CLAIRE MAC

A Yorkshire based parenting & lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.

WHAT DID I ACHIEVE DURING MATERNITY LEAVE.

Twelve months ago I'd just started my maternity leave; I had plans of X, Y & Z to do during my 'time off' *biggest eye roll ever* but here I am with three weeks left of what's easily been the quickest year of my life, writing a reflective post on what I've actually achieved during maternity leave.


Before I left work I wrote down a plan of what I was going to do whilst on maternity leave which included eight poignant features, which I'm going to discuss first... Before we get into the deep stuff!

1. Swimming with baby.
We booked Amelia onto a six week baby swimming course when she was two weeks old, which in hindsight was way too early for her. That being said it was a lovely bonding session for her & Dan, and I'm 99.9% sure it helped with what could have been disastrous bath times.
We've since taken Amelia to our local swimming baths a handful of times & she enjoyed a lesson with LilypadSwim, however in the last few months we seem to have gotten out of sync with it all - She loves being in the water & both Dan and I enjoy it too, so we really need to get our butts in gear and get back to the swimming baths - That's definitely on the to do list for 2020.


2. Read all of the Harry Potter books.
Confession time. This one has probably been the biggest fail in the history of fails. I began reading the philosophers stone & I'm a good 75% of the way through it, but I just haven't been reaching for it.
I can't say that I haven't had the time to read, because I have, I just haven't been prioritising it. Maybe this could be a resolution for 2020 - Less screen time & more time with my head in a book.

3. Learn calligraphy.
Learning calligraphy was something I really wanted to do when I began maternity leave. Unfortunately I lost the bug half way through the year & have only just picked it up again last month.
So far I've really enjoyed putting pen to paper & actually having something for me, that isn't anything to do with the internet & something I actually find rather therapeutic. I suppose that's what I wanted from re-reading the Harry Potter books, I've just taken it in it's more creative form.

4. Get outdoors.
I've absolutely loved getting outdoors since having Amelia! Although I found it quite tricky in the newborn days, getting outdoors has been brilliant for my mental health & something I'd recommend to any new mum out there.
I try and get out of the house once a day, even if it's just to nip out to the shops, it's always beneficial. We do have some days when we're just chilling at home in our comfies, and that's totally fine, but let me tell you, they are long ass days & by the time we reach bed time I'm always regretful & craving fresh air.


5. Huts in the Hills.
I need to #PRRequest myself a trip to these shepherds huts, because in all honesty, I think that's the only way I'm actually going to get there. Huts in the Hills in Northumberland are some of the most gorgeous shepherds huts I've seen, but the logistics of getting away for a couple of nights without the dog or the baby is crazy. Not to mention having the spare cash, I've definitely been surviving, rather than thriving on my maternity wage.
If we did get to have some time away, something like these remote shepherd huts would be ideal. I love the whole nothingness that there is to them, no wifi, no signal, no TV - It sounds bliss!

6. Create a capsule wardrobe.
I am SO happy I've been able to create a capsule wardrobe this year! I've redefined my personal style since becoming a mum & have found some amazing pieces which work SO with my new postpartum body.
Admittedly it took me a good six months to get to the point where I was happy with how I looked, but now I'm here, I'm so happy and I'm actually feeling inspired by fashion again. It's the little things like that, that make me feel like me again.


7. Girls weekend in Berlin.
Leaving my baby when she was four months old for a weekend away in Berlin was a hella emotional time for me. I'd been mentally preparing myself for the trip before Amelia was even born and I knew that if I wasn't spontaneous and didn't pay for it upfront, then I probably wouldn't end up going as I'd be too anxious!
Looking back it was the best decision. I needed a break, Dan needed to spend quality one on one time with Amelia & I needed to feel like me again. There were plenty of tears, before, during & after, but a good time was had by all and I'm so glad I went as I had the best weekend with the best girls... And remember, a happy mum makes for a happy baby!

8. Grow my blog.
Over the last twelve months I've really transformed my blog & the content I produce on here. I don't write beauty reviews like I used to & I've pinpointed my niche to something I'm 100% passionate about. I've grown a community of women who are in a similar position to myself & I'd like to think I've become somewhat of an aid and a confidant to others which fills me with so much joy.
I've not made enough money to pay the bills from my blog (boohoo), but this has been my best year doing this whole online thing by a long shot - And I'm really flipping proud of that!

4 out of 8 isn't bad right?
Something I've really struggled with since being on maternity leave is my sudden lack of productivity -  It turns out you don'y actually get all that much done whilst on maternity leave, the baby kind of gets in the way of things.
I've found this really frustrating at times and have shed many a tear over feeling like all I am is a slave to my baby. There have been many moments where I've gotten inside my own head over the last twelve months and really beat myself up over my lack of productivity and achievements.

As a first time mum (as I'd assume with so many others) I went into maternity leave with a rather naive mindset, thinking I was going to have a super constructive year. Over the last year I've definitely learnt to lower my expectations & although in some ways I feel like I haven't achieved a great deal, there are many different reasons to say otherwise.


So, what have I actually achieved?
Firstly & most importantly, I have a very happy, very healthy baby (anyone else read that in Dr Hamster the vets voice?), who I've managed to keep alive for the last year! Looking after a child is no mean feat as I've come to realise over the last twelve months, so I'm standing here, giving myself a huge pat on the back saying 'you did this gal, you survived'!

I've started my phased return to work & everything so far has ran really smoothly. The back to work fear was real, especially as I'd had so much time off, but I was really pleasantly surprised with how well returning to work after maternity leave has been.

I don't have a huge friendship group at home and of the friends I do have none of them have babies, so we've definitely been best friends with Dr Google when it comes to raising Amelia. That being said, I've met the most amazing women online & constantly surrounded by so many fantastic mamas out there that I can always depend on to only be a quick DM away. Social media gets a bad rap sometimes, and although there are parts to this argument that I'd strongly agree with, I can't fault the fact it's brought me together with some amazing people. If only we all lived closer! It'd be bloody beautiful!

Finally one of my biggest achievements this year is finally becoming comfortable in my postpartum body. My body's had a big old transformation over the last couple of years and it's only within the last few months that I've finally thought 'you know what, she's actually alright' - Who I am now is actually amazing!
I've learnt to big myself up in the same way I'd big other people up - In fact I think more people need to get on this self-appreciation train and be a little kinder to themselves. Go on, do it I dare you! That actually reminds me of Queen Beady's #HappySelvesChallenge - Another train you should definitely be on!


In conclusion.
So that's my year wrapped up into 1500 words. It's been long, but it's been short - I've failed, but I've achieved - I've let go & I'm happier! And I'm going into 2020 with my baby & the attitude that I'm going to absolutely smash it!

What have you achieved this year?

Claire.X

15 THINGS I MISS SINCE HAVING MY BABY.

I'm ridiculously passionate about showing the uncertainty and vulnerability that comes with being a parent, as there are so many different emotions I've had since having my baby that I'd never in a million years expected to feel. People don't generally talk about missing their pre-baby lives, it's not the done thing - So although painfully honest, today I'm venting in a *tongue in cheek* way, 15 things I miss since having my baby.


1. Eating something that isn't Aldi 22p instant noodles for dinner.
I could probably be way more productive when it comes to meal prepping for the week, but by the time I reach Sunday evening all I want to do is curl up on the sofa with my puppy, watch Netflix & try and shake off the previous week's worries. Nowadays I'm a picker when it comes to dinner (as in breakfast, dinner and tea) & so often pick an easy, cheat meal over something of actual nutritional value. I miss the days of fueling my body with good, healthy food & this really needs to change - Perhaps a New Years resolution for 2020? Watch this space!

2. Being able to just 'pop' to the shops.
There's no such thing as 'popping' anywhere anymore. It doesn't happen! It doesn't exist! If you manage to pop to the shops when you have a baby, you must be some sort of Wizard! And I'm incredibly, incredibly jealous!

3. Me time.
When was the last time I did something for me?... I mean really for me. Gosh it's been a long time - And that needs to change! I actually have a plan in mind to release my creative juices into something positive as I used to find art really therapeutic & great for just getting away from it all! I'm going to back to the old me, feeling all zen and shit in no time!

4. Date night!
Oh those illusive date nights! Neither Dan or I have family nearby so we don't have a great deal of time to ourselves unfortunately. We're mammy & daddy 99.9% of the time, which is lovely of course, but I'd love to just have a bit of time where we could get dressed up & go for a fancy dinner with cocktails together.

5. Managing to drink a full cup of hot coffee.
We're getting so much better at this, but oh my goodness those newborn days were so flipping tough - Many a cup of coffee was lost back then to Amelia-May. RIP 653 cups of Coffee.


6. Adult conversation.
Since being on maternity leave I'm pretty sure I've lost 90% of the brain cells I once had... And I didn't have that many to begin with anyway. My days are filled with 'oohs' 'ahhhs' and 'wooooows' and as lovely as those are, they're not great conversation starters right?

7. Going to the toilet without an audience.
I have a clingy baby, I hate to say it, but I do. Sometimes I can get away with having a sneaky pee all to myself, but other times it's just a no go! It's really not worth the crying fit that comes when I leave my baby to selfishly walk up the stairs to use the bathroom. Why am I so damn selfish! *Insert eye roll here*.

8. Money!
It's no secret! Being on maternity leave has absolutely skinted me! I've dipped into my savings account more times than I'd like to admit to both myself & my (more importantly) husband and I'm really missing my pre-baby bank balance... Back when past-me actually thought I was skint... Little did she know, she was really flipping naive!

9. Getting a full nights sleep.
This is a biggie! People always tell you about the sleepless nights you have with a little one, but no one actually tells you how sleep deprivation has a huge affect on your body and your mental health. I remember going to the doctors when Amelia was newborn as I'd had a week long headache & had rashes starting to appear all over my arms... I was actually really worried about it, but it turned out I was just sleep deprived - Who even knew rashes were a symptom? Damn you Mother Nature! I definitely felt silly walking out of the doctors that day!

10. Not touching someone else's poop!
It's funny how quickly you become accustomed to having some else's poop on your hands!... And the less I say about that, the better. I miss the days when I wasn't covered in some form of bodily fluid.

11. A tidy home.
My laundry basket is constantly overflowing... I've got a conveyor belt of pots waiting to go in the dishwasher... Said dishwasher is full to the brim & without checking I haven't got a clue on whether there are clean or dirty pots in there. It's constant - I have an ongoing list in my mind of jobs to do around the house & very little time to do them in.
Unfortunately I'm one of those people that has to have a tidy home to have a tidy mind, and right now that's not me. If only I had number 8, then I might be able to hire a cleaner! That would be the actual dream!

12. My pre-baby body.
I'm including this one, not because I hate my postpartum body - I've grown to love her - But would I change back to my old body? In a flipping heartbeat I would! I should have given her way more credit than I used to!

13. Escalators.
This sounds absolutely ridiculous but I really miss escalators! I hate having to track down the lift whenever we go out somewhere, and I'm not even going to start my usual rant about the lack of accessibility in public places! All I can say is, bring on the escalators baby!

14. Being husband & wife.
And I don't mean between the sheets - That's what got us into this, in the first place! We found out we were expecting our baby a couple of months before our wedding & from then on everything has been baby, baby, baby since & we haven't quite had the time to reconnect with one another. We had a couple of baby free nights away last month which were amazing, but two nights in the space of a year is tough.

15. Silence!
OMG I miss the silence! Please give me silence... Please... Just for 10 minutes! Literally all I wan't for Christmas is a little bit of peace & quiet.

So there we have it, 15 things that I miss very much since having my baby. 15 things I'd also give up again in a heartbeat! She might do my head in screaming 'mamamamamam' 10 hours a day, but she's my little nutter & I wouldn't have my days without her!

What do you miss since having your baby?

Claire.X

A CHRISTMAS TO DO LIST WITH MY BABY.

As we draw ever closer to Christmas, there's still so many things on mine & Amelia's to do list - I really want to make the next couple of weeks as festively fun filled as possible before I go back to work on the 30th December (Eeek) so here's a Christmas to do list I've compiled of things to do with my baby.


1. Take her to the Leeds Christmas markets & having a ride on the carousel.
2. Letting Amelia sign her name / scribble all over the Christmas cards.
3. Put together a wooden, hopefully personalised, Christmas Eve box for Amelia.
4. Wear matching family Christmas pyjamas.
5. See the festive lights at Stockeld Park in Wetherby.
6. Visit a festive craft fair to pick up some small bizz Christmas presents.
7. Spend an evening wrapping presents trying to make them look as extra as possible.
8. Go for a festive family walk with the puppy.
9. Make hand print Christmas baubles.
10. Visit Santa.
11. Have a PJ day watching Christmas movies.
12. Make footprint reindeer pictures to give to relatives as Christmas presents from Amelia.
13. Sort through Amelia's old toys & put what she doesn't play with in the loft.
14. Go to Tong Garden centre.
15. Take photos in front of the Christmas tree.
16. Go and see a Christmas film at baby cinema.
17. Buy a personalised Santa sack to fill with her presents on Christmas Eve.
18. Prepare Amelias first Christmas dinner.
19. Redecorate the Christmas tree approximately 500 times as Amelia takes off every bauble she can reach.
20. And finally, lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of Christmas kisses.

As Amelia isn't quite one yet, there are still quite a few things she's not able to do yet however I hope my to do list has given you some inspiration for things to do with your little ones

What have you got on your Christmas to do list?

Claire.X

REDEFINING MY PERSONAL STYLE - THE WARDROBE OVERHAUL.

*This post contains gifted items & is in collaboration with Femme Luxe*

I've been racking my brains recently on ways I can push the clairemac brand to the next level & even though I whole heartedly believe that's through finding a kick ass niche (which I think I've found) there are still so many things I want to write about.

Things that I enjoy.

Things that make me feel like me again.

Things that make me feel like not just a mum.

And a big part of that is redefining my personal style.


Something seemed to click when I was around six to seven months postpartum, where I really came into my own fashion wise, I had a total wardrobe overhaul & I redefined my personal style.

I began by tweeting to the fashion Gods out there asking for the best way to transform my personal style & the first thing that came up was the idea that I needed a wardrobe overhaul & visualise how I wanted to present the new me.

I thought this was probably easier said than done, but I couldn't have been more wrong as the best way to do this was simply to create a personal style Pinterest board. I love this idea, and even now four months down the line I'm still adding to it - I've found it to be a huge help especially as we've transitioned from Autumn to Winter.


So what comes with a wardrobe overhaul?

There's the annoying bit to begin with where you get everything out of your wardrobe & start a fresh. Yes your bedroom will look like a shit tip for a little while, but it's honestly the best way & I actually found it quite therapeutic.
After you've taken all your clothes out of the wardrobe you should give things a wipe down and a bit of a spring clean, I even popped an air freshener in my wardrobe to make it feel extra fresh.

Do it gal - You won't regret it!

When it comes to reorganising clothes I always make three piles.
1. Keep
2. Bin
3. Donate

While I'm making my three piles I try & be really vigilant and quite harsh when it comes to what pieces make the cull. I'm thinking about how often I've worn pieces... And I mean actually worn them... If I've not worn that t-shirt I bought back in 2009 for the last year and a half, am I really going to wear it next week?... Unfortunately the answer is probably not, so I banish (harsh much?) it from my wardrobe & donate to my local charity shop.

I'm not claiming to be Marie Kondo or anything, but I only want pieces in my wardrobe that actually spark joy.

Then comes the fun part... Take a good look at your keep pile, figure out what you're missing & how you need to replenish. What are the necessities? What are you really lacking?

Then get shopping!

Although I prefer to buy from shops, I like to have a look online first & do a little bit of research before I go and drop my (lack of) dollar willy nilly - Lord knows surviving on a maternity wage is tough! I've found whilst browsing online that having my personal style Pinterest board open on another tab & comparing that to what I've put in my basket works wonders to really narrow down & defines my style.


What's new in this week?

I decided in the midst of my wardrobe overhaul to donate all of my skinny jeans to charity, because with my new postpartum body shape I just didn't feel comfortable in them anymore. I needed some more forgiving, less structured and essentially more comfortable denim which is why I began my hunt with Mom jeans. I chose the Cora midwash distressed mom jeans* as they ticked all of the boxes for me, they're comfortable, casual & I could definitely demolish a Christmas dinner wearing these!
They're slightly cropped with a distressed hem, but are also at a good length so they can also be rolled up & worn a little more tailored with a pair of black boots perhaps. I can definitely see myself getting a lot of wear out of these bad boys - Especially in summer with a pair of cute sandals.

I'm a sucker for anything that's cropped at the moment so a simple black tee like this Beno boxy fit crop top* is going to get so much wear in my new wardrobe. I'd never have thought post baby that I'd be comfortable showing my tum to the world, but I'm embracing it- Just because I've had a baby doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to show a bit of midriff. 


At this time of year layering is key, so with that in mind I decided to pick up a waterfall duster coat* to add to my coat collection. I already have a camel coloured long line coat however it's quite oversized and designed to be worn open, which can be pretty tricky during colder months.
Even though this one is a little thinner than it's predecessor, this new belted stone coloured addition will be my winter warming alternative. I've worn it a few times now & haven't been stuck when it comes to styling this multifunctional piece. I definitely want to fill my wardrobe with more interchangeable items like this.

Something a little daring for me, but also something that will fit into my new wardrobe seamlessly is the Ola sweater dress*. Not only does this dress feel like ultimate comfort, it's also one of those pieces I can just throw on with little to no thought - That's always a bonus right. The mini dress feels long enough that I can wear it on it's own, but also short enough that I can get away with tucking it into a pair of trousers - Im thinking either faux leather leggings or perhaps even the Mom jeans I spoke about earlier. Heck, I could even wear this to bed & feel super snuggly.


What's left on my shopping list?

I'm pretty happy with how my wardrobe is currently looking however there are still a few things on my list which I feel I'm lacking, especially as we head closer to the festive season.

A few things on my list include.
1. Winter knitwear.
2. Slouchy, comfortable loungewear.
3. Tailored trousers.

What pieces do you want to add to your winter wardrobe?

Claire.X

SHOPPING SAVVY - 7 DAYS OF MY 10 MONTH OLD GIRL'S OUTFITS.

My blog originally started very fashion orientated, however over the last year or so my posts have taken a parenting & lifestyle turn - Today however I'm combining the two & I'm  bringing you a weeks worth of my ten month old daughters outfits, with a couple of tips along the way to shop savvy.

Because not only am I that mum that'll happily buy ten outfits for Amelia over one for myself, I'm also the mum that knows how to shop sensibly & get some bang for my buck.


Monday.
Amelia's first outfit of the week included this rather daring red Nutmeg cardigan - I say daring, because neither of us wear bright colours & if I'm honest, I didn't quite know what to pair with it that morning... I know it totally doesn't matter how 'fashun' she looks because she's a baby, but I actually really enjoy the thought process of putting her little outfits together.
Because I was at a bit of a loss with what to do, I've gone simple & picked out a pair of charcoal heart print leggings from H&M that I purchased on a 3 for 2 offer and white basic tee from Next.
We don't own nearly enough stuff from H&M, but they're firmly in my mind for when it comes to buying the next age bracket of clothes for Amelia - I can't wait to make more use from their 3 for 2 offers.


Tuesday.
I call this one 'Autumn chic!'
Amelia's wearing a Tu Clothing blouse which came in a set with a pair of mustard leggings. I'm pretty sure this top will last her another six months or so because of the floaty shape to it - I love it when you can get a bit more moneys worth out of babies clothing because they grow so darn quickly, it certainly pays to shop sensibly.
The rust coloured leggings are from Nutmeg and came in a pack of three equally autumnal colours and prints, which you'll no doubt see later on in the week.


Wednesday.
I love dressing Amelia in bold prints & this little two set from Nutmeg is high on my favourites list at the moment.
The top & trousers came in a three pack which included the rust coloured trousers from yesterdays outfit; I love buying packs like this because not only are they cost effective, but it makes putting an outfit together so much simpler... And if anything can be made simple when it comes to babies, I'll sure as hell take it!
I've thrown over a faux fur gilet from Primark to keep her snuggly, which is actually in size 3-6months however still fits relatively well because it's worn open. I didn't think she'd get much wear out of this as it was bought during late spring, but we've definitely gotten our moneys worth out of it towards the latter end of the year.


Thursday.
Of all the pieces I'm showing this week, I think these harem pants are my absolute favourites!
I bought them from the independent, Sheffield based brand, Bear & Babe, a brand I am 100% on board with & pretty much live for. I was first introduced to them by Meghan Walsh after she showcased a couple of their rompers on her Instagram & quite frankly I haven't looked back - They're a little pricier than what I'd usually pay for a pair of bottoms, however the quality, the choice of prints & the fact I'm buying from an Indie brand wins me over every time.
What also amazes me about Bear & Babe is that they have a private facebook group where items can be sold on to other B&B fanatics like myself, and even more amazingly the pieces keep their value extremely well which is always a bonus!
Because of the plum colour in the harem pants, I picked out this similarly coloured little jumper from Primark. I love buying baby bits from Primark, specifically because of the price point of view, however I've noticed that a lot of their pieces come up quite small. We haven't gotten very much wear out of this 'daddy's little princess' jumper - I'm just thankful it was only £3.00.


Friday.
This is the outfit that nearly never was!
I was visiting my sister back in Teesside, when we popped into her local Tesco & I saw this knitted two piece, hanging up all lovely and cute. I looked at it but decided Amelia didn't need anymore clothes (she's actually got a shit tone of clothes), so I put it back on the hanger & continued with our shopping. It's only when I'd got to the till & was paying that I paused for a second, looked at my sister and said 'I need to go back for that outfit' - And that's exactly what I did.
I love dressing her in this little two piece, the only thing I'd say is that it's absolutely huge! It's in size 9-12 months, but the arms & legs are ridiculously long! The arms must be folded over at least a couple of inches here. This is our first piece of Tesco clothing for Amelia, so I'm not sure if they usually run a little bigger to size, but I'm working with it, at least we'll get a few more months wear out of this little set.


Saturday.
Another day & another outfit which took little to no thought - They're the best kind of outfits aren't they? The reason this set was an easy peasy choice for me is that the vest & dungarees originally came together.
We bought them from Next using a gift voucher (hello best present ever) from when Amelia was first born... It pays to save some vouchers aside, because when the maternity wage is dropping low, they sure as shit make a difference!
We used our voucher online which I find is the best way to make sure you're getting the highest amount of products for the lowest amount of money - Anyone else do that? - I love chopping & changing things from my basket & being able to see all possible purchases in one place. Im definitely going to do the same once the Christmas sales start because it saves me a hella load of money - Yes, the C word, I went there!


Sunday.
I thought we'd finish the week with an outfit put together by Daddy - You can tell this one is a Daddy special because he's put trousers with a pinafore dress and he doesn't quite understand why that's an issue.
She looks cute, don't get me wrong, but he always, always, always puts dresses with trousers & it annoys the hell out of me. 
Anywho, this autumnal top & trousers set is another Nutmeg special from the three pack I spoke about earlier on in this post - We've definitely shopped savvy & gotten our moneys worth out of these bad boys! The pinafore dress was a present gifted to us from Amelia's Nana & although it's only been worn a couple of times due to it's practicality (pinafores and crawling babies aren't a good mix) it's still a firm favourite because of how cute it is.

As you can see, we do a lot of savvy shopping in supermarkets & that's purely down to price and convenience - We all know how easy it is to pick clothes up for our babies - It's just too tempting & things quite often just fall into the trolley as we're doing our weekly shop.

Where do you buy most of your little one's clothes from?

Claire.X