Archive of ‘Family Life’ category

Stress free Cleaning Tips for Busy Mums

When you work and have children, cleaning can seem to be a never ending job that is impossible to get on top off. The first thing is to realise is that your house is not going to look spotless while the children are awake. In fact, it probably won’t look spotless when they are in bed. However, by being organised, you can feel as though the housework is manageable.  So here are my stress free cleaning tips for busy mums.

Tidying and Cleaning in the Evening

Anyone with children will know that there isn’t much point trying to tidy while they are playing because as soon as you put a toy away, they will be at the other end of the room getting more out. It is frustrating and exhausting. So, I wouldn’t even bother tidying toys while they are still playing. Even the ones that they’re not using because you know that as soon as you put a discarded toy away, they will suddenly want it. (more…)

Taking a step back and breathing

I haven’t written a blog post for a few weeks and for the first time, my excuse is not that I have been too busy.

For the last 6 weeks, I have reduced my employed days to just once a fortnight.  Yes, I know that’s hardly anything and just typing that makes me feel lazy.  So what have I been doing instead? (more…)

Failing and succeeding as a work-at-home mum

For the last four years, I’ve been mixing being employed and self-employed while having children at home. It has been crazy at time. No, let me correct that. It’s been crazy most of the time.

But, Monday marked a major change.   Firstly, Nathaniel started school full-time.  Secondly, Alex has started his 15 hours free childcare.  Plus, I’ve reduced my employed hours drastically – to 1 day a fortnight – so I am categorising myself as a work-at-home mum.

Which all meant that this week was the first time that I can remember when I had no children at home and could focus on work for a full five hours.  I admit that I had been looking forward to that day for a few months, so I was quite excited for a day of peace, quiet and productivity. (more…)

A Poem to my Son for Starting School

Nathaniel school

I still can’t believe that Nathaniel started school this week.  It had been a bit stressful after several meltdowns when the word ‘school’ was mentioned, but Nathaniel has now been at school for 3 days and, although he’s not thrilled about going, he seems to have come around to the idea.

For me, education is far more than levels and grades.  It is about growing and developing as a person.  Learning is more than subject knowledge.

Here is my poem to my son, for starting school, to express this: (more…)

September’s New Start

new startI can almost touch the finishing line, or should I say the starting line?

Since I resigned from my teaching job, I have been getting increasingly excited about September and the new start that it offers.

I will be able to take Hannah and Nathaniel to school each day, as well as attending nativity plays and sports days.

I will be able to spend quality time with just Alex.  I’m really looking forward to being able to join some new groups with him and visit new places, although it is going to be strange to just have one child with me.

As for work – I do still need to work to bring in the pennies – I have lots of ideas but am not sure which ones will make it to the short list.  So far, the long list consists of: (more…)

Nathaniel’s home birth story

Yesterday was Nathaniel’s 4th birthday and I still can’t believe how quickly those years have gone by.  Birthdays make me think back to their birthing days, so here is Nathaniel’s home birth story.


From Sunday 8th May, I was feeling poorly. Headaches, shivering, sore throat and generally not quite right. But I had another week and a half at work, so decided that it was just late pregnancy aches and pains and tried to keep going. Have to say that I was in bed by 5pm on the Monday though as felt that I had flu.


Two years ago, my world fell apart

Two years ago, my world fell apart.  (At least that’s what I thought at the time.)  I’ve never written it down and not even all of my friends know everything, but here it is.

On Saturday the 4th of May 2013, I went to teach my Daisy Birthing classes as usual on a Saturday afternoon.  Everything had been the same as normal in the morning.  I was 33 weeks pregnant and looking forward to the birth of my sixth baby to complete our family, my children were happy and we had eaten lunch together.

Turning my phone back onto volume on the way home from teaching, I had many missed calls and answering machine messages.  Listening to the messages from Kaiya, who was 13 years old, made my heart stop.   (more…)

Why I’m leaving teaching

why i'm leaving teachingSince primary school, all I wanted was to be a teacher.  I wanted to be the person that inspired children not just to read but to enjoy reading; the teacher who taught with a passion for her subject and commitment for her students.

For the last ten years, I have taught English to hundreds of secondary school children and I have loved having those moments when a child grasps a new concept or writes a creative piece they didn’t feel they were capable of.


How I survived a six year old’s birthday party

glitter tattoos 3After a couple of weeks panicking about Hannah’s upcoming 6th birthday party, I am glad to say that I have survived it.  In fact, it was relatively easy.

Two days after posting The Panic of Organising a Child’s Birthday Party, I spent an hour on the phone to various companies asking for some help with a girls’ birthday party.  I found that they fell into two camps – ones who were fully booked and ones who were ridiculously priced.  Fortunately, I found Fantasy Castles who had free spaces and reasonably, so I booked them and instantly felt a bit better about it all. (more…)

How embarrassing can a three year old be?


Hannah and Nathaniel love going to Church and I enjoy being able to take them and focus on God while they play happily.  Unfortunately, this Sunday things weren’t as relaxed as they might have been.

As I’ve said before in my post on Church in Telford, there is a big blue mat for the younger children to play on while the service takes place.  So far, this has worked well and I’ve sat next to the mat to keep an eye on Nathaniel and Alex while listening to the service.  However, this week Nathaniel had other ideas during the sermon. (more…)

When to start school?

There has been lots of debates this week in the news and on social media about the delaying the start of school for summer-born or premature children.  I have read them with interest as a teacher and a parent and these are my view on when to start school.

The first thing that stuck out for me is how many parents didn’t seem to be aware that they could delay their child starting school.  Legally, a child doesn’t have to start until the September after they are five years old, however, it is generally accepted that children start school the September after their fourth birthday.  In fact, parents are actively encouraged to apply for a school place for their four year old by receiving application forms through the post with deadlines to apply by. (more…)

The panic of organising a child’s birthday party

Hannah is going to turn six in less than two weeks, although she has been counting down the months, weeks and days since Christmas as she knew that her birthday was the first one in our family after Christmas.  But despite Hannah telling me for two months that it is her birthday soon, I seem to have found that time has crept up on me and I have done nothing about it. (more…)

Making tough choices as a parent

As a parent you make choices every day about your children.  What they should wear.  What they will eat for dinner.  When they will go to bed.  Whether they can go for a sleepover or not.  And so it goes on.  A day doesn’t pass when I don’t make decisions for my children.

But sometimes, as a parent, you have to make very tough choices.  Not the every day decisions but life-changing decisions.

Last year, I was faced with having to make this type of decision that would impact not only on my life, but also the lives of my six children.  And, as a single parent, I had to make the decision by myself.  It was a huge responsibility to make the right choice. (more…)

How to achieve goals as a busy working mum

Like many in January, I started to think about what I wanted to achieve by the end of the year.  As usual, for me, I have a long list which is fine in theory but managing it all can seem a little overwhelming due to the lack of time at the end of each day, especially when I have five children at home.

So, this year I’m going to try and more organised and focused approach to achieve goals that I set in January.

First, I have written down my goals that I want to achieve by the end of 2015.  By writing them down rather than just having a few ideas in my head, I can keep looking at it and keep focused.   (more…)

What my children get up to when I’m on the toilet

So, this morning, like most mornings, I needed to use the toilet – it’s ok, this post isn’t about my toilet activities so you’re safe to continue reading!

Now I knew I would be there longer than a minute so, as usual, I scanned the lounge and playroom to see what my three small ones were up to.  There they were – all busy in the playroom playing with various toys and completely oblivious to me.

Great – a few minutes of peace, I thought.  So I quietly crept across the lounge, opened and closed the stairgate with as least noise as possible and nipped to the little room. (more…)

Tired Mum Ramblings

Sitting on the sofa at 1:38am with a baby in my arms, who doesn’t want to go to sleep, I am struggling to keep my eyes open.  I can usually manage with getting up during the night but I haven’t been able to go to sleep yet as I was marking year 9 books until late and since 11:30pm, two of my children have been awake.

And it is times like this, in the early hours of the morning, when there is nobody to talk to and you are exhausted that you start worrying about how you will make it through the next day.  And the next night (if it’s like this one) and so on, with the knowledge that there are no lie-ins or weekends to catch up on some sleep. (more…)

Sleeping through the night

In those early months, after answering the questions on age, weight and name, mums often get asked, “Is your baby sleeping well?”

Then, there’s the conversation with other mums comparing how many hours your baby is sleeping with theirs.

And, as a result, mums often start to feel that your baby should be sleeping through.  I know because I have been there and I have seen mums in tears because their baby is not ‘being good’ by doing what the other babies are doing – sleeping 7pm to 7am. (more…)

Dancing Mum

As much as I love my kids, I need some time for me.  I need something that isn’t playing with cars, making jigsaws, cooking, cleaning, marking or planning.

I have always enjoyed dancing – it feels great to get moving and forget about everything else – but I hadn’t danced for 20 years so was feeling very rusty.  My body is definitely not the same as it was then.  But, as my mum is a Ballroom and Latin dance teacher, I decided to have a go in one of her classes and see if I could remember how to move my feet and legs to look as though I was dancing. (more…)

Newly Divorced

On my facebook wall this weekend, popped up ’17 Things Only a Divorced Mom Knows’ and ’36 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Divorce’.

Having just had my decree absolute through (today!), I thought I would give them some time and read both. I soon discovered that I don’t it into the ‘typical divorced mum’ category – if there even is one – although a few points hit home.

So, here are the top 10 against my personal story of divorce: (more…)

Becoming a single mum


I am a single mum with six children.

I know what certain media stereotypes that statement will create.

I hope that I can dispel them with this blog as well as having my own little outlet for the challenges and achievements of being a mum.

But first, an introductory blog.

I never wanted to be a single mum.  I don’t  know of any single mums that did set out with that intention (despite Daily Mail stories).  But I did always want to be a mum.

I met my husband when I was 17, we married when I was 18 – sounds crazy now that I think about it – and we had our first child (Michael) six months later.

We were both working and bought our first house when I was 19.  Those were the days when you could buy a house for less than £30,000.  In fact, we bought a 3 bedroom semi-detached for £27,000!  Makes me feel quite old when I think about it.

Natasha was born when I was 21, then Kaiya two years later.

It was when Kaiya was born that I decided to become a secondary school teacher, so I spent the next 5 years studying for my degree and then started my new career.  I loved it.  Life was great.  Three growing fabulous children, a great job and secure income.

But when I hit 32, I decided that I wanted another child, resulting in Hannah and then a little brother, Nathaniel two years later.

At this point, I was still teaching but also running my own Birthing and Baby business.  It was crazily busy with five children and life was up and down, but isn’t it for everyone?

Things had settled into a good pattern and a positive life/work balance when I found out that I was expecting another baby.  It was a huge surprise.  But, while one more would be more work, it wouldn’t be impossible.  The little surprise also made me re-evaluate life and I realised that I would like to be at home more especially as this would be my last baby.  So, after looking at our finances, we decided that I would cut down on work once the baby was born.

Plans don’t always go to plan though.

I don’t want to go into great detail about our split – it is far too complicated and would take you too long to read it all – so I will give a very brief outline.

In May 2013, while I was seven months pregnant, my husband got very drunk (to the point of being hospitalised) while I was working and he was looking after some of our children.  He also hit one of our daughters.  As a result, police and social services were involved in my life.  And over the following weeks, despite my husband no longer living with us, things got worse rather than better with his drinking and subsequent actions.  It was very clear that the separation was to be permanent for mine and my children’s sake.

There was no soul-searching decision to make.  After being together for 20 years, it was over.


Three weeks after my husband left and three weeks before his due date, I gave birth to Alexander – my beautiful sixth baby. Not without a bit of drama as my waters broke while the kitchen fitters were still putting in my kitchen. Dust and mess everywhere.  Fortunately, my children mucked in and we got the place cleaned before Alexander arrived.

Due to the circumstances, my husband didn’t attend the birth.  But my Mum drove 190 miles to be my birth partner.  I can’t thank her enough.  I had to stay in hospital overnight so don’t know what I would have done without her.

My Mum stayed for the first five days of Alexander’s life and it was such a special time.  It was great having her doing the washing – my least favourite job – although I had to do the cooking as that is her least favourite job.

I am not sure how I managed when she left.  I was a single mum to six children with no family around.  All I know is that I did survive.  But those early weeks are such a blur.

When Alexander was 8 weeks old, I decided it would be a good idea to spend a few days as a family in a yurt in the middle of nowhere.  Due to the constant stresses and dramas that my husband was still putting us all through, it seemed very attractive to be somewhere isolated with no phone signal or internet.  There was also no toilet or shower.  It was literally a yurt in the middle of some woods.  But it was a great break and just what we needed.


I went back to the self-employed work when Alexander was 3 months old.  I would have liked longer off but my husband had by now lost his job due to his regular court appearances for being drunk, so the only income that I had was my SMP of £136 a week plus tax credits and child benefit and that simply wasn’t going to pay the mortgage or bills.

Fast forward to today (October 2014)….

Alexander is now 16 months old, I have been a single mum for 17 months and in that time, we have had two family holidays, got a new pet, decorated one room, celebrated Christmas and a few birthdays, moved 200 miles to start a new life and I’ve got a new job.

My husband doesn’t see the children and I had to get a court injunction to ensure mine and my children’s safety.

It has not been an easy ride but there are many positives too.  But I think I will leave that for another blog.

I never saw myself being a single mum of six children and I certainly never wanted it.  But that is my life today and I am happy.


Single Parent Pessimist