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Category: Lifestyle

Is Female Success Only Judged by Achievements in the Workplace?

Is Female Success Only Judged by Achievements in the Workplace?

If you’ve been reading this blog of mine for a while, you’ll know that I’m in a constant battle with myself about work. The individual in me wants to hold down a full-time job, bring in a full-time wage and rise through the ranks. Whilst the parent in me, wants to spend every waking minute with my children, to make sure I’m bringing them up as soundly as I possibly can. What struck me and unsettled me recently, was the realisation that some people only judge female success on achievements in the workplace. Leaving being successful as a mother down by the wayside.

The reason this bothers me so much is that even though I go back and forth regarding my own work situation, deep down I know I’ll always be a mother first. I’m not prepared to go back into full-time work, outside of the home until they are old enough to look after themselves. I’m not ashamed of that, but sometimes I am made to feel a little insignificant. I was recently told that I ‘still have time to make my mark’, but what if my children are my mark? What if bringing them up to be happy, stable and respectful human beings is very best achievement of my life?

Am I privileged or lazy?

When I’m in conversation with working mums, they often refer to my situation as ‘privileged’. They think that because I stay at home, I am somehow married to a millionaire who keeps the little housewife. This just isn’t the case. Becoming a stay at home mother takes a lot of sacrifice. It’s a team effort. If i didn’t work hard in the home, my husband wouldn’t be able to work hard outside of the home. I don’t get to go out everyday and ‘do lunch‘, in fact some days I’m that busy I don’t get to eat lunch at all.

Others think that I just don’t want to work. That it’s easier to stay at home, rather than bring in the bacon. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have put all of this effort into building up an online business. One that means I can still be a stay at home mum, but also means I can still be recognised as a ‘worker’. As a side note, whoever thinks staying at home with children is for the lazy among us, is very much mistaken. Children are hard work.

You do get some people who understand what I do. They understand what it takes to bring up children and to give up a huge part of yourself to do so. Even though they seem to understand, I still feel my status as a female would be markedly higher if I had a working role outside of the home. Mother’s get judgement and sometimes empathy, whereas working mothers get celebrated.

Someone came up to me on the school run recently, handed me a leaflet and said ‘you don’t do anything once you leave here do you?’ It was for a group that I would obviously be able to attend as I’m not a ‘working mother’, I should surely be grateful for something to do with my time. I’ve no doubt that this wasn’t meant at all maliciously, but I have to admit that it cut me a little bit. I DO work hard, it just appears that all I am is a mum and you can’t judge success on that.

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Going the Distance – The Diary of a Nervous Traveller

Going the Distance – The Diary of a Nervous Traveller

I’ve spoken about being an anxious person before and I don’t want to flood this platform with mental health posts. However important I think it is to talk about it. Over the past few weeks though I’ve had a bit of a revelation and I wanted to share my success, as someone who previously relied on other people to get along in life. As I write this, I’m on a train by myself, travelling long distance for the first time in my life. The best thing is, I’m OK with it!

Usually my husband would travel with me, even if he had no need to. He would busy himself whilst I worked, purely to make me feel better about being in strange cities and so that I didn’t have to stay in a hotel room by myself. A year ago I wouldn’t have entertained travelling long-distance to work by myself. I would have shut it down immediately, not even taking the time to think it through. The worst thing about this is that I set myself up to miss out on so much. I was so intent on worrying about what will never happen, that I turned down opportunities just to ‘save myself‘.

Finding the courage to go it alone –

I know that to some people this may seem trivial. Travelling for work is something that happens every day for so many individuals. It’s just work and they do what they have to do to make a living. I know this, so I’m not sure why I’d blown the whole scenario up in my head. Trains were scary to me, something I was genuinely afraid of. How could I possibly catch a train, change platforms and get to my destination all on my own?

Guess what? I could and I can! When I got the details through for this work trip, I agreed to it before I had the chance to think about it. As a mother, the last thing I want to do is pass on my irrational fears to my children. They need to see me being strong and getting on with everyday life, without restricting my own experiences or theirs. The world doesn’t have to be a scary place and they need to realise that as much as I do.

I have to admit that on the run up to this trip, I worried myself sick. I didn’t want to do it and I was imagining every single negative scenario under the sun. On the morning I travelled though I felt good, because I knew I’d done it. I was going to grab a pastry and a coffee. I was going to work on the train and I was going to a job that I absolutely love.

Positivity breeds positivity –

The best thing about pushing myself and grabbing this opportunity with both hands, is that I felt much more positive about my future prospects and working life. I feel good about myself knowing that I’ve knocked down those barriers and I know that a fear of travelling will never hold me back again.

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It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want to…

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want to…

November is my birthday month and it’s coming up rather rapidly. I used to love birthdays, in fact I’d have a birthday week. Yep, I’d celebrate each and every night of the week surrounding my birthday. It was great fun! These days with family commitments, work and general knackeredness, I simply can’t think of anything worse than a birthday week. No only that, I’ll be 28 which is another step closer to 30 and 30 I do not want to be!

Life begins at 28 –

Actually when I look back over the past few years, 28 seems as though it’s set to be one of the best. Our work on the house is almost finished. Come April, both girls will be settled in at school and both Hubs and my work situations have never been better. As a family we are working quite nicely, I really don’t have a great deal to complain about.

What is it about age that frightens some of us so much? Why do we let age define us, when actually it’s about where we are in life, not how long we’ve been here. It’s about what our experiences have moulded us into and about the plans we have for the future. It’s inevitable that we’re all going to age, maybe it’s about time that I accepted my age and stopped focusing so much on turning the big 3-0.

Celebrating who I’ve become –

In the latter part of my twenties I’ve had two children, I’ve created an online business and I’ve become the homemaker that I thought I could never be. I’ve helped provide my husband with the chance to further his education and career. I have successfully gotten our eldest daughter ready to start preschool and she’s settled in amazingly. I’ve also had a few rough times, including a post natal depression diagnosis. All of these things have been valuable experiences that I am and should be grateful for.

I wouldn’t be who I am today if wasn’t for the rough and the smooth of the last few years. I wouldn’t be the happiest I’ve ever been, literally, if I Hubs and I hadn’t pulled together as a team and worked things out. When I started writing this post, I wasn’t exactly sure where it would take me, but it seems I have a lot more to be grateful for than I had initially realised.

Happy Birthday to me –

It might feel like time is leaving me behind sometimes and it might feel like I’m ageing a too quickly. What it also means though is that I’m still here and I’m living my best life. So I’m going to take the bull by the horns and say ‘Happy Birthday to me’. 28, I’m coming at you!

 

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Kids VS. Parents Games Night Challenge with Little Tikes

Kids VS. Parents Games Night Challenge with Little Tikes

*This post was written in collaboration with Little Tikes. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

Now that our girls are well and truly growing up, we have a lot of family fun with board games. Hubs and I love to play all of the traditional board games with the girls, so when we were asked by Little Tikes  if we wanted to take part in a games night challenge, we couldn’t wait!

Little Tikes have a new range of super fun games out, ideal for kids aged 5 plus. They’re the kind of games that are that so much fun to play, the girls have no idea how much they’re learning whilst playing. So to kick of our Kids VS. Parents Games Night Challenge, Little Tikes sent us their Crazy Toaster and Hot Hoops games. As well, a music voucher and a Just Eat voucher to keep up the energy of the competitors!

Crazy Toaster – This is a pop up toaster game that will have you and your littles giggling all night! Slices of toast pop high out the toaster and you have to try to catch the flying pieces in your pans. If you catch them and they match the toast on your plate, they’re yours to keep. This game is fun, energetic and can be played for hours, but be warned – it’s not as easy as it looks!

Hot Hoops – This is a head to head challenge game and it’s perfect if you needs deciding points on your games nights! It’s fast paced and is bound to bring out the competitive streak in the whole family. The best thing about this games is that it’s compact and east to take on your travels.

 

Our family games night –

 

We had so much fun on our family games night, but unfortunately the parents did not come out on top! The kids of the house had scores well above ours and it was our eldest who was victorious and took the medal! We had such a great evening thanks to Little Tikes, their new games range is a lot of fun for both adults and children. Now all we need is a rematch to knock the kids off of their winning spot!

 

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Five Things being a School Run Mum has Taught Me

Five Things being a School Run Mum has Taught Me

I’ve had the joy of being a school run mum for a few months now. The novelty is wearing off and I’ve begun to countdown each term, eager for the holidays to start. It’s not because I don’t like school, we are very pro-education over here. It’s that the school run can become a bit of a bind! It’s a rat race, with everyone believing that they’re in more of a rush than the next person.

The good thing about the school run is meeting people on your wavelength. There will be at least one other mum, or dad, that you really get on with. You’ll laugh and cry with them as your children go through school and they will be your school run ally. Other than that, the school run is a real eye opener. So much so that if you did stand-up comedy for a living, you’d have fresh material for life!

Here are five things that being a school run mum has taught me;

Parents will KILL for a parking space –

Yes I drive to school, but in my defence we do live a couple of miles away. With a two and three year old to transport, walking each and every day is not an option. I’ve learnt though, that if you’re going to be driving to school then you need to be prepared to stand your ground.

People park their cars anywhere and everywhere and they get really shirty if you get in their way. The working parents are the worst, they want the space closest to school, so they can run in and run out in double-quick time. I understand they have to turn into work, but being a few minutes late is probably something they ought to have made their peace with when they had kids.

Kids are all sweetness and light until you get them out of the school gates. Then they turn into ‘hangry‘ monsters –

My kid is always happy at school. She’ll walk out with her friends talking and behaving like an angel. As soon as she gets into the car the ‘hangry’ monster appears. She wants food NOW and will be grumpy until she gets it. Why do parents always get cracked with the ‘hangry’ stick?

You’ll come across so may different types of parents. Remember though, you’re all knackered and you’re all stressed –

You’ll meet parents you like and parents you don’t. You’ll meet the ones whose kids you don’t mind your kids mixing with and you’ll meet ones you’d prefer they didn’t. What you shouldn’t over look though is that all of these parents are most likely knackered and completely stressed out, just like you are. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.

Hold back on the smug when your kids goes into school meltdown free. Your time will come. Believe me –

When our eldest started her school placement she went in like a dream. I would see the parents with screamy kids looking fraught as they tried to get their little one to go and play. I’ll be honest I felt a little smug, mine was doing so well, we had no trouble. Oh the naivety! Of course once she’d settle in and got her feet well and truly under the table, our angel daughter felt comfortable enough to wail at the top of her lungs one morning as I tried to leave. Not so smug now hey?!

Play dates are a thing. Deal with it –

I was so inexperienced at school mum life until recently, that I honestly never realised that I would have to schedule play dates into my already brimming diary. It wouldn’t be so intrusive if I dropped the kids off and picked them up tired and ready for sleep, but at their tender ages I have to stay with them. Now I’m all for being sociable, but I find squeezing work into my day hard enough as is it, never mind when I have to leave my own four walls for hours. Yes the kids love it and yes it’s good for them, but I won’t half been pleased when they can head off and see their friends without me!

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Posterlounge Home Art

Posterlounge Home Art

*We were gifted our Posterlounge artwork for the purpose of creating this post. As always, all thoughts and opinion are my own. 

 

Recently Hubs and I have been working on our home. We’ve gone from top to bottom and now we finally have four walls that we love! Looking around though, we realised that even though we now have nice bright white walls that look lovely and fresh, they’re also looking a bit bare. So when we came across Posterlounge, we were in our element! They have so much amazing artwork, we knew we had to adorn our walls with some of their pieces!

Choices, choices –

Looking through the Posterlounge website left Hubs and I completely spoilt for choice. What’s brilliant though is their ‘Inspiration‘ feature, which allows you to search by room and style. It shows you some of the best of what they have on offer and it really gets the arty juices flowing! I loved using this feature as I really didn’t know what I was looking for and it gave me ideas that I just wouldn’t have thought of myself.

You can also choose the material that you want your artwork printed on. From paper and canvas to aluminium and acrylic glass. There’s something for every taste and every budget! No only that, the each piece of art comes in various different size, so you can have what you want, where you want it without it looking too small, or too intrusive. When buying something that is going to be in your home for many years to come and something that you will look at each and every day, it’s good to have so many choices. That way you’re sure to get the perfect print for you!

Feathered friends and alphabet fun –

After spending A LOT of time on the Posterlounge site, Hubs and I finally decided on a large, acrylic piece of art with four owls stood looking very comical! I like to think each owl represents a member of our little family, I’m sure I can see the personality oozing out of them! It’s the first time we’ve had art printed on acrylic and I have to say, I’m very impressed. It was super easy to hang and sits really flat on the wall. I love that it doesn’t reflect the light too much, it means the image is always really easy to see.

As well as the owls, we decided to get our girls an alphabet poster. With our eldest now at pre-school and our youngest due to start very soon, we’re conscious of creating a fun learning environment at home. This cute poster is colourful and it gets the girls thinking and talking about the letters of the alphabet whenever they look at it!

I just had to share my experience with Posterlounge on here, as I’m so impressed with the products we received. From the easy ordering process, to the quick delivery and the quality of the art. Our house now has the finishing touches that it needed to make it the ideal home! 

 

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Word Based Mistakes and Anxiety

Word Based Mistakes and Anxiety

Recently I’ve found myself at odds with the television in our house. I used to watch it to relax of an evening, but I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with spending time immersed in media that I’m not going to learn from. So instead of switching on the box, I’ve been reaching for my phone and losing myself in the world of podcasts. I feel at peace when I listen to a quality podcast as I know I’m taking time out for myself, whilst also nurturing my brain and feeding my thirst for knowledge.

The reason I’m bringing up podcasts in a post centred around anxiety, is that I’m a huge fan of listening to Bryony Gordon’s Mad World. It’s a podcast that’s main focus is mental health with Bryony interviewing the creme de la creme, of the celebrity world. Every guest gives you a warts and all insight into their own issues with mental health, past and present. My favourite episode so far included Steven Fry, but it wasn’t until I listened to Fearne Cotton speak that the penny really dropped, with regards to my own mental health.

Word based mistakes –

Fearne Cotton wasn’t at all concerned about discussing her mental health issues for all to hear. She realises that talking is educating and that it’s something we need to do more of, to make mental health issues less of a taboo. What resonated with me most though was that the catalyst for a large amount of her anxiety issues were and still are directly related to word based mistakes. The times when we say something we regret. The times when we wake in the small hours of the morning, fending off a panic attack because we can’t work out whether we were rude to that person in the supermarket.

In fact, one of the main reasons I gave up alcohol was because I became mentally exhausted with trying to work out if I’d said something wrong whilst under the influence. I would return from small gatherings, big nights out and intimate dinners wondering what I’d said and imaging how I could have worded things better. To make people like me more and to offend people a lot less.

The truth is, that 99% of the time I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The thing is, it’s rare that I’m not nice to people. It’s not often that I’ll say anything out of turn. I’m very self-aware and so if I’m off with someone, I’ll know I’ve done it as I probably did it intentionally and only because it was called for. I’ve worked with the general public for the entirety of my working life, I know how to do it. So why do I lose so many precious hours wondering what I’ve said wrong?

I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure anyone really knows the answer. Sadly, as highlighted by Fearne, I’m not alone in experiencing such infuriating, intrusive thoughts. If someone as successful as Fearne Cotton is suffering, then it just goes to show that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

Is self-care the answer?

As with a lot of mental health issues, self-care is an incredibly effective treatment. I’m not talking about pampering yourself each and every day, or indulging in a spot of retail therapy every lunch hour. I’m talking about making sure we look after ourselves in smaller and more regular ways. Simple things like going to bed early a few nights a week, or reading a good book before bed, can give us the brain space we need to tackle what life throws at us.

My ‘little thing‘ was giving up alcohol, as I knew it was making my anxiety worse. If I’d had a drink, you could almost guarantee I’d have a panic attack and you can definitely guarantee that I’d ask my husband if I’d ‘said anything wrong’. I knew that I was lacking in self-care and that by carrying on drinking, I would only serve to make my life more difficult for myself and for my family.

Ever since I heard Fearne Cotton mention ‘word based mistakes’ I’ve felt like I’ve had more clarity when it comes to my issues with anxiety. The trouble with these issues is that often we feel very alone and isolated. We feel like we’re the only ones suffering and that we’re somehow ‘not wired up’. Just giving these thoughts a name, a definition even an identity makes suffering them all the more bearable.

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L.O.L Surprise Pop-Up Store Review

L.O.L Surprise Pop-Up Store Review

*We were gifted the L.O.L Surprise Pop-Up Store for the purpose of this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

This week our girls were sent the L.O.L Pop-Up Store to review. The biggest has been a big fan of L.O.L Surprise, since we reviewed our first dolls a few weeks ago. Now she’s a super fan and couldn’t wait to put the Pop-Up store through its paces. I was excited for this product too, as it meant we would be able to keep her L.O.L Surprise dolls altogether in one place!

The L.O.L Surprise Pop-Up Store is available at Smyths, Argos and The Entertainer.

The Review –

Our Pop-Up Store arrived on one the most miserable days of Autumn so far, which was perfect timing. Neither myself nor the girls bode when we’ve been stuck indoors, so to have this product to review was a very welcome distraction! First of all, we got out all of our existing L.O.L Surprise dolls, so that we had them ready to put on show.

Our biggest loves how detailed and intricate the dolls and their accessories are. She uses them to create her own stories, it’s great to see these dolls igniting her imagination so much. Once we opened the Store, we found all of the hidden packages to build up the doll that comes with the product. It was stored away in all of the different compartments, making it exciting for the girls to find them!

This product was full of different areas each with its own theme, including a diner, a beauty salon and a kitchen. The salon was a firm favourite with our girls, they had their dolls in there for hours beautifying them for a special event! Now that we have quite a few dolls, it’s really fun for them to swap and change the outfits on the dolls, making unique outfits for each and every one. Our eldest spent a whole rainy afternoon, making her dolls look like fashionistas!

Not only does the Pop-Up store allow you to display all of your L.O.L Surprise dolls, it also comes with a handle to turn it into a carry case. So wherever you are, it’s easy to take the dolls with you to keep the littles entertained. Our daughter loves that you can display the dolls most and has her proudly on show for everyone to see!

Overall, both the girls and I have been very impressed with the L.O.L Surprise Pop-Up Store. The girls adore it and it certainly makes it easier to store all of the dolls and accessories in our collection!

 

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Sweating the Small Stuff – Yey or Ney?

Sweating the Small Stuff – Yey or Ney?

I find myself sweating the small stuff all of the time. If there’s something to worry about, even the tiniest thing. I’ll be first in the queue to deliberate over it for a week. It’s not that I like sweating the small stuff, it’s that my brain doesn’t really know how to let stuff go. It doesn’t have the ‘off switch’, that’s very often needed to put things to bed when they really aren’t worth wasting brain space on.

A difference of opinion –

I’m not sure whether sweating the small stuff is worth it though. Looking at it morbidly, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and so surely focusing on the little things isn’t really that important. Surely I should enjoy every second, just like it could be my last. That way I’d never worry again. Can we really get through life without a worrying though? Doesn’t it help to keep our feet on the ground?

Ever since becoming a parent I’ve noticed that worrying has become my default setting. I see danger before it even happens, or maybe it won’t happen at all – but I’ve predicted it, just in case. If there’s a scenario which could place my children in even the slightest bit of danger, I have a plan to save the day should I need to use it. It turns out there’s danger in every single situation if you look hard enough though and working out a master plan for each can be a little exhausting.

I recently read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield and he’s of the opinion that we should worry about the little things in life. His training has taught him that if we have a solution to the slightest of problems, then we are prepared for what life has to throw at us. If the worst doesn’t happen, well hey that’s a bonus! To be honest I quite like this difference of opinion. I’m a fan of the idea that I can work my way through anything, given that I’ve prepared myself for it. To have an answer for everything is a comforting approach to life.

A glass half empty –

I’ve chewed this topic over with quite a few people and most believe that this is a ‘glass half empty’ way of doing life. I suppose it does come across as a little defeatist, after all preparing for the worst is sure to strip the joy out of things. I’m afraid I’m going to remain in the sweating of the small stuff camp though. I can’t image just turning up to an event and now knowing where all the exits are. I don’t understand how people don’t work to times and don’t get me started on those that don’t budget – there always has to be a budget!

Do you sweat the small stuff or are you more of a free spirit? 

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How and Why You can Make any Business Work for You

How and Why You can Make any Business Work for You

*This post was written in collaboration with One Click Group.

 

How many times have you sat back to evaluate your life and wondered about working for yourself? Maybe not full-time and maybe not in something you currently have the qualifications for, but how many times have you dreamt of making your mark on the business world? For some of you the answer to this is never, for a lot of you the answer is all of the time! 

The thing about business is that you don’t have to set out to conquer the world. There are such enterprises known as the ‘lifestyle business’ and the idea is that you make your dream work around you. Whether it’s your dream to quit your job, or whether you want to run a little something in the evenings around your employment. There are business opportunities for everyone, all you have to do is take the leap.

Making a plan –

When I decided that I wanted to earn a little money off of my own back, I began taking on work in my field outside of my employed hours. This gave me the chance to gain experience in working by myself, it gave me the opportunity to network and build a client base of my own and most importantly it boosted by confidence immeasurably. I concocted this very simple plan some months before I decided to move on and I’m so glad I did. Working in this way provided me with the stepping-stones to the next chapter in my life. I’d had a taste of business and I wasn’t going back.

From this, I set up a limited company which gave me the freedom to build up my business with multiple short and long-term benefits. Setting up a limited company could benefit you too and it doesn’t have to be difficult. There’s a tonne of information available at One Click Group that will answer any questions you have. They will make the whole process as easy as possible for you, that means all you have to concentrate on is working hard to build up your business!

Making a plan isn’t always as simple as this though, you might have to do a little training before you can attempt to work for yourself. You might need to build up funds or you might need to wait for a change in circumstance. Whatever your situation is now, there’s no reason why you can’t start planning ahead. Brain dump all of your ideas, let your imagination flow and work out where you want to be this time next year. A plan is the first step to changing your life.

 

Believing in yourself –

In the beginning I could count the people who believed in me on half a hand. All of a sudden my business had turned into everyone’s business and boy did they have a lot to say about it. What was most important, was that I believed in myself. I knew I could make my venture work and I was ready for all of the hard graft that I knew it would take to get it off of the ground. I’m not saying self-doubt didn’t creep in every once in a while, but on the whole I was ready to make it happen.

Since then I’ve tried so many different lifestyle business ideas. Some have crashed and burned, some I’ve gotten bored with and others are still part of my multiple income streams. The good thing about these small business ideas is that they can be lucrative, but often they cost very little to get going. All you need is courage, determination and a little bit of pixie dust!

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