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Tired of reading parenting magazines and articles featuring ‘perfect’ parents, warning against having babies too young, too old, too…middlely…. and that if you don’t plan to breast feed for the first ten years of your child’s life, you’re already a terrible parent?

Well you won’t get any of that rubbish here. Read our honest and enlightening blogs from Sharyn Hayden and other truly entertaining contributors – some of them don’t even want kids and we say that’s fine too! It’ll all put a smile on your face, promise…



Menopause The Boozical | Act 1

Two years ago, at age 45, I made an appointment to visit the GP.

“I’m menopausal!”, I declared. “I’ve put on a stone overnight, no warning, and my stomach is all squishy. Also, my periods are fucked and my hair is falling out. My things, my.. hormones.. must be acting up, right?”

He checked everything, took some bloods and said that my hormone levels were fine. It was declared that I was far, far away from being peri-menopausal. I put the weight-gain and belly squidgyness down to my fondness for ALL the pizza and wine, and vowed to start using my treadmill for something other than a clotheshorse.

Armed with my not-yet-menopausal smugness, I vadge-blocked anyone who gently suggested otherwise for the two years since. My acute tiredness? Kids, running a business, life. My shit skin? Psoriasis. My psoriasis? Kids, running a business, life. Restless sleep, lack of concentration, forgetfulness.  All of the above, just life. The doctor said so!

But in January of this year, a pain started in my leg. Not quite muscular, not quite sciatica but just.. deep, unrelenting, in the bone and keeping me awake at night pain. I started taking an anti-inflam painkiller right before bed just to get through the night.

And then The Feeling came with it. That something was wrong but nothing was really wrong because look at how lucky I am with my kids and my friends and my work and my roof over my head but GOD why hadn’t I done anything with my life and sure it’s too late now because your life is essentially over. You are MIDDLE AGED and you’ve FAILED.

Image courtesy of Meno-Me.com

Now that’s not like me. I’m generally a terribly excited person, terribly positive – loving life and grabbing it with both hands and being thrilled with myself for achievements big and small.

So I went to a different doc and tearily explained my symptoms. “We’re all about the menopause here!”, says he, and within seven minutes, I had a prescription for oestrogen gel and a feeling of regret for not starting it sooner.

A friend who started HRT two weeks earlier than me said that taking control of the situation and just starting HRT had had something of a placebo effect and that she was already feeling better. Less wonky within herself and less rage.

Image courtest of Balance-menopause.com

But I feel a little worse, for now at least. Because now I am middle aged woman on HR fucking T and not the 32 year-old I hang on to in my head. It’s not like I didn’t know that this was coming down the line eventually but I guess I was just hoping to maybe.. I dunno.. skip it?!

The pain in my leg is brutal this week. The acute tiredness has morphed into full-on exhaustion. And the rage is STRONG, my friends. Holy moly – how did this phase happen to coincide with having a pre-teen in the house?!

Perhaps I’m gonna need something stronger than the HRT in time but for now, we’re giving this a go. Week One down and Six until we hit optimum magical oestrogen levels.

I’ll report back.  I’ll bring the pizza. You bring the wine.


If you are experiencing any symptoms of peri menopause, including a distinct change in mental health, consult your doctor immediately and firmly request treatment. Being a woman is hard enough without being deprived of a simple fix to help you through. Don’t take no for an answer!

Newborns Are Awesome Book Launch!

It’s been ten years since I published a book. TEN YEARS.

I don’t know where it’s gone. I don’t know where I’ve been. I don’t know what’s happened.

A woman I mention this to throws an arm over my shoulders, stares off into the distance and gently whispers, ‘Motherhood is what’s happened’, like we are just out of the trenches, back from battle.

She is just shy of throwing a ciggie into my gob and pouring us both a neat whiskey (which I could really go for right now tbh).

I’m still muddling through my feelings about it all – did I lose myself? Did I give myself over fully to my family and just park everything? No, that can’t be right, because it’s been FUN, right? And hard work, and rewarding, and all I ever wanted, and nothing like I expected – exhilarating, exhausting, nerve-racking, endlessly entertaining.


Well, of course, it’s just that whenever we mothers thought we might do something for ourselves; something nice, something.. selfish… the tendency has always been to park that if a family member has other needs that seem somewhat more important than our own. And especially when those family members are cute little ones.

But mine are getting a little more grown up now. They don’t wake me up at 5am for Shreddies and Paw Patrol re-runs any more or need my attention all day. They don’t sneak into my bed in the middle of the night for cuddles, sending my heart soaring but my back into spasms. They play independently, they walk the dogs without me.. they can make toast!

One day last summer, with that extra bit of time on my hands to have a cup of tea alone and ponder life’s mysteries.. I had an unexpected jolt to the soul. An invisible defibrillator was applied to my creative heart by the universe and I remembered with a bang –

I used to be a writer!

I’ve written almost every day since and have had so much rejection for my scripts it would make your eyes water but I am loving it. I am loving remembering who I am and what I was put on this earth to do. I am me again!

Newborns Are Awesome is the first in a series of children’s books that I have in the works. It charts the developmental phases of a newborn up to twelve months of age and is beautifully illustrated by the wonderful Sarah Marsh.

We are having a launch party at Skinny Batch Bakery on April 25th, hosted by Jennifer Stevens, Editor at the Sunday Times. All are welcome and the proceeds are going to the Gaza Paediatric Care Initiative.

RSVPs to info@raisingireland.com so we know how many cakes to make!



Ass Monkey and I have moved house now a total of FOUR TIMES since Jacob was born. 

That’s four counts of “I am going to punch you right in the face if you don’t bubble wrap my favourite coffee mug properly before chucking it into the moving boxes” in the last eleven years.

So.. what’s wrong with us? Well, first we were renting near Dublin City Centre and fell foul of one shit landlord and one sound landlord but ultimately we were saving for a house.

In 2014 we moved into what we thought was our ‘Forever Home’ when I was pregnant with Eva in Rush, North Co. Dublin.

And while we LOVED that house and raised our two kids from babies in it AND welcomed Poochi the Wonder Dog #2 – it really never felt like we settled there and we just couldn’t put our finger on it.

Carn Hill House

Until we saw Carn Hill House for sale – an amazing 1930s home between Rush and Skerries in North Co. Dublin. It had, “I’m broken, come fix me” written all over it and you know Alan and I are suckers for a structural sob story.

Cue to almost a year of fighting with the banks (more about those pricks later), some serious doubts about the state of our mental health in taking this on (like, there’s no central heating in the house – AT ALL) and we moved the kids and dogs into their new home.

There is still SO MUCH WORK to do but we are cracking into it. You can follow the progress Here on it’s very own Insta page if you like!

8 Top Tips For Moving House With Kids and Pets:

  1. Don’t do it.
  2. Just kidding – definitely do it if and when you gotta do it.
  3. Don’t tell the kids too much too soon. The entire of Eva’s class and therefore, the town we live in, knew that we had ‘bought that house on the hill’ LONG before we had signed the contracts. Scarlet.
  4. Bring the pets for regular visits before Moving Day. They need a sniff around, they need to feel safe – you don’t want them flipping out and hopping the wall to back and take a dump at your old front door for the new owners to find on their morning commute.
  5. Don’t move in with your parents while your husband is getting things ready (more on this later).
  6. Don’t believe your husband when he tells you it will only take approx 3 weeks to get things ready (more on these ABSOLUTE LIES later).
  7. Interior Design is not and should never be, a family sport. Sometimes I fall foul of having the ‘What colour curtains would you like in your room?” chat and suffer two hours of serious pondering, group trips to Ikea, painted illustrations of all the things someone might like, instead of just going and chucking up what I wanted in the first place behind their backs.
  8. Keep this mantra alive: “You Can Only Do What You Can Do In One Day”. Set a timer, do a small bit, take a break, drink some wine, hug your kids, thank your other half – you’ll get there and it will be FABULOUS. I promise x

Jacob and Eva were so happy to see the sign go up!

Communion? What a Waste of a Year.

Eva is now in second class. AKA ‘Oh lovely, she’s in communion year’.

Except that she’s not making her communion because we are not a religious family.

Yes she’s in an Irish Catholic school BECAUSE THEY ALL ARE (I know, I know, Educate Together are great but not always accessible to everyone) and they are genuinely a super school.

One of the best.

If it wasn’t for the religious aspect.

At age 8, Eva is in that fabulous phase of being curious about everything, reading every book she can get her hands on, making flower perfume, studying nature, wanting to know what the inside of the moon looks like, practising maths – just aching for knowledge.

And she would have acquired considerably more knowledge by now in second class if her teacher didn’t have to task her with making pictures of glowing holy chalices from teeny pieces of yellow crepe paper – y’know, to decorate the parish church.

Today I am told that the entire class went to said church by bus to run through the ceremony and the three kids who won’t be participating in the communion sat at the back of the church with nothing to do. They didn’t even have a book between them.

The saddest part is that there is a library right next door that would have enlightened their brilliant minds with stories and history and art that they didn’t step foot in.

If it is important to you that your kid goes through the motions of making their communion for whatever reasons you hold personal to you, that’s fine, you do that.

But my kid was hoping to go to school to get an education.

Is 11 the New 14?

Jacob is 11.

11. Sounds like a little kids age, right?

“An eleven year old with a dream of being an astronaut was surprised on the Late Late Toy Show with a visit from a NASA space engineer’.

You’d think, ‘Cute, that little kid had their dream come true!’. Right?

Except that Jacob is not little, in size or in typically child-like anecdotal behaviour, although he does seem to have developed a whopper attitude. What a joy.

The thing is, he’s sort of become a man and I’m not even quite sure when it happened.

He’s as tall as me and his granny, and although neither of us are supermodel height we’re still, like, average size adults.

He’s independent in a way that I wasn’t ready for – not at all interested in reading books or cooking together or, dare I say it, have a cuddle on the couch while watching a movie. He would rather eat his own schoolbag.

He’s growing up, physically, mentally and emotional rate that is so speedy, my head is spinning.

It feels like we blinked and somehow time-hopped from him building a snail motel in the garden with his sister to his needing size 10 football boots. That’s right, he’s a giant.

I’m trying not to be too emosh about it but it’s hard. Jacob was my first baby and we have been the best of buds since the day he was born.

In the ‘Wha?’ moments (you know the ones…Me: ‘Good morning honey, would you like porridge for breakfast?’ Him (blank stare): ‘Wha?’, I’m digging deep to not take it too personally.

And also to keep on loving him. Because some days, you want to take their Size 10 football boots and shove them up their…

… I’ll let you finish that sentence.

Good luck with your teens. They are going to be living with you sooner than you think.

Sharyn x


The Time Is Now! (Or Whenever Suits You, Honestly)

Welcome to The Era Of Motivation Overload.

The Age of Affirmations.

The 5am Club.

The Seize The Day Gang.

The Squad Goals.

The Ice Bath Brigade.

The Sun Risers.

The Sun Setters. Jesus.

The Hybrid Work Posse.

The Tough-Iron-Marathon-Hiker Gang.

The Weekly Sheet Maskers.

The Fucking Coordinated Family Outfit Wearers.

Someone Needs To Tell These Two To Calm TF Down

As someone who is, ya know, busy enough like the rest of us, I have never felt more inclined to believe that I am a complete underachiever every time I pick up my phone and see the content that is being shoved at my eyeballs.

Or that I can’t possibly have any semblance of happiness in my life if I don’t get up two hours before the rest of the family to clean the jacks every day.

Or that I’m not a real woman of the world if I don’t know how to use colour corrector or where highlighter goes.

Where is the content that tells you to curl up on the couch with a great book and a jumbo packet of Doritos on the weekends, delegate the jobs on that long list of shit you have to do around the house, eat pizza in bed and watch movies with the kids, deal with it tomorrow if you don’t have the energy today and be happy in YOUR OWN WAY.

Pals, that content is right here. I am here to tell you that no one knows when your ‘Now’ is except you. Or your closest friends and family. Or maybe even your incredibly insightful and fabulous hairdresser.

Let’s make a promise between us to get UN-influenced by social media and figure out how to spend our time in a way that is 100% true to ourselves and what really makes us happy.

For me, it has always been writing. How about you?

PS: I have no idea where highlighter goes.

Face, right?

Also.. Self-help Singh is all of us. Check his wisdom out ;o)





Operation: Hallowe’en

‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Yearr…’ we sing in our house as Halloween approaches.

We really do love it – from the second school is back in session we are planning our decorating theme, our costumes, the movies we will watch every Friday for ‘Movie & Pizza Night’ and genuinely, it’s pretty much all we talk about in September and October.

This year isn’t any different despite the fact that it is, well, different. We have our theme ‘The Witches’ and started building an epic cauldron from scratch which will take centre stage in the middle of the garden path.

I know I’m mad. I know. But.. Halloweeeeen!!

This is great for lots of different reasons;

A) it’s keeping the kids busy when otherwise we are, really, not so busy at all. Do you have any idea how tedious papier mache is on a large scale?!

B) When it’s done I’m going to wedge it between the posts of our garden gate so that it isn’t possible to come in and knock on our door this Halloween. It’s a Witchy Barrier, you see. Look, someone is going to try to call on doors in your neighbourhood and that’s is a fact – this is our creative way of saying ‘Bitch, you crazy?’.

Expected Completion Date: Halloween 2034

Making Halloween Day special is top of my agenda for the kids (and us!) – and it can be done with a bit of effort and some imagination. Some of our neighbours who also have small kids are talking about having a little parade of costumes up and down the road during the day which is cute. The kids will still have good reason to still get excited about costumes and face paint. If the neighbours all left treats on their walls the kids can still fill their bags and everyone feels like Trick or Treating somewhat happened. I’m going to get some Halloween choons going outside my house too, to cheer them on. Don’t worry, I won’t sing. Halloween is terrifying enough.

I don’t know if it’s very early, or if people are reluctant to bother putting up decorations in case it encourages unwanted callers on Halloween Night, but there seems to be way fewer houses with decorations up in our area.

Which is a shame, because, like Xmas, little kids love to walk around their neighbourhoods in the lead-up to Halloween and see the spookiness that other people have going on in their houses and gardens.

I say make the effort; decorate your home, drop some sweets to the doorstep of your friends and family who have kids, embrace the Pumpkin Latte and Ghosty Cupcakes of it all.

One-tenth complete. Four hours later (!)

You can still let people know that you are not available for knocking on doors Halloween Night – put Crime Scene tape across your gate, pop up a sign asking for No Callers Please. Just don’t forget all the other potential fun stuff besides just that – the little monsters are still all super excited. Let’s not let them down.

Kids Sweets. Why are they so gross though?

My mind has been blown by my kids and their veggie ways this year. Jacob (9) has been vegetarian for just over two years now and is really, really into it. Like, in a major, I-can’t-order-fish-without-him-having-a-meltdown into it.

Jacob with our dog Poochi but LOOK at the love!

‘WHY would you eat fish? Fish are our friends! MAM!’ The guilt is too much so I go ahead and eat veggie just like everyone else, except Alan who is vegan and usually settles for chips with a side of air when we’re out.

Or should I say, when we used to be out.

I bought jellies for a treat recently. You know, the Natural Confectionary ones because they’re more healthy, right? No nasties, no artificial colours, no.. well, no MEAT BONES, you would have thought, right? Right?!

Wrong! Jacob took the packet, ate one and then took a look at the ingredients list (which I never do) and promptly burst into tears. Because of the gelatin.

Gelatin is a product derived from the skin, bones and collective tissue such as cattle, chicken, pigs and fish. And it’s in our kid’s sweets.

Beyond being veggie or vegan, who the hell wants this in a treat for our kids? How is this allowed? Surely rather than calling itself a ‘natural product’ it should scream ‘CONTAINS PRODUCTS TAKEN FROM ANIMAL CARCASSES’.

Too much? My kids don’t think so. Check out our chat together on the topic yesterday on my Instagram Stories. The knowledge that our kids have these days blows my mind, and I’m kinda glad that they’ll be in charge of the planet some day soon x

Periods of the Pandemic

When Lockdown The First hit us in March I instantly lost all sense of time and space. We closed our two Skinny Batch Bakery locations, sent all the engineers and staff home from Dynamic Ltd; as everyone locked the doors and pulled down the blinds while we waited for the CoronaZombies to fuck off.

I googled ‘Zombie Coronavirus Meme’ and Angelina came up. I need to get off the internet.

Which they did not. That sentiment of “I know the government said 2 weeks but I’d say it’ll be 5” whittled away and ultimately just got longer and longer as one day and week blended into the next.

What day was it? What week were we in? Was it still even 2020? I saw a few of my fellow parenting bloggers measuring the time in monthly periods and realised I had started to do that too.

“We are two periods into this lockdown now!” I would announce to Ass Monkey as he was shoved off out into The Scary Outdoors to buy tampons (the yellow pack, for my still average vagina, thanks for asking).

This is NOT Alan but I do love this guy hard.

But as dementing as the global pandemic has been, it is NO match for the change in hormones I have experienced around my periods this year. The raging, the wailing, the incapacitation (I feel like Vanilla Ice should do something with those lyrics if I’m honest) – and then the guilts that ensued afterwards when it was all over were too.. obvious to ignore.

As a woman who got her first period in the late 80s I can tell you that all I have been accustomed to doing is ‘getting on with it’ with regards to my monthly cycle. There was an unspoken blanket-ban on the mention of any of the following in my house growing up; blood, periods, tampons, pads, cramps, back pain, feelings, hormones, menstruation or monthly cycle. Jesus, I don’t think we even ever referred to them as ‘Women’s Problems’. The sad truth is; we just didn’t talk about it.

Just some of Erica’s wisdom on her Instagram page

So here I am in my 40s, just beginning to learn how the hell my body works. I’ve been to the GP, I’ve had my hormone levels checked, I’m taking supplements, I bought a book and I’m inspired by the great advice of Erica Quinn who, in her own words, is ‘Obsessed with Periods’. Finally, somebody is.

Me and My Middle-Aged Chocolate Spread

If 20s are the new teens and 30s are the new 20s, 40s the new 30s and so on.. when does middle age officially begin now?

I recently turned 42 and let me tell you.. all hell is breaking loose. If I compare photos from last year to this, there are outrageous differences – I have aged, people, really aged – in my face, on my body and perhaps, most regrettably, in my teeny, tiny mind.

Mentally flipping from ‘Hanging onto my youth, getting away with certain clothing and perhaps a trip to Ibiza passing for someone in my 30s’ has morphed into ‘I can’t believe my hot water bottle burst how am I going to survive, will I establish a neighbourhood watch group, oh my god I’ve turned into my parents’ – in the space of a few short months.

Ass Monkey and I decided to embark on ‘One Year No Beer’ in January, which also coincided with No smoking, No meat, No dairy, His entry into full veganism, and My vague, ill-informed registration for the Dublin Marathon 2019.

So off we set in January, doe-eyed and optimistic about how our lives were to be positively transformed from all these epic efforts – we sprang from our beds at 6am and went running, gymming, I took up dancing again and signed up for yoga, reformer pilates – anything to compensate for the huge energy void I was sure not drinking would leave behind.

I claimed I would be full of excess energy, now that those nasty hangovers would no longer be present, sucking the goodness of the day away with headaches and narkiness.

I claimed I would get my old dancer body back – toned, trim, nice bum and toned abs. Hell, I might even find my Madonna arms again with all that planking and dancing and Reformer-ing.

As the weeks wore on, I studied myself in the mirror religiously, waiting for the pay off. But the results were the opposite – the exact opposite of what I had anticipated.

How was I putting all this effort in and now beginning to look… well… like shite? My body seemed to be expanding rather than toning up, my eyes more wrinkled and tired looking than ever and – dare I say it – my arse looks like it’s starting to droop. THE HORROR.

In truth, a part of the problem is.. CHOCOLATE. Having previously held a ‘take it or leave it’ approach to the eating of chocolate, I find I am now obsessed with it. Thanks to my ‘new healthy lifestyle’, my sweet tooth has literally exploded and won’t be satisfied until it eats every bit of chocolate in the house.

I am a woman possessed – looking for it in the morning, dreaming about it at night, hiding my eating of it from the kids ‘coz I don’t want them to know where my stash is in case, horror of horrors, I might be asked to share it.

Is this my new alcohol? Am I now on the rocky road (mmmm…) to becoming ‘that’ lady who spends her days seeking out a nice slice of lemon drizzle cake, a tasty chop bun to accompany my pot of tea (that I will keep asking the waitstaff to refill but never paying twice).

The answer, from me and my expanding arse-line, is a resounding, ganache-filled YES.