Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

Leary Life 2019

Every year for at least the last half a decade I have planned to spend a fabulous festive evening listening to a ‘Cracking Christmas Compilation’ album and sipping red wine whilst writing lovely, personal, from our home to yours type cards detailing what we’ve been up to over the course of the year and making heartfelt enquiries about you and yours.

Last year I came to the realisation that, despite my best intentions, I wasn’t realistically going to have the time or wrist strength to pen 50 or so caring Christmas cards and so realised to my horror that family Leary were stumbling into full on Christmas letter territory- I even wrote it but, again, time got the better of us and it was finally sent, in April and in email form; not quite in keeping with the original vision!

So, this year, since none of us are getting any younger and, since none of us really know what’s around the next bend AND- since we really genuinely DO care about you and yours and want to wish you a Very Merry Christmas, we thought we might as well spread a little sparkle whenever and wherever possible so, set aside the eye rolls, ignore the embarrassment and embrace the Christmas Chintz; here it is…

The inaugural Leary Christmas Letter.
You’re welcome!!!

For Christmas last year the girls were lucky enough to be given some amazing experience presents including a trip to Cardiff to see the RSC production of Matilda in January from Grandma which we all loved, the staging and singing was brilliant and it definitely added fuel to Bethan and Hannah’s love of drama and singing, it was a lovely way to finish off Christmas and gave the girls some quality time with their Godmothers Michelle and Vicky too. In February a gang of us headed over to Rome to watch Wales v’s Italy in the VI nations and to celebrate Soraya’s 40th birthday- it was a fantastic weekend with some delicious food and a great result – if you ever go we would highly recommend lunch in L’isola della Pizza- it is the best!

rome restaurant

Next year we’ll be heading over to Dublin hoping for a similar experience and outcome so if you have any recommendations for us, let us know. March and April provided more days out with a family trip to Chill Factor in Manchester (thanks Uncle Martin and Auntie Laura!) where we enjoyed sledging, the ice slide and donuting down the hills.

chill factore

There was also a trip to watch the British Gymnastics Championships (courtesy of Auntie Soraya and Uncle Pete), Disney on Ice with friends and, a brilliant Easter Bank Holiday weekend when our friends David, Josefine, Noah and Nike from Sweden came over to visit. We took them to Liverpool, Llangollen and on the traditional Good Friday Walk along the Wirral Way. Despite the language barrier all 4 of the children had a really lovely time and are already planning our next visit to Sweden… April also saw Tanya run her 5th London Marathon- as always it was a great day and Tan finished in 4hrs 56mins- not quite challenging Eluid Kipchoge yet but it’s the taking part that counts! Thank you to everyone that sponsored, we raised over £1,500 for Wellchild.


In May we were invited up to Glasgow for Christina and Grant’s wedding celebrations- Ad worked with both the bride and groom so it was really special to be a part of their reception and the Ceilidh dancing was certainly a steep learning curve!! We stayed in a great little air b’n’b in Hyndland in the West End and showed the girls around the city and a few museums. Adam’s brother Martin and sister in law Laura were very kindly in town too which was ideal for babysitting 😊 Ad had time to catch a match at Ibrox too so all in all, another winner of a weekend.

The Summer term was chock-a-block with school trips, fairs and sports days but we still found time for some theatre trips and gigs including Danny Baker, Paul Weller and ANNIE the Musical. At the end of June Tanya, Soraya and Janet headed over to Belfast for a cheeky spa break at the Merchant- we took an early flight from Liverpool and were at the hotel in time for breakfast after which we headed to the Titanic museum and for the Red Bus tour. We learnt loads about the troubles and the history of the city, smashed our 10,000 steps and were chilling in the roof top hot tub by Sunset- we’ve had worse days for sure! Half way through the year and we’re in danger of sounding as though we have more holidays than Judith Chalmers- oops! But- Ad and Tan took a trip to Berlin to see P!NK live in the Olympic stadium which was out of this world! Adam used up his entire data allowance on his phone following ball-by-ball commentary of the Super Over at Lord’s – whilst probably being the only person out of the 80,000 people being bothered there was something special about celebrating an England World Cup in Germany!

And then, quicker than a flash another school year was done and dusted and the Summer holidays arrived with the end of term drama show. Hannah played Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz which was super cute! Aside from that, we had an absolute ball at the weird and wonderful Maui Waui festival in Suffolk and the Leary ladies loved a week in Tenby with Janet, Soraya and her brood despite some changeable weather!

maui waui

Ad started a new job and the girls began in their new classes in September, add an 8th birthday and a trip to Legoland (Thanks Nanny and Grandad) and a new cycling event managed by Tan into the mix it was all systems go. By October half term Ad was begging for a break so we headed to Center Parcs in the Lakes and enjoyed a week of gorgeous Autumn weather, swimming, treetop tekking and crazy golf- bliss.


Bethan has settled into year three really well and has loved her first few months at Brownies; she has already been on a two night sleepover and laid the wreath at this years Remembrance parade. Hannah can not wait to join her in January- first trip is to the Pantomime! Han is all about the singing and is over the moon to be Mary in the nativity this year. She is a real book worm and has settled into year two nicely. They have both got a lovely little group of friends and are happy so, that’ll do for us!

school 2019

Throughout the year I have been working towards my yoga foundation course which she passed in October and an ILM Level 5 qualification in Coaching and Mentoring with a view to working with children and young people in this area going forwards. It has been a lot of work with classroom days, essays and 1:1 coaching and 10 all-day yoga learning days but it has also been really interesting, eye opening and definitely worthwhile- I am loving how it is unfolding and can’t wait to take my first workshop in January.

Obviously letters like this always focus very much on the highlights so we’ve left out any mention of attitude, argument, questionable manners, boring life admin, work-related stress, emotional wobbles and the general mundane day-to-day business of adulting but- be assured there has been plenty of all of this  across the course of the year as well as all of the highlights! We have also said a few very sad good byes this year which has probably been the push I needed to put pen to paper to say;

We love you, we think of you often and we are sorry that the days fly by so we don’t seem to manage to see everyone we’d like to as often as we should.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy start to the next decade!
With lots and lots of love and hugs to you all.
Adam, Tanya, Bethan and Hannah.



Leave a comment »

WAIT- How did my baby turn EIGHT?!

My baby. My beautiful baby girl.

How did we arrive here?

How is it that I find myself buying a gold, foil number 8 balloon and watch you with your bouncy bunches skip off to school chatting excitedly with your sister and your mates?

school 2019

bethan tenby teddies


It’s mere minutes since your daddy and I brought you home in your car seat and lost hours marvelling at your tiny fingers and toes and beautiful bow lips.

Rosalind Grace Photography
Bethan, my darling, I loved you before you existed. I loved you as a bump and as a wincy wee. I have loved you every minute of every day since your inception and I will do until my last breath and then again from wherever I go next.

That doesn’t make me a perfect parent and it doesn’t make you a perfect child. Perfection is a myth so just be real. You aren’t bothered a jot about what you wear, the way you look or what others think. Cling on to that Kid- it’s gold dust.

You are you with your abstract imagination, your love of colouring and Lego and reading and Harry Potter. I am me with my baffling brain, my love of learning and literature, my permanent need for a fluffy bed sock and a brew. We are we with our books and our blankies and our Bake Off and we are all the better when we are doing all of that or anything else as a four; Team Leary 😊

NE Beach

chill factore

maui waui


Bethan- you have more gifts than I care to count and more will reveal themselves to you and to me and to the world as you grow. Thank you for your gentle nature, your whimsical way of seeing the world. Thanks for your jokes, your patience with your sister and your cousins. Thanks for your zest for life, your efforts at parkrun and cricket and at everything!

parkrun girls (3)

glasgow transport museum

Sometimes aloof, sometimes breath takingly empathic. Thanks for noticing when I’m a little fraught and for speaking to me gently as though you’re the adult.

You blow my mind. You always have.

Bethan 2
There will come a time when I don’t have the privilege of seeing and being in your life so much as I am now- you might travel, you might take a path that I don’t totally get and, that is just as it should be but, know this my love, that decision is yours. Me and your daddy will be here, in as much of your life as you want and need forever.
Happy Birthday Bethan Gwen.
We will love you until the seas run dry.
And that will never happen.
Love Muma.


PS- Just in case you are reading this years from now, your 8th birthday was a weird and wild time politically… look it up! WOWZER.

Leave a comment »

Top Tips for a trip to Disneyland Paris.

Well bloody hell, that half of the year pretty much flew by in a flash didn’t it!

This time next week Mr L will be having the annual classroom show round from the kids and a sly cry when we read the reports because, no matter how we dress it up, they’re growing up and, in the words of ABBA, slipping through our fingers all the time. SOB!

Funnily enough this week has also involved a few mum’s messaging for some insider advice on Disneyland Paris and this my friends means only one thing… people are planning for Christmas. Yup, you heard me, they are planning for CHRISTMAS and, when this popped up in my newsfeed it made perfect sense.

christmas countdown .jpg

Now, if you’re familiar with my blog you’ll know that I’m not big into stuff for the girls preferring experiences and memory making over forgettable plastic clutter any day and it was this that led us to have a personal one on one chat with Mr Christmas himself a few years back…After a bit of toing and froing we decided to go halves on a holiday to Disneyland Paris and this is how we broke the news to the girls:

Disneyland Christmas Letter (1)

They were over the moon and, given that we were going less than 2 days later the excitement never had time to waine.

We looked into booking direct but found the prices quite tricky to work out as they vary from day to day depending on what dates are peak, saver etc and, you pay the rate of the day you arrive for the duration of your stay. In the end we booked through Tui which meant that everything from airport carparking to transfers and our lunch with the Princesses was all sorted in one face to face meeting and everything ran like clockwork.

OBVIOUSLY You want the Disney hotel…I mean look at it!!!


But, I just couldn’t justify the additional cost and I am so glad we didn’t; The Newport Bay was absolutely perfect and an easy walk from the park entrance.

Disney_s Newport Bay Club External at night1_960x960

There is so much I could say about Disney- it was a holiday much more than I could ever have imagined. Even Mr L who readily admits Princesses ‘aren’t really his genre’ adored it. So, what would we advise if you’re taking the plunge this year…

Top tips for a Winter Break?

  1. Stock up at breakfast- we opted for half board accommodation which enabled us to have a really good breakfast each day and also to stock up on fruit and snacks for our day bag to eat whilst queuing for the rides- there is absolutely nothing to be gained from queuing to buy food in the park. It won’t be memorable, it won’t be gourmet and it will mean time wasted when you could be having another go on the Peter Pan ride!
  2. Book activities ahead- Disney do Fairytales like no one else and whilst you’re there, there are so many opportunities to emerse yourself in them. See a show, eat with your favourite princess or enjoy a themed meal- the opportunities are endless. BUT- make sure you take some time to plan this in advance- think about what your littlies enjoy and book accordingly. They do fill up fast and you don’t want to miss out. The website has lots of detail so grab a pen, make a brew and create an itinerary- sounds boring but it is your ticket to a far more enjoyable holiday where you don’t miss out on things because you either didn’t know or didn’t book.
  3. Make use of your bonus hour- if you are staying in certain hotels you are entitled to an extra hour in the park before it opens to the public. It is worth making the effort to get there for this and making your way to the furthest most corner of the park or getting in position for your chosen meet and greet or the parade.
  4. Don’t get sucked in by the stuff- OMG…OMG I had no idea just how much retail there would be on offer literally all over the park. Disney does everything- seriously- from costumes to crockery it is there and it is pricey. A friend gave us this top tip before we went; when your children ask for something say that they can add it to their birthday wish list- that way; you’re not constantly saying no but you’re not buying something every two minutes either. They will either forget about it or, you’ve got a ready made list of things to buy later in the year… at home where it will be cheaper!
  5. Take a nap- The parades and the evening light show are absolutely spectacular. They blew us all away but they are late at night (around 9.30pm) and, when you’ve been on your feet all day that might be a big ask. We went back to the hotel around 4pm, grabbed some z’s and headed back out around 8pm when the park was quieter.
  6. This is a bonus tip…you’re welcome TAKE A KETTLE- apparently, in Europe it is pretty normal not to have a kettle or any tea or coffee facilities in your room- OMG- I was not prepared for that. For an 8 cup a day gal this was hard to take… pack a travel kettle and your fave tea.


There’s plenty more so I’ll probably come back and add to this but, for now the message is simple- If Father Christmas is taking your crew to Disneyland Paris this Christmas, book now, there are some fantastic offers on for free nights, upgrades etc and- browse the website, it’s well worth it.

Have a ball- it’s what memories are made of.


Love Me.


Leave a comment »


Today marks International Yoga Day and I am giddy with excitement because this evening, my gorgeous friend Clare and I will be hosting our first ever event together; A Summer Solstice Supper down at Church Farm, Wirral. The aim of the evening is to gather people together to welcome in a new season, set new intentions and let go of any regrets and things that you no longer need bogging you down or holding you back. We’ve got candles and affirmations and new bolsters and food and fizz basically; the works. We can not wait!  It has come about a bit by accident- as the best things often do; Clare is a brilliant yoga teacher and I am half way through my yoga foundation training which takes place at Clare’s studio, we are mum mates from the school run and it just sort of evolved.

summer solstice

But, what is the course like I hear you cry well- let me tell you; Since January, on the first Sunday of the month I head out first thing for a full on day of yoga- or so I thought! Far from it being a chilled out day of backbends and yoga nidra (code for a delicious slice of sleep!) it has challenged me way beyond anything I expected. Yes, the days do include the physical practise and the relaxation as well as tea and cake and chats and yes; I have learnt more about the postures and poses, about the muscles we use and the benefits of the stretches but, in many ways that has been coincidental in comparison to the deeper learning and, fundamental ‘meaning’ of yoga- from my learning anyway…A part of the course involves keeping a journal- I am not 100% sure that this is what my gorgeous yoga teacher had in mind but- yoga calls for you to be your authentic self so, I’ve embraced that;  for me, at the half way point, these are my take aways.

The pose is not the point

Yoga is not about the perfect pose, about nailing the headstand or managing to hold boat for any period without capsizing! It is about being kind and gentle to yourself and others. It is about trying and not worrying about the outcome. It is about listening to your heart and to your body- doing things that feel right for you in that moment, not being driven by your ego because the person in front of you has her knees behind her head! It is doing things without expectation or hope of reward, which, to my mind, is just basic humanity and at should be the foundation of any religion or belief system or lifestyle choice. Don’t do 50 hail Marys every morning and then ignore the lonely mum in the playground. Don’t perfect your downward dog but park in the disabled bays at Tesco. In short;



It’s about the journey, not the final destination

Generally speaking, in the West, we have a penchant for instant gratification. Credit cards and fast forwarding adverts and Deliveroo and Amazon and 24 supermarkets mean we want everything NOW and, I think that yoga can be viewed in that way also. Simplified, dumbed down, reduced to an exercise class- something that will get you slim and tone you up so you are “beach ready” and “fit for summer”. Hot yoga…so your muscles warm up faster so you can stretch further so… Not really the point (in my humble opinion and, baring in mind that I am only just dipping my toe into my yoga education) clearly I have a loooong way to go with the whole letting go element! Yes; yoga can give you an amazing body but- what it should do is remind you that you already HAVE an amazing body. YOU’RE ALREADY THERE. You might get stronger, you might become more toned, you might become more flexible but hopefully along the way, those things will become less significant to you and the more important aspect will be how you listen to your inner voice, how you accept yourself as you are and how you quieten down your inner critic.

you are a child of the universe


We are all teachers; we are all students. 

There are 12 of us on my course, each of us different. We have all arrived here from different starting points, are looking to take different things from the sessions (which for me is a really evolving) and, as such we are all seeing things in our own ways. This is one of the elements that I am enjoying the most- getting to know new people and see things from another point of view (plus; there are some excellent bakers in the gang!) Signing up for something new, stepping out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to learning again is as exciting as it is scary but it is always worth the risk. The course is helping understand myself better and be more accepting of other peoples views and ideas.

Share the journey

I am loving yoga with my girls and, given the massive mess that we are in as a planet, anything that we can do to teach a bit of mindfulness, compassion and ways to understand ourselves is really valuable. Depending on you and your child and your mood and the weather and basically LIFE- the sessions might be magical, they might feel a little like herding cats. Honestly; sometimes this has been utter bliss and sometimes it has left me feeling fraught because they are not where I want them to be in terms of their patience or concentration or their mood again…not very yogic…there’s the journey analogy again! I am learning to go with the flow and to be more understanding of where they are at and some tools have been really helpful with this;

Mindful Kids cards from Barefoot Books are great for giving you options so you can work with the emotions in front of you.

Cosmic Kids on YouTube is a winner with loads of sessions which you can select based on what you need to get out of it in that moment.

There are also more and more yoga sessions for children and families setting up across the country. Schools are beginning to include it in their days or offer it as before or after school sessions so…we are moving in the right direction but, doing it as a unit, when it works is just pure joy and, the more you practise…the more you all know how to relate to it and each other. WINNER!

Bethan 2


Do what you can when you can. That is enough.
This is as true of life as it is of yoga but bloody hell it is tough to remember that isn’t it. Slowing down, taking a break, saying no, we don’t do it enough. Hold your space, let others hold theirs and don’t feel bad about it. Do what you can and don’t feel guilty about the stuff that you can’t and…when you’ve mastered this come back and tell me how!


Speaking Sanskrit is hard

Nothing to add here; it just is!!!


Yoga is just one piece of the puzzle; 

I am not yet the person to wax lyrical on the 8 limbs of yoga, the mantras, the chakras and the deep teachings of the gurus- there is just so much to take in and digest. The history of yoga is MASSIVE and it absolutely blows my mind. The understanding that people had of the mind, body and soul connection all those thousands of years ago totally and utterly BLOWS MY MIND. I can not believe that so many of the human race managed to get so far away from the original teachings and mess things up so badly for their health and that of the planet in their striving for more more more but, I guess that is human nature, we have to try things hey?! As always for me, it is the reflection, the opportunity to digest stuff and write down my take on things that gives me real peace and, as I continue to develop my own toolkit for selfcare I am allowing myself more time to do the stuff that fills my jug and makes my heart happy which, as it turns out is exactly what we’re all meant to be doing.

Let me leave you with this- a truly beautiful quote which gives us all permission to be that little bit more epic than we might otherwise have dared. I love it.


our deepest fear


Happy Summer Solstice all.
Wishing you love, light and a little bit of fizz!




Leave a comment »

Happy Birthday Dad.


Somewhere, in some weird and wonderful parallel universe today I should be sitting in a delightful beer garden somewhere family all, watching my dad blow out the candles on his 70th birthday cake. Actually; we may have opted for Royal Ascot where we could dress up and lord it up on Ladies Day all paid for by him of course because…that’s what dads do isn’t it- they look after their brood….That’s my understanding of a father.

Instead, my mum and my sister and I will raise a glass to the man we miss and each of us will wonder what life would have looked like if things had been different. But that’s not what life is- you can’t pick and choose it all; we’ve all seen Back to the Future*


And; whilst this is and always will be very sad, we have had over 30 years to grow around our grief. To manage its ebbs and flows and to smile at the few memories and imaginings of memories that we have stored away for safe keeping and; whilst that will never be enough, whilst I will always, always wish we had been gifted with more time it also IS enough.

It is enough because I know that I was loved and, in that respect I guess, a dead dad is better than a bad dad.

I appreciate that sounds hard and unfeeling but it might be true… I have seen the damage done by not knowing- the young people I used to work with had so many questions and were often so desperate to know more about their past and their parents that it was destroying their future. A file provided by a professional with as much blacked out as there is to read isn’t the same; your family is part of the fabric of who you are.

My mum and our friends and extended family give me that. They have furnished my sister and I with memories and the security of knowing that our daddy loved us and, had the choice been his to make, he would have been here today. I know what songs he loved (Brothers in Arms as todays ‘Blast of absolute class’ brought me to tears; someone else recalling early 80’s car journeys with their dad singing along to Dire Straits). I recall watching him get ready for work much as my girls do with Mr L today. I remember going to his office, I remember he made me feel safe and happy and loved. I never saw him fail, I never saw him frail, I never saw him fade into a shadow of the man he was. How lucky is that? To have that knowledge and to have people reaffirming it when I question or stumble or worry or forget is a massive deal and, without that I would have been a very different person.


So; whilst I can, and do, wish that our dad was still with us, his absence allowed me to create a picture perfect person because, when we die, we can never disappoint, we can never fail. We can only be remembered. Death, particularly when the person is young or it is unexpected creates romanticised ideals that are impossible to live up to. Over time the rawness of grief softens, the memories become more technicolour and, in my experience become mixed with happy dreams of imaginings of things that maybe never were. Those left behind are simply imperfect humans that have to pick up the pieces, do their best and keep on keeping on;  That’s the tougher gig by far.

And so; here we are, our unit of three that has swelled to a 9 doing our best to make memories for the next generation.

family photo yellow dresses

He lived, he loved and was loved and the legacy he leaves means I know what a good dad is and every day I get to see Mr L making my girls feel just as safe and secure and as loved as I ever was. To get that lucky twice is something special wouldn’t you say and that, for me, has to be enough.


one of a few precious pics which is why making memories is so important to me. 



Happy birthday daddy.

You are loved and remembered every day.

Tiny Tears. x

PS: Since you’re here- I’ve got a favour to ask… give someone you love a call today and tell them. There’s never a bad time to tell someone how glad you are to have them in your life.

*If you haven’t seen Back to the Future- please do!








Sometimes we all need a PJ day & 3 books that made me feel less mad!

Good Morning you gorgeous gaggle and a very happy Pyjamarama day to you! But what’s that I hear you cry?! Well, we’ve all heard of a PJ day or a duvet day. I imagine that we’ve all felt the need to hunker down, pull up the drawbridge and ignore the outside world for a day or two…Pyjamarama day is just the opposite! A UK  wide event where thousands of nurseries, pre-schools, libraries and other baby groups will be staying in their PJ’s to raise money for Booktrust to support their campaign to ensure that every child in the UK gets a bedtime story.


This is the first year that Booktrust have hosted such a day which is a bit of a shame as it would have been the perfect way for me to launch Time for Bed Baby which will be celebrating its 1st birthday this month!

Feedback for the book has been really positive; mums have reported that they feel ‘less alone’ and ‘encouraged by the supportive tone of the book’ which honestly makes me so happy! The whole purpose of the book was to reassure mums that, even if they are alone physically, there is someone out there that knows and understands the way they are feeling and, is telling them it will pass, they are precious too and they deserve the time to take care of their needs too.

This book gave me the ultimate gift of hope. Hope that sleep will come (it has been elusive!) and tomorrow will begin afresh. A practical set of actions, and a story that my little one absolutely loves. Thank you! It’s our family’s favourite and I am sure I will be buying as a gift for my friends.

My local PJ day was hosted by West Kirby library on Tuesday and was absolutely gorgeous- there was a bounce and rhyme session with lots of singing and music followed by a chance for drinks and a chat with other mums and some of the services and groups in the area that families can access such as first aid sessions, swimming classes and music groups. I was so glad I went because honestly; that morning, I nearly didn’t. My anxiety was through the roof, imposter syndrome was choking me;

Seriously; who the hell do you think you are with your stupid book and your mindfulness for mums? Everyone is laughing at you- what makes you think anyone gives a shit what you think?

AND- I was in my pyjamas for crying out loud- I wasn’t exactly going to go unnoticed on my walk from the car park!

Putting myself out there- sharing not only something that I wrote but also my feelings and family has been without a doubt the hardest part of the whole book writing process. I have regularly wondered why I bothered, why people would be interested in my verse, my advice, my experience. I have shrugged off compliments and minimised my achievement because it is a really bloody scary thing to share something that means so much to you with the world, and await judgement….and it is all of these things, all of these feelings that make me sure that sharing them is the right thing to do. Showing others, mums or not, that these feelings pass. That they can be managed, they can be discussed and, it doesn’t make you less of a mum or a woman or a human. It makes you more. To feel like staying in your PJ’s, under the covers and alone save for a cuppa and some fictional characters, but to actually get up, get out and own looking like a total div dropping off the kids and walking through the carpark in the rain whilst wearing your salmon pink birdy pyjama top is enough!

PJ Day

You can’t tell I’m full to the brim with self doubt here can you…

Being kind to others and sharing your experiences so people feel less alone is a success whether that is one person or one million  and all of this is true whether you’re promoting yourself or your business or whether you’re just braving the library bounce and rhyme for the first time. Allowing yourself to hear and believe compliments is hard but, I am getting better; these are two of my favourites:

Every new mum needs this book! The routine of reading this lovely story to your baby each evening, then being prompted to look after yourself is an incredibly valuable tool for new mums. I love the yoga and breathing exercises and I love that taking time in the evening for me has now become routine.

The transition to motherhood wasn’t effortless for me and I wish this had been available when my first was born, I think our bonding experience and in turn, my mental health would have been very much more healthy.

And, in the Booktrust spirit; I am going to share with you some of the books that have made me feel less of a weirdo, more able to manage my mind day to day and be more gentle with myself- whatever life throws at me. 🙂

Bryony Gordon: Mad Girl and Eat, Drink, Run – Bryony ran with me (via Audible) through most of my marathon training! She made me look madder than usual during my Wirral Way jaunts as I nodded and laughed and cried along with her. She is funny, self aware, honest and the perfect illustration of how non of us can possibly know what anyone else is going through unless they share it. I love everything she stands for and have a massive girl crush on her.

Suzy Reading: The self-care revolution – Suzy is a regular contributor to Psychologies magazine and has lots of suggestions on how we can take ‘micro moments’ to look after ourselves. It’s not funny but it makes a lot of sense!

Hal Elrod: The Miracle Moring  **This is mega American and listening to it on audio will only heighten this feeling but, I got loads from it

NB- These books are not magic; you will defo still have days that you feel pants. Soz.

Well; this post has definitely taken a different turn to what I was expecting to write; Sorry but- there you go! You might as well be honest otherwise whats the point?! I was planning on sharing with you the books that my babies loved reading before bed each night and revisiting the idea that was so important for me in the early days, weeks and years; Bath, Book, Bed but- you can read all about that in my book if you want and I’ll come back soon with my other recommended reads.

Have a happy day now.

Loads of love,



PS- If you want to buy a personalised copy of the book drop me a line with the details and I will pop one in the post for you spit spot!

PPS- The eagle eyed among you will have seen I am beginning to change my name on social media from Muma to Tanya…more on that to come…




1 Comment »

Body Image…How’s yours?

When I drafted this post I initially started by saying; “I am sure that it hasn’t escaped your attention that it is Mental Health Awareness week” but then I realised that maybe it had… Maybe the conversation about mental health is like Brexit all over again- I think we are staying in because the people I follow, the feeds I read, the papers I skim all tell me we all share the same view and the UK will remain in the European Union except oh…wait…URG Maybe I think that everyone is becoming more open and aware about mental health, mental illness and ways to self care because that’s where I’m at but actually, there are still huge swathes of people who are affected and feeling afraid and alone with those around them scared and unsure of what to do.
Maybe I see and hear so much about mental health and self care because these are the posts I like and share on social media and then the clever algorithms/ scary big brother types think- like that? You might like this too… and, often, they are right. I love to see posts of people doing good stuff- of Bryony Gordon in her pants saying “this is me and if you don’t like it; jog on. Of people wild swimming or surfing or just enjoying the sunshine. They make me feel good; they make me think- “I might try that” and it has taught me loads, It led me to climb Snowdon at Midnight, it has directed my to brilliant books, perfect podcasts and awesome insta accounts full of positivity and inspiration but, that’s not how it is across the board.
News this week tells me that:

  • 12.5% of adults in the UK today have felt so distressed about their body image that they consider ending their lives.
  • Locally we know that serious issues still remain with Birkenhead recently listed as one of the most depressed communities in the country.
  • Today I hear that yet another teenager has ended her life following a social media poll asking should she live or die.

It is becoming clearer than ever that social media can be a really harmful tool. In the same way that my algorithms keep showing me little squares of healthy recipes, yoga retreats and dogs on surfboards, there will be other people, most likely young people, being shown images of self harm and devastating details on suicide; reinforcing their beliefs and thought patterns. It has to stop and, until social media giants do something tangible to make a difference, we need to know what positive steps we can take for the benefit of both our own mind and body as well as our children’s. I was invited on to Radio City Talk earlier today to speak about Body Image and the impact that can potentially have on our mental health and, because I am so passionate about this, I couldn’t possibly fit in everything I wanted to say in the 20 minutes we had (They should give me my own show really) so, for those that missed it, you can catch it again here and, for those that want to know more, read on! Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

My Wellchild Why #VLM2019

All being well, this time in 3 weeks I’ll be sipping on a shandy with my fifth (and probably final) London Marathon hanging round my neck. Having deferred last year due to a niggling knee and a dose of depression which stole my running mojo, I can’t wait to get to the start line and soak up what is always an incredible and emotionally charged atmosphere.

I will be heading to the start line this year nursing a hurty hip, a niggling knee and an achy ankle. I will be celeb spotting at the Green start and draped in one of the new capes that VLM are trialling as just one of several measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the race and am aiming for a new PB- keep everything crossed for me! This year, I am running for an incredible charity; WELLCHILD and, I thought you might like to know a little more about my why…

Once upon a time (you might need to suspend belief for a minute) the government made some really poor decisions and decided that front line staff working with children at risk of entering the care system were a luxury. Now, it would be incredibly easy here for me to go off on a massive rant here about the subsequent rises in gangs, violent crime and the fact that decisions such as this have had an impact which will take decades to undo but, as we all have things to do I will press on with the story at hand…

After my friends and I were told that we were being made redundant, I logged on to gumtree and searched for a job that would help pay the rent whilst I looked for something else. What I found was an amazing weekend position looking after a gorgeous girl and supporting a fantastic family who had a child with complex medical needs. That little girl was called Phoebe and she was born with Cerebral Palsy having suffered complications at birth. Phoeb’s was not able to talk or walk and used an electric wheelchair to get around but she was definitely able to make her feelings and needs known. I fell 100% in love with her!
At the interview I was so afraid of using the wrong terms or saying the wrong thing; and I certainly made my fair share of mistakes; having never supported a child with significant medical needs before it was a steep learning curve for me but, it was also one of the best things I have ever done because it taught me so much about life- about empathy, guilt, unconditional love and just getting on with things, how ever challenging the circumstances.

I saw how much love and care her mum and dad gave everyday and how difficult they found it to give as much time and attention to their other children. I saw how frustrating Phoebe found it when I couldn’t quite figure out what she wanted despite both of us trying our best and I saw how clever and funny and stubborn and cheeky she was- it was a learning curve and a massive privilege. I worked with Phoeb’s and her family for almost 3 years. She is now 17 (which is frankly ridiculous) totally gorgeous with a whole life list of plans that she is smashing her way through as I type and I am so proud to know her! Me being a part of the family (which is what so many carers are) enabled mum and dad to get some much needed respite, to spend time with their other two children and to do all of the usual day to day admin that comes with being a parent… washing, home-work, taxiing to parties- you know the score- well; times that by at least 100 and you’re still a world away from the daily challenges that these families face.

On Thursday, as Mr L, the girls and I were leaving the house for an afternoon at Chill Factore the post arrived and in it was this- I cried most of the way to Manchester;

ava pic

ava words

As our two girls sat in the back of our non adapted car chatting and reading and singing I was totally overwhelmed. How lucky we are to be able to get up and go, to take part in activities and visit cool (pun intended) places like Chill Factore without considering anything more than whether we had remembered 4 pairs of gloves for 2 hours in the snow… news flash… we hadn’t!

Running the marathon for Wellchild will hopefully show what a huge amount of respect I have for all of the families across the UK that are caring for children with complex needs as well as all of the nurses and support services that work along side them. It is a difficult and life long journey.


The work Wellchild does allows families like Ava’s and Phoebe’s and hundreds of others, to live. It enables them to get home and get on. It provides training so that families are able to administer medical support at home. The Better at Home Suite at Edge Hill is a wonderful facility which enables parents to learn the necessary skills to care for their child at home in a safe and supportive environment. Wellchild also funds nurses who can visit families at home to support with medical needs and prevent prolonged hospital stays. There is so much more I could say about Wellchild, quite simply, they are life savers- check out the family stories  on the Wellchild website and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

I would love you to support my marathon fundraising efforts by donating a fiver, a tenner or whatever you can afford, in doing so you’re helping to make sure families all over the country have the care and support they need to be able to look forward with hope.

Click the here now to make a donation…. PLEASE- every single donation helps.

wellchild logo






Leave a comment »

Whitney was right, the children are our future.

Since mid January I’ve been attempting a weird hybrid of the Marie Kondo ‘Life changing magic of tidying’ and The amazing Organised Mumcleaning method and; spoiler alert- it actually is life changing. I have cut the criminal amount of crap in our playroom to a manageable level. We have reduced our rainforest of paperwork to a few files which is a massive relief. Mr L and I spent part of Valentine’s day at the tip – true story and, I am on first name terms with the ladies at the charity shop. I have sold lots of toys, games and clothes that the girls have grown out of and the money has gone to my marathon charity- Wellchild.

Having a cleaner, tidier, emptier house feels nice. Knowing where to find things saves me time and stress and I am a less shouty mummy which we are all happy about.

Considering which items “spark joy” has led to a serious reduction in both random clutter and kids crafting efforts but it has also made me acutely aware of the sheer volume of waste packaging which exists and, if our home is anything to go by, the insane amount of plastic and paper we use and discard on a daily basis.

People do seem to be thinking more about waste, recycling and climate change but, ironically, the pace of change is glacial and the people making the biggest noise are the kids which fills me with equal levels of hope and shame.

Our throw away generation with our demand for cheap products, disposable fashion and convenience are responsible for the global crisis we now find ourselves in. Governments have ignored the issues and it is only now, now children are literally taking to the streets to protest that we are beginning to take notice. Greta Thunberg, the 16yr old Swedish girl who speaks so passionately about the crisis and has been protesting each Friday since last August, has brought a new awareness and urgency to the situation. Her parents must be so proud. So often it is left to children to show adults how to behave, the art of what is possible and the power of words; Malala Yousafzai is another incredible example that springs to mind.

If we all commit to making some small changes the effect will be more than the sum of its parts but, we are way beyond small changes now. We need BIG changes. We need BIG companies to evaluate what they can do reduce their waste, their carbon emissions and we need to all recognise that our obsession with stuff has to stop.

We need to buy less, drive less and use less.

Companies like Jo Malone need to consider their recycling policies- offering a refill service or allowing customers to return empties doesn’t devalue a brand. It means you value your clients and recognise your corporate social responsibilities. Last week, fed up of waiting for a change in policy I took my candle jars, room diffusers, soap dispensers and boxes to the tip for recycling. 😞 it’s better than landfill but recycling still takes energy and creates waste. Reusing is better, refilling stations would be better. Waste Not Want Not in Birkenhead Market can do it. You need to step up. We all do.

As ever, Matt Haig is able to articulate this brilliantly:

I know that’s uncomfortable. I know it’s not what people want to hear and I appreciate that it requires us to make changes and it is a pain in the ass. It requires less time and less planning to jump in the car for a 2 minute trip as opposed to a 10 minute scoot but, needs must. Our children need us to step up, to pay attention to their protest and to make changes. Plus; there are so many positives that come out of doing things more slowly- we talk more, notice more and engage more.

What changes are you making in your home to make a positive difference to the planet? We’d love your top tips.

Leave a comment »

A sort of Poem for my sister (who is 40!)

Soraya, Soraya Soru.

I have written a poem for you*

When someone has been in your life for the whole of your life, it is difficult to effectively articulate just how much they are a part of you. How deeply entrenched they are in your path to this point. It isn’t a given that just because you have a sister you’ll like each other and you’ll grow up to like each other more. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be lucky enough to find yourself a friend for life but, for me at least, this is absolutely the case.

This poem doesn’t all rhyme.

I’m not even sure if it is a poem in the truest sense of the word but anyway, here it is, as per request. It is a love letter to you, my darling sister who has my back, always.

I hope you know that I’ll always have yours.


40 years ago today you popped out mums sunroof to say ‘G’day!

Into the warm Australian sun you opened your eyes to a life time of fun.

Daddy held you in the palm of his hand

(and realised then you’d never be naturally tanned)

Mum was bowled over by her bundle of joy

(She still is today- though you sometimes annoy!)

From a geeky girl too shy to speak,

Whose 3 times tables made her weep.

Who played a Gnat in the school play

And didn’t ever get her way.

Who ripped a hymn book and did a wee,

Who had blue glasses so she could see.

To the wonderful woman you are today,

Wow, what a journey, what can I say?

(and here is where we move into the non rhyming bit)…

You are the fabric of my childhood.

All of my happiest memories have you in them and I am proud to call you my sister. You should be proud of the person you are too;


As beautiful inside as you are out you keep many independents afloat simply by being so willing to get your brows and lashes and bikini line done. A true heroine of small business!

Seriously though; I don’t know anyone that has a bad word to say about you. You are kind, caring, compassionate and a true forever friend to so many.

The fierce love you have for your family is obvious and Peter, Amy, Alf, All of us- are lucky to have you.

family photo yellow dresses

What I am trying to say Soraya is; (and apologies again about the lack of rhyming)

You are the best sister I could ever have hoped for. Every single little quirk which makes you you, makes me smile…. and occasionally roll my eyes! Hanging out with you makes me happy (usually). You make me more sparkly and silly and who doesn’t need more of that in their life?

For those that don’t know you know you (if you know what I mean), it would be easy to focus on the fizz, the frocks, the fascinators and the fabulous array of shoes (and they really are fabulous!)

Soray and PV Tux

soray wedding fagan

But this is really just the handbag stuff.

Sure; you might have more social engagements than Meghan Markle (12 weddings in 12 months is a particular high!) Your God Child count is higher than the birth rate of some small countries but; that is simply because you mean so much to so many people. They know they can trust you and that you will be cheering them on. You are the person people trust with their deepest fears, their scary secrets and their amazing achievements. That’s not a privilege afforded to everyone.

I adore the zest for life you have.

You welcome people into your life with open arms and an open mind. You forgive people with an open heart and you are always ready for fun.

xmas pudding soray

You don’t get to 40 without facing some adversity and life hasn’t all been plane sailing has it?

Whose is?

You love people, you lose people and we all have to learn to adapt to the holes that they leave behind but adapting isn’t forgetting. You have a little piece of every special someone you’ve ever loved locked inside your head and heart- they’ve all had a part to play in the person you are here in this moment and for every moment going forwards.

daddy and grandma


I am so happy that you have your family unit and that me and my family are able to be such a close part of it.


cheseter zoo all kids m and v

I am so glad that you are always up for an adventure and don’t take life too seriously; I can not imagine a day when you’ll be too old for a day at a fair or a dip in the sea and I hope I can always be there grabbing a selfie with you.

sis selfie 2

mum, me and soray sunnies on.jpg



Happy Birthday Soray. Here’s to many more.


 *sort of…your name isn’t great for rhyming to be honest!


Leave a comment »

Bonjour, Blogger!

We’re here for all UK based bloggers, Instagrammers and influencers, teaching you how to develop and maintain your online presence in a way you love

Bristol Betty

The semi-coherent thoughts of yet another Guardian-reading middle-class mother

Molly Gunn

Journalist | Editor | Copywriter

Born in 2011

Emma Cantrell writes


Lets make crisptory!

Ever tried hard to make something only for it to look nothing like it does on the tin? Welcome to my life!


a day in the life of my sketchbook...


Powered by the UK's Original Influencer Network


living with cancer


Thinktastic musings on life, work and babies. With a bit of drinking and occasional falling over included – sometimes together but not always. The opinions depicted in this blog are sadly all my very own.

Moda Mi

Bespoke Dressmaking

We Should Go

the beautiful places right under our nose

%d bloggers like this: