7 articles Tag time

Make Your Life Easier as a Mumpreneur

With childcare costs at an all-time high and earnings not really falling into line, it’s little wonder that so many women are turning to the idea of running their own businesses from home. The advantages of working in your own home are numerous, allowing you to set your own hours, work around school times and school holidays, and ultimately save a lot of money on childcare. It’s not for everyone, and some people struggle with the challenges of running a business in their home, but if you’ve got the drive and the patience, it can be a great alternative to a traditional 9-5 career.

If you’re thinking about becoming a work-at-home-mum, or even if you already are and are looking to make your life a bit easier, we’ve got some tips on how you can delegate certain tasks.

Get an Assistant

If you’re not keen on the idea of having someone coming to work alongside you in your home office every day, virtual receptionist services could be a great solution. For as little as 30p per day, you could have an automated service to handle all of the calls you don’t have time to deal with. It also means that you’re not tied to a desk and have the freedom to work from absolutely anywhere without the risk of missing important calls or losing business – far cheaper than a human assistant!

Outsource the Cleaning

Having a cleaner may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, but when you think about how much time you spend cleaning in a week, and then consider the fact that you could spend that time working on your business instead, can you afford NOT to have a cleaner?! Taking the domestic chores off of your plate can free you up for more important things and increase your earning potential.

Co-Parenting

As we mentioned above, childcare is a massive expense for many families, which is why homeworking is good for parents of younger kids. However, when you’ve got a deadline or an important meeting to deal with, having kids around isn’t always doable. Teaming up with another Mumpreneur could be the answer – arrange to cover each other’s childcare during important times and the reciprocal arrangement means your childcare won’t cost anything and you both have the opportunity to develop your businesses when you need to. This can also work when you have to start doing school runs – take it in turns each day to take the kids to school while the other works.

Do Everything Online

The world is set up so that most things can now be one online, so set aside a couple of hours each week to get as much done online as you can. From your weekly shop to paying bills and even booking appointments, doing things in a set time slot each week can save you lots of time and give you a clearer head for dealing with work-related tasks. You can even use services which will not only remind you that someone’s birthday is coming up but will also send a card out to them without you even needing to go near a post box!

Get Your Beauty On!

If you’re the kind of person who likes to look ‘put together’ but struggle for time, there are a few things you can do to help you feel good without spending hours in the bathroom each morning. A Brazillian blow dry will cut down on hair styling time and keep your mane sleek without too much heat. Having your eyelashes permed and tinted could help give you the confidence to go out without mascara and having your eyebrows micro-bladed could save you loads of time each day, too. Think about your beauty priorities and see if there’s a permanent or semi-permanent solution.

Tabletop Games: A Fun Way for Parents to Teach Children a Plethora of Skills

Kids love games of all kinds, whether outdoors or in, a sports or video games. These days, children of all ages are captivated more by the digital than the analog, leaving something to be desired for the developing brain.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, children who play with board games have an advantage when it comes to a specific set of cognitive skills like spatial reasoning. Additionally, playing games can play a major role in social development and the soft skills needed to navigate through the future.

Here’s a look at the some of the board game benefits that go beyond fun.

Cultivating Critical Thinking

Most children are naturally curious, and board games can help foster a greater sense of big picture thinking. A game with an age-appropriate level of strategic thinking offers an opportunity for kids to think outside the box.

Developing Motor Skills and More

Motor skill development from games is largely dependent on the age of the child in question. Small children or toddlers can benefit from the hand-eye coordination required to play the game. Rolling the dice and precisely moving a game piece across the board gives the littlest players a chance to develop a sense space, balance and hand-eye coordination.

Games that feature building blocks require a steady hand to keep pieces from toppling over, while games with a drawing component allows kids to think about how to represent something with a limited amount of time and tools available, and others still, have a focus on math and counting, helping with numerical development.

Other tabletop games may ask players to count quickly or solve a puzzle, all things that boost skills in the classroom, as well as out.

Enabling Social Development

From following directions to taking turns and losing with grace, board games can teach children a lot about being good citizens. For example, smaller children playing games will learn firsthand the give and take required to play games or work together with other people.

Board games also encourage children to vocalize needs and wants, whether it’s expressing a desire to win or getting that right card or position on the board, it opens up an opportunity to chat about expectations, as well as fosters a sense of understanding the instructions, or the nuances specific to trying to outsmart a competitor.

Building Confidence

As adults, we underestimate the power in feeling like we accomplished something. For children, successfully playing a game, win or lose, is an accomplishment—they may have learned a new skill, and now have knowledge that can be applied elsewhere.

If parents are playing, too, games are a great opportunity to offer praise for things like their creativity, curiosity, reading skills, etc., all things that boost confidence in a healthy way, which carries through to school and beyond.

Keep the Focus on Fun

Games don’t need to be intentionally educational to provide an enriching experience. A game designed with fun at its core still boosts brain development. Puzzles, word games and basic board games offer a wide range of opportunity for growth. Be it Monopoly or Chess, Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, anything your child chooses has benefits.

No Time to Read?

Time to ReadAs soon as I was old enough to read, I became something of a bookworm. The Hobbit was the first “proper” book I read when I was about 6 and it was an ongoing love affair from then. When I was in my early teens, I’d wake up on Saturday morning, go into town to buy a new book and then spend the rest of the weekend reading it, usually finished by Sunday afternoon. My mother was so concerned by my lack of interest in being a street-raker that she actually consulted a doctor about my behaviour (although I think most  parents would be delighted by a child who chose to stay at home and read, but hey, sometimes you just can’t win).

The last time I read a book was a couple of years ago now. Carrie, by Stephen King if I remember rightly (which I highly recommend, if you haven’t already read it. In fact, read ANYTHING by Stephen King.). But since then, I’ve not picked up a book. I have plenty of access to books and I also have a Kindle, so that’s not the problem.

I keep claiming that I “don’t have time to read”, but that’s not really true, either. I have plenty of time for Facebook and Netflix and Candy Crush and all of the other things which hog my attention. I might CLAIM to be time poor but that only seems to apply when it suits me. I think the problem is inside my brain…what I once loved about reading is the thing which is making it hard for me now. Bear with me while I elaborate.

One of the appeals of reading a book was that feeling of slipping inside the story, losing myself in the words and in my own imagination and being taken away from reality into a finely-woven tale which could completely consume me. These days, I seem to have an absolute inability to disconnect myself enough to lose myself in anything. Even when we’re watching a film or TV show, I’m picking up my phone to browse Facebook or Reddit or occasionally Twitter (I say ‘occasionally’ because, is it just me, or is that place just tumbleweed central these days? No-one seems to chat on there like they used to).

People have noticed how attached to social media I am and it’s become a bit of a running joke, but it’s also starting to worry me. It seems like my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has become all-encompassing. It’s definitely a lifestyle thing; when I was young and single, I literally NEVER turned down a night out or a chance to socialise. I could be settling down in my pyjamas, get a phone call and be in the pub in half an hour flat because I couldn’t bear the thought that people were having fun without me, and I think Facebook has become a substitute for that – I can still be sitting in my pyjamas, not NEEDING to go out and still be connected to everything that’s going on in my friends lives.

I’ve seen other people take a social media detox and I genuinely wonder how they do it. Going on Facebook, either by app or desktop, has become almost like a reflex, something I do as a matter course and I really feel like I need to take a break. The main fear is that, because so much of my work is social-based or reliant on a social media scoring, stepping away means losing money but I think I need to give it a go and see before I let it consume me. From next week, I’ll be removing the app from my phone and only accessing Facebook via my laptop, and I’ll only be using my laptop during “work” hours.

I need to re-learn how to read. How to watch a TV show without picking up my phone every two seconds. How to interact with my kids and Husband without there being a screen between me and them.

And the stupid thing is, the thought of it fucking terrifies me.

What Women and Men REALLY Want for Valentine’s Day (and it’s probably not what you think!)

Valentine's DayEvery year, starting around Christmas time (I got my first one on Boxing Day!), I start getting a slew of emails from PR companies about the ‘perfect gift’ for him or her that their client has released for Valentine’s Day. They range in price and quality from tiny trinkets to clusters of diamonds and everything in between, many emblazoned with declarations of forever love. Every year, I wonder if this is really what people want for Valentine’s Day? For me, V-Day is a bit of a Hallmark Holiday (generated to sell cards and flowers without any real substance) and, maybe because I’m lucky enough to have a Husband who can be thoughtful all year round, I don’t put a lot of stock in the whole charade.

I thought I’d take to Facebook and ask others, both men AND women if they’re getting what they REALLY want for Valentine’s Day and the answer was genuinely a surprise. Here are some of the replies:

“All I want is a date night. I know I sound like a prick but quality alone time with my husband is my favourite thing!”

I just want someone to babysit so I can have some time with my husband, I don’t need a present or anything, just his time”

“Hubby and I have been together for 12 years and we have always said that we should show each other love everyday not just one day of the year.  We are fully aware that prices are bumped up for that day too. We used to get each other a card and re use them with a new written message each year until they were full. Now we have children we make cards to each other with their help. We are happy with a take away so no one has to wash up, a bottle of bubbly stuff and a movie. We make sure we are both free that evening to spend together. The kids and I usually make some valentines cakes or cookies or something. (I did get an eternity ring one year though!)”

“Don’t give two hoots about Valentine’s Day but wouldn’t mind a break on Mother’s Day!”

“I’d want a voucher for a day out such as a spa or concert or theatre or even cinema! Maybe some sort of activity like segway/quad bike (don’t mind, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie!) basically a day evening out just me and the hubby.”

I’m hoping for a trip to cinema with my other half to see Deadpool – so romantic!”

“I’m taking my hubby to see Rihanna for Valentines day; belated as she doesn’t tour till June!”

“I get flowers every year which I love and I cook dinner just for the two of us. We make a bit of an effort to get dressed up. Bottle of wine and then a film.”

“Date night.”

“Married 15 years and don’t really do anything, but if I had to choose I would love a cleaner for the day”

“An afternoon & evening together without the kids! As much as I love them dearly…”

“A day off. Just me and him, no kids or school runs or business to run, just pjs and TV. I might not even talk to him, but merely coexist with him in blissful work/business/child free serenity…A girl can dream…!”

I think the most remarkable thing about all of these comments is that not one person has mentioned flashy jewellery, perfume, flowers, any of the usual things. All they seem to want is time. As a parent, I know how it feels to be “time-poor”, and Husband and I often remark about how we feel like ships passing in the night sometimes, even though we both work from home and probably spend more time than your average couple in the same place. It’s about the QUALITY of time that you spend together, I think.

And as for the men? Well, one requested a night with Rihanna, one replied with an answer that I simply couldn’t publish on a family blog and my own Husband said “nothing really…no fuss”, so I think that adequately illustrates the mars/venus analogy!

What do YOU want for Valentine’s Day?

Learning to Tell the Time

When I was little, I was pretty capable when it came to most things. I had great verbal reasoning and could catch on to most concepts with minimal effort (if only it were so easy as an adult!) but the one thing that I remember struggling with was telling the time. I lived with my Grandparents when I was 5 and they had this little clock on top of their telly, a proper 1970’s marvel with an oblong-shaped face and no numbers, plus the classic orange second hand that all clocks seemed to have when I was a kid, and I remember spending what seemed like ages staring at that clock with my Grandad trying to explain 20-past and 10-to, to me.

My Nan used to do this thing, I don’t know if it’s just a Southern idiom, or a London thing specifically, but she didn’t say ‘twenty-five past’, she said ‘five and twenty past’ – I used to find it really funny as it reminded me of the nursery rhyme where they say “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”.

Anyway, the time has come where Sausage needs to learn to tell the time and the best way for her to do this is to wear a watch, so we’ve been shopping around, trying to find one which would be good for her. So far, our favourite comes from The Watch Hut:

The Watch Shop

This ICE watch looks like it’d be really sturdy, but it’s still very pretty and the numbers are bright and easy to read. Sausage will absolutely love it and it’s something that she won’t outgrow in a hurry. We love being able to teach Sausage new things, and watch her absorbing and using her new life-skills. Telling the time is one of those things that seems so simple and second-nature to an adult, but is actually really important to know, so we’re intent on providing her with the right tools to do it.

What do you think of our choice? What would you choose, if you were us?

If you need any help with teaching your kids to tell the time, there are some great resources below which are full of great tips and advice:

The Guardian

Kids Activities Blog

Here’s an Android App which is very useful

And one for iOS

Blogging When You’re Time-Poor

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that things have changed a lot over the last few months in the Mum’s the Word household and for me personally, the biggest change has been going back to work full-time. The way in which this has impacted me the most is that my time is a lot more scarce that it used to be.

A typical day goes: Get up at 6.45 am, jump in the shower, get out, iron my work clothes (yes, I know doing this in the morning isn’t the most practical solution), get Sausage up, make her breakfast, get myself ready, get Sausage ready, gather bags/flasks/keys etc, say goodbye to Husband, take Sausage to school, go to work, get home from work, do dinner or eat dinner that Husband has made, watch The Simpsons, get Sausage ready for bed, snuggle, invariably fall asleep in front of the telly, drag self to bed and get up at 6.45am, ad infinitum.

As you can see, there’s not much wiggle room in there and one thing that struggles to get a look in is blogging. Now, I may not be winning any awards for my site (but if you want me to, you can nominate me here <—- SEAMLESS PIMPAGE), but I adore blogging and am not in a hurry to give it up, so I’ve had to make a real effort to fit it in where I can. I know that a few of my blogging buddies have also faced a struggle in terms of where blogging actually fits into their lives, so I thought I’d give you all some tips and share how I’ve been coping.

1. Technology is Your Friend

I realise that many bloggers are super tech-savvy, but there are plenty out there who aren’t and the best advice I can give them is to get to grips with mobile blogging. The WordPress app for Android and iOS is really rather good and if you spend some time getting used to it, you can get a lot out of it. I’ve composed whole posts, including pictures, in my lunch hour at work. Sure, typing on a touchscreen can be frustrating, but if you take the time to get used to it, it really can be a great tool. I have a photo editing app which I can use on the go too, which can enhance any mobileography you do. Also, if you’re an old-fashioned type and still like pen and paper, check out the Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen,

2. Make Notes

I have several ways of making notes, from a permanent file on my iPhone with ideas for posts, to writing on scraps of paper or even the back of my hand. I think most bloggers would agree that there’s nothing more frustrating than having an idea for a post and then forgetting it before you get a chance to write it out. I know of other bloggers who actually use their blogging platform to store ideas too, giving a new post a title and possibly some bullets before saving it as a draft and coming back to it at a later date which, if you take note of tip one, could be a great solution if you use a blogging app.

3. See Time Differently

If you’re poor on time, you often find you can scrape some seconds back if you start to see time differently. Don’t see your commute as a wasted half an hour, see it as time in which to think or even write. Use your lunch hour to start posts and if you don’t finish them, get them polished off while daddy reads the bedtime story. So often, people get stuck in a blogging rut and do things almost formulaically including when they choose to write. Shake things up a bit and you may find you have plenty of time to write (like now, for instance, Sausage is in bed and Husband is having a pre-bedtime session on Far Cry. Also, I started this post on Saturday night, finished it on Sunday morning and have scheduled it to publish now!).

4. Think Ahead

This one depends on your blog, but I tend to find that if I publish a post at a certain time, it just doesn’t get read. I’ve spent a fairly extensive amount of time looking at my stats and other info and know roughly when a post gets the most hits, so scheduling is a good way to get around this. If you take the advice of tip number one and think about using a third party app for posting to social networks (like Hootsuite) you can also schedule your social media posts too, so even if you’re busy, your posts will still be publicised. I know some bloggers also keep a blogging diary or calendar where you can plan posts as far ahead as you need to and this would work especially well if you’re a craft blogger or regularly write themed posts, i.e. for Christmas, etc.

5. Go Easy on Yourself

If you’re blogging for the sake of blogging, it’ll show in your posts. If you’re mega busy, super tired and barely have time to think, give yourself a break. Your blog isn’t going to die on its arse because you miss a Silent Sunday and your readers will forgive you for taking some time to refresh and ultimately, you’ll be doing them a favour as when you do have something to write about, it’ll really be worth reading.

Living For The Weekend

If you read this post, you’ll know that I went back to full-time work a couple of weeks ago for the first time in Sausage’s life. It’s not been entirely without event but that’s a different post for a different day. I’ve been trying to make the most of the evenings with my little family but once I’ve battled my way home through rush hour traffic, got changed, had dinner and watched an episode of The Simpsons, that’s basically it.

Up until now, and especially since we got our car, we’ve very much been able to please ourselves. Obviously, once Sausage started school we had to follow a routine to an extent, but with Husband working from home and me being unemployed since April, my time has been my own. I could go to the supermarket when everyone else was at work, I could run any errands I needed to run or I could simply sit on my arse and watch Jeremy Kyle and eat crisps if I so desired. Boy, how things have changed!

This weekend, we’ve had shopping, a kids party, family stuff and various other things to do, all on top of trying to catch up with a week’s worth of washing, tidying a house that looks like several small bombs have gone off in it and keeping a dog and a 4-year-old stimulated enough that we don’t end up with a riot on our hands. Usually, I wouldn’t sweat it, I’d think “It’s okay. I can do stuff while Sausage is at school next week” but now I simply can’t.

It’s been a real eye-opener, if I’m honest. I think I’d forgotten how busy places can be on a Saturday and even a Sunday. We made a trip to Ikea and Lakeside on Saturday and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a busier shop than the Swedish furniture place. And don’t even get me started on how rude everyone was. It’s like they get to the weekend and forget their manners (if they ever had any in the first place!).

We enjoyed our dinner, at a restaurant called Strada, which is a chain of Italian eateries. The food was absolutely lovely, I had the lamb shank which was served with a rich tomato sauce and fell off the bone. Husband and Sausage had pasta and pizza, both of which were freshly made and delicious.

I know we’ll get used to having to do things at the same time as everyone else, but at the moment it feels totally alien and a complete chore I’m honest. Any tips on how I can learn to cope with it all would be gratefully received!

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