This Sunday evening I am so excited to have one of my absolute favourite women on Instagram giving us a little insight into how she makes it work. This woman is not only hilarious, but she is so supportive, kind and generous. Beautiful, real, raw at times – her social media helps me feel sane when I could otherwise be found crying in the bathroom. This lady is also a Sunday Times No. 1 Bestselling Author and currently pregnant with her third child. Introducing the lovely Sarah Turner – otherwise known as ‘The Unmumsy Mum’.
No. Well, not unless I have something fancy to go to and that’s very rare! I generally find I have a couple of pairs of jeans that are in favour at any one time, alongside several tops and a blazer of some description as if I’m off for a coffee or a meeting a blazer is an easy way to look like I have made an effort! On a normal home-working day, where I am writing between the school runs, my outfits are definitely on the casual side of smart/casual (and by ‘casual’ I mean I have been known to baby-wipe the toddler’s yoghurt off my trousers and Febreze yesterday’s jumper … not proud, but some days things are hectic!)
I do the school and/or the nursery run three days out of five so mornings are always a bit of a circus. I try to get up and shower before the boys wake up and after getting them fed and dressed (where do the bloody shoes go?!) I usually find myself with wet hair and half an outfit on just five minutes before it’s time to leave.
Anything refreshing I can spritz on my face to wake me up a bit is always a winner – the Body Shop’s Vitamin C face mist is a quick (and inexpensive) option. I don’t wear a lot of make-up, generally, and have never successfully managed to ‘contour’ anything but I am a fan of highlighters, such as Benefit’s High Beam, as I think a dewy glow helps to mask sad, tired skin.
Do you know there is one thing I swear by when it comes to my hair and that’s purple shampoo! As someone who has been getting highlights for about fifteen years, my hair has the tendency to go a brassy yellow colour and without exaggeration purple shampoo has changed my life! It definitely makes the colour more ashy and I find it looks so much brighter between washes – I couldn’t be without it. I also rely on dry shampoo and, for home-working days, I tend to opt for a messy bun because I am lazy and it does the job.
Even if I am running late, I refuse to leave the house without getting the eyebrow pencil out – my eyebrows have never recovered from being over-plucked in my teenage years and I feel completely naked if I head out sporting feeble patchy caterpillars. A quick sweep of tinted lip balm always makes me feel like I’ve got my shit together, too.
I do LOADS of work in the evenings. In fact, I wrote almost all my first book outside of daylight hours. I think I actually work better at night.
Netflix, Sky, iPads and Nintendos. I’m joking (well, sort of – TV is a saviour!) but my littlest, who’s three, actually likes ‘helping’ me to get ready. Though very cute, it can be quite stressful, particularly at the moment because he likes to point out all the growing areas of my pregnant body (“BIG boobies, Mummy! Wibbly wobbly bottom, Mummy!” Thanks buddy).
We don’t have a bath (sob) and this saddens me every day. In fact, we often have domestic disputes about it (I want to move to a house with a bath!). I do generally shower every day but sometimes life gets in the way (hello wet wipes and Febreze, again – I wish I was joking).
It depends on what day it is, but there’s always an element of teamwork before the first person leaves the house. We have childcare help from family when we’re both working but we don’t have any family living on the doorstep (they’re all about an hour’s drive away) so we’re on our own in the mornings.
For the nursery run, 07:45. For the school run, 08:40. We live in Devon, so if I’m heading out for a day of meetings – which are predominately London-based – I’m usually up and out before 7am.
Tinted moisturiser with an SPF is a great time-saver. And a decent coat! Even if I’m looking a bit ropey I find that a nice mac makes me feel brighter. Plus perfume and a smile. Fake it ‘til you make it, and all that.
I hope you can use Sarah’s life hacks – totally with her on the baby wipes. I’ll be checking out the Vitamin C face mist tomorrow – and second a good coat especially this time of year. Go full-length and who knows what you’re wearing underneath. Sometimes the mornings are just too hectic its all about making life easier.
Thank you so much Sarah – may you continue to inspire and keep women’s sanity intact for many more years to come.
The incredible thing about Instagram is getting a look into other peoples lives… people in other cities, countries, worlds apart from your own lives… whether they’re a doctor, stylist, blogger, architect, scientist, teacher, model… yet they’re going through the same life experiences, dealing with life changes as they become mothers, balancing their old life, work or no work, with motherhood. Like postcards sent from a distant pen-pal, little snippets of other peoples lives. And with that comes comparison of course. But comparison doesn’t have to be negative, it can be a powerful instigator, a motivator, a drive. When you look through that squared peep-hole at someone elses (edited) life – take inspiration, lessons, ideas, feelings and use them in your own life.
After having Margot I would spend a lot of time browsing through those little squares in the middle of the night whilst feeding. And I would find myself wondering how these other mums are managing to get out the door looking like they didn’t have a care in the world when I was struggling to brush my teeth before the nursey-school run.
So I thought well why not ask them…
And here it is, my new Edit series: The Successful Mother.
And I am incredibly proud to say that for my first Edit of the series I spoke with a mother I find immensely inspiring, kind, beautiful, open and honest as well as being a powerhouse of a business woman and mother.
Introducing Charlotte Groeneveld also known as ‘The Fashion Guitar’.
So Margot hit six months nearly a month ago now… six whole months of being alive. So innocent and sweet – and bringing so much joy into our lives. As well as sleepless nights, milk spewed clothes and an ongoing back ache from the usual hip carrying that happens all day most days. But its been incredible… so here is the story so far. How we have found it as a family, me as a mum and Vivienne as a sibling. The products I have loved the the equipment I swear by.
I think it took us a good two months to find our groove. I am a routine-mum, I love a good help-book (Baby Whisperer my favourite) and so when Margot came along it was straight back to the E.A.S.Y. routine that worked so well for Vivienne. But not quite as simple, you have nursery school pick ups and drop-offs to consider, feeding Vivienne breakfast lunch and dinner on schedule, an over excited Vivienne at Margots nap time or bedtime…. It was much trickier. And I had to learn to be a little more chilled out – if she wasn’t having her milk at exactly 11am on the dot – it didn’t matter. The rules I stuck by and still do are – awake no longer than two hours at a time. Any longer and she gets overtired. After the first month we would never feed her milk in the night, she was ‘tanked up’ before bed at 6.30pm and given a dream feed between 10pm and 11pm. If she woke in the night we would settle her and leave the room swiftly. It doesn’t stop her occasional 5am wakes but she knows she’s not being fed and drifts back off. Wish I could do the same but that mind just goes into overdrive – as does the Instagram thumb! We dropped the dream feed last Thursday, accidentally really after we forgot it and she slept through until gone 7am. Tried it again the next night and she slept through again – the extra milk was leaving her filling her nappy each morning and hence the early wake ups.
The E.A.S.Y. routine is simple but not always easy to establish, the earlier you start the better – and once you have its heaven! So ‘E’ stands for eat, ‘A’ for activity, ‘S’ for sleep and ‘Y’ for you-time. We are on a four hourly schedule so she eats for example at 7am, plays until 9am and then naps – this is when I will try and shower/clean the house/tidy up or actually blog/shoot my outfit for you. Heres the link to the book I follow – its fantastic right up to toddler years… Baby Whisperer solves all your problems.
I remember the feeling I used to get when I would drop Vivienne at nursery and skip back home to work… on my own. Yep I miss that feeling. With nearly three years between them I definitely got used to the freedom you have as your children grow older. Not having someone attached to your hip 24/7. So it was and still is sometimes quite hard always being with the girls. I just have to remind myself how precious the time is, and just hug and kiss and soak it all up as I am also so aware how quickly the time passes – soon I’ll have another bossy little three year old I am sure! And Vivienne six and even more of a diva! Oh dear! But the things I have found the hardest is loosing that me-time I got used to and I am not talking long lunches or mani-pedis, just the simple things. Waking up to a shower, being able to pop out for milk, being able to go the loo when I need to and not being tied down to feeding schedules. But having a baby again – oh it is just gorgeous. Seeing all the stages again – she’s just incredible, her smile makes me feel a million dollars – even better than a shower would! And this time next year I know I’ll have that me-time back. Nothing is forever – sadly.
Theres nothing better than seeing your babies play together – the look in their eyes when they look at each other, like real love. Margot just thinks Vivienne is the world, she’s obsessed with her. She just has to walk in the room and Margot will start giggling with joy. When Vivienne helps Margot up if she falls down it melts my heart – when she runs and gets her a toy or a tissue for her (forever) runny nose, just the sweetest. After a lot of reading up beforehand I wanted to be prepared for any sibling rivalry from the start. But with a lot of talking to Vivienne and making sure we are never giving Margot all the attention at home Vivienne has been very good with her. In larger family groups she can act-out for attention but she’s learning. She hugs her and plays with her handing her books and toys. She gets quite upset when Margot is upset I can see that sisterly looking out for one another thing there already. I am in no way delusional having two sisters myself – I know its going to be rocky but so far the foundation has been laid and its so magical watching them together.
The Snuzpod – such an attractive little bedside crib – we had it in blush and loved everything about it. You can rock it to soothe the baby, it comes with great handy accessories, perfect storage area underneath, great matching bedlinen and although we didn’t attach it to the bed you can – there are straps for different bed styles. Its a great size too – Margot was not a small baby and she was in it for quite some time with our house move and having to re-plaster and decorate her bedroom.
The Bugaboo Donkey – if you’re looking for a double buggy I highly recommend this. We have actually only used it as a double a handful of times. We mainly use the buggy board which is great and off centre so you don’t trip up. The side cart basket is perfect for your baby bag so when Vivienne uses the buggy board the bags not in her way. And then you have a giant basket underneath for all your shopping – whether thats food or clothes! The basket also makes the perfect place to slot the scooter into when they’ve had enough scooting and want to climb on. I love it! Its huge and takes up a tonne of space but I love it so much I am not ready to let it go quite yet. Plus Margot sleeps like a dream in the cosy-toes!!!
The Babyzen Yoyo – the best travel buggy ever ever ever! And hopefully eventually when Margot is napping less that this will be our only buggy as much as I LOVE the Donkey I am having to store it in the car boot these days as its so big in the house. This folds down like a handbag, is so lightweight and easy to use. My husband loves it too! But using the buggy board on it is a little tricky as Vivienne pulls on the buggy handle and it can topple back plus it weaves around a lot with the extra weight of Vivienne, so I tend to use just when I have Margot.
The Sleepyhead – does what it says on the tin – makes them sleep! We have just taken Margot out of hers actually as she was getting too big. We did consider the next size up but decided to trial without and she’s been fine so going cold turkey. But for young babies it gives them the security they love to feel as the sleep.
Ewan the dream sheep – we had to buy Margot her own one of these as I worried Vivienne would kick-off if we gave the baby her one. I also chose a different colour deliberately so there weren’t any upsets. Money well spent though. Seven months in and as soon as she hears Ewan she turns her head to the side, snuggles up and closes her eyes.
Tommee Tippee perfect prep machine – we bought this when Vivienne was a baby and was the best piece of baby equipment we purchased. Out of storage and cleaned up its proving incredible again. I think they’re much cheaper these days too – heard offers at Asda for about £40!!! Sure we paid close to £200!
Cybex Cloud Q car seat – this is amazing if you expect to be out a lot with the baby in the car seat as it goes completely flat. No more worrying about how long the baby has been in the seat for. A gentle warning though – it is a little heavier than most because of all the incredible safety features so with my nursery drop-offs holding the car seat I had to swap back to Viviennes old car seat after a few months as Margot was such a whopper I couldn’t manage her anymore.
Stokke tripptrapp – bought Viviennes second hand on gumtree and was the best purchase so Margot got a new one… went for walnut again so they match our Ercol chairs. In my opinion the most stylish highchairs and they grow with your child. We used the newborn seat at the start which Margot loved, now on the babyseat and eventually, like Vivienne, she will just sit on the chair part. I actually sit on it sometimes to work too, and makes a great ’emergency’ chair come Christmas!
Mamas and Papas chair – this was an impromptu ‘dash to the shops to buy’ purchase when Margot couldn’t sit up on her own yet but was getting upset on the floor. Love it! Used it at the start of weaning too and so easy feeding them as they sit in front of you on the table.
Jumperoo – love! I had a second hand one for Vivienne and then sold it on… my sister lent me her second hand this time… probably sixth hand by now who knows but as long as its cleaned up who cares. They’re fantastic pieces of kit!!
Jem and Bea bag – I had this from before Margot was born and still use it everyday. Its an investment piece so great if you’re having your first and expect more. When I had Vivienne I had a nylon iCandy bag that went with the buggy. Served its purpose but looked horrific after a few months. The Jem and Bea still looks brand new, nothing like a nappy bag, and I am always proud to use it.
Pacapod bag – I have a backpack version and my husband and I both love it. You keep everything separate so things actually stay clean and it looks good on men and women. Again its not the cheapest bag on the market but with baby bags I do think you get what you pay for. Bear in mind you will be using it everyday for atleast a year probably longer – and more than once if you have more than one child. Its a great gift for people to club together and buy at a baby shower too.
Humidifier – we have used this so many times for Margot now, when she has had a cold and now she is teething. It really helps her breathing when she’s all blocked up/runny nosed. We have the Vicks one and works so well all night.
iPad – there I said it shock horror – but when you need to deal with a newborn emergency, or even just separate bed times, having the iPad for the toddler is a god-send.
Baby skincare products…
This Works baby – I use the pillow spray for Margot, I just love it for myself and she does drift off well so I hope she loves it just a much. Such a beautiful scent too.
Aveeno – the hair and body wash is great for dry-skin, and I love the soothing wash especially when they have rough patches or nappy rash.
Weleda – I have been using their products on Vivienne since she was tiny and their new range is great for both the girls. I can wash Viviennes hair with it and she’s doesn’t get (quite as) fussy because of the colourful animal themed bottles.
Mustela cradle cap cream – used it once and worked immediately!
Little Aurelia – the most beautiful collection of baby skincare I have ever seen. I’ve been using the pillow spray on Vivienne, she loves the little drawings on the bottle. And the wash on them both in bath. It bubbles up if you run it under the tap – Vivienne loves to have a few bubbles in her bath but I have to be so careful as she’s had eczema in the past and I don’t want it returning.
Water wipes – the best – enough said. Buy them in bulk size to keep costs down like these from Asda. And use them for Everything!
Any baby questions please don’t hesitate to comment below and I’ll come back asap – i.e. the next nap time!
Here’s how our conversation went and what her dad had to say about her comments…
Me ‘What’s the coolest thing Dad’s ever done?’ Vivienne ‘he lets me watch golf before bed’ Richard ‘I love having this time together each night when I get in from work and its something I don’t share with you so its nice that Vivienne enjoys it with me’
What’s Dad’s favourite thing to do? V -‘go to work’ R ‘I am putting this down to how happy I am when she sees me each night’
What’s the most embarrassing thing Dad’s ever done? V ‘dancing’ R ‘haha thanks Vivienne’
What does Dad do at work? V ‘he sits on the train’ R ‘I might need to explain the commute a little more here’
If Dad could have any job in the world what would it be? V ‘errrr… drive the train’ R ‘at least she gets the concept of promotion’
What makes Dad really happy? / What does he love doing? V ‘watching golf – oh and chasing me on the scooter!’ R ‘she’s hit the nail on the head here’
What’s Dad really good at? V ‘making mummy happy – and hide & seek’ R ‘that is adorable – I love that she sees how happy we are together – and I do love a good game of hide and seek haha’
What’s the cheekiest thing Dad’s ever done? V ‘when he gets me – and tickles me’ R ‘this is when she always calls me a cheeky monkey copying you’
If Dad could be anyone in the world, who would he be? V ‘Dustin Johnson’ R ‘This is incredible – I love that she remembers his name! Our golf sessions are working – she’ll be a golf pro in no-time at all’
What’s the funniest thing Dad’s ever done? V ‘silly voices when he reads me books – he sneezes funny’ R ‘Glad the voices haven’t gone unoticed’
What was Dad’s favourite holiday? V ‘skiing with his friends – without mummy’ R ‘Shows she knows I like my alone time perhaps?’
If Dad could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? V ‘in the sea’ R ‘more alone time?’
What’s Dad’s favourite food? V ‘meat – he’s always eating meat’ R ‘I do like a good steak’
If you were going to get Dad a gift, what would he like? V ‘a bigger car – he says it is far too small’ R ‘is it too much to ask for a newer for Fathers Day?’
What makes Dad laugh? V ‘me!’ R ‘she certainly does’
I’m sure Vivienne’s dad would rather be part rockstar but Vivienne and I agreed on Part Dad / Part Sportsman. Golf seemed to be weaved throughout the conversation and to be fair Richard completely agreed with all of her comments even if her comments did make him chuckle.
After a browse together on the iPad we (me) chose a gorgeous leather score hard holder which we personalised with his favourite quote he always has Vivienne tell him before setting out the door to play a round… ‘One shot at a time’ and signed with love from both Vivienne and Margot. I love that he will always have something from his daughters when he is out playing.
I wish I had filmed the converstaion to show her dad – so funny watching her ponder the questions and how certain she was of some of the answers. So this year grab your phones and become the interviewer asking your kids what they think of dad, get the perfect most thoughtful gift from their answers, and then you can show him the interview afterwards! Memories to treasure!