For my first column I wanted to write about things I love but that relate to being a busy mum. I’ve recently blogged about my family’s favourite places to visit, and had a great reaction.

That got me thinking…So much of my life is about things that make my daughter smile or, if I’m lucky, laugh that adorable, tinkly giggle. Knowing she is happy is what being a parent is all about.

But sometimes, I realise I put myself second, and every once in a while I think we all need to treat ourselves. So, I wanted to share some of my favourite ways to do something for me that I know will put a smile on my face (no, not a huge glass of wine).

First up, and most important is making some time for myself. It sounds obvious, but I always find that in the hours that my daughter naps, I always end up doing the laundry or other chores. Every once in a while, I get into bed, open my book (or even better, a new magazine…bliss!) and relax, wantonly ignoring the dishwasher, which is shrieking to be unloaded. After a really bad week, I try and get a couple of hours out of the house (I call it ‘Daddy time with Fifi’, he calls it “Mummy’s spending money again’, with an inevitable frown), when I try and meet friends, go shopping (to those unfriendly shops that you can’t navigate a buggy around) or have a beauty treatment (more on this in a second). I always come home feeling happier and able to cope with a little bit more than usual.

I also try and make time each week to exercise. I am not suggesting signing up for lifelong gym access unless that works for you, but going for a long walk, a jog, swim, yoga class or whatever you fancy certainly makes me feel good. Not always the act of exercise (I hate being out of breath, something of a stumbling block to getting fit), but the feeling afterwards is amazing. And it definitely helps me with self-esteem, which is much needed on the beach after a baby (or in those dreaded baby swimming classes, where all the other mothers look like Elle Macpherson on a good day).

Next up, is having a beauty treatment or massage. This costs a little more than a quick jog around the park, but every now and then a good manicure or blow dry can make the world of difference after a long week. If your budget is a bit tight (after buying a double buggy, my budget is most certainly on the tight side!), a long, hot bath and a DIY mani/pedi, while someone takes the kids to the park, can work almost as well. I could not live without Aromatherapy Associates bath oil (I love Deep Relax, but they are all deliciously soothing), and a little goes a long way. For nail supplies, there is nothing that Sally’s Hair and Beauty at the bottom of North End Road doesn’t sell. So no excuses for bad nails and tense shoulders…..(at least until they return from the park!).

Give it a go sometime soon, take an hour (or more if you can) and do something entirely decadent, maybe even just an afternoon nap! Heaven!

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