As a stay-at-home mum with my own blog, I have the luxury to work from home and divide my own time. It is a great blessing, but however great this is, sometimes it´s also a trap as I get distracted by all the housework or am just in demand by the kids. I am sure I´m not the only one who sees the dirty dishes in the kitchen whilst typing away on her laptop, or who can´t stop thinking about that 3rd load of laundry that needs to be done! I’m sure like most, work also means balancing kids screaming in her ears they want snacks each time I sit to write or refereeing the arguments between uploading photos! 

So with this in mind, today I would like to share some tips on how to work from home and actually get the work done.  

First of all I like to have a clean workplace, and somewhere I can concentrate. In order to concentrate when I´m working and to relax when work time is over, I would recommend a special workplace. This doesn’t have to be a separate room, a desk in a corner can be enough, or perched on the end of the dining table in another room. Also, I like to label my work with stickers and write down things I need to remember. You can for this, use personalized labels and notebooks with your website or company logo which is lovely and more professional. Online printers like www.helloprint.co.uk offer easy design programs and you can directly place your order to reduce one more thing “To Do”!

Set Working Hours and Breaks!

To make sure you are not working the whole day and evening I recommend setting working hours. This also offers clarity to the rest of the family and gives balance. For example, you can work when the kids are at school and in the evening, so you have time in the afternoon to spend with them. Or you can take one day off in the week, just to have time for yourself (a rarity).

Also I would suggest to trying to avoid checking your email all the time. This is hard when it’s on a smart phone, and It is really tempting to check your mail many times to see if a certain message has arrived (or if that one potential client already responded). But for balance, Just try to schedule fixed times for this too. Most of the time an email isn´t that urgent that it needs a response right away or when you are out with kids.

The most important thing for me is that when I am with my family – It’s family time! I try to avoid taking my laptop with me on weekend away, and I try to avoid checking emails and social media when we are on a day out or at the park. Work never stops so it´s vital that you guard your free time.

And finally let´s not forget about the breaks. It is impossible to work concentrated for many hours straight. Did you know that the average concentration time is only 45 minutes? I sometimes miss lunch if I have a deadline, which isn’t healthy, and if I am working on a lot of blog stuff, my neck can get achy too – So plan regular breaks, to eat, stretch and chill! 

With some simple adjustments it gets easier to work from home with a tribe of kids, without being consumed by it all. Of course I would also love to hear your tips too on how you balance home/work! 

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My kids are at an age where they love to ask me about my life at their age. They love to hear stories, but some of their favourites are the ones about me and my accident prone nature. There is something about stitches, pots and swollen limbs that makes them perk up with interest and jaws drop in disbelief!

Clumsy or accident prone I do not know, but one thing I do know is that when I look back on my life as a child/teen I was often at minor injuries or A&E for one reason or another. It wasn’t like I went looking for trouble, but whether sport injuries, work injuries or general “flying over the handlebars of my bike” injuries, I basically spent a lot of time to and from the hospital, and its safe to say that one of my top 5 social scenes at that age was the minor injuries unit at Bridlington Hospital! I have lost count of all of the stretchy support socks I owned!

The highlight of my accident prone shenanigans, and a story we all love to tell, is the one where I broke my arm tripping on some grass on the path after a week of adventuring in the lake district. You know those tiny tufts that poke through the paving slabs? Yup – after a week of mountain climbing, jumping into rivers and playing in woods, I tripped and broke my arm on a blummin piece of grass!The highlight of this story is when I had the cast taken off I tripped at school 4 days later and broke my other arm in 2 places… I subsequently spent my whole summer holiday in a pot!

Being a mother myself now I can see that Megan especially is a little scatty and clumsy too, just like I was. Thankfully we’ve had nothing too major yet, because at her age I was having my eye stitched and not long after was the whole “2 broken arms” incidents! I can only imagine how worrying and stressful all of my injuries were… especially when I entered the work place as a silly high spirited teen!

Fast forward to my mid teens and I bag myself an awesome job at a chippy (most common option when you live at the seaside). I loved it and worked there for years! I hated smelling of fish, but loved the people, the freebies, having cash in my pocket, and even the bosses were fun to hang with. I have some fond memories and lots of stories too from that chapter. In the beginning I worked there with my sister and that in itself makes for great stories for our kids now. But then you looks at the bigger picture – me and hot fat? Wet floors? Giant freezers? Boiling water? Skinning fish with sharp knives and machines that peel potatoes? It sounded like an accident at work waiting to happen. And on some shifts it was  – More so when I reached the age I was able to skin the fish and fry and not just serve hot food and drinks!

At this stage of my life I had many a burn from each shift (hands and arms – once on my face), and even now I still bear the odd scar that remind me of those days of frying food and serving teas and coffees!

There’s the day someone mopped the kitchens, but in my eager bounding way, I slipped, twisted and boom – sprained my ankle, and it flipping killed!

The occasions I spilt boiling cups of tea or coffee down me, slipped with the ladle and had hot curry/Peas or gravy down my fingers, and slipped on a soggy chip (true story!). Of course my main look was a trendy blue plaster on my fingers from cutting things, but despite these natural hazards of working in the food industry with my clumsy/accident prone nature, I absolutely loved the years I worked there.

These days (touch wood) I haven’t had any trips to minor injuries or A&E and I am wondering if I am growing out of it? Theres is the time I got hit in the face with a football, cut my knee on the coral in Mexico, fell down the stairs when I was pregnant with Alice and numerous burns making tea, but these are normal right?? None required a hospital visit, so I feel that in itself is progress! Either way life and its concentrated injuries from sport, life and work when I was a teen are a distant memory. Perhaps I haven’t grown out of it, perhaps I have, but being a stay at home mum certainly protects me from the dangers of the work place that seem to magnify my scatty nature and clumsy ways!

Are you accident prone? How does it affect your work/home? Have you ever had any accidents at work?

*Collaborative post
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A few weeks ago I was driving from the coast when I saw a beautiful field of Poppies. Immediately my thoughts turned to our baby girl Poppy (our stillborn daughter in 2014) and memories and wonderment ran through my mind. I often will say how hard it is to have her missing from every picture I take, from every memory we share and from every ordinary moment of life.

With a name like Poppy it is easy to find associations and little keepsakes to help us reflect on her, but what I have wanted most is pictures. Pictures of all of my kids, pictures that remind me as the years pass by that I have had 4 kids and not just the 3 little beans everyone sees us with. The Poppy fields seemed like a great setting – a great place to show my 3rd child in pictures.

Since she has died we have used the Poppies growing at the side of roads, fields and parks, to illustrate her still living in heaven to the kids. We often will say “Oooo Poppies, maybe she’s been here and has left these to remind us!”.  It is an ordinary moment on days we see them growing, to be excited at the thought of her. The kids use them (like hundreds of others with the wars) to remember and talk of their sister.

I thought of different set ups we could have, but in the end, and with some tips from my friends at Sands, a simple family shoot in a Poppy field seemed right. As we passed some Poppy fields on Thursday I coaxed the kids out of the car for a “Practice run”, but of course things with kids rarely go to plan. Between shoving each other, whining and my battery dying (don’t get me started on that), we ended up with only a couple of semi decent ones. I look at them though and see my world in one picture. And whilst I still want to try and get us all in a Poppy field for a “Proper” family photo shoot, but for now I see the beauty of my living kids next to the simple beauties of a Poppy field, and for one ordinary little moment 2 worlds combine to capture my blessings.

I will never have all 4 in pics (or even my arms), but little moments like this along the way briefly fill my heart with joy!

The Ordinary Moments
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I began blogging about 2.5 years ago as a form of therapy and as an outlet. It was during in our 3rd pregnancy when we not only found out we were having another girl, but that she also had a serious form of congenital heart disease. Half of what we were told I had never even heard of and I could barely make sense of what was going on, let alone reiterate it to friends and family. I also found that life suddenly was heavy and the foreseeable future would be spent in hospital with major surgeries, followed by a life of uncertainty. It was awful, it was hard, it was nothing a pregnancy should be, and it was just all emotional.

It seemed to be a natural time to begin blogging as I needed a place to tell the details concisely to everyone without always having to repeat it, (and a place to let it all out). It was to be my space to share the highs and lows of life, and something to ensure I drew the positives from family life to maintain a sense of normality and balance – And so “The Hearty Life” was born.

It was less about image quality and more about just getting it all out. It created a channel of communication, but also as a way of focusing on our blessings despite the trial we were facing. It was a way to say how I felt when I couldn’t vocalise that to the people around me, and it was a way to release the ever building pains of our life! Sometimes it was the trigger for a day out instead of staying in, and sometimes it was just my journal.

 

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As things progressed, and she was later diagnosed with a life limiting syndrome (Trisomy 18), and then later born sleeping, my world as I knew it began to collapse and was changed forever. My blog was now my life line.

I began to look for positives to write about…the beams between the clouds, but I mostly wrote about the pain of losing a baby at term; the darkness and loneliness of grief, and the struggles of never meeting her alive or getting to raise her with my other kids.

There were angry posts, desperate posts, raising awareness posts and down right sad posts.

Some posts offended people. Some posts helped and inspired people. And some posts seemed to be an invitation to people to tell me how I should I be handling my loss…

But as much as it upset me to have negativity and nasty comments, I didn’t care really because it was helping me to survive my loss. Writing it all down gave me a voice and a place to express it. It helped me, not only to show people what life after loss was and is like, but it helped me to try and make sense of what was going on in life. The loss of a baby cannot be fluffed up, and unfortunately that isn’t always easy for people to read. Grief has many elements aside from sadness, and that isn’t easy for people to read, but its not easy to live through it either, and unless you have experienced such a raw grief as that of burying your baby the week after their birth, I believe you have no authority to judge another’s journey or how they handle it. To not write it at fear of upsetting the people around me, and to not get that out would have certainly killed me.

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My blog helped me through the worst experience of my life, and each passing week and month it helped to navigate me slowly through the foreign lands of baby loss. It helped me to function as it was a place to focus my depleting energies into something I enjoyed – writing and taking pictures! Grief stripped me of everything yet my blogging helped me cling onto my passions and beliefs… it helped me to stay afloat by sharing the moments of joy we were still able to enjoy as family despite the crippling pain we were carrying. In a strange way it all made me feel a little better and see my healing journey, and yet it confused me that people were sure I shouldn’t be writing it?! Surly the benefits far outweighed the clumsy or angry words of a grieving mother?

From therapy to hobby…to passion

Blogging now is less focus about awareness and more about sharing my life and our family as a whole. Writing our story is one of my favourite hobbies, and the longest journal I have ever kept! Working with brands and online work, most certainly is a fabulous job and I have realised over the last couple of years that I just love to write; be it about emotions or our family life, a product, place or our adventures. I truly love it.

My blog has given me a way to really identify what my passions in life are, and to gain joy from experiencing and sharing them with others. Yes whilst it still includes a chunk about baby loss, grief and parenting after loss, (because this is still a major thing in my life), it is also a place to share my life as a mother and individual, my personal loves of theatre, food, style, bargains and just all of the little joys along the way that make life great (“hearty”!). To remove any of those would remove its roots, my beginnings, my journey and my life now.

I enjoy my connections with other bloggers and I have developed great joy in photographing and capturing moments and the things in life that make me smile! I adore reviewing places and products and working on campaigns with brands. I love it all from my musings to my reviews, because the bottom line is that through writing I have found myself in the darkest chapter of my life. I have gone from having a blog for therapy and in 2.5 years become a passionate blogger and content creator very much aware and confident in what in life make me happy and creates “The Hearty Life” for us!

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So everyday that an email drops into my inbox with an opportunity, or a fellow blogger or reader comments or tweets me, my soul does a little skip and happy dance because I am just so incredibly grateful for my blog and my life as a blogger. It is never something I saw myself doing, but it is something I now love and am very passionate about. I am especially grateful for my daughter Poppy, because having her meant that I chose to start it, and whilst her life is a tragedy in our history, this is her legacy…the way I keep her memory alive to the world. It is a good thing that has come from her brief life, to not only save me, help others and raise awareness of loss, but I see it as her gift to me and our family through the beautiful moments we can remember and the simply wonderful things we get to work on and experience together!

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Blogging in 2017

As I stand at the start of the road that is 2017, I am hoping to stop faffing with my ever changing header and colour scheme, and rather channel my efforts into improving my photography (and hopefully invest in camera)! I need to be better with my time management so that I can read more books on an evening (another goal I have) and not feel stressed over something I love so much. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind a dabble in video and vlogging too (though I cringe at myself with this one).

I wish for a year of more adventures, more fabulous opportunities (and little ones too) in the areas I love, and more connections in the blogging community. I have several specific blog goals regarding my stats and social presence, and some personal one too about travel, reading, being more stylish (ha), but overall from 2017 I want to feel this continued joy and satisfaction from my life as a mother, and of course a writer and blogger. I want to relish in the fact that something wonderful for me and my family grew out of something so devastating, and I would hope that the people that love us, see what a huge blessing that is.

I dont think I will ever (at least for the foreseeable future) stop blogging, tweeting, and writing about my life, our adventures and our loss…it is my passion now, and it is my life. This is me! Blogging is something that makes me smile and brings me a lot of joy, it reminds me who I am and what I love in life, and it is very special as it is a legacy to my daughter. I like that for the first time in my life that the majority of my personal, and “work” goals all intertwine in the same thing and can be accomplished by that same medium – My blog!

I am, for the first new year since she left, excited to see what 2017 brings to us and creates for us.

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