What are 10 ways to be a happy mum? Not every mum is happy all of the time or even most of the time.

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I love my children but there are times when I have struggled so as I hit the teen and tween years, I am going to share some of my lessons on what has helped me be happier as a mum.

1. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to be a mum. People have done it for years so why should you be the one who messes it up? Believe you are a great mum and see what happens.

2. Look at your own individual circumstances. Some mums have a massive support network of family, friends and colleagues. A lot don’t and then try to measure up to those that do. How can you realistically have hot date nights, a fabulous career and look glamorous if you are the one who is always holding the baby?

3. Accept from day one that some people will judge you adversely. I was told I was an inadequate mum when I returned to work when my first son was 6 weeks old. If I was, I also earned money for the family, kept my sanity and gave my parents precious and as it turned our limited time with their first grandson.

4. Try to carve out time for yourself and your own interests. It is a challenge but even if you just insist on having 10 minutes to yourself a day, it can remind you who you are and what you like.

5. State very clearly and in writing if necessary what you need people to do to help you. Do you need your parents to show you how to do DIY or housework more effectively? Would you be happier if your partner took the baby to soft play once a week to give you a rest? Whatever works for you, let them know!

6. Be aware that if you feel sad or fed up with a life a lot of the time, you may be experiencing depressionhappytoday. Take it from one who tried, you cannot get through this without help. Get to the GP (and write down that is what you need for your family or friends if you can’t face going) and access medication or talking therapies. PLEASE!

7. Remember your children will love you anyway. That fact should not be abused but they will celebrate the mum and person you are not some media fantasty mum. Make sure they know who you are because not to put too fine a point on it they will probably give your eulogy one day. It would be good for them to have something to say.

8. If housework is overwhelming, work out a system that ensures the house at least habitable. For me, I started by doing housework in short spurts during telly advert breaks. That was all I could handle at the time but if made me feel more in control and I built on that over time. Just give me a day before you announce your visit!

9. Take every media image of motherhood, research study,parenting book and webiste with a huge pinch of salt. They are tastier that way and for goodness sake laugh at some of them. Always look at who is behind the research or whatever and what is in it for them.

10. Accept that just as you are an individual so are your children. They will develop at their own rate and have their own talents, skills and interests which may not match yours. Celebrate the people they are and make some amazing memories together.

If you think I talk sense let me know and if you don’t forgive this old wife for having her own tale!

Even better, why not put a pin it and add the image below to Pinterest and then a mum who needs a little back-up just might get it.

10 Ways To Be A Happy Mum

The Pramshed



Jacky Ha-Ha Book

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

We would like to share our Cafe Rouge review as first time visitors to this particular restaurant. We had an amazing lunch at the Portsmouth branch yesterday.

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We have just moved and meals have had a degree of lack of planning about them as we have cleaned, moved furniture and explored a new area. So it was a real treat to take time out for a special lunch at Cafe Rouge. Why special? Because I feel compelled to give a glowing review.

Our day did not start well as due to extremely heavy traffic we missed our booking. The staff were wonderful with us offering us a table inside the stylish interior or outside on the Historic Waterfront.

We fancied outdoors and settled down to take in the vibrant atmosphere. It soon became clear that my daughter was feeling the cold. We asked if we could move inside and the staff facilitated this with speed and understanding smiles.

I love the menus in this restaurant. There is, of course, a French theme but not a daunting one so that although there are some French words on the menu, a non French speaker would not be unable to work out what they wanted to eat. In any event, all the staff we came across were so well trained and keen to assist.

The food was exceptional. My children are not the fussiest of eaters but they rarely clear their plates when we are out and about. That is always a little frustrating when you are paying good money for their meals.

Both children loved the warm fougasse artisan bread with crudites and tomatoe dip. My children are 9 and 11 but I could see this really working for a much younger child who enjoys finger food.

My son enjoyed ordering Le Burger which was of a large size and he loved the presentation. He did need help cutting it into manageable portion sizes but he found the whole dish very exciting.

My daughter had chicken and was very quiet during the meal which is always a great sign that she is enjoying her food.

Both children ordered profiteroles with my daughter wolfing them down with gusto and my son finding them slightly too rich for his taste. Mum was more than happy to help with that one!

My husband enjoyed a steak and I went for my favourite Croque Madame served with frites.

We had desserts and I was delighted after studying the menu and being tempted by 3 options that you could have them as a trio of mini desserts. More eateries should offer such delights!

Café Rouge say “Using only the finest ingredients served in a stylish and relaxed environment, Café Rouge’s carefully designed menu has been created to tickle even the pickiest youngsters’ taste buds. To cater for fussy eaters, Café Rouge is offering easy first courses of warm fougasse bread finger with d’signy butter and crudités with a tomato dip. Other (hopefully) tantrum-busting dishes include the new tasty Macaroni Cheese, Le Burger which uses the best Aberdeen Angus beef and the sautéed ‘Poulet Ooh la la’ with all the trimmings. For children who like to eat like an adult, there is a selection of mouth-watering desserts such as traditional French crêpes with chocolate sauce or children can get their ‘five a day’ the Café Rouge way with a simple bowlful of fresh fruit salad. Ice cream is a classic summer indulgence and is available in six tempting flavours. All of the petits enfants favourite dishes can be washed down with flavoured milk, bottle of green cordial or a selection of soft drinks. We look forward to hearing your verdict!”

Here are our scores on the doors!

Starters – 10 out of 10

Mains – 9 out of 10

Desserts – 9 out of 10 with a proviso that you need to think about what your children might enjoy most as some of the mouth-watering desserts may be a little bit rich for some tastes. Ice cream and fruit salad provide milder options.

Service – 9 out of 10

Affordability – 10 out of 10 – where else can a whole family dine out with starters, mains, desserts and drinks for around £50-£70

Atmosphere – 10 out of 10 – we felt very relaxed, unrushed and enjoyed how the restaurant seemed to actively welcome all age groups.

Location – perfect with great views and people-watching opportunities. It was lovely to have a choice of eating inside or outdoors.

Conclusion – I wondered why we have never visited before as we have missed out on a real treat. I very almost went back for breakfast the next day! I love going for a meal where at the end of it you are satisfied but not uncomfortable. Sometimes as you eat the food, it feels of good quality and this was our experience at Cafe Rouge. We will be back and regularly both for family meals and for the occasional date night.

Family Fever

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Last September after my daughter had awful issues at school, we decided to home-educate her. Very quickly, her younger brother was staying at home too.

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It has taken me until now to relax about the whole thing. I had no faith in my ability to teach despite having an amazing educational background. What if I damaged their life chances for ever? Let’s face it – I couldn’t even potty train them effectively for long enough so covering a load of topics some of which I might struggle with a bit myself seemed daunting.

On a selfish level, having just about rediscovered a sense of self after the onslaught of becoming a parent, what about my me time? What about my career or business prospects? What about me?

I know many people were interested in our home education journey but I was not sure how much I wanted to reveal. I wanted to get it right and know what I was doing first. I also wanted to fit in with other home educators and was not sure I was “hippy-dippy” enough. So I joined online networks and whilst being inspired by other home educators, ran away from actually joining them in real life and feared what I was doing with the children might not suit the home-educating community.

I have changed my perspective on quite a few things over recent weeks and months. This includes home education I think partly though learning by doing. As we move towards a year of home education, I am reminded of how terrified I was about my daughter’s mental well-being. Now I see a happy, creative, excited little girl with her own strong passions including politics, film-making and story-telling. Isn’t that good enough for Year 1 of the Family on Thin Ice Homeschool?

I also have to give a huge vote of thanks to the wonderful Cerys from RainyDay Mum. I was fortunate to be in her company with my family twice in recent months including on a camping weekend. It was a joy to get to know her a little and I want to make her a a friend. She told me in no uncertain terms how impressed she was by my children. As it was clear she has a fine mind and knows about education in a big way, I actually listened and perhaps more vitally, RELAXED!

I have started reading “A Funny Kind of Education” by Ross Mountney. People advised me to read this ages ago but it has taken me a long time to accept myself an an “official” home educator. I advise anyone embarking on the home education to read this book straightaway. It is down to earth, honest and true. It makes me feel OK and good enough.

So how was starting home education for me?

Terrifying – heart-beatingly scary with adrenalin overload.
Confusing – which home education philosophy was right for us?
Exciting – the joy of our first day of freedom from school runs and what have I forgotten? was superb. We had a picnic in the sunshine and made precious memories.
Guilt-ridden – are we doing enough and the right sort of thing? What if we have a day or two off? What if I allow them to play video games? Arrrgh!
Lovely – no nits all year!
Revealing – used to children coming home and saying little about their days however much I enquired, now they chatter on about their passions with me. Very quickly I learned that my son loves classical music because he finds it calming. My daughter showed that she wants to make films. I knew neither of these things about them when they were in school.

I often wonder what my parents would think about this life choice. I do clearly remember my mum telling me to make the most of the pre-school years “because you lose them when they go to school”. At the time I thought at least I could look foward to that as I struggled with post-natal depression, nappies and bottle-feeding.

Now the fog of depression has cleared, I see what great individual children I have and Fate has decided for now that they spend more time with us and we learn together ever day. I think I want to be “hippy dippy”!

I am going to write a lot about home education from now on – this family matters and I am going to revel in it.

The amazing thing about starting home education is you can make a fresh beginning every day and do it your way.

Starting Home Education

And then the fun began...

I am becoming more aware of changing my perspective.

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Looking back, a lot of my blogging was about challenging issues such as terminal illness, bereavement, redundancy, parenting issues and depression.

I tried to be open and honest for my own therapy and apparently people found that inspiring. I even got nominated for awards for being so miserable!

I have always said that when I wrote my first Grooving Mums post way back when it was more about trying to find out if I was mad or if there was anybody else who felt the way I did. I did not know that I was opening the floodgates and that actually I was not as mad or as different as I thought.

I hated myself for being fat and ugly.

I have taken charge of my weight and the truth that I now see that I have my own individual beauty.

I was isolated and had no close friends.

I now have many friends and in fact find it a challenge to keep up with them all. That is a big change and it is good to not only have online friends but people I get to see in the real world too.

I thought I would never work again.

I got that one wrong too! I just needed to reinvent myself career wise as many mums do as they try to juggle it all.

I thought it was my fault when my partner looked at dating sites.

I now realise that when someone is a twit, it is all about them. Nothing to do with me at all – I am an attractive, intelligent, feisty, witty, creative and caring woman. In fact if I joined a dating site I would probably be inundated with offers. My husband is a lovely man but just like me and probably you, he gets it badly wrong sometimes.

I thought getting into debt as a student and other financial issues would give me a poor credit history for life. I know about such matters so this was ridiculous of me. I looked at my credit file this week and got the great news that I am creditworthy.

I found housework overwhelming so the house was too often a tip.

These days I keep on top of things enough and if the house is a mess it usually means I have made the choice to focus on fundamentally more life-affirming stuff. My late Mum said her only regret in life was that she had done too much cleaning.

I asked for some particular assistance this week and not one person came forward. Years ago, a friend told me that I had a very good heart and I celebrate that. I would always do my utmost to help where I could and that makes me a very special soul.

Am I bigging myself up? Isn’t it about time?!

So yes I am changing my perspective and I think that is one big reason to be cheerful.

Boating in Norfolk gave us our happiest family break ever. We had never had a boating holiday before but we can’t wait to get back on board.

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We arrived at Potter Heigham to collect our boat with its glorious name Tranquil Light. There was a real community feel to the place with a good amount of nautical fashion on show. My youngest son and Him Indoors were dispatched to check us in. Louis arrived back at the car with a huge smile on his face telling us excitedly that the boat was gigantic.

Our boat was perfect for our family with 3 bedrooms all with their own loo facilities. Louis bagged himself the master bedroom straightaway and we went with that. There was a comfortable lounge area and a spacious and brilliantly equipped kitchen.

We all looked at the wheel nervously as Pete from Herbert Woods showed us all the facilities on the boat. I skimmed through the written folder of information and had a bit of an eek moment when it said all my children were capable of handling the boat.

Pete gave us clear instructions and a demonstration on how to handle the boat. Him Indoors took a little while to get used to it but my teenage son Luke took to it like a natural. He did most of the driving during the holiday.

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How can I possibly get over the magic of boating on the Norfolk Broads?

1. I loved having some proper relaxation. How often do we get that as busy mums? I slept deeply and sunbathed enjoying my time away from responsibilities, world news and the Internet.

2. It was great to see so much nature from the rustling reeds to the beautiful water lillies. The Broads are a haven for bird watchers and we saw lots of butterflies too.

3. The boat speed was between 4 and 6 miles per hour. Over the years, I find car journeys make me anxious with speeding drivers and so much business. I much prefer messing about on the river at a gentle pace.

4. This holiday brought out the best in my family. We worked together really well as a team taking on the various tasks of driving, navigating and mooring between us. Actually that is not quite true because I did very little and let the family take charge.

5. Although the boat did have a cooker, we chose not to cook and took had snacks on the boat, a takeaway and a pub meal.

6. We had great party times on the boat playing board games and cards. There was a television but we all seemed more minded to have good old-fashioned fun away from modern technology. When the boys don’t miss their video games, you know something special is happening.

7. My favourite town was Wroxham. Regular readers know I like to rummage in charity shops and I had a very pleasant hour or two in Wroxham buying games for the boat and some new to me clothes.

8. There are lots of amazing attractions near the Broads. However on this occasion we found the boating provided all the entertainment we needed. It is really good fun to wave at or chat with other boaters. Swans and ducks were regular companions as we sailed along. How lovely not to be chained to work or school schedules. Getting away from it all is such a joy.

We were not ready to leave. We all felt sad but also very excited to have discovered a new activity that suits all the family.

Boating In Norfolk With Herbert Woods

I highly recommend boating in Norfolk for a family holiday. You can choose the size of boat to suit your individual circumstances and you don’t need any previous boating experience. It is great for children to get them away from screens and to give them time to stop and stare at nature and windmills. They learn so much too from driving a boat to the importance of health and safety.

We will be back to Visit Norfolk soon.

Tranquil Light 2 sleeps 6 +2.

Shortbreaks – Low season £509, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

High price £1100, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

Seven night breaks are

£728 off peak, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

£1575 high season, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

Day boats are available Monday through to Sunday, between the hours of 8.30am and 6.30pm, starting from £17 per hour.

How to Book

Address: Bridge Road, Potter Heigham, Great Yarmouth, NR29 5JF

Tel: 0800 144 4472

Website: www.herbertwoods.co.uk

Twitter: @HerbertWoods

Facebook: Facebook.com/HerbertWoods

We were gifted a press trip to enable this review

My Random Musings
The Pramshed