the new normal


two weeks postpartum with my eldest. note matching expressions of mild panic.

How long did it take you to get back to normal after having your baby? It’s a question I hear frequently from brand-new parents, often with a hint of desperation. I’m not sure how to tell them that, nearly four years down the line, I’m still not there.

There is such an emphasis on ‘getting back to normal’ in our culture; women are commended for quickly dropping their baby weight, working demanding jobs, and doing all of the things they used to do – with a baby in tow. Since I had my first child, it seems to me a very unrealistic expectation: that you should carry on exactly as before, despite the huge event that is adding a small, dependent human to your family.
When my oldest son was born, it felt like the pieces of my life had been chucked up into the air and had landed all mixed up. Parts of it were recognisable as mine (feeding cats, talking to friends and family) but for the most part I seemed to have found myself in a surrealist painting slash alternative nightmarish reality. The thought that I’d eventually ‘get back to normal’ kept me from teetering over the brink of complete panic. To me, ‘normal’ looked like handing my baby over to a well-qualified childcare provider, while I returned to a job that I felt at least reasonably competent performing. I didn’t feel confident, comfortable, or a natural mother, and I longed for some of the ease of my old life.

Unfortunately, this ceased to be an option when my post was made redundant. My son was five months old, I was starting to come out of my postnatal depression-fog, and felt like actually I might just be capable of caring for him after all. This former (don’t laugh!) control freak was forced to confront a new normal: without the option of returning to my job, it didn’t make financial sense to seek work as childcare costs were so high. I went from career-woman to full-time mum: not the ‘normal’ I’d envisaged getting back to, but a decision we came to together, that was (and is) best for the three of us.

When my twins were born, there wasn’t as much internal pressure to get back to normal – at least, not for my own sake. We knew that adding two babies to our family would have a huge impact on our son, and we wanted to keep his life as level as possible. We also felt reasonably confident that we’d find a new normal, together as a family of five. Because we’d kept one child alive for two years, we were more relaxed about the newborn stage, more open to going with the flow. We were also more comfortable with our approach to parenting than we’d been with our first son; we trusted our instincts better.

So, how long does it take to get back to normal? I suppose for me, there was no ‘back’ to normal – my life bears little resemblance to that of four years ago. It’s not always been an easy transition and sometimes I wish for parts of my old world back. It is what it is, though, and as part of the bargain I have three amazing small people to spend time with. My body has changed, my daily activities have changed, my priorities have changed. Sometimes it’s hard to accept, and on the days I feel like railing against this new normal, I look through photos of the early days with my eldest and remind myself how far we’ve come. We are finding our new normal every day, and we’re doing just fine.

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savouring the moment


I was talking with a friend last week, whose eldest daughter starts primary school this month. I asked her the usual questions – how are you feeling about it? will you miss her? – and her reply really got me thinking. She told me that she’s not really one your looking back or forward. That she tries to appreciate every stage her children are at, and savour them – accepting both good and bad times.

Her words stayed with me as I picked Lucas up from preschool that afternoon, his first proper session. Normally I’d be rushing back home with the children; thinking about what I needed to get done that afternoon; mentally planning for the weekend. But this time I heard my friend’s words in my head and it gave me pause. I suddenly stopped thinking about the things I needed to do, and thought about how in a year it will be Lucas starting primary school. I thought about how much has happened in the last year and how short a time it is really, how much I’d like to savour our time together.

We walked past the bakery and he spotted some biscuits with faces iced on them. His own face lit up as he pointed them out – “FACES, Mummy, look at the funny faces!”. I replied in my usual way, “oh wow! Maybe we can get some one time,” and although I didn’t mean it as a dismissal, his posture dropped with his muttered “oh.” Normally I’d have kept going, trying to engage him in conversation about his afternoon, but this time I stopped the buggy and crouched down.

“Lucas, would you like to get some biscuits today?” I asked him. The excitement returned to his face as he shouted “YES PLEASE, MUMMY!” and I couldn’t help but laugh. I gave him a big hug, we turned around, and took pleasure in choosing the faces we wanted. We made a plan to get home and eat the biscuits while snuggling together on the sofa, while the babies played. We chatted all the way home and I felt for the first time in a while like I’d done right by him.

Here’s the thing: sometimes I worry so much about spoiling Lucas, about him turning into a demanding brat, that I forego the opportunity to have fun with him. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that one biscuit on one day (that he didn’t even actually ask for) is not going to spoil him, but it did give us a really nice shared experience. It was simple, easy, and cheap, but my normal pattern would have meant we’d missed out.

Since that day, I’ve been looking to create fun wherever I can. I catch myself before automatically saying “no”. I let Lucas do what he wants to, where possible. I trust him not to push it and I can feel him relaxing in my company. He’s calmer, handling transitions better (something that he’s always struggled with) and he’s finding it easier to shake it off if things don’t go his way. Consequently, our time together is naturally more enjoyable.

It’s not always easy, but I feel like we are on the right path. And when I struggle, I know my friend will be there to remind me to savour the moment – even if that ‘moment’ is cuddling my screaming preschooler!

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review: je porte mon bébé ring sling

12017441_10102171734196039_4724760113100672899_oIf we’ve met, you may have noticed that I’m a HUGE fan of Je Porte Mon Bébé (JPMBB) products. The range is small but excellent and yes, I love the French origins too!

One product on offer is the JPMBB ring sling or petite écharpe sans noeud (little wrap without a knot). It’s not like a woven ring sling, but it’s not like the JPMBB Original or Basic either. It’s what helped me to finally ‘get’ ring slings when I first tried one nearly two years ago.

It’s got stretch, so it’s mouldable to tiny babies. It’s strong, so it’s supportive for big kids. It’s comfortable for wearer and child. It’s easy to adjust without disturbing the baby’s position. At around £60, it won’t break the bank, and will give you longevity as your child grows. Less important, but it looks stylish and comes in lots of colour combos!
In short, I really rate it and would recommend it for people who haven’t got on with other ring slings – it might just change your mind!

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adventures in twinwearing


Photo credit: Chris Foster Photography

When I found out I was going to have twins, one of the things I was most excited about was trying out slings with two babies. I learned a lot about tandem babywearing during my School of Babywearing peer support and consultancy courses, and I had worked with a few twin parents prior to getting pregnant, so I knew that there were a lot of different options. I was looking forward to finding out what worked for us, and I was excited about trying out different slings from birth, as I mainly used a Moby Wrap or Bali Breeze with Lucas until he was around six months old.

Since I am often asked, I wanted to write about my experience so far, both of carrying my own twins, and through working with local twin parents as a babywearing consultant. I would love to hear your experiences so please feel free to share in the comments section, or email me on

Safety first

Babywearing is not a particularly risky activity if you do it safely. The TICKS Rule and ABC are a good start and are easy to remember – you can find out more about babywearing safety on the Sling Pages website. If you are carrying more than once child, there are of course additional safety concerns. It sounds obvious, but make sure you are aware of both babies, particularly ensuring their airways are clear, chins are off chests, and backs are supported – not slumped.

If you are using two separate carriers, the safest way to combine them is to put each on separately, rather than threading one through the straps of the other. Slings and in particular mei tais and soft structured carriers are designed and tested to bear the weight of a child in the panel of the carrier – not by the straps alone. There is no guarantee that the carrier straps will stand up to bearing the weight of the second child if used in this way.

Wearing from birth

Many of the twin parents I meet are looking for something practical that will help them cope with the logistics of dealing with two babies. When you have two (or more!) newborns, it can feel like a constant juggling act to meet everyone’s needs and using slings can be a huge help. In addition to practicality, babywearing from birth offers many benefits, including helping to establish a secure bond, encouraging the production of hormones for breastfeeding, and settling baby during the fourth trimester.

There are many slings that can be used from birth. In my personal experience, nothing beats a stretchy wrap for the first few weeks. I loved the Moby Wrap with Lucas but when I saw this JPMBB Basic stretchy, I knew we had to have it! I am a huge fan of JPMBB products and the Basic has fast become my favourite stretchy (I should probably save my fawning for another post or this will become extremely long!). You can use a stretchy wrap with either one or both twins – like most options, there are advantages and disadvantages to wearing both. You can settle both babies at the same time, but you may find it cumbersome having both on your front. You can quickly put babies in and out of a stretchy, but you may find it less supportive as both babies grow heavier.


First twinwearing!

Sadly, we were admitted to hospital the day after Aurora and Jake were born, which was a very upsetting experience for all of us. My first experience of carrying them in a sling was on the children’s ward at night. They were both crying and I felt really nervous handling them as they were quite small (under 6lbs each) and Jake was very wheezy. I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I put the stretchy on in a pocket wrap cross carry, before putting one baby in each pass. It didn’t feel as tight as I’d have liked, but they immediately calmed down and snuggled in to me and each other. It was a really emotional moment, as it was the first time since birth that Jake stopped wheezing, and I realised how much he needed to be close to me and to his twin sister. I felt a huge rush of love and protective instinct as I looked down at my tiny babies, not yet 24 hours old.

Do I have to tandem-carry?

There is a huge range of options for parents wanting to tandem-carry their twins. Which options/combinations suit you will depend on many factors, including the age/developmental stage of your babies. While it is possible to tandem-carry with one newborn on your back and the other on your front, new babywearers may prefer to gain confidence before back-carrying as there are additional safety considerations, particularly with young babies. Many of my clients have preferred to get to grips with slinging one baby at a time, keeping the option of carrying two for times when both need immediate attention. Although many twin parents assume that you ‘need’ to carry both babies at the same time, most find that wearing even one baby at a time can make life easier. Anyone who has ever tried grappling with a double buggy will likely agree!

Some of the tandem carries I tried in the first couple of months were: both in one stretchy wrap, both in one woven wrap (in a front wrap cross carry variation), one baby on my back and one on my front (in woven wraps), and both babies in one podaegi. These are just some of the options available and they each have advantages and disadvantages. In reality, my husband and I often carried one twin each when we were both out and about – he was keen to babywear too, and it really helped him to bond with our new additions.

When I’m talking about tandem-wearing, I usually refer to it as one of the tools in your twin-parenting toolkit. Just like tandem-feeding, it is often assumed that you will always want to carry your babies at the same time. In reality, you are more likely to adapt your approach to each situation – sometimes you may want to carry both babies; sometimes you may prefer to carry one. For the record, it is often the same with tandem-feeding!


Our son was just two and a half when our twins arrived, and was used to being carried in a sling. We were really keen for him not to feel displaced, so I often carried him on my back in our wrap conversion mei tai, and a twin on my front in a woven wrap. The other twin would be in a carrycot in our buggy. It wasn’t what I imagined my early tandem-wearing experience would look like, but I really feel it helped Lucas to adjust to being one of three – it can’t have been easy for him.

Getting older

When your babies move past the newborn stage, they inevitably become bigger, heavier, and much more wriggly! Tandem-wearing can be both a lifesaver (particularly during teething periods) and a burden (literally – two babies can get heavy) with older babies and toddlers. If you get into slinging once your babies are older, you might find you need to build your strength up gradually – it is unlikely that you will be used to carrying two babies in-arms (although I think we’ve all been there…).

If you choose to tandem-carry your older twins, there is no reason why you cannot continue to use the option/s that suit you (with the exception of the stretchy wrap as you may find this lacking in support for two babies). There is also the exciting world of back-carrying, and with this the possible combinations of carriers widen almost infinitely!

There is a distinct lack of twin-specific carriers on the market, I think because it is difficult to achieve two comfortable carries using only one sling (with the exception of a woven wrap!). I am often asked about the TwinGo Carrier. It’s a cleverly-designed buckled carrier that comes in two parts, the ‘base’ and the ‘attachment’. Each part can be used separately (e.g. by two parents) and they combine to allow the carrying of two children, without the bulk of two waistbands and two sets of shoulder straps. It has advantages and disadvantages (of course!): it’s relatively quick and easy to use, and is comfortable as there is only one set of straps. Some people find that the child on the back is a bit lower than they would like – this is because the front and back parts are on the same ‘level’ when the waistbands are clipped together.


My friend Phuong is my twin-wearing idol. She is teeny-tiny, yet she makes carrying her big and beautiful twin boys look effortless! She mainly uses woven wraps and always looks happy and calm in her photos – I would love to look like that! In reality, I end up looking sweaty and feeling frazzled if I try and tandem my twins in one woven wrap – it’s just not for us. I prefer to use two separate wraps or a wrap and a mei tai – it’s no better or worse than one woven wrap, it’s just what’s right for us.


It is entirely possible to learn how to use various slings/wrap carries by reading articles and watching online videos. Tandem-wearing is usually considered a ‘special circumstance’ and you may find it beneficial to visit a sling meet/library or see your local babywearing consultant for a one-to-one appointment.

I have found the below resources invaluable in my own twinwearing journey:

Twin Sling (Facebook group)

Tandem Babywearing (Facebook group)

Wrap Your Baby (wrapping twins resource)

Wrapping Mamma’s YouTube channel

Wrapabyebaby Twinsling’s YouTube channel

Sling Pages (local listings of sling libraries, meets and consultants)

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review: bluestone national park resort


Earlier this year I was invited to become a Bluestone Blogger, which involved reviewing a midweek break at the Bluestone National Park Resort. The twins were about 3 months old at the time and I jumped at the chance to have the stay to look forward to, and hopefully enjoy some quality family time, our first since Christmas!

As the weeks and months passed, I began to worry about going – it would be the longest drive we’d embarked upon with all three children, it would be an unfamiliar location, we’d be very far from home…I wondered if I had made a big mistake in optimistically booking the free-of-charge stay. I came very close to cancelling the whole thing as it became too much to think about, but luckily my other half talked me out of it.

Staying at Bluestone made me feel about as relaxed as I can get with three small children. From our arrival at the park, to the comfortable lodge, and the on-site amenities, it’s clear everything has been well thought-out to provide guests with the best possible experience.

Both my husband and I were struck by how well Bluestone caters for families with young children – ours are all under three and there was so much for them to do.  Just walking around the resort becomes an adventure: discovering hidden paths, the snake tunnel, and the treehouse play area absolutely delighted our eldest. The babies tend to get towed around in the wake of their Tasmanian-devil brother, but they really enjoyed the circus-themed soft play, which is perfect for babies and young toddlers.

The standout highlight of our stay was the character dinner on our last night. Lucas was enthralled by the fairies’ storytelling and we were impressed as well. The actors threw themselves into the roles and made it truly magical for the children, who barely stopped to eat! Lucas is still talking about having “dinner with the fairies” and I think it’s a memory he will treasure for a long time.

What we loved: leaving our car at the gate and walking everywhere, exploring Pembrokeshire, the comfort of our lodge, the tots’ area in the water park, croissants and pain au chocolat from the lodge, local beer from the convenience store.

What we didn’t love: hills! Hills everywhere – prepare yourselves by training your calves beforehand, or save up for a golf buggy. On-site food: there was a good choice of food outlets but the couple we tried weren’t great. The quality was similar to that of mass catering and we expected something a little better for the price.

Thank you to the Bluestone Marketing Team for facilitating our stay.

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DSC_0254 DSC_0221 DSC_0218 DSC_0211 DSC_0178 DSC_0269I cannot believe that we used to call this little boy ‘the saddest baby in the world’. His first few weeks earthside were filled with sorrow – stemming, I am certain, from his very traumatic entry into our world and subsequent resuscitation. No one could settle him, not even me. He was only marginally happy when near his twin sister. He had a permanent sadface, a frown line I thought would be forever etched into his forehead.

The day after he was born, I thought we were going to lose him. I haven’t written or talked about those first few days in hospital much, because they were some of the most horrible. But he has come so far, that I sometimes feel I imagined those early days; that he has always been this happy, curious, jolly boy. It is a pleasure to hear him giggle – usually at his siblings – and I don’t take it for granted.

My wish for him is that he will always be this good-natured and easy to smile. My beautiful, happy tinyboy.



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what my mother taught me about body image


I am eight years old, standing with my mother in a Tunisian hammam. It is a female-only session and all around me are naked women of all ages, shapes and sizes. I see a small, grey-haired Tunisian women, her breasts large and extremely pendulous. “Mummy, why does that lady have breasts like that?” I ask, in the blunt manner of children. Instead of shushing me and hurrying us off, embarrassed, my mother explains that the lady has probably had a lot of babies, and has fed them with her breasts; isn’t that amazing? She whispers in awe that this is what happens after birthing and breastfeeding lots of children.

I have been told that my mother struggled with her own self-esteem and body image her entire life, but this is not how I remember her. I remember a confident, strong, uniquely beautiful woman who taught me from a young age that the female body is amazing and impressive; that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. My mother, tall and size 14, felt out of place and uncomfortable in her body, yet I don’t remember ever hearing her complain about her features – to me, she embraced her differences and celebrated others’.

When I was five, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, her prognosis not great. Over the following five years, she went through a number of chemo treatments, which caused her to lose her hair. I remember coming home from school and my parents had shaved my mum’s head – a pre-emptive strike against chemo I suppose – and I thought how cool my mum looked and what an interesting head shape she had. I also remember a boy in my class teasing me because my mum was bald – luckily, I’m my mother’s daughter, so instead of getting upset, I retorted, “Yes, she is bald – she has cancer.” That shut him up!

After her mastectomy, my mum had a sort of insert for her bra and swimming costumes so it wasn’t obvious that she had one breast. I remember seeing her pack it in our swimming bag one day and asking what it was for. She took the time to calmly explain, showed me her scar and told me why the surgeon had taken her breast (I was nice ). I cannot imagine how hard it was for her to have a breast removed while in her late 30s, but I never saw her struggle. She remained my beautiful, lovely, strong Mummy and it’s only now I have my own children that I start to see what that must have cost her.

Like most women, I struggle with my own body image. On the one hand, my body has grown, birthed, and nourished three children. On the other, my hips and thighs are huge and my stomach will never be the same again! I yearn for the body I had as a teenager, and curse my younger self for not appreciating a good thing while it lasted. I have good days and bad days, but the bad days have been more frequent since I had children and stopped having the time or motivation to make an effort with my appearance,

I am now just four years younger than my mother was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, something I think about often, and I know I’m lucky to have my health and fitness. On the days when I look in the mirror and think ‘yuck’, and there are many, I try to remember that day in the hammam. I recall the wonder in my mum’s voice as she talked about the things a woman’s body is capable of. I think about what my own body has been capable of. I don’t want my own daughter to hear me saying I’m fat, or frumpy, or that I hate my hair, because I don’t want those statements to become normal to her. I want to pass on what my mother taught me over and over again during our too-short time together – that her body is amazing, beautiful, and deserving of wonder. Just like her grandmother was.

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hidden vegetable flapjacks


My eldest steadfastly refuses to eat most fresh fruit and vegetables. He will eat apple, pear (if he thinks it’s apple), peas and sweetcorn. He loves dried fruit but we’re always looking for ways to sneak more fruit and veg into his diet.

I made these flapjacks while holding Jake – that’s how easy they are. They’re also quick to prepare and they freeze well. The recipe is adapted from the ‘Savoury Flapjacks’ from the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook. They’re surprisingly tasty for toddler food and I plan to give them to the twins as well.

Hidden Veg Flapjacks

150g oats
2 carrots, finely grated (you can use any root vegetable instead)
50g butter plus more for greasing
1 egg, beaten
80g Cheddar cheese, grated
Pepper to taste
You will also need: oven, pan, hob, wooden spoon, square/rectangle ovenproof dish.

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5. Melt the butter on a low heat.
2. Mix the melted butter with the rest of the ingredients and add pepper or other spices to taste.
3. Transfer the mixture to the ovenproof dish and press down with the wooden spoon.
4. Put in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (until the flapjack starts to brown).
5. Leave in the dish until the flapjack has cooled slightly, then upend it gently onto a wire rack to cool.
6. Cut into squares and attempt to not eat all at once.

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review: pink nova cloudless birds of paradise

The kind folk at Pink Nova recently offered me the opportunity to test and review one of their new woven wraps. The lovely ‘Cloudless Birds of Paradise’ is 75% Egyptian Cotton and 25% Mulberry Silk, with a density of 240 gr/m2.


Absolutely beautiful, really feels like you’re receive something special and luxurious. The attention to detail was lovely and I really appreciated the personal note. The wrap came in a very nice bag, and if this is what’s planned for the release then I’m sure customers will love that touch.

First impressions
I have to admit, I wrinkled my nose a bit upon feeling the wrap. The ‘wrong’ side (cotton) is super duper soft and fluffy. The ‘right’ side however was still pretty rough (I’m the second tester) and felt like quite a dense weave. The wrap is quite wide, which I like.

I love love love the pale blue and it has received many compliments during its time with us. I really like the subtle, spaced-out design. I think it’s really nice for spring/summer, but would actually look fab against snow as well!


I first tried a FWCC with one of my 5-month-old twins. It was quite easy to wrap with, and did not budge once tied. New wrappers may find the width and weight intimidating as it can feel like there’s lots of heavy material. I’ve been reaching for super soft wraps for my smallest slingees as I like the feel against their delicate skin.

Where I feel this wrap comes into its own is for back carries. I popped my smallest boy up in a quick and messy ruck to chill him out during a crying jag. I was immediately very impressed. It was a sloppy wrap job but the wrap held firmly in place. It was not hugely cushy on my shoulders, but it was also not uncomfortable.


I wondered if this was a fluke, so over the weekend I popped my biggest boy up, also in a ruck. He is 3 this week and averagely sized, no idea what he weighs! I found it really easy to wrap him and get a decent ruck. Again, the wrap didn’t budge – we even did some jiggles down the street to test it! It was really comfy to carry him. I wouldn’t say he felt weightless, but he felt very well supported. He also said he was very comfortable!

So, the humble ruck has changed my opinion of this wrap. It has a fair way to go to be broken in and I think it’s a shame I won’t see it at the point, because I think it will be lovely.

You will like this wrap if: you are a fan of Natibaby wovens or Baie Slings snug weave, your child is a big or heavy kid, you like blankety wide wraps.

It’s not for you if: you have a very young baby, you like narrow thin wraps, you don’t want to spend time breaking it in.

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what keeps me running


When I first started the Couch to 5K, I thought I must be doing something wrong. I hated it, absolutely abhorred it, felt rageful towards the automated voice telling me when to run and when to walk (smug cow). I couldn’t believe anyone would actually enjoy this activity and started to suspect that my running-mad friends were either lying or insane.

I kept going with the programme because it meant 30 minutes away from my five-month-old twins and two-year-old, so any enjoyment (or lack thereof) seemed beside the point. I think it was about Week 4 when I began to look forward to going out, and I was glad that friends had convinced me to “trust the programme” (runners can be quite similar to cult members – complete with motivational catchphrases).

Still, one of the things that’s surprised me about running is that there are loads of times where I’m not enjoying myself; where I want to turn back and walk home, or worse, ring my husband and beg him to pick me up. During one of these low points on today’s run, I distracted myself by coming up with a list of things that keep me going – so here it is.

Moving the goalposts
I trick myself. Yes, it’s silly and not really possible of course, but I tell myself I will stop at the end of that road, or that I’ll just complete this kilometre. Then I keep going, and do an evil laugh at my own naivety.

I always listen to the same playlist when I’m out and I favour songs with a fast beat and repetitive refrain. Sometimes a new track coming on is enough to keep me going – ‘Renegades’ by Rage Against the Machine is my current favourite.

I’m currently using the Zen Labs 10K Trainer app, which I really like. It’s non-intrusive but the countdown can really help with motivation. I use the five-minute announcement on my Runkeeper app, which helps me keep going just a bit longer. My Garmin Forerunner watch is great for pushing me a bit further and trying to beat myself.

Taking a breath
Sometimes I need to slow down so that I can keep going. Sometimes I need to walk, to catch my breath or have a drink (staying hydrated when running is REALLY important). That’s ok – it’s distance that matters to me; speed is secondary. I know that I need to build up my stamina, and if slowing down means I won’t just give up, then I’m happy with that.

Planning world domination
Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m out running. It’s really the only time I get to think and I relish it. I think about my goals, plan blog posts, brainstorm activities for the kids…anything to take my mind off how much I’m struggling to keep going.

When all else fails
Sometimes I get to the point where I have a headache, feel like I’m going to be sick, and start getting flashbacks to high school cross country (shudder). I feel myself starting to panic and mean-Ellie says “you can’t do this, what are you thinking? You’re rubbish at sports, you’re fat and unfit.”

When this happens, not even the best distraction works. To defeat mean-Ellie and her hurtful words, all I can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other. After a while, she goes back into her cave. And do you know what? Works in everyday life, too!

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