Mums The Boss – The Blog

Archive for June 2009

trafficEvery so often you come across a product that is just so fabulous you want to share it with the world. Well that’s how I felt, about 18 months ago, when I discovered Alison Webb selling her Dinky Duvets on ebay.

My eldest daughter had recently moved into a toddler bed and having just bought a duvet and 2 bedding sets I was horrified at how expensive these special sized sets cost. Fast forward a couple of months to our first bout of sickness in bed in the middle of the night and I soon realised I needed more bedding – and fast!

Dinky Duvets are hypo-allergenic 4.5 tog duvets with a bright and funky cover stitched onto the duvet – so the whole lots goes in the washing machine and tumble drier – genius! They fit a cotbed or toddler sized bed and are perfect everyday bedding for your little ones, great for holidays and ideal as spares in case of illness. 

Alison started up the ‘Dinky Duvet’ business soon after the birth of her first child 5 years ago.  He was seriously asthmatic and had terrible reflux which meant Alison was washing all his bedding at least once a day.  With the lack of availability and choice of duvets coupled with the prohibitive cost of buying a duvet (and possibly a spare) Alison decided to dust down her sewing machine and make her own. No sooner had she finished it, than her friends were asking her to make one for their children.  And so her business began! 

SSL22723“What started off as a sideline has now become a fully fledged business and keeps me busy every spare child free moment of the day and night!” says Alison.  “I feel lucky to be able to turn one of my hobbies into something that gives me great satisfaction and earns me some money at the same time. Plus it is a welcome break from hoovering, the school run and my old job of IT project manager.  Give me a sewing machine any day!”

We are now the proud owners of not one but two Dinky Duvets (including the pink spotty one on the right) and I have to say I far prefer them to the boring and expensive bedding I originally bought from Mothercare! In my humble opinion, every home with a toddler should have one!

For a full range of Alison’s homemade products including quilts, blankets, clothing and bags please visit www.dinkyduvets.co.uk

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CB104574When you first have a baby you long for the day they can talk. Then, as soon as they can you realise a) they never stop and b) there is now a very strong possibility they will embarass you in public by saying something toe-curlingly un-PC about someone’s size, gender, appearance or smell!

But the flipside of this ever present danger, is that every now and then they come out with nuggets of pure brilliance – little sayings that stop you in your tracks, make you marvel at the way their minds work and maybe even force you to look at the world in a new way. And sometimes they just say something that is SO random that all it does is make you laugh and laugh and laugh….

Take my 3 year old, for example. A week or so ago I was compelled to Tweet about something she had just said to me. She was running round and round the garden and suddenly shouted “Mummy, mummy, I’m faster than a PEANUT!” Excited as she was at the revelation, I couldn’t quite bring myself to burst her bubble and tell her that, in fact, MOST things are!

So, as it’s Monday, it’s muggy and we could all do with a giggle, please leave a comment and share any of your children’s finest moments – from the profound to the obscure, we’d love to hear your children’s classic quotes!

42-15654381As mums we beat ourselves up about a lot of things – what our children eat, how they behave, how much TV they watch – the potential for feeling guilty is endless. Add to the pot the added guilt that Work at Home Mums feel about not spending as much time with their family and you could be heading for guilt-overload.

Guilt is a state which occurs when you believe you have done something you shouldn’t, or conversely, when you haven’t done something you think you should – and so has the potential to pretty much affect most situations! But if it IS only a state of mind, then maybe a change in perspective is all that’s needed to turn guilt on its head.

Here are some ideas about how you can turn a guilty thought into a postive one:

I feel guilty for relying on my family to help out with childcare
You are giving your child the opportunity to form a really strong bond with their dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. Your child will benefit from these close relationships and you can relax knowing your child is being cared for by someone you trust and by someone who loves them as much as you do. Plus you are saving money on expensive childcare which can be spent directly on the family or channelled back into your business, making the most of the money you earn.

I feel guilty for not spending more time playing with my child
You are teaching your child how to be independent and how to use their imagination and initiative to amuse themselves, qualities that will stand them in good stead in later life. Plus the time you do spend together will be extra special to both of you.

I feel guilty for spending time on a business that isn’t making any money yet
You are building the foundations for your business. A big house needs a strong foundation, and by getting that right from the beginning you stand a greater chance of success long-term. Plus it is widely recognised that very few businesses will see a profit in the first 12-18 months, so you are not alone!

I feel guilty for not keeping on top of all the housework
In the short term you are helping your family learn about teamwork and contribution, and also to appreciate the things they would normally take for granted. By sharing out the chores your children are learning valuable life skills and in the long term, when your business is more profitable, maybe you could afford to employ a cleaner!  Plus, you are helping to build up a strong immune system in your child – a spotlessly clean house is not necessarily a healthy one!

I feel guilty for not spending more time with my partner
If like a lot of WAHMs your working day begins once the children are in bed, you may not spend the evenings together with your partner like you used to. But thinking back, were you doing anything really special with that time, or just watching TV? Make sure when you do spend time together that you try and make it really special – remember it’s Quality not Quantity!

I feel guilty for thinking about work even when I’m having ‘time off’ with the family
Without your contribution to the family income there wouldn’t be so many treats, days out etc. Your work helps to provide a certain standard of living for your family and you should be proud of your financial independence and contribution

I feel guilty for inflicting my business concerns on my partner
Men are natual problem solvers and relish the opportunity to help. Give your partner credit for being interested and wanting to support you. If he seems disinterested when you are talking about your concerns it may be the ‘way’ you are speaking and not the subject matter. Men like to get straight to the point and solve the problem – if all you want to do is offload then maybe a girlfriend IS a better person to talk to.

I feel guilty for not being able to do everything!
Nobody can! And anyone who looks like they can is just a really good actress! You are doing the very best you can with your given set of circumstances, you are being human and falliable and brave and amazing and wonderful – and don’t ever forget it!

American journalist Arianna Huffington once said “While all mothers deal with feelings of guilt, working mothers are plagued by guilt on steroids!” So more than anyone you need to retrain the way you think and learn to see your situation from a different angle – it might take a little practice but it’s amazing what a shift in perspective can do!

autumn funWorking from home presents an ideal solution for many women; being able to work between school hours, being at home if the children are poorly, fitting in some housework during the day, not paying rent for office space…..we know all the benefits. But how can we ensure that our home working is healthy?

  1. A decent office chair to ensure good posture is vital. Spending hours on a dining chair hunched over a computer, or perched on a kitchen stool is bad for backs and necks. Invest in yourself and your health and have a decent chair.
  2. Be aware of the dangers of RSI. Computers have done much to revolutionise work, but long periods of computer use without a break can be bad for backs and wrists.
  3. Good light to work in is important, without it you could suffer headaches and eye strain.  Arrange your working space in a room with a window where possible. Although being able to see out can be distracting, natural daylight is far superior to artificial. If you work in the evenings then good artificial lighting is essential.
  4. Working from home, the kettle and biscuit tin are constantly available. It is very easy to be drinking more caffeine than you realise and snacking throughout the day on biscuits and sugary snacks. Try and set a time for a morning and afternoon ‘break’ when you have tea or coffee and drink water in between. If you start the day with a good breakfast and eat lunch then you will be less tempted to snack.
  5. Have a proper break. Working from home it is very tempting to just keep going to fit in as much as possible in the time you have.  Having a break allows important time to re-focus and re-energise.
  6. Working at home often means sitting at the computer and talking on the phone. Exercise is vital to help keep your energy levels up, strengthen your immune system and will release powerful ‘feel good’ endorphins.

Always remember, the most important element in your busy life is YOU – take care of yourself and then you can take care of everything (and everybody) else!

CB050717When I became a mum I never realised how much I would miss silence. From the moment my eldest came kicking and screaming into this world my eardrums have never been the same.

As any parent knows, the sound of a baby crying is like a siren and it does something to you – it forces you to react, respond and rectify whatever is wrong, whatever the time of day or night. At first the list of possibilities is fairly limited – hungry, tired, poorly or a dirty nappy. But as your baby grows so the complexity of their demands increases, along with their volume button!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my kiddies to bits – but they are bloomin’ noisy – and they don’t have an OFF button!! Children’s TV has become like Chinese water torture to me, along with my other pet hate – Electronic Toys! The constant repetition of phrases and songs worms its way deep into my subconscious until I find myself humming along hours after the children are in bed.

Then, as they grow older the noise pollution takes other forms – the continual chatter of the ‘new talker’, that incessant “mummy, mummy, mummy…” when they actually have nothing to say to you, the constant whining as you get closer and closer to bedtime, the arguing with siblings and that most dreaded of all words (when uttered at any volume) – “No!”.

And finally there is that one sound that makes any parents blood run cold – the high pitched scream that accompanies a public tantrum. All that rage and defiance bundled up into one spectacular hissy fit, designed purely to make YOU look like the worst parent that ever lived! 

I used to love listening to music, either on the radio or one of my numerous CDs, but now, on the rare occasion I find myself alone in the house I don’t play music or watch the TV. After a day of having my senses assaulted I wallow in silence. I give myself over to the pure, unadulterated pleasure that is noiselessness, because for me now, as Christina Rossetti wrote in the 19th Century, “Silence is more musical than any song.”

42-16586298Last Tuesday I had a ‘Day Off’. Unfortunately this didn’t involve a duvet day, a spa, or a mammoth shopping trip. Instead I drove 150 miles – and spent about 5 hours in the car doing so, thanks to road works, closed roads, a police census and horseboxes travelling at 30mph – all so I could visit my Dad (an early Father’s Day visit) and my 104 year old Gran who I don’t see as often as I like.

Despite the time spent travelling I had a brilliant day. I was all by myself in the car so I could listen to my own eclectic selection of music instead of The Wheels on the Bus CD! I didn’t have to play ‘I spy something green…..’ or spot tractors – instead I could just enjoy the beautiful Cotswold countryside. I was able to enjoy a proper grown-up lunch with wine and un-interrupted adult conversation with my Dad – a rarity indeed these days. I even got to just sit with a cup of tea staring at the birds in the garden.

But what I also escaped from was the housework, the phone ringing, my emails, watching the clock and working out who needs picking up and taking where; all the many simple, but routine tasks which usually measure out my day. And because of this it freed up some ‘head space’ – my mind was free to ponder and roam, something that in the increasingly busy life I find myself leading just never happens.

So when I finally arrived home, yes I was tired, but also refreshed…..maybe a change in routine IS all you need to recharge the batteries once in a while.

 

butterflies2We could all do with a bit more money in the bank, a house with more space or a faster, more reliable car. And when we are constantly being bombarded with adverts it’s easy to get hung up on the things we DON’T have rather than be grateful for what we DO. 

So, when money is tight, or business isn’t exactly booming, it’s worth remembering that many of the best things in life are free! And to get you started here are some of my personal favourites!

  • The feel of warm sunshine on your face
  • Watching your children sleeping
  • Line dried laundry
  • A good nights sleep
  • Laughing so hard you struggle to come up for air
  • Clean sheets
  • Getting hooked by a good book
  • A nice hot cup of tea
  • A cuddle from someone who matters
  • An evening thunderstorm after a hot, muggy day
  • How your kids smell after a bath and hairwash
  • Bare feet in cool grass
  • A hot bubble bath
  • A good natter with a friend

And on the odd occasion that I do have a spare fiver in my purse a bar of Dairy Milk, a bottle of Pinot Grigio or a crisp new paperback would also be guaranteed to put a smile on my face!

We’d love to hear about the things that make you happy on a budget. Leave a comment on our blog and share your top pick-me-ups with our other working mums!


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