Having it all: A health warning


I wasn’t going to write this post. It has been sitting in my drafts for weeks. But here it is released from gathering cyber dust.

Because it’s probably the one I need to write the most. So here I am.

Later Ben will say “I can’t believe you blogged about that” and I will say, “I have blogged about the state of my body post child-birth, seriously, this shouldn’t be as bigger deal as that”

Because it is not.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (Hello and thanks!), then you’ll have got the jist of this story so far, launching a new biz with a 5 month old, having another one once it was up a running 2 years later, and ever since constantly trying to find the holy grail of balancing motherhood, career and ambition. Trying to better myself as a mother, wife and a human and in every sense of the essence, really trying hard to do it all. Here I have recorded the highs, lows, the fuck ups and the successes, but mostly the comedy moments in the process. I have tried, so far, on this Mission to Motherhood, to be positive, encouraging and maybe, hopefully, just a tiny bit inspiring to someone, anyone out there. I don’t do anything amazing or special, but I do know that life did not end when I had a baby, it started. Opportunities were not shut down but new ones arose, I looked at the world differently and saw only opportunity in it. My confidence did not shrink and wither, it blossomed and grew. I did not become mumsy, I dyed my hair pink and bought leopard print skinny jeans. I did not put my career on hold, I put it into turbo gear. Whilst this of course is not for everyone, it is important to me, as a feminist, as a role model to my family, that I communicate that it is possible, that there is a choice, that becoming a mother should not never stop you doing anything really, because sadly there are many who do not experience those feelings.

Anything really is possible. Mums are solid as a rock. Total nails. Highly skilled, ridiculously good multi-taskers, problem solvers and strategists. I honestly believe that. But today I am here to tell the tale of the risks that come with doing it all, what can go wrong, and how to avoid crashing and burning or what to do when you, (unfortunately) inevitably, may well do.

A few posts a go, I wrote a piece called “10 working mum hacks to stop you losing your shit”. Shortly after writing this I, well, totally lost my shit. The timing was impeccable. I can’t even write this stuff, well I can, I am, but it was ironic to say the least. I’m not really sure what it was that happened to me. One week I found myself unable to get out of bed, crying in Pret over a tuna baguette (nothing sad about those). I thought that my heart was going to explode from my chest and I couldn’t breathe. But probably the worst part was that I just felt really, really sad and didn’t know why. This has never happened to me before and I guess it had been building steadily for a few months, not over one thing in particular, just an amass of thoughts and feelings, regret, guilt, anxiety and panic. All about everything, and all about nothing. It lasted a week or so, I was lucky, but it felt like a lifetime and I was scared it would never end, it took a while until it finally left my body completely. I don’t really know what to call it – some people use the term ‘burn out’ or a stress episode, I’m not really sure, so I’ve taken to referring to it fondly as my ‘Britney meltdown’, although thankfully I did not shave my head. The world is seriously not ready for that kind of moon face on its streets. (I do have a bit more empathy for Brittany though now).

It was an odd experience for me. I am pretty well known for my resilience, energy and positivity. This is who I am and I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable feeling like this. And whilst I might not know exactly what it was, but I do know why it was. A combination of too many long hours, rushing between work and home and overall just way too many things in my head, not enough switching off and carrying too much on my shoulders.

Sometimes I feel like there is so much in my head its going to just fall off. And so to the warning message of this piece: this is the peril of having a big career and a young family…

Your head can fall off.

And you need to make damn straight sure you have people around you who can pick it up and put it back on again in a better place than before. Life is so short, any parent knows this too well, with our kids a daily reminder of how time is zooming. They are real-life advent calendars, everyday showing us something new, some sign of change reminding us that its all just rushing by.

There is no time for your head to fall off.

There is no time for your time to be wasted on things which are less important than what really matters. It is all too easy to forget this, especially when you get caught up in what is often the ridiculously high pressured hoopla of the commercial world.

To a certain extent, I’m not really sure anyone who’s built a business has escaped without something like this happening to them, its a hazard that comes with the territory and it’s wonder something like this has never happened to me before. But it is a wake up call and despite it being an uncomfortable time for us, I have learnt a lot from it and have made some fairly radical changes to my life to stop it happening again. I have emerged later down the line with vision, with clarity and greater sense of focus and direction. In the end it was not pleasant, but it has helped me a lot.

….And I also know I am fortunate to have the best husband a girl can ask for. Ben is so different to me with his approach to life, he lives in the moment, never sweats the small stuff or the bigger picture, he is just is. He is continually in the moment and is able to be switch from high octane daddy efficiency to horizontal relaxation quicker than you can find an episode of Friends on Comedy Central. Plus he knows how to time the washing machine so it doesn’t make a noise when we’re watching films in the evening but is ready for when we wake up. Skills.

So to end a few more suggestions to build on my working mum hacks (as clearly I wasn’t following these closely enough!)

  • Switch off your phone when you finish work, don’t turn it on till the kids are asleep (or the next morning!)
  • Learn how to say no. Then say it.
  • Find a babysitter. Then use them.
  • You-time is essential, not a luxury. Just make it happen.
  • Take any opportunity available to have a lie in, even a small one.
  • Always be kind to your partner, practice teamwork and 50/50 parenting (more on that to come!)
  • Get perspective. Every day, not just when you need it.
  • Stroke animals. Especially fluffy ones.
  • Get the comfiest and best sleepwear money can buy. Ditto mattress.
  • Invest in friendships that make you happy.
  • Laugh. A lot. And cuddle excessively.
  • Give up guilt. You love your kids, your kids rock, they love you. The end.
  • And if it all goes to shit….Put your head back on in a new direction. It’s not over, its always just the beginning.

Emma x

When you get a letter from the headmistress…


Just another day, another check of that bloody school bookbag. I know they look cute carrying them around and to be perfectly honest, really are a great school innovation – adios stinky plastic reading folder of the 90s! You really did suck with your unreliable plastic zip and hello shiny, school branded, all weather proof, velcro book bag! Woo! But seriously, I sometimes dread opening those things; the amount of school admin is ridiculous. I just don’t think I’m very good at being ‘bake sale’ mum, or ‘help with the school garden mum’ or ‘vote for the new governor mum’. People, I have a job! Friends! Another child! ASOS to binge on! Netflix to consume! Nah, I do want to be involved in the school, I really do, (a bit, sort of, not really, but I feel mega guilty when I’m not), but no, I cannot bake a lemon drizzle by Thursday.

Anyway, I digress from the highlight of today’s drama, dum, dum, dum…. for today the book bag delivered a whole new level of administration to deal with.

So I open it up for a check, (bit of a result, no homework yet, that’ll save me half an hour later, little fist pump in secret), but hey, what’s this, a personal letter? From the headmistress? For moi? ‘Mr and Mrs Martin’, oo, I’m just like SO grown up these days! How very exclusive, now I feel really important! No doubt she’s writing to congratulate me on how awesome my child is, can’t say I blame her for noticing.


Oh no. It is nothing of the sort.

It’s a letter to tell us to get Phoenix’s hair cut. WTF?

“I have noticed that Phoenix has got very long hair at the moment and would be grateful if you could arrange to get it cut as soon as possible.

(Hair should not be below the boys’ ears nor in their eyes)”


So Im wondering, have I missed something? Is it freaking Victorian week again and this is part of the role play? Have I missed that as well as not making the lemon drizzle? Have I gone back in time? Did I forget I’m in the army? I have been quite busy lately, it’s possible I could have gone back in time and I’m now an army mum? Its an option.

I mean seriously? Is she actually for real?! Am I over reacting here?

I think it’s the  ‘arrange to get it cut’ part that jars with me most. I am a mother, not a freakin PA. Phoenix is a little person (with, and may I take the opportunity to say so here, a god damn fine head of awesome locks), and yes it is just hair, but hey, people also have feelings, tact is still a fine skill to have. I doubt she would write: ‘I’ve noticed your child is a bit over weight, please arrange to have him stop eating biscuits’.

The thing that really bugs me about it, beyond the military stance that I don’t think has a place in 21st century childhood, is that it has really unpicked some deeper feelings I have about the education system. I have tried not to get too hung up on these, its early days, Phoenix is in a great school, he’s very happy, and so are we with how he’s doing. And until now, the head despite her lack of taste in the hair department, has appeared to be running a tight ship. However, working with and studying generation Z, today’s newest and youngest defined cohort, I can’t help but feel uneasy about our education system. Working with and getting to know the behaviours and attitudes of gen z kids, I feel proud and excited about their uprising, but when I look at them and then glance over at the education system, I just don’t see a natural collaboration. All I see is a square peg and  big old round (black) hole.

This is a tiny letter about one small child’s unkempt hair, but what it reminds me is how out of touch an older teaching generation is with modern parents and children. It reminds me that todays’ school agenda is not created for gen z, its created for another generation, one driven by academic pressure, measurement and success.

As 21st century parents we teach our kids to be expressive, to be creative, to explore ideas, to be open minded and to embrace diversity and individuality. Gen Z are hard working, hyper creative and the most intelligent bunch of kids we’ve ever raised. Coupled with their own maker-doer instinct, gen z, are simply fabulous. They have high levels of emotional intelligence, are compassionate, empowered by technology and they will change the world. But in order to do it, the world is also going to need to change for them too. To put it simply, it will need to chill the hell out. It will need to not freak out that they are so creative, compassionate, driven, it will have to if we want them to do the things they are capable of, to leverage the skills, talent and ability they have. And what this letter says to me, albeit indirectly, is that school is not the sort of environment where that happens fluidly. Because how can it be, when it simply misses the point this much?

I am not anti-school rules, I do get it. I sometimes laugh at those ridiculous stories in the paper where there’s an image of a child with a pink mohawk looking really sullen and a mum with folded arms looking really cross under the headline; “couldn’t take exam because of pink hair”. Thats stupid. There’s always a limit. I would vote for no uniform, but there is one, so yes you have to commit to that and there are rules around appearance that go with that. I understand that. But self-expression is underrated by schools, brushed aside by saying ‘it promotes bullying and distraction’ when kids are allowed to show individually. Perhaps it used to, and yeah it might in small minorities, but I’m just not convinced the same applies for this new generation. In fact I’d go so far as to say self-expression is an essential life skill for Gen Z kids to learn and experience, and the earlier the better.

So I asked Phoenix this morning what he thought about his hair and he said this:

‘Everyone has the same hair, but I like my styles. Yes, I really like styles. Can I take my scooter to school today?’.

Touché to that dude.

So here you go, exhibit A, a recent picture of Phoenix’s hair. I will compromise and I will trim and shape his hair, its a bit unruly at the moment. As is my own. But no I won’t be told if my child’s hair should or should not be above his ears. That my friends is just totally un-Gen Z and I’m with them on this one. IMG_0601

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Are we mistaking ‘Leaning in’ for ‘Meaning in’ ?


I lap up all sorts of literature about women and working, can’t get enough of the stuff. Drives Ben bonkers, he thinks I’m obsessed, mainly because when I refuse to take the bins out he says, ‘you can’t be all women’s libbers and then refuse to take the bins out’. To which I reply, ‘but how I will enjoy my women’s hour podcast if I smell like bin juice?’.

I think when I am old and grey*, I will look back at this time and think I was part of something. Part of some kind of women’s movement in the business world. Perhaps it’s because I absorb myself in it so much that I’m a bit warped, but it does feel like an exciting time to be a woman. There are strong role models, great debate and whilst not everything is perfect (hello wage gap, yep we still see you), it does feel like there’s momentum. There’s the pram-starters, the women who start post-baby businesses, shared maternity/paternity leave, new thinking around part time and flexi hours and I think stay-at-home mums too have more deserved respect than previously…stuff is happening, there is choice, and yes its been slow, I know, but it is happening.

*(Ah who I am kidding…I will NEVER be grey. Peroxide till I die baby!)

Usually when I read articles or books on this subject, or watch Ted Talks endlessly on loop until I’m so inspired I can’t breathe, I often find myself doing little mini fist-pumps, high-fiving myself and really gee-ing myself up, (to be honest it’s not actually recommended to do this before bed…can be quite exhausting). My favourite female voices, Sandberg, Moran, Agrawal, Amoruso are like a personal cheering squad, I know none of them and yet I feel like I could totally just ‘call for them’ (remember doing that, ahhh, childhood…), share a cup of tea and a packet of party rings. Hmmm, maybe not Sheryl, she doesnt seem like a party ring kind of gal, I would defo take shortbread for her, yeah, she’d love a proper Scottish shortbread. But recently I’ve read a few things that have just made go, well…. ‘meh’.

I shall explain…

The other week I read an article in Grazia, (yep I’m going highbrow here people), written by a lady who was talking about her big digital marketing career. The essence of the piece was all about how worrying about ‘being liked’ held women back in their careers, and how she’d stopped caring about ‘being liked’ and that had helped her to the top.

Cue: Meh. 

My initial response was, “wow your strategy is impressively effective, I haven’t even finished your article and I already don’t like you, let alone having to meet you or heaven forbid work with you!”

I kind of get her angle..a bit. She, (and others out there), assume that women’s tendency to be more ‘people pleasing’ means they make the wrong decisions, or they aren’t able to ‘get the job done’, as effectively as perhaps a man might. That they simply don’t do, what needs to be done to get to where they need to go, and therefore it takes them longer or they never get there.


You see, I have a problem with theories like these.

They totally miss the point.

It doesn’t really matter if your man or a woman, there are simple humanistic and social skills that apply to everyday life that absoutley should be transferred into the workplace. Outside of work, if you never cared if anyone liked you, you would have no friends, possibly no partner, no hobbies, offend people everywhere you went and mostly likely be a bit of a twat. So why would that ever be ok when applied to the work environment, a place where many of us spend huge chunks of our time, sometimes even more than we do at home? 

Opinions like these bother me because they often focus on what is unique and special about women – a more empathetic, nurturing and socially astute set of weaponry, and strip it all away like these skills are embarrassing odours, which if sniffed out, will deem you booted out of the boardroom forever. But it is these things that can help provide a more balanced set of skills and approaches in a workplace, and complement some of the great and unique things men have going for them.

In fact, if I glance back at good things that have happened to me in my career, opportunities I’ve had, people who’ve helped me, relationships I’ve built, teams I’ve grown, I’m pretty sure ‘being liked’ has been a fundamental part of most of it. Certainly not all of it, but it’s only ever done me favours as opposed to ‘held me back’.

(How awkward will it be if all my colleagues and associates who read this are like: erm, yeah so did you see that blog? Hmmmm so when do we tell her we don’t actually like her?’)…

I think what is being confused here is being comfortable with making decisions that mean you won’t always be liked, versus just being a machine who doesn’t care about what anyone thinks, ever. 

Making difficult decisions is at the heart of any leadership position, you have to make business smart choices and a lot of the time they won’t be crowd pleasers. But I do believe it is still possible to do all this and STILL be liked. Honestly! By being transparent, respecting people’s feelings, having tact, being emotionally intelligent and so forth, you can make a tonne of unpopular decisions and people will still respect and, well yeah, they’ll still like you.

Being liked is also a broad term, you can be liked for lots different reasons, its not about people wanting to be your BFF, people can like you because your fair or because your the best at what you do, or because your smart or because you give good advice. And therefore I think anyone who doesn’t seek to be any of those things, things that are fundamentally a part of the process of ‘being liked’, but instead sets out to not give crap about being considered as ANY of those sorts of things, is, well, a bit a plonker in my humble opinion. 

Sorry love.

And I care about this stuff because as per my intro, I do hope I am part of something, I want to set a good example and pave the way for Indy to do whatever she wants (Phoenix will be fine too, I’m sure, he’s learnt how to burp his name already, he seems to progressing well on all fronts), so that when/if she has her own children, she can have choices, ideas, follow dreams and make it happen. I would hate to think that any kind of progress that has been made up to this point is now starting to turn sour through views like these coming direct from us, the women themselves! Iwould hate to see a generation of women simply switching off what are essentially the foundations of just being a nice, normal person to ‘get ahead’.

So yeah, it’s ok to want to be liked. You can still be liked and have a career, it’s not a choice you have make and it’s a ridiculous concept to even consider it is. Go be liked and like back people, what’s the worst thst happen in doing that? 

Emma x

If you happen to ‘like’ this post you can also go ahead and ‘like’ it on Facebook too and join the mission….because hey, its cool to be liked 🙂


10 ”working mum hacks” to stop you losing your sh!t


I was reminded by my lovely colleagues this week via a stream of kind e-words that it has been 4 years since I teamed up with Firefish, my current agency, and launched The Pineapple Lounge to the world. 4 years?! Mental. I’ve never stuck to anything for more than 4 minutes so am feeling pretty chuffed with myself about that. A team of 10, a client list to drool over and more exciting stuff round the corner, its weird to think there was a time when The Pineapple Lounge didn’t feature in my life. And as Phoenix approaches the grand old age of 5 its a stark reminder of just how much really has happened since I wrote my first (probably crap), post on here, about waiting for a high chair delivery or something as equally unexciting.

I don’t really take time to stop and think about it all, and I’ve never been much into the ‘hey guys, come look how good I done’,- as soon are things are up they usually go down so I prefer to keep my eyes closed to some things. But as I’ve reflected on where the freakin’ heck those 4 years have gone, I did manage to give myself a tiny weeney little pat on the back for one thing, and one thing only….not losing my shit entirely, at any point over the last 4 years. Amen to that.

Being a mum is hard, being a working mum is bananas, being a working mum with a senior leadership role is full tilt, and being a working mum running a business does at times feel like having some kind of mental illness.

Running a business in many ways, I find, mirrors the challenges of running a family, so doing both whilst trying to still keep calm and cool can be a tough old ask. Most notably I recognise the extreme highs and feelings of euphoria spliced with the massive lows and feelings of disappointment that run through both family and business management, and when they’re all going at the same time it can hard to breathe. I have had times where I’ve visited the doctor confused about a pressure in my forehead and after asking me to describe my lifestyle, has looked at me like I’m idiot. ‘Oh right’ I said, shuffling out to go do some yoga, lie down and take a neurofen…. But here I am still smiling, still ‘showing up’ to work and family challenges, leaning in so far I’m toppling over and all that, and generally although yes its hard, its fun, I’m good, exhausted, but good….and so here are a few working mum hacks that will hopefully help you keep your shit together too…..


Sex is harder to come by in busy lives but FOR GODS SAKE don’t start romping your bloody iphone! …. no that was a very bad mum joke (which are also heartily encouraged in your quest to keep your shit together), but I of course mean don’t sleep with your phone next to you. For years I did this and it is NOT healthy. You will always be woken in the night as a parent, things just happen and if like me you find yourselves addicted to checking emails you do not want to be reading them in between dreams and wet beds (hopefully not your own). Say good morning to the real humans in your house before you check in with your digital world.


It is my favourite beauty product. I spray it on myself, my kids, my husband, passers by…..I bloody love the stuff. And some of the newer ones (like the Fudge one) also smell proper lush so double up as perfume too – well that’ll save you at least 2 more mins in the morning right?!

IMG_64083. RUN

I spent a lot of time not running. Making excuses for not running. Explaining how I wasn’t build for running. It’s all bollocks. It’s the easiest and most effective exercise for busy working mummas as you can literally do it whenever you can. You go straight from your front door and for however many mins you’ve got. Its not my favourite exercise but there is something very stress relieving about pumping out music and just being on your own. Small children in my experience can’t keep up so you’ll loose them after the first 100metres and then no one can touch you.


I’m new to this but my god I’ve been missing out! A few people at the same time recommended the Headspace app to me, I figured people clearly thought I needed it as they kept mentioning it to me so I gave it a go and I’m hooked. It’s basically meditation but not pitched for hippies or weirdos, just clearing your head, no mumba jumbo just brain training to keep your thoughts in check. I do 10 mins a day at the moment and I think its god send for any busy mumma – working or stay at home, because we could all use a bit more head space (plus the man’s voice is so soothing, he’s defo hot in real  life but in case of disappointment I suppress all urges to google his face)


A while back I read a painfully cheesy titled book ‘Time Management for Manic Mums’. My god. What a title. It was, as you may expect, was a bit naff and true to form I ironically didn’t manage to find time to read it all, but it did make this good point about going through your life and spotting the time plugs. These are the bits where you’re not really doing anything and you could utilise them better. As I’m now full time all time is considered and used to the max, I sometimes use early mornings to do homework with Phoenix, I reply to lots of emails on the tube rather than be ‘on’ all day, I’ll take a run on a work from home day etc etc. It’s an interesting way of looking at your week and judging where there are plugs and if you could turn them into something more productive.


Ah guilt, a mothers best frienemy. We all have it right? So why not just give it up? Just stop being guilty, give your self a break? Sounds too easy? Well it kind of is. Guilt is a self-manufactured emotion that we control, instigate and foster, you can just stop it if you really want. In January 2014 I wrote a post about New Years Resolutions and how I decided that I would just give up guilt for new year. I would stop feeling guilty for not doing this or that, not spending enough time here or there, and just accept the lifestyle I have chosen and created, acknowledge that my kids are pretty rad and that I’ve done an awesome job and just get on with it all. Done. Life on the flip side of guilt I can tell you is SO much easier to live in (there is a weird first bit you have to get through though where you feel guilty about not feeling guilty…god us mums, so predictable. But stick with it!)


Ok without the risk of sounding like Lady Muck here, you’ve just got to get staff – namely cleaning, ironing, childcare. You need those three things wrapped up, locked in and sorted. In my quest to discover if you can ‘have it all’, I have concluded that if you can, then you defo can’t ‘do it all’, while you’re trying to ‘have it all’. Make sense?! I used to feel guilty for not doing all the housework, if this is an issue with you too, then refer to point 6 above.

IMG_82888. GO AWAY

Living in London is draining. It’s expensive, fast, big and all consuming. If I don’t leave it regularly I actually go a bit weird. Its so much easier to appreciate the greatness of London when you have a break from it. In unbroken doses its bad for my health. I use work travel and weekend breaks to Bournemouth as my escape, I am at heart a beach person (a mermaid of course), living a sham of a big city life and I feel re charged by being by the sea.


Its taken me four years to work out that if you don’t answer an email at 10pm at night the world will keep spinning. Amazing! I have had, and still will have periods where I work non stop. I stay up late perfecting work, obsessing over detail and always pushing myself to do and be better. Its part and parcel of having a successful business and an inherent part of who I am, but it is unsustainable. Luckily I have Ben, a man who thrives on ‘slowing down’ to remind me how weird I’m being at times.


Might seem like a bit of a random one to end on, but be it shallow or not, clothes and shoes make me happy. Leaving the house feeling like you’re ready to face the world, and couldn’t give a flying hoot if you’ve got baby snot on your shoulder, feels good, in fact your styling that baby snot, your putting it out there, god damn it you’ve made snot cool! I hate the word mumsy, I hate everything it suggests and says about the transformation of women pre and post baby, but more than anything I hate that the mumsy spell does cast its evil woes all too often. There really is no need, you’re still you, just a bit chubbier and with wearing a bit more snot….and my god look at you, you beautiful thing!

So GO forth and keep your shit together ladies. Add your hacks below!

Follow me Instagram: @mummamartin (sorry didn’t mean to sound like a threat)

Join the facebook banter: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mission-to-Motherhood

Parenting in the digi-verse: how do we cope with kids and tech?


“Muuuummm!” (spoken in one of those whispers that is actually more like a shout)

“It’s not time to get up yet”

“But the sun is up”

“Yes, its morning but not getting up morning time”

“But the birds are up”

“They’re fools. They don’t know what they’re doing either, go back to sleep”



“Please someone take me away…! I have told you before Phoenix: sleep is AWESOME, sleep will make you strong, even the Hulk lies in, go back to sleep”

“Can I watch the iPad?”




(immediately HANDS OVER iPad)

“Can I watch jang bricks?”


“Yes, jang bricks, jang bricks, jang bricks!!! woo hoo! Its time to wake up! Jang bricks! Hello birds!”


IMG_6851And this is how many a morning commences in our household. My kids have always been early risers, the downside of having nice quiet evenings with kids tucked up at 7pm in a military style without fail, is that the little critters aren’t so keen on lie ins. I can count on one hand the number of times Phoenix has slept beyond 7am. Every year for my birthday all I ask for a lie in. Its all a bit too easy to give him the iPad in these moments, while I cling on for just a few more straggles of sleep, collecting the little remnants of dreams and savouring the opportunity to lie horizontal without moving (despite having a small person wedged into my side and half my body hanging onto the floor).

Tablets and smartphones – small, beautiful little screens, trays of endless peace and quiet for a small person and a staple of the modern parenting kit do bring about those moments of freedom. They’re like a parent get of jail free screen, all wrapped up in a delicious Apple coating. As Phoenix is growing up technology continues to creep in further and further into our play, into our day to day routine and it does raise some interesting discussions: How the heck do you parent it all?

When Phoenix (4.5) wants the iPad first thing in the morning, its not to game, its not to watch cartoons, it’s to watch ‘Jang Bricks’. A YouTuber, an American man, approximately in his mid-late to early 30s, (this is a guess you don’t really see his face, but he has a nice house and wedding ring so I’m using my imagination here…I also like to think he’s hot, just to add some context), who builds LEGO sets and then reviews them in excruciating detail. Now I know to most of us grown ups this is a bit weird right? Why is this grown man playing with LEGO for all these kids to watch? Why do all these kids love watching it so much? Why does he have the time to do this? Where is he getting all the LEGO? What does he want from us?! All stupid, irrelevant questions that only an adult, unable to suspend their ability to seek answers to the unnecessary and miss what is really going on here….there is no story, there are no characters, nothing really happens, it is literally just a man in his house building LEGO and then talking about these sets. Its actually not that weird, in another parallel universe I’m sure Ben exists as a living breathing Jang Bricks himself.

But I do get it. I think.

Imagine the thing you are most interested in, the thing you would love to spend most of your time doing, the thing that gives you pleasure and joy, and then imagine an expert in that thing, an expert who creates beautiful moments of descriptive joy for you to totally geek over that thing you love? That’s Jang Bricks and LEGO for Phoenix.

So I do get it. And I don’t mind him watching it.

And getting it does matter in this subject of parenting in the digi-verse. If we don’t ‘get it’, we question aimlessly, we turn things into something they are not. Fear and lack of knowledge breeds panic and distrust. Yes its sensible to be wary, to diligently check, but consider part of this process trying to ‘get it’ rather than freaking out or heavy policing. You’ll probably have a better conversation with your child and feel more informed and comfortable with what they’re doing. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life watching the old Jang Bricks with Phoenix and have become quite fond the chap of myself. There was a brief moment where I thought I was love with Jang Bricks, such grace with the bricks he has! Such descriptive wisdom! And look at all his followers! A true YouTube LEGO legend! We could run off into the sunset and live in an actual LEGO house. I mean it takes skill to make one swoon by simply saying: “I’m just not sure about this, I’m not feeling good about this build….it just doesn’t look tractor-like enough to me”.  Oh Jang, take me with you in that tractor, I’ll muddy it right up for you!

I’m probably a little bit more equipped in the digi-verse parenting department than the average mum after having conducted multiple studies into kids use of tech, parental attitudes to it and studying how children use different devices and platforms – you name it I’ve hung out with kids and seen it and learnt about it. And after all this exposure and time spent pondering it all, I’ve sort of ended up in pretty sensible place about it all. I don’t have strong opinions either way, I recognise the sheer number of dramas that come with kids and social media, I haven’t parented tweens and teens yet, but I know its coming. And I do worry about things like access to pornography and what this is doing to boys attitudes to sex and women. I also worry about outdoor time and how much time we’re spending doing natural versus manufactured play. But broadly speaking I am ok with it all, I have a positive and healthy relationship with technology. I personally get very addicted to my phone but am quite conscious of it happening and do other things to stop it. Ben and I have a weekly ‘no screen Wednesdays’ where we switch off all our devices mid week.

The other reason I feel confident to parent in a digital home is just because tech comes in, it doesn’t mean we, the parents go out. Yes we may feel we are ‘losing our kids’  to some of the platforms we love, but we still have a role to play, we are still the parents, we are still the ones who set the rules, who can allow safe exploration and give kids the space and confidence to work out what’s right and wrong….And we still have control of the wifi!

It is up to us to foster positive relationships in lots of different things including a healthy love for technology, real humans and outside. After everything I’ve read, seen and experienced I would simply just say this: our kids will be alright if we don’t freak out, but we need to not freak out together.

Technology has just as many pros as it does cons. If you create a warm, loving, trusting home with good communication and strong relationships and anything thrown it will be ok. It’s all too easy to say ‘kids are addicted to tech, they won’t get off their screens’, but as I said, we should never forget that we are the parents, we have more influence than sometimes don’t like to admit. For my generation; modern parents who’ve grown up with the internet and been part of the social media revolution, I hope we’ll have a better handle on it all. We should feel more confident, have more knowledge and tools to understand and set good examples and parameters. As a result I hope we see a rise in the number of kids growing up with a healthy love for technology and families who just see is as part of everyday life not the dreaded ‘screen time’ its come be called which parents and kids both obsess and fight about. And I hope that by encouraging a healthy and more sophisticated relationship with technology more kids will quickly see that a lot of the surface entertainment and social media is pretty amateur and a bit pointless and move onto more exciting, creative uses of tech in the worlds of film, art, music and design.

The social discourse around kids and tech is usually only ever negative, but through the work I’ve done I could reel off 100s of amazing things kids have learnt, built, created and achieved where tech has played a role. The minecraft craze that has swept the world is a good example, parents complain of addiction and kids getting sucked in, but often this parental view can be tainted by personal fear, and fear creates paralysis and panic. What kids are doing on minecraft is creative problem solving and is far more sophisticated than any of the play we would have been exposed to as children. Could they live without it? Sure? Should they spend more time playing what we consider to be ‘traditional play’, probably. Should they get off minecraft and outside more? Yes. But that’s up to you too. The world moves on, what interests todays kids is different to what interested us. We have taken away their freedom to play outdoors because we think a pedo is lurking behind every corner, we can’t then expect them not to want to experience freedom in other places.

So lets change the conversation around our kids and tech and get rid of some of these ridiculous things we just keep reeling out, a few examples…

“My 18 month old can use the iPad, its so scary” : The only thing scary about this is the fact it may be one of those new IMG_6409shiny Air ones that may be at risk of screen smashing. It is not scary. Babies have always been curious about touching and exploring everyday objects – keys, remotes, now tablets. You probably followed your pregnancy of said 18 months old on your smartphone and logged all the precious first feeds and moments, so lets not be ‘scared’ when they want to have a look and lo and behold can actually use it too! That’s just normal mirroring and curiosity happening right there.

“I can’t get my kids to go outside” : Really? Really? Try reframing the question like this – “Would you like me to pretend to be a pirate and chase you around for the next half an hour?” or “I’m pretty sure I just heard the ice cream van” or “45 mins outside or the wifi gets it”. Yes it would be great if our kids jumped for joy at the sheer mention of a leaf, but its unrealistic, sometimes the outside is boring, sorry but it is, remember we have a role in all this, sometimes we just have to sell it to them a bit more.

“Gaming is so anti-social, he won’t have any friends if he carries on like this”: I’m sure most gaming companies will tell you that the number one driver of success of most games today is their ability to command a social experience. Whether chatting online, physically playing together or just the social conversation around doing it, it is not sitting in a dark room being isolated any more. Most kids (granted there are unique cases and issues that fall outside of this), love having friends and want to make and keep them – they know that removing themselves from the human world is not going to help. Chances are they are likely using games as a tool to help them build and grow their social relationships.

As Phoenix and Indy grow up I will be revisiting this topic and logging the conversations, behaviours and any positives and negatives that crop up along the journey. Its a subject I feel quite passionate about and one I know is hot topic amongst parents. But I’ll admit, I think I do take the side of the kids in it all, because I don’t think us parents have quite got it right when it comes to how we discuss, approach and manage this with our kids. Our children in the UK have a terrible reputation in our media and are constantly described as screen addicted, over weight robots. As I’ve said throughout this post, we must remember we’re still the parents, we’re still in control, lets not freak out together and all just be cool and try our best to ‘get it’ and it will be ok, in fact we’ll all reap the rewards. Too much of any one thing is mental – imagine if I gave into my love for mermaids on even more of a massive scale than I do already?! I would be outcast. A freak! Unable to live outside of water!…Although arguably more awesome.

But the point is, everywhere I look I can always see the good, this generation of young people are amazing and by being fortunate to parent in such an exciting time I plan on harnessing the creativity and empowered spirit that kids today get from the digital world, and encourage a healthy love of both the real world and the divi-verse. This generation can, and probably will change the world, but one things for certain, they certainly ain’t going to do it without tech.

Intuition versus google: Are modern mums forgetting how to parent naturally?


As a researcher I spend a lot of time interviewing mums about their lives, their experiences, their worries and dreams. As a mother I interact with mums everyday, on the school run, in the soft play, online. One thing I see everywhere I look is this: anxiety and guilt.

Crisis of confidence, over thinking, excessive researching, helicopter parenting. It is evident we all treat motherhood like a career, and I really worry about the effect this is having on our experience of motherhood, our mental well being and what we will pass on down to the next generation of mums, our daughters. We continually look for the ‘right way to do things’, the new version of this and that, new techniques, courses, books, routines, always seeking to find the thing that’s ‘best for baby’.

But I’m not sure any of that stuff is ever ‘best for mum’.

I think we will look back at ourselves as a generation of parents who felt empowered – access to so much information that its unfathomable (bit like watching Interstellar at the IMAX until your brain hurts). We know what the issues are before they’ve even struck, we’re ready for the next stage before the previous one is over. But I cant help observe and wonder: Are modern mums’ brains set permenantly to ‘fix and improve’ mode? Because despite all this information, we still don’t seem to feel like we’re ever doing good enough. It’s incredibly rare to hear a mum feeling really confident, especially a first time mum, there is always something. You could argue that’s just the baggage that comes with having kids, that it improves once the child gets older or once there is a second or third child then she becomes a pro, but I’m not entirely convinced. Modern mums seem more likely to be riddled with guilt, anxiety, questions, uncertainty. And so ironically, despite feeling so empowered, I also think we will look back at ourselves as a generation who could have just lived and loved in the moment a bit more, enjoyed the now, and trusted our instincts more.

I love technology, I love social media, I love information. I’m a bloody researcher for gods sake, I made a career out of finding out stuff! But I don’t love any of it more than my own brain, than my opinion, my feelings, my instincts and it’s not something I overly got into when I first became a mum. When I had Phoenix nearly 5 years ago we didn’t really have any friends with babies, we headed into this unbeknown world with few people around us who could empathise or understand what the stresses and strains of having a new born is really like. Initially I found this hard. I didn’t feel like I a had a point of reference, a confident, a benchmark or just anyone nearby whose boobs were also leaking like a couple of burst pipes. But very quickly I decided to approach the whole thing intuitively, as a team with Ben, determined, confident and hey, why the hell not, with a little bit of Emma flair in doing things my own way.

IMG_0927I didn’t know what I was doing, I made tonnes of mistakes, but I learnt quickly. There were some hairy moments and some very late night trawls around the block and 3am moments of ‘oh my god what the hell have we done?’, but  I have to say I did feel confident. I did feel in control. I still do. I know I am a good mother, I know I have my shit together. Our life is busy, packed and at times a little fly by the seat of your pants, but it does work, our kids are awesome.

So I want to say this: I know what I’m doing and its working. And I say this because not enough of us do. It seems to have become more normal that we talk about how we’ve failed, we even have a hashtag dedicated to it – #mumfail, (although it does come in handy when you do stuff like send your child to nursery dressed as an astronaut when its ‘Victorian Day’). We should be nicer to ourselves and each other, it will help us all, and even better probably help our kids even more.

When you have your first baby its entirely normal to panic. There is nothing that can prepare you, its a relentless treadmill of ‘firsts and ‘oh fucks’. It is very normal to think you’re getting it wrong, that you’re messing it up, the overwhelming urge to ‘get it right’ is strong. I had moments of this but it didn’t linger, I didn’t let it stick around. And even though Phoenix had tongue tie which wasn’t really picked up until 6 months until after I finished breastfeeding, (yeah thanks for that docs), I did have a good time. I did enjoy it all, I felt like I was living and not just surviving. The most successful bits of parenting I’ve done have been done through having a calm, positive outlook and a deep connection with my kids which is rooted in intuition and understanding. It’s never come from a book, app or a website.

IMG_0507I decided to give up all the ‘mummy media’ pretty quickly, (although there was no instagram then!). I visited sites when something was up but the thing is, once you stop looking, once you stop ‘naming something’ its funny how phases can just go away . For me, real life outside of the baby bubble was and still is far more interesting and less worrying. From 4 weeks I went to mums groups, 6 weeks I was in a regular baby circuits routine and I have to say I kind of put first what I wanted to do and where I wanted us to go, rather than adhering to any kind of strict routine and crazy schedule that my babies demanded. I always wanted more than anything for my kids to be flexible, adaptable. I never wanted to be that mum who had to leave a party on the dot for a scheduled nap, whose kid couldn’t sleep in the buggy or on a pile of coats, adaptability is one of the best goals you can have for pre schoolers and it comes from being relaxed, confident and just rolling with it (and a little bit of luck with the baby you get served up come splash down 🙂 

Ben and I had an interesting discussion the other night about what kind of parents we would be if we were just having kids now, 5 years older and wiser. And we concluded that it would be quite different. Although the isolation of being the only ones with kids at the time felt hard, in retro spec there was something quite magical about the great unknown, about being on this solo mission blurring the boundaries of baby life with the pre baby days. And of course we were much younger. Now I’m more of a grown up (apparently), I think I would probably approach the whole parenting thing a bit more ‘professionally’,  I would likely be less spontaneous, generally more academic about the whole thing. I’d definitely take more time off work, something which although I’d have loved to have done more of, especially second time around with Indy, I can now also clearly see how setting up the buisness helped me to have other things to think and be passionate about, which in turn had a positive effect on my relationship with my kids.

IMG_3261Of course every baby is different, every experience is unique, there are many factors you can’t control. But I do believe that the key to ‘fixing’ a baby or child, if thats how we modern mums have been wired to think, is actually not to fix them. Kids are mirrors, sponges, little emotional plug holes who drink up our spirit, feelings and emotions, we need to look after ourselves before we can look after them.

I’m not really sure how to end this post, I don’t have a list of advice, I’m not actually entirely sure what I’m saying, just that there is no need for so much anxiety and guilt amongst us all, so I’ll just say this, however you do it, just get your shit together. As someone who lived with guilt for a long time and who proactively just ‘gave it up’ two years ago, life on the flip side is much brighter. So don’t waste your energies trying to ‘fix’ when you could be using them to ‘build’.

…..(nothing like ending a post with a Bob the Builder analogy, that is true motherhood through and through) 

LOL: when your 4 year old starts doing ‘stand-up’

IMG_6126One of the reasons I love having kids, and working with kids, is because kids are naturally funny. I don’t think adults laugh enough. If we all laughed a bit more we’d all have better abs. Fact. When you laugh things happen in your brain and body (technical term) and you feel great. So we should all spend more time laughing, and I mean proper belly laughing until you feel like you’re going to cry/puke/blow off/wet yourself (most likely all of these if you’ve recently experienced child birth).

Kids make you laugh a lot. And as they get older they become genuinely funny. You have these belly laugh moments more and more and find what they say truly funny….Which is a bloody good job actually because the rest of the time they’re driving you straight towards the large bottle of gin on the kitchen shelf.

I’ve been rather fascinated over the last few months at how Phoenix has turned the dial on his ‘funny knob’, switching from natural to scripted humour… (yeah I’m leaving ‘funny knob’ in the post only because its a post about humour. Clearly that didn’t quite materialise into the neat little metaphor I was hoping for) 

Since he’s started school he’s become more aware of his funny-powers and has started to to engineer his jokes. IMG_6265He got off to a rocky start going through a period of ‘laughter stropping’. This meant if people really laughed out loud in response to him he would pout his lip and storm off shouting and crying ‘Its NOT funny!’. As an audience member this is fairly tricky to deal with. On the one hand you are amused and want to reward your entertainer with the glorious reward of laughter, but then you’re aware this will result in actual tears. Its a real mind warp which can leave you choking on your own laughter. Fortunately we seem to have moved on from this now after some late night chats explaining why its a good thing when your jokes actually work i.e. people laugh.


Then we progressed into the ‘scripted joke’ phase. School brings with it ‘class clowns’ and I can see he’s being influenced by joke tellers in his class. I personally had never told him an actual joke before school (Im naturally funny so don’t need to resort them..obvs.), so he didn’t pick these up from us. But he’s still some way from figuring out the whole concept of a joke. Instead he prefers to take the format of traditional jokes e.g. ‘knock knock’ etc but apply weird, psychedelic story based lines featuring pizzas, policemen and whatever is within a 5m radius of his eye line (usually trees and lamposts).

Some examples:

Why did the silly bottle walk on his pavement?
Because he was made of pizza!!
Why did the pizza walk upside down?
Because half of him was bitten!!
Why did the tiny pea turn into a pizza?
Because the pizza was busy crossing the road to go to the shops!!!
Why did the bat see a pizza upside down?
Because the pizza was upside down!!
Why was the holiday upside down?
Because the earth was turned upside down!!!

All are delivered with the upmost enthusiasm and he usually finds himself in hysterics around the same time he reaches the end of the punchline. We’re working on this. From a comedy perspective he does come across as slightly egotistical about his own funniness.

He had some fine comedy moments on holiday. Here we saw a new comedic angle, where he took a risk, showed no fear and just went for a few one liners that were massive hits. One such time I was hyper-thirsty, and he was watching in disbelief as I drank a massive glass of water without stopping. Once I’d finished he shouted for the whole restaurant to hear:


I thought this worked on many levels, mainly because it was a 4 year old making a joke about his potentially alcoholic mother. But also because at the time this may have been potentially true. I was on holiday.

The other time I was feeding Indy and all was calm and normal, and he just came out with:


I thought this was a great one liner. Mainly because I have no idea where it came from. And also because trying to feed her like a duck was actually really funny, and made us laugh even more.

IMG_6281Sometimes we’ll walk into town telling jokes the whole way. It starts off fun but by the end there really are only so many scenarios pizzas, lampposts and policeman can get themselves into.

But may I take the time here to make a plug for myself, and highlight some completely off the cuff, MADE UP jokes, that whilst under pressure, I have scripted on the spot:

“What did the policeman say to the triplets?”

Ello, Ello, Ello

This one is now a firm favourite frequently requested by Phoenix. He has no idea what triplets are or that policeman say ‘ello, ello, ello’ (which they don’t), but instead says: ‘Mum do that one about the policeman and the twiglets!’. Sigh. It’s a tough crowd.

“What did the doctor say to the apple?”

How you peeling?

Phoenix has never eaten a peeled apple in his life. I’m not sure he knows what apple peel is. He politely responded to this one by saying, ‘mum do you mean feeling, not peeling?’. Sigh. It’s a tough crowd.

“Why was the toast working so late at night? 

He was doing his spreadsheets. 

Ok ok. Look it gets hard, it really does. When you’re just trying to get home, you have bags of shopping, you’re sending an email, you all the need loo and at the same time you have a 4 year old making you perform stand up on the go, its hard. No he does not know what a spreadsheet is. And yes he pointed out that pieces of toast don’t do work, to which I pointed out pizzas don’t walk.

It’s an experimental time for us both. 

And so I will leave you with this, a short video captured at dinner on holiday which highlights another experimental technique. I call it: ‘the never ending punchline’



Travelling long haul with kids – is it worth it?


If you can’t be arsed to read this post (I won’t hold it against you), then the short answer is yes. Yes, its always worth it.

..I think.

Is it easy? No.

It’s hell.

It will conjure up all sorts of emotions you never knew you could experience inside a metal tunnel. You will question why on earth you had the idea to HAVE kids, full stop, let alone take them on this stupid plane. The pane is always ‘stupid’, its always the ‘stupid plane’. Because it just is.

You will dislike everyone around you, your child, your partner, the oh-so-friendly-but-still-wont-remove-your-child-from-you airline staff, even the pilot (not flying quick enough) and the guy checking the bags in (I wish I was smuggling drugs in this baby bottle, mate.. etc etc)

But it really is worth it. I promise. Here’s why.

As modern families we can get into the groove of doing the obvious things, or what is ‘socially popular or the norm’. The world is geared up for families these days which in all honesty, is bloody great: Family restaurants, family cars, family fast lanes, family films, everything has been family-ified. Its a good era to be a family in. But it can mean we get less creative about what we want to do and a bit more lazy with designing experiences based on our personal interests and desires, especially when it comes to holidays. It is easier to just consume what companies lay on for us. But I am here to say that you can do your own THANG!

Just do it! (man someone should use for a brand or something, powerful stuff…..)

It will be ok, you will be ok, it will be fun, cool and probably more interesting than anything ‘off the family shelf’. Many people fear the flight, I can’t say there is nothing to fear, but it prob wont as bad as you may assume. I’ve done it repeated times so it can’t be that bad…or i just have a terrible memory…. Or am just lying…Weirdly, we’ve only ever been to exotic places on family holidays and have never actually done the whole package family holiday thing in Europe or even a UK family holiday. I’m not dissing those trips at all, I’m sure we will do those one day soon and I did tonnes of them as kid growing up and have really great memories. But there are a few reasons why I’ve chosen not to do that so far:

1) I don’t really enjoy being around loads of English families on holidays (soz) – I just find it so much more relaxing and interesting to be aroundIMG_7365 lots of different nationalities and expose the kids to different languages and types of people 2) I like to experience a real culture hijack. Our lives are busy, hectic and at times I’m under a lot pressure at work. I need to not just switch off, but dive into some place entirely different. its much easier to do this in far away places

3) I have a thing about not letting kids stop you from what you want to do. Ben I both loved to travel before we had a family and there are still so many places we have on ‘the list’. Kids should not stop you doing stuff, they should just change in the which you do things. They shouldn’t be a preventative force, but an inspirational source. I feel its my life’s mission to prove this. I’m doing it for you people  So Phoenix has racked up a wild list of places in his 5 earth years – Miami, New York, Bali, Sydney, Morocco, Mauritius, and most recently we just returned from 3 weeks in Brazil (FYI – epic time of year to get your summer base tan in).

(Its probably worth noting, that of course we are in a fortunate position to be able to afford to go to these places, I am aware it ain’t cheap to go long haul as a family. But if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know I work my ass off for this lifestyle and so I make no apologies about this and am entirely #sorrynotsorry…so lets all move on with this post)

Some of these trips I manage to coordinate with work trips – if you do travel with work I would strongly urge you to sync up business travel with family travel, there is no reason for this other than…..why the freak not?! Others we book as stand alone hols. All of these trips are etched into my mind as amazing times we experienced time together as well as times we got to see and do entirely new things for all of us. You can’t put a price on that.

When I first started the business I was a bit crap at making time for holidays, it would always be really last minute and we never really organised stuff properly. Now we’re much better and I’ve realised for my health and well being it so important to have regular holidays and look forward to trip. I also recommend all parents take at least one, two week holiday a year – 2 weeks is a real switch off, a week I find so short now as it takes me a few days to properly relax and think about non London things.


It occurred to me recently when I mentioned to someone we were going to brazil who like many, responded with ‘god your brave’, that i could perhaps offer some tips of going long haul with kids.

I will try.

However I will point out some things about what normally happens when we go away:

2 months before – usually win the biggest, most important project of my career that has be presented day before I go away

2 weeks before – look at diary and cry. Try and fit 4 weeks of work into 2

1 week before – working on presentation, hard to think of anything else

2 days before – find three passports. One is ALWAYS missing

1 day before – realise I’ve done no holiday shopping and find myself in the 24hr Tesco at 11.30pm buying £6 wedges with watermelon print all over them (sad and very true story)

Day of holiday – get into taxi with no idea what the hell I’ve packed, excited, knackered, still sending emails. Realise I now have 12 hours on the place with kids. Crap myself.

IMG_2630So yeah, I will try and give some tips, but despite my experience I am still a pretty disorganised traveller. Actually on the way back from Brazil a couple of weeks ago I had the biggest mum fail of all time. At the airport once I’d been through all the passports and customs I realised I had NO NAPPIES. What the hell?! Surely that is the first thing you pack?!

Im not sure how it happened but it did. We were in Rio airport which has no shops (there are no Boots outside of this part of the world people) and no one could speak English. With about 20 mins till our flight departed I ran through the airport (doing that sort of weird flip flop run when you look like you’ve wet yourself a bit – oh the irony) searching for any retail life or anyone that could help me. A woman sort of gestured to the other side of the airport back through passport control, this was the only place where there was a shop. Off I ran again only to be taken down by immigration and hauled into room which kind of looked like a scene from The Wire with various criminals being finger printed whilst I panted: “I just need to get nappies, please let me get some nappies, I have 12 hours with a toddler and if she craps Im not really sure what I’ll do”, followed by one single slow tear. While they considered my request I had various thoughts,,,

“i have at least two sanitary towels in my bag, Im sure i could fashion something from those”

“What is the probability of being able to potty train a child in a 12 hour time frame, on a plane”

“I reckon I could out sprint these guys, I’m pretty fast in these Havianas now”

Fortunately they did let me back in and out and I discovered a long lost chemist and kissed a packet of nappies as I bought them eagerly.

One hour later I discovered they for new borns. Bollocks.

But still, whats an over stretched, sticky strip, a hanging out bottom cheek and a few hours between mother and daughter? It was better than nothing.


TIP ONE: pack nappies

TIP TWO: Locate all passports at least 3 weeks before you go (gives you time to get the passport office if like me one year you drop it on the way back from the post office…)

TIP THREE: iPad up

TIP FOUR: drink gin

TIP FIVE: consider (sugar free) Calpol a light sedative

TIP FIVE: Sometimes crying at the air hostess can get you moved

TIP SIX: Bribe your kids with ridiculous toy promises if they keep their cool there … AND back – “yeah of course you can have that 3ft helipad when we get back….oh sorry its sold out, how about this ball instea? TIP SEVEN: designate a child each, Do not interfere with each others business, keep your shit tight.

TIP EIGHT: Put them onto local time when you get on the plane

TIP NINE: take your own food. if they don’t eat airplane food you’re screwed

TIP TEN: if you’re on dummies take at least 47 of the things. I have no idea where they go, but they will go

TIP ELEVEN: Apologise in advance to those around you. Accept that they already hate you.

TIP TWELVE: Take their full night kit and PJ them up, brush teeth etc…even if its 7am. Hey, wishful thinking…

TIP THIRTEEN: go business.

I know they are not very useful, but I hate to say it…you just have to ride that shit out.

BUT. It is worth it.

When you land and get to some exciting place (and this is why I would add you should NEVER scrimp on accommodation when going long haul, its the most important money you’ll ever spend once you’ve done over 10 hours with kids on a plane!), you will be so happy and proud and all a bit closer (and a few years older). You will be ready to start your adventure….

And then you’ll have to go all the way back again…

See you in Spain next year, yeah?


FACT – Kids make parents bonkers: Motherly Mutterings from Mumma Martin

IMG_4781Since becoming a mother, I find myself saying the weirdest things. Do you get that? I probably said weird things before due to my natural state of being being set at a consistent level of ‘bonkers’, but it’s dialled up a notch since I grew humans inside me.

It’s definitely the kids, I think they just ‘bring out the bonkers’ in their parents. When you’ve had endless sleepiness nights or when you’re dizzy from swinging a child around their bedroom 27 times or when your back aches from pretending to be a bridge for 45 minutes or when you watch diggers move earth on You Tube long enough to make your eyeballs hurt or when you remember its costume day at 10.45pm and start fashioning things out of foil and bog roll …it makes you say weird stuff, its expected and entirely forgivable. I think parents should be given a special card that they keep on them that they can hand to people when they are burnt out/in a rush/jacked up on Peppa Pig and not making any sense, it should read: “I come from planet parent. Please take everything I say with pinch of sugar…and then serve it back to me with a double shot latte. Thank you”

So here’s an eclectic mix of things I have found coming out of my mouth, usually to my husband, often to my friends, more often to other parentals, nearly always to the kids themselves, and from time to time just to myself. At the time motherly mutterings seem entirely normal and necessary, you will be making them every day, but it’s quite fun to look on in retrospect and see them written down to bring to life the sheer craziness of raising kids and provide you with some entirely pointless titilation on the eve of new years eve, eve…Enjoy…

  • The poo was almost twice the size of her head, I honestly don’t know how she got it out
  • I think Upsy Daisy may be a prostitute, she seems to lure in Iggle Piggle with a portable shagging bed and hip wiggling
  • Have you seen the Brio track I’ve built upstairs? I have never concentrated more on anything. In. My. Entire. Life
  • I gave Santa a high-10 by mistake, I thought he was addressing me. He wasn’t. A hi-10, not even a 5, I went in big, it was awkward
  • The Blue Ninja in Ninjago is definitely the hottest
  • When he comes into our room in the night I can’t help but think he’s that kid who sees dead people in Sixth Sense
  • You know how we’ve been looking for dummies all week? The nanny found 9 dummies under the cot today. I looked there so many times, she’s definitely Mary Poppins…or hiding them to trick me
  • I wish she could push me around in the pram for a bit, it’s raining and I have no rain cover on me
  • My rule with using cotton buds and ear wax is ‘if you can see it, you can get it’
  • For Christmas I would really like a lie in
  • Dont you just love it when you arrive at the school gate just as the bell is ringing?! God it makes me feel smug! Winning!
  • No you can’t have smarties for dinner….why? Because you had custard for lunch
  • My right nipple is just more efficient than the left
  • Today I was so tired I fell asleep walking. I woke up on the tube, it was actually a great commute
  • Someone in this bed has wet themselves. I think it’s him, but there is every chance it might be me
  • When we were in that church he asked me who was on the crucifix, I didn’t feel like getting into it all, so I just told him it was Iron Man….I think he wants to go back to church now!
  • He went to nursery today in his astronaut costume….it was Victorian Day. I told the teacher he’d come as the ‘future’, it was fine I think
  • I really don’t mind him having McDonald’s if I’ve got a hangover
  • I got properly stuck in the soft play today, it was terrifying. I didn’t know if I was going to choke on the smell of feet or suffocate from from the cube crushing my rib
  • If you want to be a superhero you need to always be kind and friendly….Oh and do what you’re told. And eat your vegetables. And tidy stuff. And also everything else. Otherwise it will never happen, sorry about that
  • Whatever we’re doing, we just need to make sure we’re living in a bigger house when she starts getting into Sylvanian Families
  • I dont think I’ve ever seen the bottom of our laundry bin, I wonder what it looks like
  • There’s definitely real food groups in a turkey dinosaur
  • Why doesn’t he eat the yolk, it’s the best bit, I don’t want him to grow up yolk-less, he’s really missing out
  • Imagine if he knew we were just sat down here watching SpiderMan and eating a magnum!!! Hahahahaha, god it feels good
  • She was so constipated the poo was half way out of her bum, I could see it! I had to massage her little belly until it came out. I whooped when it did. It was a relief for us all, quite the daily achievement
  • I just read an entire Fireman Sam book in a Welsh accent. It was epic
  • Planes 2 was a real disappointment in comparison to Planes 1
  • I think I might start roller skating with the pram to tone my bum
  • That day when we thought we’d lost his zebra will haunt me for the rest of my life


The 12 Emotions of the School Nativity

1. PANIC: my god these people have been queuing for an HOUR to get in! Will I even get a seat?! ….crap I haven’t even got a pound on me to put in the bucket, will I even be allowed in?!

2. DISCOMFORT: somewhere in the world there must exist ‘uncomfortable chair shop’ where all schools are legally required to shop. Thanks for highlighting how specially challenged my arse is

3. EXCITEMENT: it doesn’t get much more xmassy than this. It’s CHRISTMAS!! CHRISTMAS!! Woohoo!!

4. REFLECTION: I can’t believe this is real. I’m a mum watching a school show. How in the name of baby Jesus did that ever happen?!

5. STRESS: ok here they come, oh no he can’t see us. We are literally sitting in his blind spot, couldn’t have got a worse seat! Now he’ll think we’re not here, oh no this is terrible

6. JOY: ok he’s moving onto stage. There it is, he’s clocked us. Oh look at him, our little Shepard!!… Hmmm, yep he’s kind of just looking at his doing lots of mini fist pumps and shouting ‘yes!’…that’s our boy!

7. TEARFULNESS: why is this making me cry?! Is it the small children attempting to walk like sheep? Or is it how chuffed his little face is to be showing off his song. Whatever it is I’m literally bawling

8. TERROR: ok some of these kids are actually massive. Like double the size of Phoenix. And some of them are kind of doing narration reading. Who are these giant intello-kids?!

9. SADNESS: one day all this will stop, it will be over before I’m able to take it all in…

10. RELIEF: indy. We still have indy to go. It’s like having one in the back pocket for later when all the fun is running out. #Phew.

11. ANNOYANCE: I’m not sure if this is a story about mary&joseph or Bill gates & Steve jobbs, seriously people PUT DOWN the devices….Especially if you’re using iPads to take photos because you actually look like a plonker

12. PRIDE: ahhhhhh there’s my Shepard cuddle. What a star. Love love love