Travel and Holidays

Why Did I Pack so Many Shoes? .. and other things I’ve questioned about getting ‘holiday ready’

I love love love holidays always have and always will. I literally live for the next holiday. But it’s a balance between what I think I want to do in my precious spare time on holiday versus how much I can be arsed to do whilst I’m in chill out mode.

And is it just me who gets sucked into the whole frantic excitement of getting ‘holiday ready’?

swear I am a marketer’s dream when it comes to holiday prep. And each year I know I over purchase, over prepare and over pack but I can’t help it, the whole build up is just as exciting as the event itself. So with this in mind I have shared some of the wisdom I have learnt from my most recent adventure. Let’s hope I can make an improvement on time, space and cash by taking some of this on board instead of my excess baggage ….

Continue reading “Why Did I Pack so Many Shoes? .. and other things I’ve questioned about getting ‘holiday ready’”
Career

Lucky Number 13: New Beginnings and How Life has Changed in 13 years

So after 13 years and 14 days I have left my job for new adventures in a different organisation. I’m so ready for a new challenge and opportunity to learn and grow but this leap has made me reflect on how much I have grown and evolved as a person, and what has changed around me in this time. I feel like I have quite literally grown up in my workplace; through education, relationships, homes, pets and so much more.  So before cracking on with the future lets take a look at the then and now of my life in thirteen years.  

Relationships
2006 – I with my now husband for three and a half years, living in our first mortgaged home, engaged and planning our wedding for the following June. We were feline parents to one Persian Rag-doll who was ten months old. 
2019 – Married for twelve years and two months, living in our forever home since ten years prior. We still have our cat who is knocking on fourteen years and he has a furry brother who’s none. We also have human two children a girl (6.5) and boy (4.5). 

Education 
2006 – undergraduate degree hmmmmm
2019 – Masters degree and professional qualifications 

Friends
2006 – My two school friends were my mainstay and we often had nights out and sleepovers 
2019 – my two school friends are still very dear to me even if we don’t see each other nearly as much as I would like without expanding families. However my social circle has evolved with friendships I have forged in my workplace in the past thirteen years, three of which are very dear, mum friends for the childrens’ schools and various groups, and my running club.    

In the Media 
2006 – the execution of Saddam Hussain, a  poor whale got stuck in the thames, social media was just taking off but hadn’t caught my attention until a year later.
2019 – Brexit, Boris Jonson, social media, blogging, podcasts. 

In the Cinema 
2006 – Borat  
2019 –  Disney reboots of Aladdin and The Lion King

Favourite TV shows
2006 – Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Bad Girls, Big Brother, The X Factor. There was no smart TVs back then and I don’t think we even had the internet at our house! We felt very modern with our Sky digital box (and no you couldn’t record, rewind, pause!
2019 – Orange is the New Black, Poldark and it’s all about Netflix, boxsets and anything we can binge watch when it’s convenient to us.  

Favourite Shops 
2006 – Dorothy Perkins, Topshop, Outfit, Jane Norman, Apricot
2019 – Everything Five Pounds, SHEIN, TU Clothing, Apricot

Favourite Foods 
2006 – Pizza, pasta, chips, ice cream – ready meals 
2019 – Pizza, pasta, risotto – fresh food 

Favourite drinks 
2006 – Cider and black, Pernod and lemonade, Tea
2019 – Fruity wines, flavoured gins, wine and coffee

It’s so funny to look back on how times have changed and I do so with a smile. I often say I don’t feel a day older when I look back at all the years that have gone by but when I look at how much has changed the world seems a very different place. 

Does any of the above make you feel nostalgic of the past? Go ahead and take the same exercise covering a significant timespan from your life and see how much you have evolved! 

Books and Media, Career, Family, Wellbeing

My Favourite Podcasts

Photo by Moose Photos

What is a podcast? Forbes online “the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.”

How Did I Start Listening to podcasts? Why did it take me so long to discover podcasts? They are fab. I love a bit of background music  when i’m doing chores or powering away at my desk and have been a huge fan of Spotify for a few years now, but I never considering delving into podcasts. That was until my search for book inspiration on Pinterest led me to discover podcasts. I firstly began with Lara Casey and soon skipped onto Fearne Cotton, and Chloe Brotheridge soon after their fascinating conversations with others have led me onto their podcasts and i’ve even going full circle tracking down their books! 

Why should you listen to podcasts?  I find that listening to a podcast feels like a conversation, they are so easy to fit into our busy lives. They are a great alternative to picking up a book and you can have one in the background when you’re working, catching up around the house, cooking or driving.   I feel they bring communities with common interests or focus together and create new ones. Podcasts can also help with mindfulness and opening up your thought processes.

What are my favourites? There are podcasts out there for literally every topic imaginable but for me personally I have been enjoying those that focus on career women, mental wellbeing, lifestyle, family life, fashion and beauty.

My Podcast Recommendations I’m the type of person that when I discover something new and exciting I get a bit obsessed with it and will promote whatever it is to anyone who will listen. So I have created this list of my favourites for anyone with similar interests to mine, or if you enjoy reading my posts. And to follow Giovanna Fletcher’s advice on the Brynoy Gordon Mad World podcast – don’t follow those you aspire to be, follow those who you relate to and get you – be part of your community. 

Happy listening!

Mental health and Self Care 

Calm Moment https://www.calmmoment.com/wellbeing/11-best-podcasts-for-wellbeing/ 
Advice from a Thirtysomething https://advicefromathirtysomething.com/category/self-care/
Chloe Brotheridge – The Anxiety Solution https://www.calmer-you.com/ 
Fearne Cotton – Happy Place http://www.officialfearnecotton.com/news/2018/2/26/happy-place-podcast 
Bryony Gordon’s Mad World https://bryonysmadworld.telegraph.co.uk/ The Motherkind Podcast By Zoe Blaskey https://www.motherkind.co/#new-page-3 

Mindfulness, Motivation and Goal Setting

The Daily Boost https://motivationtomove.com/podcasts/daily-boost-motivation-podcast-archives/

Lifestyle, Health and Beauty 

Lauren Conrad – Asking for a Friend https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lauren-conrad-asking-for-a-friend-launches-may-8th/id1456642771?i=1000432223492&mt=2 
Whitney Port – With Whit https://withwhit.libsyn.com/ Jen Hatmaker http://jenhatmaker.com/podcast.htm 

Career, Family, Family Life, Wellbeing

I’m just so busy, but does that mean I’m successful?

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/users/Chigraph-466906

I see it everywhere; on the internet, social media, work, the school run – we are all so ‘busy’. And we’re proud of it. I often attest that I’d rather be busy than bored and I’m not alone. I only have to look amongst my peers on several of the WhatsApp groups I’m on – several messages depicting busyness, expressing apologies for ‘just catching up’ on messages, working ridiculous hours, ‘being snowed under’ with family life and commitments, the inability to find a mutually convenient date for a meet up – they all resonate with the social norm of being ‘busy’. Furthermore there is also the social ‘humble brag’ of being so deep in work that there is no time for themselves (menshealth.com). 

Why is it so fashionable to be busy? why do we relish in it so much? Psychcentral.com suggests that in the modern times we live in, where more of us have better access to wealth, being busy is the new status symbol. They also say that busyness can be seen as a measure of self worth – after all we want to juggle and have it all don’t we? Emily ley, author of ‘Grace not Perfection’ agrees and suggests our society glorifies busyness and the adrenaline rush; If we’re not fast then we are not moving forward, and women in particular, step into the martyr role believing they are doing it for the greater good. 

The impact of being busy could be having serious implications on our mental and physical health. Lara Casey, author of Make it Happen and Cultivate What Matters, states that being busy is the enemy of peace. And according to menshealth.com overworking can be extremely hard on you – raising stress levels (especially if you are sacrificing breaks) comprising your immune system and increasing the risk of serious health issues like heart disease and cancer. Constant busyness can also lead to self sabotaging and eventually a crash and burn (Emily Ley).

People who complain endlessly about being overworked and overwhelmed may be sending others a less-than-subtle message: “I’m more important than you.” (WebMD.com)

However there may also be more worrying reasons that we try to busy ourselves. It may be that busyness is used as a coping mechanism or a form of escapism when we don’t want to face things or tune into how we are really feeling (pyschcentral.com). It’s also used as a way to try and attain job security and prove that we are needed in times where no job is deemed safe and where our performance indicators are less visible than they once were in traditional jobs (sloww.co).

So we have established that busyness is an attractive status symbol. But it’s also clear that it can have a serious impact on our wellbeing, but regardless we push on anyway. Is this because we are afraid that if we don’t then we will fall short in society’s eyes? Are we then somehow deemed less successful? It seems we are scared of exposure; exposure that leaves our vulnerabilities and weaknesses on show. But If we immerse ourselves in busyness how will ever address them? 

This is why we need to reevaluate our attitude and mindset. Look further at how we can organise ourselves, think about all the things your missing out on by staying busy, and face what it is we are trying to escape. Don’t apologise for being efficient or afraid that it exposes you, use it as an opportunity to put yourself first, then you can give the best version of yourself to others. For yourself practice self care, spend time on you and you’ll be refreshed to spend time with people. Professionally look at what’s going on in your industry and how you can add value to what you do, be it with better ways of doing things or helping others with their work and skills showing your value as a team member, work on your usp and bring that to your role to show that you are indispensable by being efficient. Employers want workers who are forward thinking and can do more efficiently rather than busying themselves by lengthening their work to justify their time. 

The way we talk about being busy needs to change too. Whilst we should encourage people to talk openly if they are struggling, we need to respond to the laments of busyness in a positive and constructive manner. Be a good friend. Next time someone talks about how busy they are offer up your help. Is there something you could work on together to free up both your time? 

What are your thoughts on this? How do you perceive busyness? How does being busy make you feel? 

Sources https://psychcentral.com/lib/busyness-the-new-status-symbol/ https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20170413/im-just-too-busy—-is-being-overworked-the-new-status-symbol https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19545737/busy-is-new-status-symbol/ http://slow.co/busyness-101/ https:/newdimensions.org/reclaming-our-time-and-moving-away-from-busy-beavior-with-yvonne-tally Lara Casey – Make it Happen, Emily Ley – Grace Not Perfection, Lara Casey – Cultivate What Matters, Jayne Hardy – The Self Care Project

Wellbeing

Having it All

The elusive aim of having it all? – how do we do it? Is it even possible? It’s a question I’m constantly asking myself, and it’s an age old one, widely suggested to date back to publication by Helen Gurley Brown, the author of the renowned book Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, and Money Even If You’re Starting with Nothing, published in 1982. At this point she had been editor of Cosmopolitan in the US for 20 years. It was very much the dawn of an era of single women in the workplace competing with their male counterparts to break those glass ceilings. A time when women were gaining financial independence and therefore a bit of freedom over their choices. 

But fast forward over thirty years, where we are very much in the age of wellbeing and self care being paramount as well as still trying to break those glass ceilings and raise a family, what does ‘having it all’ mean? If you search the internet you’ll see numerous articles telling you that the secret to having it all is to realise you have it already or, quite conversely that the phrase is a veiled attempt to get women to ‘do it all’ (metro.co.uk/lifestyle). 

So if this is open to personal interpretation then to me having it all is happiness and contentment, and as I see it in my life right now, that’s a happy, healthy family, security and finding the time for me to pursue things that promote my wellbeing  – in that order. How do I see myself doing that on a practical level? Being a present mother and wife, running a home, succeeding in your career, and fitting that all important self-care time. 

And this looks great on paper but can it all be fully achieved in reality? And, as Emily Ley suggests in her book ‘grace not perfection’, even if you do manage to do it all, can you do it all well? She  believes we can have very clear ideas of where we want to be in life but in some seasons we can only realise them in bits and pieces. Now whilst this is most probably true how many of us try and meet all our goals simultaneously and as quickly as possible regardless? I know I do.

I’m a total advocate of trying out every organisational technique going to maximise my time so that I fit in all the things I want to do, there’s so much advice out there trying to prove it can be done after all. But in today’s climate of taking care of ourselves as well as others is it healthy to promote this belief that we can jam pack it all in? I suppose on reflection I’m a follower of what Lara Casey refers to as ‘The Chase’ where we are striving so much that we don’t slow down to think about how we are really feeling. We fill our minds with things for inspiration and that fuel our need to strive for things – magazines, social media, TV. But does this inspiration lead to us to strive to impossible standards? What would we be striving for if we looked at different sources of inspiration? Or none at all?

I’m a huge fan of Pinterest as a source of help on getting to me to the glittering destination that is having it all, not to mention the advice given in blogs and social media. So I can totally relate.A famous quote by Lara Casey is that ‘comparison is the thief of all joy’ and I think this is true. And does whoever we compare ourselves to feel they have it all or are they striving too?  I’m here asking these questions as I evidently feel that I’m continually striving. I often feel that not all of the proverbial plates spin perfectly at the same time – if I’m really focused on work then am I neglecting my family? Should I stay at home and tackle that ironing pile rather than take an hour to myself to go for that run? If I take time out to help kids with school and extracurricular activities will my professional work suffer? 

The key to real contentment and sense of achievement may not lay in the satisfying feeling of successful multitasking which we seldom enjoy, but maybe instead in our attitude and acceptance of what will be.  Chloe Brotheridge, author of The Anxiety Solution, also says that we need to accept that doing our best is good enough, and that this acceptance is important in the way we deal with things that don’t always go to plan, and look at them as opportunities for learning. In order to do this we should have trust in what will be and avoid orchestrating perfect scenarios, and forgive ourselves for not being able to do everything. I’m trying to heed this advice at the moment in my life, but it’s not easy! However I do revisit the order of what my interpretation of having it all is and the most important thing is happiness. And can 

I say that I’m truly happy? Yes I think I can, I’m grateful for what I have but will always strive for more for my family and I. I think I just need to practice acceptance and let go of trying to get everything perfect one hundred percent of the time – this is definitely a work in progress though! 

What are your feelings on having it all? Do you feel like you have it balanced? Or do you believe it’s an outdated concept? I’d love to hear your views. 

Sources

The secret to having it all is realising that you have it already https://www.classycareergirl.com/2017/11/having-it-all

Chloe Botheridge: The Anxiety Solution

Lara Casey: Make it Happen

Travel and Holidays

Happiness is Always Having a Holiday to Look Forward to

Everyone who knows me well will concur that I love my holidays. My foreign, preferably with a plane ride, are my favourite but to be honest I just love holidays anywhere. I graduated with a degree in Tourism Management in 2004 and as much as I reiterate to people it’s essentially an industry focused business management course (which it most definitely is) my love of travel and tourism no doubt drew me towards it. If you were to ask my daughter what mammy’s favourite thing is I can guarantee she’ll tell you holidays without missing a beat.

For me, the biggest attraction is the break from routine. All inclusive holidays are my favourite as they literally give me a break from everything; no cooking, no washing up, no making beds – perfect. However I’m also in my element in a caravan in a UK coastal location, or rural lodge as that’s a break from the responsibilities of home and work. I also love absorbing new sights and environments, but above all, I love the opportunity to give my full attention to and spend quality time with my loved ones. And It seems that I’m not alone though and that links have been established between holidays and happiness, you only have to put this into the internet search engine to see that many other agree and corroborate it with scientific research. 

However it is also believed that the happiness brought about by holidays is not made to last. Dr Dillner suggests in an article for The Guardian online that the positive effects of a holiday tend to wear off after two weeks, maybe this explains my intrinsic need to get trips in the calendar throughout the year as I do find this gives me a boost when the post-holiday blues kick in. And it seems that Tara Parker Pope, who writes an article for The New York Times about research undertaken in the Netherlands (published in the Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life) agrees. Her piece showed that there wasn’t a significant difference in the level of happiness in those that had and had not taken a holiday. Instead, it was the planning and anticipation of an upcoming trip that really boosted happy feelings. So it’s suggested that booking as many trips as possible will increase this further. At present I try to book in one forgien holiday and ideally two mini breaks for the year, and knowing I have these in the diary most definitely gives me a boost. In my old office we also had a holiday countdown board for the team – a fun activity where we would all list our holiday plans counting down the days to a break. 

I’m also conscious about living in the moment and believe that you can’t pin all our hopes for happiness on a few getaways a year and I do wonder what our lives would be like without our holidays. My husband and I were brought up with one forgein holiday a year so this has been routine for us in all of our years together and we are very appreciative that we were able to experience far away places as children and be in a position where we can do the same for ours. During both my maternity leaves our budget was tighter so we forewent our overseas holidays and extended our normally weekend-long caravan breaks. The memories we made on these were just as precious. We also have what I refer to as ‘Sacred Sundays’ (no religious connotations intended)  – a day we keep free for fun or relaxation. We don’t have any work (well my husband works every other!) and there are no extra curricular activities planned. On these Sundays we have stay-at-home days, day trips to the park, beach, shops, or another attraction. Furthermore during school holidays when I’m not working, I’ll try and plan a trip into a theme park or some other attractions like a farm park. 

I think the main thing that drives me is that I believe that life is short and memories are there for the making. I understand that these are also made in the everyday living but it’s great to have the anticipation, for me it’s one of the greatest feelings. 

Are you a holiday lover like me? Or can you give or take a holiday? If so what drives you instead? 

Featured links:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/25/will-a-holiday-make-me-happy-and-if-it-does-how-long-will-it-last

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7906452/Holidays-can-make-you-live-longer.html

Family Life

School Holiday Survival

The run up to school holidays – especially the long six ones – leave me overwhelmed, as I’m sure they do a lot of parents. The dreaded cries of ‘I’m bored’ or ‘what are we doing today?’ along with the

need to think of stuff to do for forty days come to mind. There are endless Pinterest posts, Instagram,

Facebook and blog posts giving a mass of useful tips and ideas to keep the kids busy, but if I’m honest I

feel just as overwhelmed by these in that I ‘should’ be doing them all. So it got me thinking that getting

inspiration from the sources out there is fantastic but ultimately doing it your way is what’s important.

Everyone’s circumstances are different in the amount of money and time they have, not to mention their

inclination for dreaded arts and crafts (recoiling at the thought!). It’s ultimately quality over quantity on

both counts. Happy parents equal happy kids in the grand scheme of it all and it’s those feelings that

last in memories for years to come. So rather that adding to the myriad of ideas that are already out

there here are some signposts to sources that I have found useful, and I’ve categorised them so

if you are like me and want to get outdoors as much as possible and avoid the arts and crafts

indoors there’s a section to explore but if you and your family are homebodies and love being creative

I’ve covered some of this too:

Getting out and about

Days out with the kids

I love this site, you can pop in a post code for any location and it suggests a range of activities for

kids in that area.

National trust

There are places to explore all over the UK and often some locations put on theme and activity

days for the family.

Tesco Clubcard

These really are a godsend. It’s also great to get rewarded for the weekly shop and filling up the car.

We’ve saved so much on days out using these.

Groupon

This app is great for pre purchasing tickets or experiences at often a fraction of the whole price. For

example there is an offer local soft play in my area that admits two children and provides two hot

drinks for adults for just £10.

Facebook events

I get so much of my ideas of things to do from Facebook events. I literally tick ‘interested’ on

everything I see so that I have a catalogue of local events to choose from when we find ourselves

with some free time.

Art and crafts

If you have a pinterest account the inspiration on there is endless but this article on Red Tricycle is also

a great starting point. My daughter also loves the cbeebies apps that give lots of ideas too.

Independent play

It’s also good to get the kids to play by themselves for intervals. I’ve stressed over having to constantly

amuse them for fear of the boredom but sometimes it’s just what they need. And it takes the pressure

off parents too. There’s lots of help on the internet for independent play by age – I have found

childhood 101 great.

Family time

If you are fortunate to have family nearby, spending time with family is not only a means of childcare

but also great for the kids and family. We are very lucky that one set of grandparents are very close

by and the other forty minutes away.

This is just my take on getting through the madness, I would love to know your thoughts and tips for

survival or share your stories about how you’re barley surviving, we’re bound to be able to get some

solutions together!

Family Life

The CEO of My Home: 12 ways I run my home like a business

I have read numerous times that housewives/husbands and mums/dads can bring a great deal of skill to the workplace given the numerous things they manage and execute at home. As a part time working mum this got me thinking that I may actually be carrying on my workplace skills over the whole seven day week.  I work in administration and I have two business related degrees and I see so many parallels between business operations and how I organise home and family life.Study.com suggests that there are four main business functions – planning, organising, leading and controlling. These are key functions of running a family home too. Here is my fun intake on how my home runs like a business, metaphorically speaking, with me sat in my leather swivel chair!:

1.We have a mission statement and strategic objectives

A successful business stays true to its strategic mission and goals. A basis for a good relationship is often founded upon common beliefs, shared goals, values, hopes and dreams. You also work together to raise your family around these shared mindsets. I think this is what constitutes as your mission statement and strategic objectives at home. In our home our mission statement is to be happy and make memories that we can reminisce upon with a smile. We also want to raise our children bilingually. So our strategic objectives are to work hard to maintain a level of resource that allows us to have memorable adventures. Our children also enjoy the experience of Welsh medium education. Our shared values and goals give us the intrinsic motivation to work hard for our family.

2. Diary management 

This is a huge one; we manage our own professional and personal diaries, not to mention that of the kids’ childcare, school, extracurricular and social diaries. I have literally 3 planners on the go – a wall planner, a paper diary and a Google calendar. Planning can go up yo eighteen months in advance! 

3. Financial Management 

We need to make sure that we have enough income to cover our expenses and that Bill’s are paid on time. We need to ensure that we have the necessary income to manage the outgoings and invest in the future. 

4. Human Resources 

We ensure that we are up to date with doctor, dentist, opticians and even haircuts! We also make sure we stay mentally and physically healthy and put measures in place to ensure this. 

5.Team Bonding 

I would class quality family time as team bonding. This can be sofa time just relaxing together with books or TV or even social activities, family days or holidays.

5. Training and Development 

Teaching kids kids to succeed in life – not just the basics like self care, money management and house keeping but manners and values to make them nice people. 

6. Performance management 

We are responsible for ensuring our kids are brought up to be polite and well behaved human beings and to do their best. How we manage their behaviour could be likened to the way businesses performance manage their staff.

7. Reward systems

How do we, as individuals and as a family, treat ourselves when we achieve our goals? Could it be as simple as a glass of wine for making it through to Friday or a trip to the park for getting that homework done? 

8. Public Relations 

In this current age so many of us share our family life on social media. There are endless debates on how people curate their lives online ( you just need to Google insta versus reality) as though they are maintaining a positive family brand that’s not true to reality. I do believe this to be the case a lot of the time but my personal take is that I love the ‘memories’ feature on the apps and like looking back at the good stuff so on the whole I keep mine positive. This doesn’t mean that I’m pretending that life is perfect or editing out the bad bits. The rubbish parts are definitely there but I tend to deal with them privately the same way a business may do so. 

9. Estates and Maintenance 

Taking care of our family home’s infrastructure; DIY, gardening, renovations, servicing and repairs. We may keep this in-house using the family resources or outsource to different companies for some of the jobs. 

10. Procurement 

Buying things for the family and home and review your resources accordingly. 

11. Legalities 

Mortgages, loans, and insurance policies, TV licence and taxes – making sure we are compliance with the law when doing so.

12. Archive and Record Management 

The home admin paperwork – the systems (or chaotic lack of!) for managing the admin that goes with all of the above! 

This is my personal take of how I feel I’m applying business principles to the management of my home life and it’s just a tongue in cheek bit fun. But can there be lessons learned from approaching family life like a business? We need to stop underestimating how much we are honing our professional skills when managing a home, and make sure we bring them to the table in the workplace. I also think that there are underlying skills that we are perfecting at home that are critical to success in work such as working under pressure, dealing with the unexpected, managing conflicting priorities, dealing with multiple tasks simultaneously, the list goes on. 

I do think we can take confidence boost from this when we are trying to juggle family and a professional life. The basic measure to success common to both work and home should be happiness, and if we are getting anywhere near to this in both places then our missions are being accomplished!    

Family Life

Sharing the Love : The quest to treat siblings equally

You love them both just as much, you strive to given them both the equal amount of love, attention,

teaching and care. You want them to both feel just as loved and secure as the other does, and above

all equally happy and fulfilled. But when your children’s personalities are so different, how do you ensure

your doing the best you can at this?

I was raised by parents that strongly believed whatever I had, my sister had and vice versa. But luckily

for my parents our tastes are quite similar, despite three years between us. And both being girls we’d

often be dressed the same! We still get identical Christmas and birthday presents to this day (easy when

your birthdays are 6 weeks apart). My inlaws raised my husband and his brother with the same values.

However both boys were very different in their tastes, hobbies etc. My mother-in-law said that whilst she

wouldn’t always give the same things at the same time to her boys she would ensure they had what they

needed when they needed it in equal measure, even if those needs were different.

My husband and I are trying to bring these values together as we raise our children. We have a girl and

a boy. My little girl is calm, cautious, opinionated, strong willed and loves to read, do arts and crafts and

stay indoors. My son is a whirlwind, the complete opposite of calm. He’s boistrus loves cars, outdoor

play, and making as much mess as he can. Add into the mix that he also has a learning disability.

So how do we do it? How do we give a blend of our values equally to two very different children?

Is it possible to do this when kids are unique people in their own right, and do any of the ‘advised

approaches’ work?

As much as we are told to go with our parental instincts (for which I’m completelyin favour of) it’s natural

to seek the advice and opinions of others. In the time leading up to the birth of my second child I read

somewhere that children should be encouraged to play independently but do so in twenty minute spurts

followed by periods of spending time with an adult. So I have tried to instill this method by setting up an

activity or TV for one whilst I do something focused at the table be it jewellery making, colouring, or board

games with the other. I’d then let number one carry on independently and get number two away from the

TV or toys to kick a ball about or have a dance around, read some books, play with musical toys. Now this

sounds great in theory but to be honest I’m exhausted even when I’m thinking about it, and that’s if it goes

to plan. They are little humans after all and don’t always go by the book! Sometimes they are both

demanding my attention and we have to do something neutral, like the park or soft play, as a group. On

the whole though it has worked for me, and I find when on the days this has gone well they will happily

play together, allowing me a coffee break or to finish a chore, once they’ve had a bit of one to one time

with me. I like to think that this approach tries to instil my parent’s values of giving equality to both at the

same time. It seems to be working great at the moment when they are only six and four years old.

But as they are getting older could my inlaws approach be starting to creep in too? For example, I may

take my daughter to see a film which she’d really like to see, but as my son wouldn’t entertain a film that

isn’t constant music, so I’ll make sure we get a soft play or park date in for him. I do try, time permitting.

I make every effort to accommodate their differing interests and give them opportunities to explore new ones

My kids undertake different extracurricular activities, which I chaperone them whilst the other is

taken care of by family. I like to think I’m giving equally there too, even if what they experience is different.

As they get older I do wonder how I will instill both sets of values as the gap in their interests and abilities

begin to widen. Like with all aspects of parenting you do the best you can and you just hope you do it

right. Even more so when you consider that the kids will no doubt take your approach into their minds

when they have their own families. Do you have two or more kids with very different personalities and

try to spread your time equally between them? Have you got an approach that’s working well or you

exhausted in need of inspiration on how to do it? Please let me know your thoughts xx

Wellbeing

Describing Yourself : Do the roles you have in life define your identity?

I heard the Centre Parcs radio advert this week and it caught my attention where she proclaims

“I’m not Jo Parson this weekend, I am mum” .. preceding this defining statement she relays several

identifiers for which she would normally associate herself with, but that weekend she is not any of them,

she is a parent. It caught my attention as for me It’s rare to hear it this way around. Normally it’s wanting

to escape the mum tag and be someone other than ‘mum”. There is no doubt that I’m absolutely proud

to be a mother to my two beautiful children and that it’s the hardest but in equal measure most

rewarding thing I have ever done. But does it validate who I am as an individual?

And do we need to escape one side of our identity so we can validate and live up the best version of

the other as this advert would suggest?

I enjoy the role that I have at work but would I say that my career gives me a sense of who I am

as a person? I don’t like to think so. So my questions are how much of what you do do you align with

your identity? What validates your identity? And should we be switching from one to another this

leading double lives?

I get super frustrated by the ‘full time mum’ identity label. I work part time but that doesn’t

make me a part time mother? I say that I am a mother who works part time.

To me we are all full time mothers, no matter how many hours you put in the office

, and some of us work and some of us don’t. Why do mums that don’t work brandish

being a mum as an occupation to apologetically justify your professional choice?

And why does the Centre Parcs mum feel she has to be “mum” for the weekend rather

than just being herself? Isn’t she always a mum?

The commonality here is we are putting our parental and professional duties at the forefront of

our identity. I think it’s important to strip it all back and think who we really are as stand-alone

individuals without using what we do to define us. But how would we do this? If we take away

or parental and professional roles away from the description what are we left with?

Psychologytoday.com says that “defining oneself within a social world is among

one of the most difficult choices a person ever makes”. They also suggest that assumptions are made

of your idenity based on your roles and the biases we have from parent influence, culture and religion etc.

So if we let ourselves become defined by our roles aren’t we just putting ourselves in category boxes

full of social assumptions?

I believe we should be defining ourselves with things that make us as unique and individual

as we are, and I think my values, beliefs and interests are what I believe make up my identity.

I love travel and days out ANYWHERE. I live for adventures and memory making.

Ninety nine percent these involve my family but I also love days out with friends – I’m extremely partial to

an afternoon tea or spa day or most definitely a combination of the both. I love to read and get lost in all

sorts of genres. I love a great Netflix box set, Gin, Ammereto and wine. I also love fitness and running,

I’m nowhere near athletic but I love the physical and mental rush that exercise gives.I could also define

myself by my values. I’m strong willed and strong minded. I also have a strong sense of justice and will

fight for what I believe to be right. I’m sociable yet cautious with new people but I love to make friends

and if you are a close friend I’ll value and trust you deeply.

But these identity markers have an inherent impact on our multiple roles in life.

I am aware that my interests and values are what influences the way I parent and the way I do my job.

To me this is what we should be putting forward for our self image. The stuff that makes us unique,

we are who we are and not the roles we undertake. By all means celebrate your roles, all of us in

whatever path in life are making a contribution to the current and future world,

but don’t lose sight of who you are. You are important and your are more than any role or responsibility.

Wellbeing

Catch Up Therapy – the positive impact of a good conversation

What’s your ideal setting for a great catch up? Those that know me well will testify that I adore a cup of tea, and more recently coffee! I can’t pretend I’m not partial to the odd glass of wine or gin too. But what makes any of these beverages a much more enjoyable experience is the art of good old conversation. I do love a good scroll through social media or getting lost in a great podcast but they don’t make me feel as uplifted as a face to face conversation. It has been suggested by many that enjoying the company of others contributes to your happiness, improved mental and physical health and can even help you live longer.

In the past twelve months or so family life has, dare I say out loud, has settled into some sort of routine now both my children are in full time school. I loved taking my two to baby and toddler groups and the social interaction that gave all of us and I do miss them now those days have gone (at least during term time) but this has allowed me to make a little more time for self-care, and part of that time is spent with meeting friends and fully concentrating on catching up. Making time for reintroducing this into my busy life as a working mam has been so beneficial. I’m relishing the opportunity to speak about what’s on my mind and going on in my life and I go home with a renewed energy and feel refreshed to face the chaos of family life. just by listening and sharing a different perspective.

Talking has the power to change the course of the day and mood of others too. You never know how much of a positive impact you could be having.I love that we not only catch up on each other’s news when I talk with friends but also that you’ll inevitably learn something new or gain valuable advice, or a totally new perspective, from them on your outpourings. It’s great that there are lots of mental health awareness raising in the media as it’s really getting people talking too. It sends the correct message that it’s ok to take time out to talk and catch up. This positive message goes hand in hand with the shift from the urge to portray a perfect life, where we are now encouraged to say that it is ok not to be ok. The valuable lesson being not to bottle things up and help each other out.

I am also loving the opportunity to maintain the sense of community outside of social media (which has been a godsend in those manic baby and toddler days where leaving the house felt impossible!) which we’ve probably all lost to some degree in our busy lives. With busy lives and modern technology making virtual communication much easier and by far the most convenient option, which I absolutely embrace, I think we need to use this to enhance and not replace that face to face contact. With the proven benefits there really is no substitute for a good old fashioned chat. Talking and taking time out improves your relationship with others too, especially as a parent where your happiness has such an impact on the well-being of your children.

But with a hectic life pulling you in all directions do you struggle to fit catch ups in with work and home life? Whilst it is clear that there are benefits, It is a symptom of modern life that finding the time to talk is difficult, so how do you fit these opportunities in? I personally find that making catching up as much of a priority as other important things on my to-do list helps, making sure I schedule them regularly in advance and commit to them – not just on my non-working days but during lunch breaks at work too. I have standing monthly arrangements with work-friends and friends outside of work which we all try and commit to as much as possible. Having that set day every fourth week helps you make it part of your routine, and it doesn’t feel like an effort to find the time when it is incorporated into your life that way. I do love some of the tips that are given on bustle.com (link below). I love the idea of paying in advance and how they challenge the barriers of being “too busy” to meet up and even suggest meeting up to do chores together – this can help inspire some productive opportunities to meet up and talk.

Do you feel that you need to make more time to talk? are you overwhelmed thinking how you could possibly fit in? Or are you on top of your ‘keeping in touch’ game and able to offer any more ideas, maybe some really creative ones, on how you manage it? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Featured links:

https://www.bustle.com/p/38-gross-products-on-amazon-with-shockingly-high-reviews-15803822