Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Diary of a Working Mum: Slow down, Time!

Time, you thief, who let you in? 

"Hurry up", I constantly plead with my pre-school daughter, "we'll be late/the shops will close" (why do I only go supermarket shopping at 3pm on a Sunday? When will I get my act together to shop online at 5 am?). I suddenly get serious; "You don't want to make Mummy/Daddy/Granny/Nannie late, do you?"

And on she goes, at her own steady pace, meticulously completing her task/skilfully being cute at teeth-brushing time.  I feel the centrifugal force tempting me to slow down with her, but I can't, otherwise the fine China plates I'm juggling of Mother/Daughter,/Employee/Friend/Girlfriend (in that order, sadly) will fall, but my own crash will be louder.

I diarise downtime; I know it's that essential. I love spending the morning with my little girl, in our PJs, making arts and crafts (who doesn't?!), but it doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

And I have no idea how I got this busy, or this feeling of perpetual lateness; the rabbit and the pocket-watch of Alice's world are suddenly a reality.  

Yes, I know my daughter is only a pre-schooler and pre-disposed to certain ways and methods, usually of the I'm learning-give-me-time variety, and I know this time is precious; I don't want her to inherit my anxiety, for example.  I must have been late for things pre-motherhood:I studied part-time, whilst working full-time, and enjoyed a 4 nights-a-week social life. 

But recently time has stolen my hours/days/weeks. 

You know that special kind of exhaustion, which manifests itself in itchy-twitchy eyes, and a spot of nausea? Happened to me during the first six weeks of motherhood, and the first term of teaching again after a long hiatus from Ofsted: paperwork aside, the sheer act of interacting with 50+ people in a day is mind-shattering enough for a natural introvert. 

But I miss those days of reading a new book, and watching a new film, around about the time they were out, not 8 years later. 

So that's why I've decided to work like a Mum/Employee/Girlfriend/Friend running for the last bus home over the next 3 days (likely to mean 2 am endings coming up to complete the marking) and then I'm going to wax my legs, fill-to-bursting with luxury minis my favourite (and large) wash bag (Kipling Palm Beach; a pocket for everything AND a mirror) and then pack my planner, favourite fountain pen and business cards for a Friday night hotel reflective-stay-and-pamper in London before the Mumsnet #Blogfest15 on Saturday. 

Or, I'll scoff a packet of biscuits and chill with Netflix in the middle of a double-duvet.  That I won't have to wash.  

I'm already looking forward to the recharge that will hopefully mean some much-needed slower-paced Mother-Daughter time; what are you looking forward to about the weekend?

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Christmas Beauty Event with Boots

Forget Halloween - October is all about the beauty goodies!

Whether you’re treating yourself to a pampering Advent Calendar (pop along to the fab LBQ blog for a beautiful countdown summary) or just treating yourself, as I did during the Boots Advantage Card points event last Thursday, the middle of Autumn isn't all about pumpkins and bats.

Beauty Crackers

I love the right kind of novelty, and the Boots team have nailed it this year with some cute crackers full of beauty treats.  I opted for the Soap & Glory Soaprise box of 6 crackers (£16.00) to decorate my tree with this year.  I also spotted some gorgeous crackers from No 7, Sanctuary, Champneys, Nails Inc.,St Tropez and Crabtree & Evelyn. 

Luxury Beauty Bargain

I've never used Lancome products before - where do you start when trying out a new brand? Beauty subscriptions are great for sampling new products, but each Christmas a vanity case of mini products appears to offer the same mini insights, wrapped up in a beautiful case. 

I'm aware that my skin is changing with age, and I'm inspired by the work of the Ambassadresses of Julia, Kate, Penelope, Lupita and Daria - I know I'm never going to look *that* good, no matter how much I spend, but we share the same optimism within our lives, and for that I admire the Lancome leading ladies.  

And, oh, my goodness - the packaging is gorgeous! The compacts are so cute, and the branding of the black flower, is just adorable - I feel beautiful just holding the products.  

I had a makeover during the Boots event, as I'm always on the look out for a BB cream, and was introduced to the Zen from the Lancome associate - normally priced at £30, however there was a 10% discount during the evening.  

I also picked up the Hydra Glow illuminating primer, at £29, so was well over the £35 purchase threshold required to pay the £52 (instead of £300; who would?) for the O Beauty gift set with 12 products included.  

And of course I received the £20 worth of points.  Similar holiday gift sets are also available from Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden.  

Also with age I hear a lot of people tell me that I'm difficult to buy for, so I shop for myself with other people's money at this time of year.  I suggested that my Mum might like to treat me to a pot of Clinique's Moisture Surge - have you ever tried this? It's like actual velvet on my face; the assistant referred to it as a cult product, and she isn't wrong.  

The usual price is £34 for a 50 ml pot, however, for £40 I picked up a fab gift set, featuring All About Eyes, an overnight moisture mask and a chubby lip colour - not bad for an additional £6!  

I also picked up a Davidoff gift set for my brother-in-law (£32), taking advantage of additional items included in a lovely presentation box, for the same price I would pay in August.  And keeping with the gorgeous theme, I treated myself to a Starbucks (£10) dusting set (Cinnamon, Chocolate, Nutmet and Vanilla) to herald the arrival of the red cups.

Come on, Winter; the most wonderful time of the year! 

Don't worry if you haven't made it to a Boots points event yet, there's another one on the way at the end of November (check your local store for details). 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Writing Time

Have you ever tried to type on a laptop whilst zipping along an M road at 70 mph?  

That's how I've spent the last couple of days, zipping between Devon, Gloucestershire and Somerset, holidaying, apple-picking and family-visiting. And, yes, yes, I was the passenger, lest anyone think I'm a complete barmpot (as if writing and publishing an ebook in 4 weeks isn't already in that category). 

It's a might tricky, but one qwerty letter at a time edged the word count towards my first 1000.  

I was writing, one step at a time.  

The fun really emerged during the late Autumn evening when I attempted to type in the dark - there must be a portable laptop light out in t'interweb world? 

Still, there's a couple of nursery days coming up, and the Pumpkin Spice Lattes are firmly in residence, so I'm looking forward to a spot of daylight - and stable - writing. 

Hope you're having a great half-term.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

My #ebookingmonth plan

As I was sick for most of yesterday, I'll consider this, a day of decluttering and completing online surveys for the grand total of 23.5p, the first day of half-term.

It's also the first day of #ebookingmonth, in which I attempt to write, edit, proofread and market my 3rd ebook (title to be revealed on the blog shortly).

I apologise now for the lack of photo-posts and depths of shopping experiences you know I'm only too happy to set upon (although I will be popping up to Gloucester Quays and Clark's Village next week).

I read Steve Scott's fabulous *How to write a non-fiction ebook in 21 days* before embarking on my first eauthoring project last summer, and I'm sure I'll be dipping in on the strict (?) writing breaks I'll be sticking to.

I do plan on writing a quality ebook, of around 10k, putting my postgraduate writing (and, more to the point, editing/proofreading/sleep-depriving) skills to the test.

But first I'm going to put my extra hour to good use by nipping off to bed for a few hours.

PS - plan outline emailed to myself; marketing begun.

Nighty Night x  

Saturday, 26 September 2015

From WAHM to Working Mum: Missing Social Media and (sleep)

Now, this post isn't going to be a whinge-fest; I know I'm lucky to have a job, never mind one I love, and that I was lucky enough to work from home during my little girl's first years, ....

...but, by, 'eck I miss blogging, catching up on Twitter, creating Facebook posts and sharing in networking events. 

And I miss sleep like a Mum with a newborn baby.

So, quick recap - a month ago I earned myself an amazing job which means I spend half the week engaging students with historical events and political futures.  Turns out the other half of the week is given to creating resources, assessing, wondering how to strike that balance between scary and approachable, driving and utter exhaustion.  

The weekends have been given over to marking work and planning three lessons for Monday; two of which I team-teach (skill in itself). 

I now wake up and leave the house an hour before my little girl awakes, and manage a quick hour with her before bath and bed (hers; I haven't personally groomed beyond a quick shower in four weeks). 

But I really do love my job, and understand that this is a period of adjustment as I transition from Working from Home Mum (WAHM) to Working Mum. Like when I wake for the 3.42 am wee but then can't get back to sleep because I'm already thinking about how to make a lesson great, or a question I need to research. It's Autumn, FFS; the season of hibernation. And I've always been able to snuggle under the duvet for some blissful REM napping.

Yet, I do have a half-term coming up, which means when I wake at 4 am I plan on turning over and going back to my happy place.  And the Christmas holidays aren't far away. Then it'll be almost spring and revision and exams and then (best Olaf voice) SU-MM-ERRRRRRRR!)

Of course I miss my little girl, but she is now bonding with Daddy in the mornings and after nursery, and spending time with her Grandparents.  And I do have one day off during the week for lazy mornings and play centre visits with her. And I won't bring home a full week's work during those college holidays. 
I do miss blogging and engaging with my fabulous online community, though, more than I imagined, and my shopping trips have gone from tri-weekly to when I can see straight (I'm really looking forward to a potter around the Boots Beauty Gift Guide event this Thursday 1st October).  And at least I know I have a monthly salary instead of erratic semi-quarterly invoices (plus there's something fabulous about not having to save every penny of my self-employed payment, just in case work dried up).

But anyway, it's almost 3 pm, my to-do list is staring up at me, and the tummy grumbles as I've missed lunch again (thank the heavens for Mug Shot noodles).

Hopefully catch up around half-term, feel free to leave tips and comments on this post to keep me inspired and connected!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Networking - Liebster and local style!

My recent transition to almost full-time working has meant that I haven't spent that much time blogging or catching up on social media; well, except for Facebook which is essential down time, obviously. 

So I was very chuffed this week when the fabulous Shula at the Fun Fashion & Things blog nominated me for a Liebster Award - I may be away from the blogosphere, but I'm not forgotten! It served as a timely reminder that I may have thrown myself into work, but it's great to have me time, too. 

The idea is to connect with other bloggers, who may not be as well known, and to find out more about each other - the questions may also provide stimulus for future blog opportunities!

Here are my answers to the questions from Fun Fashion & Things: 

What is your current favourite make up product?
Has to be a BB Cream - currently loving No 7 in Medium. 

What music are you loving at the moment?
I listen to 2 hours of country a day, thanks to a commute (Kip Moore, Brad Paisley & The Shires this fortnight alone). 

Your favourite childhood memory is…?
Finding and reading in woodland dens

What is your favourite part about blogging?
The creativity 

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years (personally and professionally)?
 To have discovered South America, and written about it, obviously.

What is your opinion on Frozen?
Fabulous - I can blog for two hours while it's on! Plus, I can watch my little girl sing her heart out to Let it Go forever.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Sleeping, or watching Nashville. 

What skincare product could you not live without? 
Moisturiser - loving Clinique's Moisture Surge 

If you could move to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Anywhere with white sand and palm trees - and WiFi.

Favourite sandwich filling? 
Ham and Cheese. 

My Questions: 
When was the last time you danced? 

What are you having for dinner tonight?
How long have you been blogging for?
What is your number 1 blogging tip? 
What is your favourite film?
How do you pamper yourself?

What are you currently reading?
Are you reading on a Kindle?

What's your top networking tip?
What time do you go to bed?

My Nominees:

The Liebster Award networking rules:
 -To start, you need to make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
-You must also include the Liebster award sticker in your post
-You then nominate at least 5 other bloggers with 200 or less followers who you think deserve the award and link them. Make sure you let them know you nominated them by commenting on one of their posts.
-Answer the questions that were asked of you by the person who nominated you which are on their post and then make 10 of your own for your selected nominees.
-And finally, copy these rules on to your post.

I'm now off to roast a chicken, such is the life of a Working Mum - I'll be up to my eyes in planning and marking on Sundays for a good while yet! (I'm also going to write a blog post about my initial transition very soon!)

Thursday, 3 September 2015

From WAHM to Working Mum

My name is Emma, and I’m ready to go back to work
 – and properly this time around. 

How I worked when my daughter was a baby:
When I had my daughter three and a half years ago I was lucky enough to return to an employer after 10 months’ maternity leave. But I arrived back into chaos - during a peak work and redundancy period, when my Mum went into hospital with a lung disease and I had undiagnosed PND. Just two months' later the three of us battled a form of norovirus, and I never want to lose half a stone that way again; Mini Stylist had the Rotovirus in the following April, too.

By the time I really knew what was happening I realised – between the hot-desking and drive-mapping - that  I was shattered, stressed out and very shouty at home from all the traveling and ushering around of my daughter, between nursery and two sets of wonderful grandparents.  

I was actually in the lift one day at work, doing the coffee run, and clear as the cliche, I had a light bulb moment – there was absolutely no reason for me to be at work in a job I didn’t like with a Management team intent on tripling our workload (at the same pay) and feeling broken at home.  Well, apart from the regular money.

But I cut back on worry-spending, formed an exit strategy and was able to leave within six months.  I promised myself (and my partner) three months to find my feet again. I became a Work At Home Mum, a phrase I’d never even heard of before; I thank OneBusyWahm for the knowledge.

Becoming a WAHM:
Even luckier, I guess, I worked my way through my PND, and my partner got a promotion which meant I suddenly didn’t have to provide income for the house.  I was also less shouty at home after two years as a new Mum; there is a reason many relationships break down before a child turns three. I managed to work from home (and Starbucks) for eighteen months, sometimes not knowing what opportunities lay ahead, but gaining new business skills, business confidence, and becoming a self-published author, twice. 

As a self-employed Mum, I learned to rely on myself, and that planning work three months ahead was essential to maintaining a regular quarterly income.

And now, a little bit tired of the too-many-avenue-streams-to-just-break-even ride that some Freelancers enjoy, and with some big purchases coming up (long-haul weddings and static caravan obsessions) I have returned to part-time teaching in Further Education (16-18 year olds) and I absolutely love it; and yes, I’m looking forward to the monthly pay day again.  

There is also a reason that children are ready for school around the age of 4; I should be able to answer some of the questions my students ask.  While the 400+ that Mini Stylist asks are simple, the barrage is the very definition of overwhelm by 6pm and I have to tell her, "it’s too late for why’s now, we’ll start again tomorrow".  

I’ll also have a change of scene from the house, my main place of work, so I won’t be guilted into spending more time on the laundry than on chasing invoices.  It will be good to have a line manager, whose very presence will ensure my discipline doesn't need much of a nudge, not that he'll be immediately aware of my thoughts on this.

Although I will no longer be able to fulfill that very important task of ‘clearing the Sky Planner’, I know half-term will turn up shortly.    

Becoming Working Mum (again): 
I've already found that driving a pre-schooler around is a lot less stressful than boarding buses with a pram (the times I've had to miss the bus because there was no room for us, and I was too anxious to ask any passengers to budge up).  And while I won't always be at home when Mini Stylist and Daddy return from nursery, I won't be far behind them (and won't have to start the dinner every night!) and will be there for bed-time, which I know many parents can't be. 

I am a lot less anxious than I was three years ago, and have more self-awareness as a Mum, and better abilities at managing family commitments with workloads. It's time to reignite my career.

Plus, I'm ready for some different challenges.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the dramas that unfold on my journey from WAHM to Working Mum, which I hope to write about during my actual lunch breaks, Ofsted permitting.

I'd love to read your tips and advice on returning to the work-place after being a freelancer!

My Life As A Mummy