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Thank Christ, the most gloomy month in the calendar is done and dusted for another year. It’s time to pop down the diet recipe book and find some lime for the gin. Hooray!

Welcome to the first in my monthly highlights series, which is something new for my blog this year. I find that the months fly by in a blur, and sometimes it’s nice to take a little pause and remember some of the good bits. The bad bits, like my Christmas credit card bill, we’ll just gloss over.

So, here’s what January looked like for me.

Off the blog…

Well, two potentially stressful things took place: I moved house, and I went back to work after 11 months of maternity leave. Why not combine all the hellish anxiety into one month and get it all done and dusted, right?! Actually, the work thing wasn’t so bad. I’d been finding daily childrearing a bit monotonous for a while, which isn’t to say I’ve not loved spending my days with Moo. It’s just that money dwindled, and the weather dwindled, and I felt like my existence between 8am and 5pm was to make sure all the washing was done and there was something nutritious planned for dinner. Those things are important, yes, but they shouldn’t be the staple intellectual stimulus to one’s day.

I’ve said it before, on repeat – I could not be a Stay At Home Mum. I couldn’t hack it. SAHM’s are truly amazing with more patience in their little fingers than I have in my whole body. I’ve decided that I’m basically one of those selfish mothers who can’t cope when their independence is taken away. That’s how maternity leave feels to me, my actual self has been put to pasture and a slave to domestic drudgery has been drafted in. And I’m shit at crafts. I realised when Mouse was little that I’m SO MUCH better when I can spend part of my week in the workplace. Normal people normalise me, and I relish not talking about bloody babies all day. Where I sit at work, the ratio of men to women is about 15:3, so I can swear and moan and burp all day and it’s marvellous. Ok, I never burp.

Of course, it was still a transition and to start with I missed Moo so much that I ached. I missed the smell of her hair and the weight of her body on my hip. I missed her sticky paws and her dribbly chin and her little chats. But, I’m more than a mummy to Moo and she’s more than a Moo to me. It’s early days but I know that nursery will be brilliant for her, inquisitive little sod that she is.

The house move was chaotic and stressful, but I knew it would be. We had a removal firm to do our packing for us as well as shifting all of our shit, which was a slightly decadent outlay but we could not have managed it ourselves right on top of Christmas. We worked solidly for about four days and barely saw the girls as we palmed them off with grandparents, so it felt like a slog of a week, but we managed to get unpacked and sorted sooner than we’d expected. Everything now has a home and I’m a very houseproud mama, running around with a bottle of Method spray and a dishcloth after sticky small people.

On the blog…

I did some lovely things in January. I kicked off the year with a competition, which I’m hoping to run every couple of months. I also pulled on my big brave girl bloggy pants and pitched to a few companies that I’ve been hoping to work with, and amazingly they all agreed to collaborate with me. Two are in the pipeline so I won’t spill about those yet, but I did some work with VonShef and reviewed their freestanding mixer. I made a beaut of a “healthy cake” (still a cake though, mate), and the recipe is here if you’d like to have a go.

I also took on a budgeting challenge for charity, to see if I could feed everyone in my family for a day for £2 a head. It was part of a campaign by Voucherbox.co.uk, and for every published post Voucherbox donated £50 to Zamcog, who provide education and care for at-risk children in Zambia. The challenge itself was fun, but it was a real eye-opener and it made me acutely aware of how easily we fritter money away in this country. I’ve read quite a few blogs around the subject of budgeting and moneysaving, which I’m going to have a crack at this year. Anyway, you can read how I got on here.

My favourite read…

I’m so shit at reading these days, I really am. It takes me months to finish a book, so I prefer a dip-in-and-out jobber than I can shove into my handbag to catch up with on the train. Disclaimer: that line is utter bollocks, I never take the train anywhere anymore and I don’t sit down out of the house for long enough to read. My favourite book right now is The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, which is a mini-bible describing how the Danes live so well. I find it infinitely relaxing, especially in this crappy winter, because it gives me an admittedly slightly false reassurance that no matter what shit is going down, a candle and a blanket will sort me right out.

Blog wise, I’m going a bit leftfield here but my favourite read comes from a digital marketing specialist called Geeta Randev. I’ve worked with Geet previously on a freelance project and I love her – she’s got such a lot of knowledge and she’s also gorgeously funny. I was all fangirl and proud when she started up her own blog, and this post about influencer marketing made me consider my position as a “social influencer” from a completely new angle. A definite must read for bloggers who work with brands to promote content and products.

My favourite vlog…

Bit of a weird one, this. Actually, it’s not weird. I have a friend called Fi who blogs over at A Mum Track Mind, and she’s one of the most watchable vloggers I know. She also reminds me of Stevie from Miranda. Anyway, she’s good at make-up and she filmed an excellent vlog about contouring, which I sure as hell need as my facial bone structure is as saggy as the fucking Churchill dog. It’s very clever – you should check it out if you’re not blessed with the chiseled cheekbones of Naomi Campbell. Is she still a thing?!

My favourite photo…

Not TECHNICALLY taken in January but it was in that weird part betwixt Christmas and New Year so I’m calling it. We went back to East Sussex for a few days, which is where I’m from. One day, we booted Mouse off to the panto with her grandparents, and took Moo for a OAP-style shuffle along Eastbourne Seafront. It was bone-achingly cold and my husband’s hands were deathly blue (true story – I’ll write it one day for you), but it was sunny and I got this amazing photo as the sun was setting. Gorgeous, oui?

Oh, I also started my #100HappyDays project, which is a photo challenge I’m taking part in until April (ish). It’s a doddle – participants are encouraged to take a photo every day of something that makes them happy, upload it to social media, and tag it with #100HappyDays. You can see all of mine here. I’m using Instagram as my main platform for it, so this is a shameless call for followers. Please.

And that’s it! See you in February.

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