Mind matters

Guilt-free mum treats

I used to think nothing of heading into town in my lunch hour and spending a small fortune on stuff I didn’t really need. Two children and two stints of maternity leave later and I now have to seriously watch what I spend (and kind of wish I’d been a bit more careful in the past, the joys of youth!).

But I have found a few pain-free ways to still indulge in a treat or two. And boy do I need those little treats some days! So here’s how I’ve been rewarding myself lately without breaking the bank  – and some of these are totally free.

Guilt-free mum treats

Coffee – Free from Waitrose
I know it’s a ploy to get me through their doors and spending, but I’m strong, I can resist. Waitrose free coffee is decent, I can always use a caffeine boost and by-passing Costa and the likes easily saves me a good few quid each time I’m out. It’s better for my waistline too as it keeps me both on my feet and away from coffee shop cake. Which also saves yet more money. So far I’m winning!

Glossy mags – Free using library emagazine service

This has been an absolute revelation for a girl who used to be a total magazine addict. I used to buy several magazines every week, starting in my teens. Then by my late twenties there were the wedding mags, followed by the baby ones. Of course, these days having the time to sit down with a glossy is a luxury in itself but given that you can easily blow three or four quid on popping that extra reading material into the shopping trolley, it’s a habit I’ve seriously reined in.

I had weaned myself down to just a single money-saving subscription. But now I’ve discovered I can borrow digital versions via my local library website for free. Many of my old guilty pleasures are there – Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan (I feel so old looking at that now though. Still Good Housekeeping is also available!). And then there’s the celeb tittle tattle titles for a bit of escapism – Hello! OK. And grown-up home decor and food stuff. You get the picture. These can all be read FOR FREE on my laptop, tablet or smartphone (and on eBook readers if you have one). There is no limit on the number of titles I can access and no time limit – it’s amazing!

I’m not sure if all local libraries are now doing this – ours is West Sussex. You can also borrow certain books in this way now too.

Chocolate – Money-saving multi-packs

My desk drawer at work hides a multitude of sins, not least my stationery confectionery stash! Given that most days require a chocolate-coated sugar boost at some point, it dawned on me that buying single bars from our sandwich lady or the corner shop was costing a small fortune. A trip to Sainsbury’s (or your supermarket of choice!) and you can almost always pick up a multi-pack of something for about a quid and it will last you a week. Given that most single bars now cost at least 70-80p, that adds up to a nifty little saving. Does nothing for the waistline but you can’t have it all. And at least at work I’m not expected to share it, or find it smeared down the walls later.

A beauty boost – 3 for 2 deals and a DIY facial

Now I know this isn’t exactly a revelation, everyone knows about these deals. But I did make the most of one of these offers this week when I was badly flagging and feeling decidedly knackered and dowdy. Desperate to indulge in a bit of budget me-time, I bought myself tubes of Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask and the accompanying Refining Scrub and, for a real treat, a bottle of Argan Oil Perfecting Facial Oil, all from the Good Things range. Buying on a deal meant I got one of the tubes free and was able to justify buying the oil – facial oil being something I’ve wanted to try for a while now. That said, even without the deal the products are reasonably priced for what you get – £4.99 for the scrub, £5.99 for the mask and £6.99 for the oil,

They all smell gorgeous – so good I keep taking the odd sniff when I’m not using them – and it felt fabulous taking the time to wallow with a face mask on for the first time in absolutely ages. I almost forgot it was there and ended up leaving it on a good half hour!

Afterwards, I felt refreshed and I’m sure my skin looked brighter and felt smoother. I really like the way the oil makes my skin feel – super soft and pampered but without being too greasy, which had been something that has put me off trying oil previously. It claims to help treat signs of aging, so fingers crossed it lives up to that promise! So far, so good.

I’d gone for the Good Things range on a whim after seeing an other mum recommend them in Mother and Baby magazine. She was a make-up artist so I assumed she must know her stuff! And I later realised the range itself had been developed by an award-winning beauty writer (Alice Hart-Davis) so, again, I’m happy to bow to this greater knowledge! The fact that the products are made with natural ingredients and contain no parabens, sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl suplhate (SLS) and no mineral oils or other petrochemicals, also really appealed to me.

So, those are the cheap and cheerful treats that have been helping make my days that little bit brighter. I’m always on the look out for more so please share yours with me!

NB: Everything mentioned in this post has been bought or obtained by me, for me. There is no PR jiggery pokery going on here, just my own thoughts, in case anyone wondered.

A couple more posts for anyone needing a positivity boost…

Remember this day… a note to myself

The importance of a little bit of head space

I was delighted that this post was a #FamilyTested Review of the week.

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Categories: Mind matters, Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Working mum woes…

Today, juggling motherhood with work has felt difficult. Balancing my priorities and responsibilities has felt almost impossible and I’m left with the feeling that I haven’t been able to perform either of my roles as well as I’d have liked. I’ve felt tired, guilty, frustrated and overwhelmed.

Poor Little Mister isn’t very well. He’s been fighting a temperature and is so miserable. My usually happy, busy little boy has been floored by a nasty virus. Really, I should have been at home with him.

Working Mum WoesThe problem is that working part-time, Monday to Wednesday, means that missing today would have made my short working week even shorter. With some big deadlines looming and the two recent Bank Holidays having already curtailed my hours, staying at home didn’t feel like an option.

Having only recently returned from maternity leave, I do feel under pressure to prove myself again. My work is important to me and, of course, I want others to value what I’m doing. After almost a year out of the office, I want to show that I can still have an impact and am good at what I do. I want to feel good at what I do again.

But my brain just wasn’t feeling it today. After a broken night responding to the little man’s distressed cries, my thoughts were sluggish. My creative juices just wouldn’t flow and any flourish that I might have had in the past felt totally diminished.

I’d arrived late, thanks in the main to an unhelpful fit of willfulness from my toddler. The persistent rain and traffic that seemed to be conspiring against me didn’t help matters either. And Little Mister was never far from my thoughts, even though he was safely at home being looked after perfectly well by Daddy who was in a better position than me to take the work hit.

I know we probably did the right thing today. That I at least was able to get something, rather than nothing, done and be present among my colleagues. But my inner critic keeps telling me that if I’m going to spend a day away from my sick child then I really should have made it count. I should have been firing on all cylinders, producing dazzling copy. I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed all round.

I know I’m being over dramatic and that I’ve heaped this pressure on myself – why do we do that? I know that my colleagues probably didn’t notice that I was struggling to be productive and that I still have time to ‘pull it out of the bag’ before next week. I know today could have been so much worse on so many levels. That I should, and do, feel grateful for all the good things.

As can be said about so many things in parenthood, I know this will pass. It will all be ok. Tomorrow is another day.

Has anyone else been struggling with the juggle this week? Do let me know any tips

Image: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Super Busy Mum
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Working mum | Tags: , | 12 Comments

Remember this day… a note to myself

This morning I awoke at 5am (I blame that last mug of tea just before bed!). Both children were still sleeping soundly. The night had been unbroken. I’d even managed to be in bed before 11pm. But then my brain started whirring and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Panic set in. My plan for a better night’s sleep was being ruined. Precious minutes of rest were ebbing away. Today would be unbearable. I may as well give up before I even start, I thought.

But I didn’t give up. Today I fought back against my lately negative mindset. And despite a bit less sleep – actually not that much less given the earlier night – today has been a success. And before I forget this and slip back into bad habits, I want to make sure I remember this day.

So here’s a reminder…

Remember this day

When you assume, before the sun’s even risen, that the day ahead will be a disaster, remember this day.

When you think you’re going to be far too tired to face the day ahead, remember this day.

When you’re laying awake in bed worrying that you won’t be good enough for them, remember this day.

When you fear you won’t be able to stay smiling and cope with the seemingly endless cycle of dirty nappies (a ridiculous five poos today!) and toddler toilet trips. And those little accidents (baby boy gave himself a good soaking mid-change today!), remember this day.

When your timings fly out of the window because of the above but yet everyone survived things running a bit late, remember this day.

Remember how you just got on with it, trying not to over analyse things or panic when they didn’t go entirely to plan. Remember how much easier life felt in this mindset.

When you convince yourself it would be easier to just stay at home rather than face the stress and hassle of getting two little ones out, remember this day.

Remember how good it felt to walk out in the crisp, clear sunshine. Remember how much better the fresh air made you feel and how much healthier it was for all three of you to be outside. And you knew then that, despite the struggles, you were doing your very best for your little family. Remember how calming it was to get out of the house, away from the clutter and chores.

When you choose to prioritise non-essential household admin over having fun with your toddler, remember this day. Remember getting her little pink scooter out for the first time in months and enjoying playing outside with her on it while her baby brother slept. Remember your first-born basking in the unbroken attention of her mummy, who she now has to share with a sibling.Remember her happy little face and gleeful shouts. Remember how laughing and being a bit silly made you feel re-energised and upbeat.

When you next dread that said toddler is getting ever closer to dropping her afternoon nap and you fear you won’t cope when she does, remember this day. Remember how not making her have a nap today did not cause a nervous breakdown. Remember how you trusted your true instincts on this and how everyone had a nicer afternoon as a result.

When you tell yourself that you can’t possibly juggle meeting the needs and demands of a toddler and baby at the same time as preparing an evening meal, remember this day.

And, most importantly, when you’ve forgotten to take a step back and look on in pride at the two little people you have created and nurtured, remember this day. Remember how special and brilliant they are. Take a good helping of credit for this. Stop beating yourself up and enjoy life. Enjoy them, always.

Remember that things are very rarely – if ever – as bad as you think they might be. Remember this day. You are doing fine. And tomorrow you can do it all over again.

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/digitalart

I’m linking this post up with Word of the Week on The Reading Residence, my word being Remember.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

The importance of a little bit of head space…

I started writing this post sat in the peaceful surrounds of a public library – always a reliable haven for mums with small children. Little Miss was at nursery and Little Mister was snoozing next to me in his cosy buggy.

For the first time in days, maybe a few weeks even, I felt able to just sit, still and calm, and be me.

Neither child was demanding anything from me and being out of the house removed the ever-present temptation to start filling this time with chores instead of taking a moment for myself.

It was bliss. The autumn sun was shining through the window. There may even have been a rainbow as I’d just ducked out of a heavy shower.

It was quiet. There was no CBeebies, Peppa Pig or nursery rhymes playing in the background! And, much as I adore her, no Little Miss asking constant questions or insisting I do or get something for her NOW!

I felt refreshed and it made me realise that I should prioritise trying to do this more often.

The importance of a little bit of head space... www.mummystodolist.com

Having two children is what I always wanted. I now have the perfect family I dreamt of, a girl and a boy, and I love them to infinity and beyond. But one of the things I have found most difficult these last few months is the lack of personal time and space.

I sometimes wonder if growing up as an only child has made the transition more difficult for me. Whereas my husband grew up in a busy household with three brothers (and a very naughty dog!), I suppose I’m just more accustomed to being on my own a lot. My dad worked long, irregular hours so it was often just my mum and I at home.

I am used to, and sometimes really need, time for peace and quiet. Incessant noise, after a while, makes my brain feel frazzled, my head ache and my thoughts feel all over the place.

Whenever we’ve done those personal development quizzes at work, the ones that try and categorise people by character traits, I always come out as an introvert. This used to surprise and slightly alarm me as I’m not especially shy and can be a terrible chatterbox at times. But I’ve grown to realise it means that I like, and need, my own space to function well.

But it’s not just a need for personal space that has made having two little ones feel overwhelming.

My other big problem is the demands I place upon myself. I crave time and space but when I have a chance to grab some I all too often fritter it away on some mundane household task that could, for the sake of my sanity, have waited. Or at best it could have been done much quicker if I wasn’t on a constant quest for perfection.

That’s why getting out of the house the other day was so good for me.

Usually on Little Miss’s nursery day I stay at home and set myself an impossibly long list of household jobs and admin tasks that I want to get done. I nearly always end up feeling disappointed not to have finished the list, even though it was unrealistic in the first place.

I also often spend too long trying to do simple chores to an unnecessarily high standard. And sometimes it feels easier not to start at all if I think my standards won’t be met in the time available.

It’s a catch 22 situation. I feel frustrated about my lack of time, yet when I have it I don’t use it wisely or get less done than I could have and end up feeling I must get even more done the next day. Ahhhhh!

Anyway, getting back to the point, taking myself out of my usual routine did me the world of good this week.

Instead of staying at home and filling my toddler-free day with hoovering, washing and housework – in between the nappies and feeds – I escaped our four walls, which can feel pretty claustrophobic even at the best of times.

My husband was heading to the quaint, historic Sussex town of Lewes for a work meeting and Little Mister and I went along for the ride, meeting him later for lunch. It’s a place I used to go with Little Miss when she was tiny too, so it brought back many happy memories and a strong sense of déjà vu.

I had a lovely, relaxing morning. I sat and fed Little Mister in a coffee shop – without having to chase a hyperactive toddler every few minutes, or bribe her into sitting still with biscuits or Peppa Pig on my phone. I drank a latte while it was still hot and I enjoyed a packet of crisps without having to share. Little luxuries, I know!

And then I hit the shops!

And although I was enjoying myself, the trip was very productive too and did actually enable me to tick quite a few things off my to-do list. It was a winner all round!

I bought Christmas cards and a fair few presents. With just under six weeks to go until the big day, I now feel that we’ve made a major dent in the shopping. Something my bank account was also clearly feeling when I checked last night. Whoops!

It was lovely to have time to look around for gifts – something which has become increasingly tricky when Little Miss is in tow.

Little Mister, when he’s awake, loves being out and about, with plenty to look at. And it’s nice for him to be complete centre of attention for once. He enjoyed smiling and gurgling at all the old ladies who stopped to admire him. He is a fantastic flirt – loves putting on his cutest performances for an audience!

It was lovely to be able to focus just on him for a while. He was rewarded with a nice new pair of Sock Ons! (for those not in the know, these are genius little things designed to keep babies’ footwear on their feet. Little Mister is terrible for rubbing his feet together to lose his socks).

And, once I was all shopped out, I still had time to start writing this, my first post in a while.

The day was a reminder, a wake-up call, that me-time matters. That, sometimes, it needs to be made more of a priority. My wellbeing is important and giving myself a bit of a day off from the housework was one of the best things I did this week.

It’s made me realise that I should try and carve out more time for myself – either to rest, relax or do nice things. If that means lowering my standards a bit at home then I think it will be worth it.

Having a bit of breathing space, time to clear my head, makes me a calmer, happier, more positive parent when I return to the joyful chaos of childcare.

So I will strive to do it more often.

I’m linking this post and the word ‘space’ with The Reading Residence’s fab Word of the Week linky. 

The Reading Residence
Pic credit: thaikrit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Word of the Week | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Word of the Week #8

I’m cheating just a little bit with my Word of the Week selection. I’d like to say my choice sums up how the whole of the last seven days have felt but it doesn’t. It has, however, been my mantra for the last two days and I’m aspiring for it to stay front of mind as we enter a new week. So, without further ado, my word is:

Word of the Week - Calm

The first five days of this week I felt anything but calm. I am by nature a worrier and this week I let myself get wound up into a tighter and tighter ball of anxiety until I felt miserable and drained of energy. Catching Little Miss’s latest cold/cough hasn’t helped but much of my exhaustion was caused by my own racing mind. Everything feels so much harder when you’re stressed and have got into a negative mindset (I really must remember this!).

Friday saw my mood take a roller-coaster ride. Despite starting off well, I unravelled into a blind panic around lunch time. I got myself back on track by blitzing the house while Little Miss had her afternoon nap, which made me feel better for most of the evening, before the final tearful plunge came just before bed. Basically I was just too tired and anxious. But ironically my mood meant I couldn’t relax and ended up delaying sleep further until the early hours! And that was when I decided enough is enough.

On Saturday morning I made a conscious decision to force myself to try to relax, adopt a more positive mindset and just stay calm. I accepted my husband’s offer to take Little Miss out with him for a few hours while I chilled out at home on my own, catching up with Twitter and laying in bed. We then had a relaxed afternoon out in town, followed by good food and a film at home. I got to bed earlier, read a book (instead of my phone!) and enjoyed another lay in this morning – if you call 8am a proper lay in, these days anything later than 6.30am is considered good!

Today we’ve had another quieter day, staying at home, pottering around and getting a few key things off the ‘to-do’ list. And again I’ve made a conscious decision to watch my reactions and try to create as calm a mood as possible to set me up for the new week. So here’s hoping that calm remains my Word of the Week for the next seven days, at least until the next WotW post!

This post is part of the Word of the Week linky run by fellow blogger Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence. The idea is very simple, every week you come up with one word to sum up your week.

My previous words have been:

CanRelievedMidnight, HappyStickersProud and Spring.

The Reading Residence

Categories: Mind matters, Word of the Week | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

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