I travelled from my home in Glasgow last week to see my parents in Northern Ireland. This was the first visit home without my husband or kids for years. Having the opportunity to press pause on our hectic family life for just a couple of days felt like such a precious gift
These stress levels are extremely familiar to me. I've lost track of the number of Christmases lost worrying about work in between cooking for the starving masses, wrapping presents, keeping everyone happy and ensuring everything looked picture-book-perfect for the stream of 'perfect family' essential insta-snap.
I am 35 years old, run my own business and overall am pretty happy with my life the way it is. However, being single can be hard during the Christmas season, and even more so when surrounded by my coupled-up family.
Most of the plane journey involves you discussing the weather, worrying about if your suitcases will be lost, how warm it is going to be when you get off the plane and if anyone ears have popped yet.
Why is it that when you go away on holiday in the UK - whether that's to a caravan, campsite or cottage - all those boring, everyday things you do at home magically become fun? We took the kids to Yorkshire for a mid-week break last week, and we noticed a few things while we were there. Recognize any of these?
08:30: Tipped the toy basket over. Didn't fancy anything in there. Mummy tried to simulate car racing on the floor with tiny cars but she does it all wrong. Got cross at Mummy's toy car ineptitude.
When mummy tells you we are taking baby and niece swimming, a sudden sense of worry...no hang on a minute, a sense of, "I don't even like swimming; I'm afraid of my head being submerged under a pool of urine infested water", follows.
The whole de-cluttering thing is everywhere at the moment and I'm sold on the concept, it totally makes sense but I'll be honest I struggle with the reality.
Modern parenting can be confusing. As a mother, I just want to know how many times a week I can feed a three year old biscuits for breakfast and still not blush whenever I say 'We don't really eat sugary snacks in our house'.
Sick happens. Usually when you've just put your best silk top on for a keep-in-touch work day and wanted to prove you have Totally Got It Together. Embarrassment happens. Usually when your toddler announces the person in the (broken-down?) line next to you is really old and ugly.
Family broadcasting is big business - there are lots of kid shows on air. As the gatekeepers of screen time, mums often play a role in which TV programs their children like. What your kids watch says a lot about you as a parent. For instance...
For Christmas all I want is the following: A bath. Alone. You know without being interrupted ten minutes in by a screaming toddler. I want to be able to smell a lovely Lush bath bomb and not a rotting Thomas the Tank Engine Toy approximately one inch from my face.
When I imagined maternity leave, I thought I'd be hopping all over London to visit the museums, galleries, and restaurants that I'd always wanted to go to but never had the time whilst working full-time. The reality is a bit different.
Fun, exciting, relevant and readily available, these gifts are exactly the same as the old versions - or have a modern twist. You can enjoy these presents with your kids, as you relive your childhood.
If you begin to type "being a middle child" into Google, your first three suggestions include "being a middle child disadvantages", "being a middle child syndrome" and "consequences of being a middle child". How very optimistic. So what are these disadvantages?
If you (and your children) have always dreamed of seeing some of these iconic predators in the wild, there is now a surprising choice of accessible - and safe - family wildlife holidays available. Here are four of the best places to go.