I’m Mulling Over My Childcare / Babysitting Options …..

What do you use as evening childcare? I’m really curious about this one as lately, I’ve been struggling about the morality of having to leave your children and the options you have. (Or lack of in my case.) It was never really an issue when I was married, I rarely went out, and if I did, if my mum didn’t look after my kids, I went on my own. Truth be told I can probably count on one hand the times I had to ask her to babysit. Now though, it’s a completely different ball game.

I’m completely tied to only making evening or weekend appointments when my children are at their dad’s, or on the odd occasion when I need to be out for work in the evening and it doesn’t fall on those days, I have called on my mum. She never complains, but she does so much to help me out during the day, I hate having to ask. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve had to cancel going to an event as my childcare plans fell through at the last minute so it’s time to start looking at other options. Plus it’d be nice to go on a date or even an evening gym class.  It’s not all work, work, work ya know!

I’ve toyed with the idea of asking my eldest son to babysit now and then, but in all honesty, I worry he won’t hear my youngest if he wakes up as he sits on his computer / does his homework with his earphones on. Technically he’s old enough to be a dad himself, but that still doesn’t leave me feeling comfortable about leaving him in charge!

What do you use as evening childcare? I'm really curious about this one as lately, I've been struggling

Photo credit – AMP Photo Co

Then there’s asking around for a local babysitter, students looking for some extra cash maybe. But I’m unsure about that one. Plus, I’m basically asking a 17-year-old to come and babysit my 17-year-old as well as my little preschooler and young teen. You see my problem now?It’s not always reliable is it, and with my aim to avoid having to cancel my evening plans, reliability is a must.

You see my problem now? It’s not always reliable is it, and with my aim to avoid having to cancel my evening plans, reliability is a must.

Plus, it’s not always reliable babysitting is it, and with my aim being to avoid having to cancel my evening plans, reliability is a must.

I’ll hands up admit that the one thing I find most difficult about being a single parent is how limited I am with childcare. I’ve even looked into using an agency like Sitters.co.uk which allows you to book childcare online, at least with this option I can build up a bank of local carers who have been reference-checked and have professional childcare experience. I’ve checked it out and bookmarked it as a backup plan.

So there you go,  unless you can suggest otherwise? I’d really love to know.

What do you use as evening childcare? I'm really curious about this one as lately, I've been struggling

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The Reality of Being a Single Parent Working From Home.

I’ve always had dreams. At primary school, I thought I’d be famous as my best friend and I made up our own shows and performed for the school, I dabbled with the idea of being in a successful rock band but my bad attitude and teenage laziness meant I only ever learnt 4 songs on the bass guitar. It sort of came back in college when I strived to be the next Annie Leibovitz, but I was never really that good at channelling one particular talent, like many teens I was easily distracted by friends and boyfriends.

Yet that all changed when I became a mum, something inside kick-started an ambitious streak, suddenly I needed to prove to myself and my son that I could be a good mum and have a career. It was never about not enjoying just being a mum, far from it. It was the making of me and gave me a determination and focus which had always been lacking.

I also knew that I needed to provide for my family as much as my husband, that the days of him going out to work while I stayed home and kept the house clean and kids entertained was just not possible if I wanted to have holidays and a home big enough for a few more kids. It needed to be a team effort.

For a while it worked perfectly for a while, I finished my degree and found the perfect job which allowed me to be around for my boys and a stepping stone to a career I’d been aiming for, at that point, as a working mum I did have it all. My husband and I tag parented, and for a while, it worked

Then things changed; meant my marriage crumbled beyond repair and now I was stepping into a whole new world as a working single mum, my optimism became my drive telling me I could still do this.

While on the outside I probably appear to have it all. I can work from the comfort of my desk at home, I have the freedom to drop off and pick up my youngest son from preschool and change my working hours as and when needed. The reality is very different.

That ambition I mentioned, it’s very much still there. More than ever in fact. Now I’m doing this all on my own, it’s all down to me to earn enough to make sure they don’t miss out simply because things didn’t work out between their dad and I.

It’s not so easy when you don’t have a husband coming home at the end of the day to take over with the kids while I complete work deadlines. I can’t get up early in the morning to go for a run with the dog while the kids are still asleep, freeing up precious work time later when they’re all at school. Life as a single working mum is all about juggling and careful time management. Just as it was when I was married, but now I don’t have a backup partner.

The reality of being a single parent, working from home is –

about using your free time constructively to catch up on work and housework while still maintaining a personal life.

It’s about grabbing every free minute of the day and night to reply to emails, or making phone calls. working while cooking, walking the dog, standing in a super maket queue and walking up to pre school.

It’s about working late and getting up early. Working while watching TV just so you know what the rest of Facebook is talking about so you feel you’re in touch with reality.

It’s all about balance; giving your children undivided attention while resisting work and not fretting about getting it done. Something which I often get wrong.

But on the flip side, I don’t have a husband coming home in a bad mood after a bad day at work, I don’t have the worry of being home at certain times to cook dinner. If the boys and I are out for the day in the holidays there’s not rush to get back. I don’t have someone moaning that I’m working in the evening,  unaware that I don’t have the luxury of just stepping out the door to go to work in the morning without making sure the kids are sorted for the day and coming home to relax. That stress is gone.

Plus I get every other weekend, while my kids are with their dad, to catch up on work if need be.

And while I often wonder if my life might be easier if I went out to work every day, at set times and not bring my work home with me, I wouldn’t be following my ambition and I wouldn’t have the flexibility like I do now.

Plus, my kid’s won’t be living at home forever.

So while I perfect the single, work from home, mum lifestyle, it is only temporary.

And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

The reality of being a single parent, working from home is about It's about grabbing every free minute of the day & night to meet deadlines

 

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Tips on managing the amount of time children spend online

This post is going to make me sound like a right hypocrite but I’m weighing in with the do as I say not as I do card. Mum Rights and all that. You see, I’m a mum of 3 boys who love their devices, the youngest not so much as he’s on strict and easy to govern rules, the teenagers – sheesh! But here’s the tricky bit; my job means I spend most of my working time online and when I’m not working, I’m paying bills, shopping, reading & chatting to my friends and family on WhatsApp or messenger.

I live and breathe online, even my gym and run sessions have an online element via the apps I use, which makes me preaching to my kids about managing the amount they spend online a little weird and super hypocritical.

I guess the angle I’m coming from though, is from this; I’ve seen how inactive my boys are when using the internet and they simply haven’t got the self-discipline which I have on making sure they’re balancing out their online time with some active. It’s not just about phones, Play Stations and PC’s in the home too. I’m worried about how much of actual life they’re missing out on, from the car journey conversations we don’t have as they’re glued to their screens, or the days out they’re more interested in snap chatting rather than being in the moment.

We do have rules, like no phones at the dinner table, my youngest having very limited iPad time and my 13-year-old has an hour screen-free time before bed. I’ve suggested this to my 17-year-old son but that’s the age where I’ve really had to loosen the reins. The lightbulb moment came though, after finding out that children aged 5 to 15 are spending an average of 15 hours a week on the web, my teens, rather worryingly, can easily nudge over 15 hours when they’ve added in a lazy weekend.

One suggestion for managing their time online is trying out the Digital 5 A Day which provides a base for a family agreement about internet and digital device use and while the framework isn’t so suitable for my 3-year-old, it is a reminder to keep his iPad time limited especially when I’ve seen the change in his behaviour when he comes off even after 15 minutes.

 

One suggestion for managing their time online is trying out the Digital 5 A Day which provides a base for a family agreement about internet and digital device use

So my main concerns centre around how to manage the amount of time my 13 and 17-year-old spend online while both at home and at school.

I’m starting with empowering my guys to manage their own time, helping them to be mindful of how much they use their phones (the above digital 5 a day is the best resource for this) and tasking them to:

  • make sure they have complete screen free time before bed
  • make sure they’re active and sedentary times are balanced
  • regularly talk about staying safe online

There’s also some other options to explore, including installing extra security onto all devices, like Kaspersky Security Cloud, which gives parent’s the option to manage and adjust their children’s screen time, select which websites they can see, and stay informed of their whereabouts via GPS. As much as I’d love to think my children can be trusted, it’s still my role as their parent to set boundaries.

They know how to use privacy settings, as well as the report and block functions on the websites, social media channels and apps they use. But it’s also up to me to be on top of my game. It helps that I do know a thing or two about social media, but even the SnapChat ghosting update had me surfing the web to understand it, make sure I was properly clued up and able to discuss making sure they weren’t oversharing to strangers. Ironically, it was via some Facebook posts that I found out about it!

It’s safe to say I’m a pro of the whole online world. I’ll argue the benefits of its corner to anyone, but I also see the dangers and how the flip side is one where my boys live in a virtual world more than the real one. So it all comes down to balance, in a nutshell, and using what tools there are available to help you and your kids make sure they’re getting that balance as well as keeping safe online at all times.

And if I need to bring out the mum card to remind my boys that Mother Knows Best, then I will!

One suggestion for managing their time online is trying out the Digital 5 A Day which provides a base for a family agreement about internet and digital device use

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Stepping out in luxury lingerie with Empress Mimi

Answer this honestly ladies, those days when you step out the door in matching undies are the ones when you feel like you’ve got your mojo. I’m working it, I can handle it and yes #ThisMumCan. Even if you’re not feeling fully on trend or classy on the outside, knowing that underneath it all, you’re killing it. I’ve been going by the mantra that there’s no need to save things til best anymore, seriously,  what’s the point of the beautiful things in your life staying locked away in a drawer, only to see the light of day on the odd special occasion? (Answer, there’s NO point.)

So I put on the nice jewellery, wear the posh perfume and most days, not just the good days, I make sure I’m wearing matching undies/lingerie/underclobber whatever you want to call it.

Need an example? Take this cute little set from Empress Mimi for example; what lady wouldn’t raise a smile to a new set like this being delivered to their door each month? This is hands down the most exciting thing to arrive on my doorstep last week, believe me!

Arriving beautifully packaged, opening it up and waiting to see what’s inside was all part of the fun. Almost like a little present to yourself, a well done for being awesome this month, now go get changed and feel fabulous.

Yeah, after a careful, well thought through head rummage, I’m totally sold on the idea of a surprise package of lingerie coming each month.

  • There’s no stress in finding time to go to the shop to buy it,
  • it’s indulgent, because let’s face it, people only buy new undies when they’re having an affair, newly single and ready to mingle or off on a girlie weekend where the pressure to give off the ‘yeah, I don’t own any grey holey numbers, I always make an effort whatever the occasion’  vibe.
  • And if left to a man to buy it, it’s only ever going to be red or black and probably the wrong size.

So here’s a thought. What if you decide you’re not going to be that person who saves the best for best.

What if, for example, you decide to throw away all you old faithful’s, and to step out every day as though you’re dressed for all eventualities because the only underwear you own is simply amazing? (Blokes who are still reading, that applies to you too, ditch the holey boxers. Do it, do it now!)

So here's a thought. What if you decide you're not going to be that person who saves the best lingerie for only best?

In the words of Empress Mimi themselves……

There is a misconception that lingerie is exclusively for the bedroom. What is worn underneath your clothes directly reflects how you feel and the energy you emit. A touch of sensual lingerie is the equivalent to a power suit, one that is delicious little secret that only you know about.

And I’m totally with it, as pretty lingerie makes it all better.

So here's a thought. What if you decide you're not going to be that person who saves the best lingerie for only best?

Fancy trying it out Empress Mimi for yourself?
You can get 15% off your first purchase using the code MUMINANUTSHELL15
 And what’s more, they’ll also donate 10% of the proceeds of the purchases made using the discount code to charities helping get more women into coding http://www.projectgirlcode.org
Why coding?
Because we believe that technology and the online world has lowered the barriers to entry for everyone to run their own business (whether as a side hustle or full time). Getting more women into tech will ensure more women at the top of what we hope will become the new world  leading businesses and will ensure that every woman has the skills and knowledge to thrive in the emerging tech economy. More women going online and building like-minded communities that support one another, and more fearless women with the right tools at their disposal to create anything they can imagine .
Empress Mimi

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This is a collaborative post. All words and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. 

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Simple changes, big results… I’m Gonna Get Me a Watch

Funny old thing time, you either have it or you don’t. I don’t these days. That’s the long and the short of it,  I’m always rambling on that there isn’t enough hours in the day or I just don’t have the time as I charge around the house at the end of the day putting away washing and mentally trying to work out how much work I need to complete before bed time.

I’m my own worst enemy as not being organised is my downfall followed closely by a lack of self-discipline. I start each day with the best intentions, but as I work from home, it only takes me checking my phone and I’m down in a rabbit hole of answering emails or messages, already chasing my tail as I try playing catch up to get ready, then running out of the door in a fluster.

I’m pretty much always late these days too, and I hate that. If I’m running late I can feel the stress building up and that’s one area I really try keep in check. I’ve got this firm belief that stress is a huge precursor for many illnesses and I simply don’t have the time to be ill!

So what’s my plan?

It’s simple, I’ve started wearing a watch, a nice fancy day-to-evening Marc Jacobs number (heavily reduced at Plus Watches as luck would have it.) I chose to go bling-bling in the hope that something stunning wrapped around my wrist will encourage me to keep looking subconsciously checking on my time in an effort not to be late. Something eye-catching, that was my plan.

Why I ever gave up wearing a watch I'll never know. I'm so much more aware of time now; organised me is back!
And it’s working, mainly because I love pretty things, I’m like a magpie. I was thinking of going down the fitness tracker watch route but my gorgeous little sparkly rose gold number makes me feel just as good as clocking how many steps I’ve taken would’ve. I’m so much more aware of time now; where I need to be, how much time I’ve got and just being a super wiz bang organised lady.

Why I ever gave up wearing a watch I’ll never know, and the best thing is, I can put my phone down a little more, even leave it at home if the kids are with me. I can feel my iPhone addictions slowly loosening the reins as I have one less thing to rely on it for.

And it all started by a good old-fashioned wrist watch!

Why I ever gave up wearing a watch I'll never know. I'm so much more aware of time now; organised me is back!

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