Home owner at 21 : Getting a mortgage and buying our first home

how i bought a house

Part Two

If you haven’t read Part One Click here

(Images at the end for mobile version)

I was sat in my parents conservatory scrolling through rightmove, zoopla and every estate agent site I could find, realising everything on here is still too far out of our budget. This should’ve been the first red flag to say, ‘just be patient and don’t try to rush things,’ but I ignored every single sign that told me that. I’m not a patient person.

We had booked to view multiple houses, some were lovely but the road they were on wasn’t great and I didn’t know how comfortable i’d feel walking around alone at night, others were just giant sink holes portraying our spirits at the realisation of what we could afford. Sometimes the estate agent didn’t even turn up to show us around and other times we were welcomed in by the home owner themselves and had to listen to them waffle on in every room about all the sentimental things that had occurred in each space. Some were three bed and some were two bed, some had a new fitted kitchen and appliances, some were just utter shite and some looked like it belonged to their grandma only a week ago before she’d passed away leaving her entire life inside the house.

We had been to many but realistically none of which we could afford, as first time buyers we were going to set up a help to buy ISA. This means that whatever you save, the government will give you 25% of that amount towards the purchase of your house, however the maximum you can receive is only £3,000 and one thing they don’t make clear is that this cannot be used for the deposit, the solicitors or any type of fees related to the purchase before the exchanging of contracts! So basically its like a little bonus AFTER you’ve managed to buy your house (.gov).

Another option to look into is the Help to Buy Scheme, these are for new builds predominantly. This is where you can pay only 5% deposit, have a 75% mortgage and the remaining 20% will be an equity loan. This is ideal if you have the funds and the monthly income to be able to have a mortgage (and prove it profusely) but haven’t got the spare cash for a large deposit. Bear in mind, the 20% is a LOAN and will have to be paid back, however you do not have to pay it back within the first 5 years. This is probably the best option, but, and this is a big but, you need to have an absolutely impeccable credit score to be able to secure a 75% mortgage.

It sounds so simple, and you probably think, oh well that’s fine because ive never had a credit card, ive not been behind on any bills, I’ll be fine. No. This is false, that credit score needs to be watched and looked after more than your own child. I have never had any credit cards or been in debt, this is a point down to getting a mortgage because if ive never had to pay anything back that ive borrowed how can I prove I can pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds for a mortgage?

Secondly, they go back five years when assessing you for a mortgage, this means any kind of slip up in payments at all in the last five years is under scrutiny. I am talking payments for pretty much ANYTHING. If you are buying with others, all of theirs will be scrutinised also and one tiny slip up could cost you being accepted for a mortgage. If you have a low income, chances are you aren’t going to be accepted for a substantial mortgage because you need to be able to prove you can pay back the monthly costs and still live a comfortable life, you need to prove this for a minimum of 3 months. If you are a currently a student, the likelihood is you wont get a mortgage, they don’t take into account your student loan payments but they assess any income unrelated to student finance (so a student loan is not classed as your income). When assessing how much you can pay back monthly, it is essential you can prove you can pay back what they assess your mortgage to be, plus interest, plus what the government see fit as a substantial living cost for your age/status/job for a minimum of at least 3 months. You will also have to prove you have had the substantial amount for the deposit in your account for this time also. If you work for an employer, proving your earnings requires a minimum of 3 months, however if you are self employed, you need to prove your earnings for a minimum of 3 years (this posed a problem for me), if you work for an agency things can differ from different banks/building societies/mortgage lenders/etc, but the likelihood – like being a student – is you won’t be accepted for a mortgage.

When March came I’d come across a house I knew we could afford, it was a lovely house with an absolutely huge garden. It was within the outskirts of the area we wanted to move to, not too far from either of our parents and was a price that was exceptional for Birmingham prices. We had decided we would probably have to look at a two bed as it was all we could afford but the bedroom sizes were large and there was no obvious faults with the house. I went with my mom to view the house and despite being distracted by the bright fuchsia lipstick the estate agent was wearing, I was in awe of finally being out of the conservatory and on the way to owning this house. Id already moved in in my head and pictured the entire Ikea catalogue inside the rooms. The lady had informed us that the house had fallen through at the last minute, only a week before contracts were being exchanged (that is the final part of buying a house) so she was extremely keen to sell and would most likely accept less than the asking price. She had also completely refitted and refurbished the attic and fireplace/chimney to fit safety regulations and there was a new heating system fitted, so that night we made an offer of £135,000 (asking price was 140k) and she accepted. I popped the pink prosecco and we celebrated in the garden, thinking this was it.

All we had to do now was secure the mortgage. We had just under the 10% deposit (the standard required deposit, but would have the full amount before the contracts exchanged as the process can take months, so that’s a few more months to put more money aside) what more could go wrong?

But as we frantically applied to bank after bank, different loaners and mortgage lenders we were just being consistently rejected due to the fact we had a ‘low credit score’ and the fact that I was currently a student meant I was viewed as a “dependant” (Meaning they viewed me as a non income earner and took this out of johns monthly payments to ‘sustain’ me as if I was his child). Because I am self employed (I work on social media and blogging) this meant that to not be seen as a ‘dependant’ and as a contributor to the mortgage I had to have been earning a high wage in self-employment for over three years, and provide bank statements going back the whole three years to prove this, which of course I did not have, so there I was now a liability.

We were in desperate need of talking to someone who actually understood all of this and why exactly we were being rejected. We’d never missed a council tax bill, never missed a rent payment, had the 10% required deposit, it was literally beyond me why we couldn’t get this mortgage. It felt like the whole banking system was just like ‘nah, don’t fancy giving you a mortgage tbh’, for no apparent reason. Also, just to have this conversation to fully understand what the situation was and what exactly was going on, was going to cost us hundreds of pounds. One thing for sure is I was studying in the wrong field, I should’ve become a mortgage advisor or a solicitor where i can literally charge hundreds of pounds just to simply answer a one sentence question.

Luckily for us, John had a friend who was infact a mortgage advisor (its not what you know folks, its who you know, if ive learnt anything in life its to go out and search for friends in useful jobs like they are cattle! [im joking…kind of..] although not all is helpful because, GAVIN IM STILL WAITING FOR MY INCREDIBLE INSURANCE DEAL HERE! Id have thought id hit the jackpot being friends with an insurance broker…)

Anyway, we went to see johns friend all hopeful he could finally sort this out for us. He was amazing really, he explained exactly what all the technical mumbojumbo meant, what it was all the mortgage lenders were looking at/for and explained the whole process to us like the retards we are. He set us up a credit score account so we could see a full credit report (usually these cost a couple hundred pounds to obtain) but despite his good cup of tea making and cute dogs, the results were still a negative. We went through the credit reports and he showed us exactly what it was that was costing us our mortgage.

Now, let me take you back to what seemed like a great night a year prior, It was my 20th birthday, id met my friends up town and we had got inexplicably drunk, ending up in snobs to dance on the sticky floor and wait for hours to take a piss, after breaking the seal. God knows what the night entailed cause I was so pissed I cant remember half of it, but I know it resulted in having a pump truck on our front garden and many hungover lodgers to indulge in a greasy breakfast the next morning. At some point throughout the night however, john had gone missing (this isn’t alarming, when everyone’s drunk we don’t really pay attention to what’s going on and mixed with the fact john likes to have a wonder when he’s drunk, we often lose him for half an hr or so). So, john had done his usual wonder off on a drunken adventure whilst we were digging into a dirty kebab and being sick over the pavement. The next morning, we were all worse for wear and john came in and explained how somehow his jeans had ripped completely across the crotch, so somewhere along his little escapade he’d managed to entirely rip through his jeans and stumble back home in his boxers. Few eyebrows raised here but the more pressing point was he had a really shit flip up phone (he hadn’t entered the 21st century until he met me, I can safely say) that was something stupid like £5 a month on contract that had gone missing, it had fallen from the pocket in the jeans which had ripped off (seriously john what the fuck happened in that missing half an hr). This was a completely innocent act and we were more upset that it had nice photos on the phone than the phone itself, but now, flashforward a year and a half later we realised that that stupid nokia was the reason we could not get a mortgage.

Staring at us, on the credit report was three red flags of £5 for that ridiculous flip phone. When he lost the phone, he simply got a new one, it wasn’t worth anything but little did we know that in the crossover between registering a new contract (he’d used a pay as you go untill he actually got a brand new 21st century smartphone) we had missed a couple bill payments for that phone. 5 fucking pound. This meant the credit score was too low. This, added to the other strains on why we couldn’t get a mortgage meant we were being rejected for a 10% deposit, 90% mortgage. The only way to be able to get a mortgage on the house we had put an offer for, was by submitting a 15% deposit and receiving an 85% mortgage with high interest rates. Because we’d made the offer of £135,000 , 10% was £13,500, we now needed 15% which would have been an extra £6,750 to make the £20,250. We didn’t have just an extra £7k lying around (rounded up £6750) and therefore had to pull out of buying the house.

The following few days I spent crying and feeling low thinking how we would be stuck in my mom’s conservatory for another 6 months until we could save up enough to buy a house with 15% deposit. But life goes on, I had my surgery booked in for the summer and being at my moms meant they could look after me, the dates passed by that our two little ones would’ve been arriving into the world and we put it behind us and celebrated with drinks instead of moping about in the sauna attached to mom’s house.

We continued to save a minimum of a thousand pounds a month for the following few months and I was becoming increasingly desperate to find somewhere before the summer ended. I began searching along the Birmingham trainline instead of inside the city itself, scouting the outskirts of the West Midlands. I noticed a railway symbol on the map with a purple ‘Z’ right next to it, so I zoomed in to find a house for sale right next to the train station. After a few clicks I found that the train from the station goes directly to Birmingham centre (where john worked) and so I considered the possibility of maybe living a bit further out.

I was a little irrational at the time and hastily booked a viewing, seeing only the cheap price and the fact It was next to a train station going to bham and then had to explain to john that the house was infact over 20 miles away. But we were optimistic and we both decided what would the harm be in going to look at the house?

John booked the afternoon off work and we caught the train, marvelling at the fact we got offered a cup of tea on this train and pointed out the countryside views that were so different to the cityscape of Aston we usually passed on the train home. When we got off the train the house was less than 5 minutes walk from the station, we looked outside at it and thought, okay not really what we wanted but it looks spacious. We then noticed the neighbours. The house was next door to God. We had a few laughs both being atheists, at the irony of living next to a functioning church, but I noticed they sold cream teas in the church café so I was sold. At least God wouldn’t be the nightmare neighbour from hell. We were a bit early for our viewing so we took a walk around the harbouring streets, nosing at the nearby shops and all the real ale pubs offering beers straight out of the keg, made in the brewery that stood less than a mile from the house.

We returned to view the house with an estate agent and there’s not much I can say to be honest, from the minute we walked through the front door, it didn’t disappoint. Yes it wasn’t decorated to our taste, and yes there was work that needed to be done, but it was literally three times the size of the houses we could afford in Birmingham. It was three bedrooms with a bathroom the size of a double bedroom, a large garden and a fairly modern kitchen with an attaching lean to for a utility. We left feeling we had a huge decision to make, walked back up to the town centre (which was 5 minutes away) and had a drink in a local cocktail bar. The price of the house was the lowest we’d found, the size was bigger than some of the £200k houses we’d looked at in Birmingham and most importantly, we could just about afford 15% deposit on this house. However, it was in a town we had never been to before, 20 miles from home.

But to skip to the point, after visiting the town a few times, doing research on the area, meeting the homeowner and crying stressed tears, we made an offer. And the home owner accepted.

Now again, in my head I thought great, we hand over the money, exchange the contracts and collect the keys, done. Nope.

The process took four months. FOUR MONTHS.

There were searches and surveys done for things I didn’t even understand or realise they needed to do, it goes through one solicitor to another and the time it took was just ridiculous. Who’d have thought a coal mining search needed to be done on the property? The searches (which may be more or less depending on your property) were; Local Authority, Water and Drainage, Environmental, Commons Registration, Coal Mining, Land Charges, Index Map Search, Disadvantaged Areas, Chancel Repair and Indemnity Insurance. Like Wtf?? I hope john understood what all these were because I just smiled and nodded and hoped I wasn’t being ripped off. Check Fridays move for the definition of these conveyancing searches. Then there are surveys, which included; A basic valuation, a house buyers report and inspection and a full structural survey (again surveys may vary). Check Fidler for further definitions on surveys.

Did I mention each one of these costs hundreds? Well, yepp. After all the stress of saving up the deposit, securing the house and the stress of coming to every result of the searches and surveys, not knowing if today would be the day we are told we couldn’t buy the house because of various issues (after we had paid hundreds for the tests to be done) we were handed a huge bill. I’m not going to lie, we knew it was coming, but we weren’t prepared for the entire cost of the whole process. The whole process requires (can be more or less depending on the expertise and services you required) the (15%) deposit (most commonly 10%), estate agent fees if the house you are purchasing is listed with an estate agent, solicitor fees, mortgage advisor fees, search fees, survey fees, stamp duty (depends on your circumstance and the price of the property you are purchasing), land registry, VAT (if you are required to pay stamp duty) and the bills required for general home owning for the month you are moving in. (I.e, set up the water, electricity, etc, bills ready to move in).

This is where we set up a direct debit loan to a family member, because without them we could not cover the expense of the solicitors, estate agent fees, surveys and searches and the basic fee’s as well as paying 15% deposit on a house. So we can only thank them for being able to give us that extra cash when we needed it. We pay that back monthly with no interest and do not miss a payment.

I’m not going to share the exact cost of the purchase but I did say I would be honest and transparent and I know a few of you have actually asked for figures on my Instagram. So the total cost of purchasing our first home, with all fees included was in the ball park of £25k.

In August 2017, I was 21 and 7 weeks post op, we collected the keys to our home, camped on the floor because we had no furniture and had a picnic. Since then, very slowly, we have been doing up the house and making it into our home and I love it.

We were able to buy a bed after a month of sleeping on an airbed and being propelled into the air everytime john moved, and then in December we finally bought a sofa, now we are preparing to decorate our daughters room as we welcome her into the world, celebrating a whole year of owning our own property. Progress is slow, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

If you want to get onto the property ladder, it is possible, with perseverance and a lot of strawberry daquiris you will get there. Saving money takes dedication but if I can do it (and still stuff my face with unnecessary take-aways) then you can. I understand I am very fortunate to have a partner to support me, as well as an incredible family who I’m lucky to have help me out when I need it and I understand not everyone will have that support network, but you can do it, it just takes time. Me and john are completely financially independent, and I am so so grateful for that, after purchasing the house we literally had to start saving from nothing again, and it is possible to live, play and save at the same time.

I apologise for the length of this post but I wanted to make sure I covered the majority of questions people asked me in regards to purchasing a home.

If you have any other questions relating to buying a house feel free to message me on Instagram.

Thanks for reading

xxx

(Hover on the image to read the caption)

 

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Home Owner at 21 – Part One: The Savings

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First of all I want to state that this isn’t a brag, yes i’m proud of what myself and john have achieved and want to share it but I in no means mean to boast about it. I’m writing this because I said I would be transparent in everyday life and not just the life portrayed online, which is all unicorn lattes and designer dresses. I have split this into two blog posts because its quite a long one and I think can be categorised into two sections: one being, the whole savings and the lead up to being able to make an offer for a mortgage and the second being the process of actually buying the house and the (horrific) struggle of securing it.

Buying a house is not easy, without a helping hand it is near to impossible, but I am going to share my journey at becoming a home owner at the age of 21 and as morbid as it sounds, but imma be honest (because it would be something id consider if I read this, probs cause i’m a psycho)  but no, no one had to die for me to inherit the money to buy a house. (There was many near deaths on my part during this ordeal but I can safely say no one died in the process of buying this house).

There has been a lot of news in the press about the fact that millennials nowadays are most likely never going to afford to get on the property ladder, and whilst this is vaguely true if we are stereotyping the sociological aspects of a millennial, not all young adults can be grouped by this.

In society teenagers and young adults have a typecast of living the #studentlife and whilst some people do like to ride the journey of being the labelled student, binge drinking the £1 shots every night, living out of the overdraft and relying on the words ‘I’m a student’ to justify the fact that your future is still unknown and make yourself feel better, that right now you are just enjoying life and don’t particularly have a plan. There are a vast growing majority of others who, whatever their circumstance or reasoning are having to think about supporting themselves and their families in the long run – in the right now. (I’m not saying that students don’t acknowledge their post uni life, i’m stating that in society it is stereotyped in that way.)

I have a lot of friends who, like myself, got small jobs to support themselves in their teenage years and I also have friends who haven’t worked a day in their life and focused on their education. Neither is right or wrong.

When I was turning 16 my parents forced me (quite literally would’ve dragged me if they had to) to get a Saturday job, and despite my reluctant tries at getting out of this, I ended up working at a children’s farm, in their café. If only I realised what a great job that was then, because I would be so happy to have that job now, working 6 hours amongst animals making coffee and having no pressure of anything, but yknow I was 16 and wanted to get drunk on a Friday night without the repercussions of having to get up at 7am the next day.

Since then I have worked various jobs, part time and full time in different areas of life, I didn’t go to sixth form and instead got an apprenticeship (one in which I have absolutely no use for now in life, may I add) and having been earning the dollar since 16.

It was only from around 18 that I decided to start putting little bits away, sometimes left over money at the end of the month would go into a savings account I had set up or the odd coins from a shift at the pub would go into a smash only money bank, where it was not too easy to get back to it.

I am gonna be transparent with you, I was not an introvert or a “bore”, almost every day in my late teens I would be out drinking and partying, spending money on cigarettes and overly priced burger van food and well, I can openly say I was not someone who saved money enough to let it ruin having a good time.

You don’t need to give up having a social life in order to save money. It may slow down the process in getting to your end goal, but it isn’t something that you have to forfeit just to save up what you want/need.

When I was 18 I worked 3 consecutive jobs, whilst living with ME and Crohns and maintaining a social life and enabling myself to put away a few extra pennies. I could not do this now because at the ripe age of 22 I’m a full blown grandma and my body cant even handle a once a month sesh, let alone a working one (but the progression of my medical issues are to blame for this). Monday to Friday , 10-4 I did my apprenticeship, then on Wednesdays and Fridays I would work 7 – close (note how from 4 – the start of my second job I would be in the pub because I always thought being a little merry to work made me work better, yes, I was an idiot) at my local bar. On Saturday nights and Sunday daytimes I would work for an events company, doing waitressing, wedding set ups, conferences and bar work. These were all in the same area in which I made all my friends and also did my socialising, so I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be with and earning money at the same time. However, in the long run I would not recommend doing this, the phrase ‘don’t shit where you eat’, comes to mind and this played a huge part in my undoing later in life (yes, its as dramatic as it sounds, haha).

I didn’t have a lot of outgoings, I was living with my parents and would pay them a small fee of £100 a month in rent, I had my phone bill of around £40 a month, my travel pass which was also £40 a month and then any non essentials (like a takeaway pizza or an unneeded pair of new pjs) I would pay for myself. My mom and dad still supplied me with the essentials that were household items, i.e, shampoo and conditioner, food that would be for a family meal and would treat me often to a new piece of clothing so I wouldn’t have to fork out for myself, so I lived a cushy life really. Because I was only earning around £500 a month in total it meant I had a decent amount left over every month after paying out what I needed to. I wouldn’t hold back on my spending, if I wanted to treat myself to a new top or the latest make up palette, I would do, however ive never really had majorly expensive tastes. Primark has and will always be my best friend but I can be persuaded by a Michael kors bag or god forbid I see something (EVERYTHING) in Oliver Bonas. Instead any (if any) money I had on my next pay day left over from the previous pay day I would then transfer that into my savings.

E.G:

If I received a £500 paycheck on the 6th of the month, on the 6th of the following month anything left from that original £500 (could be anything from £1 – £200, realistically) would go into another account and I would start fresh at £500 again. So the 6th of every month I had £500 in my account, no more, even if I hadn’t spent all of my previous £500. (Hopefully that makes sense)

*Because I worked separate jobs, pay days would vary but I would stick to one day in the month to round up and transfer any leftovers.

Since then, I have continued to live by the same rule, even now when I don’t have a permanent full time job I try to put away little bits that are leftover each time a new payment comes in. But instead of it being one day a month it is on a job by job basis now.

This is a slow building process but it allows that extra emergency money when you need it, whether it was to save up for a holiday or for a piece of furniture, that is the method I use in order to save up for those luxuries.

Now back to the less technical part after I’ve bored you all with finances…

I had always had this emergency money that would build up, be emptied and build up again and in January 2015 I left home to move in with my boyfriend John. John is older than myself (by a fair bit) and he already had an established career, he earnt over quadruple what I was earning (approx) and had the knowledge and wisdom that came with living life. He was renting a small two bedroom, two up, two down house in kings heath and I moved in with him there. He continued to pay the full rent but I would then pay other bills, the council tax, food shopping, and although our earnings were nowhere near equal we both looked after each other, I would pay what I could, where I could. John has never expected me to pay for something I cannot afford, he has never made me feel pressured because he earns a high wage and I cannot always maintain the same substantial amount every month to contribute but we work together and live comfortably and equally.

We had been living in this two bed house for around 6 months when things were becoming obviously a ‘waste of money,’ We could not refurbish or redecorate the house and little things were just pretty poor. The bathroom leaked and flooded everytime you had a shower, the floor was coming up and the kitchen units were not grouted or sealed in place correctly, meaning the walls were crumbling and the units were becoming mouldy. Don’t even get me started on the garden…

The cost of living in this house was extortionate, when you leave home for the first time, you know there are bills to pay that no one ever mentions or your parents don’t ever tell you they cover but you never fully realise until each day a new bill arrives. Its not just a cost of surviving, (rent, food, essentials, luxuries) its costs for things you don’t even realise you need (a tv licence, the electric bill, the wifi, the water, insurance.) Things I’d never even considered, I never even knew you had to pay for a tv licence, and the wifi I thought was paid by the magical broadband fairy. I thought water came from taps for free and I could turn on and off the lights or the heating as I pleased so when dad always followed us around switching everything back off I thought he was a mad man. But they cost money, sometimes A LOT of money.

All in all living in the 2 bed house was costing us over £1400 a month and what did we actually have? We had a nettle jungle and four plain white pebble dashed walls that we couldn’t touch. We didn’t own anything, we were paying that amount to simply live in someone else’s house and pay for the upkeep of their property. We also had some creepy neighbours who were controlled by their dog and didn’t speak to each other (but that’s a whole other story).

After a lot of conversations over too many ciders we came to the conclusion that we really needed to start saving up more a month and think about getting our own place, so in the long run our money was being put into something we could actually own. An investment. However how could we possibly save up enough money to put down a deposit on a house whilst still forking out enough to live in the meantime?

This is where our family have been incredible. And without them, it wouldn’t have been possible. We approached our families and suggested moving back home, we would cover our own expenses, give them some rent a month and live in their house with them until we could save up enough to move out again.

They crazily accepted, mom because she secretly wanted me back home (and couldn’t cook so was happy to have me back to cook her food for her, sorry mom but its true) and dad I don’t think really had a choice after mom had decided. So Monday to Friday me and john lived in my parents conservatory, which sounds lovely, but it was hard work. No nighttime, no silence, no privacy, we were sleeping in the middle of a glass room like animals on show at the circus. The adjustment to having to follow someone else’s rules again was frustrating, for myself and for my parents. I’d gotten used to buying and eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and now I was like a child again being told ‘don’t stay up too late you’ll be tired in the morning’ the standard parental lectures that ill soon be instilling on my child. On the weekends we would stop at John’s parents to give mine a bit of privacy and time to themselves.

We were now able to save up a larger amount each month and had decided that £1k a month minimum be put aside into savings to go towards buying a house. This theoretically was like continuing to pay our lifestyle back in kings heath, but instead of the money going into a private landlords pocket it was going into our own savings account.

We lived with this arrangement for 9 whole months, and that wasn’t the difficult part. The hard part of securing a mortgage, putting down the deposit and actually purchasing a house was the excruciating part.

 

End of Part one.

Make sure you are following the blog to be notified when part two is published and find out the struggle of actually buying a house as a young first time buyer.

Introducing…Mind A Moment

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I feel weird introducing myself as the creator of Mind A Moment because, although I am, it feels much too formal and like there isn’t really much to introduce.

My blog was born amongst the chaos of dropping out of university after my first year. I had always loved writing and had shown a real passion for it ever since childhood but had never had anything to write about. Ironically, being so lost in life gave me some much needed direction in my writing. My first ever post  did really well, being shared by hundreds of young people who also felt confused about their future. This gave me the confidence to make my blog a regular thing.

I had wanted to start a blog since I was about 13 before blogging was ‘cool’ so all the positive feedback I was getting helped me to forget about the few people who might be laughing at me. I had written about something that nobody else seemed to be talking about and I had messages from so many people praising me for how relatable my post had been. Riding the wave, I scribbled down more things that I wanted to write about and began regularly posting about another taboo: mental health.

I think I always knew I wanted to discuss mental health on my blog because when coming up with a name for it, I wanted something that related to slowing down and taking a moment out of our busy lives. To me, Mind A Moment means mindfulness, a technique that really helped me during some of my darkest moments.

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Fast forward to now, my content has developed with me. I still talk about mental health but in a much broader context. I discuss my (un)luckiness in love, friendship and spiritual healing in a way that I feel hasn’t really been approached before. And through my journey of recovery and self love, my blog has been a creative outlet for me that I am sharing with the internet. My goal has always been to inspire people, to open their eyes and to let them know that they aren’t alone and I hope that I will always continue to do this.

If you like the sound of any of this or want to know more then head over to Mind A Moment or follow me on Instagram

Maddies Blog, Mind a Moment:

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Maddie’s Instagram:

 

To read the previous Introducing… article featuring Our Beautiful Chaos, Click here

 

[Written by Mind a Moment | Edited & Published by Dawson.xo | Photos by Mind a Moment, Maddie Jennings | Subject to copyright]

Baby Name Reveal

I was very up in the air with whether we were going to announce Baby Bathgate’s name before she was born, purely on the basis that everyone has opinions and despite being clear on her name people still feel the need to say to me ‘but what about…’ like, you think I didn’t go through every single tedious blog post of popular baby names? Or stand in Waterstones reading pages and pages of ‘The most unusual baby names 2018?’ before I finally came back to the very first decision we ever made (before she was even conceived).

A lot of people say to me ‘oh but as soon as you see her you’ll probably change your mind, you never know’ and this is true, I don’t know for definite that when I’ve been in agony for 24+ hours and high on any drug available I wont suddenly decide to change my mind. But I’m 99.9% confident I won’t.

If I have to sit through another channel five film where my mom goes ‘oooh! That’s a lovely name what do you think of that!?’ I think I will go crazy. Besides its pretty conclusive now considering we are having personalised gifts and a giant pillow with her name embroidered on. I mean, I’d look a little silly if I named my child something different to what was written on her blankets and I just had some randomer’s name on show in her room like a shrine…

With that said, I know you all mean well and I know the name of my child is somehow a very important aspect of your life, but no Margret, she won’t be named after you and yes Norman, not you either, not even with ‘jr’ on the end, cause she’s a girl (or at least I hope so at this point).

And contrary to popular belief, she ain’t called Frank either, even though my dad has been spreading that around and continues to call her Frank for some strange reason. Sad thing is she’s probably heard it so much at this point that she’ll respond to the name when she’s born.

But to not keep you waiting because I know like 80% of you probably haven’t read anything i’ve written and only clicked on to find out her name (which I take no offence to because I’d do the same and I’m a sucker for click bait).

Her name will be (don’t hate on me if it does somehow end up in a completely different ball park)…

Ophelia Rose Bathgate.

I’ve always loved the name Ophelia since reading hamlet when I was 15 and I was lucky enough that john loves the unusually beautiful name also. The most common abbreviation is ‘Effy’ and as much as I quite like that I think I’ll probably end up calling her Ophelia anyway, purely for the novelty. I’ve already heard a lot of different versions and puns of her name and so don’t feel shy to take the piss, I wont take offence just yknow, keep it jokey. I don’t want you to legit come up to me and call my child bastard or something like we are in Game of Thrones, but I do have a sense of humour so you’re all good to make a joke.

Gavin, you’re all good to keep on with the ‘ I feel ya, Ophelia’ but just don’t say it when she’s born and in public cause yknow I think there could be a law suit on your hands there.

And mom, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call her ‘Effin’ hell’ when she’s born also, cause knowing my luck it’ll end up being her first words.

Finally dad, continue the frank if you must for the next 3 months, but I don’t want her to be born and have some sort of identity crisis not knowing whether her real name is frank or not and grow up as psychologically damaged as your dog.

As usual, thanks for listening to my rambles and moans, to support the blog please like and share!

xoxo

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Crohns update – 9 months Post-Op

Processed with VSCO with c7 presetYou’ll have to excuse the completely unrelated photo, inbetween looking like a homeless woman and having the baby kicking around like they are stuck in some sort of prison, I didn’t manage to get a good photo showcasing my 9 months post op stomach.

I don’t quite know where to start, because the outcome is fairly obvious – I’m pregnant, therefore the surgery was a great success.

Processed with VSCO with c8 presetThe intial first weeks following surgery, as you know, were extremely difficult. I was unable to walk properly for at least a month and was relying on people to take care of me. I lived in my pjs (so nothing has changed really) and just kept hoping that each day id wake up and be able to do a little bit more.

A lot of people have wondered the most obvious question, what was your first shit like after surgery? I’m not gonna sugar coat it, it was how I imagine child birth will be like and I still have Vietnam flashbacks of the trauma. But despite the gas masks needed and watching the cleaners go in like the monsters in monsters inc when they bring back a childs item and have to be quarantined, things only got better.

6 weeks after surgery me and john travelled to crete. I was extremely nervous flying because all previous flights have been a nightmare fuelled with anxiety and holding in a fart that may or may not be a shit alongside my vomiting. But both flights there and back were relaxing and amazingly non eventful, there was no sickness and no anxiety in spite of the fact I thought I was gonna have a blood clot and die before I made it to sunny Greece (6 weeks is the minimum you are able to travel after major surgery *unless it is avoidable* because of risks of blood clots due to the pressure).

September came around and from what I can recall I don’t think I even thought about my surgery or my crohns. I was still struggling after a large meal however, needing to rush for diarrhoea exactly 30 minutes from ingestion (like clockwork) and had a mediocre pain. But instead of an on going flare up, it would be 5 minutes of intense flaring and then gone for the rest of the day/night. I got back into a normal routine, and Processed with VSCO with c7 presetwe were now officially settled into our new home to start the rest of our lives.

With the positive changes of my body, being able to get through days/weeks/months without vomiting and being able to eat without any consequences, my anxiety had completely disappeared and my mind was so positive, enjoying every minute of health. A lot of changes were made because of how one surgery gave me the opportunity to live a life without crippling fatigue, daily naps and morning sickness.

Nights were fuelled with alcohol, good food and the friends that have stuck by me throughout all my life changes. It’s a difficult thing going from an ‘ill person’ to a ‘healthy person’ because its not just your body that changes, your mind and your outlook changes aswell. What I’ve found has come from that, is friends that were there when you were ill seem to be non existent now you have a life of your own, now you are independent and are able to look back at your choices and decisions and see what is really the right thing for you to do in life, seem to put out others.

A little like Munchausen syndrome, you come to realise that without even knowing it people around you influence your illness in multiple ways and only when you escape the cloud of ‘being ill’ or being the friend ‘with a disease’ you find the friends that are willing to carry you on in your ‘new life.’ Some people won’t understand the changes you make in your life and why you make them, they don’t understand how something that seemed so comfortable and secure, something that seemed like a great environment and relationship can suddenly…not be.

They’ve known you having fun in a world where you are ill, where your life is built around being ill and the consequences that that illness carries. When you suddenly become healthy and your mindset is completely different you start to completely change, you change the way you enjoy your life, because it’s suddenly so healthy, long and Processed with VSCO with c9 presetfulfilled and things that once made you happy when life didn’t seem so full, now become burdens, they are reminders of your ‘old life.’ The things that once seemed good for you, in hindsight, only unknowingly influenced your illness. Whether that be mental or physical.

That is the part of following the light at the end of the tunnel that you don’t know. You’ve always seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but what about when you get there and you are ‘on the other side?’ It really is a whole new world, a whole new you.

New body.

New mind.

New outlook.

New values.

New opinions.

The hard part is accepting some people and some things aren’t meant to be in your new life, not out of anger, hatred, spite or anything negative but purely because they don’t understand the complete transformation your life has taken. The same as you find new things, make new friendships and find completely new joys in life.

November comes around and surgery legit is a distant memory, I have no symptoms of my Crohns and I have no reason to even think about it. I’m enjoying everything.

However, towards the end of November I began to get very ill, I was being sick every morning again and was tired 24/7. My health was short lived, I thought. Untill I decided id tempt fate and piss on a little stick, yknow for the fun of it. Three tests later, three positives later and 6 lines later, it wasn’t my Crohns returning with a vengeance, it was a new living being sucking the life out of me.

I had surgery to give my body the chance to carry a child, with a limited time for fertility Processed with VSCO with c8 presetit was dire to go ahead with having my bowel resection if I was going to be able to get past that dreaded first trimester. The doctors had determined my Crohns was the reason for my miscarriages and so when the first trimester came and went, that was the ultimate acknowledgment that told me everything I have endured, was worth it, it worked.

Surgery was the best decision I have ever made.

Anyone who thinks surgery is a scary thing, is the last resort and the worst outcome possible, it was the BEST decision I ever made. (Although perhaps second to dumping some ugly drug addict when I was 19, haha)

I am now 22 weeks pregnant, entering my third trimester and I was warned my crohns will most likely make an appearance, and it has. From 18 weeks till now my crohns has reared its ugly head, but unlike anything pre-surgery it is manageable and non-threatening. The flares come and go, and although I have a few accidents here and there it is nothing compared to pre-surgery days.

Crohns is incurable, it will always be in my body, inbedded in my DNA and therefore it is expected to have some good and some bad days. It is expected to have flare ups and suffer still even though the severely diseased bowel has gone. But for now, I am having a baby and that is all I want. I may be ill again once she is born, but that’s okay because she’s here and my body allowed me to grow her.

Life is great, my health is great (most of the time) and for 9 months post op, I’d say there’s nothing I could possibly say, nothing that could possibly happen, that would make me think that having surgery was a bad decision. (Even though I went bat shit crazy during).

 

xoxo

My SHEIN Spring Wishlist

shein feature

[Click on image to shop this look]

 

Seen as the feedback from my mothers day guide was all positive and the majority of you liked my gift guide i’ve decided to every so often share my fashion wish lists for the upcoming seasons.

The first one i’m doing is a major bargain spring collection.

At first i was very dubious about American fashion sites, wondering whether it was all a con and the quality of the clothes wasn’t as good, if there was a reason everything was so cheap, etc. But i took the plunge and bought a couple of items from SHEIN with low expectations, however they were great, they were just as good quality as Topshop and other high street fashion outlets. Now every time im online shopping i ALWAYS visit SHEIN, purely because it is literally an absolute bargain for some really cute finds.

The only issue, being a really weirdly shaped girl (as with any online shopping) is the sizes, i recommend using the size guides as they can vary drastically from other online shops. I’ve found that T-Shirts fit perfectly for me in the one size category, i like to have them a little baggy, otherwise a S/M fits me perfectly.

In bottoms i always go for the smalls as they can come quite big and i have sparrow legs, i like jeans and leggings to be skinny fit. Obviously this is far more difficult now i’m pregnant and have the waist of a baboon but the legs of a twig!

Always double check the size guide, but refunds and returns are widely accepted if you change your mind or they don’t fit!

Click on the title of each item to buy!

All items are converted to GBP from USD

(Please note, this post contains affiliate links.)

 

My SHEIN Spring Wishlist:

 

spring dress yellow

 

Ditsy Print Open Back Wrap Hem Cami Dress

£14.41

 

 

sunflower dress

 

 

Sunflower Print Random Single Breasted Cut Out Dress

£10.81

 

love tee

 

 

 

Letter Print Dolphin Hem Tee

£5.76

stripe tee

 

 

 

Contrast Striped Tee

£6.49

 

 

wild tee

 

SHEIN Letter Print Crop T-shirt

£5.76

 

 

 

stripe p.e skirt

 

Striped Tape Side Skirt

£7.21

 

 

jeans light blue

 

 

 

Extreme Distressed Roll Hem Jeans

£12.97

 

 

 

blue tie jumper

SHEIN Contrast Panel Sleeve Lace Up Hoodie

£12.25

 

 

 

floral blouse

 

 

Floral Print Bell Sleeve Top

£7.93

 

 

 

lace flower jumper

 

Lace Panel Beaded Sweatshirt

£12.25

 

 

 

tie neck blouse

 

 

SHEIN Tie Neck Ruffle Trim Floral Top

£9.37

 

 

 

just peach

 

 

SHEIN Fruit Print Lettuce Edge Tee And Shorts PJ Set

£10.09

 

 

6 sweater

 

 

Contrast Sleeve Varsity Print Sweatshirt

£11.53

 

 

 

grey and white dress

 

Abstract Print Cami Dress

£9.37

 

 

 

pink pinafore

 

 

Pocket Front Pinafore Dress

£8.65

 

 

usa jumper

 

USA Flag Print Crop Raglan Pullover

£10.09

 

 

spotty dress

 

 

Polka Dot Wrap Self Tie Waist Frill Cami Dress

£12.25

 

 

 

floral jumper

SHEIN Flower Embroidered Dip Hem Jumper

£18.74

 

 

flower shoes

 

 

Calico Embroidered Lace Up Sneakers

£25.22

 

 

knit pink

SHEIN Crisscross Back Eyelet Detail Jumper

£18.02

 

 

 

grey coat

 

 

Grey Lapel Long Sleeve Loose Sweater Coat

£20.18

 

 

 

pink knit

Knotted Detail Jersey Jumper

£14.41

 

 

1980 tee

 

 

 

SHEIN Letter And Number Print Ringer Tee

£7.93

 

pink boot

 

Lace Up Back Block Heeled Ankle Boots

£25.22

 

best buds tee

 

 

 

SHEIN Letter And Flower Print Tee

£6.49

 

leopard sunnies

 

Leopard Frame Flat Lens Sunglasses

£4.32

 

 

tie knee high boots

 

Lace Up Over The Knee Boots

£26.66

 

 

choker tee

 

 

SHEIN Choker Neck Solid Tee

£6.49

 

 

 

black sliders

 

 

Faux Fur Overlay Flat Slippers

£11.53

 

 

nap queen jumper

 

Letter Print Sweatshirt

£9.22

 

 

femme bag

 

 

Wrap Scarf Satchel Bag With Pom

£11.53

 

 

silk pj

 

Contrast Binding Satin Pyjama Set With Eye Mask

£11.53

 

 

 

 

For more spring bargains Click the banner below:

spring sale

 

 

 

[Individual images owned by SHEIN | Featured image owned by Dawson.xo | Subject to Copyright]

Introducing…Our Beautiful Chaos

manda 3

Let me introduce myself, my name is Manda and I’m a mummy to two boys and wife to Phil. I’m known on Instagram as our beautiful chaos. We are currently renovating out forever home which is what made me start my blog … interior design has always been my passion, even as a little girl I remember helping my mum arrange and decorate our home. I would spend hours rearranging my bedroom and making houses for my dolls out of anything I could get my hands on. I’ve always been more creative than academic, I sketch and paint and love designing things. I also love upcycling things for our home, I love natural materials so our home is full of branches, plants and rocks that I have sourced on our adventures and made home worthy. I have a hippy soul and I’m very in tune with my spiritual side.

Starting my blog was an outlet for my creative side, for my love of interior … that’s what it started with anyway …

My childhood was conflicted, on one hand I had a gorgeous family unit, my mum is and always has been my hero. Myself, my mum and my sister are known as the A team we have always been so close. Unfortunately, I had to grow up very fast and experienced another side to my childhood, I am still not ready to tell the world exactly what I went through but I suffered abuse as a child and then fell into a dangerous relationship and was physically, mentally and emotionally abused. I have also lost two babies, which I found to be the most traumatic experiences of my life.

One day I got brave and I wrote a blog post about myself and what I had been through, it was one of the hardest and scariest things I’ve done. To put myself out into the world was terrifying but it also set a little bit of me free. Since that blog post I’ve posted a lot about domestic violence, mental health and everything in between. It’s become my therapy and my release. I’ve wrote about things people who know me didn’t even know, it’s helped me so much. Then came the messages from people, they flooded in telling me how they had connected to the blogs, telling me what they had been through and saying how much the blogs had helped them. I can’t express how thankful I am that I have this platform to help others going through what I have been through.

And so, our beautiful chaos is now just that … it’s my life, all of it … motherhood, interiors, mental health, it’s the real raw me.

If I can help just one person I know my fight, my pain and my past wasn’t in vain. I’m now happier than I ever thought possible, I have daily adventures with my boys … I’m a mum trying to do this thing called motherhood, sometimes I smash it, sometimes I fall flat on the pile of washing I’ve not done but every second I adore it.

I’d love you to join in my journey, if you want to read more about the crazy life that is our beautiful chaos please come for a read, follow, message … I would love to get to know you too.

Manda xx

Instagram – ourbeautifulchaos__

 

Blog – ourbeautifulchaos.blog

manda 5

 

To read the previous Introducing… article featuring Trust Your Gut Click here.

 

[Written by Our Beautiful Chaos | Edited & Published by Dawson.xo | Photos by Our Beautiful Chaos | Subject to copyright]