A parenting & lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.


During pregnancy it’s often said that your body doesn’t feel like your own, but when baby arrives I think it becomes even less so. Your body is a tool for keeping your new bundle of joy alive & feeling back to your regular old self is something that doesn’t quite come back as quickly as you’d necessarily like. I’m five months into this parenting gig now & although there’s days when I’m totally not feeling myself, like not even in the slightest, there’s some where I am & it’s all down to some fab makeup products which make me feel like a hot mama.

I think it’s safe to say with the lack of sleep that comes with having a newborn, something the skin desperately lacks is a bit of glow! Luckily for me I was introduced to the Illamasqua Beyond Powder Highlight through the Look Fantastic Advent Calendar last year, in fact I received it on day 24, the day after Amelia was born… Anyone else thinks that’s a sign?
Deighty is quite a pale highlight which works lovely with my rather wintery, pasty skin tone in giving me just the little bit of shimmer & awake-ness that’s very much needed. I use the Look Fantastic Fan & Highlight brush popping the product on the tops of my cheeks as well as under my brow bone & the tip of my nose, which gives a subtle, yet effectively awake appearance. Hallelujah!

I have two shades of the suede cream liquid lipsticks, but by far this shade is my favourite. It used to be my go to ‘night out lipstick’ but now those drinking and dancing days are behind me (woe is me) I’ve been wearing this shade on pretty much a daily basis.
Anyone else think there’s a strong correlation between reliving your youth & feeling like a hot mama? Because I do.
It’s obviously the shade which mainly draws me to this lipstick, but the formula is pretty darn cracking as well; It’s easy to apply, feels lovely on the lips and is really long lasting, especially for a drugstore lipstick - I love it!

If there’s one product I could recommend for new mums, or equally just people in a rush or not wanting to spend too much time on their makeup it’d be the Loreal Infallible More Than Concealer… Because it does exactly what it says on the tin! This product is like your regular concealer, but the 2.0 version - It’s bloody brilliant!
The large doe foot applicator ensures the high coverage formula is distributed evenly across the skin and it’s up to you whether you use it just as a concealer or as more of a foundation too. Some days I do the latter, but mostly I use this as a concealer as it covers up those dark under eye bags brilliantly…. And lord knows they need covering up!

Alongside giving your face a flawless base I think it’s important to add a pop of colour to the skin, which is where floret comes into play. I don’t actually have all that many Bare Minerals products, but after using using them at Whinstone View Spa for my wedding makeup, I haven’t been able to put this down.
I love the mineral formula as I think it’s so much easier to apply & be less heavy handed with - In my opinion there’s a very fine line when it comes to blush and how much product you apply, one minute you’re looking like a hot mama & the next you’re looking like something from the 90’s under 18 clubs… And I know which one I’d prefer!

I think if you’ve gone to all that effort of making yourself half decent that morning, you may as well make sure it stays, which is where the Insta Fix & Go comes into play. I’ve never really used a setting spray before, even after hearing raving reviews of the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, it’s never really something that jumped out at me.
I was kindly sent Fix & Go in a PR package a little while ago & even though I did use it, it’s only since having Amelia that I’ve gone in hard with it!
The spray makes sure whatever makeup I do have on that day stays & it actually feels really lovely and refreshing - A fab way to finish off your makeup routine!

There’s some days where I’ll wear all of these products, others it might be a few, and other days it might be none of them at all… But one thing’s for certain in that I love them all & they all make me feel a little more human & more like I have my shit together after while looking after a five month old baby.

What makeup products make you feel like you have your shit together?



This post contains affiliate links to Blogger to Boss.

Before I started my maternity leave, back when I was a naive pregnant lady I had X Y & Z planned for my time away from work, and here we are six months later reflecting on what I have… And haven’t done.

We went in full steam ahead with regards to taking Amelia swimming & I’ve said this many a time, but in hindsight I think we took her too early. We started taking her to Turtle Tots at Temple Newsam in Leeds when she was two weeks old and for the first month or so she did nothing but sleep through the classes - And even though it was lovely to get out the house & meet new parents with their adorable babies, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a total waste of money.

The vast majority of babies who attended the class were 6 months+ and you could see that they were much more interactive than our tiny baby was & they were able to enjoy their time in the water.  much more than Amelia.

The only benefit I’d say it had for Amelia was with bath times, but like I say it was a pretty pricey activity just to get her used to being in the tubI think we will take her back to Turtle Tots, but we’re going to wait a month or so before we get her booked in again.

Okay, so this one’s also a bit of a fail! For Christmas my sister bought me the Harry Potter books & I had all intentions of reading all seven before the end of my maternity leave. 5 months in & truth be told I haven’t finished the first one yet!.. Although we have had a movie marathon again, if that counts!

Now I know reading is a matter of priorities because in honestly I probably have had the time to get much further through the books than I actually have, however what I’ve done is chosen to prioritise other things... This blog being one of them – But we’ll get onto that later.

On a side note I’m currently experiencing quite a lot of headaches which I think has come from a mix of dealing with a crying baby, being sat staring at either a laptop or phone screen & not getting all that much sleep and I really think getting back into reading will help alleviate that. Harry Potter & the philosophers stone is currently sat on my bed side table, so it’s not as if I can’t see it, it’s a constant reminder for me to start reading & I really hope I can get back on track with it all – Watch this space!

I’ve not actually booked onto a course yet, and although it’s still something I’d like to do, I don’t think I’ll be getting my quill out any time soon.

I love the idea of calligraphy & setting up my own business selling prints and making custom pieces, but the reality of it is, is that I want to prioritise my blog & I really don’t think I have the time for both… Not when you throw looking after a baby, a husband, a dog and a home into the mix too.
That’s not to say it’s not something I won’t pick up in the future though.

I think when you’re at home all day looking after a baby it’s imperative to get yourself out of the house. It doesn’t even have to be particularly outdoorsy, even just a trip to a local coffee shop, or to the supermarket brings a change of scenery & breaks up the day a bit – And I think for your own sanity, it’s SO important.

When I first had Amelia I was really nervous taking her out, especially on my own, as it felt like a totally alien situation. In fact, every first you have with a baby feels totally alien situation, but the more you do it, the more you get used to it & the more comfortable you become. And that’s exactly where I’m at today.

Although I don’t put pressure on myself, I try and get out of the house every day. We have a weekly play group that we go to on a Tuesday, but throughout the week we’ll walk up to the Asda, go to the White Rose shopping centre or talk the dog for a walk. Sometimes we’re out for half the day, other times it’s half an hour. I don’t think it particularly matters how long you’re outside for, just as long as you have something to do that day.

This one makes me so sad! I spoke previously about how I’d loved to have taken my family for a little staycation up to Huts in the Hills in Northumberland, but in reality, I just can’t afford it.

I’ve spoken before on my blog about how I’ve found itdifficult adjusting to a maternity wage and unfortunately as amazing as they staycation would be, we just can’t afford it right now.
I’m hoping that when I go back to work in January that we can get ourselves away to enjoy some proper family time.

My body didn’t spring back into place after having Amelia (I might talk more about this if you’d like to hear about it) but four months later I’m at a place where I’m relatively happy with how I look – Granted it’s different, but I’m working with it. I think this is where creating a new wardrobe and almost a new identity for myself has come into play.

I spent a weekend about a month or so ago gutting my wardrobe of all my ‘dowdy pregnancy clothes’ ready to make way for new pieces which I was so excited about that I went out and bought them very next day.

My wardrobe is now topped up with high waisted trousers and skirts along with smarter, more tailored shirts and crop tops. The only thing I’d say I need now is a pair of plain black skinny jeans, but I want ones that actually stay black!... I’ve had some from Topshop and H&M and even though they look fab to begin with, I’ve always found the colour doesn’t last too long, so if you know of any good quality black jeans, hook a gal up!

This is the one I’m most excited about and to be honest it’s only in the last few weeks where somethings changed for me & turned me from someone who blogs for a hobby into someone who blogs with a more business mindset.

And I think I have one thing… Or two people to thank… And that’s Bex & Codie from Blogger to Boss. Last month I took part in their 5 day free course where we had small daily tasks to complete in order to take our blogs to the next level and I have to say it’s really worked. Although I don’t have a great deal of content to show for it over here on this little blog of mine, my mindset has done a complete 360 & I’m ready to take on whatever this blogging lark has to throw at me.

Since doing the course I’ve applied for writing jobs & I’ve even managed to secure myself a paid blog post which you’ll see pop up over the next month or so. I started blogging five years ago, so you could say that it’s taken me a hella long time to get here, but now I’m here, there’s no stopping me!

The mum guilt was SO real when I went to Berlin last month! I felt awful leaving my baby, but I knew it’d be so beneficial for all parties. Dan got to spend more time with Amelia, she got to experience daddy daughter fun time & I bagged myself a much needed break.

While it's on my brain, there was a thread I read only yesterday on Facebook about how mums shouldn’t take time away from their babies as it’s irresponsible and neglectful & I for one was absolutely shocked at how judgmental some people can be. I honestly don’t know what is wrong with some popele…
It’s okay to want to spend time away from your baby.
It’s okay to want to have your partner enjoy your child as much as you have.
It’s okay if you want to take a bit of time out for yourself.

So here we are six months in to my maternity leave with another six months left to go. I’m certainly finding things easier since the newborn days but I still think there’s room for improvement when it comes to my productivity. I’ve been listening to Vix Meldrew’s podcasts which have really been helping me with the extra get up & go, and like I say the Blogger to Boss course was amazing at making me want to succeed with this online space of mine.

Here’s to the next six months, whatever they may bring.

Have you got any tips for increasing blog productivity? Especially when it comes to juggling that with a baby?



Although we’re lucky to receive maternity pay in the UK, there’s absolutely no secret that the amount of money us new parents receive is pants & I can hand on heart say that I’ve found adjusting to my new lower wage pretty flipping tough.

Let me start by saying in no way at all would I class myself as rich. Let’s be clear about that. This post isn’t a brag about my pre-baby life, or a feel sorry for my diminishing bank balance post, after all it was us that chose to have a child & for me to take so much time off work looking after her – I’m writing this for other new parents to say we’re all in this together & we’re all as pretty much as skint as each other!

How much time am I taking off?
My last day at work was the 24th November 2018 which feels like a lifetime ago now, and I won’t be returning to my position until 30th December 2019 which means in total I’ll have 57 weeks off. This is made up of twelve months of which I’m entitled too as well as an extra few weeks holiday.
I decided to take the full 12 month allowance for two reasons, one being that our nearest family is 60 miles away from us meaning help with childcare is quite difficult and secondly (and rather selfishly) so I could have Christmas 2019 off - I work in retail you see & Christmas is the busiest time of year, so having the opportunity to take the time off to relax and enjoy it as a family was a no-brainer for me. And because she was born on the 23rd December it also means we’ll get to celebrate Amelia’s 1st birthday as a family too which I’m so looking forward to!

How much money do I actually get?
Let’s be real, this is why you’re all here isn’t it – And I don’t blame you. People don’t talk about money as it’s a bit of a taboo subject, but I really think we should start opening up about it a bit more.
For the first six weeks after leaving work I received 90% of my wage which luckily because of the way the dates landed I managed to spread across three monthly pay packets.
I then went down to statutory maternity pay which at £148.68 per week equates to £594.72 a month and this is what I’ll receive for the following 33 weeks, or in my case up until the middle of August.
After then and up until mid November I won’t receive a penny until my holiday pay kicks in where I should be back receiving a full wage.

What does my wage usually looks like?
Pre-baby I worked part time earning less than £16k a year and even though I never lived beyond my means, my life was comfortable. I lived month by month but managed to save bits of money here and there in preparation for the baby… And let me tell you that preparation is key!
I’m a worrier when it comes to money (as you’ll find out reading this post) I always have been and I’m pretty darn sure that I always will be, so my husband & I made sure that any extra money we had at the end of the month went into savings so I could take the full 12 months off & be able to look after our child.

Tips for surviving on a maternity wage.

Use your annual leave wisely.
Although I’ve taken advantage of cleverly used annual leave, I could definitely have been a bit more savvy when it came to optimising my pay packet.
My holiday pay works out to around double my maternity pay so what I’ve done is blocked my holidays of which I’ll accrue over the coming year together & popped them in over the Christmas period meaning I’ll be receiving a full wage over the 2019 festive season… Hallelujah! Clever me right?
What I should have done however is blocked some holidays together last year before my maternity wage kicked in so I could have kept my full wage for that little while longer. That being said last year was a busy one for us, I had a couple of weeks off for the wedding and a further two weeks off for our honeymoon, so I’m not sure how we could have pulled it off .
If you don’t decide to cram everything in, in such a short space of time like we did, then I’d definitely recommend utilising your annual leave to make sure you get paid as much as possible for as long as possible.

Child benefit.
We’ve never needed to claim for benefits so have never dealt with HMRC or Universal Credit & if I’m totally honest I don’t know a great deal about what we can & can’t claim for. I definitely need to educate myself into what we’re entitled too, because let’s be real, if we’re entitled to any form of extra money, we should definitely be claiming for it.
We’re currently claiming child benefit which works out as an extra £20.70 a week, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than nothing & we’re using the money properly to buy nappies, milk & anything else Amelia may need.

Do I really need it?
Budgeting is something I’ve always been totally pants at! And to be honest, I probably still am to some extent, only now I’ve had such a decrease in wage I’ve had to learn to reign my spending in a bit. I’ve never been a floozie when it comes to money, but something I’m terrible for is picking up a coffee & cake on my way to and from pretty much anywhere… And all those £2.50 latte’s add up over the month! If you could see my online banking (no-one wants to look at that – not even me) pretty much every outgoing, other than bills & important stuff comes from Starbucks, Costa & Greggs. I’m a slave to the coffee chain & I need to change!
What I’ve been asking myself recently however is ‘do I really need it?’ It’s a simple question, which usually comes with a simple answer… No.
It’s probably a bit late in the day for me to start putting this one into practice to really feel the benefit, but you know what they say… Look after the pennies & the pounds will look after themselves, and if I get in the habit of doing it now, when I do start bringing in a full wage again I’ll be saving quite a bit… Hopefully!

KIT days.
Kit days, or keeping in touch days are something which the workplace offers in order to break you back into work, before you finish your maternity leave & fully start back. I’d check with your employer, but in the UK you’ll usually be offered 10 paid kit days in total. I’ve already said to my employer I’ll be making use of all of my kit days, but I’m going to be clever about how & when I use them.
With my job role I have different tasks which need doing on different days, and there are some days which  are busier and more stressful than others. My plan of action is to work 2 Mondays, 2 Tuesdays etc etc etc & use my ten days that way. I’m also planning on starting using my kit days around September/October time as this is when my maternity wage will have finished & I’ll be bringing absolutely nothing to the table – Scary thought right? I hate the idea of not bringing a wage in.

Shopping for baby.
Babies are expensive, there’s absolutely no doubt about it, but something Dan & I pride ourselves on, is knowing what’s a bargain and what definitely isn’t. Before we had Amelia we were quite savvy when it came to spending money on our future spawn of Satan, knowing what were necessity purchases & even managing to secure our pram for £800 cheaper.
I’d class nappies, milk, wipes etc as nesceseties, all of which we pick up from Aldi during our weekly shop. We’re not snobby when it comes to brand names and are very much aware that all products have to comply to safety laws and the likes, so with milk for example whether you’re buying Mamia, SMA or Cow & Gate you’re giving your baby the exact same nutrients, only you may or may not be spending a small fortune. With nappies as well I’ve actually found the Aldi Mamia nappies to be much higher quality than Pampers, so I think it just goes to show that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good product, but at the end of the day what works for you & your baby is what truly matters.

Check if bills can be cheaper.
This is something we’ve been meaning to do for such a long time now, but I think now that moneys dwindling we’re definitely going to look into how we can save a bit of dollar dollar on our monthly bills.
I’ve recently renewed my car insurance & managed to get that down to £250 which I’ve spread over 12 months to make payments that bit more manageable, but it definitely pays to look around. My original renewal quote was £450, which is a bit of an outrage seeing as though I paid £300 the year before so I’m glad I was able to cut costs quite considerably this way.
Some things we don’t really have a great deal of control over, like our mortgage & council tax bill, but something we can change is our gas & electric bills. They seem to be going up and up & to be honest British Gas have well & truly got us with our pants down, so we definitely need to look into lowering our utilities and saving a bit of money this way.
My phone contract is also up for renewal next month & I’ve decided that instead of opting to change for a brand spanking new handset I’ll be changing to a sim only plan and even though I don’t think it’ll lower my monthly repayment by that much, it’ll still be lower which is what matters.

In conclusion.
Although we’re lucky to receive a maternity wage in the UK I think it’s best to start saving money as soon as those two blue lines appear, in preparation for your little bundle of joy arriving. I think you also need to be smart when it comes to money, and only spend it where it’s really needed. Don’t get me wrong the odd treat is welcome every now and again, but I think being savvy is very important when it comes to surviving on a maternity wage.

What are your best tips for saving money & surviving on a budget?