Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…

Returning to work for the second time after maternity leave is a very different prospect to return to work version 1.0. Back then was tough initially – thinking about a small person while trying to get a full days work done, cramming activities and family time into the teeny tiny weekend, and all the while still achieving what needed to be done at work without appearing insane (silently crying at desk having found a photo of said child doing a cute face on your phone excluded of course), or falling asleep during meetings!

I used to find it too mentally draining to even think about when to fit in any exercise or a haircut, or even a supermarket shop!

Little did I know that life back then was a breeze.

Returning to work version 2.0 is a whole new kettle of fish.

It’s life but not as we know it.

I have been lucky to have 10-11 months off with each of our boys, which I’m so grateful for. I have really enjoyed having the time to bond with each of my children and recharge my own batteries. I’ve learnt new skills (in addition to the baby-changing-whilst-child-remains-asleep skill for which I remain most proud!) and made new friends.

I’m heading back to work next month and have spent the last few days trying to get my head around the logistics needed to get all four of us to where we need to be by 9am every morning. Nursery, preschool and work are in three different places up to 12 miles apart. Headache!

We’re lucky that we have both sets of the boys’ grandparents locally who help out one day a week each and I’m also going to be working a four day week so will have Fridays with my boys but it’s a far cry from the relative calm of maternity leave.

If I have a bad night with Alexander now I can just sleep when he sleeps the following day. In just over a months’ time, I’m going to have to not only stay awake all day (a challenge in itself), but also attempt to appear relatively sane, lucid and knowledgeable….huh? Might be difficult with matchsticks holding my eyelids open. I don’t even drink caffeinated coffee anymore to help out.

In preparation I’ve started thinking about shortcuts I can take. I’ve got myself a Things To Do Today pad (courtesy of a lovely friend for my birthday) and have started running my life according to what I write on said pad each Sunday evening. Meals are planned and activities scheduled. Go me.

The boys will be in up to four different childcare settings each week so we’ll be trying to keep some level of consistency by employing lunch boxes of familiar food and equipping grandparents with things that they would normally have at home.

In all of this, the one thing that I know will go out of the window every morning for me is breakfast. I have been known to completely skip breakfast in the past – particularly before I got married and had children. Now I’m a monster if I don’t eat, just ask my long-suffering husband!

It was perfect timing when BelVita sent me a selection of their new crunchy breakfast biscuits to try out a couple of weeks ago. We were sent Apricot (my fave), Hazelnut and Chocolate flavours, along with a lovely £5 Costa voucher.

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Having trialled them for a couple of weeks, I can definitely say they’ll be firmly on my plan for mornings when I return to work. One pack of biscuits along with some fruit and a portion of dairy (a yoghurt in my case) and I’ll be set until lunchtime. At least that’s one less thing for me to be thinking about!
I’d call that a Morning Win!

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New belVita Breakfast Crunchy offers a fruity, extra nutty or chocolatey option as part of your breakfast experience, adding yet more variety on those busy mornings when there are a million things to juggle, and breakfast is bottom of the pile! They are generously packed with delicious ingredients to make a bigger and crunchier belVita Breakfast biscuit, for when you want a bit of extra oomph from your breakfast! They are the only breakfast biscuits proven to slowly release carbohydrates over four hours as part of a balanced breakfast.

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK

Book Review: Mothers Ruined by Aimee Horton

You may remember last year I reviewed Survival of the Ginnest for a lovely Twitter friend Aimee Horton. Well, I’m excited to say that Aimee has been beavering away and has now written a full length novel featuring the same character, the inimitable Dottie (who quite frankly I really do think would be one of my besties if she actually were…well…real!)

Anyway, Aimee sent me a manuscript of Mothers Ruined a couple of weeks ago for review and I have to say I was quickly hooked, as I had been with the first Dottie story. This book continues her story – she’s moved to a new area and is on maternity leave after baby #3 makes a surprise appearance three weeks early and isn’t quite what they were preparing for.

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As I’m on maternity leave at the moment, the story line really grabbed me – the trials of trying to make new “mum” friends whilst trying to make time to shower every day, keep the kids presentable (and not green…), find topics of conversation with other mums who you don’t know from Adam (or Eve I guess!) and such like.

The main plot line in the novel starts when Dottie starts overhearing the goings on in her neighbours’ houses through her baby monitor. I’ve always puzzled about whether this could actually happen. Luckily we live next door to a retired couple who I don’t think would own such a thing so I think we’re pretty safe! Anyway, I love the way this story line develops and how Dottie uses the conversations she’s overhearing to make new friends in her neighbourhood. She also uncovers the secrets of the street, which eventually get exposed rather publicly – I particularly loved the comeuppance at the end for an especially nosy neighbour!

Aimee has paid much attention to the reader journey in this book, and I really like the touches like the naming of the chapters which I always thinks shows skill and commitment on the part of the author – so much more involved than just numbering them! We also have regular insights into Dottie’s deepest thoughts, these are presented like asides spoken directly to the reader Miranda-style. Of these I especially chuckled at “I spend my entire life rotating crap throughout this house” (I feel like this most of the time!)

So yet again I’d highly recommend a read to all fellow mums, and I think anyone who likes the sound of a Cecilia Ahern style, fun and enjoyable read. I’m left hoping that Aimee continues to write as I for one will be waiting with baited breath to see what comes next!

Mothers Ruined by Aimee Horton published this weekend and is available for download on Amazon for the fab introductory price of £1.82.

If you love it, and want to know the backstory to Dottie, do check out Survival of the Ginnest. This is also available for download on Amazon for just 77p.

Aimee Horton blogs at <em>Pass the Gin</em> (which in itself is a fab read, I’d recommend a follow!)
Note- I was sent a manuscript for review and have received no payment for this post. All comments are my own.