Looking after #1

I have been hugely inspired by Anna Mathur recently (@annamathur, go follow her!) She has written a couple of books: Mind Over Mother, which I’ve read, and Know Your Worth, which I’ve not read but I’m looking forward to reading.

How have I been inspired by her? By her radical, trail-blaizing, world-changing concept of… Looking after yourself. Particularly as a mum. Paying attention to your needs and how those needs are/aren’t being met. How does this look? For me, it’s looked like booking the eye test I got a reminder for instead of putting it off because it meant being away from the girls for all of half an hour. It looked like admitting to my mum that I was feeling overwhelmed and explicitly asking her to take a huge load of washing to a launderette so it could be cleaned and dried that day. At the moment, it’s looking like doing #onetinything (a hashtag started by Mathur), choosing a tiny way to show yourself care every day for a week then adding a new way every week (importantly you don’t stop doing the first thing!) For me this week, it’s setting myself 30 minute limits on my social media apps and NOT overriding them… I also love writing and find it so energising to have a creative output so I’m hopefully going to squeeze in more writing.

All this is done with the expectation that I will then have more energy and more resources to give out to my family, of course. But it’s also done because I deserve to not be scraping from the bottom of the barrel. I deserve help, I deserve to enjoy being a mum. And so do you! You deserve having your needs met because you are worthy of love and care JUST AS MUCH AS YOUR KIDS ARE.

The end. How are you going to look after yourself this week?

Choosing to stay at home

In my late teens or early twenties, my mum told me that she could really see me as a stay-at-home mum. For some reason, I found this incredibly insulting and said “don’t you want more for me than that?!” I’m not sure what the “more” I was referring to was and I do not fail to see the irony that now I’m a stay-at-home mum to three glorious children who I grew myself in my own body and who are, and probably will always be, my greatest achievements.
I’ve been thinking about this in between putting a wash on, hanging a wash up, putting another wash on, then settling a baby. Past me may look at present me and wonder where I’ve gone, where my dreams have gone in the laundry pile which is never ending and the changing and feeding two small babies; where my biggest adventure is when my toddler tries to escape the play park. But it is in this chaos, in this simple ordinariness, that I think I’ve found myself. Of course I still have dreams, most of which I’ve now realised will never actually happen. But I’m ok with that, and, hey, I might still get to write that novel. I might still get to be in that Broadway show and I still might be a popstar and go on tour with Britney Spears, who knows? But this place God has brought me to, with all its noise and mess, is a place where I find joy and meaning in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always love being a stay-at-home mum. Sometimes the endless vomit and toddler emotional rollercoasters are draining, and housework will never be my friend. Once the kids are in school and my husband is a vicar, I may want to look at doing something else. Or not. Right now I can’t think of a job I’d want to do more than staying at home with the kids. Not even a job in an international charity, which was the dream when I was at university. But that’s an insane privilege to have and it might not always be that way.
Where am I going with this? It’s ok to be content with where you are. It’s ideal, actually. Life has seasons and the season you’re in may not be the most productive or fruitful (but if you’re raising kids, what could be more fruitful than that?) Life is surprising and the next season may be one of great activity and output. Just try resting in the season you’re in.

Eleventy billion muslins are never enough


I started this blog post because I thought “I really should be writing about this time”. I should be writing about the loneliness and sadness I felt when Sam went to sleep in the spare room last night and I went to sleep in ours. I should be writing about hearing the sounds of Caleb’s laughter and shrieks and being able to picture his face when he makes them. I should be writing about the pride and gratitude I feel when I hear Sam reading, singing and speaking to Caleb. I should write about how I miss having Caleb sat on my lap with his long bare limbs, requesting the same book again and again. I should be writing about the fear that grips me when I’m trying to fall asleep, of Caleb becoming ill, of me not being able to breathe and having to be taken to hospital, leaving my loves at home.

Since I don’t quite have the energy at the moment, that’s all I feel like I can manage but I wanted to capture this moment and remember these feelings so that when I can return to life as normal within these walls (only a couple of days away), I can fully appreciate the gifts of my life.

There are so many things I am grateful for and so many people who have astounded me with their kindness and generosity, some of whom we haven’t even known for a year yet. God is showing me glimpses of His Kingdom that I haven’t yet seen and I know that there is so much more to come.

Rainy day activity

I will stress, I did not come up with this activity, but I can’t remember where I got it from!

I’ve found this a great activity which kept Caleb engaged for about twenty minutes. All it took was to poke a pen through a shoebox/cardboard box to make holes. I then demonstrated to Caleb how to put pieces of penne pasta (say that 5 times quickly) through the holes.

Such a simple activity but he really enjoyed it! Plus once he was bored with that, he used the box as a toy. Endless fun!

All change

A passing comment I made on Facebook has sparked a thought in me and it’s to do with being postpartum (after having a baby) in particular but change in general.

It is inevitable and inescapable that you change profoundly once you have a child. The change probably begins from the moment you decide to start trying to become pregnant. With every cycle that passes, every period that comes when you were sure this month was the month. With the positive pregnancy test and then, I’m sure, again when the pregnancy heartbreakingly does not last. With each month as symptoms come and go and change and you grow and grow and grow. Then the life-shattering, awe-inspiring, defining hours/days spent giving birth. Then there are the first few weeks of having a baby. Those weeks changed me personally and irrevocably. They brought me to the lowest pit, made me question who I was, what I wanted, what we were doing. I will forever look back on those weeks as the breaking, remoulding and making of me. Then with each month as baby grows and they need you less but more in different ways and they smile and they move and they stand and they’re off. Then when you actually have to parent instead of just keep them alive. That’s all I have right now because that’s where I feel I am.

Of course every experience in your life is going to change you. For good or for bad. This experience in lockdown is irreversibly going to change us and our world. In what ways is up to us but there is no escaping it.

Change can be hard, especially when it comes when we don’t expect it. Even when we do expect it, it doesn’t always look how we thought it would.

But I am glad to be changing. I feel that, especially since becoming a mother and the few years it took to get to that, I am becoming me more. I am turning into who I actually am. The experience of becoming a mother has stripped me back to my barest, simplest, actual self. I do not feel some of the pressures I used to feel. I no longer seek to please people as much as I used to. I’m sure you can think of an experience in your life that brought you to a similar place. Maybe this time is it! Maybe you don’t think you’ve had it yet.

Let’s not be afraid of change. Let’s embrace it, let’s seek it, let’s pray for it. Let’s ask God to make us more like He intended us to be, more like Jesus. Let’s strip off all the expectations, all the pressures, all the insecurities and find who’s underneath. I’m looking forward to meeting whoever they are. 

New Decade’s Eve

I’m sure, like mine, your newsfeed is full of the decade challenge, photos from the beginning and end of the decade.

What’s your decade been like?

Mine has been, and probably will be, the most eventful of my life. The 2010s were the decade I fell in love with Sam, finished university, got married, became a mum and moved to Bristol for Sam to start his training to be a vicar. It was also the decade I was unemployed for several seasons, was made redundant, struggled to fall pregnant, struggled with anxiety and was diagnosed with postnatal depression. The most wonderful times (like becoming a mum, fulfilling a life long dream) were also some of the most difficult.

My faith has gone on a journey of its own, from the highs at university to several years in the “wilderness”, which, if I’m honest, I’m not totally out of.

I’ve gained some amazing, lifelong friends and drifted from friends I was really close to.

I’ve lost my grandmum and grandad but gained a father in law, sister in law, brother in law and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. And a husband and son!

The next decade will also encompass a lot of change with college, a curacy and a vicar job! We will move again, at least once, and we have no idea where that will be. We hope to expand our family more, but we don’t know if that’s in God’s plan.

We also face the frightening reality of the effects of climate change affecting more and more people, as it has already begun to with the most vulnerable.

I have many hopes and quite a few fears about the coming decade. I’m sure you do too. In the last few hours of this one, why don’t you have a think of what they are? Dream about your hopes and face your fears.

I am grateful that I have faith in the God of the universe who loves me with an unending love and has all the days of my life in His hands. May I encourage you that He loves you as well and you can trust Him with your future. If your life just feels really dark right now, He is the light of the world and even darkness is light to Him.

As we enter this new decade, I hope it brings health, happiness, laughter, fun and joy for you. In the times of sadness and darkness (and they will come), I pray for hope, comfort and community. May you love deeper, play more, read more, wonder more, walk more and dream more.

These are my hopes and I have them for you too.

New Year Challenges

A couple of New Years ago, I set myself the challenge of reading 50 books that year. I prefer the idea of New Year Challenges to Resolutions as with resolutions you resolve to do something; with a challenge, you’re attempting something. Maybe I like the idea of a get out clause 🤷🏻‍♀️.

My main challenge for 2020 is to not buy any new clothes. Many, many people have done this challenge and, whilst I don’t buy that many clothes, I really want to get off the consumerism treadmill and make the most of what I already have. The most sustainable clothes are, after all, the ones you already own. So that’s the challenge I’ve set myself. I’m going to try to include charity shop shopping in that (my new favourite hobby), for at least the first six months, hopefully the whole year! This is going to mean taking out all my clothes, seeing what I have, trying new combinations and hopefully giving away some that I don’t ever wear. I’m hoping to have some fun with it and will probably make some fashion faux pas but I’m ok with that.

In the light of the recent election, there are also some other changes I am hoping to make in the new year. The result, which I found shocking and saddening, made me realise two things:

  1. My social media feeds (and, arguably, most of my relationships) are echo chambers. Looking at my feeds, it seemed that the whole country was voting Labour or voting tactically to get the Conservatives out. So then, when the Tories achieved their biggest election win for 30 years, I was shocked with the result.
  2. Sometimes, we have to do the work. As the director of Time for God, Dave Magill, articulated so beautifully on Facebook, “Unhappy with the #electionresults2019? Feed the hungry, protect the poor, include the excluded and defend the oppressed until the government of the day does. Do things you voted for a government to do until you don’t have to do those things anymore.”

But what do I do with this? There are a few things I’ve been thinking about, but I’d love to hear any suggestions any of you reading might have.

  • Get to know and follow people with different opinions and beliefs to me. I might not like or agree with what they say but it would open up my mind and, hopefully, heart, to people different to me
  • Use my time to help the vulnerable. I’m not working whilst we’re in Bristol and from January Caleb will be in nursery two mornings a week. So I will have some glorious child-free time to: do chores, hang out with people and volunteer. Hopefully I won’t spend the whole time vegging in front of the TV eating my weight in giant chocolate buttons, but I’m going to allow a bit of that as well. This side of the new year, I’m going to research places I can help, like food banks or with charities like Home Start. I have the luxury of time so I want to use it well on the behalf of others.

What are you feeling about the election result? What are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your ideas, your convictions, your worries and your encouragements. I’ve realised my immense privilege that, even though the result upset me, it is not BAD news for me. I am not living in poverty, I do not require care, I am not an immigrant struggling to fit in to my new country. There are people for whom it was BAD news and, as we are a global community, I believe in using my privilege to speak up for and support them. What a challenge, but we must.

Our attempts at sustainable living

The term “sustainable living” is a bit vague and nondescript so I want to clarify that I mean “how we create less waste”.

I’ve been challenged by some things I’ve read on some eco-living blogs and Instagram accounts recently that argue that the zero waste movement is privileged and detracts from more important things. I would agree that it can be more expensive to choose the less-waste option and it is not accessible to everyone. However, I think that it’s important for those of us who can afford to create less waste to do so because we, as humanity, are a team so we should do what we can do, especially if there are others who can’t do that things. On the other hand, I would also agree that it can detract from more important things. Whilst creating less waste is hugely important, fighting injustice and standing up for the oppressed are more important. One thing I read said that if you only have time to either wash up the peanut butter jar so it can go in the recycling or sign a petition (firstly, maybe think about how you’re spending your time 😂), then sign the petition. Putting less things in landfill hugely helps our world, but you could do more good by using your voice to fight for those who have none.

That said, here are some of the things that we have been using to help us create less waste. I will link to a few websites so I should clarify that none of them are #ads or affiliate links so I’m not getting any moola from them!

Reusable nappies

Nearly 8 million nappies are thrown out a day in the UK and those lovely, stinky nappies will be sitting in landfill until the world is run by robots because most of them don’t biodegrade.

So when Caleb was about ten months old, we started to put him in reusable nappies. I will say right at the start that we do not do this full time, I would say we are part time reusable. He will end up in disposables if: all the nappies are in the wash/drying, we forgot to bring a reusable out with us or if life is overwhelming and the extra load of washing nappies is too much.

The reusable nappies we use most often are the Bambino Miosolos. They are one of the cheaper options because they are made from microfiber. I love the designs on them, they are really easy to use and they dry quickly once washed. Now that Caleb is older we pop in a booster as he is weeing more and we were getting occasional leaks. As long as the nappy is boosted and we remember to change it every couple of hours, we’re good. As they are microfiber, they are technically plastic so, like all clothes with polyester etc in, release plastic microfibers into the water system when washed. So if you’re aiming for plastic-free, they probably wouldn’t be your choice. I decided that, as you can’t fight every battle, the ease and enjoyment we get from using them means we actually use them so they’re a winner for us.

We also use Little Lambs two-piece nappies which are really absorbent but take forever to dry because of that.

If you’re considering making the switch to reusable nappies, either part time or full time, I would really recommend it. Once you get into the routine, it’s really not much more work. Plus some of them are so pretty!!

Before you take the leap, I would suggest trying some from a nappy library or maybe buying a few different brands/types before splashing out on lots. Then you can find which works for you.

Reusable sanitary products

One for the ladies! I couldn’t really get behind a moon cup, but I know some people really get on with them.

I use these cloth sanitary pads from Cheeky Wipes. They come in some gorgeous patterns and are really comfortable. You do have to be happy to wash them out which isn’t great if you’re squeamish, but I got used to it very quickly. They are quite pricey so I don’t have enough for a full period so do end up in disposables towards the end. However, I’m hoping to buy more with Christmas gift money, because I know how to treat myself!

Reusable wipes

We use the cotton Cheeky Wipes for Caleb’s bum and the microfiber ones for face and hands. Mainly got the different colours so we would know which was which when they were in the wash!

We get on well with them but I need to remember to wash and prepare them more often as I can forget and we end up using disposables. We also use disposables when out and about but I am trying to use reusables out more often.

Shampoo and body wash bars

I use Conchus bars, this one on my hair and this on my body. We also use this on Caleb which leaves his skin lovely and soft.

I did try Lush beforehand but I didn’t like the way they made my hair feel.

Conchus bars smell amazing, are reasonably priced and a small business. I would recommend using the hair rinse they recommend, either the one they sell or the recipe they provide, especially if you live in a hard water area. This prevents the yucky waxy feeling you can get with the bars.

This swap has been one of my favourites to make, one of the easiest and one where I can see the waste we’re saving. Try it, even if you try nothing else.

Other things

Since we are very blessed in Bristol with charity shops, we have been buying clothes for us and Caleb secondhand which is saving us money and also the planet! This Christmas we have also tried to source all presents secondhand, which has been pretty successful.

We are with Bulb for our gas and electricity because it’s 100% renewable and I’ve found their customer service brilliant and everything really easy to use. They’re also the cheapest tariff for us.

Meal plans! Since moving to Bristol and being on quite a limited budget, we have been writing a meal plan each week which is helping us create less food waste. However, Caleb is still just chucking a load of his food on the floor so he’s not really helping…

Bulk buying. I haven’t made it to a zero waste store yet but we buy bulk when we can, like huge 3kg bags of pasta and big washing up liquid bottles. I am going to try zero waste options, it’s just tricky to remember containers and find convenient times to go.


Well done for making it to the end of this essay! I hope you’ve found some tips that are useful, or inspiration for what you can do. If we all just do what we can, when we can, then we can each help to add less waste to landfill and protect our precious planet.

Hello again…

I haven’t written on here in a very long time! I’ve missed writing but have not been in the right headspace and also not had much opportunity (or not made use of opportunities).

However, recently I was at an event when someone talked about their blog and it sparked something in me, “oh yes, I used to do that!”

So I’m keen to restart it again. Life is pretty different to when I last wrote 10 months ago! We now have a gorgeous toddler, we’re living in Bristol as Sam trains to be a vicar and we’ve implemented things to help us live more sustainably.

We’re finally in the place, doing the thing we’ve felt for a long while we were meant to do. But, as this is real life, it hasn’t been without its challenges. I was diagnosed with postnatal depression about a month ago and put on antidepressants which have really helped me. We’re still not getting much sleep and recently Caleb has been waking up hourly, so we’re tired! That plus each of us having a number of illnesses has made our start in Bristol quite tricky and stressful, but now we are feeling much more settled.

What on Earth am I going to write about as a stay at home mum in Bristol? To be honest, probably nothing you’ve not read before, but I’ll touch on parenting, vicar school, trying to live sustainably (and failing frequently) and life as a follower of Jesus.

I’ve always had such lovely feedback from readers so I really hope you can find something for you here.

I’m looking forward to it!

Dear New Mum

I know there are millions of lists very similar to this one floating around the interweb. This is just my contribution to the noise, it may not say anything different but it’s been my experience. I hope it can speak to at least one person.

Dear New Mum

Congratulations! You’ve done it! You’ve achieved the seemingly impossible by getting that thing that was inside you out. Now, you’re sore, you’re more tired than you’ve ever been and now you are responsible for a tiny human when you could really do with a 2 week holiday. Here are a few things I’d like to tell you:

  • Just in case no one has ever told you, being a parent is freaking HARD. So don’t give yourself grief if you’re finding it difficult.
  • A lot of the challenges you’re facing now are because your baby is tiny. Try not to wish this time away because your baby will never be this small again (I wish I’d soaked it up just a little more)
  • Sleep deprivation makes everything 100 times harder, try to sleep as much as you can, even if visitors come over. Leave the dishes and leave them with the baby!
  • Get your girl gang. Other mums are your lifeline so try to make some mummy friends! NCT, baby classes, bumps and babies groups; you will need other people who “get” it. Plus you need other people to tell your baby poo explosions stories to who won’t just think you’re really gross.
  • Breastfeeding can be really difficult. It took me about ten weeks to get to the stage where I was comfortable and not stressed. Get as much support as you can and persevere! But also don’t listen to the haters if they judge you for switching to bottle. Getting your baby FED is the most important thing.
  • If someone offers help in any way, swallow your pride and take it! Especially if it involves cleaning your kitchen (shout out to my wonderful friend Lucy who did this for me!)
  • Don’t take anything you read online as gospel, apart from the actual gospel. Where one article says something is good and even essential for your baby, another will say it is hugely damaging and must NEVER EVER be done. It’s taking me a long time to learn to go with my gut and what works for us instead of what the internet says.
  • On that, you will find yourself googling the most bizarre things, sometimes in the middle of the night. Again, don’t always believe what the internet says as sometimes it’s just scary! And stay away from the forums (in my opinion, but if you find them helpful, great!)
  • You may end up doing things you said you wouldn’t do before you had the baby and not going things you said you will do. Give yourself grace and forgive yourself, you have no idea what it’s like until you actually have a baby. On this, you may have decided to do/not to do something and other people will be trying to persuade you not to do it/to do it. Stick to your guns, this is your baby!
  • This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.
  • You are a superwoman, you have grown and birthed a tiny human, you are a walking/waddling miracle-maker. Eat the damn cake.

Enjoy your baby, they really are the most beautiful thing in the world, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Any other new mums, what would you add to this?