CLAIRE MAC

A parenting & lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.

SHOP SMALL THIS CHRISTMAS: HOMEWARE GIFTS.

With the nights drawing in and the temperature dropping it certainly feels like we're heading towards that time of year again. Dare I say it... It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! If like me and you're yet to start gift buying, perhaps you should try something a little different this year and shop small this Christmas.


Shopping small gives back to the community.

Shopping small creates product diversity.

Shopping small supports individuals taking a chance.

Shopping small provides outstanding customer service.

Shopping small makes a major economic impact.

Shopping small creates a sense of community.

Shopping small spreads festive cheer.

Shopping small makes you feel good.


So this Christmas instead of lining a CEO's pockets of a multi-million pound company, why not buy from someone who will do a happy dance around their Christmas tree when receiving your order.


Here are 10 businesses to shop small from this Christmas when buying homeware gifts.


Wild One & I (@wildoneandi)

Wild One & I sell the most gorgeous range homeware gifts with added personalised touches for you and your little ones. Amy started her small business with party decorations and cake toppers, one of which we couldn't resist buying for our daughters first birthday, but now specialises in occasional and festive homeware. As well as personalised Christmas baubles and Christmas banners Wild One & I create the most recognisable, stylised prints. I already have their Dalmatian dot initial print I just need to decide on another before popping them up on my daughters bedroom wall with waashi tape.

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware gifts.


Little Rabbit Moon (@littlerabbitmoonuk)

Little Rabbit Moon sell the most beautifully illustrated cards however it's their rustic woodland illustrated log slices which really stick in my mind; They're just gorgeous. Myfanwy has also recently designed a new print signifying a mothers love which delicately depicts a mother breastfeeding her baby, an amazing and momentous Christmas gift for a boobie feeding mama.

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware


The Cotton Shop (@_thecottonshop)

Amy is Insta-famous for her crochet sensory octopuses, however in todays homeware post I wanted to shine a little light on her rainbow cushions. The rainbow cushions come in a variety of colours which are regularly featured on The Cotton Shop's Instagram feed. Stock drops on the first of each month but be quick because she's been known to sell out in minutes!

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware.


Bairndesigns (@bairndesigns)

Something a little different, and the perfect homeware gift for a fellow creative this Christmas is wall decals. Dalmation printLeopard printPalm print, Bairndesigns literally have it all! Whether you decide to go bold (go hard or go home in my opinion) and fill a feature wall with them, or pop them up in an alcove, they're going to look incredible. The possibilities really are endless!

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware.

MadeByBusby (@madebybusby)

Shelley, the incredible mama behind MadeByBusby, is not only the colour queen but the rainbow cloud queen too! Her colourful homeware pieces are Insta-iconic & whether your recipient would prefer standard rainbow cloud colours or something a little more custom she should definitely be your small biz go to! I have a custom rainbow cloud hanging above the bookshelves in my daughters bedroom which accentuates the different colours in her woodland themed room perfectly. It's amazing & I think you should all buy one for Christmas!


CaitlinDrawsThings (@caitlindrawsthings_)

Caitlin's personalised gifts and prints are designed to make you smile, and that they do! She creates super affordable stationery pieces in the form of positive postcards & cards of appreciation but this festive season I've got my eye on her personalised family portrait prints; I think they'd make especially good Christmas gifts for families with new babies or pets, her personalised pet portraits are amazing too!

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware.

Leo & Wilf (@leoandwilf)

Leo & Wilf stock wonderfully colourful embroidery hoops perfect for babies nurseries or children's bedrooms. Their rainbow embroidery hoops make for amazing Christmas gifts, however if you're looking for something a little smaller then their letter or number embroidery hoops would make brilliant stocking fillers.

Shop small this christmas. Homeware.


Ellame Designs (@ellamedesigns)

Eleanor creates the most amazing macrame wall hangings with the biggest range to choose from. If you're present buying for someone who's a little boho, Ellame Designs is definitely your go to small business. She makes plant hangers, key chains & the absolute cutest baby mobile which I would 100% be buying if my baby was still my baby (waaah!)

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware


YR Studio (@yrstudio.co.uk)

Candles make for excellent gifts, especially for those people who seem to have everything.YR Studio produce yoga and meditation inspired soy wax scented candles, and with so many scents available you're sure to find the perfect one. I have the fresh linen scent on my bedside table and not only does it smell and burn amazingly well, but aesthetically it looks super cosy too.

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware.

Cove Baby (@mycovebaby)

This one may be pretty niche but I've seen so many rave reviews about My Cove Baby & their Ikea highchair accessories recently, that I couldn't not include them in my small business gift guide. Every little person and their dog has the Ikea high chair, so why not personalise it? Cove Baby create affordable footrestsplacemats and cushion covers to leave your recipients home looking less plastic and more hygge.

Shop small this Christmas. Homeware gifts

So there are 10 businesses to shop small from this Christmas when buying homeware gifts. Have you heard of many of them before?


Will you be shopping small this Christmas?


Claire.X

ME AS A MUM THEN VS ME AS A MUM NOW.

Today's post of comparing me as a mum then vs me as a mum now, has taken written form after rereading an article I wrote many moons ago titled 'The bittersweet loneliness & isolation of motherhood'. It's an emotional article written completely from the heart, which after rereading & acknowledging my transformation as a mother, hit me 100% in the feels.


It felt like it wasn't my writing.

It felt like I was looking in on somebody else's life.

It felt sad.


'Me as a mum then vs me as a mum now' Image 1.


As much as it felt sad, it also felt progressive.

I felt a huge sense of achievement realising just how much I've grown in confidence over the last year, not only as a mum, but as myself too.


Me as a mum then.


I can't really recall much of being a mum in those newborn days. I remember lots about my baby, how she changed and developed, and how she brought so much love into our lives, but I don't really remember much about me & how I evolved into becoming a mother. It just sort of happened.

Back in the early days I just got on with being a mum, I took each day (each hour sometimes) as it came & it very much felt like I didn't have the time to even think about myself, let alone be myself.


Those days were relentless.

Motherhood is relentless.

I couldn't switch off.


I was incredibly lonely. It's dificult being a parent at any time, but I feel it's especially hard going being isolated and not having family or friends close by. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and unfortunately that's something we don't have. We both have supportive families but because the closest of them are a 90 minute car journey away it's something we don't quite have the luxury of being dependent on.


I remember feeling like I was 'just a mum' a lot of the time, and I hate that term with a passion, but it's the one I'm going to use as I feel it best describes my emotional state back then. I was consumed by motherhood. Everything I did was 100% focussed on and impacted by my child and I just couldn't fathom another option to living. I was so focussed & trapped by out routine, I was like a woman possessed by the everyday clockwork of parenting.


It was a hard mindset to get out of.


Me as a mum now.


Something happened to me during lockdown earlier on in the year; I embarked upon a rather unplanned (initially unnoticed) epiphany. Lockdown was a really weird, really raw, but equally a really positive time for me; I felt like in those uninterrupted, undistracted three months I truly discovered who I am, and was able to see me as me, not just as a mother. That's not to say I've distanced myself from being a mother, I still am a mum 100% of the time... I'm just now able to unapologetically see that there's more to me than that.


The days are still relentless.

Motherhood is still relentless.

I still can't switch off.


The biggest thing I've achieved this year is balance; I now realise that in order for me to be the best mother I can be to my child, I need to look after myself & be the best person for me first. Being able to see myself as a human being with my own personality, my own qualities and my own flaws has been a huge eye opener for me on my journey & I whole heartedly believe this has made me a better mother.


I've also learnt to shake the guilt! Mum guilt is such a harsh reality, and something I in no way contemplated back when I was pregnant... Oh how naive I was! My mindset has done a full 360 however & I no longer feel guilty if I leave my daughter at home with her father whilst I go out and grab coffee to have an hour to myself. Nor do I feel guilty for lying on the bed in my towel after showering for an extra twenty minutes, listening to an epic tantrum being tackled downstairs. Not guilty your honour!


I'm equally at a place now where I 100% trust my gut when it comes to parenting issues. It's not very often  that I have to consult Dr. Google anymore (we were best friends in the newborn days) & that's not to say that I know everything there is to ever know about parenting (gosh, that'd be boring) but I no longer care about how I'm 'supposed to parent'... I'm doing things my own way... And whether you parent that way or not, who the heck cares... Surely that's what makes it so interesting anyway?


'Me as a mum then vs me as a mum now'


Basically what I'm trying to say is that if you feel lonely and isolated right now as a mother, or if you feel like you're struggling, it will get better! It will 100% get better.


Time is the best healer!


How do you feel you've transformed as a mum? Do you do things differently now to then? Have you grown in confidence?


Claire.X


'Me as a mum then vs me as a mum now' Pinterest graphic.


AUGUST THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS - TAKING A BREAK & PROJECTING POSITIVITY.

After surprisingly negative thoughts and feelings during July, I've had a complete U-Turn this month and I'm getting back to my usual place of feeling more like myself; I've taken a break & now I'm projecting positivity.


Taking a break and projecting positivity.


Taking a break.


A huge factor in my change of mindset this month has happened from taking a break.

At the beginning of the month I had two weeks off work, one of which was spent holidaying in Scotland and the other we had at home where I felt like I was able to get a little bit of my sh*t back together. It was blooming glorious.

While we were in Scotland I made a conscious effort to minimise the amount of screen time I was having. I was present and in the moment, and therefore able to soak up as much family time and Mother Nature as possible. It's amazing what getting battered by blistering Scottish winds does for the soul! I love being at one with nature and living the slowest of lives. We even stopped by Holy Island on the way home, which is one of my most favourite places. Everything about the Island appeals to me, the slowness, the independent businesses, the fact it's quite literally cut off from the rest of the world. It's my happy place & I loved spending a bit of time there this month.

The following week I was able to do all the jobs I'd been wanting to do & that had been hanging over my head for such a long time. I was off work, but May was still with the childminder, and let me tell you, it was a much needed time of solace and calm for me. Or as calm as you can be when you're blitzing the house from top to bottom, applying for jobs and creating content for online platforms.


Taking a break and projecting positivity.

Feeling myself.


It's no secret that during lockdown and spending three months on furlough I unknowingly took myself on a journey of self discovery. I got myself to a place where I was seeing me as me and not just a mother, and although that dipped last month, I'm definitely getting myself back on track to where I used to be.

I think a big part of rediscovering the confident, empowered & fearless me has come from enjoying fashion and beauty again; And I realise this may come across as highly materialistic, but I feel a damn sight better when I've got a bit of makeup on and I'm wearing a killer outfit.

I've gotten really into tie-dye this month and have pretty much been wearing the same two oversized Femmeluxe tie-dye tee's on repeat. I don't think I've worn tie-dye since I was a child, possibly even ever, but this pink oversized tee and lilac oversized tee have been featured in so many different outfits this month. They're amazingly versatile and even oversized enough to wear as mini dresses, although I'm not quite that brave!


Parenting.


I definitely feel like things are falling back into place when it comes to parenting. Although it's a new one, we've started settling into a routine and I'm feeling much more confident again in my abilities as a mum. Gone are the days of struggling to leave the house on time, the last minute rush and the impending stress that came before starting an even more stressful day at work. I'm so much more chilled on a morning now, and have definitely gained a 'zero f*ks given' type attitude when it comes to the state we leave the house in.

My toddler is also in the will she nap / won't she nap stage for a little while now, and the days where she does need a nap are becoming fewer and fewer; In fact if she does nap, it's a miracle and I never quite know what to do with myself. She's 2 in December, so is currently 20 months old, which I always thought was early to be dropping naps, but here we are, we're napless and we're powering through... The both of us.


Taking a break and projecting positivity.


Being too nice.


Naturally I'm a very positive person. I'm far too nice and far too helpful & to be honest it's something I've never really given a thought too, however over the last week or so it seems to have gotten me a bit of stick. I understand why being 'too nice' can be seen as a negative or a naivety, but it's a part of me which will probably never go away, and if that's a bad thing, well I'm okay with it.

This goes hand in hand with my new found attitude of being fearless in motherhood & fearless being me; I'm fully aware of my flaws and I'm here loud and proud embracing them... I'm too nice! There I said it!


How have you been this month?


Claire.X


August thoughts and feelings. Taking a break and projecting positivity.


WHY TURNING 30 ISN'T THAT BAD AFTER ALL.

Turning 30 (the big 3-0) is often something that's dreaded by so many. Transitioning a whole decade older overnight is definitely a milestone, but it's one I'd actually been really looking forward to. Going from your twenties to your thirties is such an emotionally huge upheaval, but today I'm here to reassure you that turning 30 isn't that bad after all.

Turning thirty isn't that bad after all. Shelfie with 30th birthday plaque.

I asked my instagram audience earlier on in the week of their thoughts and feelings regarding turning thirty & not surprisingly a lot of people said they weren't too keen on the idea (not like we can stop time or anything). The vast majority of people in this demographic were also those that are rather interestingly currently in their twenties. The fear is real people! So why is that?

As women especially, I feel like we're conditioned to feel fear when approaching thirty. Whenever the turning of a new decade is mentioned, it's met with questions like 'oh gosh, that's a big birthday' or 'oh wow, are you scared?' And don't even get me started on our body clocks! Damn those people who feel they have a right to question our body clocks.... That's a rant (which I feel very passionately about) for another day.

How I felt about turning 30.

For me, I always felt like my late twenties were a bit mediocre; not the years themselves, but the numbers... I know that sounds 'woo' but stick with me. There's something about the number 30 for me which just feels so much stronger. It's bold. It's bright. It knows exactly who it is.

It's a number I wanted to be.... And *spoiler alert* so far it hasn't disappointed!

The lead up to my thirtieth birthday was somewhat unusual in the sense that the UK was still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we were then still in lockdown, and things were all just a little bit weird. (Weird is the only word I can use to describe the situation, because that's what it was/still is -WEIRD). Dan & I were on furlough from work, we were both full time parents trying to occupy our toddler during lockdown and if I'm honest my birthday was the furthest thing away from my mind at that moment... Much to my husbands disapproval.

That being said, it was a day I'd looked forward to. It didn't fill me with fear & I was excited and felt ready to say 'Hello, my name is Claire & I'm a 30 year old woman!'

Why turning 30 isn't that bad after all. Claire smiling at the camera.


A time for reflection.

I couldn't help but feel reflective on the lead up to my thirtieth birthday. I thought about the previous decade & how much I'd changed over the previous ten years. Had I achieved everything I wanted to achieve? Was I 100% happy with my life choices? Am I even sure of who I am right now?

We never really give ourselves credit for what we achieve (I definitely don't anyway) but when I was thinking about what I'd accomplished over the previous ten years, things really didn't seem all that bad after all. I'd bought a house at 24, managed to keep alive our lemon beagle puppy, who obviously isn't so much of a puppy anymore (boo!), I met and married the man of my dreams... And our biggest achievement of all, we welcomed our daughter Amelia-May into the world.

Aside from physical achievements, the biggest change I've seen in myself, is just that... Myself! I've changed a ridiculous amount from the shy twenty year old girl trying to grow out a 'Frankie hair cut', to the woman I am today at thirty. It's actually insane.

It's only in the latter half of the decade that I've noticed myself knowing myself (say that after a few tequilas) & I'd 100% say the biggest impact to my confidence has been becoming a mother. That's not me saying I'm the best mum, or I know everything there is to know about being a parent, that's me embracing that sometimes I'm not going to know what to do, sometimes things don't always fall into place, and I'm okay with that & I can conquer that - I'm fearless in my abilities as a mother & I'm fearless being me. I'm at a place now in my parenting journey where I'm seeing me as me & not just a mother, and let me tell you it feels f**king incredible!

Turning thirty isn't that bad after all. Claire holding 30th birthday plaque.

How I feel being 30.

Although my twenties were full of amazing experiences, I definitely feel like it was a decade of figuring sh*t out... And by sh*t, I mainly mean myself. There were times when I didn't stand up for what I believed in and there were many occasions where I let myself subside, still replaying the moment over in my head thinking 'if only I did this differently'. Well that Claire is no more!

Right now, as a thirty year old woman I can hand on heart say I've never felt better! And it seems so many of you feel the same way, because when polled the majority of my 30+ Instagram audience said they felt better now than they ever did in their twenties... And I'm so here for that! My audience also said however that they felt there was a pressure to have your sh*t together by the time you reach thirty, which I do somewhat agree with, although my thought turns to the question 'what actually is it that defines having your sh*t together?' Because in reality I believe the answer will be different for each individual person.

For me, I feel like I have my sh*t together because I live a happy, relatively stress free lifestyle. Sure there are things I'd like to change and improve upon especially with regards to my career, but in the grand scheme of things I think I'm doing alright.

Looking forward.

I've learnt over the years that although it's good to plan ahead, life will no doubt throw you a good curveball or two & it's these curveballs that you've got to account for. Did I think as a twenty year old woman that I'd move away from my family & get a mortgage in a city I'd never even visited before? Nope! Did I think as a twenty-four year old woman coming off the pill it'd take over three years to conceive a baby? Nope. Did I (or anyone) think that this year we'd spend three months living in lockdown. Absolutely not!... Hands up who even knew what the word 'furlough' meant before 2020, because I sure as hell didn't!

Sure we'd like to move closer to our families, and sure we'd like to have more children, but will these things be on the cards for us? Who knows? Learning to loosen the societal pressure is something I've come to terms with & not being dictated by the pressures of 'textbook life' is a life I'm 100% embracing. 

Why turning 30 isn't that bad after all. Claire smiling at the camera holding a bunch of flowers and a champagne flute cheersing to turning 30.

This is thirty.

Thirty is sassy.
Thirty is confident. - @amy.the.mama
Thirty is empowering.
Thirty is when it starts getting good. - @rosalynoxercoaching
Thirty is comfortable.
Thirty is liberating. - @mielandmint
Thirty is enlightening.
Thirty is not caring.
Thirty is thriving. - @jodetopia
Thirty is knowledgeable.
Thirty is much less stressed.
Thirty is knowing who you truly are. - @swigdigs
Thirty is giving the middle finger to judgement.
Thirty is f**king fabulous darling!

Now ID me to make me feel young again!

How old are you? Are you nearing to 30? Or have you reached the glorious age? Do let me know in the comments below if you're embracing the big 3-0?

Claire.X

Why turning 30 isn't that bad after all. Pinterest graphic.

JULY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS - ADJUSTING TO A NEW NORMAL.

I've had an awful lot of thoughts and feelings throughout the month of July; It's been an emotionally tough few weeks filled with conflicting thoughts across a few different subject matters, all have which led me to become MIA from my platforms... And today I'm going to divulge why.

Claire sat on the bed in camel coloured loungewear, with a cup of tea in hand discussing her July thoughts and feelings.

July has been a month of returning back to normality. The new normal. And that's where I've struggled.

Feeling myself.
Not feeling myself is the biggest reason for my recent absence online.
Let's go back to Spring, when I'd felt like I'd finally gotten to a place where I'd turned myself into a little powerhouse of self love, self appreciation and self empowerment. I'd finally gotten to a place where I was seeing me as me & not just as a mother & was really reaping the benefits of the added confidence boost.
And then lockdown happened;
All I could be was a mum & at the time I felt really uneasy about it. Of course there's nothing wrong with being a stay at home parent, it's the most amazing (and hardest) job in the world, but for me I don't think it' selfish to wan't more for myself. I don't think I realised at the time the effect lockdown had on my emotions; After all, as mothers, no matter how difficult the day is, we just have to put on our big girl pants & get on with it.
It took me a while to get out of the 'just a mum' funk and thankfully it became something I was able to embrace. I embraced my new normal, began to really appreciate my second maternity leave (that's what I'd been calling it) and enjoyed the extra time we had as a family... So much so I didn't want to return back to what would be normal life for us.

Work life.
I've been back at work now for the last six weeks now, and after what was an apprehensive start, I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting into the swing of things. I definitely wouldn't go as far as saying I'm living my best life there but I'm surviving... Surviving, not thriving!
I suppose I'm quite lucky in the sense that I'd pretty much only just returned back to work after maternity leave, so would consider myself a pro at looking like I know what I'm doing even when I'm actually thinking 'wtf am I doing here!' Although difficult, It's been quite nice this time around starting on a level playing field with other team members; We were all in the same boat having been out of the business for such a long period of time & I definitely found comfort in that.

Parenting.
Parenting has been a rollercoaster recently.... I mean, when isn't it. But this month I've found it particularly difficult.
May started back with the childminder towards the end of June and although it was a struggle to begin with regaining her confidence staying with other people, it almost felt like it'd reached the other end of the spectrum this month. It's felt like she hasn't wanted to come home with me & honestly, it's been heart breaking. I was becoming increasingly jealous of my childminder, the time she was spending with my daughter & the relationship she was building with her... I was resenting having to go to work & miss out on time spent with her.
As we reach the end of the month, things are getting better and I'm sure with time this feeling will lessen even more so. I'm I'll become grateful for that time away from my daughter; But for now I'm still ever so jealous of my childminder & I'm not afraid to admit it.

Claire sat on bed with a cup of tea with a pondering look on her face, discussing her July thoughts and feelings.

#TogetherInMamahood.
As a community builder it's something I'd wanted to do for a little while, however I was always really nervous I wouldn't be able to complete the full months posts and worried I'd become totally consumed and stressed out over it.
And guess what... The latter happened!
I loved engaging with the blooming wonderful ladies who'd joined in, and from a community perspective the #TogetherInMamahood hashtag challenge was a huge success. Unfortunately for me, towards the end of the month I found myself becoming intensely pressurised to perform... I was swamped by the pressure of being back at work, swamped by the pressure of being a parent & swamped by the pressure of being every single version of myself that I could be.
Instagram, as well as my blog and other social platforms took a back seat in order to preserve my mental health, and if I'm honest I've been away for much longer than I'd thought. A few days turned into a few weeks, which then turned into almost two months away from putting my all into my online space.
I've still been present, but I've not been the best online version of myself & to be honest I'm actually cool with it... So cool with it in fact it's made the pressure I'd put on myself pretty much disappear.

'Sharenting'.
The hot topic for me this month as well as many other parenting bloggers has been the discussion how much of our children we should be sharing online.... Or as Meghan Walsh & Beth Eveline call it, sharenting.
Although I believe every parent should have the right to decide if they do or don't share their child without prejudice or judgement, I definitely feel more comfortable not sharing images of May's face online. It's a dilemma I've pondered for quite some time now, marking the beginning of my sharenting journey with an article I wrote back in February discussing how much of my child's face should I be showing online. In the post I discuss how I will be limiting the amount my daughters face appears on my website & social platforms and I've stuck true to this posting images of her face less than a handful of times on my socials.
I still feel rather conflicted, as there's nothing more I'd rather do than show her off (after all I'm the proudest mf-ing mother out there, my child is amazing!) but I want to keep her safe and to myself, and wrapped up in cotton wool in ur cosy little home.
It's such a difficult one, with absolutely no wrong or right answer.

If you've gotten this far thank you!

I wanted to put my thoughts and feelings this month into word form in the hope that not only if I spill the tea on my absence I'll also be letting go of the negativity, but also to reach out and say if you're also feeling a little bit weird about things going back to a new normal, that's quite alright... You can be in my gang! We'll get t-shirts!

How are you feeling about things going back to normal?

Claire.X

July thoughts and feelings - Adjusting to a new normal - Pinterest graphic.


SEEING ME AS ME, NOT JUST AS A MOTHER.

It's taken me a long time, but now when I look in the mirror I no longer see Amelia's mum, I'm seeing me... And it feels amazing! Scratch that!... It feels f*cking amazing!

Claire smiling. Embracing who she is as herself, not just as a mother.

I lost myself to motherhood since welcoming my daughter into the world back in December 2018 & sadly, I don't think it's uncommon. We put so much of ourselves into caring for our children, I think even more so as first time mums, that it's so easy for us to forget who we are.

Us as people.

As human beings.

Not as mothers!

It's strange because I never really realised it at the time. I suppose as a new mum you don't really have time to do anything else other than protect & care for that miniature version of yourself. You instantly get pushed to the back of the line. I felt like I had to do it all, I was the primary care giver for my child, I ran the house, had my side hustle & even managed to keep the dog alive during that time too. Four seemingly simple tasks, but when put together, I was lucky if I got 5 minutes to pee in peace.

I've been through a bit of a transformation and journey of self discovery this year (even though we all know 2020 is cancelled due to corona right?) Returning to work after maternity leave played a big initial part in this, I was back doing what pre-baby Claire did, I was interacting with actual adult human beings who weren't asking me if my daughter had pooped that day, or if she'd finally managed to eat a full meal. I was even making new friends! It was bliss!

The old me was coming back.

I'd been mourning my pre-baby self for quite some time previous to this & had found myself stuck in a slump up until around 9 months postpartum. My days looked the same, I woke up at 5am, prepared x amount of bottles for x amount of hours apart, I'd structure naps & meal prepped like there was no tomorrow; I was like a robot. A mama robot!

Claire smiling, happy with who she is as herself not just a mother.

Something else which has helped regain my confidence in being me is redefining my personal style. It sounds so trivial and materialistic, but filling my wardrobe full of pieces that feel like me & show me off rather than covered me up has worked wonders for my self confidence. My wardrobe actually makes me feel sassy as a mum. Don't get me wrong, I still have plenty of loungewear in there, or mum uniform as I like to call it, but even when I do wear those looser, more casual type styles, I still feel blooming amazing in them.

Fast forward to 18 months (almost) postpartum, I'm fearless in motherhood & I'm fearless being me. This is because I no longer see myself solely as Amelia's mum, I'm seeing me as me. Being a parent is a huge part of me, but I'm no longer defined by motherhood; I see all of me.

I see my flaws.
I see my strengths.
I see my weaknesses.
I see opportunities.
I see freedom.
I see a hard worker.
I see happiness.
I see love.
I see someone comfortable in their own skin.
I see an empowered woman.

I see me as me, not just as a mother.

I knew that becoming a parent would come with a rollercoaster of different emotions, but I in no way thought it'd change the way I looked at myself. Pretty naive of me really. Of course it's going to change how you view yourself, and probably how others view you too. I'd be very surprised if any women out there said they hadn't changed since becoming mothers.

I feel like I'm entering the other side now and that I've opened up a whole new level of empowerment & self love. I'm feeling amazing right now, as myself and as a mum & I'm making it my mission for others to feel the same.

Have you ever felt lost to motherhood? How do you see yourself?

Claire.X

SEEING ME AS ME, NOT AS A MOTHER. Pinterest graphic.

WHAT'S IT REALLY LIKE ATTENDING A VIRTUAL BLOGGING EVENT?

I haven't attended a blogging event in quite a while (it actually turns out that having a baby gets in the way of a lot of things) however I was recently able to attend a virtual event, hosted by House 21.

Claire sat on bed in front of laptop during virtual blogging event.

I was originally introduced to the community builders & event organisers by Lucy Mary, a fellow House 21 contributor who's content I've enjoyed for such a long time now.

House 21 has been on my radar since they held their blogging awards (one of which Lucy won by the way - Yes gal!) in December, however seeing as though the majority of events were being held in Cardiff and Birmingham, it's never something I thought my Yorkshire butt would be able to attend.

Here's where lockdown has played its trump card.

House 21 hasn't let coronavirous stop them; Instead of hosting monthly meet-ups, they're utilising technology and hosting their workshops online. Like normal events they're held on the same days, at the same times, but instead of being location specific, they're topic specific, which for me is absolutely ideal.

House 21 have a wide array of events coming up however the one I chose to attend was 'overcoming the Instagram algorithm'... Because Lord knows I (alongside many others) have a love hate relationship with the social media app.

The event was held in an online chat room sent to us via email the previous day. We had to 'knock' to be let in & once there I could see the faces & blog names of 15 lovely ladies. Being a chat room there was video and microphone functions as well as a chat box which enabled us to join in with conversations & hear from guest speakers.

The features enabled us to interact pretty much the same as we would at a normal event.

Claire sat on bed in front of laptop during virtual blogging event.

We had introductions and chit chats to begin with from House 21's host Melanie, who later introduced us to the events specific guest host Chelsea O'Driscoll. Chelsea is a social media marketing manager and creative consultant making her the perfect host for an event centred around kicking the Instagram algorithms butt!

I think I was a newbie at the event, as Chelsea mentioned that it was nice to see new faces as well as regular attendees; But in no way was I made to feel like a newbie. Chelsea was chatty, charismatic & packed full of positivity, which in todays climate is an absolute godsend!

She explained exactly how the session was going to be ran, which was with a 30 minute presentation from herself and fellow Instagram algorithm butt kicker Christy Llewelyn followed by a live question and answer session to finish.

We were advised to ask questions during the presentation using the chat box, which I felt much more comfortable doing. Sometimes at IRL blogging events I can feel quite overwhelmed and revert back to being the shy girl I was at school. It's something which I hate for holding me back, but admittedly it only happens when I'm in a large group of people. If I'm attending a large scale blogging event my mind can sometimes get the better of me and not want to ask the questions I'm burning to ask, so the chat box feature gets a massive thumbs up from me.

I actually felt more comfortable being in the comfort of my own home, dressed in loungewear with a cup of tea in hand than I would at any IRL blogging event.

Claire sat on bed in front of laptop attending a virtual blogging event.

I enjoyed the virtual blogging event so much, that I've signed up for another in a weeks time. The event is again Instagram based & will be held by Northern Blogs & Co with 3 guest speakers including one of my faves Hannah Briggs.

Have you been involved in any virtual blogging events during lockdown?

Claire.X