Where to now?

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

This is the question I am constantly asking myself. Not because I can’t read Googlemaps very well (although that is a definite problem), but because I need direction. I need to be moving towards a goal and it feels so very long since I had one. I sort of know the kinds of things I want to be doing with my life, but I need to make some proper plans.

So, I am taking a couple of weeks off to mull it over.  I’ve been experimenting with content, trying to work out what it is I have to say to the world and what people want to hear and see more of. I need to take some time to work out what’s working and how I can be useful. The past few weeks have been hectic and I am so very tired! That could be social media fatigue, or it could just be my age…

This break won’t all be brainstorming and stat crunching, though. We have a trip to London planned where I will finally celebrate my 40th birthday with a Big Night Out, have a birthday party for the kids with my best mates and their children, do some touristy things, drink all the decent coffee, marvel at how even more hipster Peckham has become since we left and spend some time with my little family.

So it’s only a temporary farewell. I do want to spend more time on the blog when I return and have lined up some guest bloggers to tell their stories of motherhood and happiness.

Please feel free to comment and share with me what you have enjoyed, what your interests are and what you want to see more of from the Happy Mums Club. You could even tell me your favourite blogs, social media accounts, podcasts, etc, so I can rip them off  get some inspiration.

Thanks for reading. See you in a few weeks!

Flash giveaway on Twitter!

I’m taking a couple of weeks off from Monday, as have some crazy life admin to deal with but before I do, I’m giving away a few goodies to one lucky mama. All you have to do is follow the Happy Mums Club Twitter account and RT the pinned tweet to be in with a chance of winning.

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Win: The Supermum Myth by Anya Hayes and Dr Rachel Andrew; The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking, Neal’s Yard Remedies Calendula Cleanser, Rejuvenating Frankincense Toner and Rose & Geranium Body Polish; one poem postcard of ‘Chrysalis’ by @Tatterhood_

Terms & conditions

1. How to Enter

1.1. To enter the competition on Twitter entrants will need to retweet the competition post and follow Happy Mums Club

1.2. Please note that by entering this contest you agree to a complete release of Twitter from all liability in connection with this competition

1.3. The winner will be selected randomly from all entrants

2. When to Enter and Who can Enter

2.1. The Competition opens on Wednesday 4 October 2017 and closes at 8pm on Friday 6 October 2017

2.2. Entrants can enter at any point between these dates

2.3. Entrants can enter the competition as many times as they like but may only enter once per competition post

2.4. The competition is only open to UK residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and agents of Happy Mums Club and anyone professionally connected with the administration of the competition.

2.5 Automated or bulk entries from third parties will be disqualified.

3. Prize

3.1. The prize for winning the competition will be a copy of the book The Supermum Myth by Anya Hayes and Dr Rachel Andrew; a copy of the book The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Weiking, one Neal’s Yard Remedies Calendula Cleanser, one Rejuvenating Frankincense Toner and one Rose & Geranium Body Polish; one poem postcard by @Tatterhood_

3.2. The Prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prize is not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.

4. Data Protection and Publicity

4.1. Any personal data relating to participants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation. By entering the competition, you agree that Happy Mums Club may contact you in relation to the competition

4.2. Competition winners will be contacted by Happy Mums Club. You must provide accurate contact details on notification. On being contacted, winners may be asked to provide evidence that they are over 18.

4.3. Happy Mums Club reserves the right to announce the winners identity on its social media channels.

5. Competition Rules

5.1. The competition will be run and prizes will be awarded at Happy Mums Club’s sole discretion

5.2. We reserve the right to change the competition rules and these Terms and Conditions from time to time. If we do so, we will always have the most up to date terms and conditions on this page

6. Liability and Indemnities

6.1. Except in the case of death or personal injury arising from its negligence, or in respect of fraud, and so far as is permitted by law, Happy Mums Club excludes responsibility and all liabilities, whether direct or indirect, arising from:

6.1.1. any postponement or cancellation of the competition;

6.1.2. any changes to, supply of or use of the prize; and

6.1.3. any act or default of any supplier, which are beyond Happy Mums Club’s reasonable control.

6.2.Happy Mums Club does not accept responsibility for any liability arising from technical incompatibility, problems relating to the internet, or technical difficulties of any kind

6.3.Happy Mums Club shall not be liable, whether in tort, contract, misrepresentation or otherwise for loss of profits, loss of anticipated savings, loss of goods, loss of use, loss or corruption of data or information, or any special, indirect, consequential or pure economic loss, costs, damages, charges or expenses

6.4. You agree to indemnify Happy Mums Club against all liabilities, claims and expenses that may arise from any breach of your agreement with Happy Mums Club

7. Jurisdiction

7.1. The competition and these Terms and Conditions are governed by English Law. England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute or claim that arises out of or in connection with these Terms and Conditions.

Live well, eat well, feel happy – 7 essential life hacks for busy mums

 

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Hang on. *All* mums are busy, aren’t they? It comes with the territory. We are (usually) the driving force behind the household. The person who knows where everything is, the one who does the washing, the cleaning (or who briefs the cleaner), the tidying, the shopping. We are the replenisher of toothbrushes, keeper of tissues, signer of school forms, and so on and on and on.

The list of tasks is endless but while I have previously railed against the mental load, I am now here to bring you some super duper life hacks to combat that. Seven simple ideas to free up more headspace, make life run a little smoother, maybe even save you some money. 

A mum made me cry in IKEA

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There was an incident on Saturday in IKEA Bristol. It wasn’t the usual caffeine-fuelled bickering over how many napkins/tealights/picture frames/clippy things for open packets we need. In fact, we weren’t even directly involved, but it reduced me to tears.

I hope I can write this post without coming across as a judgey mum. It is horrible to feel sneered at for your parenting choices or behaviour and we should support each other whenever possible in this, the hardest and most relentless of jobs.

But… I witnessed something that upset me deeply and I’m wondering whether I am being unreasonable or whether I should have actually said something. Can you ever step in or are you just unnecessarily stepping on toes?

The mental load – and what to do about it

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Photo by Victoria Palacios on Unsplash

Just lately I have been so weighed down by the heaviness of all the things I need to think about (including the lateness of this blog post) and have noticed that I’m not the only one. There have been quite a few features about this ‘mental load‘ mums carry.

Is it a new concept? A by-product of modern life? Is it that we are more open in talking about these things in 2017 than our mothers were in 1977? (I will stick my neck out and say mothers are particularly – although not exclusively – affected.) Perhaps it’s just easier to talk about it because someone has coined the phrase ‘the mental load’ so we actually have a label for something that has been bothering us for decades?

On a day-to-day basis I know I have a large and heavy mental load. This is partly due to my particular circumstances. If having a child is a full-time job, then having a disabled child is like having a full-time job, with unreasonable overtime hours AND a couple of part-time jobs on the side. We are privileged in that we have family nearby and extra funds to pay for what Ted needs, but life is busy and we are on duty 24-7 (even with help) so things can quickly get too much to handle.

The difficult art of decluttering

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Minimal desk of dreams (Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash)

Do you ever hit those points in life where something has to change? I do, quite regularly, but I’m not always good at embracing new things and moving on.

Sometimes I get a bit stuck, which is one of several reasons I started this Happy Mums Club shizz. I want to create change, create happiness, and just, well, create in general. I am a creative! (Although my inner voice often tells me I am creating crap, but that’s a different post entirely).
I find it hard to be creative or live mindfully  when I am surrounded by mess and chaos. This is kind of ironic because, despite being a fairly messy and chaotic person, I am a sensible Virgo and actually like order and neatness. Somehow, as the years have rolled by, the girl for whom everything had a home became the woman who never puts things in the same place twice.
It drives me insane but for all my good intentions, I am making no headway. I am my own worst enemy.

Social media vs happiness

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I had a post lined up about the mental load, but then this Mumsnet thread blew up on social media last night and it felt relevant to say a few words about it. (Also that mental load post really wasn’t working for me so hurrah for a diversion.)

The crux of it – if you don’t want to waste an hour or two of your life reading increasingly snippy and personal comments on an internet forum – is that some people are getting fed up of Instamums. I’m paraphrasing here, but several people are taking umbrage at those with tons of followers, sitting in their Farrow & Ball painted houses, getting loads of free holidays and goodies in return for sticking a few pics up on Instagram and selling out to brands.

Some valid points are raised about the transparency of which posts are ads, what products have been gifted, whether holidays are paid for and whether the authenticity of what is being posted can be trusted as much as when they had fewer followers. Digital advertising is changing. Sometimes the waters are murky and not every influencer is open about what they receive. I feel the particular women who are getting slated in this thread ARE pretty open (after a career in media I can read between the lines but maybe not everyone can) and people have to accept that this is their business now. If they are a successful influencer, why not make a career of it?

Like any job, it takes work. Getting those insta-worthy pics is time-consuming, they will often hire photographers, pics need a certain amount of editing to maintain the look and feel of an account, you have to write decent copy to go with it and I’m certain they turn down way more brands than they actually feature. But I’m not writing this to comment on the digital advertising industry.

Unfortunately much of what was said smacked of jealousy and unhappiness.

I agree that sometime when a person takes on a lot of brand work, it makes them less interesting. I stopped looking at one particular account because her new direction wasn’t really my bag. Not because she was doing ads, just that I realised our fashion sense wasn’t quite the same after all. Yes, I found it a bit dull that a couple of big brands seemed to supply most of her current wardrobe but hey, we all have different tastes. I felt her earlier appeal was muted because she posted less about what she was actually buying but her posts were clearly marked as collaborations so I didn’t feel cheated. Not everyone feels the same.

What interested me about this thread is that the accounts of a certain group of women (many of whom I follow too) have made others feel pushed out. There has been talk of ‘Mean Girls’ behaviour, making the less insta-gifted among us feel like they aren’t in the cool gang, a sense of ‘you can’t sit at our table’.

Some women did appear to feel cheated by the inevitable changes that success brought these women. It was like they were friends but one found fame and moved on while one was left behind feeling stupid and frumpy and unable to afford the finer things in life. Yet they were never friends. A follower is just that. You may feel like you know these people but you are usually just a casual observer. There is a sense of disconnection between the affluence of the middle-class London lives of these women and what ‘real’ women are experiencing. Somehow the balance between slightly aspirational and totally unattainable has tipped too far for some.

Social media involved in ‘making women unhappy’ shocker!

Why is it that we torture ourselves with things that make us unhappy? It has been widely shared that Facebook (in particular) can make you lonely/depressed/unhappy/isolated. There is an unfollow button if you don’t like what you see. It can feel cliquey when you follow people who are friends and you see them going to parties and events together and getting goodie bags and freebies. But you don’t have to look. Whose responsibility is it to protect you from the envy or dissatisfaction? I think you’ll find it’s your own. You have a choice. You can choose to walk away and you can choose how you react to what you see. If it irks you so much, what does that say about your life? Are you happy with it or unhappy? Is this about them or you?

Social media is a fabulously seductive, inspiring, creative, wonderful, connecting place. But in terms of mental health it has a dark side too. You need to look at it with one eye open, so to speak. Protect yourself. Remember that it is curated. It is a business for some. They need to keep up certain standards (although I would argue there is plenty of imperfection on their feeds too – look and you’ll see imperfect bodies, messy kitchen drawers, destructive toddlers). I’m sure they have made mistakes, maybe choosing a brand who jars a little with their image or writing content that is just a bit flat. Haven’t we all made errors? Do you always say exactly the right thing, wear the right outfit, eat the right things? Would you want those choices torn apart on Mumsnet?

Comparison is the thief of joy and social media is made for comparisons. But if you can’t see that it all isn’t real, then you are very likely to be adversely affected by a lot of scrolling on Insta. Are any of our feeds real? If I am taking a pic, I style it up (badly, usually). I can’t do flat lays to save my life, but I will move mounds of washing out of the way for a better shot. I choose the cutest pics of my kids and a flattering angle for my mum tum. Rightly or wrongly, I like to show a slightly better version of myself. We all do. It’s not at the expense of the more real posts – I document our difficulties regularly too.

I also know when to step away.

Do you? (It’s waaaaay before you start commenting on the physical appearance of other people’s children on a Mumsnet thread, btw)