My Top Ten Tips for a Home Makeover

When we bought our home there was no doubt we had bitten off more than we had an anticipated.

After a full re-wire, new bathroom and kitchen, new ceilings and floors downstairs we were out of money. Then we got engaged, got married and lived out the rest of our twenties in a blur of parties, holidays, festivals and meals out. It was awesome.

I found out I was pregnant and looked around at the dusty floorboards and something took over. We had to finish the house.

In four months we have made more progress than we had in the first three years. Growing up I never lived in a house that was finished. My Dad LOVES a project so it was a never ending merrygo round of “jobs”. He’s onto the next house now…

As an adult this experience I had growing up has helped me massively in the renovation of our little house. We have a tight budget but it’s working out really well.

Here’s my top ten tips for when you don’t know where to start. It’s worked well for us so far!

1. Get the big stuff done first. Bathroom, kitchen, electrical. Although it might not be pretty, you NEED these in your home.

2. Break your house down into rooms or segments. Completely finish these areas, so then if you run out of funds (or steam) your whole house isn’t half finished and you can grow into it but by bit.

3. Finishing an area includes soft furnishings, lighting and touches. If you don’t do it when you’re completing the room, you might never get it how you imagined. These things make it a home.

4. Keep as much natural light through your house as possible by using mirrors/glass interior doors. It will make your home feel so much bigger.

5. Shop around. It’s always worth investing in one or two good quality pieces of furniture (I love John Lewis) and then adding your “touches” from places like The Range/Dunelm. Outlets are amazing too. Where would we be without Homesence?!

6. Don’t be afraid to pay someone for the big stuff if you can’t do it. Use someone recommended if you can. We are rubbish at painting- and it was worth every penny to get a Decorater in. Think how much time and money you can waste getting it wrong.

7. Have a go at the little stuff. Not sure how to hang a mirror? YouTube it. Anything that’s not going to ruin you house or make it fall down, have a go at. My logic is “how easy or expensive is it to fix if it goes wrong”. It’s worked so far!

8. Copy people. Stuck for inspiration? Pinterest and Instagram are full of brilliant ideas and hacks. Don’t be to set in your way and go for some of the more off the wall ideas- they are often the best. Nick your friends ideas too.

9. Remember this is your home, not an Ikea set. Don’t forget to include storage solutions and comfort in your design.

10. Don’t worry if it takes time, you can move in room by room- it will be worth it in the long run when your home is exactly how you want it.

The Choices We Make

It was always a plan to get pregnant but I never would have referred to it as a choice.

Do we choose to be parents or is the fact that we reproduce something that we do to create our future?

Some people don’t want children, and I get that, and absolutely am not of the view that having a child makes you more accomplished at life or a better person.

However, I read a letter recently suggesting that people who “make the choice” to have children should not get any “special treatment”. (His words, not mine) from businesses. The context was that he felt that parents shouldn’t be allowed time away from work for a year, or to be given any sort of a leg up when coming back to work, he was worried that there was going to be a culture of positive discrimination towards working parents, and that it wasn’t fair as it is a choice to have a baby, a lifestyle choice that shouldn’t impact on the workplace.

I have to disagree with this sentiment. As it gets closer to having to face the reality of being a working mum I see that it is going to be near on impossible without a “leg up”, and too right I’ll be taking a year off to be with my child.

I will need flexible working, which I will get to an extent, but I have no option to work from home, and can have two absences in a year before being managed for not attending work.

My friends little girl has been poorly at least three times already this year and on these occasions she’s worked from home to be there for a cuddle if needed. Too right.

What do us working parents do in that situation who don’t have that option? The people in the service industry, the pubic sector workers or people working for small businesses who don’t have the funding to support these needs?

I’m a capable, fairly intelligent human who has given 15 years to the business I work for. Is it unreasonable to ask for a little help making a side step into a job that would work better for my parenting needs? I don’t think so. I’m not sure it’s even a leg up- I’m already on the back foot. (Working parents are still viewed as a pain in the arse by many).

This doesn’t just apply to women, it would be amazing to see support for the working Dads out there too. Maybe, even families having the option where both parents can raise their children with two adults in a household being allowed flexible working without it bankrupting them. Single parent families getting even more support, not just from companies but from the government as well.

Surely it’s better for the economy for businesses to go above and beyond for those raising the next generation? You never know, they might be the future leader of that company?! It must be better for businesses not to loose years of experience and loyalty.

I feel this has to get improve, I don’t think we should have to sacrifice because we’ve made a “choice”. These choices we make are our future, and we need to be given the tools to do best by them, to raise good humans.

The Smart Phone Generation.

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Jack and I recently went to a Jessie Ware gig, as I stood there, bloated with my hair everywhere I looked around at the perfectly preened early twenties looking ridiculously cool, the first dates and the pints of beer, and, for the first time I felt old. And fat. And pregnant.

We were stood at the Hammersmith Appollo and as Jessie Ware came on stage it didn’t matter. I love live music. It’s my favourite, and she did not disappoint, she was mesmerising. What did disappoint was the audience. We were standing watching a powerhouse musician sing the songs she had written and the viewing public were so easily distracted by their mobile phones. As soon as she started to sing a song that wasn’t a high tempo hit the girls surrounding me were lost into the glowing light of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and IMessage. In this order, on a loop. I wanted to take their phones and stamp on them. Fair enough, take a photo, but this was incessant, really distracting and downright rude.

On the way home I moaned at Jack and expressed my concern about this generation. Yup, I am old. What is it going to be like when our child is twenty one? How can you get lost in the moment with an artist if all you are worrying about is how many views your Insta story has got and if the right person knows you are there.

That weekend we went to visit my parents, and as we were eating our Sunday dinner the conversation was not floating my Dads boat, I could see his mind wondering and then his mobile phone came out. I challenged him, “errr, Dad we’re in the middle of dinner?!”. He argued he was looking up a song that was playing, no different to looking at a record cover. I kind of got his point, but it had nothing to do with what we were talking about. Twenty minutes later, his phone comes out again, I asked him what he was doing and he started laughing as he informed us he was looking at an AVOCADO KNIFE. WHAT THE ACTUAL.

I’ve picked on my poor old Dad here, but I think most people are guilty of this, me included. It was during this visit that I understood that living through the a mobile phone screen isn’t generational at all. It’s a sign of our times.

For our babies sake I hope and pray that the balance restores itself. I wonder if our obsession with our phones and social media is extreme because this technology is so new, it’s novel to have a PR tool for our lives. To be easily distracted and entertained one hundred percent of the time. Fifteen years ago the internet was dial up, that is no time at all for us to adjust to the magnificent power we have at our fingertips. To be everywhere all of the time.

As I continue on the journey to becoming a Mother, of course I worry about the danger of the internet, the lack of control, the trolling and the catfishing, but these things happened to an extent already. It was teenagers having a fondle instead of sending a photo, it was half of my school year sneaking to the park to drink vodka, insisting to their parents they were having a sleepover at a friends house. It’s not the same but there are definite parallels. What worries me most is our children missing out on life and genuine feeling; going on a date, listening to music at a gig uninterrupted and sneaking out with their mates without a parent being able to track them down on Find My Friends. These life experiences and bolts to independence certainly made me the person I am today, lessons learned and memories made. I want my children to have the same thrills and excitement when breaking free into adulthood as I did. Because, it was so much fun.

Taking my New Body Clothes Shopping

Last week was the first time I experienced shopping for clothes with a semi bump. I still look like I’ve had one to many cakes but the bump is starting to take shape and I’m sure it will be “proper” in the next week or two.

We are off to a wedding next weekend and I had absolutely nothing that fitted me. Jack and I had a rare day off together in the week. I work shifts so am often galavanting around mid week, taking advantage of the not so busy shops. It was a real treat that Jack had a days holiday to take. We took the opportunity and went into London. After an AMAZING lunch at Spiltalfields, where we consumed masses of melted cheese in a tiny cheese shop, Androute. We actually stopped and spent time together, it was long overdue and I loved every second. If I had known what the next hour would have in store we might have stayed for another drink. But no, I had a great idea.

We headed to Oxford Street, where, I was confident there would be a plethora of suitable maternity options for the big event next weekend. How wrong I was.

Maternity tights. I needed them and I needed them immediately, the non maternity version I was wearing were cutting my vagina in half. “It’s ok”, I thought, “I’ll find them straight away”. Nope, it took ages.

The first surprise I got was that many of the shops maternity sections were in separate shops out the back, we literally had to walk out the front of the shop and go round to the separate Maternity door. I’m over sensitive at the moment and it made me feel like the dirty secret the clothes shops were catering for. The second surprise I got was that they were TINY, with not a lot of choice. I fully understand the beauty of online, but I’m no fashion guru and have no idea how to dress this new body of mine. I wanted to try stuff on. It really took me aback. Now I’ve had time to reflect it does make sense, it wouldn’t be viable to have massive maternity sections, but I wasn’t prepared for it to not feel like the normal, shopping for clothes on Oxford Street experience.

In the end the only shop that came through for me was H&M. Amazing bras and tights, (thank you very much) and I managed to find a respectable dress to wear to said wedding. And all for under fifty pounds. Thank goodness.

Feeling a sense of relief we headed to Soho, where I immediately changed into my fabulous new tights. Going on to have the most wonderful time with some of my oldest friends celebrating a birthday. It was the first time Jack and I had been out and I hadn’t felt like falling asleep standing up since we found out I was expecting. It really lifted my spirits and although the clothes shopping experience was fairly frustrating, I know I’ll get the hang of it. It didn’t nearly ruin our day and I discovered the amazingness of a mocktail, this revelation has literally made my life. And please- Mums out there- any tips on dressing my baby bump would be gratefully received, I can’t continue to wear my dressing gown pretty much all of the time. 😉

Who Runs The World?

Still white men in suits or women trying to be white men in suits. Annoyingly.

When I fell pregnant I couldn’t fault my boss. He has been nothing but supportive throughout.Worryingly it is some (not all), but enough of my peers who silently disapprove of my inconveniencing them due to my pregnancy, and these people are mostly WOMEN.

One of my wonderful friends said to me today, “it’s like being pregnant is a hobby that women have”. And that is exactly how I have been made to feel. We went on to discuss, and forgive me if I’m wrong, that having a baby is making our future, that it’s quite convenient when they grow up to be pillars of society, make changes and save lives.

I can tell you now, feeling like you can’t put one foot in front of another and wanting to vomit every hour is inconvenient for me too, Janet. So get over it.

I hope that these attitudes change quickly. With amazing movements like Times Up and International Woman’s day I see the most wonderful empowering posts that fill me with joy and make my heart soar.

But then I go back to work and have to deal with the attitude because I won’t do some of what I used to. Because I won’t risk my baby and I don’t bloody well feel like it- it will probably make me sick on my shoe. And that breaks my heart.

Nothing will move forward, nothing will change, until us ladies, the ones on the ground, in the shops, restaurants and offices, the ones living our normal, boring lives, not the ones on the red carpet, step up and have each other’s backs.

Spreading The News I Was Expecting.

When I found out I was expecting Baby Wilson, it was really early- the Clear Blue test told me in no uncertain terms that I was 1-2 weeks pregnant. I pee’d on a stick and put it on the end of the bath whilst I got in the shower. After my first shampoo I looked over to confirm what I already knew. (The boob pain was real). I jumped out the shower, soaking wet and ran into the bedroom and shouted at my hungover husband, “oh my god, I’m actually pregnant”. Jack went white as a sheet and said “oh right, you ok?”. As I got back into the shower, and finished washing, I was shaking like a leaf, then I went back into the bedroom.

This was the point I HAD to tell someone, someone who would scream a little bit and tell me it was great news and how exciting it was. Jack was not this person, he was still in shock, still white and still playing on some annoying golf game on his phone. I messaged my sister who was in Singapore and got the reaction I needed. Me and Olivia are vastly different, but she knows me better than anyone and I trust her with my life. Speaking to her re-centred me and it was at this point I was SO EXCITED.

It took about 12 hours for Jack to get his head around the fact that he was going to be a Dad. And as pragmatic as ever he refused to get excited. He was, “going to see what happened” and get excited after the 12 week scan. How he compartmentalises his emotions like this I will never know.

We found out that we were expecting on the 23rd December. Hiding this from the family we were spending Christmas with was going to be hard, especially when you’re the ring leader, wine pusher and organised fun dictator of the family. It was for that reason Jack suggested it was a good idea that we told his Mum and Dad. Jacks Mum is loud, funny and says what she thinks. Jack highlighted that she doesn’t have a filter and it would be better to tell her and Jacks Dad, rather than her get suspicious and out us in front of the whole family after a bottle of wine. (There would only be one reason I wouldn’t be drinking on Christmas Day). I agreed. They came round on the 24th December and we shared our very new news, Alby’s reaction was priceless, and loud, she screamed and cried and was delighted, it was beautiful. But, as we had told them so early it surprised me to find that it put some pressure on. I didn’t want my uterus to disappoint.

Christmas came and went, we muddled through all the emotions and unbelievable tiredness. ( I work in retail and Christmas is hell on earth). We were going to tell my parents but I wanted to see their reaction. The plan was to visit them on New Years Eve and tell them then.

We arrived at their home in Hampshire. I was full of cold and felt horrendous, but I could not WAIT to tell them. They were going to be so excited. I told Mum and Dad almost as soon as I got in the door, my Dad looked all excited and was trying not to jump up and down in a, “it’s not manly to show my emotions way”.  My Mums reaction was also one of delight, however, she questioned who else knew, which took me by surprise. She was disappointed I hadn’t told her sooner, and I get it, she is my mum and was worried I had kept it from her because I had some negative feeling towards her. It was not the case, I just wanted to see her face, but I would do it differently next time, I wanted to tell her straight away and won’t wait when it comes round again. It was at this point I understood that sharing this news can impact the people around you in a profound way which can highlight their deepest insecurities.

I considered how we were going to share our news to the wider world and decided that I was not going to keep it from my friends. My character is really open and I find it hard to keep my own secrets, and felt that telling my friends I was antibiotics or something similar was not going to wash, and it was an obvious lie. I wanted my close friends to be on the journey with me and I slowly told friends and family up until the 12 week scan. Not through any big announcement, but if it came up naturally. I didn’t tell some of my best friends until 12 weeks, not through any friendship hierarchy, but because it didn’t come up.

I had to consider how the news may impact on others, and how their reaction was going to impact on me. The most common reaction is sheer joy. I’ve had friends with the emotional warmth of a stone go absolutely mad, friends buy in non alcoholic beers for their homes for when I pop round, bring me flowers, track my pregnancy progress and message me every day to see how I am.  There was no doubt as the first trimester progressed that our baby was going to be loved.

Once we had the 12 week scan we decided to put a post up on social media. I wasn’t going to, but I had this picture of a tiny blob and all I wanted to do was show everyone in the whole world. I was with my friend that afternoon and she encouraged me to take the leap and post it. I was so glad that I did!! I had messages from people I had not spoken to for years, my family shared the post avidly and we had so many well wishes, it was wonderful. Jack and I were floating for days.

Announcing this news was an experience, in those first weeks I was riding an emotional roller coaster and taking my family with me. What I learnt was nothing arouses a reaction like a new baby, it’s quite a ride.

The Top Ten Things That Took Me By Surprise in the First Three Months.

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  • The bloating is unbelievable, I blew up like a balloon almost straight away, and not in the neat tight mini bump way that I had seen in images online and in magazines. But in a watery, wobbly way that made all my clothes very tight.
  • I actually felt quite sexy, despite the bloat. I imagined that as soon as I was pregnant I wouldn’t be interested in any of that shenanigans, actually it was quite the opposite.
  • My mind turned to mush. I had heard the phrase “baby brain” but nothing could prepare me for the ridiculously small amount of information that I retained. It did prove a little embarrassing at work, especially when entire meetings that I had held I re-scheduled because I had forgotten that I had them in the first place.
  • My relationship with my husband has flourished. I saw a different side to him, he is always so laid  back and calm, but I saw a little protectiveness from him that I found really attractive. He is so kind and caring, being in this new situation together reiterated how wonderful he is.
  • I got scared that I would be lonely. This is something that still follows me around. My family live 100 miles away, my role in my friendship group is the hostess with all the wine, who stays up until the sun rises and never says no to a party. I was worried that my friends wouldn’t have a place for me being wobbly and sober. I still worry about this. However I do now accept that the people who really love me won’t go anywhere. I have removed the pressure I put on myself to keep being all things and it does feel better.
  • It is really hard to keep it a secret and 12 weeks feels like a lifetime. I did tell a few of my closest family,  friends and colleges early on. I needed their support, and, heaven forbid something went wrong I would need it then too.
  • The exhaustion was real.
  • I thought I would worry about money a lot, but all of a sudden it didn’t matter. I now have this c’est la vie attitude towards it. Maybe that’s stupid, but I am sure we will work it out, like millions of families before us have.
  • How little contact you have with medical professionals. You don’t need it, but in my mind the biggest thing ever has just happened to me, and you see someone once between conception and 12 weeks. I don’t know what I expected but I did feel quite at sea without the reassurance that everything was OK.
  • People get REALLY excited. I had friends download pregnancy apps and my Mum post me three Panettones as I mentioned to her once in passing I liked it. It is a really nice feeling that your nearest and dearest care so much.