Browsing Tag

the real mama

Life

The Real Mama #4 – Lauren McGee

December 21, 2018
The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Hey, happy Friday! Hopefully it’s your last working day before Christmas? 

I’ve a real treat of a mama to share today! Over the last five years of blogging I have met (both online and in real life) a lot of lovely and very interesting people, many of them mums who, just like me, are doing their best to provide happy homes and lives for their families. One of those people is Lauren McGee, North Coast photographer who runs under the name of LIT Photography. Lauren was one of our suppliers at the last Love at the Linen Green event, and a nicer wee doll you couldn’t wish to meet! Thanks Lauren for taking part in this series. 

The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Who are you?

I’m Lauren, wedding and lifestyle photographer also known as LIT photography NI. 

Instagram handle?   

@litphotographyni for my work photos but personal stories or @lauren_lit_ for more personal photos. 

Love it or Loathe it?

I absolutely love Instagram and the wonderful community we have in Northern Ireland. When I was suffering from Postnatal Depression after I had my daughter, following honest open accounts such as @TobyandRoo @Mother_pukka and @motherofdaughters really made me feel less alone. 

What is your family set up?  

My partner (impatiently waiting on the ring) Jason and I have two children. Tyler who is 7 and Isla who is 3. We also have our dog Yogi who we rescued. 

Where do you live?

I live in Portrush. The most amazing place to raise kids. People think Portrush is best in summer, but we love it in winter when we have it to ourselves. There’s nothing better than getting wrapped up and exploring an empty beach.

What do you do for work? 

I’m a self employed photographer, but I’ve done it all. When my son Tyler was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2, I was a stay at home mum while I navigated getting him support and therapy. After I had Isla, I really wanted to get back to work and started my business. By chance I then got, what I thought was my dream job in politics, so I juggled a job, a business and being a mum. I soon realised that wasn’t sustainable so now being self employed allows me the flexibility my family life needs. 

The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Three words that describe your household?

Chaotic, strong and loved.

Do you think you have a good work/life balance?

Definitely not, but I don’t think there is any such thing, in fact I believe it’s another unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves. Some weeks will be all work, other weeks will be all about the kids and family time. It’s just how it goes. It’s taken me a while to accept that it’s ok that I love my work and that I want to work. I used to feel like that made me a bad mother because I didn’t want to spend every moment with them. Now I realise that I’m actually setting them a great example of work ethic and my balance is that the work I’m doing allows me to give them wonderful experiences.

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids? 

I am so lucky to have the most amazing family support. My son can’t go to childcare, and he struggles with school, so my mum is so vital for helping me with Tyler. Isla goes to childcare and has a wonderful Nanny who is a great help. I do tend to work best in the evenings though when they go to bed so a lot of my work gets done then. 

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

Your mental health is the most important, and I live by a firm ethos that it takes priority over everything. As someone who has struggled with depression, and now my son is struggling with his mental health, I make a point of taking mental health days whenever they are necessary. 

How do you relax? 

Weirdly, even though it’s my job, taking photos is how I relax. I love taking personal photos and letting my creativity run free. I also love getting a massage whenever I can.

Best book you’ve read recently?

‘Start With Why’ – Simon Sinek (this changed my life).

Any other books you need to share?

‘You’re a Badass at Making Money’ – Jen Sincero. This was amazing at changing how we look at money – a must for anyone who is self employed. 

Music choices?

The Greatest Showman soundtrack is my anthem and has been for the last 6 months. I’m also pretty obsessed with A Star Is Born and its soundtrack (bit of a theme here). 

Favourite podcasts? 

I haven’t really got into podcasts. I do love a good audiobook though. 

How do you and your partner stay connected?

We try to get nights away as often as possible. Getting away from the house and the kids and just being us is so needed. 

The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Style – do you feel you have a signature style? 

I wish I did. I have a ‘whatever mood I’m in’ style. Most days when I juggling the mayhem of life you’ll find me in jeans and a hoody, but when I’m feeling a bit more together my clothes reflect that and I’d say I can look pretty smart. 

Shops you love?

Marks and Spencer is amazing this year. I also love New Look for a bargain. 

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

Completely. I look back at what I wore before and can’t believe I ever went out in anything so short. But considering I had Tyler when I was 21 it wasn’t really inappropriate. 

Beauty products you love? 

Mario Bidescu face spray and Simple moisturiser. I also swear by Revlon’s Uniq One for your hair – it’s a miracle worker for blondes. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Spaghetti bolognese.

Rainy day survival tactic?

Movies on the sofa with lots of popcorn. 

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

iPads. I know that they can be really frowned upon, but I’ve found them so useful and there are some incredible educational apps for the kids. Tyler really struggles with reading, but I was able to get him the Biff, Chip and Kipper books and games on his iPad and that’s how he learned to read. 

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

You are good enough. You might not see it yet, but there is a place for you in this world and you will find it. Keep your head up, keep going and know that every challenge is helping you become the person you want to be. 

Once again, thanks Lauren for the insight into your life and career! 

Well, that’s me until next Friday when I have something VERY exciting to share, so I’d love to wish you all a merry Christmas – see you back her in a week! Em x

Life

The Real Mama #3 – Emma Martin

December 14, 2018
Emma Martin The Real Mama | The Promise NI

Hello and a very happy Friday! 

So, how are your Christmas preparations going? I am so nearly set with gifts but having ‘all-the-bad-foods-of-the-world’ stockpiled hasn’t happened yet. Next week for sure, before the kids break up for the holidays. 

Today we have the very beautiful and sweet mum of three, Emma Martin from Amble & Ash on board to share her wisdom. 

Emma has one of the prettiest Instagram feeds and an incredible home that I could literally move into tomorrow if she let me! She also enjoys sharing the South of France with her kids as do I, so you know, we’re practically besties! 

Thanks Emma (Martin- wow, lots of Emma’s!) for sharing your real moments. 

Emma Martin The Real Mama | The Promise NI

Who are you?

Emma Martin. I’m a blogger and freelance writer and mum of three.

Instagram handle? 

@littlewoodlife

Love it or Loathe it? 

I have phases with IG. I love the community and the chat amongst likeminded people. It can be a pretty dark place at times too though. I always try to focus on the positive where possible and it’s the individual people that keep me coming back!

What is your family set up?

I have one husband 😉 and my children are 9, 11 and 13 – Annie, Noah and Eva.

Where you live?

In the Co.Down countryside.

What do you do for work? 

I’m self employed and I write for various brands and businesses as well as styling for interiors photo shoots.

Three words that describe your household?

Manic, Loud, Happy. 

Do you think you have a good work/life balance?

I like to think I have but then sometimes it all catches up with me and I’m inevitably trying to keep all the plates spinning. The self employed life is one where you have to accept that routine often isn’t possible. I’m constantly squeezing things in where I can, between ballet and school runs, homework and putting a wash on.  It’s a constant juggle.

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids? 

I try to work while the kids are in school, but sometimes 9-3 won’t always suffice. I don’t have any childcare and am a full time stay at home mum too, so there is a fair bit of answering emails from the car and catching up after they (eventually!) go to bed. They are older now, and have lots of evening clubs and activities, so I’m often burning the midnight oil.

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

If you are going to do something, then do it wholeheartedly. I think that applies to both work and family really! I never commit to anything that I might begrudge doing, and always want to bring enthusiasm to everything I do. I hope that has rubbed off on the kids a little too. 

How do you relax? 

I don’t think I’ve properly relaxed since 2003, ha! I love an evening bath though, and a flick through an interiors magazine. I’ve a stack of unread ones that I keep meaning to get to!

Best book you’ve read recently?

I’ve not long finished The Keeper of Lost Things which I really enjoyed. I’m a huge fan of Kate Morton and can’t wait to read The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

Any other books you need to share?

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton is my all time favourite. I’d really recommend!

Music choices?

I’m not a big music person. I’ll always choose silence over noise. 😉

Favourite podcasts?

As above!

How do you and your husband stay connected?

Lately we’ve been trying to take little breaks away together more regularly. Now that the kids are a bit older, it is easier to escape on our own and we really see the benefit every time we do.

Style – do you feel you have a signature style?

I’m really influenced by French style, both in interiors and my personal style too. In my opinion, French girls do everything perfectly – from undone hair to their beautiful clothes and minimal makeup.

Shops you love?

Zara, Mango and my wish list is a mile long at Sezane!

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

I actually think I honed it a lot more after. There was less time for experimenting and wearing fussy, impractical clothing. I was never glamorous before, but everything just became so much simpler after!

Beauty products you love? 

I’m a huge fan of Origins products, and they just seem to work so well on my skin. My holy grail is Becca highlight though. It gives you glow on the days when you definitely don’t have any!

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Sunday Roast! Specifically, chicken. My kids are classically fussy eaters and I’m tearing my hair out most evenings. Everyone loves a chicken dinner though!

Rainy day survival tactic?

IKEA! Ha! Andrew absolutely hates it but I bribe him with a milkshake and hot dog at the end. 😉

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

We’ve recently just put a chalkboard up in our kitchen and I’m writing important messages and things for the kids to remember up there. I spent many years racing about organising everyone but I’m trying to give ownership over to them a little more now. So far so good! 

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Don’t be so concerned with what others’ think. Will it matter to you in five years time? If it will then it’s worth worrying over, if not then let it go.

Life

The Real Mama #2 Karen Birnie

December 6, 2018
karen birnie the real mama

Good afternoon! 

Wow, six days in and I’m slacking! Last night whilst dashing between dancing and swimming I thought “you’ll never keep up” and as the tiniest didn’t settle until gone 10 pm, my thought was right! I didn’t get the sixth Blogmas post drafted but instead of beating myself up, here it is now. 

Today is a special day at Promise HQ as our eldest daughter, Safran turns 12 – yikes, that was the fastest 12 years of my life. She has two (yes two!) parties planned for the weekend so tonight we’ll have a few cupcakes and candles before bed to mark the occasion. 

Today’s post is a look inside the world of real mama, Karen Birnie, full time mum to three gorgeous littles, dancer and dance teacher, – you may have seen her recently onstage in Grease at the Grand Opera House. Karen and I went to grammar school together and now our own kids go to school together which is lovely and pretty strange that life has turned full circle there! Long before we were scared first years in our chocolate and magenta uniforms we both went to Mrs Burns nursery, now that is a looooong time ago! 

Thanks Karen for taking part and sharing your thoughts on mamahood with us 🙂 

karen birnie the real mama

Who are you?

Karen, mum of 3 who loves to dance! 

Instagram handle

@kbdancefitness 

 Love it or Loathe it?

I love Instagram for what it is, but I hate what is has become…. 

It used to be a place for quick updates on friends/celebs life and general going’s on which was nice to see and usually pretty normal stuff. Now it is flooded with unrealistic lifestyles that no-one really has, leading to people feeling insecure and insignificant because their house doesn’t look like it should, their kids aren’t dressed head to toe in designer gear with Hunter wellies (that look like they have never seen a muddy puddle), and every holiday snap has to look like it’s from the Sandals catalogue. I would love to share our playroom on a daily basis and it doesn’t include a pastel shaded sofa with perfectly lined teddy bears and a dolls house sitting immaculately in the corner… instead…. well you can imagine a playroom of a 6 year old, 4 year old and 11 month old! I also feel a sense of pity for kids that are constantly being staged into a pose to capture the perfect Instagram picture. For me kids should be kids and if the photo means not everyone looking at the camera, someone’s shoes are on the wrong feet and someone’s eyes are closed, well, this is normal. However, that said, I dream of the day we manage to get a nice family photo of us all smiling and looking in the same(ish) direction! But you get the point I am trying to make – let kids be kids. 

Instagram on the other hand is a perfect platform to promote small businesses and ventures like my Dance Fitness. In fact, without it I definitely would not reach as many people as I do for my classes and get the support I do, so thank you Instagram! It also allows me to follow other similar people and with that get inspiration and ideas to keep going. 

In summary I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram and as long as people (myself included) remember to never compare yourself or your life to anyone else it is a nice little social media environment to be on. 

What is your family set up? 

Married for 11 years, with three kids and a dog. 

What do you do for work? 

I manage my dance fitness venture around family life.

Three words that describe your household?

Busy, busy, busy 

Do you think you have a good work/life balance? 

Yes I feel very blessed to have the work/life balance I do. It is like a military operation however ensuring classes are timetabled around school hours etc… but it works and I am fortunate it does and never take it for granted.

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids? 

A very supportive husband, my wonderful mum that goes out of her way to help me, and an amazing wider family always on hand to help if needed. 

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

If you say you will do something, do it, and do it 100% 

How do you relax? 

What’s that??

karen birnie the real mama

Best book you’ve read recently?

I’m not big into reading and any time I have I like to read with the kids. 

I always hear people say “the book is far better than the film” ….. I’m all about the film with cosy’s on and plenty of snacks! 

Music choices?

Musical theatre obviously and I’m partial to a good power ballad, but I also love classical music and quite happily have Classical FM blasting in my car on the school run…. The lovely ladies who come to my dance classes might question my music taste on occasion and the kids in the schools I am in keep me right with what’s cool and what is not!

Favourite podcasts?

Solid Joys, by John Piper 

How do you and your husband stay connected?

Talk about everything (even the small unimportant things) as well as supporting each other in and through everything we do. 

Style – do you feel you have a signature style?

Does sports leggings, dance tops and trainers count as signature style?!?! If yes, then that’s it. Big fan of Pink Soda and Nike active wear.

Shops you love?

JD sports as it stocks Pink Soda, Zara for both causal and dressy, and I love a dander around M&S at Sprucefield (the food hall, the home section and the clothing) on my own…. Maybe that’s how I relax…?! Should I even admit that! 

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

I wear trainers even more and heels even less! 

Beauty products you love? 

Tantastic fake tan (medium), Lidl Night Cream and Benefit Bad Gal mascara. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Traditional roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. That said, I love Christmas dinner and can’t wait to eat it at least three times a week for the month of December, I am not one that tires of the turkey and ham! 

Rainy day survival tactic?

Always carry a hair bobble on your wrist – messy ponytails are always a good option! Or just run…. 

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

A traditional week to view hard back diary – I love writing lists and scoring things off so this is why I still use the good old diary that actually requires a pen. I am also convinced baby brain is a real condition and if I don’t write things down they don’t happen. 

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Sounds cliché but follow your dreams. If you know what you want to achieve go for it and don’t chose to do things because everyone else thinks you should. There is a saying “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life” and this is true.  

Life

The Real Mama #1 Janine Walker

November 22, 2018
the real mama janine walker

Hello & happy Thursday – or Almost Wine Day as it’s known at Promise HQ. 

A couple of weeks ago I did a *very detailed poll on Instagram stories asking what you wanted to see here. Weddings or Other Stuff were the options and much to my surprise Other Stuff was the outright winner, so other stuff you shall have. Each week we still share all.the.pretty wedding content – see Shona and Rafa’s awesome day here. 

Today I am SUPER EXCITED to launch our new series, The Real Mama, kicking off with one of lifes absolute gems, Janine Walker. I completely love the bones of this girl, we go way back to when Janine was an awesome wedding photographer and we chatted a lot about the next Mulberry bag we were going to purchase – also know as, the time before kids. 

Like me Janine likes to keep it real, so whether you’re enjoying this with your morning coffee or over a glass of red be careful you don’t snort it out your nose because her answers will make you laugh, I promise. Thanks J for being number one in the series and happy weekend to you all, Em xx

the real mama janine walker

 

Who are you?

I am Janine Walker – photographer/talker of crap on the internet/professional bitcher about instagram/wanker with cankles.

Instagram handle

janinewalker/rinkadinkstudio

Love it or Loathe it?

I love it and loath it in equal measure. I love it for connections – we’ve made some amazing connections with #radsnaps over the years. I love looking back at my photos and laughing about the good and the bad. I love meme accounts. 

I loathe instagram for it’s ‘influencer culture’. The entire thing is puke-inducing. ‘Let me show you all here how pretty and perfect I am in picture form whilst simultaneously telling you I’m a disaster and insecure/anxious/untidy/imperfect in order to endear myself to you and sell you whatever I am being paid to sell.’ Most toxic place on the internet if you spend too long on there. 

What is your family set up?

Married to Andy with three boys – Jack/13, Charlie/11 and Will/8.

Where you live?

80% in my head and 20% in the dirt.

What do you do for work?

I photograph all of the most delicious tiny humans in Northern Ireland and beyond for RinkaDink Studio.

Three words that describe your household?

Shouty. Spicy. Chaos.

Do you think you have a good work/life balance?

I have a brilliant work/life balance. Well, now I do. It only took me around 6 years to figure it out. We’ve tried the daycare route, the nanny route, the juggling route…we’ve tried it all. Finally this year we have found the balance. And for me, that boils down to me being at home more as I’m the person who keeps the structure of the day-to-day intact. 

Many moons ago (actually, 7 years) I worked around the clock with no structure, no time limits, no care for anything else. But then three boys moved into my house and that required me to make some huge changes. The summer the boys moved in I had 38 weddings on the books and it was absolutely terrible to miss so many of those precious first days with them. I decided right then and there that I was done with weddings and booking my weekends out years in advance. I enjoyed photographing my newly adopted kids so much that I decided to go full time into children’s photography. I wanted to solve a couple of problems I had – I wanted a business that I could centre around the hours that suited ME and MY FAMILY to work. I also wanted an indoor location that had great natural light – Northern Irish weather is so unpredictable and rescheduling shoots did not fit in with my new family life. The option of Lifestyle photography inside someone’s home was always there too but that involved a lot of travel for just one shoot, and I never knew what the lighting situation would be. 

So, RinkaDink was borne! We have a NewbCube – a specialty room for newborns. A huge white naturally lit space, kids can run and play and not even realise they are being photographed. A big bed for babies and toddlers. And it’s all indoors so your blow-dry is safe! The best about it is, I work the hours that suit my family life so I am rarely stressed about work these days. 

the real mama janine walker

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids?

I shoot two days a week in our Belfast studio and on those two days I’m home in and around the same time as the kids getting home from school. If I’m running late Andy takes Will to his work with him for an hour, the other two walk home themselves anyway. The days I’m not shooting, I write/edit/blog etc from home when the kids are in school.  

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

When things get too shouty we take to the hills. Literally. The Mournes are our happy place. Also, laughter is the best medicine. We make fun of each other, our stresses, how we connect. You would need to have a good sense of humour to survive in this house. Willing to take a bit of stick.

How do you relax? 

Knitting and wine. At the same time. The knitting stops me drinking too fast, the wine stops me knitting too fast. 

Best book you’ve read recently?

I discovered Charles Bukowski last year and read everything. I loved Post Office, “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”.

Any other books you need to share?

James Frey A Million Little Pieces was so interesting in the way it was written. I enjoyed it and the followup My Friend Leonard. 

I literally just read Catcher In The Rye last year and loved it so much I went back to the beginning and read it again. 

The Stranger by Albert Camus. 

I enjoyed the Tattooist of Auschwitz a few months ago.

I will read anything Philippa Gregory writes, her latest book The Last Tudor was as satisfying as all the rest. I’m obsessed with Tudor times and Philippa’s ‘enhancements’ on reality!

I read Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs and the follow ups this year and thoroughly enjoyed.

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Lost in the Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg

Jordan B Peterson 12 Rules For Life – An antidote to chaos. This book brought me back to life after a really rough year with my epilepsy. I highly recommend it – though Jordan can be controversial with his ideas.

Music choices?

Having a quick squizz of my recent plays on Spotify it seems my choices of the moment are The Greatest Showman (original and reimagined), A Star is Born soundtrack, The Cranberries, The Beautiful South, Rod Stewart, Tom Odell, Dr Hook, Leonard Cohen, Elton John, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Take That, Ed Sheeran, Pink, Aerosmith and Imagine Dragons. To name but a few.

Favourite podcasts?

Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Tim Ferriss (sometimes – I have a love/hate relationship with him) and Russell Brand.

How do you and your husband stay connected?

We make fun of each other, laugh at each other and threaten to kill each other on a daily basis. Our mutual despair at the other’s shortcomings connects us on a very deep level.

the real mama janine walker

Style – do you feel you have a signature style?

There’s inside leggings and there’s outside leggings. There’s jeans that are secretly leggings. There’s t-shirts and there’s trainers. Yup, that about sums up my signature ‘style.’ 

Shops you love?

ASOS. They sell everything and you don’t have to be outside surrounded by other humans. Shopping is my least favourite life activity. They also make it very easy to return the ‘wtf was I thinking’ and ‘shouldn’t let myself on the internet after the third glass of wine’ items.

Tesco online – why would you walk around a shop when a very nice man will bring it to your door for £3?!

Amazon – I’m ashamed (not remotely) to say I buy everything else from Amazon (I was shamed for this on a Facebook post once and now I feel like I should publicly declare my shame for doing something that is easy, cheap and convenient. Snowflakes, eh?).

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

Can I just put 100 crying with laughter emojis as an answer?! Since you know me for many many years now through my blogging antics Emma, you can probably answer this better than me. But yes, long gone are the days of 7 inch Louboutins and outrageously beautiful designer handbags. All of my money is now spent on Jake Paul merch and terrible, awful, shiny Adidas boy clothing. When it all becomes too much I go and sniff my beautiful – now impractical – handbags and look at my too-high shoes in their gorgeous boxes and regret nothing.

 

Beauty products you love? 

HA HA! Beauty products – have you seen me 😂

Boxed hair dye (the one with Davina McCall’s face on it) because I’m too lazy to go to the hairdresser. I usually go once a year before Christmas – I don’t purposefully do this it’s just that I say all year long ‘must book a hair appointment’ and then it’s December and I say ‘Aw shite, I look like a banshee’ and text my hairdresser to which she responds with 100 cry/laugh/eyeroll emojis. Anyway, when I’m colouring my white roots every 3 weeks (Andy refers to me as The Badger if I leave it longer than this) I slap a bit of it on my eyebrows as they too are going white. Aileen, our assistant at RinkaDink, is particularly perturbed by this beauty hack (she used to manage salons and is quite knowledgeable about makeup type things). 

I’m probably also the only person on earth who is still using Rimmel BB Cream as foundation. 

I’ve been using the same L’Oreal Elvive shampoo for 20 years now. 

I don’t know how I did life without dry shampoo. And I don’t care if it’s going to make me bald some day. I also sit in the sun without factor 50 on and yes, it has aged me drastically. But so has motherhood and I don’t regret that either.

This is everything I know about beauty products. I didn’t even know I knew this much! If it weren’t for my baby sister saying my face looked like a boiled egg a few years ago I probably wouldn’t know about the eyebrow business being important. Hence the slapping on of the hair dye once a month. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Sunday roast.

Rainy day survival tactic?

Well my youngest is feral so he won’t be housed no matter the weather. He will be out there kicking a ball about no matter what’s falling from the sky. The other two are either meeting their mates, playing football or hanging out on Fortnite so I’ve got an easy enough gig here. When they were younger I just had to take them out in it. That saying about boys, ‘Run them hard and feed them well’ is so true. If you don’t run the spice out of them you will pay the price!

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

Beats headphones. 

Mash Direct (I’ve become such a lazy arse about peeling and boiling and mashing veg myself).

Start teaching them independence as early as possible. My boys have been putting their own washing away for years. I organised their drawers to make it easy for them – Will could do it all himself from age 4. They can all cook basic meals (Will actually gets quite fancy sometimes!) for themselves if they need to. They know how to use the washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher. They can fully shower, do their hair, trim their nails and get dressed themselves. Jack and Charlie go to the barbers themselves and know what to ask for. They hoover and mop and dust, clean bathrooms and stay on top of their rooms in order to access to Xbox controllers. Oh yes I do!

This is the greatest mum hack of all time because when they are 8 years old and can quietly make their own breakfast and amuse themselves for an hour or two, you might get a lie-in when you really need it! It just makes life easier all round when you work as a team in the house instead of everything hinging on your mum super powers and magical ability to do everything for everyone. Divide and conquer the workload! (I am by no means saying that this doesn’t require a large amount of nagging).

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Don’t feckin’ stress because it all works out better than you could have imagined. Every single bad thing you go through will end up being the making of you.

See, didn’t I tell you she was the ultimate awesome-mama!!

*disclaimer – the poll wasn’t very detailed!