Bournemouth is great

I don’t know that I’ve ever been to Bournemouth. I’m a typical Londoner who, other than traveling for the odd wedding, hasn’t experienced much of her own country. Meeting my partner changed a lot of that. Growing up in Jersey means that the minute the weather is above 18 degrees, he’s looking at campsites and heading to the nearest beach. So it was no surprise that when his parents came to visit they settled on a few days in Bournemouth, rather than London.

A year ago the thought of packing up the kids and driving for a 4 hour round trip just to spend 5 hours in a different town, would have sent me into a cold sweat. But having been conditioned to long(ish) car journeys over the last few months, I thought nothing of it. Much to my eldest son’s dismay I cranked up Bon Jovi, perfect to sing along to and off we headed.

The weather was amazing, the beach inviting and the great company and having everything on the doorstep for the time we were there made the day one of the best we’ve had all year.*

If the weather gets better and you have nowhere nice to go, try Bournemouth, hopefully you will like it as much as I did.

*totally disregarding the extortionate price of the rides on the pier and the kids relentless nagging for another turn on a ride/ice-cream/tourist tat for sale.

Don’t take hungry children out to eat

Luckily this didn’t happen on the same day as Bournemouth, where we paid an extortionate price for hot dogs and chips for the kids, only for all 3 of them to declare them ‘disgusting’ and proceed to feed them to Stitch. I would like to say this went some way to making it up to Stitch for him enduring a 4 hour round trip only to not be allowed on the beach, but the reality is I was worried he was going to vomit frankfurters in the car on the way home. Note to self, be a bit more gentle when going round corners.

Yesterday my partner and I needed to nip to Kingston and like complete novices, not the seasoned parents of 3 that we are, we decided to take the boys and bribe them with a trip to McDonalds.

Rookie mistake. First of all the kids were hungry. Secondly, we decided to get our chores out the way first (sorry people in the bank). Let’s just say the boys behaviour wasn’t good. Further amplified when the (old) man jumped off the pavement and into the road, in order to avoid the boys who were swinging around, play fighting.

We thought food would calm them down (me) and that they would be full after their happy meals (my partner). We were mistaken. After all McDonalds isn’t exactly the healthy, nutritionally balanced meal one would hope to be shovelling into their children at 4pm on a Thursday. Needless to say, a second dinner was needed once we brought our hyperactive, full of additives, children home. The moral of this story – if you’re taking your kids to McDonalds, make sure they’ve had something healthy and blood sugar balancing beforehand and if taking them out to eat, perhaps choose something a little more additive free than McDonalds.

It’s just for today and maybe tomorrow, but not for always

We all go through hard times right? Some of us go through more difficult times than others and when you throw separation and divorce into it, the hard times can go on for a very long time. I have a couple of friends going through the separation process, which can feel like a double edged sword. The initial feeling is ‘freedom!’ and excitement but seriously, separating can utterly suck. From not really knowing your place in the world, trying to navigate life as a single parent, financial insecurity. You name it and most people are feeling or have felt it.

One of my closest friends is in the process of building a pretty awesome life for her and her kids following her divorce. She’ll be the first to say that it’s not always easy or as easy as it looks on Facebook and Instagram. Behind the happy pictures and fun day trips with the kids is a combustable ex, trying to single parent 2 kids in 2 different schools and having a very demanding job. When life gets too much I remind her, what got me through much of last (and this) year is telling myself ‘it’s just for today and maybe tomorrow, but it’s not for always’. She says that every time I say that to her it helps. So I’m saying it to you too. If you’re having a hard time, remind yourself. It’s for today. Maybe tomorrow. But absolutely, definitely not for always.

It’s ok to be vulnerable

In Brené Brown’s Ted Talk about vulnerability she says ‘vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage’. Yes, I’m a massive fan of hers and yes, I completely agree with this. When I went to my minister a couple of years ago saying I was going to separate from my husband she told me to go and watch Brené Brown’s Ted Talks. She told me it was ok to be vulnerable and that the world needs more courageous, vulnerable people.

At that point I was just getting through life day by day. I kept showing up, I kept making myself vulnerable, owning mistakes and being accountable for the situation I’d found myself in. It was courageous and in doing this, it also made me more brave. I had always thought I was brave because I had raced motorbikes and done a load of crazy stuff that will probably never make it to my 5 Things list. That didn’t make me brave. Owning my story, my life and my mistakes and showing up did.

Last week I had to do something I really didn’t want to do. It made me feel exposed and vulnerable but it was the right thing to do and so I did it, despite how it made me feel. You know what? The world didn’t end, nothing bad happened and whilst it wasn’t the most pleasant experience, if I had to do it again, I would.

Saving presents for a rainy day is a brilliant idea

I’d like to say that this had all been planned and I am one of those Pinterest worthy parents who has her shit together and does stuff like this on a regular basis. The reality is that my little one turned 5 a couple of weeks ago, the day before school ended and in the process of chucking out the school routine, a camping trip, visiting relatives in Bournemouth and spending time with their Dad, we just didn’t get round to sorting through his presents.

I’m going to take a minute here to thank my disorganised self as it meant when the rain hit this week we were, I’d like to say prepared but honestly, pleasantly surprised when we found a load of toys to play with on rainy days.

Due to the disorganised chaos that is our home (if you look closely you can see my partner’s eye twitch at the lack of order and routine), the presents aren’t all stored in one place meaning if I ask the kids to tidy we stumble across at least one new thing. Perfect. As long as you’re not tidying at bedtime and they’re not discovering new, exciting games when it’s already 40 mins past their bedtime routine. Oh well, a mere 3 games later and I was the loser of ‘Whats Up’ and a very happy five year old was wrestled into bed.