Keeping a “Sitting with Jane” bench in BASINGSTOKE!!!

Have you seen the “Sitting with Jane” benches that have been dotted all over Basingstoke and local areas in the past month?

Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we could crowd fund one of them to stay in Basingstoke? So we could show our children that we all did something AMAZING together?

The NorthHantsMum Community and anyone else who would like to be involved, are working hard to raise money for one of the “Sitting with Jane” benches to stay in one of the local parks, maybe War Memorial or Eastrop Park, depending on whether Basingstoke and Deane council agree.

I am hoping the bench will be used by lots of people but also as a safe place where Mum’s can meet other Mum’s and children can meet other children. How cool would that be!!!!

(Crowd funding means that the money is only taken at the end of the 30 days, IF the project goes ahead. However, I’ve made the executive decision that ALL donations that are made will still go to the Ark Cancer Centre Charity, even if we aren’t successful in our bid.)

Donate

You can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/louise-northhantsmum

All money raised will go towards the Ark Cancer Centre Charity, regardless of whether we are successful with our bid.

Even if you can only donate £1, this will go towards the bid for a chair at the auction will be taking place on Friday 15th September.

Every time someone makes a donation towards the campaign, I will post up a picture to NorthHantsMum FB Page of a local child sitting on one of the benches with the amount of the donation.

If you would like your child to be featured as part of the campaign, please email me their picture to NorthHantsMum@gmail.com, with some words that say you are their parent and are happy for their picture to be used.

Everyone who donates towards the bench will also have their name listed in this post and hopefully somewhere on the bench, although I don’t quite know how that will work yet! (If you would like your last name to be included, just to let me know).

If you are sponsoring as a business, a link to your business will also be included in this post.

This is going to be an AWESOME way for the community to come together to raise funds to keep a little bit of heritage right here in our town.

Everyone who has donated towards the bench…

THANK YOU VERY MUCH

Wendy D

Cathy W

Lilian K

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My list of places to visit in 2017

The really frustrating thing is, we went to loads of things last year, but I’ve hardly had the time to write up Reviews of them all!

My list of places to visit in 2017

Kyoto Gardens – DONE but I need to write up the Review!

Cotswold Safari Water Park

Kew Gardens – DONE but I need to write up the Review!

Porchester castle

Windsor Castle

Brownsea island

Harry Potter world

Kidzania

Visit a Lido

Frimley Lodge Park

Watercress Line

Basing House – I KNOW! I still haven’t been here! lol.

Bucklebury Farm

Manor Farm Country Park –  I haven’t been here for 12 years, so am looking forward to going back

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NorthHantsMum is my HOBBY!!!!

I feel I need to state this very clearly.

NorthHantsMum. Is. My. HOBBY!!!

I work on it in my “spare” time.

I don’t spend all day, every day working on NorthHantsMum. I have other things going on in my life. I work a full time job (40 hrs) in part time hours (30 hrs), I have a little part time job that I work 5-10 hours a week, I have a daughter with a serious illness, a husband who is the equivalent to my second child (his words, not mine!!) AND NorthHantsMum. Plus there are my loyal friends, my extended family, a house to run, school life to manage, finances to monitor etc. etc. etc. that factor into this equation.

My time to work on NorthHantsMum is limited and I will be ETERNALLY grateful to anyone who takes this into consideration.

I make absolutely no money on the website for what I do. Neither do the couple of lovely ladies who regularly help me out with posts and pages. We are all volunteers.

VOLUNTEERS.

Please, please, please keep this in mind when you are sending me messages or posts or are emailing me. I have a limited amount of energy. I’m very sorry if your post doesn’t get scheduled exactly when you want it too. That is because I’m being pulled in MANY different directions at the same time.

I love what I do on NHM. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. But I am finding that there has been a lot more pressure this year. People are demanding a lot more from me than they used too.

For example, so far on NHM this year I have:

  • Handled two domestic abuse cases
  • Dealt with a case of a child that was in extreme pain and what to do
  • Helped several vulnerable new Mum’s find the support systems that they desperately need
  • Put lots of parents new to the area in touch with each other
  • Helped with finding holiday childcare for several Mum’s
  • Put several single Mum’s in touch with each other so they can create a support system
  • Helped publicise the Christmas Food Box appeal and co-ordinated a Christmas present drive for a family who were in the local refuge over Christmas
  • Helped many Mum’s and Dad’s whose children are starting school in September this year AND next year.

And lots and lots more that I can’t even remember now.

This doesn’t include posting on the website every day about events, classes, important news for local parents, attending events that I’m invited too, co-ordinating the AWESOME volunteers who so fantastically help me out and save my sanity, organise the schedule and administration for NHM and a truck load of other stuff for the blog.

I LOVE that NHM can help people in the way that it does now. I definitely don’t resent any of it at all. I am privileged and very honoured that I, and the NHM Community, can help people in the way that we do.

I know that it’s my own fault for creating the “monster” that is NHM. However, I never, ever, ever expected it to be what it has become.

But I barely get any time to write personal posts anymore. I know some of you think this is a good thing, but the whole point of having a blog is to be able to actually blog! lol.

I LOVE what NorthHantsMum has become. I really do, but I need a break. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need a break.

I am exhausted.

Exhausted from three years of battling the medical profession. Exhausted from two years of battling school. Exhausted from the changes that are being enforced upon me at work which means I am being demoted in my job. Exhausted.com.

So, I am taking the summer off, like I normally do. Except this year I am REALLY taking the summer off.

For the sake of my sanity and my family and my daughter, I am planning on taking six weeks off NHM, from Mon 24th July until Mon 4th September. That may even be 7 weeks. I don’t care how long it is, all I know is, I NEED A BREAK!!!!

Miss NHM is getting older now and strangely she needs me more now than she ever did. I don’t know if it’s because of her illness but she is far more demanding than she was when she was little! lol.

So if you send me an email or a message and I don’t reply in two or three weeks, it’s not because I’m ignoring you. It’s because I’m out enjoying my life and my time with my family. Thank you for understanding.

As always, thank you for your fantastic and very much needed support of NorthHantsMum. And yes, this post makes me sound like a total martyr and normally I’m not, but maybe I’m feeling a bit like that at the moment or maybe I just need a rest?

Roll on the Summer Holidays!!!! WHOOP!!!!!

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The irrational fears of a parent

My Dad died unexpectedly when I was 10 years old. He had epilepsy but only my mother and grandparents knew. They kept it very quiet because there was such stigma around epilepsy at the time he was alive.

I found him (my sister was 5 years old when he died and refused to sleep in her own bed without my Mum), when my parents alarm clock wouldn’t stop ringing. I can still see that alarm clock in my minds eye now.

One day he was there, the next he wasn’t and the world as I knew it was ripped apart.

It happened a very long time ago and I rarely talk about it now, so much so that several of my close friends don’t know that my Dad died when I was young and up until very recently, Mr NHM didn’t know the anniversary of my Dad’s death.

But it’s part of my psyche.

My Dad died when he was 36 years old. When I turned 36, it was in the back of my mind all year. When Mr NHM turned 36, I spent the whole year worrying about him.

When Mr NHM is more than 15 minutes late home, I’ve already planned his funeral and I’ve moved onto what would happen in the the second year after his death.

If Miss NHM sleeps beyond 8am (it has happened before!), part of me is whooping at the luxury of a lie in and the other part is planning out how we would tell the grandparents that she’s died.

It’s completely irrational, I know it is.

It’s such a waste of energy. Energy that I could be using to do something productive with. But I’ve learned to just go with it now and let the irrationality of it all wash over me until everything is as it should be, Mr NHM has returned home or Miss NHM has woken up and we have gotten on with our day.

But it’s always there. That irrational fear that I don’t think you can ever avoid if one of your parents dies when you are young.

I spent decades grieving after my Dad’s death. Grieving for him, grieving for the life we lost and being sucked into my mothers grief. Such a waste of time and energy.

But Miss NHM being born, it healed me.

I was blessed enough that I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her. She brought light into my life like nothing else ever had, even more than the epic love affair that Mr NHM and I were so blessed to have when we first met.

Miss NHM’s birth helped me to see the light in the world.

I know it’s likely to get worse too, this completely irrational planning. Miss NHM is 5 years and 11 months old and I know where she is every minute of the day. But as she gets older,  as she learns independence and tests her boundaries (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, sigh), I know I’m not always going to know where she is.

I put myself in some incredibly dangerous situations when I became a teenager, probably because of what I had experienced in my earlier life. I REALLY hope that she doesn’t!

I also hope that she will never completely understand the irrational worry that I will have when I don’t know where she is.

But I’m not thinking about that now. I am extremely thankful that she is young enough not to understand any of this and that my worries are completely ridiculous.

Even if I have theoretically planned her funeral and the first year of her death out!!!?!?!!!!

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My word for 2017 and Joyful January!!!

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Happy New Year!! I hope you had a blast?

I realise that the title of this post might be a bit of an oxymoron. January is often a tough month for many, after the excitement of Christmas and reality kicking back in.

So I’ve been thinking about what we could do, as the NHM Community, to spread a little more joy during January.

I put out a request a few days ago asking for some volunteers and I now have some lovely “NHM Joy Fairies” who are going to help me put out affirmation cards for Mum’s in strategic places across North Hampshire.

The whole idea came from Lindsey who mentioned a while back that she was doing something similar at work to help boost morale.

I then had a moment of inspiration and thought that it would be awesome to try to do the same thing for local Mum’s. So I’ve put together lots of little cards which have positive affirmations on them just for Mum’s and the “NHM Joy Fairies” and myself will be leaving them all over North Hampshire, for you to find and keep.

If you do find one, please let me know via NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. It would be awesome if there were pictures of the cards and where they were found too.

I am hoping that these little cards make at least one Mum feel a bit better if she’s having a tough month.

If you would like to be a “NHM Joy Fairy”, please get in touch too.

New Years Resolutions 2017

As I’ve mentioned before on NorthHantsMum, I don’t make New years resolutions anymore because they don’t really work for me.

Instead I choose a word for the year, that I use as a theme for the year. This year my word is “Joy”. Which is why “Joyful January” is so cool as it ties in with my word of the year!

I’m hoping to spread and receive lots more joy during 2017. If you have any ideas on this, please let me know!!!

Have a Joyful New Year 😀

What’s your word for 2017?

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My 2016 on NorthHantsMum

Yay! It’s New Year’s Eve tonight! AT LAST

2016 has been a very intense year for me, from both a professional and personal perspective. I am very blessed at all of the opportunities that have come into my life this year because of NHM but there have also been some VERY stressful times in the past 12 months.

Having an Alter-ego

I’ve been a bit naive with what it means to have an alter-ego. I think of NHM as a website that provides information to parents and a way of me putting people in touch with each other but it seems that I AM NorthHantsMum. People this year have started calling me NorthHantsMum and this has been really weird!!! I don’t think I am NorthHantsMum but apparently I am and it’s taking a bit of time to adjust too!!!!

During 2016 I have learnt to be more authentic and honest as part of my work on NHM. I have always been very apprehensive about sharing more information about myself and my feelings, partly from fear of rejection and partly wanting to protect my family from unwanted attention. But this year I’ve been more open about the challenges that I have faced on NHM and the positive feedback has been overwhelming on several occasions. I know I am very, very blessed to have so much of your support.

My Life’s Purpose

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year thinking about why I’m here and what I’m meant to be doing with my life and I’ve refined the following:

My life’s purpose is spending my time and energy finding ways to inspire and help people, particularly Mum’s, live easier and better lives. I want to have helped thousands of people improve their lives. 

I do this in a number of ways, such as helping hundreds of local Mum’s have an easier parenting experience, helping lots of local Mum’s get their businesses started and via my part time business where I help lots of people to improve their lives by saving money and/or making money.

It’s nice to end the year with a reminder of why I do what I do on NorthHantsMum.

2016 Goals for NHM

I am VERY proud of the impact the NorthHantsMum is making to parents in the area.

At the beginning of each year I set some goals for NorthHantsMum. For 2016 I set the following, very high level goals. I am soooo pleased to tell you that I SMASHED these goals.

2000 Facebook page Like’s
1100 MailChimp subscribers

1400 FB friends

I’ve already started thinking about my goals for NHM during 2017 and am going to be more specific for them during 2017.

These are some of NHM highlights from the past year: 

I am exceedingly grateful to the Ladies in the NHM Marketing team who have lightened the load for me this year, especially Shona who has gone above and beyond working to supporting NHM.

Very thankful to all of the NHM writers who have attended events for me on behalf of NHM (and their children who also have benefited) and written their reviews so promptly.

To all of the Mum’s that I support via my Small Business Networking group.

To the Mastermind Ladies that I work with to keep NHM on track: Tina, Rachel, Kath, Katie, Michelle, Liane and Natasha.

I knew I wouldn’t be spending as much time fundraising via NHM this year compared to last year.  We did manage to raise £50 at the NHM Spring Expo which went towards the ReadyEmmyWalk fund.

I have also raised £50 so far for the NHM Bench (THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS DONATED!!!) and I would really like to step up the fundraising for this during 2017.

The NHM Fitness Group. Several friendships between NHM readers have been created because of this group.

The “Prosecco and chat for non cliquey Mum’s” have been a resounding success. Thank you again to Gemma for the idea! Hoping to do a few more of these during 2017.

The NHM Book Club.

The NHM Cinema club.

Cancelling the Expo. Those of you who saw my post know that this was a very difficult decision for me but with hindsight, I can say that it was absolutely the right decision for my family and I. I was OVERWHEMLED at all of the wonderfully positive messages I received. I hadn’t anticipated any messages at all when I published that post and I had over 140 people contact me in the 24 hours after!! It was absolutely AWESOME and I am sooooo grateful that so many of you support what I do with NHM. I just had no idea that so many of you were so supportive. It was a very emotional couple of days for me and I felt completely wrung out for a few weeks after!

The NHM Part Time Jobs group where I think at least two people have found part time jobs as a result.

Supporting the Christmas Food Box appeal for the third year.

I’m sure there are more, but I can’t remember now! If you think of any more, please let me know as it’s great to have a reminder of the positive influence that NHM has had on people’s lives. I’m chuffed that most of the highlights from 2016 support my Life’s purpose.

Moving into 2017 

I’m really excited about “Joyful January” which I will post about tomorrow. This is going to be brilliant and I’m really excited to see the out come from this one. I have a few ideas about what to do next year for NHM but I’m really looking to build a team that are happy to work with me on NHM and hold me accountable!

I am also looking for a group of NHM Supporters who will be my “brain storming” team.  If you are interested in being involved in either, let me know via NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

I’m also really glad to be putting behind me some of the stresses that 2016 brought. I am hoping that someone (ANYONE!!!) can show me how to install wordpress plug-in’s, so that I can get some more functionality sorted on the site. The stuff in the back end has been a head-ache this year and I’m really hoping to get this sorted ASAP!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

I wish you and your loved ones an AWESOME New Years Eve this evening!

We will be having “Burning Night” this evening which will involve having a fire in the garden and roasting marshmallows. Miss NHM is very excited about it. I may even have a glass of Prosecco ;-).

Have a great evening and thank you again for all of your support! I’m very, very grateful for each and everyone of you!!!! x

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

2016 has been a tough year for NHM but we are still here! Yay!!

Thank you very much for all of your support. It’s been overwhelming on a number of occasions how much support NHM has. Thank you!!!!!!

I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank the NHM Marketing team and especially Shona who has gone above and beyond in writing up posts, helping me to put the schedule together and generally keeping me motivated! I probably would have quit NHM this year, had it not been for these Ladies support.

I normally take the time “off” NorthHantsMum between Christmas and New Year and end up finding myself working harder than ever! So this year, I will be writing but probably in the background and I have a few things that I haven’t gotten around to posting that I really need too, before the end of 2016. So keep an eye out.

Merry Christmas and I hope it’s not too stressful and very, very enjoyable!!!  I hope you and your loved ones have an AWESOME time!!

Thank you x

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Review 2016: YouDeserveThis!

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http://www.youdeservethis.com/

I was soooooo excited to be given a voucher for myself and one of my favourite people to attend a makeover and photoshoot with YouDeserveThis! I’ve followed Michelle and Charlie for a long time and been itching to have a photoshoot myself, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance!!

Most of you probably know that I’m really not a girlie girl at all, I have my uniform that I wear almost all of the time and I’m very happy with this. So being treated to a proper makeover AND a photoshoot was a huge indulgence. Being able to bring someone with me was even better as sharing the experience really made the day!

youdeservethis-makeover-and-photoshoot-experience-uk-jammie

One evening in October my bestie, Ali, and I went to have a look at the YouDeserveThis studio and talk through what we needed to prepare for our photoshoot. It was lovely to be able to meet Michelle and Charlie and to talk through how it would all work on the day. They really know how to provide the personal service and how to create an awesome customer experience.

We talked about what we needed to bring with us on the day, what we needed to wear when we arrived and what clothes to bring with us, including underwear. We were advised to bring 3 or 4 changes of clothes for the photoshoot and to ensure that we varied the neckline of our dresses, to give some variety.

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This was pretty easy for me as I only have 5 dresses,  they are all from Bravissimo and all are on the same theme! (perks of being large boobed and being allergic to polyester!). We were also advised to bring different colours of dresses and clothes, again to add variety so that our pictures weren’t all of the same colour and style. You can even bring dresses that don’t fit as it doesn’t matter as Michelle will peg or pin them for you at the back and ensure that you won’t be able to tell the difference from the front!

I was HUGELY relieved that we didn’t have to bring shoes only dresses, appropriate undies and accessories. Michelle and Charlie have a very comprehensive style guide that we reviewed on the evening and then we were emailed a copy for our reference so we could refer back to the guide whilst we were getting everything ready for our photoshoot.

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Our initial session only took 45 minutes but it was definitely worth attending because being able to see everything in advance really took the pressure off.

Over the next few weeks we had a few emails from Michelle and Charlie reminding us of what we needed to prepare and we also sent them pictures of the dresses we had chosen and the accessories we were planning to bring. It’s so sad that I was very pleased with myself when Michelle emailed me back to say that I had passed my homework with flying colours! Lol.

Michelle and Charlie really believe in the personal service so if you are struggling with choosing clothes you can even arrange to visit the studio again with your clothes and have them help you, rather than doing this remotely.

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A few weeks later, on a Friday morning, Ali and I arrived at Michelle and Charlie’s laden down with all of our dresses, accessories and undies. We handed everything over to Michelle who hung everything up and laid everything out in the studio. Then it was Ali’s turn to have her make up and hair done.

Make over

A lovely lady, Zoe,  was our YouDeserveThis Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist and she did a fantastic job! I watched whilst Ali was having her make up and hair done and there was a lot of attention to detail.

It’s a very relaxed affair, and the makeover area is very light and airy with music in the background. The whole effect makes you feel very relaxed. Michelle and Charlie are very particular about who they employ to be YouDeserveThis Makeup Artist’s and Stylist’s and Zoe is proof of this.

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She clearly knows what she’s doing! I’ve never had a makeover before, I didn’t even let anyone else do my makeup for me on my wedding day. Having a professional makeover was very decadent and it was really strange seeing myself in the mirror when Zoe had finished as I looked far more  glamorous than I’d ever expected! Lol.

It really was a transformation and quite an emotional experience, which I really hadn’t expected.

Photoshoot

As Ali had her makeup and hair done first, she went into the studio to have some individual shots taken first whilst I had my makeover. Once I was ready we had some shots taken together and then some individual shots. It worked really well as it meant each person had time to get changed in the dressing room, whilst the other was having her pictures taken.

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It was also really fun to watch. The joy of having a photoshoot with someone you’ve known for over 25 years means that you can be quite honest and quite rude at the same time. We really had a giggle during our shoot and took the mickey out of each other quite a bit.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous for the first 30 minutes but after I’d relaxed a bit I just got caught up in the whole thing and completely went with it.

Charlie clearly knows what he’s doing and was very good at describing the different positions that we needed to be in. He had warned us at our initial session that we might ache a bit the following day as he would be putting us in different positions that may seem a bit unnatural but would look awesome for the camera. He advised us that he would be posing us specifically for women as he has been trained to highlight our best attributes. He also confirmed that all editing is “responsible editing”. I didn’t ache too much the following day but I could definitely tell that I’d been standing in a way that I wasn’t used too!

I was really impressed that Michelle even laid on healthy finger food and she kept reminding us to eat and drink water as it’s important to keep hydrated and keep your energy up during the photoshoot.

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Our photo shoot took about four hours which sounds quite gruelling but the time just flew by! As the team only book one shoot a day, you know that you won’t be rushed and they block out 6 hours for each shoot.

I love how Michelle changed the colours of the walls to change the look of each picture. Michelle and Charlie have set the studio up so that it’s really easy to change the colour of the walls from neutral to black, white, specialised grey or colours. I really love the pictures that they take with the natural backgrounds. I think they really set the pictures off and add a bit of glamour to each shot.

There is a dressing room in the studio a TV system (if needed for toddler entertainment!), a baby changing area and you can even bring your own play list if you would like as they also have a stereo system set up in the studio! They really have thought of everything that you would need and ensured that it’s a calm environment.

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What I learnt

I learnt that I would NOT be a very good fashion model! It was absolutely lovely and very decadent to be spoilt for the day but I have no idea how people do this every day for up to 14 hours a day! It’s not easy and I understand now why they are paid what they are paid!

I also learnt how important it is to stand correctly and what to do to give my neck a slimline. I’m quite happy to admit that I’m a bit of a porker at the moment and so I have a double chin or two, but seeing the pictures on the camera of how slim my jaw looked, just by moving my neck and face in a certain way, was awesome! I’m soooo going to be doing the same thing for any Christmas pictures that are coming up!

The photoshoots are designed for 2 people but they can accommodate several people in the studio so it would be perfect for a group of people, either as a baby shower, girls night out, antenatal group or a hen do experience.

Michelle and Charlie can also do head shots for Business, for example LinkedIn pictures and they are also renowned for their baby photoshoots. Michelle is even known as “the baby whisperer” in several circles!!

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Final thoughts

Michelle and Charlie really do make you feel like a princess/queen on the day. I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing the final pictures. I’ve heard a lot about the “reveal wall” and I’m excited about seeing what the pictures actually came out like!

I would HIGHLY recommend this experience to all women, especially Mum’s who need a little bit of spoiling. I had forgotten what it’s like to dress up and be glamourous for the day, and even though Mr NHM said I looked “weird” when I got home with my make up on (doing the school run was interesting, and yes, we have had a discussion about what he should and should NOT say after I’ve been spoilt for a day!) I was on a high for the rest of the weekend.

It was particularly awesome because I got to share the day with my bestie (it was part of her birthday present from me) and it was a really special experience that we got to share together.

Even though I haven’t seen the final pictures, what I saw on the camera that Charlie showed us,  I’m looking forward to being able to  look back on the final pictures and remind myself that I was glamourous and gorgeous at least one day in my life!

I can’t WAIT to see the final pictures and I hope that they are as good as I think they will be!!!

Disclaimer: This post is a review of YouDeserveThis. My experience was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

I have a confession to make…

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I REALLY don’t like the first few weeks of December.

I love Christmas, I love the time that we can spend together as a family, but these first few weeks of December are always soooo stressful.

My heart literally sank this morning when one of Miss NHM’s school friends started handing out Christmas cards. I had COMPLETELY forgotten about that. We are away this weekend, visiting friends that we don’t see very often and Miss NHM finishes school on Friday 16th December, which means I need to find a few hours after school one evening in the next week and a half, to “persuade” Miss NHM to write Christmas cards for at least 30 of her school friends. (After much talking to lots of my good friends scientific research , it’s pretty clear that Miss NHM is one of the most strong willed children that we all know, so I’m really looking forward to asking her to write these cards… I’m lying, obviously). And I’ve got to get her to do this in between her end of year parties for the few classes that she does after school, one of which is a pyjama party and I’ve just realised that we will have to open one of her Christmas presents early as all of her current pyjamas are far too threadbare to wear out and about in public!

And the also sudden realisation that I may also have to buy Christmas presents for some of her classmates. Even though I’m organised enough to have a “Present box” that I fill throughout the year with stuff when it’s a bit cheaper, it’s still never enough.

Then there’s the next sudden realisation that I need to get the presents posted off to our friends who live abroad, before the postal closing dates in the first week of December. I am very, very grateful for all of our friends who live abroad but don’t they realise that getting a parcel posted at a UK post office, during working hours, is a logistical nightmare!

Last year I wrote 165 Christmas cards. Yup, 165. I know it’s my own fault for being so popular (:-D) and I LOVE getting Christmas cards in return, but 165. It took me a whole weekend last year. Sigh.

Thankfully, I set a precedent when we first got together, that Mr NHM does all of the wrapping in our house because I HATE wrapping presents, of any kind. I look wistfully at those presents that have been wrapped with the fancy bows and the ribbon that’s been curled “just so” but realised long ago that I just don’t have the energy for all of that crap creativity!

I also hate shopping. Yes, Amazon is an amazing invention but have you read up on how they treat their staff? I try to get everything sorted by November, to avoid the crowds, because people seem to be that little bit more grumpy in those first two weeks of December. Plus, parking is hellish everywhere.

Also, I just don’t get the “Elf on the Shelf”. Yes, it’s fab and yes I’m sure the kids love it, but where do their Mum’s get the energy from to do it? All that head space needed to come up with original stuff and then the time to put it all together when the kids are asleep, when all I want to do is lie on the sofa like a flat fish and try not too have a panic attack about how much more I still have left to do before the end of term! AND I’ve got to fit it all in around work!!?!?!?!!? Plus, I’m sure that “Elf on the Shelf” would make Emily Pankhurst spin in her grave, if she knew that she’d given up her life so that generations of future women could dedicate so much time to these slightly creepy elves! (I know, controversial :-D).

Oh and the Christmas play. The wonderful Christmas play! Last year, my first year of the “joy” that is the Christmas play, I got the “finger of doom” when Miss NHM’s YR teacher summoned me at pick up to say that if Miss NHM didn’t have her costume ready for the dress rehearsal the following day, she wouldn’t be able to take part. I wanted to elaborate on how Amazon Prime had lied to me that the black T-shirt I’d ordered wasn’t actually on Prime and wouldn’t be delivered the following day, but two weeks AFTER Christmas and that I was in the middle of leading a very large project worth $40M that was due in the following week. However, I knew this wouldn’t cut it, so I risked being sacked by schlepping through Asda and Sainsbury’s on my lunch break, trying to find a sodding black T-shirt so that Miss NHM could be a star in her Christmas play.

Then Miss NHM cried all through the performance we went to see because she wanted cuddles from me. Which should be super cute but when all of the other Mum’s tell you that she performed beautifully in the first two performances it’s a little gutting that you didn’t get to see her “shine” because she was so upset and I couldn’t even get to her to give her a hug as we aren’t allowed to even comfort our children when they are at school!

(This year, I was far more organised and had her outfit delivered to the teacher the day after the letter arrived at the end of November. Not that it made a difference because it was a completely different teacher, but still! And we’ve already sorted our game plan of hiding in the back so she doesn’t see us!!)

And the joy that is the Christmas stockings. I’m normally pretty organised with stockings, as I just delegate Miss NHM’s to Mr NHM and do my Mum’s myself. However, this year Mr NHM rudely got himself a new job, which means he’s working 5am to 4pm every week day and isn’t on shift like he used to be and therefore isn’t around to just “nip” to the shops to pick up a few bits when needed or to wait in the post office queue for an hour when he’s off shift. Plus he’s bloody knackered from working such long hours. So this year it’s all down to me. Last year, I actually forgot about Mr NHM’s stocking until about three days before Christmas. Opps!!! Thankfully, I don’t think he reads these posts so I haven’t been busted yet!

Plus, it REALLY annoys me when he says that he won’t write his Christmas wish list because I should just “know” what he wants. Er, no darling. After I’ve bought ALL of the Christmas presents, written ALL of the Christmas cards (he doesn’t believe in sending any cards of any type. Bastard. I won’t go into the drama last year, when I sent his parents their Christmas card later than everyone else’s!!!??!!), sorted all of the Christmas “schedule”, worked out all of the food, done EVERYTHING to do with the school Christmas (Christmas lunch, christmas outfit, school friend cards, school friend presents, and all the other “stuff” I’ve forgotten”), done the advent calendars, I don’t actually have any capacity to come up with whatever he might like for his Christmas present. However, this year he has learnt and has given me a list in advance because I think he may have been a teeeeeeny tiny bit peeved that his stocking last year contained lots of things that I actually wanted, Hehe.

And I MUST not forget the Father Christmas mince pie, carrot and reindeer food. Because she’s old enough this year. She understands! She gets it! So if I screw up, she’s going to be scarred for life and will always remind me (like she does already when I’m so tired and call a plate a bowl. “No Mummy, that’s a plate, silly! in that slightly condescending voice that she uses just for me”) that I ruined that Christmas for her when she was 5 and three quarter years old. I definitely preferred it when she was younger and less vocal :-D.

Oh and the Christmas Eve box, which I thought I was organised for until I realised that Miss NHM’s Gran has bought the video I wanted to get for the box (I’d put it on the wrong wish list. DUH!), from the Amazon wish list that I was all smug about setting up in advance (oh the joy of being able to see what’s been purchased in advance on an Amazon wish list!) and Miss NHM refused to even watch Arthur Christmas (U) at the weekend on Netflix because it was “too scary” so now I have to negotiate with Gran to see if I can have that DVD and she can buy another one. Plus, I now need to get more pyjamas because we’ve had to use the Christmas eve box pyjamas for the pyjama party this Thursday (see above!)

And breathe.

Yes, I know this reads that I’m very bah humbug this year and I really do LOVE Christmas, it’s just all of the pressure and stress that comes with it, and despite however much planning or organisation I do in advance, I never seem to quite make it in time.

And this post is for all of my friends who are under the delusion that I’m organsied :-D.

I love it when school finishes and Mr NHM and I finish work and we just stop for a few days.

Just stop and chill and relax and have lie in’s and pyjama days and stop. But I’ve realised that we HAVE to stop by the time it comes to Christmas because we are all completely on our knees!!!!!

So all I want for Christmas this year is… a rest, please. Oh and a magnum of Prosecco. Obviously ;-).

Merry Christmas and may you not be sucked into the “end of term” vortex of chaos. Good luck!!! 😀

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My Experience: Homework in Y1

Before I start, I want to be clear that I am very well aware of how careful I need to be when posting my thoughts and comments to NorthHantsMum about schooling in this country. I’ve “held back” in several places, although it may not look like it reading this through! lol.

Homework in Y1

Homework “steps up” in Y1.

People warn you of it, but that doesn’t prepare you.

So far, in her first 8 weeks of Y1, Miss NHM has had at least six tasks every week. She’s 5.5 years old. Every week she has spellings, a topic homework which is often writing and/or maths, reading books, library books, an online maths task and extra tasks that need to be done.

Spellings

10 spellings to learn and write, per week. If these spellings are not written in cursive (that’s joined up writing to you and me) then she gets 0.

Yup, even if she has learnt to spell and write these words, if she doesn’t write them in joined up writing when she is tested, her teacher will mark them as zero. I’m not saying any more on this for fear of reprisal.

Weekly Homework 

This normally takes between 15-30 minutes to do. It often involves writing sentences (cursive – joined up, of course) or doing a written activity. You get a whole week to do this but we try to do it on the weekend to get it out of the way.

Mathelitics

Mathelitcs is an online programme to help children improve their maths. This is not something that a child can be left with. You need to sit with them to go through it.  We’ve only done 15 minutes so far this term, because by the time I finish work at 5pm, get dinner on and eat dinner, Miss NHM is too exhausted by the end of the day to focus. She literally lay on the floor next to me when I tried to get her to go through this yesterday.

Reading Books

Ahhh, those wonderful chip and biff books. NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That have to be read every day and the reading booklet that has to be updated every day to say that you’ve listened to them reading. (God forbid you don’t update the reading booklet to say they’ve done it, or you will get a stroppy note from the teaching assistant telling you to update it!!!)

Honestly, these books are THE most soul destroying books in the universe. And have you seen that mother’s make up! Green eyeshadow! I mean, really! This is just the start of it, I daren’t write what I want too on the “chip and biff” books ;-).

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Thankfully for us Miss NHM loves reading so she can often be found following me round the house, whilst I’m tidying up or sorting the kitchen out, reading “at” me. Which doesn’t always help when I’m distracted doing something else!

Library Book 

Every week Miss NHM gets a library book that we have to read at home with her. I’ve actually been really impressed with several of the library books but I’ve also been quite horrified at some of them that have come home.

Some of the subjects that are covered are very inappropriate for young children, but I’m already labeled as “that Mum” at Miss NHM’s school and don’t want to be the old fuddy duddy who kicks up a stink about everything :-D.

My thoughts on homework

During the Autumn parents evening, I advised Miss NHM’s teacher that I understand that homework isn’t mandatory in primary school and that if we got to the homework we would do it, but if we didn’t, I don’t want Miss NHM being punished. They agreed and didn’t say much. I think there would have been a lot more fuss if Miss NHM was perceived as being “behind” in her work for Y1.

My “favourite” bit is when they “make” you sign a piece of paper at parents evening saying that you will “support” the school in their work to educate your child. So, does this mean that if you don’t do the homework with your child, they will wave it in your face at the end of term, telling you that’s why your child isn’t as advanced as they could be?

All in all I would say that Y1 homework for our family takes between 3-4 hours a week, if you include all of the time spent on reading library books, reading books, topic homework and maths activities that the school sends home. That’s for one child. Which sounds fine, but actually that’s nearly another half day of school! Time that could be spent playing or doing family stuff together.

Family time is sacred for us. We all miss each other enough during the week now that Miss NHM is at school that I don’t want her to miss anymore time with us as a family.

And oh boy is Miss NHM missing the playing. She gets home and is literally desperate to play with her toys. The other weekend she told me that she didn’t want to go to a birthday party and eat cake (I thought she was really ill!!!) because she never gets time to play with her toys and she’s really, really missed it!!!

I have also heard that several children in Y1 are being deprived of break time as they have to “stay in” and catch up. This is WRONG!!!!

Wrong, wrong, wrong!! Our children should be outside being children. Playing and learning. It’s been proven time and time again, that forcing young children to sit still for several hours on end affects their emotional wellbeing!!! So why are schools still doing it???

I don’t understand why the education system decides that they have to put our children under so much pressure?!!??? They are only tiny. Some of them have just turned 5 years old.

And yet, I’m part of the problem. I’m not doing anything about it. I’m not changing my child’s school (she’s been through enough trauma with school since she started!) and apart from saying that we will do her homework when we get to it, I’m not arguing further to change things.

To be fair, I wouldn’t know where to start. But something really needs to be done and soon. We cannot keep putting our young children through this level of stress and exhaustion and not expect there to be some fall out. It will be society, all of us, who will suffer in the long run…

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