Friday, 30 November 2018

Body Trends (& Why They Need To Stop)

Trigger warning: this post contains content that may be triggering to those affected by eating disorders.

Cassey Ho aka Blogilates recently shared a post about how body types come in and out of fashion and how we treat our bodies as though it is a trend. She shared her body edited to the different ideal body type of multiple decades to show how the ideals change with each ten years that pass. She commented on how we shouldn't treat our body the same way we treat clothes - scrunching them up and throwing them out to replace them with the hot new thing as soon as they go out of fashion.

And it got me thinking. I had never really given this a huge amount of thought but, after seeing this post, it kinda gave me that hangover that coming to a daunting realisation often does. I started to question how big a role body trends play in my relationship with my own body and how, over the years, this has affected my self-esteem.

As a kid of the nineties and a teen of the noughties, skinniness was king. Kate Moss famously said 'nothing taste as good as skinny feels' and the TV was jam-packed with stylists trying to recommend flattering clothing to contort our body into that ideal. The boobs were big and everything else was small. Apart from me - I wasn't small. I have always been a little chubby (I still have nightmares about the year 6 weighing sessions that I'm still not entirely sure had any purpose other than humiliating us at our most vulnerable age) and, unlike today, there was never someone in the media saying that was ok or that I could still rock the most killer outfits without having to swear off carbs for all eternity. I always kinda felt like a 'before'. An ugly duckling waiting to transform into a beautiful, Britney Spears-esque butterfly. Looking back, the body trend that was popular at that time did affect how I saw myself because everyone felt pressured to transform themselves into this ideal so all I saw on TV was people who looked like that. And obvs if you're on TV then you are someone that my teen self would have aspired to be like. Cue years of low self esteem and feeling kinda shit about my body. Years that I didn't need to feel like that but because my body wasn't 'on trend', I did feel like that.

Fast forward and all we hear is 'boobs are out and bums are in'. Everyone wants that Kim K look. Even I have spent many an evening doing squats and donkey kicks and whatever the hell else they say can grow your booty just in the hope of having a less pancakey butt.

Before I got pregnant with Ava, I finally reached the weight loss goal I had been chasing for years - I had made it to size 8. But, when I got there, suddenly I didn't want it because it wasn't what was 'in' anymore. After all that restricting and gruelling exercise routines and going to bed with a rumbling belly, I realised that my skinny body wasn't popular anymore. It felt like running a marathon then suddenly finding out that they moved the finish line. I am ashamed to admit that diet culture had made a real home for itself inside of me and I was adamant to become whatever was 'hot'.

I saw tweets all the time body shaming less curvy women (one that particularly sticks with me was about John Legend having a bigger butt than Chrissy Teigen which basically insinuated that she wasn't feminine simply because of her frame) and they made me feel inadequate. There wasn't enough hours in the day for me to do enough squats to get a Nicki Minaj level butt. Nor enough money in my bank account to just buy one. So, for a little while, I just didn't wear bodycon or anything that showed my shape. Once again, I opted out of certain things because my body didn't fit the bill of what was hot at the time. I mean, I couldn't open myself up to the world for them to ridicule my tiny butt.

But then I got fed up of hating myself and my body. I got fed up of always trying to reach these standards that are so fleeting. Like Cassey says, we can't treat our bodies like fast fashion and I want to reverberate that sentiment so much. Yes, I am not 'slim thick' but I am also not bothered. So, here I am rocking bodycon as a size 12 woman with a pancake butt. And loving my life.

We need to start celebrating all bodies because each and every body is wonderfully unique - and that is what makes them so amazing. We are all individual and having one body type held up as an ideal is dooming most of us to feeling inadequate and unattractive. So let's stop chasing these ideals. Lets be grateful for what we have. And lets empower each other in a world that pits women against each other.

Dress: Femme Luxe* (here)
Coat: New Look (here)
Boots: New Look (similar)

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Cardiff Travel Guide

Cardiff is a place that means a lot to us. It is the place where I went to uni, where Isaac and I had our first date, where we got married, where I graduated, and where we found out we were pregnant with Ava. This city encapsulates so many amazing memories and a beautiful chapter in our lives. And it is also a place that I know inside and out so I thought I would play honorary local and give you the low down on everything from where you can get the best cakes to where you can shop til you drop.

City Road
I am starting off with my favourite part of Cardiff and that is City Road. Located in Roath, it is a bit more rough and ready than the more central parts but that is kinda why I love it. City Road is basically a really long street full of takeaways, restaurants, barbers, beauty salons, and international shops. It showcases how amazing diversity is and what awesome things come from it. If you want to see what Cardiff is truly about, I suggest checking this place out. And, in particular, heading into a Lebanese restaurant and getting yourself a huge platter (you won't regret it).

Roath Park
Right around the corner from City Road is Roath Park. It is a huge expanse of park where you can take the kids to climb on the play equipment, have a kick about, explore the gardens and greenhouse, or head to the lake and rent a peddle boat. Isaac and I spent so much time at this park when we lived in Cardiff and it is easy to understand why. There is so much to do there and I hope to one day take Ava back there to enjoy it too. Also don't forget to grab an ice cream from Joe's Ice Cream Parlour whilst you're there (I can highly recommend the Turkish delight flavour and Isaac can recommend all of the flavours as he probably ate all of them at least 5 times).

Blanche Bakery
Whilst you're in Roath, you should probably check out this bakery (AKA donut heaven). Blanche Bakery is a recent addition to Cardiff - one that I sadly missed out on but made a point of visiting when I went back there. Their vegan donuts are the cutest and, I can now assure you, they are also the yummiest. I tried the French toast donut and it was so light and fluffy with a cinnamon icing and some fruit on top. Lush!

Cardiff Bay
Now that we have exhausted Roath, I'm gonna chat to you guys about Cardiff Bay. I feel like Cardiff Bay is really quite fancy. They have a lot of more fine dining restaurants and bars as well as the chain ones we all know and love. But our usual spot was a little pub inside the Red Dragon Centre (we actually spent our anniversary there and watched 3 football matches lol fun) but they have loads of other stuff to do in there like bowling and cinema and eating chips in Five Guys. Also you can get a boat from Bute Park near the castle in the centre right to Cardiff Bay which is a lot more fun than walking.

The arcades
Cardiff is often described as the 'city of arcades' and that is because, you guessed it, there are a hell of a lot of arcades. And they are just so pretty (especially at this time of year). The arcades give Cardiff character and host the very best of local, small businesses. You will find cute brunch spots, delicatessens, vintage clothing shops, and so much more nestled away in these arcades. But my fave arcade shop has to be Madame Fromage  because I love cheese (who doesn't?) and this place has so much cheese to offer. And they do macarons too.

Waterloo Tea
When you think of tea in Cardiff, most people would probably recommend Barkers Tea Rooms. Not me though - I absolutely love Waterloo Tea. They have so many different types of tea but, my fave thing about them, they do all different cakes and brunch bits too. I got their avo toast before and it was lush but my fave was their lemon polenta cake. Deffo worth a visit (or, at least, to take a slice of cake home with you).

Cardiff indoor market
This indoor market is located right in the centre of town but is easily missed. This market is filled with local traders selling everything from spices to Welsh cakes and is a must-see. I used to buy my veg from this market and would always pick up a few Welsh cakes whilst I was there - they were always so light and buttery and delicious. So, if you're still hungry after the Lebanese platter, ice cream, donuts, Five Guys fries, cheese, and cake, be sure to pick up some of those!

Cardiff Castle
Last but by no means least, we have Cardiff Castle. It seems almost rude not to mention this castle as it is a huge part of Cardiff. I have been inside Cardiff Castle but never 'inside inside' - I mean, I have only been around the grounds. But, from what I saw of the grounds, I would deffo recommend a visit. They have cool underground passageways that are made to look like how they would have been during wartime as they were used as bunkers and that really interested me. And you can go to the top of the tower so if not for history, visit for the gram.

What is your favourite thing about Cardiff?

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Wednesday, 21 November 2018

My Period Survival Kit*

Before having Ava, I would have described my periods as a minor inconvenience. I would have a headache the day before I was due on then my period would last about 5 days. They were light and I very rarely got any cramps.

Oh, how times change.

My periods have changed considerably in the last year. And not for the better. I now get cramps in my lower back and an ache that spread to my upper back and down my legs as the week progresses. I feel so exhausted near-on constantly and, coupling that with postpartum anaemia, all I want to do is just snuggled up under a blanket and be brought countless cups of hot chocolate and hand-fed Dairy Milk.

But I have found a few things that really seem to help when I'm riding the crimson wave and, that my good people, is what I am sharing with you today.

BeYou Pain Relief Patches*
I was recently sent out these patches to try and they really are a game-changer. They last for 12 hours and are made from wholly natural products (like different herbs and plant extracts). Now, I am someone who doesn't tend to go in for natural remedies - I mean, I usually just dose up on Paracetamol and go on my way - so convincing me that these products were worth it was always going to be an uphill battle. But I was shocked how effective these really are. You basically peel off the wrapper on the back (like a plaster) and place it on the area you get the cramps then, when it starts working, you feel a cooling sensation in that area. I put them on my lower back at the start of my period - when my cramps are the worst - and they really helped. I didn't even have to take any other pain relief - that is how good they are. My only issue was applying them. Trying to put a sticky patch onto your own back isn't the easiest thing - especially when they keep sticking to themselves. My advice is get a friend (or a long-suffering partner) to help you out.

A hot bath
This may seem like a cliché, namby-pamby kinda tip but a hot bath really helps. The heat soothes your muscles which will relieve any aches and pains you have - and it is a great excuse for hiding away from your family for an hour to watch vlogs. I like to put either some essential oil into my bath or, if I am feeling fancy, I will go for a Lush bath bomb.

All of the chocolate
So, I read this science thing recently that said your body naturally craves more 'junk food' when you're on your period because of changes to your hormone levels and I was like 'girl yes' because I eat as much as a family of five when I am on my period - a family of five who have been known to melt chocolate in the microwave and dip Digestives into it on a regular basis. So, I need to have a cupboard full of fave snacks for that one week else I will lose my shit. And science backs me up here so.

Taking a break
I am someone who always likes to be doing something - I mean, nothing fills me with more dread than a day without plans. And I like to try to keep that same energy all the time but, when my period stops by, all of my motivation seems to evaporate. It is only now that I have started coming to terms with that. When I am cramping and moody and tired, the last thing I want to be doing is heading out to snap outfit pictures or running around a soft play with Ava. So, I don't. I do what I can and give my body time to rest. And I know that's not possible for everyone (props to everyone out there in the police or running the country whilst also dealing with cramps and general period-ness) but just take a little time for yourself where possible.

Good skincare products
My skin is generally pretty ok. Sure, my cheeks are almost always red but I don't get spots a lot (unless I have been eating a lot of sugary stuff). But this all changes when I am on my period. I get quite painful spots on my chin which I absolutely hate so a good cleanser and moisturiser is a must. I haven't found the perfect cleanser as of yet but most that I have tried do a good job - I quite like the Biore Charcoal one - but I wouldn't be without my fave Simple Light Moisturiser. I have been using this since I was a teenager and it is perfect for my skin. It is gentle with no harsh chemicals and quite a light formula which suits my skin as I have slightly oily skin. Having skin products you can rely on is an absolute must for me - especially when I am on my period - as they help even out my skin which gives me that little confidence boost I need.

Period positivity
The most powerful thing I have in my period survival kit is positivity - and it is something that I have had to learn over the years. And this takes a couple of forms. For me, period positivity is about embracing how powerful my body is (I have really come to see this since having Ava) and my period is a reminder of what my body is capable of. I mean, I grew a whole human. And it also takes the form of not being embarrassed about my periods. When I first got my period at about 12, I felt mortified. I remember trying to hand wash my bedsheet that I had leaked onto in the sink before anyone noticed. The very thought of even speaking about my period to anyone was horrifying to me but now I see that periods are totally natural and I think we should all feel a little more free about speaking about them.

What's in your period survival kit?

* this is a paid collaboration with BeYou

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Our Stay At Hampton By Hilton In Edinburgh's West End

I love everything about staying in a hotel. From curling up in the huge, meringue-nest style bed with a cuppa in hand watching real crime dramas on an obscure TV channel to the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts that have you walking around the whole day looking 5 months pregnant, I am a massive fan. I love how you can make a phone call at any given time and then BAM a burger is hand-delivered to your room. Oh, and I love the fancy bathrooms - I swan around in them like some fifties film star with a towel wrap on my head feeling so suave. But the best thing about a hotel is that every night feels like fresh sheet night.

So, when we were planning our trip to Edinburgh, we knew we wanted to go somewhere a little bit luxurious. I'm not talking crazy, Ritz-level luxurious but somewhere that would feel a little bit special but still be within our price range. That is when we came across Hampton by Hilton in Edinburgh's West End. It had everything we needed - fairly close to the centre, free wifi, buffet breakfast, and nice rooms (and, yes, it made me feel suave). It was £79 for a night (much cheaper than the other hotels whose prices made my jaw drop to the 7th circle of hell) and, I must say, it was well worth it.

The room
On the first night, all that was left to book was a twin room (we left it pretty late tbf) so we went with that. In all honesty, our expectations weren't that high. I was imaging two tiny, single beds squeezed into a room that my husband would suggest we push together which would ultimately result in one of us falling into the gaping hole that always appears between the two mattresses. So, you can imagine we were pretty shocked to find a sizeable room with two double beds. There was so much space for Ava's travel cot and so much space for me to starfish the night away. Win.

We had originally only planned to stay for one night but soon extended our stay as Edinburgh was awesome and we weren't ready to wave our hotel room goodbye. The second night, we got a double room. It was pretty similar to the twin room but had a little more room (and, obvs, just one huge bed). It had a chair in the corner and a foot rest where you could recline back and watch people walk by down on the street below (or read a book, if you're not as nosey as me).

We then whizzed off for a few days in the Lake District before returning for a final night in Edinburgh. This time, we booked a double room but they kindly upgraded us to a family room. And it was awesome. The room was huge and had a whole sofa in there - which we made full use of when we rounded our trip off in a fashion so true to us - getting a Hawaiian pizza with chips and a battered black pudding and eating it on our hotel room sofa in our PJs. Even Ava was excited to be crawling around - a collection of chips and bits of pineapple in hand.

The breakfast

As the old saying goes, a hotel is only as good as its breakfast. And Hampton by Hilton didn't disappoint. It was so good that I didn't even have time to snap any pics - I was already one plate down before I even thought of getting my camera out. Even then, I lumped for my phone instead. Who has time to take pics when there are croissants to shove in your mouth?

This place had all the usual components of a hotel breakfast - cooked breakfast (with the addition of potato croquettes and, ofc, haggis), pastries, bread, fruit, and yoghurt. But my favourite thing was the make-your-own waffles section. You basically poured the batter out of a machine and put as much as you wanted into the waffle maker. Then, after a few minutes, you could add any sauce or fruit or anything. I opted for red berries and a bit of syrup and it was lush. I liked that you could choose how big your waffle was gonna be too because I don't have to most huge appetite when it comes to meals but I don't like seeing food go to waste.

The location

It has to be said, Isaac and I aren't the best planners. We're more dive in and hope for the best kinda people. So, we had no idea where this hotel was actually located when we booked it - but, once again, we were pleasantly surprised. It was a ten minute walk to Grassmarket (Edinburgh Old Town where you will find Diagon Alley-esque streets and a direct path to the castle - a very vertical path, may I add) and about twenty minute walk to the highstreet. And five minutes from a good chippy (I see you, chip fans).

Overall, our stay at Hampton by Hilton in Edinburgh's West End was pretty stellar. It is rare that a chain hotel has that extra little something that makes it memorable but everything from the helpfulness of the staff to the lush waffles really made our stay feel special.

What's your favourite thing about staying in a hotel?

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Monday, 12 November 2018

Why Midsize Representation Is Important

As you guys are probably well aware, the body positivity movement was borne out of plus size women feeling like their bodies weren't being represented anywhere and these women sought to change how society views plus size bodies. And the body positivity movement has exploded over the last few years. I see so many women online who are proud to be plus size and are so at peace with themselves after years of battling to get to that frame of mind. It is amazing to see.

But with the popularity of this movement has come a slight dilution of its meaning. People of all sizes are celebrating their body in the name of body positivity - not just plus size ladies. Which is great (everyone should love their bodies) but also kinda detracts from the original purpose of the whole movement. I mean, you can have body confidence issues as a size 8 woman but your body type is universally admired and celebrated so jumping on the body posi bandwagon kinda detracts from the women it is there to help the most. The ones whose body types aren't celebrated and admired. The ones that need to be told that they are amazing because society is so shit at telling them that.

That is why I love the midsize movement that has recently sprung up online. It creates a space for us women who don't have that 'perfect' body type but also aren't plus size. It is a space for us to talk about how we feel and celebrate how we look without taking over a movement that wasn't designed for us.

I wish these movements had been around when I was growing up.

As a teenager, I didn't have the best relationship with my body. I lived in clothes that I hated just because I felt my body was ugly - because I wasn't a size 10. I missed out on so much because of my rocky relationship with my appearance. I remember going swimming whilst on holiday and wearing a tshirt and knee-length shorts over a swimming costume because I was so afraid of people seeing my cellulite. Looking back, it makes me a little bit sad that I felt that way about myself.

The thing is, diet culture has always been drummed into us without any thought of how it would affect our confidence. I felt like I was viewed as a 'before' and like everyone around me was waiting for my 'after' to suddenly emerge. I felt like the ugly duckling and like I was fully expected to become a beautiful swan. I was swamped by the seemingly unending pressure placed on women to be perfect - it was the background music to most of my early life.

But the body positivity movement and, more recently, the midsize movement have helped me to move past that.

Now I am a size 12. I am happy with my body (most days). And I simply don't care as much anymore. I wear what I want and I eat when I am hungry. I don't count calories or buy into fad diets. I am comfortable with who I am - and this is something that I never thought I would be able to say.

Instagram accounts like Midsize Style Collective have shown me that women who look like me can look incredible and oh-so-fashionable. It has taught me that you can be midsize and not be a 'before' picture or just half-way through your 'weight loss journey'. You can be midsize and want to stay midsize. You can love your midsize body. You are allowed to love your body. These revelations were game-changing for me.

Midsize representation has helped me to feel like my body is good enough and that I don't have to punish myself for not being skinny.

And I see my privilege. I know that I am not judged for my size like plus size women are. I know that I can walk into a shop and find my size. And I know the battle for body positivity isn't over - we have a long way to go in accepting all body types. But change is happening and I am happy about that.

Who is your favourite midsize blogger? (Other than me, obvs lol)

Jumper: Primark (similar)
Hat: Primark (similar)
Skirt: Primark (similar)
Boots: New Look (here)

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Ava Is One!

In true mum form, I just can't believe that my little lady has hit a whole year! I mean, I was there for every day and night of it (and, man, did some of those nights feel long) but it feels surreal that she's not a newborn anymore - she's closer to a toddler than anything!

And it has been a wild year. A whole year of firsts and nerves and frustration and unparalleled joy. I have learnt so much about myself and what I am capable of (I mean, pushing a child out of my areas for one) and I have had so much fun getting to know this funny little human.

Ava's personality is so developed now. She is the friendliest soul you will ever meet. She is quick to smile and giggle around new people and absolutely adores attention (she learnt to fake cough whenever I was focused on anything other than her when she was only a few months old). She crawls around like a crazy thing that can't be stopped and she loves soft play. Seeing her play with other kids makes my soul smile (although she does have a tendency to pull their hair).

Seeing her grow from a very clingy baby that refused to breastfeed and would only sleep beside me to a lovely little lady who sleeps in her own room, feeds herself (and loves anything sweet!), and babbles 'mama' almost non-stop. She is like my little sidekick now. And I wouldn't change it for the world.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was worried. I didn't think that I would be able to manage being a mum all the time. I thought I was too young. - not experienced enough or financially secure enough. But, one year on, I can safely say that my worries were unfounded. Having Ava was the best decision I ever made. Being a parent isn't easy but when that little girl snuggles up to me, I know it was all worth it.

So, happy birthday, Ava. I hope you read this when you are older and know how loved you are by your whole family. And here's to many more years of celebration, snuggles, and cake!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Fast Fashion And Me

As someone who has almost always been on a budget, I have shopped in high street stores for most of my life. And, I have to admit, I was never blind to the realities of fast fashion and the damage it is causing. Since my school days, I have been told horror stories about unsafe factories and child labour but I felt like I had few options available to me. 'Slow fashion' seemed inaccessible to me because those organic, fairtrade items were often a little (or a lot) more pricey and I just couldn't justify spending that much on an item of clothing. It sounds bad to admit that I willingly made the choice to support an industry which is harmful but, at the time, I felt like I had no other options. And, for some people out there who are living on the breadline, there really are few options available outside of buying clothes on the high street or in supermarkets.

But there is a difference between necessity and choice. I wear a size 12. This means that I can go into any charity shop and be confronted with an entire rail of clothing that would fit me. There are probably thousands of listings on eBay of clothing that fits my size. I am also able-bodied - this means there are few additional factors that I have to take into account when buying clothes. But we have to remember when we have these conversations about fast fashion that not everyone is in the same situation as yourself and that ethical fashion just isn't accessible to everyone for a range of reasons.

That being said, I have recently starting to have a look at my own shopping habits. I have recently started to notice that I am impulse buying a lot of items that I don't necessarily need - nor even really want. The thing is, I see YouTubers and other bloggers sharing hauls and different outfits everyday and I feel like I have to have certain items because they're 'in'. Even if it is something I wouldn't pick out in a shop myself - if I see my fave influencers wearing it, it is highly likely that I will want it too.

As a blogger (especially one who shares fashion content), I know I am just as much part of the problem as any other influencer - and I can't blame them for creating content that they enjoy to make and will almost guarantee them views and likes. I mean, I am ashamed to admit how many Primark hauls I have watched in my time. And, as I watch them, I never think about the actual impact of fast fashion. All I think is 'ooh, I want to go to Primark' then I do go to Primark and leave the shop with a bag full of clothes that I probably will wear once before putting them to the back of my wardrobe where they'll eventually make their final journey to the charity shop a year later.

So, why do I do this? Mostly, because I don't want to feel like I am missing out. I don't want be the only one not wearing the latest trends. And because I know that outfit pictures in that must-have skirt will generate more likes. Superficial as it seems, this is why I impulse buy - and haul culture encourages this. Haul culture tells me that I don't have enough. That there is always something more to buy. Another trend to follow. And I admire the women selling me these ideas so I listen to them.

Another factor in fast fashion is the easiness. Although I buy a lot of my daughter's clothes second hand, finding things I like for myself takes a little more effort. Trawling through charity shops takes time whereas high street stores present clothes in a way that make you want to buy them so you can go in and find exactly what you want immediately. High street shops have every item in a range of sizes - I can walk in and I know I will find a pair of black jeans in a size 12. It is just easy.

Because of these things, my wardrobe is made up of about 98% fast fashion pieces. And that's kinda the problem. My wardrobe isn't full of fast fashion pieces because I really can't afford ethical pieces - I could probably stretch to it, if I am honest - but because I make that choice. It is deliberate. And that's what I want to change.

Now I'm not saying I will never shop on the high street again - that would just be a blatant lie - but what I am saying is that I intend to make more of an effort to find alternatives. I want to only buy things that will work with the items I already own. I want to wear a piece to death and feature it on my Instagram all the time without feeling weird about repeating outfits. I want to challenge the notion that we always need something more by not getting so caught up in trends and treasuring the clothes I already own.

And I hope the fashion industry will start to change too because many people, myself included, simply aren't able to buy exclusively from ethical brands. But, for now, we just need to start small and try to challenge 'haul culture'.

And remember - individual, small changes have the potential to amount to something huge.

Jumper: Primark (similar)
Skirt: Primark (similar)
Belt: Primark (similar)
Boots: New Look (here)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Reclaiming My Identity Post-Partum

Motherhood isn't easy. From the sleepless nights dosing your kid up on Calpol as they cut their first tooth to when they start to walk and you do a little cry because they are growing too fast and you worry they won't need you anymore, every stage brings a new challenge. Your whole life takes a massive shift and you barely even recognise the person you were before. Now everything revolves around the child - hell, you have probably called food 'nummy nummy' in front of other adults at some stage because you have your mum head permanently screwed on. You often wonder what you even used to do with all that time you had. You used to have big dreams of travelling the world and probably working for the UN on very important business lady stuff. Now your dreams revolve around a lie-in on a Sunday morning and going to the loo alone. Everything has changed.

And, let's be real here, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. If you're anything like me, you imagined this utopia where you'd be cooking pies, and the whole house would be spotless, and your child would nap a lot, and you'd go on cute little adventures together everyday which they would definitely love and not scream bloody murder throughout. That's not to say some days aren't like that (and that I don't love my girl so much that my heart could just explode even when she doesn't sleep and has tantrums in public) but some days really are hard work. Every parent has days like this. It is normal but it never makes it any less exhausting.

The thing is, this little bundle of joy is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I am proud to be her mum and I love seeing her learn new things every day. But being a mum really is all-encompassing. You suddenly see everything through a baby-centred lens and it is so easy to lose yourself because any time you try to do anything unrelated to caring for the child, you get the mum guilt. You start to think 'omg how can I even care about anything other than my child? I am actually a monster' and your rational pre-pregnancy brain just shrugs its shoulders and lets your new mumzilla brain run wild.

But I think the secret to reclaiming a bit of who you used to be is tackling this mum guilt and knocking it straight out. Imagine how much us mums could achieve if we just stopped feeling guilty all the time. We should be more like dads. You never see dads burying their heads into the child's blanket and crying because you sent them to nursery for the afternoon. We need to hold onto our hobbies and ask for help when we need it. Not even help - we need to ask for a break. We need to stop trying to do everything and let other people help. Hand the child over and go and have a bubble bath. Phone up the baby sitter and go see a movie. We need to start putting ourselves first sometimes and understand that that is perfectly ok - and healthy.

For me, blogging is my outlet. It is something I have been doing since 2012 and has been one constant through the last 6 years of my life. But I thought I wouldn't have time for it once Ava arrived. And, in all honesty, I don't have time for it. There are dishes in the kitchen that need cleaning right now but I am choosing to sit down and type this out. The time I spend taking outfit pictures could probably be better spent meal prepping for the week or sterilising everything we own. But, the thing is, I need to carry on doing this because it is something that I have a passion for and I don't want to resentfully give up my passions and then kick myself in twenty years. Yes, trying to balance being a mum with anything is hard but, for me, it is completely necessary. Even if it is just for bashing out a rant in the drafts and never publishing it just to get it out of my system.

Reclaiming your identity isn't easy and it comes in lots of shapes and forms. I like to blog and put on nice clothes and do my makeup. 90% of the time, I am mum doing mum duties and running the house. But the 10%, I am going to events and putting together looks and shooting content. I love being a mum and it does fulfil me providing for Ava and seeing her happy but I also love the other things I have in my life. Being a mum is the main part of who I am and what I do right now (it always will be) but I am other things and I do other things. So, whether you love scrapbooking or going for runs or being part of a photography club, try to make time to do those things. Indulge your passions and know that it doesn't make you a bad mum. And, whilst you're at it, tell your mum-guilt-zilla brain to calm down and let you live.

What's your hobby?


Jacket: Topshop (similar)
Jeans: Primark (similar)
Scarf: Primark (similar)

Jacket: Primark (similar)
Trousers: Primark (similar)
Socks: Morrisons (similar)
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