Planning a gender neutral birthday party..

Planning a gender neutral birthday party..

My little guy turned two recently and his little best friend also turned two aswell so we decided to share a birthday party to keep costs low. Having a girl and boy share a party is a bit harder then the same gender because you’ve got to find a theme which is not to girly or manly. We came together and decided a jungle theme would be best. I was in charge of decorations while my friend was in charge of food and party bags.

I brought some lovely bits from amazon including banners, balloons and tassles to make banners. I brought bits to make a bunting and we also brought some artificial leaves to decorate the place. We brought some table covers and the paper plates and cups from Asda which where great and did the job perfectly! The napkins brought from tiger as they had tigers on and where a bit different then normal bits. I decorated and everyone helped and it came together really well. We hired a hall and a bouncy castle ball pit soft play so it went really well as the soft play had animals on so all matched. I would recommend soft play again to anyone thinking of arranging a party as the children absolutely loved it and played the whole time.

Although the party was a great success I don’t think we’d do another joint party as towards the end we both wanted a bit more involvements in bits. I wanted to help with food a bit more and my friend wanted more girly pink banners which wouldn’t of works having a theme. We made it work however and the day was a bit and everyone had fun. Next year I think we’ll just have a trip to soft play and order the kids a pizza!

It’s hard not to miss your old life.

It’s hard not to miss your old life.

Elijah went for a sleepover at his nanny’s yesterday so me and James could go cinemas and destress as we had a very stressful week and needed some time to just breath. It got me thinking that sometimes I miss our old life. When it was us two. I obviously don’t wish away or regret having Elijah but sometimes I ache with a need to just be us sometimes.

Nobody really warns you when you try and get pregnant that you will no longer have time just the two of you anymore. You get told from everyone they’ll be there for childcare but once baby exits your body nobody wants to know. Childcare is a few hours of peace and it’s rare to get anymore than that. I can count on one hand the nights away from Elijah we’ve had. In two years that’s not a lot of time. Although I love our family time and cuddles on the sofa I miss life in the slow lane.

It’s the little things you miss, waking up at the weekend after a lay in. Slowly waking up and scrolling on your phone and chatting till you decide to get up and go have breakfast. Having a a slow breakfast eating whatever you want with no mess to clean up after, hands to wipe or hands grabbing at your food. It’s deciding what you want to do and just going out to do it. No packing a massive bag and cramming with snacks and nappies. No thinking do they have baby changing? Is it kid friendly? How long should I be there before I need to come home and get the kid to nap?

It’s missing out on dates. Where you used to randomly decide at 7 you where going to cinema and just get in the car and go and now it’s can you have the kid in a weeks time for two hours please and we’ll pick and drop you off? It’s going to a restaurant and spending the whole time worrying about other people judging your kid for going on your phone or making a noise or something like that. It’s also cleaning the floor and sides after eating a meal. Something you’d never do just the two of you on a date.

It’s the conversation being calmed down. Not swearing except for when the kids in bed and talking about certain subjects so they don’t learn the words and go round using the c word or something like that. I will say however I find it hilarious when kids swear by accident it brings my soul pure joy!

I miss not relying on anyone to do things just us two now and when we go and do our old hobbies not having to rush them because Elijah grows bored or tired. I miss going to bed when I wanted and not waking up exhausted. Not having to listen to baby alarm in a light sleep and waking at every roll in his bed all night long. I miss when 7 am was early to me on days I wasn’t working.

Overall I love our life now and wouldn’t change it for the world. I love our family and how much better life has got since having Elijah but sometimes, just sometimes I miss when it was us two and we could be just a couple .

How going from being a working mum to a stay at home mum has affected me.

How going from being a working mum to a stay at home mum has affected me.

I never thought in a million years I’d give up work. I’ve always been a driven woman wanting to do my bit for the community but also get paid and have a ok living from it. That was until I had a child and even then I wanted to work. I wanted to be a good roll model I wanted to show I could do it, I could work and be a mum but it became impossible.

Childcare was difficult I had to rely on nursery two days a week as childcare and if Elijah was unwell I still had to pay the bill and take unpaid leave from work. It seemed he was always getting ill and with no alternative childcare I had to take unpaid or it was lucky I was on annual leave while he was ill. I had to keep taking leave as I had no flexibility to rearrange childcare to work different days so. In the end the pay wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth the stress of the job and the guilt of working for so little. I left mainly because of the stress and how it effected my mental health and I have to say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’m not saying run out there and quit your job because that would be silly. If it’s something you want to think about and discuss with your partner then do so but it’s not a decision to make lightly. We had always said one day I would stop working and it just came at a good time really.

James is self employed so he can go out and earn more money. As I left work James was in the process of taking on a lot of work and because I stopped working that meant James could start and finish earlier getting more jobs and more money. He was no longer doing the nursery run and was also visibly less stressed from not having to sit a car for a hour and half a day. We are financially better off. James has full flexibility now as I’m home to watch Elijah and it’s made such a big impact.

My mental health is miles better. I’m no longer on the edge waiting for something to push me off. I still have down days but they’re nothing like they used to be. I don’t stress about made up situations and scenarios in my head about work. I don’t worry about money. I don’t worry I’ll get fired if I or my son feels ill and can be there for my family when they are ill. I don’t have too much to worry about.

My relationships are better. I have more time to see my friends and too talk and I also communicate through texts more. My friendships are stronger than ever and I’ve even made more friends. My conversations are no longer me staring off into distance as I’m stressed wanting to leave because I’m exhausted and don’t have the mental strength to maintain or care about anything said to me. I’m able to fully input into a conversation and have some positive things to add into a situation. My family ties are stronger as I’m not so stressed, I’m not uptight as much and enjoy being in my family’s presence and making more time for it.

My family life is better. I feel like a mother. Not a part time care giver. I spend everyday with him now and have gone from sometimes not seeing him for 24 hours to not missing a thing. I’m not exhausted from work anymore so I have the energy to chase Elijah around, to play and teach him. I take him out more and it’s positive for both of us. It’s now we bond and learn together having fun every step of the way. Me and James’s relationship grows stronger everyday. For some reason I’ve found James is less stressed with me home. I thought it would be the opposite but he tells me it’s better and he doesn’t want me to work as he likes it. The house is tidy when he comes home now or little bits need doing so we have more us time. When Elijah goes to bed at 7 we have all night so we have more time to relax. We will watch a movie or tv series and cuddle on sofa, play a game or James will do work stuff at the table and I’ll read my kindle talking every now and then. Where was before we’d normally zone out and do our own stuff as I’d get home at 8 sometimes earlier and have to still do the clean up and cook and shower. I’d be exhausted and just flop onto the sofa with my phone and spend my perhaps hour of rest before bed ignoring life. We had breakfast together which used to be nice but it turned into a hulk it down so I could get ready for work while James got Elijah ready. Now we have time to be a family and sit down together it’s rare we don’t eat together now. James gets to come home and relax and we relax together. He still helps here and there but I try to get most of the work done and if we’re both exhausted I’ll offer to wash up the next day. The nicest thing is we talk more and on his days off have family time where we are all present in the moment not exhausted and thinking of other things.

The households more maintained. I have time to keep the house tidy and not just clean. I have time and energy to do decorating with James when we want to. The thought before of using my crucial time of to paint a wall made me feel physically sick. I cook more nutritious meals from scratch. I plan ahead and I’m now organised. We enjoy our home more than we used too. We also go out more too and have more guests over as I’m not embarrassed by my house.

My health is improved as I look after myself more. I don’t binge eat at work on lunch breaks from the chippy or Chinese with a dessert of chocolate every time I’ve had a shit day. I take time to look after myself. I have time to exercise. To take my tablets on time, to eat right and to be able to have time to relax and have a self care/ skin care regime too.

I do however miss my work. I miss colleagues and having a laugh with the girls. I miss having a career. I miss having somewhat a important role. I miss learning and adapting to change. I miss having me time on the way home from work and my lunch breaks. I miss being Charlie when everyone didn’t just ask about Elijah, they asked about me. I miss feeling proud to be a mum making her own money.

I don’t like asking for money. Christmas is going to be hard for me as I don’t want to ask for money to buy James his own presents. I feel degraded and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. James doesn’t mind but I hate relying on someone else and it gets me quite uptight. I also get defensive if I’m told no because I can’t just get it with my own money now. Rarely I’m told no btw and I’m not a gold digger so calm down If that’s what you where thinking.

My tired is a different tired. I’m exhausted from a child that takes every inch of my energy. He’s demanding as hell and although I love the time we spend together he can’t half be a pain in the ass.

I get lonely. If I don’t have plans for a few days in a row I get lonely. Even with Elijah I feel alone and like I have no friends even though I know I do. I also get bored easily and want to do something different all the time.

I hate the stigma that comes with being a stay at home mum. It’s like all the years of working have been for nothing. It’s like your worthless because you’ve decided to stay at home and look after your family. People don’t respect you. They think your lazy and have life easy. Having done both, working and staying at home I can say working was easier sometimes and work stops motherhood doesn’t. There’s no home Time when things get tough or calling in sick because you’re having a bad mental health day or chucking your guts up. There’s no lunch break and nobody to help.

Overall I am lucky to be given the opportunity to stay at home and to have such a loving, hard working husband to provide this life for us all. Sometimes I miss working, sometimes I don’t but for now it’s been the best decision we’ve made.

Mental health since becoming a mama.

Mental health since becoming a mama.

Something I’m not ashamed to say is my mental health has changed so much since having a baby. Some ways in the better and some ways not so good. It’s impossible not to change after having a child and I find that nobody talks about the positives it has on your mindset.

First of all I’m going to start with your expectations of yourself. When you have a baby all you do is compare yourself to other parents, your parents, people you’ve never even met onlines parenting abilities and it’s exhausting. Sometimes you may feel you’ve got to do better at being a parent and do things others are doing. E.g seeing mothers sending their kids to clubs and going on holidays. You think am I being a good mum not sending him to all these groups he wouldn’t even probably like? Am I stopping him learning about culture because I’m too hervous to board a plane with a child that insists on screaming on the floor if he doesn’t get what he wants. You think do I want to be like this parent and be like a child’s friend or be like another and more strict so he appreciates you more. You wonder if you’re doing well enough or if you could do better. It makes you anxious and worried. You spend time worrying that your child will fail and it’ll be your fault because of your failures and although they won’t as you know deep down your a good mum you can’t help but doubt yourself.

A positive is I’ve found I don’t really take anyone’s crap now. When someone expect my life to revolve around them or they’re being nasty now I don’t take it. I don’t want negativity and my negative thoughts around my child so I will just cut out people’s crap. I’m direct and tell people how I’m feeling and surprisingly I feel a stronger happier person when I do. I feel a weight lifted of my shoulders.

Your self image will change. Your body will naturally go through changes growing a baby so you’ll no doubt hate your body. Your skin and hair will look difffrent too. You’ll be self conscious where you weren’t before loving baby clothes instead of dressing to feel good about yourself. And this is probably the most common and saddest thing to happen to most mums. To go from this confident body loving queen to a shell of a woman who’s tenants left the body and took that bit of them with them.

I’m sleepy all the time which causes me to be stressed. I get upset when elijahs been a pain although I don’t show him, sometimes I have to have a good unwinding session before bed. Tantrums are very hard to deal with and the eyes of the public judging you while you struggle hard enough. Sometimes other people’s eyes make you angry and you want to snap but can’t. You have to find the energy to teach your child right and wrong. You need to teach them to deal with their emotions when you can’t even deal with yours. The responsibility is some next level stress.

You’ll probably socialise with people more. You’ll probably make some mum friends and you’ll get out more. You’ll feel happier to express yourself and confide in your friends. You’ll feel more positive having people you can relax and be yourself with. You’ll keep yourself busy and stop your mind wondering.

You’ll feel proud of your child and look at that smiling face. You’ll see you can do anything if you believe in it because your child believes in you. You’ll believe you can be loved. You can see your hard work pay off and feel a love and happiness like no other.

I’ve only touched on some of the ways having a child has affected me and their are so many other ways. I know I sound like I am complaining about being a mother, I am not. I love my child and being a mother more than anything it’s everything I’ve always wanted. But you have to realise that you do have emotions and they are going to change and it’s ok to talk about them rather then bottle them up inside and struggle alone. If you ever need help my inbox is always open.

Wedding talk: Part three – Entertainment.

Wedding talk: Part three – Entertainment.

Entertainment is something really important for a wedding. When you’re having a reception you don’t want you guests stood around staring at the walls bored out of their mind so this is something I focused on quite a lot. Having children coming it was essential they wouldn’t get bored and have things to do and play with at all times.

First of all you want a dj. A good one, you want them to be able to take over your entire disco. I looked around at reviews I didn’t care about prices I just wanted a good one and then met with them. I didn’t tell them what to play I just said give me a good mix and shove in some Kanye, iggy azalea and queen. What’s a wedding without queen. Other than my first dance I didn’t request any specifics I said no black lace (party tunes)and under no circumstances would baby shark be played or their dj set would be thrown out the nearest window. The only thing I didn’t want is to feel like I was at a kids party, it was me and James wedding day and we love anything we can sing too and dance and said let the guests request it’s a party! I even got little dj requests made on Etsy and shipped to me for the wedding. I feel the dj really made a difference and EVERYONE got up and danced at some point even if the dance floor wasn’t huge and to my surprise I basically danced all night. And i may or may not of been dropping to floor and rapping like a mad woman but i was killing it!

Secondly we wanted a photo booth. We looked at lots of places on line and when we went to pick dj had a look on their website and they just so happened to do a photo booth too. I looked through the photos they had and the props and loved them. I booked straight away. Photo booths are a bit expensive but I don’t care everyone absolutely loved the entertainment and even the quiet ones went in. The package came with photos put online only I could access, a usb with them all, photos for all the guests (as many as they wanted) and a photo book the staff would print a extra of each photo and put them in and make guests write a comment next to it like a guest book. I’m so glad they did as the guests forgot to write in my guest book and I had like three pages! It was full to the brim and was such a precious memory keep sake and makes me chuckle watching how people get more drunk and the naughty drawings and words appeared. The props where amazing and they had two massive boxes filled with hats, masks, accessories, signs, wigs you name it they had them! The guests could also choose how many photos to take in one and choose everything down to the background. Perhaps the funniest was cousin completely wasted doing some sort of gangster pose with spider man in the background writing in the book “cogratumilations wagwan”. Everyone loved it and it was nice to see couples and family’s taking photos and when I go to my family and friends houses now and see them hanging on the wall it just fills me with joy. It also meant we had some immediate wedding photos which I loved. When we went home we took them back to the hotel and that night went through laughing.

Activities for the older guests. As previously mentioned I got some dj requests made to start conversations and let my guests choose what they had playing to dance too. I also put out some little activity sheets which came back absolutely halerious especially when people got drunk and filled them with fake people such as the rock and some other guy from fast and furious. Apparently I have very famous friends. I got adult games of giant naughts and crosses, lido and snakes and ladders which I donated to a primary school after the big day. Adults like to eat too so I got a doughnut wall filled with doughnuts and I got pick n mix which guests could help them self’s to which also entertained them. Also the bar defiantly helped entertain everyone!

Children where quite hard as he’s a lot of baby’s and toddlers, but I got children all colouring books (big ones to take home) , crayons, bubbles and some activity sheets from Poundland. When kids got bored of them it entertained the adults. I also brought toys from Elijahs home like cars, figures and my friend brought some too. These went down a big hit with the younger children and they where entertained for so long! They also loved the pick n mix. When the music came on they loved having a boogy on the dance floor and chasing the lights. The kids clearly enjoyed the photo booth too as there’s lots of photos of them with different hats and masks on and they walked around all night wearing different things!

Other than normal entertainment big things like first dance and speeches where put closely together before the dj started so that everyone could have cake and eat and do what they wanted and so that children could go when tired or bored!

Overall I think I entertained everyone pretty well and there’s things I could of done to entertain people a bit more but you do what you can! But it was a fantastic day!

A introduction to me.

A introduction to me.

Hello, for the benefit of you very lovely people on my blog/Wordpress I thought I’d introduce myself. The face behind my blog and life with the Hazelwoods! My name is Charlie-Jane and I am 24, I live in Suffolk with my little family. My son Elijah and his dad, my husband James. I’ve worked in healthcare and community care for many years and learnt a lot of things. I like to think one of those things is to try and be a good human being no mater how hard that may be. I’ve recently decided (with James wanting it too) to become a stay at home mum. James has very kindly decided he will be the working parent while I raise our son at home. While I miss working and the excitement my job brought me sometimes I do truly love being a stay at home mum and house wife. Since staying at home I’ve really been able to find my hobby which is blogging and I am really starting to enjoy it. My blog is about anything that pops into my head really from recipes to being completely honest with how parenting has changed my life and things like my mental health. I feel things shouldn’t be filtered and people should be able to see more of the real life that other mums and people go through too. From my struggle with some of my illnesses too things we get up to everyday I’ll be blogging and I hope you’ll be joining, reading and getting involved as I’d love to meet other like minded individuals like me that have had enough of these blogs that have one specific genre and only show the perfect side of life. So stay tuned and click the follow button for more!

Having a zoo pass.

Having a zoo pass.

For years i wanted a zoo pass but have always thought, will i go enough? The answer has always been yes! I go at least twice a year and in those two trips i could of saved money having a pass. Since having a little one we have wanted to go and more but is such a expense so we bit the bullet and i brought them with my last paycheck. Since having the zoo pass we have been as a family 3 times. We have been with our friends 2 times and have saved lots of money on food, gift shops and even get a discount for friends and family. I even made my best friend get one and she goes all the time now!

Colchester zoo is the nearest zoo to us and we love it. It’s a short journey and there are so many animals and its so big! We never get bored and there is always plenty to do which is free. There is face painting, train journeys, enclosure walk throughs, shows and talks aswell as feeding of animals you can watch all in your visit. There’s plenty to eat and different places to go so there are lots of options from a restaurant to fast food places which we save 20% on! The gift shop is absolutely huge and we save 10% on everything! The soft play is pretty good and also free so if you wanted to take your child to soft play with a pass its essentially free!

My little guy is obsessed with big cats so he loves seeing the lions, baby tiger cubs and the cheetahs. He loves the big animals like elephants and giraffes and when hes older we will let him feed them! we love going on the train to walk around the lemur enclosure and running through the sea lion tunnel. We love letting him run round and burn all his energy and choose where he wants to go and its such a fun day out always.

It’s something i would recommend to everyone that goes to zoo at least once a year as it’s something that can be enjoyed all year long especially with toddler.It may be expensive at first but it saves so much in the long one and is cheaper than trips to various other places you would end up going instead.