So, I've re-joined Slimming World

Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while will know that, prior to our wedding, I lost two and a half stone through Slimming World.

I joined in November 2015 and by March 2016 was at my target weight. I kept the weight off for the year up to our wedding, and for the summer that followed while I was bridesmaid for my best friend, and then went on our honeymoon, put almost a stone on, and got pregnant. And the rest, as they say, is history!

I did go back to Slimming World when Peyton was around 6-8 weeks old, however, because I was still breastfeeding I think my "baby weight" was dropping off more because of that, rather than because I was sticking to plan.

I piled on over five stone while I was pregnant and, boy, did I know it. Every part of me got bigger: my arms, my legs, my neck, my face... It was just like someone had inflated me.

By November, I was two stone away from my original target weight. I figured it would be "easy" to lose this last bit so decided to go it alone at home, without going to group. It was hard for me to go to group and stay because Peyton was still breastfed and needed me there to feed her to sleep (it was far from an ideal situation), and when Tom changed his job he was often not home in time for me to go. I also didn't like to take her with me because I was conscious she would cry during image therapy and, while everyone would pretend to be understanding, nobody wants to listen to a crying baby when they're trying to listen to others talking.

I knocked it on the head and hoped that, when I started back at work in March, my head would be in a better place to get back to the Slimming World ways. I wouldn't be going out for lunch regularly, or having coffee (and cake) dates on random weekdays. I also wouldn't be diving headfirst into the snack cupboard because I was at home and it was there.

This didn't go to plan, though. I just couldn't get my head back in it.

As summer is approaching, and we've had a few tastes of nice weather, I've got so disheartened when my summer clothes haven't fit properly. I have two options - my summer clothes from 2017, or my summer clothes from last year. The ones from last year are ginormous (to incoroporate my slowly deflating belly and gigantic knockers) and the ones from 2017 are too small.

So a change had to be made; and back to Slimming World I went.

I re-joined as a new member because I found it quite demoralising when I went back after Peyton was born and I didn't get awards when I lost weight. And the awards are what keep you going.

I had a really good first week, losing 5lbs.

I didn't expect to lose that much. In fact, I was only saying at work before weigh-in that I thought I'd be disheartened when I didn't lose as much weight as I did on week one my first time around. But there was no worries about that - I lost more than I did during my first week one back in 2015.

I had an okay week, but didn't think it was spectacular enough to have lost that. But, I will take it and run!

I am so determined to get rid of this weight and feel a bit happier and more confident in my skin again. I'm still not mad on my post-baby body, and still have a bad relationship with my stretch marks, but I'm hoping if I lose the rest of this weight it'll go some way towards repairing that.

Peyton turns one in five weeks and I would love to be a stone lighter by then. Then we have our best friends' baby girl's christening, a wedding, our holiday and another wedding! I want to look back at those pictures and like how I look, and be able to wear outfits I'm comfortable in, rather than just whatever fits at the time.

My target is half a stone above what it was originally, as I feel it'll be difficult to get back down to that weight. However, if I find I get there quite easily I can always lower it.

For now, though, I am just focusing one week at a time.

Some days are hard, I find I have to be very organised; which isn't always easy when working long days and having a little one to factor into everything. Baby steps, though!

If I lose 2lbs or more this week I will get my half a stone award. Half a stone gone, just like that!

I still can't believe I lost so much this week. Not by doing any crazy diet where you blend weird things or cut out cards. Not by busting my ass in the gym for hours a day. Just by eating well. And, I still drank half a bottle of red wine on Saturday!

That's why I love Slimming World. You can still live your life, enjoy yourself and be social while losing weight.

Sorry, but I'm probably going to bore you with regular updates each week now! I used to include everything I'd eaten that week on my blogs so I might do that again, as I felt it helped keep me accountable, but we'll see if I get chance to write it down/remember what I've eaten...!


The age for free childcare hours needs re-assessing

I saw a petition shared on Facebook yesterday. This isn't uncommon, I often see all sorts of petitions shared: boycott this, change that, implement this... I rarely pay much attention.

However, this one caught my eye. And I signed it. And now I'm going to rant about it.

It was a petition to the government to give 15 hours free childcare to working parents of children from the age of nine months.

After nine months of maternity leave, most mums stop getting maternity pay (unless you work for a company that has a banging maternity scheme - if that's you, I'm really jealous).

I got statutory maternity pay when I was off which meant that when my nine months of leave were up, the £130-odd a week I got paid would stop. I was entitled to take a full 12 months of maternity leave, however the last quarter would be unpaid.

We, obviously, could not afford this. We saved enough to supplement the poor statutory maternity pay each month for the nine months I was off, but would've struggled to go any longer.

I've come back to work full-time, because I couldn't afford not to.

It's a double-edged sword.

Peyton goes to nursery three days a week because we couldn't manage grandparent childcare for those days. Even if we could, I'd have still sent her one day a week so she got to do all the fun/messy things I don't want to do at home (and obvs for the social interaction/development etc, too). Just for three days a week, our bill for nursery last month was more than our mortgage. And will be every month.

Granted, I do the tax-free childcare government scheme which pays 20% of your bill; so I saved about £100 off it. But still, it's a huge chunk of my wage gone.

**If you don't do this, you really need to! It's really easy to sign up to. Once you're done, all you do is pay 80% of your bill onto this government portal, they top it up with the further 20%, and then you send the payment to your nursery. It'll save us just over £1,000 a year which is better than a slap in the face.**

I can't go part-time because the days I would work would be the three we have no alternative childcare and she goes to nursery. So I'd be on a reduced wage, still paying out the hefty bill every month.

It's absolutely ludicrous that parents are faced with this expense - as if it wasn't expensive enough having a child!

Peyton loves nursery, so it's money well spent, but a helping hand from the government in terms of free hours would go a long way. Fifteen hours is not even two full days, it's not a lot, but it would be a huge help. Particularly to parents who are even less fortunate than us and don't have any childcare help and require full-time nursery places.

It would mean mums - and dads - could go back to work with more ease; it would encourage more parents to go back to work rather than to quit their jobs because, in so many cases, it costs too much to work.

How crazy is that?! It costs us too much money to work.

I'll get a certain amount of free hours when she turns two, I think, but even then that doesn't start until the start of the next term; meaning they'll kick in next September!

Fifteen hours a week from nine months for working parents would make the biggest of differences. In a country where employment rates aren't the greatest, surely the government should be doing everything it can to encourage people to get (back) into work. This would go such a long way to that.

Of course, there are parents who don't want to go back to work once their baby has been born. So not every single parent would claim the free hours. Some, even if they are going back to work, might still favour grandparent childcare to nurseries so they wouldn't require it either.

It's hard enough going back to work after having a baby without facing the prospect of steep childcare  costs (which are totally and utterly warranted, by the way, because the staff at nurseries do an amazing job and deal with an awful lot of shit; quite literally!!)

This petition is probably going to make no difference whatsoever. Parliament is so busy dealing with/arguing over Brexit it doesn't seem that anything else gets done at the moment.

Even if Brexit wasn't occupying so much of our politicians' time, I still highly doubt they would listen to the thousands who are crying out for the change. These petitions pop up all the time and the success rate is depressingly low.

But, I suppose, if you don't ask you don't get. I might write to my MP and see if it is something that could be raised in Parliament; often a quite email/letter to them gets things brought up at least in PMQs (Prime Minister's questions) and noted on record more than these petitions do.

If you want to sign the petition, which as I write this is still climbing, the link is here.

When I saw it yesterday it was on 18,000 signatures - it's now over 66,000 less than 24 hours later.

It's unlikely it'll make a difference, but we can but try!


We've survived our first month

We have survived our first month of work/nursery and come out the other side almost unscathed.

I say almost because we've all been riddled with germs since week two.

Of course, starting nursery comes with lots of new germs and Peyton's done a cracking job of picking up a pretty hefty cold. She was snotty for what felt like forever, passed it onto me and Tom, then got over it for a couple of days before coming down with another one. Grand.

My third week back at work and I felt like death warmed up and ended up getting tonsillitis, so not the best start to being back!


We've both had a ball.

Peyton absolutely loves nursery. She is always so happy when I drop her off on a morning. Even on her first day she didn't cry, she just went to the ladies and happily went about starting to get breakfast.

Now, when we get there, as soon as her coat is off she's putting her arms out to go to the nearest member of staff, grinning at everyone she sees.

It's so nice that she is so happy, and has such a good relationship with them already. It definitely makes it easier for me.

I was worried that if she was upset that I would cry, too. But, no tears from her meant none from me! I did have a knot in my stomach most of the day on my first day back - particularly when I saw a missed call from nursery on my phone and a dozen messages from Tom asking what I was doing and why I didn't answer when nursery rang - but no tears.

FYI, the phone call was just to check she could have some Calpol cos she had a high temperature due to her top four teeth all deciding to come through together on the poor girl's first day of nursery. Ideal.

Last week she had to be sent home from nursery because she had picked up a bug that was doing the rounds. Because she had the runs it meant she couldn't go back for 48 hours after they'd ended. Brilliant. Cue a last minute rush to find childcare for her for Wednesday so that I could still go to work. Wednesday is my busiest day, with it being deadline, and last Wednesday was a proper chaotic one - so I deffo needed to be there!

I think having a few days away from nursery has helped her get rid of her snotty nose/cold, though, because *touch wood* she is clear today. Instead of going to work not realising I had snot wiped on my shoulder, I went to work with toothpaste all down my arm today. Maybe one day I'll make it out without her leaving me a little reminder on my top!

Tired little babe after a busy day of playing.

I always knew I wanted Peyton to go to nursery, even if our parents could've covered her childcare fulltime. I loved nursery as a kid and wanted her to have that, too. I didn't envisage our bill being more than our mortgage but hey ho! (And she's only there three days a bloody week!) We do the tax-free childcare scheme, though, and that helps massively. It saves us just over £100 a month which is way better than nothing! For any parents with kids in nursery who aren't doing this you need to get on it! It's a revelation.

I even saw Martin Lewis talking about it on a clip This Morning shared this week, so you know it's good if he's advocating it!

She's already come on so much in the four weeks since she started. Her eating is getting even better - she eats more and more now and eats so well, even some days not having her afternoon bottle; her sleeping is better, although I am trying to stop stressing/obsessing over her sleep so much; and her personality is coming out even more. She's proper babbling now, too, and sometimes will copy sounds you make to her. Sometimes we get "mama" but it's few and far between and is literally one of the only sounds she knows how to make, so I'm not getting excited just yet ha.

She has just started to wave too. It's the cutest thing. She waves at people waving on TV, waves at the cats when they come in the room, and was even waving at the dogs at mum and dad's at the weekend.

We've passed the nine-month-old milestone now which is terrifying! The fact she's now been alive, and on this earth, for longer than she was in my tummy blows my mind. I can't believe she will be one in less than three months.

One year of being a mum, of winging it every second of the day, and of learning to adapt to this crazy new normal.

I think we may have stopped breastfeeding now. I haven't fed her from me since Friday through the night. Before she got her tummy bug she did five out of seven nights without feeding during the night. When she woke she either went back off to sleep within a couple of minutes or she just didn't wake at all (she obviously stirred to roll over etc but didn't whinge). That told me that she didn't really need the night feed anymore, she was literally just doing it for comfort. My boobs don't fill up anymore and I'm certain she doesn't get anything from me during the night.

All we've been doing have been night feeds since she started nursery, she has bottles of formula the rest of the time.

In some ways I already miss breastfeeding her. However, on the whole, I am glad our little breastfeeding "journey" has ended like it has. I do wish we'd marked our 'last feed' but, I guess, you never really know when your last feed is going to be. I may still end up feeding her myself in a day or two, but she certainly isn't feeding every night anymore.

The move from boob to formula was gradual, natural and she has taken to the transition really, really well. It's nice to not have to worry about what I wear now and whether it is breastfeeding friendly; it's nice for her to not expose me to everyone when I would feed her out in public; and it's nice to be able to let others feed her and share the load. However, I do miss the ease of feeding her myself and definitely don't miss having to plan to take enough milk out with me; and not being able to be as spontaneous as before because I haven't brought enough milk.

I also do not enjoy how expensive formula is. What is that all about?! I saw an article recently about how mums water down formula to try and make it last longer because they can't afford to buy it all the time. It's absolutely disgusting that people feel they are driven to that because this country is so on its arse that it leaves mums on the dismal maternity pay to fork out for milk for their babies at such a high premium.

The whole nursery funding saga is a bloody joke as well, but don't get me started on that! How parents who don't work get free hours over those that do absolutely baffles me. Because parents who don't have a job to go to really need those free hours/childcare spaces over those who go back to work and need childcare for their babies in order to work... Baffling.

Anyway, enough about that!

There isn't really much else to report from us.

Life feels like it's going 100mph at the moment. Time is going even quicker than it was before I was back at work, I can't believe it's already April!! I'm back four days a week now until July, when I go back full-time, and, honestly, I don't know how I am going to find the time. I am already struggling to spin all my plates and juggle everything as it is, without adding another day at work in the mix.

I miss Peyton so, so much when I'm at work. I only see her for about an hour, depending what time she wakes up, on a morning before I take her to nursery. Then we only have just over an hour once we get home before she goes to bed. It makes my days off with her even more precious, but I do feel bad that I don't spend as much time with her as I would like.

There's nothing nicer, though, than picking her up from nursery and seeing her speed crawl across the room to me and reach out to be picked up. Those first hugs after a day apart are the best.