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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How you know you've got kids…

Ok, so we already know that children don't do bank holidays or weekends, that's the obvious one.

If you've recently become a parent for the first time, you might have just discovered that there are two 4 o’clocks in the day as well.

But what about those really cute little things that make you smile to yourself (or pull your hair out in frustration)?

Here's a list of some of the things I thought of that make me remember I'm a mum:

1) Paintbrushes and pots jostle for space with the glasses and cutlery in the draining rack.
2) Nine pm is the new bedtime.
3) Cupboard doors and the fridge are now similar to the gallery from Tony Hart’s Hartbeat.
4) The toilet is no longer a private place.
5) Your bed now plays host to half the “In the night garden” characters and some trains.
6) There are only two TV channels - cbeebies or nick jr.
7) The car you were once proud of is now a skip on wheels.
8) Leaving the house now take three times as long.
9) A visit to a posh restaurant now means crayons, fish fingers and ice cream.
10) The gorgeous scented candles in your bathroom have now been replaced with rubber toys (and not the fun ones either).
11) You know the words to all of the Peppa Pig episodes and you also know all the words to Wind the Bobbin Up, Sleeping Bunnies and many more.
12) Your cupboards that once contained the sort of herbs and spices that would make Gordon Ramsay proud now contain spaghetti hoops and Haribo.

Do you know what? Unsurprisingly, these were just off the top of my head, I'm sure you could think of many more, or if you're not a parent yourself, it may be you have all this to come!

Well, I wouldn't change it for the world (except perhaps for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning).

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I'm Loving Positive Self Talk!

Lately I've been looking at the subjects of happiness, kindness and inner peace.

Ok, don't worry, I'm not becoming a hippy 45 years too late. I just think we all need a little feel good in our lives and if done in a positive way, hopefully it will do us the world of good, maybe even those around us.

I've been lucky enough to do some work recently for the fabulous personal trainer Kelly Rennie, one of the authors of The Fit Mummy Manual

She's got some brilliant tips for getting back into shape post pregnancy, but one of her tips that really struck me was the theory of Positive Self Talk.

This is a technique sometimes used to help athletes stay focused and in an optimal state of mind. It is an internal conversation to create motivation, specific positive emotions, and belief.

The trick is not to listen to the voice that says: “This is too hard, I can't do it anymore,” because when we hear these words, they become our belief.

Instead you create a positive belief and therefore, a positive outcome. If you tell yourself you can do one more repetition or walk one more mile, you will.

It might sound a bit too idealistic to start with, but in thinking back on my life, it really makes sense.

One example – I used to be terrible at cross country at school. Then one day I thought, no, why shouldn't I be as good as the others?

From that day on I was always in the top ten finishers. It really honestly wasn't anabolic steroids, I just started believing in myself.

Even now when I go for a run, initially I start to get tired and think I'm going to stop, then I tell myself I can go further and all of a sudden it's fine again.

And for those of us who have been through problematic labours, for example, you might have got to a point where you thought "I can't do this anymore". I know I did.

Fact is you have to get through it one way or another, what other choice do you have? And this is where positive self talk can come into its own.

If you tell yourself you can do something and really believe it, chances are you will be able to do it. I honestly believe we're capable of so much more than we think. Maybe all it takes is a little more self confidence and self belief?

It's like the theory of the mum lifting the car off her run over child. Would you really believe that could happen? It just goes to show the strength of positive belief. If you want something enough you can do it.

I can't get over how strong our minds can be. Sometimes it feels like our minds are so much stronger than our bodies.

Access the true positive strength of your mind and you will be able to achieve so much more. That is something I truly believe, hippy or no hippy!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Communication is key!

I know I've rambled on in the past about how different men and women are.

How it fascinates me that two such different creatures have to pair up in order to contribute to the future of our human race.

This week it got me wondering how many relationships have broken down because of those differences and the fact that people are increasingly either unwilling or unable to communicate.

You see it's not just men and women who are different. We're all different.

And too many of us live life in a bubble, maintaining a stubborn unwillingness to see things from others' point of view and thinking everyone should think the same as we do.

When I was a cub reporter, I was sent on lots of diamond wedding anniversary stories. Gorgeous elderly couples who still loved each other like the day they were married, 60 years before.

The stock question I always asked them was: "What's the secret to a long and happy marriage?" And their stock reply: "Give and take."

You don't get many relationships lasting the test of time these days. And I think a breakdown in communication is the biggest issue.

What these lovely elderly people meant by give and take, was the need to be understanding of one another and work together as a team.

If couples don't even bother communicating anymore, how is this even possible?

Men generally think and want things one way, women the other. It's this great yin-yang, opposites attract, we compliment each other perfectly thing, that's meant to be so bloody wonderful.

We all know that. We've always known that and to be fair, it ain't so great, so there it is.

I believe that couples back in the day worked harder at relationships and acceptance of each other.

Yes, this was encouraged by society's lack of tolerance regarding divorce and separation, but maybe that was a good thing to some extent?

Why not try a bit harder and be a little more sympathetic and understanding, not just to your partner, but to people in general?

Take time to talk to one another. Practise good communication, understanding, patience, tolerance and of course, give and take.

I know I'm probably being idealistic, but this blog is call Sugar and Fairy Dust after all. And, in my everlasting pursuit of happiness, it can't hurt, can it?

Monday, 4 August 2014

The greatest love of all

A very close friend of mine has just told me she's having a baby!

While my own baby making days are far behind me, it's got me all broody again and thinking about how much your life changes.

Especially when it's your first.

I never cease to be amazed by how many changes are in store for you once that blue line appears.

And how one such tiny little bundle can completely alter life as you know it from that point onwards.

Funny thing is though, you can never truly grasp just how much your life will change until it actually happens.

People can tell you things, like your life stops being your own, your priorities change, your body changes beyond all recognition, you have to stop putting yourself first, but time and time again I've heard new parents say they never realised quite how much until they did it.

There are just so many changes, some good, some pretty tough, but one of my favourites is this.

It's a new type of love you'll feel, borne from the fires deep within your heart and soul.

One you can guarantee you've never felt before.

It's a love that truly makes you part of nature and a member of the animal kingdom.

One all-encompassing, protective, nurturing love, that means no matter what it takes, you will protect that person with your life, forever.

That, my friends, is what being a mother is truly all about. Of course, I rant about instilling confidence, discipline, mutual respect and a caring spirit in our children.

Bringing them up to be half decent contributors to society, rather than not bothering and letting them raise themselves, is so vital.

But loving them is the most important thing you can do. Because from that, everything else should follow.

That's why my heart bleeds for those tragic few who can't feel that love for their children.

To me, an unloved child is the saddest thing in the world, whatever walk of life we come from.

So, I've resolved to try harder to make the most of the trying, but delightful days I have with my little ones while they're small and to commit to memory everything I can.

Because ones thing's for sure, it's not going to last forever!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Some feel-good soul food free of charge!

Ok, so I know I rant a bit (lot) about how people should be nicer to each other.

It feels like these days people are so concerned with themselves that they live in a little bubble where kindness, thoughtfulness and understanding no longer exists.

It could be easy to get despondent, but I know for sure that out there are some little pockets of happiness and inner peace, just waiting to be discovered.

So, without meaning to sound like the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons, I've decided to list a few ways I like to get a little bit of feel good in my life and they're totally (mostly) FOC!

The help your fellow man ones:

- Smile and make eye contact with someone you pass, maybe even say hello.

- Help someone.. An old lady drops something? Help her pick it up. You see a mum struggling with the little ones and the shopping - instead of tutting at the noise, why not hold the door open for her?

- Talk to an elderly person. They've got so many great stories to share.

- Someone's queuing to get out of a junction? Why not let them out?

- Leaving a car park and have a couple of hours left on your ticket? Why not give it to someone else?

- Buy a suspended coffee or sandwich and help someone more in need than you.

- When someone annoys you, how about killing them with kindness? Be nice - it'll do their heads in loads more and believe me, you'll feel so much better inside.

And the ones just for you - who knows, maybe they might make you feel like being a little nicer!

- Close your eyes and take some long deep breaths. Remember in through the nose, out through the mouth...

- Take a swim in the sea - feels fantastic!

- Give up on the pork life mate - get some exercise! I can't recommend Pilates enough - amazing for mind, body and soul!

- Take time to listen to or even record the sound of your children playing together and laughing. Nothing. In the world. Beats it.

Are you starting to feel the love yet?

Alex xx

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Let Us Smile

Sticking on the subject of being nice, here's one I wrote a couple of years ago for the fabulous fashion, beauty and lifestyle website  I Am Into This which is created by the gorgeous Teresa and Samantha. If you haven't seen the site already, you should check it out!

Let Us Smile 

As summer days get warmer and the temperatures rise, it’s clear to see we’re all beginning to feel a little bit happier, as we confine our winter knits to the back of the wardrobe once again. 

It got me thinking about happiness and how random acts of kindness are cropping up all over the place.

Recent reports claim that while everyone is pulling the belt in, a positive result of the more austere times have shown an increase in kindness to our fellow man. 

When talking to members of the wartime generation, they recall a similar thing. The 1940s and 50s were times of terrible hardship as a result of rationing brought about by WWII.

But it was also hailed as a time when communities pulled together in defiance against the common enemy. People left their front doors unlocked when they went out, neighbours all knew each other and people genuinely cared for one another. 

It’s clear that things are different now. Tragic news stories of our time have reinforced people’s fears for the safety of their children and themselves.

There are some really terrible things happening. But while this is true, there are also some amazing things happening. 

One example that really struck me was ‘suspended coffee’ – an idea which began in Italy several years ago that has taken off in coffee shops across the world. Basically, when you buy yourself a coffee at a participating cafe, you also pay for a second one - which can then be claimed by someone who cannot afford it themselves.

They don't have to "prove" anything to claim one, but the scheme relies on the good faith of everyone involved. It doesn’t have to be for just homeless people, but can be for anyone who is struggling to make ends meet.

Acts of kindness don’t even have to mean spending your money.

I sometimes slate the village I live in. It’s quiet, there’s not much at all to do. Let’s face it, it’s completely boring. But on pounding the streets with my pram, as I regularly do, I’ve noticed one thing. Everyone you pass smiles and says hello. Some even stop and talk to you like they’ve known you for years.

The bigger cities may have the better parks and the trendy cafes and wine bars, but people seem to look at the ground when they walk by. It’s amazing the response you get when you smile and it was wonderful to find how a smile from a stranger seemed to brighten my day.

For just a day or even a week, why not try and do something to brighten someone’s day and I guarantee it will make you feel better too. Who knows, that person you pass in the street, may not have seen someone smile at them for weeks. So why not give it a go?


As the old saying goes “mighty oaks from little acorns grow” and maybe, this time next year we’ll all be feeling a little happier.

Alex xx

Can we be a bit nicer? Pretty please?

Can someone tell me what is going on with the human race these days please?

Fact is, times are harder and we all have our crosses to bear and problems to deal with.

But does this really mean that taking it out on others is the answer?

Can nobody see that by just being a little kinder and more understanding to your fellow man, that it might just help you too?

Ok, so I'm slightly less tolerant at the moment.

I'm covered from head to toe in itchy red eczema, because I've developed an allergy to something and nobody's got a clue what it is.

And looking after two preschooler boys on my own for seven weeks of the summer holidays is, shall we say, testing.

But, fact is, being nice makes you feel better inside and that's why I still find the ability to be kind and sympathetic to others and I'm no saint by any stretch of the imagination!

Like in Sainsburys today. Pushing a trolley round with two little monkeys inside, tends to take your concentration.

So I pulled up to a checkout that had a tiny sign on it saying it was closing. Terribly sorry, I didn't see it, ok I'll move on.

Was it me huffing and puffing at the inconvenience? No, it was the (older) checkout assistant rolling her eyes at the (older) customer she was serving.

Did I deserve that? No. Totally unnecessary.

But, it seems people these days would rather be nasty than nice.

Another example - trying to pull out of my street onto the main road. Even though the traffic is coming to a halt, people would rather look at you like you're something they've trodden in and pull up in front of you than let you out in front of them.

Quite honestly it makes me feel a little ill. What is wrong with these people?

I know it can't be the case all the time but at the minute it feels like customer service, manners, friendliness and just a simple supportive smile have all but gone.

And I tell you one thing for sure, it's not going to get any of us anywhere.

On the positive side, minutes after the Sainsbury's incident, another assistant was chatting to my little boy, giving him high fives and making him laugh while my other child helped me unload the trolley.

Now, why can't things be like that more? It's so much easier for all concerned!

I suppose it's just down to the individual, but I'm still going to keep trying to be nice whatever, so there.

Rant over. As you were... :-)