Category Archives: Entertainment

The 12 Stages Of Going C(gl)amping With the Kids

If you think I was built to camp, you can think again.

But since the summer hols are no longer anything to do with me (thank you, parenting), I conceded to 4 nights glamping in a lodge at Hidden Valley in Wicklow.

I didn’t regret it. Well, I did. But not for the reasons I expected.

Here are my 12 Stages Of Going C(gl)amping With the Kids:

  1. Smug Parent-ness. How smug was I when I made the reservation – finally, a decent parenting move; a holiday that was really fuck-all to do with my needs and all about giving the kids something to look forward to at the end of the summer break and that would create memories to last a lifetime. Go, me.
  2. Confusion. So we’re camping but we’re not camping. What do we need? Where do we eat? Hidden Valley say they have cooking facilities so I probably don’t need to do anything. Just give Ass Monkey the info and wait for him to feed us, as usual.
  3. Packing. Packing for clamping is much nicer than packing for a flight. Warm blankets, wellies, flip flops, marshmallows, downloaded movies and, most happily, BEER. You can’t bring beers on a flight, you know.
  4. Panic. You have no sleeping bags because you’ve never been camping before, you dope. Also, Ass Monkey has been so sick for the last few days you are considering having him hospitalised.  Which is a huge convenience since you have no idea how to cook for the kids over a camp fire. Thankfully, you’re not expected to pitch a tent.
  5. Cleaning. Why is there always so much cleaning to do when you leave the house for more than a minute? Also, why is Ass Monkey always threatening to be hospitalised when there is so much cleaning to be done?
  6. Relief. You’ve picked up sleeping bags from Argos and you’re on the road, entire family intact. First thing kids want to do when they get there is ‘get into the swimming pool’. Errr…
  7. Excitement. We’ve arrived. The sun is shining, the lodge is cool, the staff are beyond nice. We check out all of the activities and the kids go bananas for the playgrounds, climbing frames and slides. They also spend a ridic amount of time throwing stones into the lazy river, delirious with happiness. It’s the little things..
  8. Shame. You realise that you’re the worst glampers ever. You don’t have any BBQ utensils, plates, knives, lighters or, most importantly, wine glasses. HOW DID YOU FORGET WINE GLASSES, YOU FOOL?! (Side Note: Ass Monkey needs a commis chef/PA)
  9. Wasps. An official stage of being outdoors. The fuckers.
  10. Rain. The rain pelted down on two nights of our stay and I was never happier for our little lodge with it’s little plug sockets so that we could watch movies on the laptop with the kids. And so that I could fill my hot water bottle. Yes, I managed to pack that but not wine glasses. Yes, I am a granny. Yes, thank you.
  11. Washing. Ourselves, the car, the blankets, the thousands of socks, the wellies – everything and everyone are filthy after 4 days and nights in the outdoors. We had epic walks in forests with rivers running through it, rammed each other gleefully on bumper boats, waded in the river in search of fish, visited baby animals at Tinahealy Farm, stayed up late toasting marshmallows and drinking hot whiskeys, bounced on bungies, ran in water balls, played crazy golf.. the dirt was actually worth it.
  12. Happiness. It was a great trip, the kids had a ball, we’re totally relaxed on the back of it. My only regret? That we didn’t go sooner.

So we’re moving to Wicklow. See yiz later 😘😜

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3 Female-driven Shows To Watch On Netflix Right Now

So.. we don’t have telly.

I mean, we have a telly, but we just don’t have the telly stations.

It’s not a hipster choice – or a choice at all, to be honest – we’ve just broken the remote and haven’t gotten back around to getting a new one, or fixing the old one.

That’s been going on for a.. year. (I know, I’m a psychiatrist’s wet dream)

ANYWAY, we are quite content with our Netflix life and considering that we haven’t an option to watch anything else, spend a fair amount of time with all of the shows available from them.

I LOVE Netflix – the variety of movies and series that they are churning out is phenomenal – and the talent that they are attracting speaks volumes in terms of what was the industry is going.

I spoke with a friend ‘in the know’ over dinner at the weekend (Roberta’s, since you’ve asked – the new ‘It’ place in town. Meh is my feeling on it tbh) – and he says that Hollywood isn’t dead yet.

“Sure you’d have to go see Dunkirk in the cinema!” he cried. “You couldn’t watch Dunkirk at home on your telly! It’s too amazingly cinematic for that!”

(Note to self: go see Dunkirk)

He’s right, I’m sure both can survive side by side but while I’m at my current stage of parenting (i.e. 2 smallies, exhausted by 8pm, the greatest of treats right now is a glass of wine whilst watching some entertainment is peace), I need to tell you which are the best of Netflix shows at the moment, in my humble opinion.

1. GLOW

It’s no secret that I love the 80s and will jump at any opportunity to crimp my hair and wear day-glo bands around my wrists – so for the 80’s setting and for SO many other hilarious reasons, I ADORE Glow. Ladies wrestling and bad perms, that’s all you need to know – now, go!

2. GYSPY

I have two words for you – Naomi. Watts. Check out her acting brilliance in this psychological thriller in which she plays a therapist with her own long list of mental problems. Such a clever concept and entirely gripping.

3. 13 Reasons Why

This was very difficult to watch due to the subject matter of teenage suicide but I have to say that the lead actress, Katherine Langford, does an EXCELLENT job and Kate Walsh as her mother will break your heart into a million pieces. But it’s really important, so watch it.

*Netflix have kindly gifted me a 12-month subscription in return for writing a few thoughts on the shows that they stream and produce. I don’t have to like them, I just sometimes do *

What To Do When You Get Rear-Ended Twice In One Day

My day started out with a finger up my ass.

Don’t worry, it was a professional finger – that of my doctor and to be fair to her, I did ask her to do it.

My internals have been a bit wonky since Eva was born and so I finally got my finger out of my.. annnywaaaay, I made an appointment with the doc so that she could do all the usual tests.

I didn’t just endure the butt-rummage but she got the ole syringe out for bloods too, which always makes me feel a little sorry for myself. So I took my sorry.. (see? I can’t even mention it now) self, off for a nice cup of tea afterwards before heading to the office.

I was feeling just about human again so I hit the road.

And there, at the ridiculously bonkers roundabout at the 3Arena, with trucks and vans and cyclists and lunacy whirring around and over the bridge to Irishtown at an alarming rate..

a taxi driver boinked right into the back of my car. The fucker.

He approached and asked me if I was alright to which my drama queen dutifully squealed back at high pitch in response;

“No I’m not ok! I’m calling the police!”

A few points to note on this:

  1. One is absolutely supposed to call the police in the case of a road accident so high fives to my inner drama queen for reminding me of that.
  2. 911 is NOT the number for the emergency services in Ireland.
  3. When you calm down and realise there is no damage whatsoever to your car, you’re going to feel a bit silly for calling the Gardaí but they’re on their way anyway so you may as well start wondering if they’ll send one of the handsome ones.
  4. Your husband (I still love calling him that!) will arrive and park his jeep at a very precarious angle at the side of the roundabout without a fuck given what anyone thinks BECAUSE HE IS HERE TO RESCUE YOU.
  5. Your back will start to feel a bit achy. You’ll remind yourself that your back has been achy since that time you fell off a stripper pole but you’ll still wonder what outfits you have that might go best with a neck brace.
  6. That same husband will flag down a passing garda car and ask them if they’re here to deal with the fender bender. They’ll joke “Did you want the armed unit?!” HAR HAR I’M FUCKING FREEZING STANDING HERE GLAD ALL YOU GUYS ARE HAVING THE CRAIC!!
  7. A traffic cop will arrive on his motorbike, with those leather pants on. I’ll just leave that there.
  8. You’ll be asked to produce your driver’s license. As you rummage through your handbag, you can visualise it, in a Doc McStuffins ‘doctors bag’ that your daughter has been using as an official medical badge. At home in your house. You explain this to Sexy Leathers Cop. He will move swiftly on.
  9. You start to feel a little bit sorry for the taxi driver that you’ve created all this drama. Then you remember the doctor’s surgery not one hour ago. He doesn’t know what you’ve been through today already.
  10. Sexy Leathers Cop will ask for some paper to write his details on. Any fleeting thoughts that you and he are about to become best buddies is quashed by a yellow and brown hand-drawn picture of what looks like Jesus on a crucifix on your work notebook. “It’s a Gingerbread Man”, you explain to him. “Jacob’s learning all about how bread is made in school. See the connection there.. ginger.. bread.. har har?!”

We all got out of there alive. I’m now taking this sad and sorry ASS to bed x

Our Alternative Valentines: Doing It When You Have Kids

Well, we all know how to ‘do it’, otherwise we wouldn’t HAVE kids, right?!

But if you’re a fan of Valentines (and I AM, despite being a grump about most other things), you might need to adjust your way of doing THAT each February 14th.

Now that Ass Monkey and I are an old married couple (!) we agreed that having just had two weddings in the past couple of months was probably enough romance to last us another while yet, and we’d keep it in our pants this year.

(You know what I mean)

Anyway! The kids were excited about Valentines and at 5 and 2 respectively, were very busy in school and pre-school making cards for their mum and dad.

As they were all jazzed up about it, we decided to have a Big Family Valentines Day Out to celebrate little chubby Cupid’s day.

We took the kids to The National Sea Life in Bray for the afternoon, something we’d been meaning to get to for ages.

The weather was pretty bleak, grey and windy that day but the colourful aquariums inside The National Sea Life were all kinds of colourful and gorgeous by contrast.

We’re having a blast in @sea_life_bray today. Full craic in Instagram Stories 🐠🐟

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The kids loved every minute of it and I have to say that the staff were particularly amazing. They gave every family lots of attention and answered every kid’s questions (Jacob had about seven thousand of them).

You can spend a good hour and a half visiting each section, learning about the fish and hanging on for feeding time at the ‘Nemo’ and ‘Dory’ tank.

There’s also a cute little merchandise shop at the end of the tour where Miss Eva insisted on having a pink pirate costume to bring home. And who can deny her?

There is only one real way to be a pirate and that is IN HEELS 😂

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If you want to go for something to eat afterwards, Bray has many, many great places to eat along the seafront yet sadly we didn’t choose one of them.

Not that I am one to name and shame but someone should tell the manageress of the Shmocean Shmar And Shmill to never, ever, EVER pour the dregs of one woman’s white wine into the fresh new glass she just put on the table.

(Also, the food was shit)

But the company was TOP CLASS and I love our new family tradition for our very own Valentines Date For Four.

Tickets bought online for Sea Life are €10 per adult and €7.50 per child aged 3 – 14 years.

Maureen The Midwife Talks Vaginas (Or Does She?!)

One of my favourite things about working at HerFamily was bringing ‘Maureen The Midwife’ to life.

If you are or have ever been pregnant and attended an antenatal class at one of our nation’s fine maternity hospitals, then you may have encountered a ‘Maureen’.

She wouldn’t be great on tact, our Maureen, nor answering questions from nervous soon-to-be-in-labour mothers and generally speaking, would rather talk about the poor selection of madeira cake at the hospital canteen.

A ‘Maureen’ is an enigma in the Irish maternity services – one wonders why she’s allowed to be around expectant mothers when she clearly has no time for their nonsense nor questions surrounding where the actual fuck they might find their perineum.

Maureen would like you to give birth at the back of the green bin in your back garden if at all possible – whatever it takes for you to NOT RING THE HOSPITAL WHEN YOU GO INTO LABOUR.

You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?

Enjoy this comedy skit, my lovelies, there are lots more video to come!

*On a personal note, I LOVED my antenatal classes in Holles Street Maternity Hospital – especially when I went for a refresher day course when pregnant on Eva.

The lady who gave the class should actually have her own TV comedy show – it was around the time of the senior hospital staff salary ‘top ups’ scandal and she started the antenatal class with this;

“Welcome to Holles Street Hospital, where we are not allowed to ask for a coffee top up at the staff canteen any more. We must ask for a REFILL”.

I mean, you wouldn’t want to be heavily pregnant and in danger of breaking your waters, would you?

If you have any great antenatal class stories to share, we’d love to hear them over on our Facebook Page!

When Life Gets You Down, Always Remember Your True Colours

I have been feeling a hardening up lately, a desire to shut down and make unavailable certain parts of me that I ordinarily give away so freely.

Xmas can make me cranky despite my best efforts to enjoy it – I think I’m generally just really tired and in need of peace at a time when life is more hectic, loud and busier than I need it to be.

Add to that the post-wedding blues which I will determine to write about in another post because really, I can’t believe it’s hit me so hard (and furthermore, I’m quite embarrassed about it!)

I know I can get pouty when I feel a bit disappointed by people in my life who don’t consider me as I do them – not in a ‘OMG I just do SO MUCH for everybody and nobody does anything for me!!!’ kind of WAH WAH.. but just in a ‘I can’t believe that people aren’t much nicer to each other, including me’ WAH WAH.

I talk to my lovely mum about this despondency regularly and she counsels that no matter what, I have to stay true to myself and my own way of doing things.

“You’re lovely”, she’ll say. “You just keep being the way you are”.

It’s great advice but it does gets hard from time to time, wearying, to see that other people carry on about their own lives, oblivious, and don’t seek to go out of their way for others. I think of them and wonder if WE (Ass Monkey and I) are the real dopes for running around so much and that if we spent more time concentrating on our own family and interests, would we perhaps not drop the ball on things like our kids’ notes from school or when they are about to lose a tooth or two (scarlet).

I sometimes want to be harder, to not notice when someone needs something, or to not offer to assist when I have an option to. I want to put my head down and walk through the crowd, oblivious to what’s happening around me, just like everyone else.

I’ve been trying to do that lately because I’m so fed up and I’m so tired.

But then Ass Monkey and I brought the kids to see TROLLS yestrerday which was just 74 thousand shades of amazing and went a long way towards cheering me up.

Afterwards, we went to Ruby’s Pizza and Grill which has a fairly decent vegetarian menu. Ass Monkey had a falafel burger and I had a veggie pizza which was gorgeous.

Before our food arrived I noticed that Jacob was waving at a baby sitting at the table next to us. The little one was only about a year old and loving all the attention she was getting.

When her parent’s food arrived, the baby started crying because she didn’t want to be taken away from her waving game with her new pal Jacob.

So even though I was in a fowler – even though the rude woman at the Sugar Dolls nail bar wouldn’t entertain my appointment because I was 10 minutes late (the customer service rage rages on) – even though I was determined to never be nice to anyone ever again..

..I offered to take baby Millar (what a fantastic name!) so that mum could have her grub in peace and the kids could have some fun together.

And you know what – five minutes of doing something nice for a total stranger did me the power of good. It didn’t hurt that baby Millar was lovely to snuggle and a total DREAM too.

Doing something like that is the true essence of me and I’m happier for it so I’ll determine NOT to change if I can help it.

Now I have this song from the Trolls soundtrack on repeat around the house. It’s kind of making me cry a bit but the message is getting under my skin which I really, really need.

Like my mamma says, you gotta stick to being yourself, girl x

This can be a very tricky time of year for lots of people. Please reach out to someone if you are feeling low – take some time for yourself; go for a walk, listen to your favourite music, drink more water, hang out with someone who makes you laugh, eat cake, cuddle your kids and.. go see Trolls. You’ll love it. Mind yourselves x

Keep On Truckin’: When Career Dreams Become A Reality

In my almost 40 years on this planet I don’t think anyone has ever described me as a wallflower.

‘Messer’, ‘Mad Yoke’ or ‘Little Bitch’ are more along the lines of the phrases used, intended, I am sure, in the nicest possible way 😬

I was born a feminist – a flaming ginger haired toddler with a great imagination, in-built compassion for vulnerable humans & animals – and the desire to stand up for everyone’s rights in a very loud way.

Loud, of course, because as a woman, you have to shout sometimes to be heard & that’s ok. Coz if we need to shout.. fuck it, we’ll just shout.

And then someone gave me a microphone. I can’t remember who that first person was but I’m sure they regret it now.

I’ve been shouting through my art & creativity for a long time. I wrote plays, I did stand-up, I created shows & gigs which parodied the bullshit & injustices that certain unequal members of our country & others have to deal with.

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My gaf was taken over by sound men and cakes for the afternoon

I created Raising Ireland & wrote a book because I thought it was important to empower young mothers to see that they were part of a great support network & that they were fabulous.

I put on my big girl shoes when Sive O’Brien & HerFamily.ie came knocking on early 2015 & I grabbed that job by the (let’s not say pussy) HORNS because it was a dream job and a half.

Today, Maximum Media has announced is super exciting plans to evolve into a broadcast platform, to rival current tv offerings which are already struggling, as we all know.

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I like silence in my kitchen ;o)

I am GIDDY with excitement to tell you that I am going to be a part of it!I get to present HerFamily’s flagship Facebook Live show The MotherLoad in 2017.

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Sinead from fab skincare range Peachy.ie and Dr. Ciara Kelly from Newstalk joined us for the pilot shoot – how lucky was I?

The MotherLoad will interview parents with stories to share & discuss parenting issues of the week in the usual HerFamily style – relaxed, real & most-importantly, with zero molly-coddling!

As you can imagine I’m so delighted with myself that I’m having a glass of bubbles in the bath so – cheers!! X

*The full link to today’s announcement in The Irish Times is here if you want to give it a read!*

 

3 Female-driven Comedy Shows We Love On Netflix

We don’t have any telly at our house. 

Well that’s not entirely true: we have an actual telly to watch telly programmes on but we are not connected to any TV channels.

This is one of a long list of weird shit we have been putting on the long finger since moving back to our house after renovations in May.

That was almost 8 months ago and the ‘Weird Undone Shit List’ also contains things like curtains and blinds (so anyone can still just look in!), emptying a drawer full of screws from one of our wardrobes to make room for, you know, CLOTHES, and finishing off that last wall in the back garden so that the cement mixer doesn’t end up living with us permanently.

Anyway, while we just sit around not re-connecting our tv channel service to our tv, we’ve been watching a lot of Netflix.

Here are the female-driven comedy shows that I just adore at the moment:

  1. Chelsea

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I am a committed fan of Chelsea Handler. So much so that I bought 3rd row seats for her gig at The Olympia Theatre in 2014 and had to be practically carried in and home by Ass Monkey as I had only given birth 6 days previously.

Her new gig on Netflix is really engaging – super guests, lots of political commentary and a nice new educational slant on things whereby we all get to experience her growing up alongside the brilliantly funny comedian.

2. Haters Back Off!

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Colleen Ballinger has hit the nail on the head with this bonkers series. It is often described as ‘surreal’ comedy but I find it somewhat true to life when it comes to the character she has created, ‘Miranda Sings’.

Miranda CAN’T sing, that’s the point, BUT that doesn’t mean she can’t have her own YouTube channel, right? You have to watch it, honestly, I crack up laughing at every episode.

3. Ali Wong: Baby Cobra

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She is tiny, she is Asian, she is 7 months pregnant and she has the most unbelievably filthy mouth I have ever encountered.

And *I* have a filthy mouth.

We’re talking anal sex, the degrees of women’s ‘wetness’ according to age, giving your man the ole finger-up-the-buttski, making him go down on you..

..I actually blushed a little and that says a LOT coming from me. I also roared laughing, well worth a watch.

*Netflix are kind enough to give me an annual subscription to write about cool shows like these and more. That cool?*

5 Reasons Your Family Will Love The Toucan Box

I’ve recently become obsessed with subscription boxes which is pretty terrible for my bank balance but when you find one that REALLY entertains your kids for a couple of hours, I would consider that to be #winning.

I signed up for personalised Toucan Boxes for both kids although Eva is still a little bit young – they recommend that 3 years of age is a good starting point.

Toucan Box promotes itself as giving families back quality time together and keeping kids away from the TV by giving them a box of crafts and instructions for embarking on particular projects.

I decided that they were going to be my ‘Rainy Day’ backup and so as the sun was shining on the day the first box arrived so I hid them in a drawer in the kitchen! My secret weapons were under a serious pile of tea towels.

Here’s what we love about them:

1. I’m not naturally crafty

I’m artistic and everything but I’m not great at imagining a crafty project for the kids. The Toucan Box does all that hard work for you and then you still get to feel like you ‘Parented Good’ by virtue of the fact that they DID crafts even if you had nothing to do with it.

2. They are great value

I could easily spend a tenner or so on feckin Play Doh and glitter glue at Tesco or Easons and we wouldn’t get that much out of either (and mostly, that Play Doh just ends up on the floor, right?) At e5.45 a box fortnightly and an extra just e1.45 for a sibling, I think it’s money well spent.

3. The excitement is second-to-none

Even I’M excited to know what’s inside the box when it arrives. We had pirate maps and parrots to make the first week and dragon’s masks and tails the second. We literally cannot get the boxes open fast enough.

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4. The kids feel like rock stars

The personalised aspect of the boxes is great so that the kids feel really special when they see their names printed on each box. Now they want to be Hobby Kids – GREAT!

5. I HAVE PEACE!

Once I get them all set up with their instructions for what’s needed, the Toucan Box projects keep the kids entertained for a really long time. I’m not just talking about the initial sitting down to craft bit either – but the activity books also keep them going with colouring and pasting for a few days afterwards.

I’m sold!

 

‘I Forgot To Take My Pill’ Has Received It’s First Award Nomination!

I dunno about you but when I hear the word ‘Award’ I automatically think to myself, ‘ERMERGOD WILL HUGH JACKMAN BE THERE?!’

I have it on good authority that La Jackman will not be in attendance at the Carousel CAP Awards this year (sadly) but nonetheless it will be full to the rafters with excited and excitable independent authors like me.

You see, self-publishing is both an exhilarating and a lonely process – you know that you want your book ‘out there’ at all costs and without the support or interest from an agent or publisher, you have little choice but to attend every available workshop and seminar that you can find, in order to figure out how to do it alone.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and process of self-publishing my first book and am proud to have accomplished getting ‘I Forgot To Take My Pill!’ to print and available to buy on the great Amazon.

The downside has been, I have found, that there is little support for a self-published author thereafter. I also have a completed novel that I find I cannot enter into competitions for ‘unrepresented authors’ as to be self-published is to be considered published, one way or the other.

It’s as though I am done now and don’t require any further assistance but really, I so do!

This is an argument that I will continue to have until it changes because indie authors still need to be afforded the same opportunities as an unpublished one. We are, in reality, similarly unknown to the professional literary world and are in dire need of the same introductions!

But here I am, off on a tangent.

What Writing Cap and the Carousel/Aware team have set out to do is to create the very first competition of this kind which allows self-published independent authors access to a platform to showcase their talent and work to professional booksellers and distributors.

And not only that, but the bulk of the monies raised via competition entries goes directly to Aware, the charitable organisation that helps those suffering with depression.

As if all of THAT wasn’t brilliant enough, I am also happy to report that they then selected ‘I Forgot To Take My Pill!’ for the shortlist in the Non-fiction category.

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I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!!

We will see what happens on October 25th but in the meantime..

  1. Don’t Forget To Take Your Pill
  2. Don’t Forget To Buy The Book