FAQs: from me to you

As I writer, I like to take risks. That’s why I’ve turned the typical FAQ post on it’s head. As a parent, I don’t like to take risks because it’s not my life I’m gambling with (it’s my children’s).

So here are a few questions I’ve got for you- just thoughts and qs I’ve had on my mind recently.

1) Birthday Parties

Ambrose says birthday parties should be budgeted at 25% of monthly income. He says it’s basically school policy and people will laugh at him if it’s not adhered to. Have others heard this? Or is it another example of his enterprising spirit?

2) Teacher Presents

Parents are collecting a fund for a gift for Nectar’s house mistress. My question is, the money’s being collected by a woman with god awful taste- can I step in? I don’t want my name on any old gift. This woman drives a battered old Volvo for pete’s sake!

All input appreciated! Thanks as always!

Three Reasons Why I Love Summer

At first glance, summer can seem like a nice idea but a tricky reality- ageing UVA, au pairs returning home, school holidays- but I just embrace it and here’s how.

Book a Holiday

We always return to the same resort. The food is exquisite and the kids just adore the onsite summer camp. Julio the resident masseur is basically godparent to our children and has hands to die for. And he once told me I have the buttocks of an Olympic shotputter so of course I think he’s divine!

Organise Play Dates

Because our home is grade three listed, we couldn’t install an outdoor pool – a source of tension between me and Jeremy the ThinkofTheOriginalFeatures- as you can imagine. Anyway, we are so lucky because plenty of our children’s friends have got fabulous facilities. When all the darlings come racing home from boarding, we only see them for a few short days before they’re rushing off to Sebastian’s or Fiona’s or Charlie’s or whoever has the leisure facilities suited to the weather!

This reminds me, I must chase up the planning permission to convert the wine cellar to a cinema…

Me Time

I talk more about this in the book but, as a feminist and a woman, I know I must tenderly nurture my soul. Put on your own life mask first, sister! I like to keep my term-time routines the same over the holidays to ensure I can continue to be the cog that keeps this family turning.

Update: exciting news!

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been so quiet on here. Thanks for all your lovely messages.

Exciting news- I’ve been working on my book! It’s a parenting manifesto. It’s called Parenting: Learning on the Journey. I include recipes for my fertility-boosting chai seed porridge, reviews of the best pregnancy spa treatments and tips on how to have difficult conversations with your cleaner. It’s a manual for motherhood as well as being my vision for raising the next generation. Will link below for pre-orders.

It all came from a really exciting place of change in our little family. We were completing our annual review and writing our family vision statement (see chapter eight for deets) when Jeremy said he’d noticed I seemed to harbour some resentment towards him and his career. And although I am more qualified than him (#doublefirst!🙋🏼‍♀️) I wouldn’t have said ‘resent’ was the word. I do, admittedly, feel a little under-utilised – especially now Ambrose is back in mainstream education/private school.

So- my Mission Statement for myself was to write a book to impart the wisdom I’ve gleaned from experience and instinct.

Super excited to be sharing this with you guys. And thanks again for all your DMs. You guys rock.

Tough Week: surviving the hard times 

Had a real howler of a week. The kids have been on school holidays since mid-June and our au pair is going back to Sweden soon. I’m not sure how I’m going to manage things without her. She’s leaving to look after a poorly relative: I did the right thing and invited her to rent a house nearby for the relative and then she can keep her job with us and look after the woman the rest of the time. She refused. Disappointing. 

Ugh. And on top of that I missed my Amazon prime order and now we are completely out of Nespresso capsules. I’ve only the pale ones left and there’s no point me drinking anything lower than an 8 and there really aren’t enough Starbucks in the Cotswolds. 

Plus Jeremy has been working away masses recently and keeps Facetiming me when I’m trying to do Insta stories. He doesn’t understand that I work evenings.  

And I have a moral dilemma: the handbag J bought me for our anniversary is on sale at Net-a-Porter. How do I buy it in navy without hurting his feelings? Ideas on a postcard! 

On top of all this going around in my mind, I’m also finding it really tricky to transition my wardrobe. What is going on with this weather! It’s been Hunters under DVF at this week’s garden parties and even I struggled to pull that one off! 

Holiday: do it the right way

Packing

Me- I always get my clothes dry cleaned and packed for me. For the kids- I buy pages 78-92 of the Boden catalogue three weeks before leaving and then pack them straight in to the children’s matching suitcases. Jeremy- two pairs of linen shorts, a pair of pink chinos, and two polo Ralph Lauren polo necks- it’s the same every year and has been since we met. 

Nectar and her suitcase

Flights

Duty-free for make-up. A strong gin in the bar. Eye mask and a snooze on the flight. The children know not to wake me. In fact, I often book myself in to first class so Jeremy and the kids can have some time just the three of them. 

Hotel 

Anywhere with turquoise water, a crèche and a good wall to pose against. 

I had to float my phone on a lilo to get this shot

Memories

If a blogger has a good time on holiday but there’s no pics of it on social media, is it really a good time? No. It’s not really a memory at all. A memory, for me, is a flattering photo of family printed on a canvas and displayed in the hallway. It took three attempts and €5 to a local beachcomber but this is my favourite memory from our last holiday. 


Social Media

Obviously I ban the children from having tablets at the taverna tables, but I need to have mine to record our meals and memories. My Insta followers love seeing my outfits and Twitter goes in to turmoil if I don’t update my followers about how happy I am. 

 

Smug Mummy Guide to Making Friends

1) I always say you should walk a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge them, but certainly not if they’re Uggs. Also, I’m not massively in to Converse because I think it’s a sign that someone’s lazy so they probably wouldn’t ever even walk a mile anyway. The footsteps I fall in with are usually from Dubarrys or Hunters. But not muddy ones. I don’t want people thinking I have to walk my own dog.

2) Make up

I am blessed with excellent skin and obedient hair, but I always take time to do my make up. I have  a sister website called glamforthefam.com because I believe a woman should always look good-even if it’s just for the children and the gardener. 

No judgement, but I wouldn’t be friends with someone who didn’t have blow dried hair- if she doesn’t respect herself, how can she respect our friendship?

3) Creative

The one thing all my girlfriends have in common is that they work. Each one of us has our own Etsy shop selling bespoke children’s wear and/or handwritten whimsical quotations for other stressed out mums. The arts are so important. 

4) Charity

I am heavily involved in charity fundraising. I look for similar selflessness in friends. One of my ‘Smell the Flowers’ memes went for over £470 at a charity auction. The headteacher said it was an invaluable contribution towards to school’s new stables. 

Overall, I think high standards are essential to a friendship. Sometimes I am so lonely I cry in the pantry whilst gorging on Dutchy oatcakes, but I would rather that than spend time with women who think it’s ok to order bar snacks on a night out. 

Easter: a time for healthy eating and thankfulness 

I don’t think it’s acceptable to use Easter as an excuse to let standards slip. 

Because my children are at the most prestigious private school in the Cotswolds area, they naturally have very long holidays. Everyone knows the rule: the more you pay, the less they go. I was just laughing with Tiffany that Nectar’s been home since mid-March!

It’s really important to use this time for wholesome, family activities. I so believe that spending time as a family is important. That’s why I set out a whole schedule of craft activities for the children to do with the nanny whilst I’m at a spa with the girls. 

I am so ready for this girls’ break: it’s been really stressful trying to sort out rotas for cleaners and childcare what with all these Bank holidays. Inconvenient. 

Jeremy has taken some time off work for the Easter break. It is nice having him home to help out but sometimes he can be really critical. Just yesterday he asked me if I fancied doing something fun soon. He was implying I was boring and I was livid so I took the Evoque and drove off to book club without saying goodbye. 

And I know I am fun because I’ve spent quite a long time on Pinterest planning an Easter egg hunt with a twist. I wanted to find something that was a bit different and I’m super excited about it. Basically, they follow a load of clues that I’ve written in my calligraphy class and at the end they have a prize. I’m so pleased because, as my children never eat chocolate (dairy intolerance), I have made a donation to Oxfam and they each have a certificate to say they’ve bought a chicken for a family in Sudan. They’ll be thrilled! I did the same for Nectar’s stocking last Christmas and she took the certificate in to show her friends. I was so proud. It never came home actually, I must chase that up.