This week in college we were talking about Ethics and the BACP Ethical Framework for counsellors. Whilst all very interesting (I assure you), I had to laugh when I was reading it, as it got me thinking – imagine if we as mothers and parents had a code of ethics we had to adhere to, in order to be “fit for practice”! I think with how nuts and ratted our days get sometimes, we would all be in breach of it on an almost daily, if not weekly basis!

It also got me thinking, on a more serious note, just how important self care is when you are a parent and how not practising this can have a huge impact on our well being and our ability to deliver good “service” to our little humans. I realised that we could learn a lot as parents from this seemingly irrelevant to us code of Ethics. Especially the section on “Fit For Practice” – It states:

We will take responsibility for our own well-being as essential to sustaining good practice

*Take precautions
*Monitor and maintain own psychological/physical health
*Seek professional support 
*Keep a healthy balance or work and life 

As I read this I realised how true this could be for parenting and life. In order to really get the best out of life, and to have an ability to appreciate what we have and see the hearty moments around us, we need self care – to take more responsibility for our well-being and maintain good physical and psychological health. We need to recognise that our well-being is essential to good home and family relationships and that it has a direct impact on our little ones too.

We need to keep a healthy balance, ask for help if we need it and care for our mental and physical health.

I see taking precautions as being more prepared and organised – saving to avoid stress when things crop up, packing bags the day before so it’s not a mad rush in the morning, or resting when we know a big day is coming so we can reserve our energy. It’s eliminating negativity so it doesn’t make us feel naff about ourselves, or causes us to take on others issues when we need to focus on our own.

I recognise that this is often easier said than done, and I also recognise that we live at a time when everything is very fast paced. Taking on multiple roles is “just the norm”. Our lives are always on the go and many parents talk about how life is often a balancing act or spinning multiple plates, and it can be easy to assume that this is what life is. It is easy, with so many people sharing only the good in life on social media, to fall into the trap of becoming clouded by comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. We can feel like we aren’t doing enough or aren’t enough, even when we are in reality more than that. At best we can just generally feel drained with life with all of the directions we are being pulled in.

Life is exhausting and busy and when we add into it the everyday parenting challenges of financial pressures, little sleep, sick kids, tantrums and chores and work that all need doing, we can see how we can quickly become swamped by life.

SO STOP!

Stop for a moment and think.

Are you giving your best self to those who need it the most?

Are you truly happy with the routine of your life?

when was the last time you stopped and listened to yourself?

When was the last time you asked “What do I want to do?”

Are you really aware of the effects that others are having on you and your well-being?

I have been asking myself these types things recently as I realise that these simple questions can go a long way to helping you identify your needs and being more aware of what affects your life is having on you. I have seen that I take on too much sometimes, and I have highlighted the needs I have to be happier and more balanced.

Self Care

We talk a lot these days about self care – how important it is and necessary for our mental health. But how many of us take that seriously and truly understand what self care means to us?

I know that for me it is only recently that I have felt that I know how to listen to myself and what types of thing’s I can do to practice self care. It has taken me a bout of PND 8 years ago and losing a child to stillbirth, to come to really know myself and listen to what I need and what I want my life to be like. These experiences, and being in a state I can only describe as “rock bottom”, along with people saying “be kind to yourself and go easy”, for me has helped me to figure out how I can be kind to myself, and that has made a huge difference to my happiness and confidence.

With this awareness and thoughts on well-being in parenting, here are some of the ways I see that we can practise self care and therefore take more responsibility for our own well-being:

Eat Well – It will set you up for the day, provide energy, stop you feeling sluggish and also help your body stay healthy so that you are in a better place to do all you need to.

Allow yourself guilt free treats – With holding treats when you fancy a chocolate bar or an ice-cream is no way to live. It can make you feel annoyed or like you are missing out (and consequently binge later on). I am a great believer of “everything in moderation” – I have a healthy lifestyle, so I refuse to feel guilty for some giant buttons, a pizza or a cookie. Treats, and a little bit of what we fancy are good in life – especially when we don’t self sabotage over them.

Be KIND to yourself – This leads me onto kindness to yourself. Recognise that you are doing your best and avoid telling yourself you are rubbish, ugly, not enough, not doing enough, lazy etc etc. It is exhausting and drains your happiness. Of course it is fine to be aware of ways we can improve, but it is not fine to sabotage yourself for things that are normal, things that are out of your control or shortcomings you feel you have.

I am always working on ways I can tell myself I am great and appreciating my unique self – it isn’t prideful or egotistic, rather it is empowering and a form of self care. Try speaking nicer and being kinder to your body and mind. Celebrate your accomplishments and see that you are a fantastic and unique person – and then embrace that.

Get enough sleep/Rest If you need to – Sleep with kids or a new baby is hard. But how much better does a day go when we go to bed at a decent time? I also find that if I can grab an afternoon nap, or leave the laundry and dishes for a day to rest now and then, I feel so much better for it.

Learn to Say “No” – It’s not selfish or harsh to say no to things. Don’t take on things you know you cannot manage and say no to people who drain you or leave you feeling inadequate.

Are you taking on too much? If you think you are, then perhaps it’s time to say “no” to a couple of things and evaluate what you want from your life.

Learn that ‘fixing others’ can take a lot from us – It is not our job to fix people, and there are people in life that will, if we allow them, always take from us and our time. Be aware of these people in your life and what it is taking from you. You may need to create some distance, or sign post them to someone better equipped to give the help and advice they need.

Take a duvet day – Contrary to common belief, It is not lazy to rejuvenate and take a day to rest. It is not lazy to stay in your PJs and binge watch some stuff you love (if you fancy it). It will go a long way to relaxing and feeling better and it will help you to rest and gain more balance in life.

Go to places that make your soul sing – I have recently become aware of how good I feel at the beach, in old manor houses, eating out, at the cinema etc I suppose it is mindfulness, but being aware of how these places make you feel and recognising the impact on your mood is so good for self care. I know, if I go to places that make my soul sing, I feel happy, joyful and life is good and blessed!

Get out in Nature – Everytime I walk on the beach, through a wood, in the hills or over the fields, I breathe in deeply and life feels good and lighter. It helps me feel closer to God and it helps me feel like it’s good to be alive. I see so much beauty in the world and I feel gratitude.

Nature helps us gain perspective and clarity. It is good for the mind and soul and helps us keep healthy and feel grateful. When things are too much, getting out in nature to walk or just sit and be, really helps feed my soul and ignites my mind.

Take a Social Media Fast– Last year I took 2 social media fasts. 1 was for a week, the other for 10 days. They helped me focus on the here and now, be more present, and stopped me comparing to others or feeling bad about me. If social media is taking up a lot of your time or causing you to feel naff, unfollow or take a fast. Also, try to remember that likes and followers do not determine your worth!

Ask for Help if you need it – If you need to talk to a friend then call them. If you need some extra help at home because you are sick then ask someone. If you need a night off then call a sister or parent or friend to watch your kids – it is not a big issue and people who love you want to help you where they can. Stop feeling like it is a failure to ask for a hand, like it is weak or feeling like you might be burdensome to others. It’s okay, every now and then to ask for a hand. We all need to and It takes a village to raise a kid!!!

Stop listening to others opinions – We are all good at passing judgements and giving opinions and if you are anything like me, then you may have spent far too much time seeking the approval of others or internalizing the opinions of them. Part of self care is realising that people can have an opinion but it isn’t necessarily the right one, or right for you. This is YOUR life, and you can make your own choices. It is okay to seek advice from friends and family, but choose wisely from who this comes. Remember that ultimately it is your opinions that need to be prioritised and it will either be right, or a lesson learnt.

There will always be voices all around us and comparisons to be made. There will always be someone with advice or an opinion on your life. But this is your life and your family, and being the best for both, is down to what you want and what you feel is right.

We may not have a code of ethics as parents that we need to adhere to, but I believe that self care is essential to sustaining good practice for life and parenting. I cannot stress enough how much we can learn from these things, and that by taking more responsibility for our well-being, we can keep a healthy balance, find more joy and appreciation, and embrace more of the hearty moments in life.

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As the girls are getting older, I am enjoying more and more the opportunities to match their outfits. One way I can see occasions to do this is through matching dresses. Whether for church or a party, matching dresses are adorable and very cute, and if budget will ever permit, there are some fantastic styles in girls’ designer dresses. Ruffles, embroideries, opulent fabric and colourful prints — are all stunning for little girls!

All of this got me thinking: with such a beautiful and timeless investment of a kids designer dress, how could I be sure to make the best out of these beautiful girls’ dresses?

In this post I’d like to present you some tips and tricks on curating your girl’s wardrobe around a statement designer piece.

Keep Everything Else Minimal

More often than not in the world of fashion, what goes for adults also goes for children. And when it comes to curating the perfect wardrobe around a statement piece for your daughter, I am a firm believer that adopting the capsule wardrobe strategy is a great idea. If you are not familiar with the term, a capsule wardrobe is a minimal collection consisting of around 40 or fewer items that all match with one another. A capsule wardrobe is all about having fewer pieces but endless combinations (which in the long run saves time and money)! Most items should be neutral, with a few pops of colour, and at least one statement piece!. This gives the look some personality and joyfulness.

My top tip on curating a capsule wardrobe economically is to first and foremost use what is already there. This isn’t about throwing everything away and starting afresh – Quite the opposite, really! Take time to see what fits and will continue to do so for a while, ask your daughters what they love, and start from there. You’ll be surprised at how much de-cluttering and adding in a few new basics will give a breath of fresh air to any wardrobe. Clean things up and pick a few new items wisely! The sales are good time to start this. 

Designer Dresses: The Choice Is Yours

Now that you’ve set the foundation of your girl’s closet with a few basics, it’s time to pick a statement piece that pops and wows, and leaves them feeling like a princess each time they wear it! And this is where things really do get exciting for the girls. While it’s true that we’re always looking forward to special events and occasions to dazzle everyone in their beautiful girls’ designer dresses, what they love more than anything is to be able to continue wearing their favourite dresses any other day of the year too. For this, all you need are a few strategic pieces.

A chunky neutral knit, a pair of cotton tights and some Wellies can work wonders to transform a special occasion dress into a fun daytime outfit. The fashion trendsetters have said it all along: to tone down any glitzy special occasion wear and make it into a daytime classic, pair it with some casual, down-to-earth pieces. A woolly jumper; some chunky boots; a denim jacket — the contrast is fun and surprising. Don’t forget to let your kid be engaged in the creative process of getting dressed, too! That’s all part of the fun with styling kids. 

Picking a Colour Palette

Setting a colour palette around your girl’s party dress will make your life so much easier and ensure the dress can be worn time and time again. If the clothes follow a matching colour palette, combining the pieces will be a breeze. This also makes getting dressed in the morning easy and foolproof, especially when they’re left unsupervised.

Generally speaking, neutrals are your best friend for maximum compatibility, but, chances are, your party dress will have a dominant colour. When it comes to this, you may decide to follow the latest trends or you may let your daughter make her own choices. This is entirely up to you. Whatever the case, pick a second complementary colour that matches the dress closely and let everything else be fairly neutral.

If you worry your colour palette is too neutral or boring (or not you/them), jazz things up with a few accessories, such as a flower hair tie, a cute brooch, some textured fabric like velvet or wool, or some patterns and prints. Pick a few little extras that suit your daughter’s personality and that will bring life to her everyday outfit.

Dressing girls is so much fun and I would love one day for them to have some proper fancy dresses for parties, weddings and church!

*This is a collaborative post and I have been compensated for sharing it. 

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This week has been incredibly busy, very adventurous and ultimately very blessed! We have seen and done loads together and on some days this has been pretty nuts, although mostly enjoyable too! We have been all over from Rock Pooling on Filey Brigg to museums in Leeds, and even down to the Peak District on Friday night for our very first family camping trip! We have made many lovely memories in and amongst all of the craziness and have also being able to tick off lots from our Summer bucket list too. I am hoping that the rest of the Summer holidays is set to be just as fun and happening as this week has been.

The highlight for me was certainly being able to go to Chatsworth house yesterday. I have wanted to go for such a long time and it didn’t disappoint!

Grateful For 

On Tuesday the youth I work with at church had their annual girls camp. I remember them well from my own teenage years, and as a leader, it meant that I too had the opportunity to go! I only went for one day as anything more wouldn’t have worked with the kids, but as anticipated it was jam packed and a lot of fun! We hiked 9.5 miles and then cooked dinner on a fire. In the evening we gathered round a fire and sung songs, read a few bible passages and shared our faith. It was incredibly peaceful and uplifting and since that special moment in the evening sun and around the fire, I have been even more grateful to be LDS/Mormon as I have felt really uplifted and just thankful for my faith!

I am also grateful for our first family camping trip – It was a lot of fun. And I am grateful for the positive effects I am feeling from my NLP therapy already!

Succeeded At 

This week has actually felt really successful and I have accomplished a lot of little (and some big) things that I have needed to. On Monday (before we went rockpooling) I succeed at attending an interview for Uni (more on this later as it unfolds) which has made me feel really excited. I successfully completed a 9.5 mile hike on Tuesday and I successfully found some new bargainous sandals to see me through the summer (which I love). I succeeded at putting up a tent and building a fire, and finally I succeeded at coming to a decision about my blog!

Ethan Succeeded at growing a nice stash of tomatoes, to which I felt incredibly proud of. He has been so dedicated in nurturing and watering his 2 tomato plants, that it was absolutely wonderful to see them. Homegrown tomatoes – how fab!

Found Beauty In 

There were so many beautiful and majestic moments in my week this week. From the scenery of the 9.5 mile hike I did on Tuesday on girls camp, to the beautiful calmness of the Bay and Filey Brigg on Monday, and Chatsworth House on Saturday. I have found beauty in people, beauty in family moments shared and beauty in nature and historical buildings!

It was beautiful to see the kids playing and looking for crabs with cousins, and it was beautiful to drive through the Peak District on Friday and Saturday. I found beauty in the sunsets and I found peace, stillness and beauty looking out of the tent doors early Saturday morning whilst we camped.

This week truly has been a beautiful one!

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Being organised (or at least trying to be) and having routine and plans is something I love to have in my life. It is both crucial when raising a family, and also something that is a huge part of my character for my personal sanity. I love to write “To do” lists, keep on top of things, have things written down, and have goals and some kind of structure in our day to day lives. I am a spontaneous person in many ways, but mostly I find comfort in having some kind of plan and structure. I feel there is a lot of stress and unnecessary chaos in family life where there are no real plans or routines!

Being a stay at home mum raising 3 kids, as well as being a blogger, a student at night school and the president of the girls youth organisation at school is a challenge, but is also very much my reality. Throw in trying to have date night with Nath, a social life, keeping track of extracurricular stuff and general life – it is no easy feat. And so I feel it is hugely important to be organised and keep some kind of balance for all of the demands of life, and to ensure self care.

For me, in order to do this I have in place things to keep organised and to keep some balance to my days. These include recording appointments and schedules in various places, and “My 3 job rule” to keep on top of the home without it becoming a complete drag or dominating pull!

How I Keep organised day to day 

I have had a lot of people observe to me that they find it interesting that I still write the majority of things we need to do with a good old pen and paper. It fascinates them that for someone that spends so much time online why I don’t use a digital calendar like google? The truth is that whilst I do record reminders on there, my brain seems to much prefer the act of writing things by hand, and seeing it all there to monitor and tick off. I don’t know why but I much prefer to write it all down, as oppose to type it!

I record things in 2 places – A family Calendar and a Diary!

A family calendar – For several years now we have had hung in our kitchen a family calendar where we have to hand all of the families appointments, classes, schedules and social events. It is useful fo Nathan and I when planning weekends and school holidays, and it is also good for us all to just be aware of what the coming week looks like for one another!

I love the flexibility of being able to look up and see at a glance what is planned that day and in the coming weeks!

A Diary – I love a Diary for my own personal goals, “to do” lists, notes and family stuff. I have tried numerous types of diaries, but my favourite has to be the one I have now that Nathan bought me from TKMaxx this Christmas. I love that each month is in sections, and each section has inspirational quotes and such an array of spaces to write lists, appointments, goals and birthdays (to name a few). I find my brain likes the layout of it, and how I keep things in order within it’s pages!

In my diary I pretty much copy everything off the family calendar (only this one is able to move around with me) and then add in all of the little things I do day to day; like food shopping, seeing friends. playgroups, cleaning, assignments, blogs etc. I used to love to bullet journal things like my goals, bucket lists, blog ideas, gratitude and blessings, and last year I did try a bullet journal for everything, but I found the creative style too much work, and it all hurt my brain not having it prewritten, so now I love the balance of my new diary with all of its little sections – most of which I would have previously written into bullet journal format, but it is already there!

A new addition to my life, and something I really love for an organised life and journaling, are the new filofax notebooks – again they have the option to be divided into sections, some with pockets to keep letters/bills/leaflets in, and the mix of lined/squared/plain paper, as well as the option to add extra sheets in to, make it the perfect option for bullet journaling or as a general family organiser. It is a good space to brainstorm ideas, make plans, set goals (with more plans), and keep lists of all sorts from all areas of life!

The leather look cover and bright colour options feel lovely, and it is a really useful and versatile piece of stationary for anyone looking for a more free way to keep track of (and organise) various areas of life!

My 3 Job Rule (for Balance and Sanity)

I love the saying “all work and no play makes ______ a dull boy/girl”! And so whilst I am one who enjoys routines and structure, there is an element to me that loves and craves some adventure and spontaneity. I suppose keeping a diary and track of everything, creating routine etc gives balance to my life and helps me to enjoy and be on top of the day to day demands, whilst still making space in my weeks to have fun and live life!

When Ethan was a baby however, things became very out of sync and I developed a very unhealthy cleaning obsession which included unrealistic expectations on myself to have a very orderly home all of the time. I don’t know how it got to that point, I suppose I saw it as being a sign to the outside world that I was coping well if my home was tidy when I had a new baby. But, reality was that after several months it was one of the tell tale signs that I had PND, and I soon realised (at breaking point and since) that motherhood wasn’t about having a clean and tidy home all of the time, but living life with my kids. Yes part of motherhood is creating a clean and safe environment, but it is also the responsibility of parents – not just me, and that it was unrealistic to expect it to be so. In time I began to enjoy being a mother more and have since been able to get more of a balance by living my 3 job rule mantra!

As our family has grown, so has the food bill, laundry pile, and the lack of order – I quickly realised in all of this that my days could quite easily be spent going round in circles and being dominated by the demands of a family home. Hours could be spent cleaning, Ironing, doing laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and hoovering. I knew that whilst I was a stay at home mum, this isn’t what I wanted all my days looking like. Yes I wanted to care for my family and keep our home in order, but this wasn’t just my sole responsibility – I am a mother, not a cleaner! And so early on, when Ethan and Megan were young and both at home full time, I realised I couldn’t do it all everyday, and nor did I want to. So, to help my mind and mental well being, and to be a more present mum, I Introduced for myself “the 3 job rule”!

The idea is that each day (except for Mondays which has become my cleaning the house day after the weekend and is more intense) I do just 3 jobs in the house – only 3, and then I go and do other things I need to do or want to do. The jobs are things that can be done quite quickly whilst the kids get dressed or for 20 – 30 mins after the school run, but they help me keep on top of the home! I do my 3 jobs, and then we might go out with friends, or on adventures somewhere. We might go to local groups, or swimming, or to the park…for a walk out, or simply snuggle and watch a movie. I do all of these things without the mum guilt or worry that there is loads to be done at home, because I know I already did the 3 most pressing jobs that morning and that is enough!

For me I always want to make sure they are done in the morning so that the day can be ours. I don’t particularly enjoy coming back to a messy house when we have dinner to make/eat, and other things to do, and so daily (often before or right after the school run) I always  1. Clean the Kitchen  2. Put on a load of laundry and then 3. (which is more flexible) usually clean the lounge. But Sometimes it might be to put the dinner on if it can be in the slow cooker, or it will be a quick hoover round, or maybe some ironing, or folding laundry.

Having the 3 job rule ensures the house stays in order and is clean, without dominating my day. It means I have a sense of achievement each day because my home is in a decent state, and I have done several things before leaving the house. But ultimately it means that I am more than a cleaner of our home! I keep my home clean yes, but within half an hour, meaning I have time with my kids and a social life with other mums and family. I means I have time to do things for me as well as my family, and I love it.

Organization and routine are very important to me, and I love the feeling of being in control of my day’s and making good use of time each day. Now that there is just Alice and I during the day, we tend to stay fairly local for school runs, and so that when she naps I can then blog or do college assignments. On an evening Nathan and the kids usually help tidy up from dinner, and Nathan always takes care of the bins!!! I love this balance as each day I can shut the door and go out with the kids to school and not stress, knowing I have accomplished something in my home and keeping on top of what needs doing without being dragged down by it all! I like that when we come home the downstairs is almost always clean and tidy, and for me it is a real sense of accomplishment to be able to balance everything I am and do.

It is so good for my mental well being and soul to have some structure, time out of the home most days, and just time with my kids to be mummy and go places and do things! I find that keeping a diary/notebook to track my goals, plans and schedules, as well as setting little daily goals in the home, all help me to accomplish this huge goal to raise a family (with all that that entails) and have some personal development and goals too. Whilst some days are a complete write off, most days are good and I flop into bed knowing I have used my time well and done my best!

*I received the Filofax notebook recently as a gift from them, and so wanted to share with you how lovely it was!

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