Monthly Archives: July 2017

25th July 2017

It’s my life – and I’ll pick up my phone if I want to…

I’ve felt the pressure for a while now. People going on Instagram strikes, others blogging about the virtues of a digital detox, the constant reminders that too much screen time is bad for us, the rants about mothers picking up their phones in the park and ‘neglectfully’ ignoring their kids…

The pressure to put down my phone and ‘reconnect’ with the real world has been ever present in my mind for a while now, making me feel like a bit of a crap mother whenever I scroll through my Facebook feed or upload a photo to Instagram during their waking hours.

So this holiday, I had a plan.

I’d have a digital detox.

It would clear my mind, make me feel like a good mother again, and I’d come out the other side feeling much better for it. It would be the digital equivalent of heading to a strict Thai detox resort for a month – and whilst I wouldn’t have the skinny thighs that living on a liquid diet under palm trees would bring, I’d be glowing from the inside like the virtuous, digital-free, totally-present mother I’d become.

I couldn’t wait to feel smug about it.

But when I got here, holed up in this beautiful Umbrian villa for two weeks, do you know what?

I didn’t want to do it.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realised the pressure had got to me. I realised that I’d started to believe that those moments of ‘time out’ scrolling peacefully on my phone when the kids were happy playing, or scoffing their tea, or watching an episode of Peppa Pig made me a bad mother.

Other people’s opinions had got to me – because whilst I knew I wasn’t neglecting the trio at my feet, I couldn’t help feeling like I could be doing something more productive for their wellbeing. Perhaps preparing a craft activity or organising a drawer of clothes. Sitting lazily on the sofa with my phone felt nothing less than naughty – and if anyone had walked into the room unexpectedly, I’d probably have hastily dropped my phone behind a cushion and adjusted my face to a fake smile that said ‘oh look at the little darlings – I’ve been simply sitting here and watching them for hours!

But having given it all some thought out here on this Italian holiday, I have realised it’s all utter nonsense – because when you work a 24-hour shift as a mother (and some days, I really do attend to their needs every hour of the day and night), it’s OK to have some escapism. It’s OK to have a moment to connect with friends, to check what is happening in the world  – or even, god forbid, play a bit of candy crush on your phone.

I’m pretty sure mothers throughout history have had moments of escapism, well before the days of social media. Reading papers, picking up the phone to give Aunt Susie a call while the kids play, watching an episode of Neighbours during nap time, getting stuck into another chapter of that Jilly Cooper novel while their kids ate dinner, or having a good old chin wag with friends over coffee at play dates. There have always been ways to zone out and get through the day – but I bet none attracted the wrath of the sisterhood quite like a mother scrolling on her phone.

So now back to my holiday – and the very nature of two weeks in the sunshine means that I’ve looked at my phone 80% less than I usually do, but I’ve enjoyed those rare moments of solitude. Having a browse when I’m sat in the passenger seat of the car, lying next to Mabel at nap time in a cool, air-conditioned room and picking up my phone for a while, or scrolling through pictures and videos with a glass of wine every evening before dinner and sending to family and friends.

It’s not cool to admit that your hobby is scrolling through social media on your phone, but I am going to say it.

I enjoy it. It helps me to escape for a while. It keeps me in touch with friends. And sometimes it’s the only thing keeping me sane when there is play dough all over the floor, untouched dinners on the kitchen bench, and a baby refusing to sleep unless I’m lying alongside her.

And I’m not going to bow to pressure to stop.

After all, it’s my life – and I’ll pick up my phone and scroll through social media if I want to.



3rd July 2017

Eight years ago today, my boyfriend left

I waved him goodbye, walked up the stairs, and sobbed big heavy tears into my pillow.

We were 26 and 28 years old then – and we had been living in Blackheath in London with our 10-month old puppy. Our weekends consisted of walking across the heath to the farmer’s market with our dog on a lead, stocking up on food from the various stalls, nipping into the village store for the papers on our way home, and then sitting in front of a roaring fire as the hours passed slowly and lazily. In the evenings, we travelled into London and met friends, laughing, chatting, and drinking wine and cocktails early into the next morning.

We were happy – and I was sure my soul belonged in London.

But he worked in finance – and with the ‘credit crunch’ paralysing the financial industries in the UK, we both decided it was a sensible decision to accept a job he had been offered in Dubai.

It was a mutual decision – and in hindsight, it was the right decision. But I still felt like the world had been ripped out from under my feet on that warm July day back in 2009.

He told me he would give it 6 months and we’d see where we were. I moved in with my parents – furniture in the top of their garage, dog running a-mock in their house, and clothes crumpled in several suitcases. I flew out to Dubai to visit him every other month – and he returned the favour on the ones in between. That six months passed slowly and difficultly – but he didn’t return. I forgave him when he proposed on a sunny day in Greenwich Park with the sparkliest diamond and a view over London that will forever be etched in my mind.

That 6 months turned into 18 months – and we got married on a December day, with our beloved London blanketed in snow. And as January ticked around, I packed those belongings in a suitcase once again, kissed goodbye to our dog on my parent’s doorstep with tears pricking my eyes, and made my own way to Dubai to begin our life as husband and wife.

That was 6 and a half years ago now – and 3 kids and 6 homes later, we are still here.

I often think about our life in London – and my heart aches. But I don’t think it’s aching for ‘home’ – I think it’s aching for the simplicity of life before kids, when my skin was glowing with the benefits of regular sleep, when friends answered pleas to meet up within minutes, and the buzz of London living perked me up far quicker than a mug of strong coffee.

I adored that city and I adored that life – and if you had told me that I’d be living in the Middle East as a mother-of-three in eight years time, I’d have laughed until I was on the floor, then thrown a bowl of cold water over your head to sober you up.

I never had wanderlust. I never travelled the world after I finished university. I never wanted to live anywhere else in the world. Each to their own, but the idea of being an expat just wasn’t appealing to me – so I am as surprised as anyone that I am still here in the desert, bringing up my kids in a 45’C eternal summer and barely stepping out of my flip-flops in nearly a decade.

But I don’t regret the move we made for a second – and whilst my love from London has never waned, my love for Dubai has grown strongly and steadily alongside it as the years have passed. The city that embraced me as I grew three children in my belly, that has given me friends as close as family, that has offered us opportunity after opportunity, and that truly is ‘home’.

The pang in my heart I feel for the London skyline is still there – but now I feel the same for burnt orange desert dunes, for palm trees swaying the breeze, for silver skyscrapers jutting into a flawless blue sky, for starfish and pale pink shells on the shore, for the smell of jasmine in the air on a warm evening, for the sound of crickets when I head outside to my car. And for the people, every colour and every nationality, living shoulder-to-shoulder alongside us. Two cities and two homes.

Eight years ago today, my boyfriend left.

And I will never regret letting him go.