Quick Style Fixes for Busy Mums

It's not vanity. It's self-respect.

Archive for the category “Parenting”

Old haunts – good for the soul.

What I didn’t realise about motherhood, until it happened to me, was how many cogs I had to adjust in my brain. I couldn’t just put myself first – there was a small, sometimes shouty prawn that told me she was more important.

This meant I had to wave goodbye to some aspects of my old life. The problem, though, with sacrificing things – my job,  lie-ins, instant gratification, a decent pelvic floor – is getting carried away.

I made so many adjustments and sacrifices I forgot I didn’t have to lose everything from my old life.

Am I the only one? Do we only think we’re good mums if we constantly toss our loves, pastimes and hobbies on the sacrificial flames of parenthood?

It’s early days, but I’ve found myself going back to old haunts and old interests recently and finding the whole thing really UPLIFTING. I’d even go so far as to say it’s felt SPIRITUALLY CLEANSING. I feel stronger. 

Here are some things I’ve rediscovered over the last month or two:

  1. The pub in my old hometown. A lunchtime drink and a walk by the canal. Amazing.

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  1. Messing around on the Clifton Downs. I used to come here all the time when I’d just moved to Bristol, marvelling that I’d swapped this:Commuters in LondonFor this:

clifton downs

 

But after I moved to South Bristol and got married and had a kid, I stopped going, I have no idea why. It was one of those mental barriers that needed to come crashing down. Anyway I recently took P. and bought us both an ice-cream, and after I’d taught her how delicious the chocolate cones were, she left me alone to read a section of my newspaper in peace! It had been at least three years since I’d spent an afternoon here and I couldn’t believe I’d left it so long. Definitely one of my spiritual homes and I’m glad I reconnected.

the downs

  1. Spending a few hours in Bristol Central Library. This is one of those places I used to spend hours in. Recently, I read about a series of events about writing being held in the library, and managed to go along to one of the sessions one sunny Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago. I hadn’t been in for years, having stuck to my local, much smaller library, but as soon as I walked in it felt amazing. And I spotted this little post-it note on the wall:

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  1. Cycling the Bristol Bath cycle path. This place meant a lot to me when I first moved to Bristol, and I would try to cycle along it at least every couple of months. Hadn’t been back for about 5 years and as soon as I got on my bike I started grinning like a fool and didn’t stop, not even when I swallowed a bug. Look at this view!

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I know it’s really, laughingly simple. Pubs, libraries, bit of grass, and cycling. Like I said, it’s early days, but I feel inspired.

Partly I think it’s just time – now P. is two years old, things are much easier in terms of where I can take her and how portable she is. But I can’t wait to try out other stuff and adventures on a domestic scale that I’d felt were out of my reach before.

What’s your experiences of visiting old haunts since you’ve become a mum? Do things feel just the same, better, or worse? Where would you love to go again if you could?

 

Breastfeeding fashion

In honour of two friends who have had babies this month, Worn out & Wonderful is thinking about fashion for breastfeeding mothers. I know that women of my mother’s generation made do with a shawl most of the time, and all credit to them. Yet it’s important for a new mum to feel pampered, and a top bought specially for breast-feeding is fab for when you go out on those tentative first outings.

Some mums feel dubious about shelling out specially for nursing tops when it will only be worn for a short while. If you’re thinking of having more than one baby, it’s worth investing. Alternatively if you’re planning on nursing for a while, and think that you might wear a top twice or three times a week, consider the fact that out of all the items in your wardrobe, it might be the one you use the most for six months – a year. If you’ll get loads of wear out of it, then can pass it on to a friend, it’s not a frivolous thing to consider. Breastfeeding is a huge commitment to a baby; why not treat yourself as a reward?

It goes without saying that a good nursing bra is essential.  Click on the description to be taken through to the website relevant to each item.

Mamaway Orange Stripe Nursing t-shirt, £29

Mamaway Sporty Nursing Top, £48

JoJo Maman Bebe Nursing and Maternity dress, £39

Printed sleeveless nursing top, JoJo Maman Bebe £15 (on sale)

Cloud 9 nursing t-shirt, Babes with Babies, £34.95

Millie Feeding Top, Babes with Babies, £40 (also on sale)

Don’t forget to drink lots of water and eat a good lasagne now and again; you need loads of food to convert into milk so stay fuelled!

The Mother of all Guilt

There’s ordinary, work-a-day, normal guilt, and then there’s Mother Guilt.

Mother Guilt is the most intense, pervasive, crafty type of guilt I have come across, and it is bad.

There is a scene in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus which sums up Mother Guilt. A squid-like alien spies a hapless medical researcher, played by Rafe Spall, in a underground cavern on a planet far away.( Look away now if you don’t want any spoilers.)

After staring at Rafe Spall, it uncoils itself, winds itself around Spall’s arm, crushing it. As Spall screams in agony, the serpent plunges into his mouth at a fast speed, to wind its way through his inner organs, cause an agonising death, ruin a promising career in research and cause grief to his family.

That is what Mother Guilt is like. If you don’t run away once you spy it, it will invade you.

These are a few things I have felt guilty about today. In chronological order – I’m good like that.

  1. The bagel P. had for breakfast this morning probably had a lot of salt in.
  2. That the four minutes I spent putting on make-up, and the five minutes I spent trying to fix some earrings, was not time spent with her.
  3. I should have read a book with her before she had her lunchtime nap.
  4. She spent too much time in the car as we had to travel across the city twice.
  5. That I was totally silent in the car on the way back because I had a lot on my mind and she might have been bored.
  6. That the new washable markers we bought were toxic and might possibly poison her should she put them in her mouth.
  7. That the time spent on this blog would be better spent cooking/cleaning/devising new and exciting adventures to stimulate her little precious mind.

Pur-lease. Mother Guilt is a phenomenon that seems to affect every mother, sooner or later. We feel guilty if we breastfeed, we feel guilty if we don’t. We feel guilty if we go back to work, we feel guilty if we don’t. We feel guilty if we feed them chips, bread, pre-bought pasta sauce, not enough vegetables. We feel guilty if we give them meat, we feel guilty if we don’t. We feel guilty if they watch television. We feel guilty if we’re not constantly chirpy, smiling, and entertaining.

As for wanting to blow-dry our hair in the morning or take our time over our eye-liner?  We would implode with the guilt! Selfish, neglectful us!

One of my favourite bloggers, Blue Milk, writes:

We’ve internalized the notion of rugged individualism so deeply that we believe we are solely responsible for our children’s health and well-being. And we believe that this belief, instead of being a sign of hubris or of despair, is an entirely normal and natural thing. This leads us to place terrible pressure upon ourselves.

Thank you.

When I speak to mothers of older generations, although things were harder for them physically, it becomes apparent that Mother Guilt was not around quite so much. Mums thought nothing of putting their babies in a cot in the garden and leaving them for three hours – it was on doctor’s orders. Children were fed white bread and dripping, left to play outside for hours unsupervised, and you can bet there were no mums wringing their hands over their gin about what they were doing wrong.

Fast forward to today and it’s a different story. Vivacious, wonderful women, who are doing a great job of nurturing and bringing up children, spend great swathes of time in a negative, self-critical mindset. Precious spare time is spent agonising over the choices we have made in childcare. I rarely come across a truly carefree mother who is utterly confident that what she is doing is right. I’ve even noticed that if I see a mother who has obviously taken time over her appearance I can feel myself silently judging her for being so obviously groomed. No wonder we’re all walking around with unkempt hair, bad trainers, and straggly eyebrows. Mother Guilt is in our innards and won’t be happy till we look like this.

Repeat after me: I am doing a great job. I can spend time in the morning on looking nice and it will not cause my child to go into therapy twenty years later.

Walk away from the squid, get back on that spaceship, go home, and leave the madness several million miles behind you. Well done.


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I lurve me a good pocket.

After sixteen months of being placid and easily bossed about, P. is beginning to flex some toddler muscle. In other words, she is turning into a little terror becoming assertive. In a good way. At the weekend, all she wanted to do was crawl up and down stairs. She wanted to do it until she landed on her face and cut her lip which swelled up and made her look a bit like Marlon Brando. And then, after a brief period of despair, she still wanted to do it, even after blood spurted out of her mouth. (A fact I’m quite proud of, admittedly.)

At times like this, only the coolest, softest, and easiest outfit will suffice for mothers. And this outfit must have pockets. When you are in charge of a small, wriggling, sometimes bleeding, sometimes snotty, sometimes teething baby, pockets are essential for tissues, nappy-wipes, and raisins. Mostly tissues. Jeans have pockets, as we know. But as most of us live in jeans or trousers during the week, it’s nice to ring the changes. So….. what every mum needs is a good pair of pockets with a fabulous dress attached.  A looser fit is essential; it means you can bend down and crouch right next to your baby/toddler, or run after them, without any restrictions. It also means you can wear with flat shoes and not look weird.

Here is my pick of loose-fitting, casual, wonderful dresses with pockets. They are all machine washable.

Terry dress with 2 pockets, Lands’ End, $40 (£25 approx):  http://tinyurl.com/83e7g86 80s Yellow Pocket Dress, VV Vintage, Asos Marketplace, £45: (only one of a kind so if you like it, hurry!) http://tinyurl.com/7o962nn Flower Print Maxi Dress, H’Muse, Asos Marketplace, £22. http://tinyurl.com/7oy3rez I can’t tell if this dress has two pockets or one. It’s so pretty it doesn’t matter. Alethea dress, Monsoon, £39. http://tinyurl.com/83b2pgt

Striped Pocket A-line Dress, Marks & Spencer’s, £29.50 http://tinyurl.com/7vtn4ck Midi Dress with cutwork neck and pockets, Asos, £60. http://tinyurl.com/86hbgw4 PS If you do buy any of these, I can borrow them, oui?

And before I forget –

Where I say ‘girlfriend’ a lot.

It’s very common, once mums become mums, for a cycle of negative thinking to begin.

“My best days are behind me,” they sigh. “I’m just a mum now.”

“I don’t feel stylish; I feel knackered.”

“I’m too busy looking after a baby to think about what I’m wearing.”

If you ever start thinking like this (and, let’s be honest, you probably have) you need to stop and have a word with yourself, girlfriend.

I don’t know about you, but I looked terrible in my twenties. I didn’t know how to apply eyeliner. I would cower with fear if I went anywhere near a Mac counter. I wore weird clothes. I sweated a lot (out of nerves) in my busy corporate job. I was a nervous, sweaty mess.

Sadly, I wasn’t the only one. Teenagers and young women can sometimes be painfully shy and insecure.

Luckily, we’re not. We don’t have the time to be. Not once we’ve navigated our way through the occasionally tricky waters of motherhood. Once you’ve challenged doctors, nursed a sick newborn without a manual, told complete strangers your gruesome birth story, and stood up to health visitors, parents, family, former employers, anyone who has tried to tell you how to bring up your baby, and that woman at the playground who  thought it was cool to smoke on the swings, you aren’t just a mum. You are a woman, girlfriend.

And that, my friends, is where you want to be.

We have a confidence and inner sass that can only come from wisdom, self-acceptance, time and experience. Our style has evolved, our faces are strong and knowing, and we know that cheap jeans from H&M do not belong in our wardrobe. We may not shop every weekend, but when we do, oh how well we do it

Forget about what you looked or dressed like in the past. See yourself anew. Who is that fabulous fearless woman?

Oh that’s right, it’s you You might be knackered, your hair might be a mess, that might be pea puree on your cheek. But who cares, right? You have wonderful bone structure, your sense of humour is amazing, and you’ve no time for nonsense. I call that sexy, girlfriends.

So shine on, you crazy diamonds. Your best days are ahead.

Quality time with your baby and your clothes!

Whenever my wardrobe is looking a bit like this:

I find it quite hard to feel enthusiastic about getting dressed in the morning.

I’ll just pull out the first thing I can find, sniff it, and then put it on. Not stylish.

Keeping my clothes organised and colour coded is not something that comes naturally to me. Nor do I like giving myself more housework. But I have invented a wonderful game for P. and me to play which transforms the mess above into something more organised while also giving us quality time together.

Here it is!

The Magic Tidy-Up.This takes about half an hour and can be slotted into either one afternoon in the week or if you’re working it can be done one rainy Sunday afternoon.

You will need:

One very messy wardrobe

A camera

Lots of smiles and hugs

Music to play in your bedroom

One mug of coffee for you (optional)

A few bags

One willing child – any age

Skills taught:

Imagination, sorting, dress-up, hand-eye co-ordination, object permanence, self-reliance, logic.

How to play:

Take the child into your bedroom or wherever your wardrobe is. If they are very young, ensure they are comfortable and can see what you are doing. If they can’t sit up yet, prop them up with pillows near you. If they are mobile, close your bedroom door so they are in the room with you and you don’t need to worry about where they get to.

Now for the fun part. How you go about sorting out your clothes is up to you. I like to pull all the clothes out; P. loves this bit and loves to help!

Once all the clothes are in a pile in front of you, you can then go through it together. If you have toddlers you can ask them to find you all the jumpers, or everything that is green. P. is still a bit too young for that, so I give her something very special to look after – it’s normally a hat or a handbag, something she doesn’t play with normally – while I quickly go about folding and sorting out the pile.

She really likes belts and can spend a while working out where they go, while I quickly sort out my t-shirts, jumpers, shoes, etc. (Obviously don’t leave the bedroom if they are playing with belts or shoelaces, keep an eye on them at all times!)

Occasionally I’ll break off to show her something, like a new texture, or a scarf. Sometimes I’ll give her something to hold and say ‘Isn’t this soft?’ or ‘What colour is this?’ If you have a young baby, you can wave a scarve around her head so she can see the fabric fluttering in the breeze. Scarves are also great to play peek-a-boo with, a valuable lesson in object permanence (the knowledge that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s disappeared.)

P. is at the age where she likes to try things on. She can spend ages trying to fit her feet into one of my shoes, or putting a hat on then taking it off. Yesterday she spent about half an hour playing with a shoelace on my dad’s shoe before ‘taking it for a walk’ (dragging the shoe along the floor with her as she crawled.) One of our favourite games is to  just put hats on – you can always pick some up for nothing in a charity shop. They are such good fun to have around babies and toddlers and you can take some great photos for your album.

If you haven’t gone through your wardrobe in a bit, you’ll probably find a few clothes that you never wear or suit you any more.  Put them in one of the bags you brought with you. If your child is a bit older you can ask them to do this for you – this gives them a ‘job’ and helps them feel involved.

This game is fab for time-pressed mums for many reasons. Not only do you manage to get an organised wardrobe and have a clear-out, but your child or babies’ senses are being stimulated on lots of levels.

By watching you and helping you, they are learning about shapes and textures. Playing with hats, belts, shoes and handbags helps younger toddlers learn hand-to-eye co-ordination. When they start to try things on, they are sowing the seeds for a vivid imagination; an essential tool for childhood. And watching you put things away teaches them about putting like-with-like things together. In this way they are learning about the world and the way it can be logically thought out. Hats go with hats. T-shirts go with t-shirts.

Also, by letting them play undisturbed with scarves, shoes, etc, you are letting them learn how to entertain themselves; this is such a great lesson for kids to learn and will make your job a bit easier. If you play this game regularly, not only will you have a happy and stimulated child but you’ll also find it much easier to put on a fabulous outfit in the morning!

You don’t have to play music, but it can be really nice to listen to music together as you play this game. Classical music is fab for babies brains as the irregular chords and silences make their brains work extra hard. It’s also very nice to listen to. If you have a musical or rhythmic baby, you will notice that at some point they will start to dance to music. P. likes to lift her arms and sway when the music gets dramatic. I just turn my radio to Classic FM, but if you have a CD player in your bedroom you could beg, borrow or buy a CD of classical music for babies. Check out this list for inspiration:

Classic FM: Music For Babies compilation (currently available on Amazon for £12.20 new) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classic-FM-Music-Babies-2005/dp/B0007WBDQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340356931&sr=8-1

Classical Baby: a compilation (currently available on Amazon for £14)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classical-Baby-Various-Artists/dp/B000GFRIR2/ref=pd_sim_sbs_by_10

Alternatively you could ask your parents to recommend or compile an album which they think would be suitable for your child, this is a nice gesture for grandparents particularly if they live a bit further away but still want to be actively involved.

How do you manage to stay on top of your clothes? Let us know!

FEEL AND LOOK GOOD IN JUST FOUR MINUTES.

P. has shown me how precious time is. In her wonderful, indefinable way, she’s shown me how the time we have together here on this earth before she turns into a rebellious teenager who hates me is really very short.  Every moment I get to spend with her needs to be cherished.

In the same wonderful, indefinable way, I’ve also learnt that every moment I get to spend in the bathroom getting ready in the morning should also be cherished, because it is equally as precious, and equally as short.

It’s taken time, and lots of mistakes, but I’ve fine-tuned my morning routine so I can go from bedraggled to  ‘how you doin’?’  in minutes. Here’s my artillery of quick style fixes to help you feel wonderful and not so worn out.

 These are just the ones that worked for me, and needless to say don’t put yourself under pressure to use every one every day. I just found that a few of these are enough to put the smile back on my face!

  1. A good primer. A primer is a thin layer of normally transparent fluid you can apply to your face before applying foundation; it takes seconds and lasts all day. It smoothes out your skin and fills out any pores or lines on your face so your skin glows and looks and feels smoother. When my days are really hectic or tiring this helps me stay looking composed and I think primer makes me look less tired if P. has been up during the night. Some have anti-ageing properties and vitamins as well.  I know some mums don’t wear make-up – even if your only staple is a tinted moisturiser you could still try wearing a layer of primer underneath as it would transform your face and make your moisturiser work all day. I know I’m wearing primer when I look in the mirror at 4pm (typically the hardest time of day) and think ‘Not bad.’ I am currently using Mac’s Prep and Prime (£21.50) but I’ll be trying Boots No.7 Airbrush away £19.50) as it looks great:
    ImageThe beauty of online shopping means you won’t even have to leave the house for this essential style fix. I used to suffer from flushing and blemishes especially when run-down or stressed and wish I’d known that Boots No 7 also did a Colour Calming Primer (£11) as it looks perfect for stressed out new mums.

    APPLICATION TIME: 5 SECONDS2. My second quick style fix is mascara. I don’t wear mine every day, but on the days I can be bothered, I’m always grateful I made the effort. This is one of those magic face fixers which takes me from tired to groomed in seconds
    .
  2. I don’t wear lipstick during the day when P. is around as I don’t want to smear her face with it when I kiss her, so mascara is a great stand-in for quick and effective definition.  It also seems to make a hastily thrown together outfit feel a bit more deliberate. I have a cheap water-proof mascara as well for when I take P. swimming.
    APPLICATION TIME: 10 SECONDS3. A good hair-fix. There are days when brushing, washing, or styling my hair seems out of reach. Those are the days I reach for a dry shampoo like Battiste to cheat a freshly-washed hair look, then pull my hair back in a scrappy sort of pony-tail and fix it with a hair-band. I don’t know how these humble pieces of elastic manage to turn messy mum hair into chic hair but do it they do without asking for anything in return. The look is very fashion-forward; just ask this model sporting the look:
    And look at Natalie Portman wearing this low-key look at a premiere; it will take you anywhere!
    Accessorise are fab for hair pieces like this and you can also pick up some simple ones at Boots, Superdrug, or Tesco next time you’re buying nappies. Just remember the understated look is much easier to pull off; if you go for something too floral or girlie it is harder to look effortless.

    APPLICATION AND STYLING TIME: 1 MINUTE4 PERFUME. There’s something about a spritz of scent that lifts my mood and makes me feel like myself.  Even on the days I have no time for make-up, then perfume and earrings make me feel ready to face the world; as a wise woman once said, you are never fully dressed without perfume.  I love Chanel no. 5 which mum gave me for Christmas a few years ago but to be honest a dab of sandlewood works just as well. If your birthday is coming up and you have generous friends, check out this list for inspiration: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/23/last-minute-perfumes-presents
    Too pricey? The Body Shop is also fab for good value perfumes and they often have on-line deals.
    APPLICATION TIME: 1 SECOND5.  A TAKE-ANYWHERE JUMPER It may be June, but as I write it’s been raining on and off for a fortnight. This is one of those times when all I want to do is pull on a soft and simple jumper in the morning. I think it’s worth investing in a jumper that will see me through for years and with the right accessories they can be one of the most versatile and luxurious pieces in my wardrobe. They are fab for mothers because they are fuss free and practical, rarely need ironing, can hold their shape for ages and can be extremely figure-flattering. They are perfect for mums everywhere because after a hard night looking after a sick or teething or breastfeeding child, jumpers provide the ultimate solution to being stylish with no effort. Check out this American Apparel one from Asos (£32) – all it needs is a bold necklace and you’re good to go:
  1. I also love this Paul Smith Black cable knit jumper (Black here refers to the line diffusion, not the colour; it IS red, you haven’t momentarily gone colour-blind) £116:

    This Boden Chic-Revere jumper (£60) is perfect for mums; understated enough for coffee mornings and singing sessions at the library, but elegant enough to make you feel wonderful when you wear it. If my husband is reading this, I would love this for Christmas. Thank you. Also check out Gap, M&S ( I love M&S jumpers so much they make my heart explode sometimes) and charity shops for some real finds. We Brits do jumpers a lot, it won’t be hard to find a good one.

    APPLICATION TIME: 30 SECONDS TO THROW ON IN THE MORNING

6.  A PETER PAN DETACHABLE COLLAR This is a wonderful style trick; a small collar you can wear individually with anything:

Detachable collars are like necklaces; to be worn with individual pieces. I wear mine with a jumper but they also look fab with plain t-shirts, vests, and dresses. I love how they elevate a simple top to chic without being too showy:

You can also get slightly more glitzy ones for when you’re heading out for well-deserved drinks with your girlfriends or boyf:

Check out the Etsy and Asos websites if you like this look. Ebay also has vintage lace ones which can be stunning.
TIME TO APPLY: 30 SECONDS

7. A STRIPEY TOP Don’t even get me started on stripes. Stripes are amazing – Coco Chanel single-handedly invented the idea of women wearing them and if it’s good enough for her…

James Dean also looked nice in a stripe. I know he wasn’t a mum but he sure was pretty. And he’s eating a cake in this picture and looking a bit moody. Maybe he’s pretending to be a mum?

If James Dean isn’t enough to convince you, I have opened up the doors of my wardrobe and flung all the contents on my unmade bed to show you: look at how many stripey things I own!


The evidence of a woman with very repetitive shopping habits? Think again. Stripes are one of the most versatile patterns for a wardrobe that has to work hard. You can wear stripes with khaki trousers or skirts for egalitarian chic:

You can wear them with with a maxi skirt for a vital and wonderfully casual look – perfect for mums:

And finally, of course, you can wear them with a great pair of jeans. Just ask Brigitte Bardot! I have tried doing this pose but I think it’s best left to the French. C’est chic!

This is such a wonderful, timeless look and that’s what mum fashion is all about; effortless and easy chic. Definitely a winner for time-pressed women anywhere. The only thing about stripes is, know when to stop. This is when stripes go bad:

TIME TO APPLY: 50 SECONDS

8. A great pair of jeans These are obviously a must for women of any age or size, but I think they really come into their own once you have children. Like all the clothes on this list they are completely fuss-free with no need for ironing and if you have the right size and fit for your body they are worth their weight in gold. I would recommend not buying any good new jeans until your baby is at least one as over the first year your body changes a lot; it would be such a waste to spend nearly £100 on a fab pair only for them to become too saggy a few months later.
You don’t want to try this look:

For the period of time between having your baby and losing your baby weight, I recommend jeggings. I know they have been a bit maligned in the press recently because they became so ubiquitous (and, really, the name – jeggings?) but if worn well they can work wonders. The elasticated waistbands are much more comfortable than too-tight jean buttons and when they fit right they can flatter and support any wobbles.  Marks and Spencers do a great range for a very good price of £25.
Once you feel that you are back to your pre or post baby weight, I would definitely recommend investing in a pair of jeans. I call it investing when it is expensive. You should try this, it makes shopping sound like something you’ve been hired to do by the IMF.

You are going to be wearing these so-called expensive jeans through every single season and probably once if not more a week. If you get the fit right they will flatter and support your legs and bum like no other item in your wardrobe . Because they work so hard, it’s definitely worth spending time and money getting good ones. I got some wonderful Levis Curve jeans (approx £90) from my local House of Fraser that fit like a glove but I also found some brilliant cheaper ones at Mango (£45)  for when they are in the wash. If £160 seems too expensive to spend on three pairs of jeans, consider this: if you wear your jeans five times a week every week of the year, that’s 260 times a year. If you divide £160 by 260, it’s working out at about 62 pence per day. That’s a very small price to pay for a great pair of legs and a good bum! ( I am very good at this sort of woolly economic thinking. But it is true.)
Tip: to get great jeans, visit a department store and ask an assistant for help. Try flirting if it helps the assistant stick around and become more like a free personal stylist. Getting good jeans is definitely a two-man job.
APPLICATION TIME: 20 SECONDS TO PUT ON

9. A COLOURFUL PAIR OF SHOES
 When I look around at the baby groups and coffee mornings that I attend, I see a lot of trainers and boots on mums. Now these are very practical and have their place, but I yearn occasionally to see a pair of shoes which don’t quite fit the mould of functional efficiency. I want to see colour, adventure, and a shoe which makes me SMILE. As a mum it’s important to break the rules and reassert your individuality; I think any of these beauties would be a great way to introduce a little bit of sunshine to your life.
H&M Ballet Pumps, £14.99

Office Marigold patent flats, £35:

Clarks Orsino flats, £44.99

APPLICATION TIME: 50 SECONDS

10. SOME FABULOUS PYJAMAS  When I got back from the hospital after P. was born, I spent almost a week in bed, trying to get to grips with breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. How I wish I’d had a pair of lovely pyjamas to comfort me and cheer me up. I made do with some old maternity leggings and several shapeless t-shirts, even when friends and family came round to meet P. Next time round, I’m going to invest in stylish cotton pyjamas (and several bottles of champagne) to keep me going through those mad first weeks. These beautiful floral pyjamas from online boutique Hush, £50, will do the job. They would also make a great present for first-time mums.

APPLICATION TIME: 60 SECONDS

11. GOOD FRIENDS There is a wise saying: ‘The best mirror is a friend’s eye.’ It’s so important to your well-being, mojo and sense of self to spend time with true friends; people that love you and that you love back will make you glow and won’t cost a penny.  Here are some of my friends who always make me feel gorgeous:

Anna one drunken NY:

Me and Mel:

Meg (holding P. when just a week old):

My oldest friend Claire, me, and our girls:

My mum:

I could put many more photos up here but come on; this ain’t facebook. Suffice to say, I love the women in my life.

APPLICATION TIME: NOTHING
COST: FREE – THE ONLY THING YOU HAVE TO SPEND ON A FRIENDSHIP IS TIME. (AND A FEW COCKTAILS ONCE IN A WHILE)

So there you have it. Eleven fast and effective style fixes that will take a grand total of FOUR MINUTES of your time in the morning. I hope it’s been useful; I’d love to hear any other tips and comments that you use to feel fabulous quickly

A few things I wish I’d known when my daughter was a few weeks old:

  1. If  you want to wash your hair in the morning and then blow-dry it, do it. The  world isn’t going to come to an end if you spend 15 minutes on yourself!  If your baby isn’t crawling, he or she can sit in the room with you and watch you dry your hair. You can turn it into a game by letting them touch your hair both wet and dry, or if you keep a ball near by, you can make it move  across the room with the force of the hairdryer. Once your baby is crawling they can crawl up to you to see what you’re doing and can chase the ball across the room. By exposing children to the sound of a hairdryer early on, you’re showing it’s nothing scary. This is good training to get your babies used to household noises and you’re also encouraging their  independence by showing them you have things to do in the morning, but because  you’re with them they’ve nothing to be scared of.
  2. Don’t spend a fortune on new jeans or clothes just because you are sick of your post-baby outfits. Your body is still changing and within a few months they will be too baggy for you. (Yes they will.) I went and bought lots of mediocre floral t-shirts and mail-order jeans which are now relegated to the basement.
  3. Don’t agonise over your figure or looks. You body has been through major upheaval and apart from a few gentle yoga stretches, it’s unlikely you did  any real exercise through your pregnancy. That’s at least fifteen months (if not more) of you not having any opportunity to lose weight. I promise you that once your baby is a bit older you will find it easier and have lots more energy to exercise.
  4. And don’t worry about that two stone; it will come off. While you’re breastfeeding and doing night-feeds, if you need to have cake during the day, have cake. Whatever gets you through.
  5. Be kind to yourself. Don’t scrutinise yourself in the mirror too much. Think about how much you are doing for your baby and be proud of yourself. Be patient and trust in things righting themselves eventually.
  6. A cheese sandwich for lunch every day in the week is ok. If that’s all you have the energy to come up with, that’s fine.  If you can one day throw in a bit of cucumber into your sandwich, you’re doing great. Tips for healthy realistic eating to follow.
  7. All  the beautiful, much-loved clothes you’re worried you won’t ever get to wear again? You will.
  8. One day your baby will sleep for two hours at lunch. No I’m not pulling your leg.
  9. Give your baby to your partner/boyfriend/husband/friend/relative for an afternoon once in a while and hit the shops. Or your favourite shop. (My  spiritual home is Marks and Spencer; it just comforts me.) You don’t have to buy anything; just walk around, try things on, see what you like. It can be wonderful and replenishing to walk around a clothes shop without a pram in tow and have  the opportunity to see what suits you. You can fit this trip in between breast feeds and once you stop breastfeeding you can do this for at least three hours. This is valuable time for you to see current trends and shapes and try out ‘looks’ you don’t have to pay for. Then have a coffee and read the paper in a cafe before going home.
  10. Mobile hairdressers can come to you once your baby is in bed for the night; there is a woman who can thread your eyebrows in the shopping centre near the library. Clothes and make-up can be delivered and you can follow exercise DVDs in your sitting room. You can treat yourself to a facial every few  months if you give your baby to your partner for a Saturday morning. All  those little things that feel out of reach can still be done.
  11. It’s  not shallow to care about what you look like. You are showing your baby that you value yourself and take a pride in your appearance; very important lessons to learn.  You need to cherish the things that put a spring in your step, no matter how trivial or shallow it may seem: your baby will feel your happiness and reflect it back to you. A happy mum means a happy baby.
  12. One day you will look in the mirror and say: ‘I’m back!’

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