Brains are funny things, or more specifically, mindsets. How we think, not only affects how we feel, but even how we perceive something. It actually changes our reality. Let me give you an example of what I mean. 

As you may know, Lady Mck finds it very hard to fall asleep at bedtime and even when she does fall asleep, she doesn’t always like to be put in her cot. I feed her, we rock her in our arms, we cuddle her, but if none of this works, we will put her in her pushchair and rock that and she usually drifts off into a lovely, long sleep. When this happens I think I’ve failed, that I wasn’t patient enough and gave up too easily or that long term I’ve messed up. Mckdaddy thinks…..nothing, or even “Yes! She’s asleep” 

The facts of what has happened are the same, but the reality that Mckdaddy and I have constructed are quite different. It would be fascinating if I wasn’t someone who’s negative thought patterns didn’t cloud so much of my experience. Negative thinking is so ingrained I wonder how often in my day reality is shifted by it, without me even noticing. Tens, at least, I imagine. A phrase I use quite often is “It is what it is”. Usually when I’m just trying to plough through something that’s a bit rubbish or something has happened, beyond our control, that we need to deal with, but it occurs to me that nothing “is what it is”, everything is what we construct it to be. 

Where does this negative thinking come from? Why are some people able to breeze through, while others have this negative ‘other’ voice whispering in their ear? I heard someone say recently that we would never talk to others the way we talk to ourselves.  It’s true. I would never speak to a friend or even someone I didn’t like, the way I did to myself and if I knew someone who was talking that kind of trash about a friend of mine, I would tell them to ignore it and move on. I would tell them that they are doing the best they can and that they fill their family’s life with love and joy. I would tell them that they are a great friend and one of the good ones. Yet, some of us talk to ourselves, all day long, in our heads with such disrespect. We are often told to “Be kind to yourself” and it usually means, get enough rest, have a cuppa, do something we enjoy. Whereas it really should mean “stop being such a bitch to yourself” 

I realise this all poses more questions than it answers, because I don’t have the answers. I’ve been a negative thinker, or more accurately, negative over thinker, for as long as I can remember and I have no idea where it comes from or how to change it, but I think, perhaps a good start would be to remind myself not to be such a bitch. 



Styling the seasons is one of my favourite blogging collaborations. Katy from Apartment Apocathery and Charlotte from Lotts and Lots, ask that you style any surface in your home, to reflect what that month means to you. To reflect the change of seasons. I admire the beautiful contributions from afar though, too scared to join in, for fear that my styling efforts amount to nothing more than ‘putting stuff on a shelf.’ But it’s good for us to do something that is scary, even if it is just publishing a little blog post and so I am squeaking in under the wire on the last day of the month.

September, for me, is all about good intentions and new starts. A fresh page in the notebook of a year, the start of a new school year. Even before any of my children were at school it was always so. A side effect of living with a teacher, I suppose. This is the time when I want to get organised, to declutter and clean and budget right, to vow that this year Christmas will be an organised breeze (it won’t). This year feels even more like a new beginning. Just as Nano is starting school, Lady Mck is blossoming into a proper toddler, who can play alone for a short while, we can do more together and she can even be with me while I do a few chores. We are slowly finding a new rhythm to our day. A trip out in the morning to the park or the library or just a potter and a play at home, a late morning nap, some lunch, more playing or a chore or two. Then, picking two boys up from school, instead of one. It’s such a long time since I’ve had just one child at home and it feels brand new again.

One of my good intentions for the start of term was to stop buying ready made biscuits and cake. I love baking but had stopped finding the time and if I did, the boys would always choose the shop bought rubbish over my own bakes. It’s those pesky trans-fats that kids find so delicious. So, I decided to make baking a part of our week, now that Lady Mck is able to take part, or at least watch.




Styling the Seasons this month is focusing on vintage pieces and I realised that my kitchen is filled with vintage pieces that have been handed down to us and I use on a regular basis. From Mckdaddy’s Nan’s beautiful scales to the vintage recipe leaflets that we found in my grandmother’s recipe folder, after she died and the flour shaker that I got from my Dad when he moved to France. Incidentally it does horrify me that something I remember from my own childhood is now vintage, but seeing as it is probably at least thirty or forty years old, it unfortunately counts. These things surround us and when we use them or look at them we remember the food of our youth. Mckdaddy makes an amazing chicken and vegetable broth very similar to the ‘shiny’ soup he watched his Nan make many times. My Dad taught me to make gravy without a stock cube, I was in awe of the fact that my mum could ‘stick a batch of cherry buns in’ whilst making a roast dinner and my own Nana made the crumbliest, shortest pastry you can imagine, something I am still trying to truly master.

So far, I have kept to my commitment to bake instead of buy and the children are loving it. I am enjoying baking with one little helper again and I’ve even noticed a slight difference to our shopping bill. We have yet to venture far from biscuits, they are easy and quick to make and popular with, what can be, a tough crowd to please, but I have definite malt loaf plans for the future. Watch this space…..or more likely Instagram.

“At least you’ve still got one at home” they say and “I bet you can’t wait to just have one at home” but it seems that children don’t really work like that. The love and experience you have with one can’t be replaced simply by another. To be fair, I thought it would be easy this time. I do have one at home still and I have done this before and know that there are many good things to come, but it isn’t easier. Not at all. Not one bit. In fact, it feels harder. Because, whilst I know that school brings with it so many positives, I also know that even after two years I long for school holidays and hate the first day of term. Waving my eldest off on a Monday always feels a bit sad. Our time is no longer our own and I still haven’t accepted it. 

I also know that things are never the same. That time where they are yours is gone. For each of them it is different. For each of them it is just as precious and is over too quickly. Maybe, even quicker when it is not the eldest. It feels as if Nano has had less of me, actually he has had less of me. The time when his older sibling was at school and his younger one hadn’t arrived was short, only a few months. There is that mother’s guilt whispering in my ear. “You didn’t give enough of your time, of yourself” “He has missed out”. Of course, he hasn’t. We all find our place in our families, carve out our role and we are all different. Some of it hard wired, some a result of how we are nurtured. I am sending this one to school a very different boy to his brother. Sharp, funny, full of confidence and charisma and ready, oh so ready. He seems totally unphased by it all and excited to be starting this new adventure. 

It is a cruel irony that school begins just as they are becoming really interesting. The tantrums are waning and in their place is a real person. Someone who is such great company and can do things for themselves. Suddenly they can walk further and have a proper conversation.  Yet, it is at this point that we wave them off, looking too little to be wearing proper shoes, it’s the shoes that get me and someone else gets to spend the day with them. It doesn’t seem fair really. 

So, here we are. The night before day 1, knowing all of the above, but also knowing that I’ll adjust to our new reality, even though it will jar slightly and there will be many compensations. A clean (ish) house, some time with my girl, just as she’s hitting a really interesting and fun age and seeing him grow and learn, without always having to be the one that drives that change. However, the sum of all that I know won’t stop me from not wanting to let go of his hand tomorrow. 


Life is crazy busy. It always is. We are not unique in this, of course. We are not alone in finding it all a logistical nightmare of appointments and chores and kids, but this is the summer holidays and I can’t help thinking it should be easier. The allotment is being neglected while we try to get our house in order and the list of things to do on it doesn’t seem to be shrinking. Our holidays have been Mckdad painting and me child wrangling, or Mckdad going into school and me child wrangling. By the time his holiday is over he will have given a whole week of it to going into work. Now, we are preparing to go camping, which in itself is a monumental task, that frankly I am tired of but…….

……soon we will be away. We will escape. I am looking forward to lazy camping days and early nights. To the children running wild and spending the whole day, doing nothing but riding bikes, building dens and whittling sticks. To grubby knees and bathing Lady Mck in a big plastic storage box as the sun starts to turn big and orange. To having my morning tea outside and snuggling in my warm camping bed at night, even if it is raining. I am looking forward to Sketchbook club time, reading a book, trying some new skills. To the children doing new things, building a dam, using a knife and cooking on the open fire. I am looking forward to salty air, ice creams and fish and chips. To seeing far flung friends and putting the world to rights. To rest

Mostly, though I am just looking forward to being gone. Away from the calendar and the paintbrushes. Away from the weeds and the gluts of vegetables that I can’t muster the enthusiasm to deal with. Just away. Rain or shine, it will still be away. 


I’ve been putting off writing this post. The words just haven’t flowed and have no idea why. This is where I shared bits of my struggle not only to get pregnant but how hard I still found being pregnant. I guess writing about it now it’s a time in my life that’s finished, feels harder. As I look at my children, who I often think of as a whole bunch, it feels as if it all that went before, happened to someone else, like another life. But it wasn’t another life. It was my life and my experience and one shouldn’t hide that away. 

I am very concious of the fact that I have built this space online and that it has given me a voice and an audience and I owe it to myself and to them, to reach out by sharing my experience. Isn’t that what a blog is? It is important that we tell our story, because our story can help others shape theirs. Of course we cannot spend our time looking back too often, but it does no harm to occasionally stop and remember. “That happened to me and I felt x or y and that’s OK”

Through my experiences and this tiny corner of the World Wide Web I’ve had the opportunity to work with Tommy’s. First, when I ran a half marathon to raise money for them and last year to talk about my experience of ante-natal depression. They have recently released seven case studies videos of women sharing their experience of pregnancy, mine included and have lots of fabulous information on their website to help those who don’t feel that carrying a baby is the most exciting and glowing time of their lives. 10-15% of all pregnant women suffer with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Unfortunately these issues are less likely to be spotted during pregnancy than any other time. In as much as a third of cases ‘postnatal’ depression actually starts during pregnancy but it is not recognised or treated at that point. Because of this, women are suffering unnecessarily. I certainly raised my issues with midwives and whilst they were very sympathetic, there was no practical help for me. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the fabulously supportive online community things would have been even harder. 

You can find my video here, along with the other stories and I would so appreciate it if you could share this campaign. I want to make sure that as many women as possible know where to find support if they are struggling and that they are perfectly normal in how they feel. It seems to me that if there’s any reason to revisit those times, then that is a good one. 


Sometimes the Internet has as uncanny knack of throwing things into your path just when we need them. I’m not talking about the endless adverts for fridges when you’ve just bought one or googling whatever is on your mind, because believe me I’ve googled everything about babies in the last six years and really I’m still a novice. I mean when the right articles, comments and blogs just happen to pop up into your feed when you need a reminder of the right path or a hand on your shoulder.

Last week I read an article about what to say to people who disagree with breastfeeding past the first six months, a blog about a Velcro baby/child and had a comment on Instagram telling me that someone has to be in the room with their three year old in order for her to fall asleep. All in the week where I’ve felt conscious of the fact that Lady Mck mostly, feeds to sleep, wants only me and still feeds in the day.

The odd comment about feeding or question about how she’s sleeping, together with the comparison with her brothers and when they self-weaned had me doubting myself and her. She has come so far in terms of sleep. I see Twitter mamas who are a few months behind us and still waking many times in the night and I want to hold their hand and tell them it will get better. Lady Mck now sleeps all night, most of the time in her cot, sometimes in her pushchair, but she still has to be fed to sleep or cuddled to sleep before I can put her down.

She still feeds in the day though and this has been bothering me. Once to have a nap and once before dinner, when the school run is finished. I know I could use other ways to get her to nap, but feeding means no crying and I get to sit and drink a coffee. The late afternoon feed I  thought , maybe, she could drop. Replace it with a snack and a drink. This resulted in two days where she followed me around, crying at me and so I gave her what she needed at totally the wrong time, resulting in burnt fish fingers one night and over cooked pasta the next. So, I went back to sitting for ten minutes, often less and offering milk. I have my happy girl back. This feed has nothing to do with hunger, it is her having a brief period of downtime, connecting with the person she is most attached to and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. She has let me know she is not ready to give up and I am not ready or prepared to make her.

I sure that part of my wobble is because, still feeding in the day has the potential to be much more visible. The boys used to feed maybe in the morning and eventually just at bedtime. Lady Mck could potentially ask for milk at anytime and feeding a walking, eating toddler doesn’t look the same as feeding a babe in arms.  (I’m never quite sure when to start using the word toddler. To my mind they’re a baby until they’re two and don’t really deserve the moniker of toddler until they do a good line in tantrums)

Seventeen months isn’t even that old, but I am comparing and reading things into this that aren’t there. Comparing to others experience and to my own with my older children, but I know enough to know, that each one is so very different. She is far more attached to me than the others were. They were always happy to take a bottle or to go to Daddy. She isn’t. Sometimes it has to be me. People saying she is my last and so I will feed as long as possible, for my own reasons, make me doubt myself. I shouldn’t. I know I will be a little sad when this job I’ve done for all my children is done, but I will stop in the knowledge that I did it well, I stopped when they were ready and I should have nothing to regret. It can often be tough going to, there are lots of times when I think I would like to stop. Moments when I want to be less needed, have less responsibility and to be blunt, not have someone on my body so much. This post I read sums those feeling up perfectly.

As I read this post back, I notice that what is really bothering me isn’t what I think or what Mckdad thinks, but what others may think and that makes me cross, with them, but also with myself. In the past I have always been very confident about my feeding choices. Never one to feel the need to hide away, cover up or explain my decisions. Where has this sudden crisis of confidence come from? So, I must push away the comments and the doubts and go with what I know. I accept that this will be a longer journey for she and I, than it was for the other two. How long? I really have no idea. She can change at any time. Drop a day feed. Start to fall asleep without help. Give up totally. Who knows? What I do know is, for now at least, things are fine. There is no need to change. I am continuing to feed on demand and do what needs to be done to make sure everyone is as happy as possible and gets as much sleep as possible. This is the way I have always done it and this is the way I shall continue.

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I am really delighted to welcome Kate from A Playful Day to my blog today. We’ve been talking about our blogs and how we change and they change with us, that is, they do if we let them. I am going to let her take over from here, but please make her very welcome. 

Sometimes we talk ourselves into doing things because we know that we will be better for doing them. Sometimes we ask a friend to help us because we have something that we really want to do but just feel we can’t on our own.

That’s me right now, sitting slightly precariously on Emily’s page. I’m a mother. I’m a blogger. I’m a creative business owner and I am a champion tea drinker. I suspect many of these things make me just like you and I know they make me very similar to Emily. I’m fairly sure we struck up a friendship based on nearly all of these things (almost certainly the tea part). However, my footing feels shaky as I prepare this post for you and I’m finding it hard to find the words to explain why.

Let me track back a little and hopefully I’ll get there.

For many years now I’ve watched articles and campaigns aimed at being a better parent come and go. I was told I was doing sleep ALL wrong, making myself a slave to my child but then also not indulging her whenever she truly needed it. I can still remember my stunned reaction to one article explaining that I was simply not caring enough about her tantrums (oh dear writer, you have the patience of a saint is my only conclusion on THAT one). There have been many times that I’ve longed to join in the conversation but each time I came across these articles, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing. Alongside the never ending queue of unmentioned fathers in campaigns like ‘National Unplugging Day’, I can’t help but notice that I’m not there either. Me, the single mum who doesn’t have half of these support systems you seem to think that I do.

As a blogger, I knew I had the right to respond, to make my voice known and to speak to other women (and fathers) who were solo parenting too. I could have written many responses to the National Unplugging Day about the fact that quite frankly, my iphone is the best second parent my child has ever had. My iphone tells me what to do when her temperature is too high and I’m scared of how very alone I am in that moment of crisis. My iphone reminds me to pick up milk on the way home because if I forget, I can’t pop out while she’s asleep and it will mean a tired schlep to the garage at dawn while she wails from the comfort of her sling. My iphone has also never forgotten Mother’s Day, ditched us for a weekend with its mates or expected me to have all the answers to why she is crying at 2am. Thus far it has also done a great job of connecting me to other mums and other people who understand my isolation and who check in at just the right moment with ‘hang in there girl, you’re going to be just fine’. When I’m texting at the park, that’s the solidarity moment that is otherwise completely missing in my single mother’s life.

So why didn’t I write? Why didn’t I rise up and ask the constant shaming of motherhood to stop? Honestly? I think I only really just discovered the answer in writing this. I’ve realised that I haven’t been feeling like I can convey the full experience of motherhood. I don’t have a great deal of time to reflect and I often feel that I’m really lacking the powerful insight that comes from raising a child as a team. Look at any blog written by a mother and you will see beautiful pictures of her and her children. She is able to pepper them through her narrative as she weaves her maternal identity online. Me? I don’t even have someone to hold the camera.

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on holding hands online

So here I sit, precariously, waiting for my dear friend to press publish and tell the world what I couldn’t find the bravery to say on my own blog.

I’m here. I’m single and I really, really need to be online.

Tea anyone?

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Kate’s online home is ‘A Playful Day’ where she blogs and podcasts about her quest to find a playful moment in every day. She regularly drinks gin and likes to knit. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest as aplayfulday. Kate would like it if you would send her cake after reading this. 


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