Five Things I’m Proud Of This November

November is always a big month for me. My birthday is at the beginning of the month and if I’m not careful then I find I can sometimes lose the rest of the month in a bit of a haze because I peaked too soon. This month I’m trying to stop that and start..like a New Year’s Resolution but a New Birth Year’s Resolution. I’ve turned 25 and feel like I’d need something to write home about.

I’m also really bad at acknowledging when I’ve done something well, so this is also me shouting from the rooftops: I did some things this month I was proud of. I also did things I wasn’t as proud of, definitely ate a few too many chocolate biscuits and I definitely haven’t hoovered my house for nearly a week at the moment but that’s by the by. We’ve always got next month.

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So here goes: I, Hayley Doyle have had a few wins this month and let me read them to you now.

  • I booked my smear test. I’ve since had to cancel it because life gets in the way BUT the thought of ringing the doctor and booking it had reduced me to tears many a time, so the fact that I made that initial call is a big deal for me. I promise I won’t re-hash this point out if I make a Things I’m Proud Of In December post.

 

  • I got the majority of my hair chopped off. After having long-ish hair for about a decade, I decided it was time for it to go. (And when I say long, the shortest I’ve been since probably around the age of 6 was just below my shoulders.) The moment where I lost my shit with my own hair was the other week, ripping through my split ends with my Tangle Teezer whilst grumbling about the state of my life, the world and everything when I realised it could just go. It’ll grow back, probably quicker than I would like but it will grow back. I just can’t believe I mugged myself off for so long convincing myself that long hair was my Thing when really, I feel much more mature and like I’ve got my shit together with short hair.

 

  • I’ve stuck with this blog for longer than ever before. YES, I know you’re going to say “Hayley, babe, it’s been a month and a half” but this feels different. I’ve started blog after blog for years and never stuck at it for longer than two posts. This just feels a bit more stable, like I’ve got something to say and I’m glad I’ve got somewhere to say it. I bought a new notebook, a proper Moleskine one (from TK Maxx, lol) and I sat in a coffee shop this morning writing notes for this post. I’ve always felt sick when letting people read my writing so actually releasing my words into the wild is an achievement for me. Plus two people messaged me the other day to tell me they liked one of my posts which was like someone lifted the world off my shoulders for a second.

 

  • I’m settling myself into a routine of working, blogging and volunteering at my son’s school. With regards to my ~day job, I’m making sure to try and push myself as much as possible, and to make sure my brain is working. Possibly too hard, as I worked four days this week and woke up Thursday morning absolutely exhausted. I don’t know how people work full time, I swear. But it’s all good, as I’m so used to being rooted in my comfort zone, to push myself out of my box a little bit and see what else I can do. I’m going to remain cryptic on this one a bit as I don’t want to talk about where I work too much, or Elliot’s school as there’s probably rules for this kind of thing. But I’m proud.

 

  • I’ve already started Christmas shopping. I KNOW. I’ve got a spreadsheet and everything! Let me have this moment, okay. We all know I’ll be running down to ASDA at 8pm on Christmas Eve Eve to bulk buy prosecco for everyone I’ve forgotten about.

What have you achieved this month? From vaginas to Amazon orders – let me know! Let’s celebrate together.

Gift List: Presents for Dad

I’ve decided to make a Gift List for the Dads in our lives today, as I feel they’re slightly hard-done-by when it comes to the world of blogging. I know they’ve got literally everything else in the world at their feet for the taking but I can’t find anything telling you what to buy the Dad in your life. SO – welcome to Gift List 2: Electric Boogaloo – The Dad Edition. Dadition if you will.

Sticking to the same old rules, we’re going for four categories: WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ and it’ll be over a full range of budgets so if you want to treat your baby daddy or if you’re looking for a easy stocking filler, there’s something for everyone here.

To make life easier (for me) I’m going to be vaguely thinking of what my husband would want for Christmas – so if you know a geeky 20-something year old father then this list will be perfect. Reece, if you read this post you could ruin Christmas so continue at your own risk..

Something They Want

Nintendo Labo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I know it says 7+ years on the box, but I know full well my husband would have a whale of a time with this. I said this was going to be aimed at a geeky 20-something father and I’ve gone straight to the point with this one. Nintendo. Robots. Cardboard so technically good for the environment? Plus you’ve always got the excuse that you’re playing it with the kids.

Sipsmith Gin Distillery Tour and Tasting Session – Virgin Experience Days

This one combines two things that I think are essential to getting through parenting successfully. One is alcohol: nothing is nicer than sitting down with a rum after a day of gallivanting around with a four year old, and the other is making time for you as a couple outside of being a parent. BAM! Combine the two and book yourself a tour and tasting trip of a gin distillery. Sipsmith is near-ish to where we live, but I’m sure if you Google there are various versions of this all over the country.

Viking Drinking Horn – Thor’s Threads

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I don’t think this needs any more discussion. How BADASS would ANYONE feel drinking out of this? Plus it’d look so effing cool displayed in your dining room. Imagine someone comes round for a play date. “Oh, what’s that?!” Oh, that’s just my VIKING DRINKING HORN! So damn cool.

Something They Need

Elwood backpack – Tiba and Marl

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I have lusted after one of these since I actually had a need for a changing bag. I don’t now, so please live through me and treat you or your baby papa to a lovely changing bag for Christmas and many years to come. It’s an indulgence, yes but technically a necessary one because everyone needs somewhere to store Sudocrem and muslins.

Reusable Bamboo Coffee Mug – Not On The High Street

Reusable Sustainable Bamboo Coffee Cup

Everyone needs coffee. Especially if you’re a parent. And reusable cups are the way forward for the world. Therefore, this is the perfect gift to get a special Dad in your life, especially one that has to commute to work. Also, just saying if you want to send him down the park on a Saturday morning with the kids so you can get some bits done around the house – at least you can send him with a hot coffee? Everyone wins!

Multi Tool – Swiss Army Knife

Huntsman Red

I don’t know if it’s just my husband’s family, but these seem to be an essential in every Man Drawer or kitchen cupboard we own. Reece finds these so useful he bought them for his groomsmen as gifts on our wedding day, so I think it’s only fair that I tell you all about it, so you can buy one too. You can also get them personalised which is perfect for a Christmas present to Daddy!

Something To Wear

The Waking Dad t-shirt – Parent Apparel

Now this one, I found whilst searching for merch for dads and it made me sit up a bit taller in my seat. Was genuinely iffy about sharing this one as this has my husband written all over it and I might be adding it to my basket over the next month for Christmas Day. In case you don’t get it, it’s a play on The Walking Dead and is perfect for any parents who feel like zombies without the need for brains. Or with, I don’t judge what people have for breakfast.

Rad Dad t-shirt – Black and Beech

RAD DAD embroidered tee in Grey-Black & Beech

Black and Beech have a whole Rad Dad section, complete with t-shirt designs consisting of the rock hands. \m/ If you want to combine his inner rock-star with his rad parenting then this is definitely the one for you. My favourite is linked above because even dads need some embroidery in their life.

Strange and Unusual sweatshirt – Punky Moms

Strange And Unusual Unisex Sweatshirt

One for the 80’s film fan in your life.  Whether you wanted to be Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice or you fancied her a bit, this one’s for you! Plus this comes with a personal recommendation from me as I own a Punky Moms sweatshirt and it’s really soft, really comfy and keeps me looking mysterious on the school run.

Something to Read

Parenting for £1 – Ladbaby (aka Matt and Roxanne Hoyle)

Perfect for January, where you’ve got that extra long wait until the next payday. Babies don’t stop needing stuff, unfortunately and this book is full of tips on how to cope on the tightest of budgets. LadBaby’s videos are hilarious, and this book is perfect for that parent you know who’s always sharing posts on Facebook with lots of cry-laughing emoji’s at 3am during the night feed.

Ladybird How It Works – The Dad

These books are fantastic stocking fillers. They also have me howling with laughter in the aisles of ASDA, so I’d definitely recommend. Easy present as well, to be honest.

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

This is one of my favourite books, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes Harry Potter, Doctor Who and/or anything else fantasy or sci-fi related. This is a cracking read about a police constable called Peter Grant who ends up becoming an apprentice wizard and the investigations/magical adventures he ends up embroiled in. It’s amazing, especially if you live near London as you can really imagine the story as it’s taking place. Plus there’s also 7 novels in the series, so you’re set for the next few birthdays to come as well! All about the long game with me…

What I’m Listening To Right Now

Let me take you back in time. When I was young and fancy free, I used to imagine myself as a ~music journalist, bobbing around London going to gigs and being the go-to gal on what’s up and coming on Spotify. For some reason I was kidding myself that my opinion meant something and that I didn’t just sit in a dark room listening to Welcome To The Black Parade on repeat.

Since Elliot’s back at school now, I have more time to listen to something that isn’t the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme tune on repeat so thought I’d dip my toe into the world of talking about music. Here’s a few snippets of what I’ve been listening to over the past week or so.

Bring Me The Horizon – wonderful life (feat. Dani Filth)

I love a bit of Bring Me The Horizon. The other week, I treated my husband to a listening party of their first album and he was slightly shocked. It was like I’d bared a piece of my soul and it didn’t go down very well. This single, however, is much more palatable. It could be a completely different band, to be honest. It’s the second single released from their new album amo, that’s coming out in the new year. (And it’s the better of the two, to be frank with you.) With spoken word vocals, which I’ve heard were a complete “brain dump” by lead singer Oli Sykes over an almost rock-pop bassline and some bonus horns at the end for good measure, it’s an absolute BOP.

Baby You’re A Haunted House – Gerard Way

It had to be involved somewhere didn’t it. With Halloween just passed, this has been played a lot in my house. It’s also a great sing-in-the-shower job, as the noise of the water takes the role of the fuzz and I take the grand role of vocals. It’s a bouncy, poppy tune that you could easily dance down the street to as you’re trick-or-treating. (Bonus points if you’re wearing a skeleton outfit from the lyric video.)

Chris – Christine and the Queens

This album is, in my opinion, really sexual. And I’m a bit of a prude that can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve called something sexual. If you’ve heard Christine and the Queens’ first album Chaleur Humaine then you’ll understand that this second album is much more fierce and rough. It’s really refreshing to hear a woman sing about sex in such an honest and full-frontal way and even better to hear it over some ~funky beats. My favourite songs are Comme Si and Five Dollars, which I’ve posted the video to above.

Baby – Clean Bandit ft. Marina and Luis Fonzi 

If I was a teenage boy, I would have posters of Marina Diamandis on my bedroom wall. Tbh, I’m surprised I didn’t when I was a teenage girl. I love her, her voice is like liquid GOLD. Or liquid chocolate. Or ….Fairy Liquid? It’s beautiful, okay. I could gush about her all day so I’ll try and stop myself here. I don’t normally like Clean Bandit, for a few ridiculous reasons we won’t go into here, but this is a tune that makes me wish it was summertime so I could listen to it on a beach whilst drinking a peach cocktail and dipping my toes in the sea. Unfortunately it’s not so I will compromise and listen to it on my sofa in a dressing gown drinking a cup of tea.

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The High Low. 

I don’t always listen to music, and have recently got really into podcasts. I listen to them when I’m doing anything – cooking, cleaning, Christmas shopping. One of my favourites which is both funny AND makes me feel like I’m learning something is The High Low, hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. They talk through light and heavy topics, (that’s why it’s called The High Low) and their latest episode; a deep dive into anxiety was really interesting as I’ve suffered with it for the past decade. I’d recommend giving it a listen whilst you’re ironing or on a long walk. Just bear in mind your Amazon basket will start to groan as you fill it with their many book recommendations. But it’s worth it, right?

How To Stop Feeling Low In The Winter

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I always feel worse in the winter. You wake up, it’s dark. You come home from work, it’s dark. There’s very little sunlight and it’s always cold and raining and just a bit dreary. That can obviously have an effect on anyone’s mood – speaking from experience I am always grumpier in the winter months.

There are obviously plus sides to winter: Christmas, my birthday, everything from bleach to hot chocolates are Winter Spice flavoured. But overall, it isn’t really as fun as summer. Summer has the long days, the warmer weather, the pub gardens. You don’t have to wear two pairs of socks and three layers on top at all times and you never have to get in bed with your dressing gown on until you’ve acclimatised.

I’m no expert, but I love nattering about mental health and how to kick feeling low up the arse. Bear in mind, as always that I’m no expert and these are literally basic tips, that if we’re being honest, you probably already know, but I always find if I’m saying these things to myself I never listen, whereas someone else always makes more sense.

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Actually get up, get dressed, get out. In the summertime, it’s so easy to laze around in your pyjama shorts all day. Wake up, open the back doors and then just lay around like a warm happy cat for half the day before getting dressed around lunchtime. In winter, this doesn’t always work as you wake up, wrap yourself in your dressing gown and slippers and fester on the sofa for three hours before realising you’ve wasted the day and it’s going to be dark before you’ve got clean pants on. That’s a mood-killer like no other. So. First step to combating feeling low in the winter: when you get up, get washed and dressed and then you’re done. You’re ready to face the day whilst the sun is still up.

Have a to-do list. I don’t mean three pages of extensive tasks that fill up your whole day. A good start is following The Organised Mum Method which involves 30 minutes of cleaning a day and means you keep on top of your house at all times. I’ve dropped this a bit over the past few weeks..months..but I have a feeling that having that to-do list to get all my jobs done in 30 minutes will help me feel motivated and successful, even when the day feels grim. Having a time limit on each task helps as well, because you haven’t spent all the livelong day scrubbing your kitchen floors, and can still get out for some festive fun!

Get some light. No, you don’t have to do a 5K every morning but even walking to and from Tesco to pick up bread and milk helps. If you add it into your to-do list then you’re killing two birds with one stone. Sitting in the garden for five minutes with a bit of sun on your face. Research (I just Googled it) suggests that we need Vitamin D or our bones with wither and crumble, so any glimpse of sun you can get will help. Plus if you walk far enough, you’ll come across a coffee shop eventually. If you live in the outer stretches of Finland or Norway, where night can last about six months, or work night shifts, then you might want to invest in a light box, you can get them on Amazon for between £50-£100.

Don’t suffer for the sake of others. It’s so easy, over the next few months to really suffer because it’s what you think you should be doing. This point is basically paraphrasing a post I see shared on Facebook every winter, that says “don’t put yourself in debt to buy others presents and don’t go and see people who make you feel bad.” Which is very true, and can definitely add to me feeling absolutely shit during the Winter months. You don’t need to keep yourself awake at night worrying about whether the diary and box of Malteasers you’ve bought Great Aunt Ethel is going to be enough. You are more important, and if you’re going to suffer to make sure ol’ Ethel has a full sack under the tree then please don’t. I’m sure she’ll be chuffed with the Malteasers and a bit of Dove. And if you’re on a work night out and they reach for the Jagerbombs, remember what I taught you and politely decline. You’re the boss. You’re in control.

Be brave. This one connects with the last point, as I know sometimes it takes a lot to say: “No, I’m going home now. I’ve got to go see Ethel tomorrow and deliver her pressies at 9am” especially if you’re feeling pressure to get festive. However, sometimes you do need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. As I’ve said before in previous posts, it’s good to listen to your body and practise a bit of self-care every now and then. If your body is telling you it wants biscuits then feed it. But if it wants biscuits for breakfast, lunch and tea for a month and you’ve forgotten what fruit feels like then maybe it’s time to take control back. Sometimes you just need to pull your big girl pants up and make the rules, especially when it feels like anxiety or depression is another being in your brain making up all the rules. Whether it be forcing yourself up and out of the house one Saturday morning to go and do a Park Run or if it’s making an appointment to go and see a therapist, do something brave this winter and I promise you’ll feel better for it.

As always, whenever I talk about mental health here – I just wanted to pop a little note on the end saying that I am 100% not an expert in anything mental or health related. If you’re really struggling and my piddly tips don’t even crack a smile then please make sure you contact your local GP to get some proper help. 🙂

24 Things I’ve Learnt Being 24

I’m turning 25 soon. I haven’t actually written that down yet but now I have, I’m actually a bit scared because if I live to 100 (unlikely) I’m a quarter of the way through my life. Oh Christy.

25 years old, the pair of us and we still haven’t mastered the art of taking a decent selfie. 

Because I am full of infinite wisdom, please hear some life lessons I have learnt during my lengthy time on this earth that I wish to impart onto you. (I’m going for a bit of a Yoda vibe, hear me out okay?)

  1. Adult friendships consist of sending texts every now and then enquiring if each other is still alive, and trying to meet up. Chances are you’re both working and will never meet up but live in a circle of sending memes to each other on WhatsApp until some time near Christmas.
  2. You learn to love hummus. Just keep at it, okay?
  3. Don’t waste time, effort and money on shit biscuits. You deserve better. Go in for a solid triple chocolate or raspberry and white choc.
  4. The best pants are black and come in a pack of 5 from M&S. You can try and kid yourself that you’re in for a bit of lace but you’ll soon come round. I’m your elder, listen to my truth.
  5. People only eat avocado on toast for Instagram. Don’t waste your life away, get a sausage bap down ya.
  6. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they start to enjoy watching property programs. Mine came at 24 and a half years old. Watching Grand Designs and commenting “really? with that budget? they’ve got NO chance of finishing that in 8 weeks!” under a blanket with a cup of tea on a Saturday night. Sign me up!
  7. If you want to make a good spag bol, use Worcestershire Sauce and a bit of ketchup.
  8. It’s been said a thousand times but yes, leopard print is a neutral.
  9. Everyone needs a pair of black ankle boots. Also have a pair of leopard print ones, just in case of emergencies.
  10. The optimum tight denier is between 80 – 100. The fleecy lined ones can get sweaty, so are a bit overrated.
  11. For years, I never owned a belt. I have no idea why I never owned a belt as I’ve literally got one a few months ago and never take it off. I suddenly have a waist. All my trousers look okay and fit. Don’t mug yourself off for a decade, get down Primark, they do a good copy for a Gucci one apparently.
  12.  Skinny jeans are not everyone’s friends. I’ve ripped through enough of them to know they are not my kind. Try different styles on. You don’t lose any emo credit, don’t worry.
  13. Supermarkets sell surprisingly good clothes. And regularly have amazing sales. I own more from Tesco than I do Topshop.
  14. Before you get in the shower, stick your pants on the radiator. It’s a simple trick but a good-un. Your day will always go well if you start it with radiator pants.
  15. 24 is the age where you get too old for Wetherspoons. We went in there a few months ago and there was genuinely someone drinking a beer wearing school uniform. Bum fluff moustaches all round. I felt like I’d be collecting my pension next week. Never again.
  16. 24 is not the age where you start to like red wine. Well, maybe for some. My husband can enjoy a glass (or a bottle, he’s been known to come home with a lovely pair of red wine lips) but I am still in the pink, fizzy and preferably from Lidl club.
  17. At some point you need to accept your true Hogwarts house and stop kidding yourself you’re a Gryffindor. I’m a Hufflepuff. Don’t let the badger put you off, accept your truth.
  18. Pumpkin spiced lattes taste like shit. Don’t put yourself through it for an Instagram post, just order yourself a flat white and stop faffing about.
  19.  To be honest, if you own any of those little footsie socks that you’re not meant to see above your trainers – just throw them in the bin. I bought some thinking I’d look cool giving the illusion of no socks but really being comfy but they’re SHIT. I got through one day of them, ended up with them bunched up at my toes and then threw them away when I got home. Just wear proper socks.
  20.  I don’t know if I’m getting old, or if I’m just coming to my senses but I have no need to FAFF ABOUT. Why make life difficult, why wade around the point when you could just get straight to it, get it done and get home again. I’ve learnt that even when you’re avoiding something it’s better to just get it done, because worrying makes the job seem a thousand times harder. Please note: this doesn’t mean that I actually DO this. I am the master of fluffing about instead of getting through my to-do list but I’m aware of where I can improve and I think that’s important.
  21.  Staying in bed for those extra five minutes doesn’t help. It does one of two things: 1) it makes you grumpy as you can’t relax as you’re now properly awake and you want to get up but you’re dedicated to staying in bed for those five minutes or 2) you fall back to sleep in those five minutes and wake up an hour later confused what week it is and late for work.
  22.  Never drink Jagerbombs. You’ll not get overly drunk off them but the energy drink will hit you and you’ll end up doing the bloody Bleep Test around the smoking area of a random club because you’re absolutely buzzing.
  23.  You do like gin. It’s tonic that you don’t like. Try it with lemonade. Also, if you’ve ignored my other points and you are sat in a Wetherspoons then you can order it on the app and pretend you’re classy and drinking a G and T when really it’s the raspberry stuff with lemonade that just tastes like fancy squash.
  24.  No matter how old you are, you will always look around for the adultier adult. Everyone else always looks like they’ve got their shit together, whether it’s because their house is better than yours, their job is better than yours or because they know what gets marks off school jumpers. The main thing I’ve learnt over the past 24 years? None of us have a fucking clue what we are doing, we’re all bumbling along.

How To Make It Through The First Term of School

The end is in sight! Next week is the beginning of half term (ours is two weeks long. I’m excited but know full well I’ll be begging to drag him back to school by the first Thursday.) We’ve made it through the first half term of Reception, of proper school.

Let me detail the life lessons I’ve learnt during the past five weeks. I’m not even sure it’s been five weeks, may have been four, could have been six. It’s been long, that’s all I can say.

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There is nothing harder than getting your child to sit down and do homework. Honestly, this child will sit down and write letters and sums for fun! We’ve been buying him “workbooks” for years and he loves it. But my god, if I get his worksheets out to go over his phonics that school gave him. It’s like I’ve explained he needs to write a four page essay on Othello.

Getting ready in the morning makes time go wibbly wobbly timey wimey. If you’ve seen Doctor Who, you’ll know what I’m on about. Basically, somehow there’s some sort of time glitch that happens between 7:00 and 8:30am. It’s fine, you’ve got time, make yourself a cuppa it’s only 7:15. And then SUDDENLY  within seconds it’s somehow 8:28 and you’ve still got conditioner on your hair and you’re going to have to go through the Late Office again.

School dinners are a world we will never understand. Now, I’m fully aware of what Elliot has for dinner, other than the day I heard he had a chicken and cabbage pizza. (Pesto. It was pesto. My poor uncultured child.) However, he has told me every single day he’s been at school this half term that he’s had cucumber and bread for pudding. I mean, sometimes I do worry he’s not really my child as there is no way on this earth you could convince me to eat cucumber for pudding. Unless you find a way of placing it inside a cake.

It’s always good to find your peopleBut you might not. I’ve noticed from my playground people-watching that you can get some cliques in the playground. Not much changes from when you’re at school to when your children are at school, you’re still going to get those girls who stand in the corner and give you a dodgy look because you didn’t quite get time to brush your hair this morning. (Hey, at least I washed the conditioner off – give a girl a break!)

It’s always good to find your people. And sometimes you do. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m the most open and friendly person in the playground as I’m not. The overwhelming pit of anxiety burning in my stomach constantly has something to do with that. However, I have found a little group of parents to stand with and playground people-watch with. Also, having someone to walk to school with means I have a new incentive for Elliot to get out of the door in the morning.

I have literally just dipped my toe into the world of school parenting, and I’m half excited/half dreading the future. Trust me though, I’ll still be here full of useless helpful tips every step of the way!

 

I’m Not A Bad Feminist Because I Dust My Curtain Poles

If you follow me on Twitter, (@hayleyldoyle) then you’ll see I retweeted a Metro article the other day about cleaning sensation Mrs Hinch. And let me tell you, this woman goes IN on Mrs Hinch and all those who bleach behind her.

Now, I’m all over women supporting women and am not overly angry at the author of the piece. I’m angry that women can’t enjoy shit without someone having a go at them.

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Women don’t seem to be able to enjoy something for themselves, people don’t seem to believe it, everything we do must be For The Men. Shaving armpits? For the men. Bleaching the sink? For the patriarchy. Putting some Zoflora on a bit of kitchen roll and putting it at the bottom of the bin before you put the bag in? Definitely for the men.

No! Why can’t we just do something because WE enjoy it?! No man strokes my stubbly armpits (okay, that’s not 100% true I did make Reece touch my armpit the other day, just to illustrate how quickly those bastard hairs grow) but I shave them for myself. I bleach the sink to see that bugger sparkle. And my Zoflora in the bottom of a bin trick is simply for my own pleasure and amusement.

I’m well aware that the author of that article makes some decent points, like I’m fully on board with the fact that women do so much work around the house that isn’t acknowledged. However, that doesn’t mean we just don’t do them all?  I think what the author was missing is that we’re not being dragged back into the world of Mad Men just because there’s been a rise in women dousing their bathrooms with a bit of Flash.

I’m not forced to stay home and scrub the floors like Cindrella by my husband, I clean the house as and when I want to because I want to. What might not be evident on Instagram is the whole household. Yes, Mrs Hinch might be posting her hauls from Home Bargains and shoving Toilet Duck down the loo but that’s not going to be everything that happens in their house. You might not see Mr Hinch hanging the pictures on the wall, clearing the garden of weeds and doing the ironing on a Wednesday evening after work.

We’ve got enough shit going on in the world, babes. We don’t need to fight over someone’s post on Instagram showing what they bought from Savers that morning.

Wedding Planning When You Suffer From Anxiety

In case you didn’t know, I got married earlier this year. And, as the title hints at: I also suffer from anxiety and something that was a big part of wedding planning for me was to keep it as easy-going as possible. That’s not to say it wasn’t stressful, and I did 100% cry to my now-husband “Why are we even getting married? Surely we’re fine as we are!”

Anyway, here’s a few tips, not from anywhere professional, literally just what I found from planning and going through my own wedding.

Find a venue that takes care of everything for you. We got married at Cooling Castle Barn and got ready, had the ceremony, had the reception all at the same place. We also had room for us to stay over and guests could sleep there too. This was a GOD-SEND because it took so many stresses off my back. I didn’t have to find any transport to take everyone from one venue to the other and I’m pretty sure it ended up cheaper.

Cooling Castle Barn were also brilliant and dealt with everything for us, we spoke via email and phone and then just turned up the afternoon before the wedding with our bits and bobs and they set it all up for us. To be fair, we didn’t even need to bring any bits and bobs as they could have most of it for us. We made our own table plan, I made our own place cards and table decorations but it was a possibility to have that all taken care of by the venue.

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Accept the help. Honestly, I would shake past-me by the shoulders and scream “LET PEOPLE HELP YOU!” because I was such a martyr when I was planning our wedding and wouldn’t even allow Reece to help me. I have to be in control of every situation otherwise my anxiety takes over and I spend the whole time worrying about what could go wrong. (That’s why, even though I said earlier that the venue gave us the option to literally just turn up on the day and they’d have dealt with everything, I still took a week off work and spent over £100 on fake foliage) However, my life would have been made much easier by letting people help me more, rather than sitting in my front room surrounded by jars and leaves and burning myself on a glue gun on my own slowly going round the twist.

Work with people who you feel comfortable around. The world of wedding suppliers is MASSIVE. It’s frankly terrifying to go through all these photographers, bakers, florists, make-up artists, table decorators, DJ’s, bands, car hire companies. We went to a wedding fayre and literally ran away because we’d been bombarded with all sorts of stuff when I knew I wanted my wedding to be simple. I ended up finding a photographer we felt really comfortable around and I feel that shows in our photos. Our wedding cake was made by my step-mum and was amazing. My hair and make-up was done by my hairdresser who always cuts our families hair and the florist was a family friend as well. All people I felt comfortable around, and that made it a much easier process to talk to them and to really get my vision across.

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Keep it small. We might be slightly hypocritical with this one, as we didn’t exactly have a tiny wedding but we definitely didn’t go overboard and invite everyone we’ve ever met. I, again, kept it with people I felt comfortable around.

I felt absolutely sick to my stomach whenever I thought about talking in front of the crowd, as in saying our vows. However, and this is going to verge on cringe, when we were up there  I genuinely didn’t even notice everyone else sat there. It’s just you and your future spouse and everyone else kinda fades into the background.

With regards to picking the guests, I found sending out the invites horrifically scary because I didn’t think anyone would come and I couldn’t handle the sheer thought of booking this beautiful venue and no-one turning up. HOWEVER, turns out people love a wedding and 99.9% of the people we invited turned up and had a wonderful time.

Don’t obsess over things you can’t control. I got married in March 2018 – the exact time when the Beast from the East took over England and buried us under snow for a few weeks. I am not exaggerating when I say I freaked the fuck out about it. I spent HOURS looking at weather accounts on Twitter, reading every website about weather that I could find on Google – waiting for someone to tell me it wasn’t going to snow on my wedding day.  I was waking up at night to check if the weather app had updated to see if it was going to snow. Yeah, it got real. In the end, I had to delete the Weather app from my iPhone, and it’s definitely improved my mental health.

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Basically, do whatever you need to do. If you need to avoid everyone for the week before your wedding because you can’t deal with people asking about it, lock yourself in your house and turn your phone on silent. If you need to surround yourself with people and want to spend your evenings with all your gal pals, flower arranging and making favours up – then rock your socks off. Delete Instagram off your phone if you’re non-stop comparing your wedding to others, delete the bloody Weather app if it’s keeping you up at night. Whatever gets you through the day.

However, serious talk for a second here, I just want to make a point of if you’re seriously struggling to the point where you can’t cope any more with regards to anxiety regarding your wedding or any event in your life then please go to your Dr’s and seek a professional opinion. Don’t just delete the Weather app like that’ll solve all your problems. x

(all pictures on this post were taken by our wedding photographer Lemonade Pictures. she was amazing and I’d highly recommend if you’re getting married in Kent.

Realistic Renovations: The Bathroom Before and Hopefully After.

I feel like, in my head I’ve really bigged up the fact I’ve created a new feature on my blog. Like it deserves its own theme tune and all sorts. But really, it’s just me chatting about my house and saying the word bathroom too many times.

Let me preface this with some backstory about our house: we live near London, and our budget wasn’t massive, so our choices were limited. This house had pros: it was standing up straight, it was a house, it was affordable and close to the schools we liked and the station for Reece’s commute. The cons were: the bathroom wasn’t fantastic, the kitchen was dated and the entire house needed a bit of pizazz to become Our Home. BUT it was our house for now.

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This is what the bathroom looked like when we came to view the house. As you can see, the suite is blue. Not ideal. We’ve also got some intriguing mirror tiles next to the shower, so that you get the perfect view of your chins when you’re singing along to Ariana Grande whilst shampooing your hair. I don’t think we need to talk about the carpet because that’s just a cardinal sin in it’s own right.

SKIP FORWARD 18 MONTHS. (We’re not lazy, honest, we just got married in the middle and that takes up a lot of time.)

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We’re now bathing in a little bit of a building site. The tiles have been ripped off most of the wall and the shower has disappeared. The carpet has been peeled back, faces made at what’s underneath, and a Wickes order quickly completed.

SO THE EXCITING PART. What do I want my bathroom to look like? Well. Let me start by telling you how impossible it is to find bathrooms that look like mine on Pinterest. I don’t have room for a frickin’ free standing bath and a wet room! I’ve got one tiny window and my bathroom floor/carpet is covered in rubber ducks and Elliot’s bath-time tea set. It’s not exactly pinnable, I’ll be honest.

The only bathroom I found that is similar size-wise to mine was this. A blog post from 2012 so I’ve been clinging to this photo like a lucky amulet hoping I’ll get some good bathroom powers from it.

My bathroom dreams. (I’ll also come back to this at the end of the project and see if all my dreams came true..)

  • A WHITE SUITE! A toilet bowl that isn’t blue!
  • White tiles around the shower/bath. Let me elaborate on this point. I’m on the side of the fence that wants simple, white tiles around the bath and shower, Reece is on the side that wants blue/grey tiles randomly placed into the pattern to give a bit of colour. Answers on a postcard please, help me convince him that I’m right.
  • A mirrored cabinet above the sink. We haven’t bothered to put anything up because we always knew the bathroom was changing, so all my skincare products (my Aldi face wash I spoke about in a previous post and some Body Shop bits) are currently all over the shop and I’m applying said products to my face with a tiny shaving mirror whilst sat on Elliot’s step-up stool.
  • Marble flooring. Right, hear me out on this, I KNOW we won’t be able to have proper marble flooring. But I found some vinyl flooring that looked like marble on the B&Q website and fell in love. However I don’t think I’m going to win this battle. We’ll probably end up with maybe a grey wood-finish laminate vibe.
  • A duck egg/light blue wall. As we’ve only got the tiny window I know the room needs to be quite light, so I don’t want to make the walls too dark. A light blue seems a very stereotypical bathroom colour but I thought if the tiles were just white, then you can paint the walls whatever colour you fancy whenever you fancy and you don’t have to worry about the clash. A little tiny bit of me has been thinking about green though….

If you’ve made it this far, well done! All I’ve been thinking about is bathrooms for what feels like forever, and it was just good to get a brain dump out here. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to show some progress, so keep your eyes peeled here and on my Instagram stories at @hayleyldoyle. I’ve got a Bathroom highlight which will have all the details on as well!

Realistic Renovations

I’ve become a tiny bit obsessed with renovations on Instagram. And when I say a tiny bit obsessed, I mean, it’s taken over Candy Crush in my list of “things to do when laying in bed at night.” The only problem I’m finding is that there’s a severe lack of houses relevant to my own.

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We bought our house a year ago, and recently, I’ve been feeling a bit dejected as it’s not as exciting as anyone I follow on Instagram. I’ve been LOVING watching The Frugality‘s Instagram stories of her renovation (I never knew I’d find watching someone paint their hallway so much fun) but it’s not really something I can apply to my own house, unfortunately. It’s a ..cosy two bedroom terrace that was built in about 1992 and I don’t even HAVE  a hallway I can paint on Instagram stories.

However, swings and roundabouts, it’s my house and I love it even though its previous owners made some rather questionable choices. I mean, a blue bathroom suite may have been the fashion 20 years ago, I guess. I also really appreciated them painting the whole house and putting new carpets down everywhere a few years ago, but did you really have to pick yellow walls and brown carpet? I mean, really?

Anyway. Since I couldn’t find anywhere online that really showed a house like mine, a house that doesn’t have five bedrooms and a entrance room with a large staircase or an en-suite bathroom, I thought I’d make it myself with my new feature – Realistic Renovations. We’re doing our house up, our budget is on the smaller side and the work will be completely undertaken by my husband and his dad but I’m going to talk you through it anyway, as I know that’s something I’d enjoy to read or watch.

Updates will be on my Instagram story: hayleyldoyle and I’ll be posting on here regularly through the next few weeks..and maybe months..but I’d rather not wait that long for a working shower please!