I’ve long been a believer that children need your time more than material things. It’s a great life lesson to learn at an age when everything is so new and impressionable. I’m also a single mum with 3 kids (one who is a toddler yet to start pre school) working from home around my family needs and everyday chores.

Anyone see the problem there?

If the answer is no then read on while I share exactly how my day pans out;

The alarm goes off at 6.30am every morning but more often than not I’m awake before then, the constant niggle in the back of my mind that I have lots to do in a short space of time. I reach for my phone and check emails, Facebook alerts for my blog page, my social media management clients and my social media community campaign. Then it’s over to Twitter and Instagram to do the same, replying to comments, engaging with others who have taken the time to like, retweet or comment.

I use my phone to create posts, editing photos, creating graphics, scheduling social media updates to Buffer and then reply to personal messages. There’s a lot going on in my personal life right now and my support network of family and friends keep me grounded and ticking over.  Then my toddler wakes up and we go grab a glass of lemon water, coffee for me and smoothie for him. By now I’m in full work mode but I also have to keep my mind and body healthy so while the house is still quiet, I put my son’s favourite TV show on the iPad while I mediate for 10 minutes using an app on my phone followed by my daily 5 minute planking exercises which I time using, you guessed it, my phone.

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
I’ll put my hands up, my phone is never far away and is in use pretty much constantly from the moment I get up, throughout the day and before I go to bed, I even wind down to sleep using the mind clear setting on my sleep monitor app which then monitors my sleep pattern throughout the night and reports back on my progress and how I can improve it. 24/7 my life is digital. Be it working on the computer from home or using my phone, I’m hooked up most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, there are always  moments when I’m out and about with my son and I try to stick to work times throughout the day. He’s far from being a TV toddler glued to the screen, but I’m well aware that it’s normal for him to think that adults need to have their phone on them at all times from the times he says

Mummy, you’ve left your phone in your bedroom

as we’re walking down the stairs.

So while switching off isn’t an option, I need to work, I need the support of the phone calls and messages right now, I do owe it to my kids to have some set time, undisturbed or tempted by social media and emails. So this Christmas, my present to them will be my presence. I’ll be switching off on the 25th and 26th for complete mindfulness with my boys. And I have a tool kit to make it achievable.

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
This tool kit was given a test run recently as I logged off 2 smart phone free days. 2 days of focusing wholly on my children and not on the digital world on my phone. I’m not going to lie to you, it was excruciating but with a Punkt phone, which reminded me of a modern and classy version of my first Nokia 3310, it was do able.

Popping my sim card into the slot (it came which a handy sim tray which could accommodate my micro sim card, I fired it up and could still receive calls and texts. The moments when my itchy fingers ached to check in to my emails, I calmed my mind with some colouring. Man that is so therapeutic! Kids really know what they’re doing and why the chuff do we stop as adults?

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
And when I found my thoughts wandering, mulling over the storm which has taken over my personal life, instead of reaching for the web for inspiration or solutions, I wrote it down. I forgot how good it feels to lose your self in written words and then look back at the page, I forgot how much I loved making sure each letter was positioned on the lines, each loop and letter a unique window into my personality. Handwriting is so personal and reveals so much about a person and it felt good to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper.

With Christmas and Boxing day less than a month away now, my next smart phone detox will soon be here and this year is so different from the rest and as much as I’ll be tempted to escape the reality of the elephant in the room as lose myself in other people’s worlds, it won’t do me any good to see all the social media posts of families enjoying their day so a smart phone free day, with all focus on my boys and making it a special one for them is a must.

I think you’d be mad not to join me in giving your presence as the present this year.

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post 

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if you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small

I’ve got my work head in again. Since shutting up shop on my small business a couple of weeks ago it’s given me the head space to reassess the most effective and productive way of working from home as a social media manager.

It’s all too easy for the lines between family and work life to blur and trying to juggle 2 businesses and home life in the past resulted in me working every spare moment. Even car journeys (as a passenger I should add) I’d been catching up on emails.

The hardest part, though, was having defined areas to work. I’d created a multi use workspace but I didn’t always have the time to go there and paper work wold end up in piles around the house waiting to be filed.

Not a great idea with an inquisitive toddler roaming free!

I also try to live a relatively eco-friendly lifestyle and  with most of my work being carried out online, it seemed the sensible option that I tried to create a business which operated entirely online. Paperless was the way forward, my recycling bin was testament to that, not to mention the wasted hours shredding important documents.

So for anyone looking to do the same there are several companies out there which can give you a head start,. For example, I use online accounts, at the moment it’s Wave but have used Quick Books for my now closed business as well as trialling Xero (click on the link to read my review if you’re interested). Both are pretty good and make invoicing a doddle as it’s all done through email and you can see clearly who’s not paid.  It also makes wrapping up end of year accounts easier.

But for bigger businesses who rely on reporting  and data management, E-Workbooks from firms such  as IDBS take the paperless office one step further. Combine that with online calendars such as Teamup makes sure everyone is clear on who’s doing what and when. This proved invaluable back in my days working in an office and can be applied to busy home life too.

So a little food for thought for anyone working as a freelancer, small or large business owner.

The clear message here is that paperless can be done,

And who wants to waste time sitting at the shredder anyway?

f you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small

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what happened when I took a digital detox

I’ll put my hands up to once being in the camp of social media hater. I knew I should  join the masses, but I hated the idea of the intrusion. Why should I be sharing my new happy, little life with people I didn’t particularly know very well anymore?

It just didn’t sit too well.

Don’t get me wrong, there were many old friends who I loved catching up with, poking, liking, private messaging old times.  But there were also the ones who could barely muster a glance, let alone a smile or courtesy “hello” in public yet here they were, having complete access to the ins-and-outs of the nitty gritty, I or anyone who tagged me, decided to share.

They’d know where I’d been on holiday and whatever mood I was in without even having to waste breathing space in my general direction. And that was wrong, in my eyes, wrong.

Call me picky, but I just didn’t see how having a bulging Facebook friends list was going to make my life any better. And don’t even get me started on Twitter. All I knew was that someone had insulted Stephen Fry (his tweets were boring, apparently) so he’d taken umbrage and left.

But surely if Stephen Fry couldn’t hack the Twitter pace, there was no way simple old, not very exciting me, was going to risk it!

Yet here I am with my handles and profile photos, living the social media life as all that changed as I slowly  realised I could hold the virtual reins in the social media stratosphere. That for my blog and soon my business to succeed I needed to venture in with both eyes open and embrace this ever evolving world.

A world where pretty soon I wouldn’t even need to stroll down to the newsagent to buy a magazine, as I could find out all about the latest must-have products  at the touch of a finger tip, Pretty soon, my recreational and research reading was all online.

Even soap operas took a step out of my evening’s entertainment, I had my own reality show here, online. A morbid urge to pry and indulge the gossip all there, for my viewing pleasure.Friend or celeb, I could hear it all, whenever, and however I pleased.

And despite being in what could-have been a very lonely position on maternity leave as I left friends and colleagues behind, it was quite the opposite. Instead I  had access to a community of like-minded people, day and night.

This digital world wasn’t shaping up to badly after all.

I was hooked as my world would become more and more digital. I’d socialize, bank, work, take photos, share photos, research, plan, watch and shop all from the comfort of my friend, my companion, my iPhone.

And that’s when it hit me, my life was being played out in silence, over a screen. I’d become so absorbed in this lifestyle which I’d once tried to resist, that I was missing the real life. I’d watch fireworks through a lens instead of just enjoying them, my quest for preserving that feeling for ever was lost and the reality was I’d never really been part of that feeling in the first place.

So I took a digital detox.

A 4 days, 4 nights, no iPhone, no laptop, no social media digital detox.

The first day was easy. I was hitting the ground running while stressed to hilt. Any moments free, where I would normally reach for my phone were pushed aside.

I needed a break, I must have a break, I will have a break.

I played games with my son, kept myself busy and reminded myself that all would not be lost if I didn’t Instagram that really cute photo. hash tag or no hash tag. I will not pick up that phone.

the time I took a digital detox, a complete break from social media and the laptop. see how I got on here;

Day two came and went, I’d completely de-stressed. I even sat and watched the trees blowing in the wind. (not done that without the urge to reach for my phone and photograph it in a long time) in tranquility, I gathered my thoughts and noticed how much slower my mind now seemed.

For the first time in years I wasn’t racing round in my head with a list of to-dos. It felt nice. And oddly I had no interest in seeing what everyone else in Facebook world was up to.

It felt really, really nice. Liberating almost.

By day three I was there; The calm, digital free world I’d planned for. My fingers had lost their familiar ache and I had no desire to share anything with anyone, ever again. I’d gathered my thoughts and calmed my mind. I’d rebooted ‘me’.

Then I lapsed. One momentary, lapse. A photo which, ironically, represented the freedom and unplugged moment I was living, and I shared it. I wanted everyone to know I was still here, not forgotten, just chilled. Why I needed to  share escapes me, more boredom than anything I suspect. My calm mind was now boring me and I needed connecting. Or distracting, that’s what I needed, distracting.

So I wrote, with a real pen and paper, I wrote. I’m a writer, a blogger, by trade. It’s where I dump my thoughts to make space for the new ones and so I needed to transfer the calm, gentle thoughts I now had floating in my head somewhere. Instinctively I reached for my phone, just like I do any other time I have a moment free.

87 Facebook and 20+ Twitter notifications, 112 emails.

And I caved. not spectacularly, more a slippery slope. Those numbers glaring at me, beckoning me into see what lay beneath.

And that was the end of my digital detox. 2 days, 2 nights and a smidge of a morning. But in that short space of time I had time to think, time to breath and time to appreciate the world around me,

As it was, in high-definition.

In real-time.

what happened when I took a digital detox

 

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Little house of science

Many moons ago, in a previous profession I delivered parenting and baby development classes. They weren’t your run of the mill ‘do this, do that’ type sessions, more about teaching you about how your baby and child see the world. It was something I was very passionate about, you see a whole new perspective on things when looking through their eyes

It was during these classes that I would find myself handing out the same key message over and over again and no-no matter what the age, was to think of your baby, toddler or child as a little scientist. Everything they do, is about testing a hypothesis and understanding how something works. It’s how they figure out life and play is the best way to do it.

I’m not alone in seeing childhood as such a vital time of learning, the ladies who founded Little House of Science also saw the ever-growing demand from children wanting to learn more about how the world works!

From Little Discovery classes for 6 to 24 months where preschool activities are designed to support the love of learning and encourage all the children to interact with the world right up to Big Science classes where 8 – 11 year olds have a weekly project based science workshops.

With a drive to wanting their own children (1 boy and three girls between them) to explore and find answers to the questions about their world around them…such as how plants breathe, the universe, its galaxies and stars to name a few. The partners at Little Science  felt it would be great to have a safe and fun environment for kids to learn about science and all the questions around it. An environment which is active, full of project based learning, hands-on and stimulating.

With a guiding principle to ensure the kids go away with inspiration and enthusiasm about learning and wanting to know more about nature and the supportive facts, Little House of Scientists  hope to capture that enthusiasm from preschool while encouraging characteristics of learning identified in the EYFS,

and with that setting up a love of how things work.

I love that idea!

(There classes are currently London-based at present but if enhancing learning and early years experiences is something you feel passionate about why not check out the franchise options?)

the little house of science is the perfect baby, toddler or kids class to help extend children's natural curiosity into how things work

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I'm a mumprenkeur and this is my story, a business owning blogger as well as mum of 3 boys

It’s coming up to a year since I left the workplace and started life as a mumpreneur. That’s 12 whole months of a daily commute from my bed to the sofa and now my multipurpose desk.

12 months of one woman planning meetings

12 months of late nights and early mornings

And d’you know what? I’ve loved every cotton picking minute of it!

I’ve given it my all and managed to make working from home a success.  I knew I’d come to a natural end in my previous job, I’d lost my mojo  and was dreading my maternity leave ending. Knowing it wasn’t just the thought of leaving my boy, I had an opportunity to trust my instincts so weighing up the pros and cons, my mantra became

you just don’t know until you try it

Having a back up plan

Now don’t go thinking this lady’s a serious risk taker, I always have plan B! With a family to support and mortgage to pay I have to play safe with my big ideas as well as making sure I have the full backing of those closest. The tipping point to my latest adventure was the desire to be at home with my family, see my boy grow up as I’d done with his older brothers and not have the stress of arranging childcare (and paying for it.)

And I’m not alone, I recently stumbled upon a story in the Telegraph dated  back to April 2014 and titled the ‘Rise of the mumpreneurs‘ It told how the rise in childcare costs meant more and more mums were considering becoming their own boss or mumpreneur

– a stay-at-home mother who keeps one eye on the children and another on a fledgling business.

So I handed in my notice in and joined the mumpreneur army. My renewed enthusiasm for ambition and desire for success giving me the kick I needed to get things off the ground.  First off, was to rekindled a personal blog, initially  to keep my mind busy in the fog of new baby days, but I soon realised that I could actually make a living doing something I’d come to love.

I'm happy to shout about being a mumpreneur, turning blogging into a business while working around my family. It's not an easy option by any ,means but is a lifestyle choice I will never regret

My sensible head knew I needed a steady income as  my ‘bread and butter’ so set up a business which I could use my professional training and experience. I had short term and long term goals. If you’re embarking on a new business you need to know where you’re taking it in order to allow it to flourish. And simmering away in the back ground were my plan b’s and c’s. The ones I would fall back on if things went belly up and the ones which I might up following.

One thing I picked up along the way was that as much as goal setting and planning is vital in business development, being prepared for change and opportunity to progress in other areas is also a key.

The story so far….

And that is where I’m at now. While I close the door on one adventure, I’m opening a much bigger one. I still have my plan B should things stop gathering momentum but that’s the beauty of being a mumpreneur, or self-employed anything, there is no one saying “wait till I’ve checked with so and so” you just go for it!

There are good days and bad, it’s just the bad aren’t really that bad at all, more mediocre and there are still  those who step in your way simply because they don’t like the cut of your jib, don’t think you are up for the job  or just a general pain in the bum, it’s just now I’m not sitting opposite them in an office! (saying that The Toddler can get pretty feisty, pre nap time some days)And  I’m not saying that being your own boss is easy, far from it. I still find it hard to define working hours and tend to work much longer and later than I intend and then bow under the guilt when I’m not ticking off my to do list.

The house isn;t as tidy as I like it to be and I get a lot less sleep and downtime than I did as an employee but  also get the buzz of seeing results, meeting new people and seeing my efforts pay off.

So as I type this with my faithful spaniel at my feet and the toddler stealing kisses with his arms wrapped piggy-back round my neck, making the mumpreneur switch has been the best life changing decision I have made.

(And a sneaky little thank you to the people who nominated me for a second year in the Mum and Working Parent Blogger of The Year awards! You really shouldn’t have, but I’m so glad you did!)

we've been nominated blog award

 

I'm a mumpreneur and proud! a self employed mum working from home around my family. It's not the easiest option but I have managed to make being a blogger a business, read my story here;

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Cuddle Fairy
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