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Gypsy Mama

A few weeks ago, Auntie Chatterbox called me with a special request (FYI, she’s eight);

Amie… You know it’s my birthday in February, well, we’re planning my party and we’re doing a sort of fortune teller gypsy theme. Well, Mummy says you used to be a Fortune teller so I was wondering if you would mind coming and reading my friends’ fortunes, please, please, please?

I feel I should pause at this point to clarify: I have never been a fortune teller at any point in my life. This was GranPam’s way of taking advantage of my drama background and dropping me in it so I couldn’t say no.

Well, on Saturday it was Auntie Chatterbox’s ninth birthday party and as requested, I became Mystic Amie for the day, complete with oh-so-PC Eastern European accent and homemade tarot cards.

My Mother-in-Law secretly provided me information about the girls attending such as their birth dates, which boy they like or what their hobbies were to give the allusion I really possessed clairvoyant skills. They came into my lair in groups of three to hear their fortunes and it worked a treat. Even the birthday girl was in awe of my fortune telling skills.

For the girl who’s parents were dentists, I saw a vision of teeth. For the girl who was ‘madly in love with Felix’, I saw a figure… a boy… and the letter F… For the girl who had recently changed schools, I saw much change in her life but the cards promised it would settle soon and she would find peace once again…

As the afternoon went on, I started to feel quite guilty conning all these eight year old girls! Apparently my MIL was receiving texts from the mums that nights saying their daughters were utterly convinced they were having ‘x’ children when they grew up or that their future held a crossroads and they would have to choose a path to follow…

Meanwhile, shortly before the party, my little Gypsy Baby was put down for her nap with a cuddly toy she had found in Auntie Chatterbox’s room at taken a liking to. Only, when the OH heard her calling for him to come and set her free after nap time, it turned out it wasn’t a cuddly toy but a pencil case full of marker pens.

We don’t think she did much napping in that hour. Oops…

Looks like Little Miss is right handed then.

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

 

The Return of Speed-Mumming

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how utterly useless I was at Speed-Mumming; the impossible task of making parent friends as your toddler tears round the park / playgroup / soft play / library / coffee shop / wherever leaving chaos in their wake.

I wrote of how you have literally the split second that is your toddler’s attention span to make a good impression, gage the other parent’s reaction and assess whether this is someone you want to exchange numbers with, then actually manage to swap numbers without your toddler swiping your phone from your hands screaming, “Sleeping Bunnies!!! Snowman!!! Sleeping Bunnies!!!” as she demands you to play her favourite songs. (Maybe that last part is just me…)

Well, of course, with moving out of London, I’m starting from scratch all over again. While I obviously haven’t just dropped my existing mum friends because we’ve moved, they’re no longer on the doorstep and within easy reach to meet for coffees or a run around the park with.

I’m lucky in a way that I’m returning to work at the end of February, so it’s only a couple of weeks I have potentially long, lonely days ahead of me for. But equally, it’s arguably easier to meet other people in our new town via the playgroups while I’m off work.

So. Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

Last week, I was sorting the house, viewing nurseries, etc. But by Thursday, I was feeling lonely and missing having my friends near by to call on for an hour’s rest bite and other little ones for Little Miss to socialise with. I couldn’t find any playgroups online for a Thursday, so we went off explore the town and find the playground.

 The playground was completely empty.

Where were all the mums!? We had the playground all to ourselves the whole 40 minutes we were there. I couldn’t believe it. Eventually I gave up and I we headed home for some lunch.

The OH had Friday off to help sort bits and bobs. We took a break to give Little Miss a run around and headed to the park once again.

When we arrived there was another youngish looking mum, with a three year old boy and an under one. Little Miss watched the little boy closely and followed him round for a bit, laying solid ground work for a first move.

The OH complimented the little boy on his dragon wellies and got the conversation started. (What we learned from Friday is that the OH is naturally far more skilled at this Speed-Mumming than I am.) After a time, the little boy decided he’d had enough of the jungle gym and headed for the swings. The mum dutifully followed.

“Amie, go ask her about playgroups and stuff. Say you’ve just moved here and you don’t know anyone. Ask for her number,” the OH whispered, “She seemed really nice, go on.”

A few more minutes passed of me getting cold feet before he basically forced me over to her.

Turns out, she lived about 30 minutes’ drive away and was just passing through our little town. She didn’t know any playgroups. What shit luck. She was indeed very nice but I didn’t ask for her number.

So this week, I thought I should bite the bullet and suss out the playgroups…

Apparently the Town Hall is where it’s at on Monday mornings. We had the usual fun-filled morning getting Little Miss dressed, her being exceptionally picky and pulling everything out of the drawer until she found what she wanted (snowman leggings today, FYI. Silly me…) then the regular wrestle with a jumper before the everyday coaxing and negotiation into a coat and finally, the buggy.

But we actually made it to playgroup bang on 10 and two youngish mums were both struggling with their buggies up the stairs when I arrived. They were friendly enough, showed me where to go and explained if you go round the back there’s an elevator, but they were being lazy… This friendly exchange from the off boded well.

While most of the other mums stood round the edges drinking tea, I had to sit with Little Miss wherever she was playing and not leave her side; she was quite shy with her new surroundings and was feeling tentative with no familiar little friends of her own to boost her confidence. (I knew how she felt.)

As we sat at the kitchen making tea and frying a green pepper for our “din dins”, a brunette lady and her son sat beside us.

Clearly this lady was much more adept at this whole Speed-Mumming charade than me (who isn’t). She was straight in with,

“My son loves making tea too.” And so it began. Less than a minute later she’d given me her name and asked mine as well when suddenly Little Miss had hold of my hand and we were off to another station. But I took heart that I’d made a good start.

At the slide, I got chatting to a blonde mum. Brunette Mum joined us a few minutes later and it turned out she too had recently moved here from London and knew no-one (perfect!) and Blonde Mum was from the same town as me originally, albeit we grew up about ten years apart. Things were going well when suddenly a little hand tugged me towards the play dough.

Blonde Mum joined me at the play dough and we talked about suitably mums-y topics before she suddenly had to dash off to collect her older one from nursery. No number exchange, but a very friendly good bye. Not quite a Speed-Mumming win, but not a crash and burn either.

As playgroup ended, Brunette Mum passed me in the hall en route to her buggy and said, “maybe see you next week?” And – I am very proud of myself for this next bit – I replied,

“actually, Little Miss is starting nursery next week so probably not. *pause* Do you want to exchange numbers though? We could meet for a coffee one day or something instead or playgroup?”

And we did!

Self-five!

I could have done a little victory dance on the spot I was so pleased with myself. But of course, I didn’t, because that would have been really weird and then she may never had replied to my text whenever I decide to send one.

Last year when I wrote about Speed-Mumming I spoke about how I had no experience of dating and basically no game whatsoever… Case and point…

So, about this next bit: The Text. How long should I wait? Do I text during today’s nap time? Or maybe waiting a day is more acceptable, don’t want to seem to keen – although let’s be honest shall we, I’m uber keen.

I’ll keep you posted…

(And in the meantime hope Brunette or Blonde Mum aren’t somehow randomly readers of my blog and weirded out by being written about on the internet by a total stranger and so avoid me ever more………..)

New country home_ Finding Our Feet

Moving house with Little Miss

We did it! We’re in the new house and we have four boxes left to unpack (which have been left sealed due to a severe lack of shelves for books and photo frames, which we intend to correct this weekend).

Little Miss has been an absolute star. The entire operation hinged on her mood and how well she’d cope with the massive upheaval in her little life. And so far, we have been blown away by how well she’s coped (please, please don’t let me jinx us!). She’s even sleeping well (though woke up the first two mornings at 4am freezing as we had set the heating wrong – but that’s not her fault even if it was a rough start)…

On Friday, the movers arrived about 8:45am and started loading the van pretty much straight away.

At 9am, Little Miss said she was hungry and proceeded to sit in the highchair for the next hour happy as a clam watching the men cart boxes out of the kitchen-living room around her as she munched her way through three weatabix and 1.5 oranges. (She’d barely eaten for three days previous due to such a high fever. We didn’t intentionally starve her to keep her out of the movers’ way – that was a happy accident!)

My mum kindly rocked up about 10:15 ready to drive us to our new home. At 10:30, the van was packed and we were all on our way. It all happened so fast, it didn’t quite feel real in some ways.

We hot footed it round the M25, picked up a sofa from mum’s (thanks Mama) and at 1:30pm, we had our keys and were stepping through our front door.

Little Miss ran riot round the house in the empty space, twirling and squealing and shutting herself in the built-in wardrobes in our bedroom over and over (this has continued throughout the week). I’d like to say it was excitement for the new house, but in reality, I think she just liked the open space.

After a little look round, my mum took Little Miss to her’s so the movers could unload and we could unpack without worrying about the Energiser Bunny running round.

The movers departed at 3:25pm, we started unpacking at 3:26, intent on getting as much done as possible while we had a toddler free zone. We managed to get the kitchen done that night and celebrated with Dominos (of course) and bubbles.

Saturday morning was a whirlwind of activity as we raced to get Little Miss’ room unpacked and homely before her return.

We spoke a lot about the garden in the lead up to the move. Not surprisingly, she’s been rather taken with it. Unfortunately, it’s been rather chilly this week, which has put her off going outside too much but her favourite spot in the house is the little step at the back doors where she can sit and watch over her garden. (Which when she spotted a cat pop over the fence the other day, caused quite a stir.)

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Little Miss’ favourite spot.

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

The Unemployed Mum becomes The Working Mum

That’s right, you read correctly. After two long years, last week I accepted an honest-to-God, full time, permanent position at a small but perfectly formed marketing agency.

After Christmas, as 2016 kicked off, I was feeling rather blue. In the lead up to Christmas, I had had six interviews in six weeks, including a couple of final round call backs. But as usual, slowly but surely, as Christmas drew near, they all called and gave me the bad news.

I was exhausted. And truthfully, as the two year anniversary of being made unemployed drew near, I was feeling like I couldn’t continue down this path much longer. The constant battle and rejection was soul destroying.

With moving house at the end of January, I was looking at this as a fresh start. We would be saving money on our rent, which meant we could last slightly longer with me unemployed, giving me a bit of breathing space to take a course or similar to try to bolster my CV.

Then, the week after New Year, I got a call from a recruiter I hadn’t heard from since September. (Truth be told, I thought she’d given up on me and had stopped pestering her.) She had a rather niche agency, for which I just might be the perfect candidate…

The Agency (as they shall be known on this blog) specialises in marketing to families with children under 11 and needed someone who could understand a client’s business objectives and shape them into an educational and ethical campaign acceptable to the target market.

 

As bold as this may be to say, the first interview was a breeze – almost a pleasure. I kept thinking, ‘I must be missing something. Surely it can’t be this easy?’ I just got on with the two interviewers so naturally, so well, it was as though we had been working together for years already and were just having a chat, rather than an interview.

When the recruiter rang me after, I was thrilled the hear The Agency had given similar feedback on the first interview and the second interview turned into more of a working meeting, discussing their existing and potential parent outreach on campaigns.

Well, I am absolutely over the moon to say they offered me the job.

Exactly two years and one day since I had been made redundant.

The relief when the recruiter told me was so great I was choking back tears on the phone – and I’m not a crier. My job hunt was over. After two long years of money worries, stress, application forms, interviews, rejections and feeling like my life was on pause yet running at warp speed as I watched Little Miss grow from tiny newborn to whirling-dervish-toddler before my very eyes, I was going back to work.

Earlier that same week, I was called into a different agency by a marketing contact for an impromptu interview. They were much bigger than The Agency, more digitally focussed and I would have been working on the global accounts. In a total twist of fate, I ended up with a second job offer.

I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t seem real that after so long I suddenly had such luck.

It was an incredibly difficult decision. They were totally different marketing agencies that both had potential to kick start my career once more but in potentially quite different directions. The OH and I opened a bottle of bubbles and sat with the two offers on the table going round and round in circles discussing everything from proximity to the new house to financial implications to what we thought each may offer in terms of longer-term career prospects.

In the end, I accepted the role at The Agency. It felt like the right choice for me professionally and for us as a family at this time.

And so, I am very, very excited to say that as of February 25th, 2016, I will be a Working Mum. Not a Stay At Home Mum. Not an Unemployed Mum. A Working Mum.

 

Wish me luck!

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Moving house with a toddler: prepped and ready to launch

So, tomorrow’s the big day. 

We are surrounded by boxes – most of which Little Miss has customised with her crayons – and we are already knackered.  

We’ve spent the past few weeks building Little Miss up to the idea. Unfortunately because of the distance, we haven’t been able to visit since we first saw the property but we’ve been showing her photos of the new house and the garden, explaining what’s going to happen; drawing pictures of our apartment block then the new house with us (and Lambie and Mog and Doggie) all at the new house.   

But the big one is packing the boxes, explaining we need to put our things in the boxes to go to the new house. You can see the cogs working in Little Miss’ head as she processes this and has watched me pack up the apartment over the week. 

She’s been very helpful, patting the tape down as I build the box and in her room, I’ve made a big deal of her choosing what goes in which box as she repeats, “my things, my box, new house” – which hopefully is her processing and understanding! 

There’s been a few tense moments when she’s not wanted to put things in the box and I’ve wondered, ‘is this it? The moment the penny drops and she loses it because we’re leaving the safe and known?’ But so far, we seem to be ok… 

 

Helping with packing… sort of…

  

Little Miss’ boxes were all specially customised .

  

Rediscovering toys she hasnt’t played with in ages as they get put into boxes. It took quite a while to pack Little Miss’ room!

  

Mustn’t forget the most important things! (These guys got packed into every box and wrapped a dozen times. Mog got sealed in a box by mistake somewhere along the way. Whoops!)

  

Playing ‘Sleeping Bunnies’ on repeat on day three of packing to keep her entertained… Meanwhile, Mama goes slightly mad…

  

Daddy helped her customise this one, drawing the whole extended family for her.

 

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

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Huffing and Puffing at Pigs {Book Buddies 4}

This is a bit later than planned this month, what with Christmas, two birthdays, an anniversary, three interviews and moving house. As ever, January is our busiest month of the year.

(I’m also for the first time, writing, photo editing and uploading and publishing a blog post all from my phone for the very first time as our internet got shut off at midnight last night ahead of moving house this week, so forgive me if this isn’t quite up to the usual standard…) This month Parragon sent us the classic, The Three Little Pigs (£5.30 from Amazon). But this isn’t just any Three Little Pigs. This new edition by Mei Matsuoka is an engaging ineractive story with pop up and pull out bits for little fingers.

Little Miss already knew the cautionary construction tale of three piggies and their houses, but has now fallen completely in love with it.
She huffs and puffs at the pages with the wolf, snorts at the pigs and has started insisting she reads to me. Though, that sounds something like;

“flub bulb blah goo PIGS! *snort* huu gwa shoo PIGS! glib fla HUFFFFFFF! *over animated puffing face* Blow Mami. Pigs. Sticks. fla glu hanupla woh…”

You get the idea… Still. I’m extremely proud of my little bookworm’s reading efforts and naturally believe she is Oscar nominee ready for best audio book performance… That’s a thing right? I digress…

The ‘Slide and See Fairy Tales’ edition encourages her to follow along with me reading as at the end of the line, it shows you (via a picture) which tag to pull from the side of the book. This is great for helping her understand I’m reading the words on the page, not simply plucking a story out of thin air to match the pictures. (I can imagine this will be especially relevant over the next year.)

Potentially worth noting that, being a vandal (there’s those Northern roots showing through! I’m kidding… Sort of…), Little Miss has managed to pull the board tags clean from the book, but luckily minimal damage was caused and we could easily slide them back in.

After the success of this book, a quick Google search kindly told me The Ugly Duckling, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Bean Stalk are also available in the Slide and See range, which I will definitely be investigating further for Little Miss’ upcoming second birthday.  

Visit Parragon.com for more information or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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FINDINGOURFEET.CO.UK IS A MEMBER OF THE PARRAGON BOOKS #BOOKBUDDIES CLUB. PARRAGON BOOKS SENDS US A NEW BOOK EVERY MONTH FOR LITTLE MISS TO ENJOY AND REVIEW. BUT AS ALWAYS, THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.

Baby Brain? Or Super Brain?

There was an article in the Telegraph last week supporting mums returning to work after having children (sad there needs to be an article supporting this really, #justsaying).

And not only that, but suggesting to employers that we’re the better choice when recruiting (I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, that’s what they’re suggesting.)

IMG_7301Naturally, as an Unemployed Mum, this caught my eye.

Research has previously shown that the female brain shrinks by up to seven per cent during pregnancy (wow!) possibly offering up reasoning behind the much fabled ‘baby brain’.

However, new research shows that it is specifically the ‘fight-or-flight’ area of the brain that reduces, and in fact, the female brain expands during pregnancy and is rewired to better cope with stress and increased demands.

Having a baby can improve employability and performance because post natal brains are re-wired to cope with the increased necessity to plan and multi-task [after having a baby], experts found.

Yet since being made redundant the week I went on Mat Leave two years ago, I have met and heard so many stories about pregnant women and new mothers being unfairly treated in the work place.

The response to my Unemployed Mum blog post back in October was overwhelming with women literally around the world getting in touch with sad stories of their own.

Some readers (and employers) may argue that although a mother may be better equipped to multitask, deal with stress and increased demand on her resources, this brain expansion merely ‘makes room’ for all the extra worries and things a mother has to consider at any point in time.

Add to that the fact she’s doing this on a fraction of the amount of sleep than a non-parent employee, and the image of super mum at work starts to fade a little.

This is true. Sleep helps the brain and body rest, heal and process the day. Without sleep, we don’t function at full capacity. Hard to deny this isn’t the ideal recipe for a kick-ass employee.

Yet alternative research shows that the mother’s brain is rewired after birth with regards to sleep patterns as well.

When newborn and young babies sleep, they have shorter sleep cycles than an adult (50-60mins vs. an adult’s 90-100mins) and experience the all important light, REM sleep first (approx 20mins) and restful, deep NREM sleep second (approx 30mins).

Some studies suggest a new parent’s sleep cycle swaps round to match a newborn’s ensuring they get the much needed REM sleep and a portion of NREM so they can function.  Studies have also shown that while sleep deprivation can cause impaired memory function at the time of sleep deprivation, this has no long-term effect on a person’s memory function or ability. Evolution at it’s best people.

So, back to the Telegraph article.

With this sleep cycle research in mind, you could argue that even if a mum is sleep deprived, her brain and body are built to withstand this and therefore, even if the new found brain expansion ‘merely makes room for’ all the extra motherhood concerns, aren’t we then – worst case scenario – just as capable as we always were?

So why is motherhood still perceived as a hinderance by some employers?

Truthfully, I didn’t buy into the thinking that since becoming a mum I am able to manage my time better or that I’m more organised, etc, etc. I thought it was something mum’s said to themselves to make themselves feel better – especially those of us who were mistreated by an employer when pregnant or because we were a parent.

But after reading the Telegraph article and seeking out other articles as a result, I admit I’m inclined to change my opinion.

Hopefully, as shared parental leave becomes the norm and our male counterparts begin to experience more of the same as mothers, opinions and practises will start to shift naturally.

But with 54,000 women dismissed or forced out of their jobs as a result of pregnancy and 100,000 experiencing harassment as a result of pregnancy in 2015*, can we wait that long?

You can read the full Telegraph article by Victoria Ward here

*stats provided by MaternityAction.org.uk. Findingourfeet.co.uk is not affiliated with any of the brands or organisations referenced in this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, or would like more information on your rights as a parent on parental leave or when returning to work, check out MaternityAction.co.uk who are working tirelessly to ensure parents (mums in particular) are treated fairly in the workplace. 

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How to: completely surprise your girlfriend with a weekend away

Last Friday was my birthday. To be honest, I wasn’t hugely excited. But the OH was taking the day off and I was looking forward to just spending the day together and chilling out (and hopefully a lie in!).

Little Miss kindly slept in until 6am, at which point I shook the OH. He dutifully got up, not forgetting to say ‘Happy Birthday’ as I was already falling back asleep.

30 minutes later he and Little Miss were standing at the foot of the bed singing Happy Birthday.

When I saw the time I was nothing less than horrified. No birthday lie in?! What is this madness?!

“Nope, come on, get up, busy day.”

Cue disbelief and near refusal to get out of bed.

“There’s coffee, come on.”

Waiting on the dining room table were my cards. The first, from Little Miss, read:

To Mummy,

I think you and Daddy need a break! That’s why I’m going to stay with Dodo, GrandPam, [my favourite Uncle] and [Auntie Chatterbox] for the weekend!

You’re welcome!

Love you Mummy,

Little Miss xxx

My first thought was, ‘so I don’t get to spend my birthday with Little Miss…?’

Which the OH had already considered; I couldn’t lie in so I had some time with Little Miss (and to pack) before we left mid-morning for a mystery weekend away. His parents were collecting Little Miss at 9:30 and we had to leave at 10:30.

Packing instructions: wrap up warm, comfy shoes for the day, something nice for an evening out and bring a swim suit.

At this point I thought, right, we’re going to Iceland (somewhere we’ve talked about going in recent years but thought wasn’t appropriate with a baby or toddler).

So we had breakfast together, Little Miss and I read some stories and had a play. When GranPam and “Dodo” [Grandad] arrived, she was thrilled to see the back of us. (And by the sound of it, that sentiment continued as she had a blast this weekend, not missing us one iota, even sleeping through the night until 7 or 8am! Fingers crossed that will carry on now we’re home….)

GranPam gave me two cards, both with Euros in for the weekend – aha! A clue! Only at this point, she says, “something to spend in Dublin.”

Oops…

“Oh, no, I didn’t end up booking Dublin. I went with the other option in the end.”

I can’t quite believe the OH managed this but he played it so coolly I actually believed my mother-in-law had the wrong destination. I don’t know whether to be impressed or concerned by his lying skills.

So off we went to the airport. 

En route, the OH suddenly said, “oh, did you pick up your iPad from it’s hiding place?” Rats, no. (We’ve had to start hiding the iPads from Little Miss as she’s now officially obsessed.)

At the airport, I was forbidden from looking at departure boards and the OH kept hold of my boarding pass. As we queued up for the gate he said, “OK, you can now look at the board.”

Venice!!

“I thought we were going to Iceland! Awesome!”

Five minutes later;

“I’m actually kind of glad we’re not going to Iceland. It would have been really cold-”

“Oh no wait, our gate wasn’t 44. I meant 42…”

Shit…

As we approach gate 42, I spot the destination;

“Oh! Oh. Oslo…?” (Not going to lie, this would have been totally left field. Maybe the Northern Lights?)

One minute later;

“No, not Oslo, come on.” And off we go again.

Finally, we queued up at out gate; I wasn’t allowed to look at the board.

When we sat in our seats, the OH presented me with my iPad (more sneakiness!), loaded with a list of articles on our destination, suggestions of what to do, where to go, where to eat, etc and more cards from my parents with yet more Euros.

Dublin! 

He said he had booked nothing but a restaurant for dinner that night for my birthday. The rest of the weekend was our’s to organise together. And Dublin did not disappoint.

Safe to say, he totally blew me away; I had absolutely no idea what he was planning in the run up to my birthday- much to his relief. But can’t help but feel I need to raise my game for his next birthday. Thankfully I have a whole year to plan!

(I don’t actually like Guinness… the Whiskey tasting was much more up my street.)

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Close to home

Last weekend, we had a quiet one, just enjoying our favourite things to do as a family and our favourite spots close to home ahead of our move (now just two weeks away – yikes!).

I’m afraid this is one of those posts that’s more for me than anyone else; a little reminder of the quiet times as a family, of a happy Saturday and Sunday spent tramping in wellies through muddy puddles, coffee in hand, enjoying spending time just us three. 

The photos aren’t the most spectacular or eye catching we’ve ever taken but their simplicity sums up our lovely quiet family weekend perfectly ahead of the turbulent few weeks ahead (and no doubt lack of sleep as Little Miss adjusts to her new surrounding so). 

 

We took a walk down the canal to Victroia Park for beetroot samosas at the Cafe in the Park, one of Little Miss’ favourite lunchtime spots.

 
 

Squelching through the mud in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (our all time favourite spot in the area).

 
 
 See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender

Heading for the hills…

It’s been no secret on the blog that two and a half years ago our pregnancy took us somewhat by surprise. Or that we weren’t living together at the time.

Two years, one month ago, shortly before Christmas, heavily pregnant, hormonal and tired, I finally moved into the OH’s bachelor pad. We had looked for somewhere new but he had an absolute steal on rent in London’s Zone 2 and although it wasn’t exactly what we had imagined (you know, being uber realistic in our real estate hopes and dreams……) it had two bedrooms, a dishwasher (I despise doing dishes) an elevator and was close to a tube line.

At the time, the ceiling didn’t leak (that changed within the month) and there was no mould (this changed within the year). Thankfully, the property management are relatively fast acting.

Despite it’s failings, it’s actually been a good apartment – the easily wiped clean laminate flooring has proved very convenient with a baby – and we’ve actually been really happy here.

And we love East London. It’s got loads of green space, a great community, we’re a stone’s throw from Central London and the OH could be home in 45mins despite working just out of London.

Many (*cough* mainly my mum *cough*) suggested we shouldn’t stay in London with a baby. But it was the right choice for us.

None of our existing friends had babies yet and paying an arm and a leg in rent meant we could still see them easily, whether it was a quick drink after work or popping out for brunch on a Sunday with buggy in tow.

But, slowly and surely, over the past two years, reality has chipped away at our resolve to live in London.

The OH is a bit of a Country Bumpkin at heart; he grew up in the rolling hills of Surrey and always thought his children would grow up with woods and fields to explore and clean air to breath. To be fair, it’s not such a tall order.

I’m much more of a City Mouse. In fact, it’s a running joke in the family how ‘un-country’ I am in my Vivienne Westwood coat and red Hunter wellies tramping through the field walking the in-laws’ dogs.

Little Miss, however, seems to take after her Daddy. When we visit the family, you can see how happy she is running in the garden with so much space to explore. When we went to Whitstable, she was in her element. Even at just three months old, when we went to France, she was happiest when she was outside amongst the trees – in fact, it was the only thing that stopped her crying some days.

As much as it pains me to say it, it’s been clear from the off, Little Miss isn’t a City Mouse. She’s a Nature Girl through and through.

So as my unemployment drags into a second year; as we started to question the quality of life we could provide for Little Miss living in London vs. outside the M25; as we started to feel uneasy about her being on the tube everyday wondering how much pollution she was breathing in; as we started thinking about schools; as we started to take a hard look at how much we actually made the most of ‘the London lifestyle’ these days whether because we couldn’t afford that awesome new restaurant this month or because we were just too knackered… our house hunt started to head further and further out of London.

The nail in the coffin was when the OH’s employer announced they were moving the office to further out of London into deepest, darkest Hertfordshire in early 2016.

The weekend before Christmas, we were visiting my mum and decided to look at a few houses to see what we could get for our money.

You know when you walk in somewhere and it just feels like home? Well, quite unexpectedly, that happened.

It was a cute little terraced cottage, opening out onto a garden, a big, open kitchen (very important to us), two bedrooms and third teeny, tiny, box room we can use for a study. (We have a study – I officially feel like we’re moving up in the world.)

So at the end of this month, we’re leaving our first little family home and we’re leaving London.

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Little Miss already unpacking her changing bag and making herself at home in her new room.

We’re moving to a small town in leafy Hertfordshire (thankfully not the one where I spent my tween and teen years – that would just feel like too much of a backwards step for me!) with a little high street and a playground, plenty of young families and a lovely, old-school little movie theatre.

I’m really excited. The OH, despite his natural affinity for the countryside has some stronger reservations about us leaving London given we’re only 27. He’s worried we’ll lose touch with our original friends, become those people, and I have my own worries too. But I have a feeling what we’ll gain by living somewhere we’re happy in, that fits with our family rather than our family fitting it will make us happier in the long run. The rest will come out in the wash – it always does.

We’re not going super rural. There’s a good train link into London and the house isn’t isolated by fields. But safe to say I probably need to invest in a more appropriate coat for weekend welly walks .

But I’ll be damned if I’m giving up my red wellies.