a big part of this too, but being able to generate quality and engaging content from almost nothing is a required skill.

Can you type quickly and with minimal errors?

Freelance writing can be a great little earner, if you can type quickly enough. When you’re assigned projects, they are often worth a set amount. If typing is not your strong point, making your money as a writer may not be feasible, as taking more time to write than you should immediately devalues your work. For example, a five hundred word article should take around 30 minutes to complete. Any more than this and your hourly rate won’t reflect the amount of work you’ve put in.

Do you have good research skills?

When you’re writing articles it’s not unusual to have to do a little research along the way. Think about how efficiently you’re able to search for facts and to decide whether the source is reliable. A simple google search doesn’t always suffice. We all know that not everything we read on the internet has depth and so it’s important that you’re able to decipher the good from the bad. After all, you don’t want your work to be discredited due to poor research.

 

If you think freelance writing is for you, you can find out more HERE!

 

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#MumisBest Guest Post – Jessie from The Spilt Milk

#MumisBest Guest Post – Jessie from The Spilt Milk

 Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now I will leave you in the hands of Jessie from The Spilt Milk!

Working is therapy you get paid for!

Today I am not embracing the chaos. I cannot embrace the frustration of my newly clean jeans covered in smooshed pear because the baby won’t sit still.  

I am not able to take the needed deep breath to stay calm with my toddler punching me in the back because I won’t let him eat his stolen sweets from the kitchen cupboard. 

Today I just want to be somewhere else and not be called mummy for a few precious moments. 

I have been a stay at home mum since I graduated uni when Noah was 18 months old. Now he is 3 and a half and Oswin is almost a year old. I have moments of feeling like the luckiest person to have no 3rd world worries and that I can enjoy my little ones being little without needing to leave them. 

In the last couple of months I have had more moments of feeling like: 

“Oh my God I just want to sleep for longer than an hour without a mini boobaholic attaching herself like a joey” and equally:  “will I ever leave the house alone again except for doing the food shopping?”

This week I did get the chance to leave the house and even stay out by myself! To do some temp work inputting questionnaire data on a computer. A few years ago I would have cried at the idea of brain numbing computer work but now, good lord it was like therapy. 

I got the chance to talk to grown ups, well 21 year olds, no-one was in competition about how much their toddler could do or what age the baby starting walking. I didn’t even hear one person say how much they love Sainsbury’s 25% sale for kids clothes! 

It was official I was out of my comfort zone and I loved it. I made one awkward comment of “it’s so nice to have my boobs to myself for the day”. I got at least 3 strange looks before I explained that I breastfeed… Then they looked at me like I was old. Boo

I worked for 6 hours, honestly the longest I have sat still since before both babies came along. It was heaven. I missed them like hell after a couple of hours but it was a good distance for us I think. 

Yesterday I took them both to the sea side and I felt more grateful for the time I have with them. We played on the beach and I cuddled them more than I think I do on a general day. 

I don’t think I could be away from them every day but I am looking forward to working again next week. It’s good to feel needed for a really dull reason rather than to literally keep another human alive. Sometimes it’s nice to just blend in and not be so important! 

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