Wednesday 30 November 2016

Finding a Work Life Balance as a Mum

Everyone wants to achieve that delicate equilibrium - where you give both work and home life the right amount of your attention and time. But perhaps more than anyone else, mums to young children can find it particularly challenging to strike the right balance.

Do the Pros of Working Post-Baby Outweigh the Cons?

You may have gone back to work because you had to, or because you wanted to. Either way, there’s always a cost for new mums. It can be a no-win situation: If you go to work, you have to sacrifice some of the time you could be spending with your kids. If you stay at home, there’s going to be less money for the household. Decide what is the best option for your family. Perhaps part-time work is the solution to give you some time fulfilling both roles of mum and provider.

If you decide you’re better off working, there are some practical steps you can take to achieve that work life balance.  But you’ve got to think about your mindset and your philosophical attitude towards it.

Let Go of Guilt

Some argue that maternal guilt kicks in from the day your baby is born. There’s always something to feel guilty about it seems. Am I doing everything wrong?

Are you feeling like a failure because you don’t have time to cook organic baby food? If so, remember that many kids are going hungry in the world. At least yours have food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in.

Don’t be too hard on yourself for not being supermum whilst holding down a job. Similarly, don’t feel guilty if you arrive at work a few minutes later than your colleagues as you have to fit the school run in. You can always make up the time over lunch. Instead of worrying about the things you don’t do perfectly, give yourself a pat on the back for the juggling that you do achieve.

Accept you Can’t Have it All

The concept of being able to ‘have it all’ is one that leads to frustration. Why? Because it’s a total myth. A myth that, for most of us, is unattainable. The sooner you accept that you’re a human being with limitations, not some demi-god, the happier you’ll be. Forget about what’s missing in your life and focus on the positives. Think about what you have - those fantastic kids and a job that means that you can support them.

Give Yourself a Break

It’s all very well making time for both your family and for work, but work-life balance won’t be complete unless you make some time for yourself too. Many mums feel that having ‘me’ time is a selfish idea, so they do without it. But, if you spend all your time thinking about everyone else, you’ll end up feeling too frazzled to do anything at all. Even if you only have an hour to yourself once or twice a week, you’ll feel the benefit and be a calmer and more relaxed mum.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Win a £100 Argos Voucher with Nomow

If there is one thing that has become apparent since I moved into my new home, it's that I am not very good at mowing the lawn. When I say I am not very good, I mean that the only time it has been mowed is when the Father comes over and see's just how abysmal it is looking.

It's a new lawn that was only laid a few short months ago, just before I moved in to be precise. It constantly has weeds growing through that the builders neglected to remove before they laid the turf right over it, and having a puppy who has taken to peeing in one precise area of the lawn is not helping matters!

I have seen so many people talking about artificial grass, and having seeing how their personal results have come out, I know that one day it is something that I would absolutely love to do for myself. 

Nomow are Europe's market leading manufactures and installers of artificial grass. They provide it for schools, nurseries and gardens just like yours and mine. They also provide it for safety surfaces and golf courses, and they now have over 20 years knowledge and experience under their belt.

If providing a fantastic alternative to traditional grass is not enough, Nomow have launched a giveaway for one lucky winner this Autumn to win a Argos Voucher worth £100.00 in time for Christmas. Now who can tell me that winning a voucher like this wouldn't help relieve the stress of the upcoming Christmas period?

I know that it would be a huge blessing for me at this time of year, and I am sure that I am not alone in feeling the pressure that comes with making sure you have catered to everyone come December 25th.

You can enter the Nomow Competition right here, and all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is fill out the Rafflecopter form on their entry page (link above) and then if you want to, you can check back each day and gain an extra entry by tweeting about the giveaway! 

It really is that simple! 
Who wants to give it a go!?

Christmas Around the World

If there is one time of year I absolutely love being at home in the UK, it's Christmas. I adore the festive feeling that comes along with the chill in the air and Jack Frost coating everything in that glittery sparkle. Being tucked away at home with the Christmas tree twinkling in a dark room with a Christmas movie on the television, makes everything feel so magical, and that is exactly why I couldn't imagine being anywhere else at this time of year (Although my recent visit to New York did make me second guess this!).

Of course Christmas does take place around the entire world and not everybody's traditions reflect our own (That's what makes it fun right?), as long as I have my nearest and dearest around me come Christmas Day and I know that I have a Turkey dinner coming my way, I am always a very happy lady. 

It did get me thinking about how different Christmas can be in different countries, what food do they eat? What are there Christmas Traditions? Do they vary much from our own? Bright Horizons Nursery in Manchester have put together the below infographic that might just enlighten you the way it did me...

Monday 7 November 2016

The Puppy Days: Growing up

Dalmatian Puppy
Rosewood Luxury Leather Soft Touch Red Leash and Collar
Guess who has been doing a lot of growing since my last post? Lux. The rate in which this boy is growing up is just astounding, and he is now proudly reaching the work tops and all of the things that I have had to keep pushing back. My Mum had him for the day the other week for me, and it was around the time of my brother's birthday so there was of course cake in the house. When I came to pick him up, Lux was very quiet... The kind of quiet where you know he is up to something before you even see him...

I walked into the kitchen and there he was licking the cake board clean, as the there was no cake on the board I left him occupied and asked my Mum whether there was any cake left... She excitedly told me that if I wanted a slice of cake then it was on the cake board in the kitchen... It was round about here that I dropped the cake bomb on her and told her that if there had been cake left, then Lux had polished it all off while he was in the kitchen. She couldn't believe it because she had pushed it so far back, but the devious puppy of mine had persuaded it onto the floor with those long paws of his.

Dalmatian Puppy in Autumn

I really feel that we have bonded now, he really is my dog. He loves a cuddle and is well and truly a large lapdog (Which I wouldn't have any other way). Training wise he is doing great in the house, and we have even managed to get him to sit and wait for food, which if someone had told me was a possibility a few months ago, I would have laughed whole heartedly in their face! 

Dalmatian Puppy and Child

Dalmatian Puppy and child

We haven't been to the puppy training class I picked out for a good few weeks now, I didn't feel that her set up was working for us. She didn't want the puppies mixing at all, which to me just seemed odd because surely getting them socialized is a rather important factor. The last time we went along she gave everyone homework at the end of the session, she got to Lux and I and said 'Well Laura... You just get through the week!'. I was pretty stunned in all honesty, how is that constructive? I was there with my cheeky pup wanting to learn. 

I am looking at a couple of our other local training facilities and plan on going else where. I think to start with we will be better off inside to get the basics and then progress it outdoors. Lux is a completely different character inside in comparison to outside. Indoors he will listen and for the most part comply, outside you might as well just be talking to your self because he will literally put his nose to the floor and go off on his own, dragging you along in his wake. 

Dalmatian Puppy

Lux pulls like a train, we are doing lots of heel work at home and while we are out and about, but so far he's still pulling like he's dragging me along on a sleigh. He is a coach dog after all, so pulling and sniffing are all completely within his nature and breed. I am looking at no pull harnesses at the moment, as a traditional lead and collar is proving to be a real full body work out, and every so often he completely catches me off guard and I find myself hurtling away in the direction of his choosing. I am hoping that a no pull harness will be a way to correct the behavior before he gets even bigger.


Dalmatian Puppy

We have had such a lovely month, and now he is getting bigger we have been able to venture that little bit further with him. I am still taking things slowly with him, but we have been starting to do some alternate walks/jogs where we speed up for a little and then slow it back down again. Lux loves this, and when he runs along side me that pull disappears (I guess because he is going at the speed he wants!), we have been trying out Lishinu which is a really cool hands free retractable leash! You strap it to your wrist using the velcro and then your good to go. It's absolutely fantastic if you enjoy running with your dog, as Lux pulls it's not something I have been using in replacement of our usual lead on the walks that take us along the side of roads, but when we have been out in the field or on the walk we took up Bredon Hill it has given us a lot more flexibility.

Dalmatian Puppy

Lux seems to really enjoy the Lishinu as it gives him more flexibility to roam around. We had such a great walk on Bredon Hill. I drove pretty high up and parked the car so that it was not such a long way for him to go (He's still only little at 5 months old and you aren't really meant to walk them to much at this age), but he was in his element chasing leaves and enjoying the great outdoors.

As it has got so much colder recently we have been really loving his Luxury Night Bright Jacket, it's thick and fleecy on the inside and the outer body is water resistant, so it keeps him lovely and warm and even stops him getting completely soaked by the rain. I think even Lux has been thankful for this because it has come to light that he really is a princess! In a morning he sticks one paw outside as if to see whether he can brave the elements or not, if it's wet he recoils back inside! I have to physically pick him up and put him outside in order to insist he goes for a wee! 
Dalmatian Puppy

I had to giggle though, during our last session with the trainer. She asked me why Lux was wearing a coat, which to be honest I thought was a pretty stupid question. Why does anyone wear a coat? Usually because they are cold right? So I reminded her how cold the weather was now, I pointed out that Lux also has very short fur and that if she thought thus was weird, she should wait until I purchase his Winter Jumper! She pretty much told me I need to tougen him up, but I don't really think I do. He's a domesticated dog, he lives in a house, and there's absolutely no need to toughen him up. He's with a family who love him and want him to be comfortable in every weather and eventuality.

Lux finally grew out of his dog bed this month, so we need to add that to the purchase list for this month as he's currently sleeping on a blanket in the kitchen and now it is getting colder, I want to ensure he will be warm enough through the night.

I wonder how much growing he will do over the next month? One thing is for sure, he is going to be a giant!

Hello November

Dalmatian Puppy in Autumn

November is here and with the new month, the colder weather has well and truly arrived. I have always felt the cold, but now that I am living in my new home and it is just myself paying all of the bills, I have to admit that I have been a bit tight with the heating, and when I say tight what I mean to say is, I haven't actually put it on yet!

Instead of flicking the switch to put the heating on, Leo and I have been adding additional layers, like this morning for instance, I woke up got dressed and automatically put on my thick fleece and coat ready to head straight out the door on the school run, and then when I woke Leo up, I got him to do exactly the same. 

Money has been a bit tight over the last few months, and I have to be honest here and say that I just didn't want another expense to worry about. This month has pretty much crippled me on the bill front and it has been a never ending list of people who just want to take all of my pennies. It's true when they say everything always happens at once, and now they have all been paid I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. 

Office Space decoration

As I work from home and I am usually sat at my desk from the moment I get back from the school run in a morning, right up to 3pm when I collect Leo at the end of the day, I do really feel the cold. It's a give in because I am sat working and the only part of my body really moving are my fingers when I am typing away, and my hand when I lift the coffee cup to my lips. Ok granted and my legs when I stow away to make the cups of coffee that follow the initial cup of the morning. 

Anyone who works in an office knows the struggle of being cold, I remember my position at an old job, and I used to sit there in my winter coat even when they did pop the heating on. When I am working though, I have my desk in the lounge at home, and it is only myself and the dog at home during the day, so realistically that is the only room that I need to heat between the hours of 9am-3pm.

Autumn Leaves

I have been giving this a lot of thought over the last few weeks as the leaves on the trees have been getting brighter and brighter and fluttering down to the final resting places on the ground. I have been having a look at electric radiators and researching the range over at electric radiators direct, because this would be absolutely ideal to have right next to my desk during the winter months, as they are inexpensive to buy and great little runners, and it really would be perfect for me when I only need to keep one room heated during the day.

I live in a new build home and it is really very economic. It stays cool during the summer months, and I know that when I start to warm it up, it will hold the heat, but right now it feels like you are walking through a fridge (I may be being a little drastic here because I don't like the cold!), but I definitely need to start warming my work space during the day, if only to stop myself drinking so much coffee. 


I am hoping that this last month has just been the initial teething period, and that money wise we should be back on our feet by the end of this month. It's been hard at times because for the first time in my life I have actually had to prioritise every single penny, and I have found myself stressing about whether I can afford to put petrol in my car, and there have been times this month that I genuinely haven't been able to, and that feeling is the worst. 

I'm positive as always though, and I know that everything is going to be ok. As long as we have food in the fridge and clothes on our back, there isn't anything that Leo and I cannot navigate through. 

Life Unexpected's Top Tips for Creating Video Content

It's been almost 5 years since I launched my little corner of cyber space. That time has both flown and tiptoed quietly by, but no matter which way I choose to look at it, so much has happened in that time frame. Leo has grown from a small baby who relied on me for absolutely everything, to an independent 5 year old child who loves to branch out on his own. 

I have had to learn to stand on my own 2 feet two, and the journey has seen me learn so much about myself. The blog has grown and evolved, it had a name change two years back and it has most definitely rolled with the punches. 

As I cast my mind back to those very early days in my blogging life, I recall how horrified and shy I would be when it came to creating video content. It was something I quite honestly did not want to do. I knew that as time went on, it would be something that I would have to make peace with in one way or another. It may have taken me 5 years, and often my videos are anything but perfect, but I love that I am putting myself out there and giving it a go. 

If you don't already produce your own video content, then maybe this could be food for thought: 'Video content is staging a takeover of the Internet. By 2017, Cisco projects that video will account for 69 percent of all Web traffic. The majority of that traffic will come from non-PC devices, including tenfold increases in smartphone and tablet usage.'

Now is the time to start creating content and pushing your brand further than it has ever gone before. We all have to start somewhere, but if you think about just how huge video is in 2016, and how much bigger it is going to get, then now really is the time to get over your stage fright and persevere. 

You can do this. 

I thought that it would be nice to share my Top 5 Tips for Creating Video:

1. Find a Video Editing Software that you are comfortable in using. 
Invest time in learning how to use it and getting the most out of this software. This first tip may just be the most essential, because if you can't get on well with your chosen software, you will not be producing the videos to the very best of your ability. For many years I used Windows Movie Maker, and this has done the job for me personally. I am now looking into a more comprehensive software.

2. Make a list of what you want to talk about in your video.
I am a firm believer in listing the subjects you want to discuss in your video ahead of going live. I don't believe in scripting the video, you can always tell when someone is reading off sheet or just going for it. I know it's a worry that you will go in and suddenly your mind will go blank, but you'll look and sound a lot more natural. 

I would suggest doing some trial runs on camera because you might catch something great, that goes on to feature in the finished footage!

3. Think about the message you want the video to share.
 Before you even start shooting you need to decide on an objective, What do you want to achieve out of the content?

Once you have the answer to this you can start to think about how you want to construct the video. For instance, if you were putting together a video on the opening of a theme park and you wanted to show people what they had going on there, why not do something like this?

4. Make it easy for people to follow and connect with you.
If people like what they see, they are going to want to keep up with you. If you make them laugh or you resonate with them on some level, they will want more from you. You need to make sure that all of your social media networks are accessible from the video.

5. Make it easy to share. 
People like to share content, that is a fact. People don't like to jump through hoops in order to share content, that's another fact. Make sure that your Blog/YouTube accounts or wherever you are sharing the content, has everything needed to be shared quickly and easily by your readers/viewers. 

It's always great to make sure that the video can be shared over any social network, so that is can be seamlessly shared from Facebook/Twitter/YouTube etc at the touch of a button.

Toast TV a video production company in London have put together a great infographic featuring their best Pro-Tips for creating videos for social media, you can have a look at this below.