Road Trip to the National Space Centre


Charlotte and I had a well deserved day out yesterday.

We had nothing planned for the weekend and, because Charlotte’s theme at school is Space and because we’ve watched, what seems like 101 experiments with Tim Peake and Chris Hadfield on YouTube over the past couple of weeks, I’d decided we’d have an educational jaunt to the National Space Centre which is, handily, less than an hour away from us. Despite this, I’m pretty sure the last time I went was when I was doing ‘Space’ in school and we got to go on a field trip so it’s been a while!

To be honest it was surprising we actually made it there at all. I’d threatened to not go so many times during the multiple tantrums this week. If she didn’t get her shoes on, if she didn’t stop pulling the dogs collar or if she didn’t stop singing ‘oh my gosh, look at her butt’ on the walk home from school over and over again.  

Because of this, and the hilarious notion that I might, one day follow through with my threats, I didn’t book online. 


Tip No 1. Book online. 

The tickets are no cheaper granted, but the queues are definitely smaller!

At £14 for an adult and £11 for children 5-16 (under 5s go free) it’s cheaper than a theme park and way more interesting with loads to do and see. I thought it was good value anyway but you can also turn your day pass into an annual pass for £0 extra! Bargain! 

Tip no 2: Check the website to see what’s on before you go.

The centre have lots of special events on over weekends and holidays which is great but if you add the word ‘Lego’ to any event I think you are guaranteed to triple your normal visitor rate which is what had happened this weekend. 

There were a few interactive bits within the Lego area but there were also lots of amazing, intricate models with signs saying ‘Do Not Touch’ which is just calling out for a toddler to grab half of a Death Star or something don’t you think? 

The centre also have evening talks and film nights I found out whilst standing in the queue for tickets. I’m quite excited by the idea of Starship Troopers in the planetarium. The most cheesy space film ever and a very guilty pleasure of mine and my brother’s. 

Tip no 3: Take your own lunch if going at peak times.

Unfortunately, due to the Lego invasion, the small cafe was having trouble keeping up and sandwiches were being made in the back no quicker than they were disappearing off the shelves. However, after the queuing we asked whether they did any gluten free options (I did have some snacks just in case) and we were told they could make it fresh and we could have any of the non-gluten fillings. One fresh ham sandwich scoffed so quickly I had to ask what bread they used as Charlotte never eats sandwiches! 

So, after our first trip and after my mind was completely blown learning about just how many stars are in the Milky Way (approximately 200 billion) and just how ridiculously huge the known universe is in the amazing planetarium, we came home knackered but very happy and we will definitely be back soon. 

Ps. The National Space Centre has not paid me to review our day, we just had a good time! 

 

Dropping the F-bomb.

I’m holding my hands up…I’m a sweary mum. I TRY my hardest to keep it clean whilst Charlotte is around but if some knobhead (oops) cuts me up in traffic I am likely to call him (or her) out on it at high volume and it comes out of my mouth before I remember to censor it for my 5 year old’s ears.

My attention was brought to my effusive language after catching Charlotte dropping some form of F bomb whilst walking away from me not once, but twice this week. My heart sank. I’m a failure as a mum. 

“What a silly, naughty man” is sooo much less cathartic than “What a fucking dick” though, don’t you think? 

I hardly ever remember my parents swearing when I was younger. We would get reprimanded if we said ‘crap’ which seems to be a pre-watershed word nowadays. Bugger was ok, just. Bother was preferred. When pushed during my teen years my mother may have uttered the f word but sort of muted herself when she said it. Much like when your nanna has to say ‘lesbian’. 

I obviously did not inherit this restraint.

Nope, I’m the mum who swears and then wishes she hadn’t because she isn’t quite sure if the mum she’s talking to is a kindred spirit or one of those mum’s who suddenly look like you’ve hurt their delicate ears when you call someone a wanker.

I’ve also come to realise I’m the colleague who swears. Open plan offices are not ideal for this. My job makes me say ‘for fucks sake’ approximately 100 times a day so keeping that internalised would surely be bad for my health! Luckily my team mates are well aware of my colourful language but I’m sure not everyone approves. 

I wish I was more mild mannered and I have tried, but it’s too hard to keep all the effing and jeffing in and filter it to a more child friendly/ work friendly chiding and so I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the end of the world. 

Telling someone ‘I fucking love you’ makes it seem all the more true and heartfelt (sniff), telling someone they have acted like a dick helps you get your point across more strongly and if Charlotte needs to try these words out at home then it’s not the end of the world. I would be a pretty massive hypocrite if I said she couldn’t use those words wouldn’t I?! 

It’s parents evening this week though so we’ll see if she’s been dropping them anywhere else as well. 😬

Picking up the pieces. 


When a boy broke my heart in college I remember my mum came and gave me big hugs whilst I cried myself to sleep.I was on summer holidays so I moped around feeling sorry for myself for a few days, talking to friends about what a knob he was and that there were plenty more fish and the sea and that he didn’t deserve me etc etc. 

15 years on and I’ve found it’s not exactly the same process.

I have to go to work each day and pretend to be fine. I have a daughter to look after, who I don’t want seeing me with tears running down my face or a sad face. I have a life to lead and luckily, in some ways, I have stuff to keep me busy so I don’t have time to dwell, but when the tears come it feels exactly the same. 

A boy has broken my heart. 

He hasn’t done it in the same way as any other. I don’t even think he meant to do it, but here I am sobbing with mascara down my face feeling like a 17 year old who still just wants a hug from her mum and for her to tell her everything will be ok. But really, being honest, deep down, I just want a hug from him telling me that everything will be ok. I even think he might need that type of hug too but we’re in a place where neither of us can communicate that to one another. 

New relationships, when you have to deal with real, grown up life around you, are much harder than the new relationships you have at 17. The worst you have to deal with is infidelity but what else should be expected from a hormonally challenged 19 year old boy I guess.  

When you’re 32 there’s baggage involved. There’s trust issues which you have waded through, there’s vulnerability issues but you let your guard down and there’s communication issues. There’s children who’d been introduced, there’s jobs to deal with, there’s family who were expecting to meet him, there’s friends you’d told everything about him, there’s history for both parties and it’s all bloody tricky to deal with. 

I understand this all, yet here I am with my heart broken at 32 and it feels absolutely no different to that heart break 15 years ago. 

Walking on the tight rope.

Walking the tight rope

Mental health is a bitch. It is a reactive, sensitive balancing act that, for some, seems like no problem at all and for others can be a precarious tight rope walk, just waiting to fall and hoping there is a net somewhere deep below. 

I was on that tight rope for a long time. I suffered with depression for many months, if not years and I suffered from post natal depression (PND) and anxiety with maybe a bit of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thrown in there after having my daughter. Every now and again I feel like I’m back on it, wobbling. Not very often thankfully but every now and again. Today is not one of those days but I can completely understand how someone feels up there. 

My blog name is theperfectjuggler, which, for the most part is a ‘tongue in cheek’ name but, sometimes that extra ball can be the difference between having good mental health and it all going down the pan very quickly. 

The government have, this week, said that they will be putting more funding into mental health care. Perfect timing as Monday 16 January is known as ‘Blue Monday’. The most depressing day of the year. 

They want to make workplaces more able to help and support those with mental health issues, they want schools to teach about how to maintain good mental health and for teachers to know how to be aware of children who may be developing mental health issues and how to deal with those who already have them. They are also upping the funding into mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers. All of which have been seriously lacking. I agree with this focus and hope that they actually see this initiative through. 

Ironically I have just had to tell the department I work for that I will no longer be able to lead their Wellbeing group as my own mental health was suffering. This one added responsibility which I was passionate about and enjoyed, was the ball I could no longer juggle, and before I dropped it I had to put it down voluntarily.

I know lots of people that are suffering with ‘bad’ mental health, 1 in 4 of us will suffer with a mental health issue in our life time and I just want to say, I get it. I get feeling so low that you want to hide. I get that you don’t want to talk about it. I get that sometimes, it seems like the best way for everyone would be if you weren’t around anymore. I get that you didn’t think you could cry anymore but you do and I get that some people don’t get it. 

I also get that it can get better by focusing on the good things in your life and removing some of the bad ones, by not letting yourself become insular and selfish, by helping yourself climb back up the ladder to the tightrope, even if it’s just one tiny step at a time. It can get better by seeking help, and support from professionals, from family and from friends. By developing resilience techniques like mindfulness, meditation and exercise, to use when you next have a wobble. And lastly to realise that you can’t necessarily change what happens to you but only you can change how you deal with it when it does. 

Things will get better, I promise, I’m proof that they do. 

The yin and yang of meal planning.

This morning I had the luxury of dropping Charlotte off at school and having a day free. This must be what those mums feel like!

Normally I run home, hop in the car and pelt it to work but I have another couple of days off so thought I would use them wisely by meal planning and doing a mindful big shop, rather than a ‘throw it all in, I probably, maybe need another pineapple for my compost heap anyway’ type way. 

Ok, so let’s get this straight, as I’ve said before I don’t start diets at New Years because life is too crazy for that, but, planning my meals may just make my life easier and anything that does that I need to give a go. So off I trotted, with my new ‘Lean in 15‘ cookbook I got for Christmas, a fresh shiny notebook and pen to…wait for it…McDonalds for a coffee and a cheeky breakfast whilst planning. 

My balanced breakfast.

Yes, I looked like the biggest hypocrite ever staring at Joe Wicks‘ beautiful, ripped body and all the lean meat and veg whilst scoffing a deep fried hash brown but I believe life is all about balance and this, was indeed the yin and yang of culinary goodness. 

And d’ya know what, I did it. I planned my main meals, bought most of the food from Aldi for a lot less that my usual food shop was and I even cooked my own healthy chicken tikka masala this evening. Made my own paste and everything and Charlotte bloody ate it! Yes, she picked out two bits of red onion that hadn’t been whizzed properly but my daughter ate a meal I cooked! Pigs are currently flying around my house! 

It didn’t come from the freezer, it had flavour and maybe even some vitamins and nutrients and the recipe was naturally gluten free so I didn’t have to work out what substitutes would work! That is a massive win in my book! 

If you haven’t seen the series of Lean in 15 books yet, I would thoroughly recommend them. Not only is Joe Wicks easy on the eye but the meals are delicious and usually take hardly any time to prep and cook. Perfect for busy parents and not as pretentious as Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. The portions are massive though which is ideal when cooking for one and a half like me. You can choose to ignore the exercise section at the back if you wish, but don’t tell him I told you that! 

Tomorrow night Smoky Joe burgers with sweet potato wedges…can’t go wrong there can I?!

What are your tried and tested recipes for getting good food in your children? Let me know in the comments! 

Sayonara 2016, welcome 2017.


Happy new year everyone. I hope you had a good one last night, whatever that may mean. 

Despite being childfree, I spent the evening at my best friends house and drank absolutely nothing. I got back home just as Big Ben chimed on the car radio so went inside, put my pyjamas on and went to bed.

But all of it was exactly how I wanted to ‘celebrate’ at that moment. This week, let alone this year, has been emotionally draining for so many reasons so being with my best mate and having an ‘early’ night was perfect for me this year. 

Way better than strappy high heels!

Like everyone else, 2016 has been pretty shitty.

Personally I’ve been in pain for 6 months or so with gallbladder trouble, I’ve been messed around by more men than I can count, work has been awful and has not got better.

I also went on a stressful holiday to Lanzarote which was the least relaxing holiday ever. My flat sale fell through three goddamn times.

Charlotte was diagnosed with coeliac disease in April which created so much overwhelm for me I went into a bit of a decline and along with all the rest of the world’s goings on it could seem like a bad year but… 

On the plus side, I went on an amazing holiday to Portugal with my friends, I was also lucky enough to go to France with friends in October who also had had a new baby early in the year. 

I had my gallbladder removed fairly swiftly (for the NHS) and I’m on the mend, I’ve also lost a few lbs because I can’t eat very much! I’ve also worked out how to make my hair look awesome (post to come on this shortly!). I had a perfect week with Charlotte before she started school. Charlotte actually started school and is thriving, which is a joy to watch and we’ve just about got the hang of her diet with support from school and all of our friends and family who have been on a steep learning curve like me. 

Oh and the two big ones, of course, I got divorced and I have a boyfriend. The latter has not been without its stresses (the former hasn’t either)  because he’s also had a really difficult past few months but hopefully this is something we can both work through. I’ve had a lovely weekend away with him which was perfectly timed when we both needed to escape from norm. 

My own #bestnineof2016

So, looking forward, I’m optimistic that there will be lots of positives in 2017 and I will be able to cope with the negatives whenever they arise. I am starting a bullet journal (for the third time), and have just started the KonMari method of decluttering to organise myself better and life *is* going to be easier this year. 

Last year my main goal was to say ‘no’ more and I think I’ve done well but still need to work on this…along with my 10 other new goals for this year! 

What are your goals this year? Let me know in the comments and here’s to a fantastic, fulfilling 2017! 

I get by with a little help from my friends. 

Sometimes when I’m sat alone on a Saturday night I do question whether I have very many friends. Sad and depressing I know, but being a one parent family can sometimes be a quiet and lonely life. The evenings especially so, as you know that that’s when everyone else is having their family time, or couples time, or some lucky buggers are even free to go out in the evening without having to book a babysitter weeks in advance and you’re stuck at home with a sleeping child upstairs.

However, my perspective changed dramatically this weekend, after Charlotte was admitted to hospital and we had to stay in overnight. I now realise more than ever before that I do have many, many friends.

Poorly girl.
With these friends we may not be able to meet up very often, we may have known each other for ever, we may not have actually known each other that long, we may have met because of babies or toddlers, or work or where we live, we may have met through the powers of Facebook, we may not exactly even remember when or how we came to know each other but, that night I had so many offers of genuine help that I could feel this amazing support system around me and, oh my goodness, did I need it right then.

Those who didn’t live close were messaging straight away, checking on me and Charlotte and giving me strength to cope with the situation. Those who were close were offering practical help like phone chargers (life lesson no 1: never go to out of hours with 9% battery), dog walking, popping to the shops for food and drink or a toothbrush or just desperately needed moral support. 

They all had their own stuff going on that evening and they were willing to stop that stuff, even briefly, and help me and that made me feel very honoured.

Luckily we came out of hospital the next day and, despite more tests that still need to be done, lots of things returned quickly to normal. But those 12 hours of hell really made me appreciate those around me and realise that I am really lucky and that I do have my so called ‘village’. 

So, in this season of gratitude, good will and thanksgiving (a bit late I know), I want to thank all my friends, from the bottom of my heart. Because without them I wouldn’t have made it through half the challenges I’ve faced and I’m sure they’ll help me through the next lot too. 

To Elf or not to Elf, that is the question.

This time two years ago Amber the Elf started to visit us during advent and left little notes with little treats in the gorgeous advent bunting I had bought.  Nothing big. Just a little chocolate, a hair clip or something we could go and do that day. Coordinating that was bloody hard enough work!

Love having a fireplace I can hang these on.

This year, for some unknown reason…or the fact that I’m an overachiever who has a lot of time on her hands at the moment (still off work after surgery)…I was umming and ahhing about doing the full Elf on the Shelf experience.

I asked on forums, I asked on my Facebook page and after some mum’s admitting they got bored of it quite quickly and knowing that I can be quite a lazy mummy, especially at the end of the day (especially after a glass of wine), I asked myself why fix something that isn’t broken? 

During my internal debate and after approximately 1000 hours on Pinterest (ref. Time of work again) I did, however, find out about the Kindness Elves which is a cute, fluffy version of the slightly demonic looking, mischievious Elf on the Shelf but instead of being spied on to check whether the child is being good or bad, they spread kindness and suggest good deeds that help others which sits a lot better with me than the ethos of an elf spying on the child.

I have now amalgamated our original Amber the Elf with a splash of Kindness Elves and have found a concoction I’m happy with. So happy in fact that Amber has even written her first poem to say hello again. 

Amber the Elf’s first poem.

Let’s just hope I can keep this up for 24 days and Charlotte starts to sleep through the evening so I don’t have to hurriedly hide things that I have already set up at 10.30pm. 😬 

Happy December everyone! Would love to hear if you have your own traditions in the run up to Christmas.

The gall of it…

Two days ago I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed. It was planned as I’ve been having issues
with it for a few months but up until the very last minute I didn’t think about the fact that I was about to go into hospital to actually have an organ removed, and when I did I started crying. I realised that I had organised for my daughter to be looked after for the first few days but I hadn’t actually thought to make sure that I would be looked after. 

My mum was dropping me off at hospital and would then pick me up after all was done but it dawned on me that I’d be waking up in the recovery room on my own because, stupidly, I didn’t think I’d need anyone there.  My boyfriend would have been there if he could but has been working away and is poorly himself, my mum and dad reacted like it was just another normal day and nothing out of the ordinary was happening, my best friend is out of the country feeling very helpless as she couldn’t be there but it was my own fault.  I’d pretended that I’d be ok, I’d pretended that I can cope with being on my own all the time but as you’re walking towards the anaesthetists room in a backless gown, compression socks and slippers you kind of wish that someone else would be walking with you. 

Nothing sexier than compression socks

I did wake up on my own, in a lot of pain and, after crying because I couldn’t breath without it hurting, the nurse asked if anyone was with me I just started crying all over again.  She then asked if anyone was coming to see me and I had to say that I didn’t know and cried a bit more. I was all alone at one of the most vulnerable times and I’d let that happen. 

I had to stay in over night as me and morphine do not get on well and my blood pressure dropped quite drastically.  I did get a visit from the boyfriend who looked almost as broken and tired as me but it was a lonely few hours waking up expecting to have slept for hours however looking at the clock and realising it was only 45 mins. 

I am now at my parents house because, as Mum had to help me get my shoes on when picking me up, I think they realised I’d probably not survive on my own straight away and they have been looking after me ever since. 

It has taught me something though, that I really should put myself first more often. Or at least a close second after Charlotte because there are times when you just can’t do everything yourself and sometimes you need to accept that and just ask for help.

I have a confession…

I have a confession and those of you who follow me on Instagram may have twigged by now…

Nope, I haven’t had a mental breakdown…well not quite anyway!

 

Nope, I’m not pregnant (thank goodness)

 

Nope, I’ve not killed someone at work and writing this from a prison cell (that’s probably the most likely of these three options)

 

But yep, this serial failed dater actually has a lovely, legitimate boyfriend. Sound the fanfair!!


My first sneaky photo of us.
My first sneaky photo of us.
To those of you who have never read my blog before this might not seem like a fanfair type event.  Everyone has relationships don’t they?  But after three long years of being single and dating a myriad of idiots, knobheads, commitment phobes and emotionally unavailable men I finally seem to have found a good one.  The coveted needle in the haystack.

 

It was a marvel that I ever met this guy in the first place though as I cancelled all my dating apps (yes, again) and declared that I would be single for a year without looking for ‘the one’ (yes, again) after I got screwed over by a deceivingly ‘nice’ guy (yes, again).

 

There was, luckily, one guy who slipped through the net though and despite all my new promises to myself we kept chatting and eventually managed to meet up and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

Now we have been dating for three whole months and I think I’m getting the hang of how to have a boyfriend at 32 and when there’s children involved. Yet another learning curve to make my way up but I’m enjoying it so far.

 

I was even brave enough to ask for our first 'couple' selfie.
I was even brave enough to ask for our first ‘couple’ selfie.