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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…

 

 

Mara and Me – A Mother’s Story

On Halloween morning 2015, my childhood friend Melissa woke up to what would be a living nightmare.

Her daughter Mara, then 4, blonde haired and blue eyed and delicate in that most beautiful of little girl ways, had developed a huge lump on her neck, literally overnight.

“She wasn’t sick”, Melissa told me over a recent coffee (one that we held hands and mostly cried during).

“In hindsight, there were little things; night sweats, a runny nose, a cough – all the normal things that children get. Nothing that we were worried about”.

The journey from parental concern for Mara to full diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma is rife with those all-too-typically-Irish-medical-system stories – under-diagnoses, misdiagnoses, it isn’t cancer, it is cancer, she won’t need chemotherapy, she will…

I personally knew very little about Hodgkins Lymphoma except that when Jacob started school in September last year, there was a little girl with a ‘Freddie’ in her arm because she was having chemotherapy.

Look how beautiful she is!

You burst into tears when you hear this, about this child who didn’t have cancer 11 months previously, your friend’s baby girl, the baby girl who is the same age as your baby boy…

Melissa tells me that it is the most treatable of the childhood cancers, the survival rate is higher than others but the chance that it might re-present within 5 years is also quite high.

Horribly, St. John’s Ward in Crumlin Children’s Hospital lost other children while Mara was a patient there, but our little hero Mara came through to the other side.

My friend burst into tears as she recalled how she and her husband Alex would have to help the medical staff hold Mara’s tiny body down to receive her chemotherapy, an image that I will never forget for her.

She tells me about Aoibheann’s Pink Tie. They were a huge support to Melissa and her family at the beginning – they gave them ‘Chemo Duck’ to help explain the process of chemotherapy to Mara (he has a Freddy too), as well as providing sound practical support when they needed it the most.

Mara and ‘Chemo Duck’!

My Jacob is a little bit in love with Mara, the now 6-year-old girl who no longer has a Freddie in her arm and who was aptly awarded Junior Infant Student of the Year at the primary school that they attend.

Yep, we all bawled then too..

In fact, all of the kids are quite in love with her. Even while she was still having treatment, she insisted on writing out and colouring individual Valentine’s Day cards for each of the kids in her class last February.

My heart.

Melissa and Alex are looking forward to a clear scan at Mara’s next appointment this month but are still processing all that they have had to deal with in the last 2 years.

Besides managing Mara’s illness and treatment, they also have two younger children to take care of. So not only were Melissa and Alec feeling miserable about Mara being unwell, they also had that all-too-familiar parent guilt that they weren’t giving the other kids enough attention.

Can you imagine?

“I’m still so angry”, my gorgeous, and very placid friend Melissa, tells me. “Why us?”

**If you are worried about any aspect of your child’s health, seek advice from your GP immediately. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, seek a second opinion. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month each year but let’s always think of, and support, those families who are struggling. Melissa tells me that the nicest things that people did were the simple ones – dropping over a dinner, cutting the grass, popping in to say hi.

Take care of each other x**

 

We’re Not Feelin Ya, Ophelia

“Well..did you survive the night?!!”

That’s all we are hearing this week in the wake of Mz Ex-Hurricane Ophelia who hit the south west coast of Ireland with the MAJOR rages on Monday morning.

Us Irish, as usual, had been fairly chillaxed about it’s arrival.

Except me. I’d been flinging garden furniture and toys into the shed since Friday afternoon (thanks to my trusted bringer-of-all-the-weather-updates – Twitter – but by Saturday night at dinner, most of my fellow diners hadn’t even heard that a hurricane was about to hit.

And I thought I was the one who generally had my head up my ass.

Am I Hurricane Prepping? What made you ask me that?! 👻

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By Sunday evening, as soon as we all knew that the kids were getting the day off school, we were taking that shit seriously.

“The WHOLE day?”, cried we. “Sher it’s not even SNOWING!!”

Kids strapped to the crafts table, X-box, games board and hunkered down in forts, we braced ourselves for the inevitable cabin fever that comes from having to entertain our kids all day when the weather isn’t playing ball.

Hurricane Prep Step #1: Build a Fort 👍🏻

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That we can deal with – but throwing our PARTNERS into the mix? Ass Monkey was off and house-bound with us for at least 7 hours.

That’s just damn torture.

(Hope you all ARE ok after Ophelia. I know that lots of people are without power around the country and homes and businesses have been damaged. Thinking of you all x)

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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Burning Down The House: Part Deux

It’s safe to say this summer is a load of balls.

Yes, perhaps this does counter my attempt at positivity in another recent post BUT things have changed since then.

It was one thing when Jacob fractured his elbow and put paid to all our plans for summer holiday adventures and especially anything water-related.

It was another when Eva picked up a rather vile tummy bug that lasted for almost a week.

We’re talking full out-of-all-ends projections all day long – I literally had to boil wash and bleach everything that she even looked at.

The sitting room rug is currently still banished to the back garden and the neighbourhood is still under threat that I might just burn the fucking house down and be done with it.

But it is QUITE ANOTHER MATTER ALTOGETHER when both adults of this house pick up aforementioned stomach bug at precisely the same time.

I won’t go into the shitty details (sorry) but suffice to say that Ass Monkey and I are on Day 4 of no food, gross episodes and are both shadows of our former selves.

We’ve never both been simultaneously sick before so it’s a bit of a pisser for the kids that..well, that we’re their parents, frankly, at the moment.

Thankfully my own parents are taking them to the movies today so they can have something of a childhood that doesn’t involve having arts and crafts shoved at them while their parents wrestle each other like maniacs for first dibs on the bathroom.

Anyway, I’ve decided that when it’s all over, I may as well burn down the house and the entire neighbourhood now.

It is my social duty.

I mean, if I can spare just one family the bum wees…

 

 

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 *

Ballet, Baths and Booze: Tips For Surviving The Summer Hols

I wouldn’t normally be a complainer about the kids being off for summer.

Sure, in comparison to my nephew in the UK (5 weeks off, total), the Irish school’s time off seems rather.. long drawn out.

Sure, the notion of trying to figure out how to keep their little minds engaged whilst running the hind legs off them every day can be fairly time-consuming and draining overall.

Sure, trying to fit in any grown up activities such as working for a living, in order to fund the summer camps/childminder/possible trip away/endless supply of ice cream required is a bit like pissing in the wind..

..yep, actually I’ve just reminded myself what a royal pain in the tits the whole thing is.

This summer is a little bit more of a challenge for us as a family since we’ve just opened Skinny Batch and I’m working more than I was last year so I’ve more to juggle. That’s for starters.

Then we have a small matter of Jacob’s fractured elbow to contend with (please, holy Madonna, the cast comes off in just over a week).

BUT Jacob at almost 6 and Eva at 3 are both at a really good age. They play well together, they were able to attend the same summer camp for the last two weeks, we’re not dealing with nappies or bottles any more so we can all head off together on outings without much fuss. That all certainly helps.

They do need to be entertained though – and while July was jam-packed with family events and summer camps, I’ve left August free ahead of us to just hang out and have some adventures.

I’m also going to take the opportunity to just be at home more and straighten out the 74,000 things that are still ongoing from the house extension LAST YEAR (FML).

The thing is, life is stressful whether the kids are in school or not and I firmly believe that on the days I am overwhelmed, over-worked and over-tired are the days that my family get the worst of me (the version that looks a bit like Twink in THAT puppy-pilfering video – i.e. not great)

So I’ve given myself a few stress management pointers to hit every week in order to manage this summer’s chaos – every Wednesday, I now go to a Barre Class at The Pilates Loft in Rush. It’s a ballet exercise class and I LOVE MYSELF when I’m pointing my toes like a ballerina, ‘k?

When I get home Ass Monkey normally heads off to the gym so I take that golden opportunity to drink a humongous glass of red wine in the bath.

It might not be the healthiest move after my exercise class, but it is the HAPPIEST move.

It’s called balance, people ;o)

 

 

Entertaining 5-Year-Olds With Broken Arms On Summer Hols

Don’t be disappointed but this isn’t actually a helpful, informative piece about what you should do if your 5-year-old should fracture his elbow on summer hols.

No. This is an appeal for HELP.

There are 5-ish weeks left to go before school decides to get over their (very tanned by now) selves and start back to educating our kids so WTF am I to do with the one-arm bandit until then?

@skinnybatchdeli pancakes being put to good use 😃

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He had a fall at my brother’s wedding (lovely day, jesus they really got the weather and all the gorgeous pics and we drank all the gorgeous prosecco too) – and Ass Monkey and I had to transport him to Temple Street at 11pm via taxi..

..because we were fairly shit-faced by then.

I managed to change into a t-shirt and jeans but still had a full face of makeup and false eyelashes on so I looked FABULOUS as I burst through the doors in dramatic fashion, insisting on carrying my son wrapped in a blanket who DID NOT have a broken ankle and was well able to walk himself in, truth be told.

(Although it was very late and cold and he was in a little bit of shock so I’ll forgive myself that one)

Anyway, featured elbow, they said. 6 weeks in a cast, they said.

FUCK MY LIFE.

I said.

He’s adjusted quite well, to be fair, and is rocking the sympathy vote with the ladies and anyone else who enquires as to the presence of the cast.

‘My uncle dropped me’, is the story he insists on telling everyone, which isn’t true but I’m enjoying the reactions so I’m saying nothing.

Me? I’m not adjusting so great. There is now only room for me, him and the bright blue cast in our bed at night.

Ass Monkey has been relegated to Jacobs bedroom – it is honestly the most use it’s gotten since we’ve moved into the house 3 years ago to be honest.

Kiddie camps have been a welcome relief until now, those 3 precious hours to yourself in the morning can never be underestimated.. but they finish this Friday.

Then what, people? Entertain the one-arm sympathy junkie by myself?!

HELLLLPPPP!!!!

All That Happened The Day We Opened A Deli By Mistake

On May 12th, 2017, Ass Monkey and I accidentally opened up a delicatessen.

I mean, we had planned to do it, we’d talked and dreamed about it for years. But were we really prepared to open a deli for the first time?

Were we fuck.

At 7am on that Friday morning, we opened the doors and had NO IDEA what was to come.

People queued up and down Rush Main Street for breakfasts, lunches, coffees and cake and we hadn’t entirely anticipated their arrival.

By 8am we had to ask Hulda, the Head Barista from Two Spots Coffee to jump in and give us a hand – she ended up staying for three whole hours. (Thanks Hulda, we love you)

Then we ran out of bread. I mean, our main service is to make effing sandwiches and we ran out of bread!

By lunchtime, we ran out of cake. CAKE! FFS!

Our little deli had been so sorely needed in our hometown for years that almost everyone who lives there came down for a look and to support – we were happy to see them, of course, but we had serious trouble feeding them fast enough!

That first month was crazy and we learned a lot on the fly – how to properly run a food and coffee house, how to develop the brand and menu, listening to our customers’ s requests and adjusting accordingly, figuring out our staff and stock levels..

..it has been one HELL of a journey so far.

I would say that opening a new business isn’t unlike having a newborn – you are like a deer caught in the headlights for the first couple of months, trying to incorporate this new energy into your life and settling on a rhythm and routine that works for you and the rest of your family.

There may also have been a few sleepless nights of worry – the usual!

There are some great Opening Weekend pics coming through! ✨ Keep on sending them through to us x

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We can now breathe a bit, knowing that we’ve survived the tough part – from here on out it’s just making sure that our little place continues to serve the community of Rush and beyond to the best of our abilities.

And to churn out cake. Lots and lots of cake ;o)

(Check out our website here and come say Hi some day! x)

 

 

40 Things To Do Before You Turn 40

It had to go and happen. I had to go and leave my thirties.

Fuck’s sake.

I haven’t had what you could call a birthday party since my 30th although I do like taking a moment on the day itself to pat myself on the back for any nice nice achievements or moments during the previous 12 months.

This year, turning 40, I thought I’d have a l’il bash..

So myself and Ass Monkey checked into The Marker Hotel (swit swoo!) for the night and I hung out in the spa for a while – which is AMAZING – until we headed to Farrier and Draper for dinner and drinks.

Hey 40. I think I’ve got this 🤘🏻

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I had a frickin amazing night, have only felt the urge to wear granny pants and shawls on two separate occasions since and overall, I would say that turning 40 has been without incident so far.

In light of my new-found old age I have decided that I shall henceforth behave sage-like and impart wisdom on anyone who comes within 14 miles of me so since you’re already here…

40 Things To Do Before You Turn 40

  1. Fall in love. Don’t be afraid FFS, just do it.
  2. Develop an addiction to Cadbury’s Cream Eggs. You want one now, don’t you?
  3. Take the thing that scares you the most and do it anyway. Mine was stand-up comedy. Sometimes it was amazing and sometimes it was painfully shit. I did it anyway and I survived.
  4. Hang out with kids. I’m not saying you have to have kids of your own (coz it’s your choice innit?!) but just go hang out with some kids. They’re flippin’ great craic.
  5. Be that person. You know, the one who does nice things for other people, who tries to help, who cares. You owe it to the universe.
  6. Watch The Slipper and The Rose. You’re welcome.
  7. Go dancing. Go bare-foot, bare-faced, in-your-underpants dancing and do it for hours.
  8. Change something about yourself. Something you don’t like – the way your name is spelled, the colour of your hair, your address, your mood. Self-improvment is your life work, girl.
  9. Learn key phrases in the local language of any country you are going to visit. Don’t be so.. Oirish about the situation.
  10. Write a book. Ah sure jesus we all have one in us don’t we?
  11. Stop eating processed food. If you don’t know what that means, you’re already in trouble. Start with striking jars of bolonegese sauce off your shopping list – there is SO MUCH sugar in those things. Go fresh or go home!
  12. Rescue an animal. Give a little mite a better life would ya?
  13. Save up and buy something outrageous just for you. Those shoes, that bag, that watch.. do it.
  14. Use the good plates. All the time. Who are you waiting for to visit? (I was gonna say ‘The Queen?!’ here but, y’know, she doesn’t really apply to us. So, em, Madonna? Does that work?)
  15. Take time out for yourself as much as possible. I highly recommend baths, early morning walks, a trip to get your nails done, lunch or cinema trips alone and, most importantly – DAYTIME NAPS! Just leave those dishes there for 20 minutes and when the kids are at school, go lie down. That’s an order.
  16. Don’t be a slave to fashion – be an individual with your sense of style. This is from the 40 year old woman who just bought a shiny red bomber jacket.
  17. Don’t focus on who didn’t show up for you at that party/launch/get-together/hen – focus on who did. SOOOO much better for your head.
  18. Assert yourself. Ask for that salary that you know you deserve, say no if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, say how you feel, speak up, fight, know that you’re worth it every. single. day.
  19. Read. Everything you can get your hands on.
  20. Build your network and make sure you support it.
  21. Grow your own food – a strawberry bush, a bag of potatoes – I guarantee you’ll be so proud of yourself the day you eat them!

22. Double your efforts – if you feel like you’re not getting where you’re supposed to be – try harder.

23. Learn the words to two crowd pleasing songs – don’t be caught out singing Row Row Row Your Boat Gently Down The Stream at the family Xmas table when everyone is doing a party piece (although, to be fair to her, my Sis In Law REALLY pulled it off that time)

24. Smile. Infect the whole world with your smiles.

25. Get a tattoo. Go on, chicken shit ;o)

26. Say yes. Stop making excuses about why you can’t go to the party, drive across town, jump out of that airplane for charity, go away for a weekend with the girls. SAY YES.

27. Start your own business. It doesn’t have to last forever but if you do it, you appreciate everyone who ever gave you a job ever and makes you appreciate the value of hard work.

28. Work a Saturday night shift at a busy city centre restaurant. So that you’ll never, ever be rude to a waiter.

29. Stay at a swish hotel and pretend you’re a celebrity. I wore a sparkly dress and waved at tourists on an open-top bus from the windows of The Shelbourne once.. and they all waved back. Ha!

30. Switch off your phone – at dinner, at the checkout, after 11pm, on Sundays – you nominate it and you stick to it but give yourself a jaysus break from that screen.

31. Have a pyjama day. Lots of them. Who says that you have to shower every day and get out of the house anyway? A little off day here and there is good for ya. Just don’t make a habit of it!

32. Reign it in. As you get older you’ll find that while you might know a lot of people, and quite like all those people, that really, only a small number of them are your friends. This is FINE and you should be ecstatic that you are so lucky to have them. Nurture them, love them, be there for them and understand all the things that make each of them unique. Remember their birthdays, love their kids like they’re your own, stay in touch.

I have the best friends in the world you know 💕

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33. Post hand-written cards for people. Why send a text or write a FB post when you can buy a postcard or a card, write a lovely message on it, stick a stamp on it and fling it in the post box? The joy that goes with getting a nice card in the post cannot be underestimated.

34. Travel – yes, everyone says this and actually, I haven’t been AMAZING on my travel experiences but get a map on the wall and start picking off a few spots. If I don’t get to Disneyland and Lapland in the next year or two, there’ll be trouble.

35. Read the papers – the GOOD ones, now. Stay on top of what’s going on in the world so you don’t come off like such a wally.

36. Get political – I’m not saying run for president (although why now?!) but even getting involved in your community council will help you feel like you have some say in what’s happening around you. You can’t complain that everything is shit and let someone else be in charge of the shit. You get in charge of the shit!

37. Find magic in everything – your surroundings, your stories, the people you meet, the hugs you get, the opportunities that come your way and allow yourself to feel lucky.

38. Stand up in front of a crowd and do something – stand-up, sing, make a speech, give a presentation, pole dance (!), teach, recite poetry – if you can get through it while being heckled (and you know you will), you’ll be bullet-proof in just about any situation!

39. Stop taking yourself so seriously. You have internet trolls for that.

40. Love. All day long. Yourself, the world, life, the people in it (but not Donald Trump) – and remember every day.. you’re rocking it.

Love Shaz xxx

Easter Holidays: The Good And The Sugar-Fuelled Rages

We’re on the last Friday of the (WHY SO LONG?) Easter Holidays and I must admit – I’ve finally gotten used to that holiday feeling.

Jacob and I woke this morning (Eva is still up having her beauty sleep at 8.30am), came down stairs and cleaned away the pizza box from our second-takeaway-in-a-row party last night and settled down together on the couch for Cheerios and Cartoons.

We’re both so relaxed, there’s no arguing about uniforms or school or the stress of getting out the door on time and I just thought to myself, “There’s a lot to be said for this”.

But that wasn’t how I felt at the start of the break. WAAAAAY back then (jesus, two weeks ago seems like forever doesn’t it?!), I was VERY nervous about how we were going to fill our days, when I was going to be able to get any work done and if we’d all get along ok.

I decided to go easy on myself with the activity planning and thought that if we had one day out and about, we should have the next day in to potter around the house and just go local for walks and runarounds.

So that first weekend, we headed to the Easter Train at Rathwood. They invited us down via the blog and with the promise of a meet-and-greet with the Easter bunny as well as complimentary choice eggs, who was I to turn that down?

It was a beautiful sunny day and the kids truly had a blast. Ass Monkey and I were beside ourselves at the cheap flowers and plants in the garden centre (PEAK oul wan status) and brought lots of nice stuff home for our garden.

After that, we kind of had NO plan for the next two weeks. I started kicking myself that I didn’t have a holiday home somewhere that I could relocate to with the kids on these kind of breaks and so started the process of looking into one (maybe next year).

Then I started cleaning – the shed got it in the neck, the laundry was attacked with full force, every cupboard in the kitchen has been pulled apart. Honestly, I’m even contemplating entering the playroom today – and seriously, you can’t even get through the door right now.

I kind of felt like it was a good opportunity to get a bit organised before going back to work next week when everything gets all bonkers again so I rather enjoyed all of that.

For Easter weekend, we took a trip to ‘Grandad’s Farm’ – a sort of traditional annual event now to Tulsk in Co. Roscommon where my dad has an old farmhouse that he likes to retreat to on weekends during the year.

The kids just love it because there are donkeys in the nearby field that they find when they arrive so that they can feed them the carrots and apples they bring with them. There is so much space for them to play in, a trampoline in the garden, an Easter egg hunt and of course, unlimited attention and affection from Granny and Grandad Hayden.

Jacob genuinely bawls crying when it’s time to go home. Every year. That is what’s known as SUCCESS, people.

We’ve had a few visitors over the two weeks but not too many so they’ve all been enjoyable and not too overwhelming.

We’ve read tonnes of story books and the drawing/painting levels are off the charts. There is also a LOT of paint on my kitchen chairs that I am currently ignoring.

There have been epic chocolate-induced meltdowns and more than a thousand sibling scraps. I have seen 2-year-old Eva defend herself with a move that any Wrestle Mania pro would be proud of so I no longer feel like I need to get involved. Score.

There have been major baking sessions involving the melting down of all rogue post-Easter chocolate. They’ll never know.

There have been big long sleeps after long days spent together. In our bed, obvs.

I’ve spent so much time one on one with the kids that I really do feel closer to them now.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say?

Perhaps when we’re so busy with work and schedules and phone calls and running around, we don’t get to spend REAL time together.

But this time together has been real. And I am getting a LOT of hugs and kisses and “I love you so much, Mammy” declarations to prove it.

Swoon x