THE TOP 5 PLACES TO VISIT THIS SUMMER


Spring might have finally sprung in the U.K. but, for most people who’ve endured the long, cold British winter, it’s time to start planning a summer escape to warmer climates. We're fortunate in that we've already got a holiday booked in less than eight short weeks, but I can't even help myself from wanting to click confirm on another booking, to have one ready for when we land back in an undoubtedly dull England. From chic city breaks to sun-soaked Mediterranean cruises, blissful beach holidays in the Canaries to charming Greek Islands, here are a few of the best places to visit this summer to help you start planning your next holiday.

5 TIPS FOR BEGINNING SELF EMPLOYMENT AS A BLOGGER


When I became self-employed I'd already spent months reading up on what I should and shouldn't be doing. I was shocked at the amount of steps I needed to take and if I'm honest, it was a little overwhelming as if you get it wrong the consequences don't really bare thinking about. It's not easy, the whole weight of your business rests solely on your shoulders and now I'm a little more acquainted with what is what, I thought I'd share my top tips for starting off in self employment. Being self-employed is a challenge, but one thing you shouldn’t have to fear is accounting. Small business accounting for sole traders is relatively straightforward, and should be one of the first things you give your attention to.

THE PREGNANCY SHOCKERS NOBODY WARNS YOU ABOUT


Pregnancy is one of those lovely journeys in life, that whilst everyone can sympathise with, nobody truly gets it because - every path is different. Even your own body can react completely different with each pregnancy it carries, just comparing Noah and Patrick for me, they were absolute worlds apart. There was so much I experienced first time around that I never saw again, and yet there was tonnes that with P I'd never expected. Pregnancy is a minefield and it doesn't matter how many antenatal classes you attend, baby books you read or times you hit google - something will surprise you. I wanted to share with you the things I found nobody spoke about, I touched on my postpartum hair loss just last week and it seems I wasn't alone in my horror as my hair started to fall out in clumps, it happens to everyone. So this week, I'm doing more of the same.


BLOGS ARE DYING? I DON'T THINK SO


This month, more than any previously, I've seen the debate on whether blogs are dying and losing their value, constantly. It's across social media, magazines are declaring it and almost every other form of printed news. As a blogger, I'm obviously from a biased standpoint no matter how rationale I try to be about the situation and can't give a fully unclouded view. Would I be wrong to suggest this may be an age thing, that people of older generation aren't turning towards online because they were reared in a world in which it didn't exist for so long? I have to say that I think newspapers and magazines have vested interests by trying to play down how influential bloggers are now. Millennials undoubtedly turn towards online activity to get the fix that print once provided and I do think that the written publications are threatened by this, it's a scary thought for them. They can't provide the raw honesty that bloggers can and it's something that I think sets us above them by a large mile.

AN APRIL HEATWAVE AND FIVE REASONS WHY I HATE IT


So we're in the midst of a British heatwave, and as we all know they don't last long, blink and you've missed it. In fact as I sit here, typing away, with my aloe-vera bathed skin, I'm certain by the time anyone gets around to reading this post, there will be rain against the windows and clouds in the sky. It is England after all. I'm not usually one for sunbathing in England, hanging around in beer gardens or even remotely attempting to lap up the sun. Of course I adore the days that bit more when the skies are blue and the temperatures sitting nicely above twenty, but I much prefer those days to appear on holiday and not on my own home turf. Call me a bit of a bore, but I don't particularly enjoy a British heatwave.


BUDGETING TIPS FOR FAMILIES


Budgeting has never been my strong point, I'll admit. And I wasn't really shocked to learn that it's something a lot of people struggle with, though I think it's safe to say you always need a little money pot. Whether that's £50, £500 or £5000, whatever works for you and your family, it's important to have something in place for when things go wrong. Just this month we've had to replace tyres on Johns car and whilst it's not exactly a huge expense it's still unexpected and not something you usually take into account when planning monthly finances, so it's important to budget so that these occurrences can be taken care of easily. 


A SHOPPING WIN


It's no secret I love to shop. It's usually for my boys, there is more chance of seeing flying pigs that there are of me going a month without grabbing something for them. We're heading away in June and of course, these boys grow at a rate of knots so it means they've needed all new pieces for their summer wardrobe. I does sting a little knowing that they're only going to be in these clothes for a matter of weeks or, if we're very lucky with the British Summer, then months but I'm somewhat doubtful. You can imagine my surprise and equal delight when I heard there was a way to potentially get money back, from just buying the things you would buy anyway.


GETTING OUR FIRST CHOICE SCHOOL



On Monday the 16th of April, anyone with a child aged 3 or 4 who would be starting school in September, found out exactly what school it would be that their child would attend. It was a big day, and I felt it. As the hours began to fade away and midnight drew closer, I hoped against everything that I'd get an email at midnight or be able to log onto the system to discover Noah's fate. I'd heard tales of people being left till five o'clock in the evening before they could know the outcome, that to me was torture, I mean I'd gone four and a half months already since submitting the application yet a few more hours felt wholly unreasonable. 

POSTPARTUM HAIR LOSS TIPS


One of the least talked about postpartum problems, is hair loss. It might sound trivial when you compare it to bleeding, stitches or a weak pelvic floor but it's still a huge confidence killer when your hair is suddenly falling out in clumps and nobody warned you about it. I don't even need one hand to count how many times someone mentioned to me that my hair would fall out, because that conversation never cropped up, not even once. I have naturally thick, coarse, curly hair (thanks for passing that gene along mother) so I'm used to shedding a fair bit when I brush or wash it, but this was on another level. Clogging up the plug hole with your hair isn't so glamorous and with no end in sight, it really got me down.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LOGGING OFF

So much of our lives is online these days, social media has a very clever way (it's in the name after all) of making you feel like you're being social, when you're usually doing the exact opposite. I don't need to interact with half of my family, because I can read what they're up to online by scrolling through their photos or commenting on their status updates. It's so easy to think that you've 'caught up' with someone, when in reality you read a few tweets or watched an Instagram story. I am guilty of this, without a doubt and whilst social media and the online world has an unfathomable amount of perks, it has it's pitfalls too and this is definitely one of them.

PATRICKS NICU JOURNEY


You wouldn't think looking at the wild, spirited boy that he is today, just how fragile Patricks life was almost two years ago. I had absolutely no idea the journey we were set to embark on, and though only a short week, it'll be ingrained in my memory for my entire lifetime. You don't expect to end up in neonatal when you've had a perfectly healthy baby previously, I certainly didn't expect a premature arrival, given his brothers tardiness just a couple of years before. Noah's earthside appearance in 2013 was an induction in early December, as he'd decided his due date just wasn't good enough and so we'd have to wait an extra twelve days. His brother, not one to follow the crowd wanted things on his own terms too, and he shocked us all with a pretty scary start, four weeks early in June 2016. I can't tell you during that month leading up to, and after his birth, how many times I googled for a positive outcome and truthfully I could find barely any accounts of what we were going through. Knowing that, it feels silly that it's taken me almost two whole years to get it down in words - but better late than never ey?

MY APRIL GOALS


New year always seems the most pivotal point to declare yourself a new you, set yourself goals you'll never achieve and then forget about them all within three weeks time. And if that isn't you then it's certainly me. I'm flaky. Looking back to January, I can't really remember the goals I set and though they were all said with the best intentions, it would be interesting to look back even now and see how many haven't really came to fruition. Even though it's clear new years resolutions probably aren't for me, they do make me feel good and even if it's fleeting - they give me a bit of a kick up the bottom.

WHAT'S A 'REAL' MUM


I feel quite lucky in that my small circle of women is a one that supports, builds up and congratulates each other on everything. Whether one of us got dressed before noon within the first six months of motherhood, or that we managed to cook something other than beige - I know these girls will be there with bells and whistles to triumph together. It seems the vast majority of mothers I follow across social media are very much the same, we understand it's a roller coaster and that the times that we're sitting around all day in our lunch stained pyjamas are far more regular than we all care to admit. If I stood here today and posted on Instagram how I'd lost three stone and suddenly had hips to rival Shakira, I can bet my bottom dollar that people would congratulate me on working so hard. (Note, don't fear, this will never happen, cake is too appealing) But when the likes of Kylie Jenner pop up on my feed, people aren't so kind, I'd go as far as to say they're cruel - with harps of 'this isn't what a real mum looks like'. What's with the double standard, and who is the judge and jury of 'real mums'.

FINDING THE BALANCE


It's been three whole months that I began working from home and it became apparent really quickly just how hard it is to separate working life from, the rest of my life. Before Babies and Beauty became my full time job, I worked in a nursery, out of the home and it allowed me to shift into a complete different head space when I popped my uniform on. For all of the perks being self employed has, the ability to define work time vs me time isn't one of them and it's something that's taken me a whole twelve weeks to find my balance in that spectrum. I've dabbled at either end, but I think I'm finally settling somewhere in the middle.