Gratitude is officially good for your mental health. (Harvard says so, so it must be true.) As a self-care practice, it’s great to record things you’re grateful for – big and small. So here’s Thankful Thursday – my list of things I’m grateful for this week.


This week I’m thankful because:

  • After I shared Carrie Grant’s excellent post about the horrors of the school run when your child is different, someone has given us some money to cover an extra night of after-school club every week until Christmas, which also means 2.5 hours more peace and sanity. I am so grateful I cry a little bit whenever I think of it.

  • It was great to meet some of my Twitter friends at the Adoption UK conference. Hello! Also, I had a flaming zombie cocktail (think rum on fire) at the networking evening. That was rather excellent.

  • My December Daily planner (pictured above) arrived this week. I love a bit of scrapbooking geekery. This is command central for all my Christmas planning – presents, food, Christmas card lists, self care, all the things – and memory-keeping: daft things the children say, what we’ll do during the holidays, that kind of stuff. All in one lovely notebook. My life is complete.

  • I bought this jumper (from Selfish Mother) for wearing to TAC meetings. It amuses me. You know when they insist on going around the room so everyone can introduce themselves? Sorted.


  • Parents’ evening happened last night. We all survived. Joanna is having a much better term than the second half of last year and seems to be really engaging with everything much more. Charlotte’s sensory issues are becoming more pronounced as she is less able to keep up with her peers and tries to self-soothe with whatever sensory inputs she can get her hands/teeth on. She is still so creative and imaginative and when she is able to express herself with stories and drawings it is a complete joy to see.

  • I gave the SENCo a folder full of handouts, book catalogues and leaflets I’d collected for her at the conference. I was particularly pleased to be able to point her in the direction of Stuart Guest’s presentation (lots of other resources on this link too) and give her and Charlotte’s teacher copies of NOFAS UK‘s booklet Teaching an Child with FASD (this link takes you to a free downloadable PDF of the booklet).

  • I’ve been having a good week behind the scenes blog-wise, and have sorted out some technical things (behold – new sharing buttons below!) and social media stuff (especially Tailwind tribes for Pinterest). I love having a bit of time to do this stuff, so that has made me happy.

What are you grateful for this week? Share the Thankful Thursday joy and let me know in the comments – it’s good for you! 😉 


Let’s face it, for most of us, self-care is a struggle. It’s so tempting to think of it as an optional extra that it can be hard to prioritise it and make it happen. We sometimes wonder why we should bother with self-care. And when we do it, we wonder if we’re doing it right! We all have self-care questions, challenges and obstacles. So let’s discuss them and work out some solutions.


I’d like to write a post answering your self-care questions and talking about potential solutions. So if there’s something you’d like me to address, please leave your question in the comments below.

  • What are your biggest self-care challenges?
  • What’s one thing you’d like to change right now to give yourself a break?
  • What resource would really help you this week?

I’d love to hear your ideas, questions, and comments. Thanks in advance for your contributions!



Gratitude is officially good for your mental health. (Harvard says so, so it must be true.) As a self-care practice, it’s great to record things you’re grateful for – big and small. So here’s Thankful Thursday – my list of things I’m grateful for this week.


This week I’m Thankful because:

  • Pete and I had a lovely couple of days in the Cotswolds for our wedding anniversary. Thank you grandparents!
  • The clocks have changed and the evenings are lovely and cosy. Log fires and soup and blankets and happiness. Love it.otter page markers
  • The children are back at school and we’re all in our routines again. Hooray!
  • NaNoWriMo has started and I’m back in my book-writing groove.
  • I made some lovely new stationery purchases at the weekend including these little otter sticky page markers. (Swoon.)
  • Christmas lights have started to go up in our neighbourhood – we spotted the first ones on Tuesday. Spotting the Christmas lights is an annual ritual for us (and a great distraction for tired and hungry children on the way home from school).
  • My December Daily kit has arrived ready for documenting the delights of the season next month AND I had a shipping notification for the new December Daily journal. Did I mention I love stationery? 😀

What are you thankful for this week? Let me know in the comments. It’s good for you! 😉 


I’ve talked before about how my own self-care is a bit less about posh shower gel and a bit more about trying not to eat an entire jar of Nutella at a single sitting. My perfect self-care scenario involves someone else looking after the children for a weekend, just so I can hear myself think, have prolonged uninterrupted conversations with Pete during daylight hours, maybe go for a walk in the woods, and lie on the sofa reading books all afternoon, just like the old days. Bliss. But what about your self-care?


I’m writing again

November is here, and with it, the annual phenomenon of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). My self-care book isn’t a novel, but NaNoWriMo’s extra accountability means I knuckle down and get the words on the page in a way that doesn’t really happen as well otherwise. (Yes, I’m an obliger.)

So as I get my thoughts on self-care and adoptive parenting into the form of Actual Chapters, I’d love to hear more about you and your own challenges, solutions, and ideas.

If you could go back in time to your own adoption preparation group as a guest speaker and give them (and yourself) advice about self-care, what would you say?

What is it that you want from your self-care?

I’d really like to have some more conversations about what self-care looks like for you. If you haven five minutes, you could tell me via a quick survey. You might have seen it before, but it’s been a while, so if you haven’t or can’t remember, please have a look. You’re also welcome – as always – to leave comments on this post or to talk to me on Twitter or my Facebook page.

Take the self-care survey

What do you think?

Do you think there might be a difference in what people want from self-care depending on whether they are extrovert or introvert? Male or female? Single or in a couple? Have younger or older children? I find the whole subject really interesting and would love to continue the conversation, so please respond below with your ideas!

If you found this post helpful or interesting, please vote for it. Thanks! 🙂


I love Instagram: pretty pictures, encouraging messages, community friendliness. It makes me happy. What I see there is that way because that’s how I’ve curated it. I carefully choose who to follow so that my feed is full of things that I find inspiring and uplifting. That is, I use Instagram as self-care (as you might expect).

Recently, a few people have asked me for Instagram advice. I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share what I’ve learnt from some people who really do know what they’re talking about.

So here are my top five tips on using Instagram as a self-care resource.


1. Follow people that inspire you or make you happy.

We all know about the dangers of seeing other people’s lives filtered through social media and comparing them to our own unfiltered and messy reality. This is not an exercise in being ‘Pinterest perfect’. If an account makes you feel grumpy, jealous, miserable or otherwise negative, don’t follow it!

Curate your Instagram feed so it’s a place you want to be. Click To Tweet

You don’t have to follow someone back because they follow you. Curate your Instagram feed so it’s a place you want to be. Here are some of the accounts I follow – some adoption-related, some self-care, some funny, some for the great styling and photography. (To see the full list, visit my profile and click ‘following’.)

We constantly tell foster and adoptive parents- Self Care is NOT selfish. It’s critical! (h/t @mikefoster2000)

A post shared by Confessions Of A Parent (@confessionsofaparent) on

The best of both worlds! 🥂🍪 @hol_fox #ABMlifeissweet

A post shared by Elsie + Emma A Beautiful Mess (@abeautifulmess) on

2. Find your tribe using hashtags.

Hashtags are the best way to navigate around Instagram. I’ve heard them described as labels for room in which like-minded people can gather. Some tags used in the adoption community are #adoptionuk, #ukadoptioncommunity, #adoptionstory, #adoptionjourney, #adoptionrocks, and #adoptionislove.

Tailwind (an app) can help you find the best tags to use for your posts: you upload your photo to the app, type a caption, and it automatically suggests relevant tags. (The video below explains how it works.) I’ve used it for a while and found it helpful.

In the Tailwind app, once your post is tagged and ready to go, you can choose to click through and post to Instagram immediately (it holds the image and text on a clipboard for you), or it will automatically schedule it for the best time to be seen and ping you a reminder when it’s time to post. (It can’t post automatically for you because that violates Instagram’s T&Cs.)

Be aware that animal ‘adoption’ enthusiasts also use the term to promote re-homing pets, so searching in some adoption tags (such as #adoptdontshop and simply #adoption) can produce pages of cat and dog photos, which may or may not be what you want to see!

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 tags on each post and there is research showing that 16 is the optimum number. Some people prefer to put the tags in the comments rather than the post caption. This makes it cleaner when the post is pulled to other platforms (eg Facebook).

3. Post your best pictures.

Take bold, well-lit pictures. Use natural light and style your pictures a bit (see @abeautifulmess and @iamalisonperry for examples of great styling). Remember that the most popular photos on Instagram are of coffee, stationery, houses, flowers, and babies. Some people like to have a theme to their posts (such as a collection of front doors of different colours). Many like to edit their pictures so they have a signature style (@theordinarylovely is great at this). It might take you a while to work out what your style is and that’s fine – it’s good to just have a play with it.

It’s usually best to edit your photos in an app other than Instagram. Even if you don’t want to spend hours making it perfect, you’ll probably want to lighten the shadows and increase the saturation most of the time (I do). The iPhone photo editor isn’t bad at this for quick results. If you want to get a bit more technical then try Lightroom. If you you want to get the best possible results, use a DSLR camera and Photoshop (and then please tell me how on earth you find the time for that as an adoptive parent).

4. Be intentional with your posting.

It can help to use a scheduling app. Again, Tailwind can do this, other options include Later and WhenToPost. Regular posting (ideally daily or more frequently) will help you grow your network.

5. Engage with others

It’s interesting to look at people’s pictures and captions, and fun to join in and post your own. But it’s important to remember that the point of a social platform is to be sociable! Leave friendly comments on other people’s posts and you’ll find others are more likely to engage with yours. Again, searching for a particular hashtag will bring up content that’s relevant to your interests. I love a good #bulletjournal, #letterboard, or #coffeegram.

Instagram as self care: a summary

So in summary,

  • Have fun.
  • Follow stuff you enjoy seeing. Use hashtags to find it.
  • Don’t allow stuff that makes you feel bad into your feed.
  • Unfollow at will.
  • Follow me, if you like. I’d like that.

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Before you go…

  • If you found this post helpful or interesting, please click below to vote for it. Thanks! 🙂
  • You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I love to talk to fellow adopters.
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