Do you feel unappreciated?

I’ve come across a few people feeling unappreciated recently, so I thought I’d give some tips on how to deal with it.  As poor old Danny Smith on Radio Verulam is considered one of St Albans’ hidden treasures, I thought I’d go through them on his Drive time show.

Fancy listening to our dulcet tones?  You can listen again here.

Do you feel unappreciated?  Is it at work, at home with the kids or with your friends/partner?

The good news about feeling unappreciated is that it can be dealt with pretty easily ……

 

Tip 1: Have you told anyone?

To do list
To do list

When I worked in IT for 13 years, there was a well known phenomenon, which was that the men were much better at 1to1’s than the women.  Basically the men were much better at listing everything they had done, and blowing their own trumpets.  Whereas the women were more prone to being humble and discussing their development areas.  (Yes, I totally get that this is a generalisation!).

It happens at home too – many wives complain about their husband’s needing a medal for emptying the bin once a week ;o)

Meanwhile, women tend to leave the daily chores off their to do list, and not appreciate how much they are naturally getting done each day.  Hence their husband’s come home and ask ‘what did you do all day’ and it feels to them like they did nothing.

The key and easy way to turn this situation around is to tell people.

A good friend of mine makes a long list of everything that needs doing in the day and leaves it in a prominent position in the house.  By the end of the day, it has loads of ticks on it and her husband is awe inspired by how much she has achieved.  She makes sure that it includes things like ‘feeding the children’.

I’ve found that my children had NO IDEA how much I was trying to fit in to each day.  So rather than shout at them, when I was feeling really unappreciated, I waited until I had calmed down, and then I went through the list of things that I had to do.  I found them much more appreciative of what I did from then on.

Sometimes, people don’t appreciate what we do, because we’ve never explained what would happen if we didn’t.  I’ve heard of Mums who go on strike and stop clearing up or tidying up; that’s certainly one option.  I just explained to my kids that I know that they like to play and often we don’t have long, so I like to be able to find the toys quickly in order to make the most of our time together; hence everything needs to go back to where it came from.

I know lots of writers who feel gutted that their books don’t sell or their blog doesn’t get enough readers.  But often I find it’s because they aren’t willing to ‘pimp out’ their writing; i.e. no one knows about it!

 

Tip 2:  How do you know that you aren’t appreciated?

There is someone lovely that I know, who often feels unappreciated.  The thing is that despite being wonderful, she doesn’t have all the confidence and self-esteem that she deserves; so she needs quite a lot of head patting, and sometimes life gets in the way of telling her how great she is.

It’s quite possible that whilst the thoughts in your head are telling you that ‘No one appreciates me’, that they actually do appreciate you.

Maybe they just haven’t had a chance or the time to let you know or show you yet?

Maybe you haven’t noticed or heard them when they told you how great you were; sometimes we only focus on the criticism, not the appreciation.

Maybe they don’t show you the way that you like the best, so you need to tell them to do it a different way.

The other day I was feeling glum about my blog.  But then I got an email to say I’ve been selected as one of the top 15 Fibromyalgia advice blogs world wide for 2014 and found I was in the Top 100 blogs on Amazon (yep, people pay to read my blog, when it’s free on the internet – it’s weird, but I’m not complaining!).  I basically wasn’t looking in the right place to see where I was appreciated.

So remember to:

  1. Assume you are appreciated.
  2. Look around and see if you are and where you are appreciated.
  3. You could always ask them!

 

Tip 3: Did they want your help?

Everyone is fabIronically sometimes we are right; we are not appreciated.  But not because someone took us for granted, but because they didn’t ask or want us to do what we just did.

Sometimes, we just don’t listen to other people and jump to conclusions about what they would like.

It can happen so easily ..

– The kids don’t appreciate the amazing meal we cook them, because frankly they’d prefer baked beans on toast

– The friend who we spend ages sending advice to or chatting to about their problems doesn’t show any appreciation, because she was quite enjoying the drama and never helped for resolution, she just wanted to moan.

– The partner who didn’t appreciate the expensive present we bought them, because they actually prefer a simple bouquet

– The work mate who didn’t appreciate all your hard work tidying up their area, because what they actually wanted, was for you to tidy up your own.

 

Be really careful when you spend your energy helping people, and first check that you are about to do the right thing.

 

Tip 4: Did it make you feel martyred or grumpy?

Very sadly, you could do something really important and really helpful, but because of your demeanour afterwards you will get no brownie points whatsoever.

I encountered this when I was in IT at one point.  I had the best customer service results, the best budget and always achieved my targets.  But my boss found me a pain in the neck because I needed to be patted on the head; he was the kind of guy who didn’t need any external praise at all, so he thought me high maintenance.  It might have been unfair, but it was the way he was.

Do you know someone who is grumpy all the way through doing their job/chores?  I bet it totally stops you from feeling grateful to them?  Like that stroppy child who tidy’s their room, but kicks and throws things all the way through the whole process.

What about that elderly relative who helps loads of people, but then spends the rest of their time complaining about how much they helped everyone?  They are real energy suckers aren’t they?

We are basically really demanding; we want things done PLUS we want them done nicely!

Don’t do something if you are too tired, or you don’t want to!  Let someone else step in and help out instead; share around the giving!

 

So if you want to feel appreciated make sure that:

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug
  1. Don’t waste time helping people who don’t want help.
  2. Do things that people definitely need.
  3. Assume that people are grateful for your help.
  4. Tell them what you did; but maybe wait a little while and give them the chance to appreciate it first.
  5. Don’t do it if you don’t want to.
  6. Be nice about it and don’t undo your good work by being ungracious.

 

I’d love to know if you try these tips and how they help you?

Or hear your stories of people who you find it really difficult to be grateful to?

 

 

 

 

 

Frustration and anger

Anger – what the hell is it all about?

Frustration and angerI was chatting with Curly headed boy the other day, as he’d been giving us some serious attitude for a few weeks.  He was clearly angry with me, but I couldn’t work out what on earth was the matter.

So I picked one of those evenings – you know the ones when they want to chat lots, and talked him through anger and explained what it is.

The problem with anger, is that most often it comes from us not actually knowing how we are feeling and what has triggered us.  So it often doesn’t achieve what we really need.  By understanding it a bit more, we can make sure that things change.

I thought, maybe the gorgeous Danny Smith would like to chat about it over on Radio Verulam – if you would like to hear us chat about it, then you can listen again for 1 week here (I’m at 5.30-6).

 

So why do we get angry? …

1) Righteous Anger

This is the good anger.  The one you don’t want to suppress.  The one that will protect you and make you stand up for yourself.

This is all about when you know something isn’t right, it’s not fair, or is unjust.

It’s not always the right answer to compromise and keep the peace.  Especially when we are people pleasers!

It’s also a protective anger – this is the one you would see in me if my ‘mother lion’ got triggered.  It’s the the full on, controlled, ‘don’t mess with me’ anger.

 

2) Anger with someone else

Ironically we can often be angry with someone else, but get triggered by someone who isn’t actually anything to do with it.  They do something minor and then get it in the neck because we are so angry with the other person.

Sadly the person that we are angry with are often less intimidating and easier to take our anger out on as well, so we find someone who is less threatening that the real person we are angry with.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to know why we are angry, because it’s not fair to be angry with the kids just because our boss is causing us trouble.  Or even worse in the case of a divorce, it’s not right to be angry with the kids when it’s got nasty between the parents.

 

3) Overwhelmed anger

This is when there is something else that has stressed you so much, that suddenly you flip at the slightest thing.  Stuff that would normally not bother you, that you can deal with, suddenly is too much.  It’s often nothing to do with the person who we are actually with.

This is something us Mum’s are terribly prone to doing – we get tired, overwhelmed and stressed, and then at the end of a long day find ourselves shouting at the kids and threatening them with something really over the top.

Kids are good at this too – if mine get angry, I will first check to see if they are hungry, thirsty, tired or need fresh air.  Then I look to see if they are over stressed for some reason.  The thing is that they are kids – I can’t expect them to manage their emotions, so if they are in one of these states I am much more cautious with my punishments.

Did you know that teenagers literally have all the wires (technical term!) not work in their heads properly?  They can’t recognise expressions as well as a toddler.  Hence they jump to conclusions and get grumpy at the simplest of things.  I used to find Reiki really helps them – it’s amazing how they can express themselves afterwards.  Anything where they get some relaxing downtime will help them come back to themselves.  (Plus food, drink, sunshine and sleep of course!).

The ideal here is to put our hands up and say ‘sorry’ – after all we all make mistakes and everyone gets tired and grumpy.

 

4) Not saying what we think anger

How often have you been angry with someone because they’ve done or not done something?  But did you tell them?  Or did you let it boil inside?

This encourages us to think that other people are to blame for how we are feeling.  But the question is are they?  Or is it purely our inability to deal with them?  I’m not talking about serious and obviously wrong behaviour that would trigger No1 – I’m talking about us all seeing the world slightly differently.

 

The key to this is to say something in a gentle and factual way (check out my post on teaching people how to treat you) BEFORE it becomes a problem.

This is often really difficult, because we ignore the first signs of small irritation or discomfort, and only take notice when it’s bigger.  So if you’ve waited too long, try to step aside, write down the facts and then have a chat with the person on neutral ground.

 

5) Pretending we aren’t angry

This is technically ‘not angry’, but we are angry, we just pretend we aren’t.

This is when people do those passive aggressive posts on Facebook.  Or make sarcastic digs that are meant to be ‘funny’.

It can also make us into bully’s (check out my posts on bullying – I just got picked as one of the top websites worldwide by an Anti Bullying website).

 

6) Serious anger issues

Then there are times when it’s not that simple, when the anger is too frequent and starts to control us.  When it means that we are aggressive, scary, violent, and it starts to affect our relationships.

If you have this sort of anger, then first check with your Doctor, as you might have a physical problem, that is causing it.  If it’s not physical then they should be able to get you help from someone specialised in anger issues.

It can even have physical effects:

  • Nausea
  • Increased thirst
  • Changes in thought patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Addiction

Depression or Post Traumatic Stress disorder can make us angry instead of seeming down (check out my top books for depression).

 

No emotion is ‘bad’.  The question is ‘Do you let it rule you, or do you use it where it will help you?

 

Tips for dealing with Christmas

7 Top Tips on How to deal with stressful people at Christmas or special occasions

Tips for dealing with ChristmasIf you ignore the money worries, which are frankly caused by buying presents or stuff for people, then the next biggest cause for trouble at Christmas or other big family events and parties is PEOPLE!

So this months feature for Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM) was all about them and how to deal with the stress.

I love people, but Oh My do they know how to cause trouble when more than one of them gets together, in fact some of them love causing trouble!

So here are my seven top tips for avoiding arguments and break downs/ups during Christmas, family parties or any big special event.  Anything from dealing with your family, the in-laws, your other half and over excited kids.

(I’ll pop the audio at the bottom as soon as I have it).

 

Tip 1- Hold your tongue and don’t get drunk!

Go out for some fresh air

 

I’m not being a spoil sport, but drink and stress don’t go well together.  In fact neither does lots of sugar followed by a sugar low (check out my healthy eating for rubbish cooks for ideas to counteract that sugar buzz).

Take a breather, and get out for a walk.  Just 10mins walking round the block can help you have patience for a few more hours.  It’s pretty easy to come up with an excuse; say you are feeling odd, or have to deliver a card urgently, or need to buy more milk (hide the extra in the garage).

Remember to BREATHE and especially breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth in equal measures e.g. a count of 4 in and 4 out.  The nose will calm you down and it’s important to balance the in and out breaths.

 

Tip 2 – If you do too much for people they will treat you like dirt and show no gratitude

 

This is a very ironic but massive rule to learn in life.  There should always be a balance between how much you give and receive in return.  If you do too much, then the people you did it for will subconsciously feel guilty and then resent you for being a martyr and doing too much.  It pretty much always goes wrong and is one of the biggest causes for an argument.

Instead learn the art of delegation and get everyone involved in helping, even if it’s just with hoovering the lounge and setting the table or doing the clearing up.  Ask people/family to bring provisions or look after the kids with a winning ‘I know you’d love to help’ kind of smile.

Make sure you set their expectations early on, so that everyone knows what the plan is e.g. I’ve had a chat with Curly Headed Boy about the order of events on Christmas Day and that his Grand Dad has had a terrible Flu.

 

Tip 3 – if you are really sure of yourself you don’t need to convince other people you are right

What is success and failure

 

Some people are like energy suckers and love a good argument discussion they drag you into ‘debates’ which become heated and unpleasant.

Just remember this rule:  It really doesn’t matter if people disagree with you, because 50% of the world always disagrees with you.  So there is no need to try to convince them or win the debate.

If other people start up a difficult conversation, just interrupt and suggest to continue it at another time or place; after all you are in charge (if it’s not your party, maybe make a distraction instead).

 

Tip 4 – being clear about your boundaries

Often we get really upset because we have just had hours of abuse or nit-picking.  The key is to knock it into touch at the beginning and do it early enough before you are too upset.

It’s not about shouting at people or telling them what you really think.  They key is to say how you feel e.g

When xxx does/doesn’t happen
I feel xxx
If it continues/happens again thenconsequence you are willing to go through with that isn’t inflammatory>

For example:

  • When things like that are said I feel hurt, so if it goes on I’m going to go and have a little walk or watch TV.
  • When no one helps me to tidy up after lunch I feel really unappreciated and don’t feel like doing any more
  • I get stressed when the kids are running around me when I’m cooking, I need someone to play with them please, otherwise it might be dangerous.

 

Tip 5 – learn from your mistakes

Ok, so you might not manage all this, or some of this advice might be a little late.  Don’t get bitter, just make sure that next time works for you!

If you are a bit stressed the night after the event try counting your blessings before you go to sleep, as there is bound to be something from the day that went well, even if it was just how helpful someone was in the midst of the chaos.

 

Tip 6 – make a plan b

Face your fears, and work out what’s the worst that could happen and hen make a contingency plan and store it away.  This is not about worrying about something, this is about sorting out your ‘insurance’ and popping it in a drawer to be pulled out in an emergency, just like we do with cars.  Also, when faced, our fears are often never as bad as we think they will be.

Ideas could be to pull out board games to calm down hyper kids, or to have a new film up your sleeve for when everyone needs a chill.  Maybe putting on some music would help put people in the festive spirit, or going out for a walk stop people from getting too stir crazy.  A big pot of coffee might help with the family drunk, as will not having too much alcohol available for them.

(If however there is domestic violence in your house, I strongly suggest that you get advice from a professional about holiday periods.  Plus be very careful if you are planning on leaving soon, as it’s the point of separation that can be the worst).

 

Tip7 – but expect the best

Is it possible to have romance and kids?I bet you are looking at me with misbelief at this one, but seriously, miracles do happen!  So the most important tip is to focus on how you would like the event to go, rather than on what you don’t want to happen.  If you focus on people misbehaving it tends to happen, maybe because you behave in a way that prompts it psychologically.

This is particularly true of children and awkward relatives.  If we expect kids to be badly behaved we tend to get on their case really quickly, thereby over-controlling them, and making them feel suffocated.  Being nervous around a tricky relative will put them on their guard as well, thus bringing out the worst in them.  Drunken relatives, may still drink, but it’s possible that they fall asleep in the corner, rather than cause a massive problem!

 

I hope these tips help, as memories from special events can last for a lot longer than the actual event.

Feel free to add your hints and tips or success/disaster stories.

Remember there are lots of other tips on here about how people behave and how to feel more contented and Christmas.

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

Is it the Mum’s responsibility to keep the romance alive?

Is it possible to have romance and kids?I was asked to pop onto the breakfast show for Heart Wiltshire the other week by the lovely Molly (check out what I said here on her blog)

She guessed I might have strong feelings about husbands complaining that they don’t get any attention any more and that the romance has gone out of their marriage!

And I do!

It’s not that I don’t think that Dads are as important as kids.

It’s not that I don’t think that they deserve to feel loved and get attention and sex.

But I can’t bear all the theories about how the wife should make an effort to make sure he doesn’t feel left out, poor thing.  Seriously!!

In the majority of homes the Mum will be juggling a pile of stuff, and has very little left to worry about romance.  It’s not that she doesn’t want it, it’s just that she’s concentrating on what has to be done, and that is taking up all her time, energy and brain space.

The Dad is a grown up, he can look after himself, manage his emotions and do a pile of stuff the kids can’t (or he should be able to, and can certainly learn to).

And there is NOTHING MORE OFF PUTTING than a bloke adding to the pressure of being a Mum, by whining about not getting any attention or romance.

 

You are probably quite right that your wife has put the kids first.  It’s called nature; our hormones give us little choice, and even if they did, practically speaking the kids need us and you are a grown up.

The question is can you man up to the task?

 

1) Make the effort to add a bit of romance in yourself.

Can you take over dinner time, tidy the kitchen and put the kids in the bath while giving your wife an hour to relax once in a while?  Put a film on that she’ll enjoy, make some pop corn, get a bottle of wine out and cuddle up to her on the sofa.

Talk to your parents or get a baby sitter and find somewhere that she would like to go.  If the kids are too young for you to go out at night, go out for coffee or a romantic picnic.

DON’T add extra pressure by pushing her to leave the kids for longer than she wants to.  It’s meant to be fun for her remember!

 

2) Find the romance that is there and make the most of it.

Philosophically speaking nothing goes away totally, it just changes.  You just aren’t looking for the romance in the right places.

Romance is about warmth, closeness, intimacy and fun.  Try to ignore the kids and they’ll kick off.  But create family romance by including them and you can still have it.  Picnics, walks in a forest, sand castles on the beach, family film time; all of those have that lovely romantic feeling to them.

Don’t ignore the kids wanting to give you hugs when you leave or at bedtime.  Have fun with it.  Have family hugs, instead of 1to1 hugs with your wife.

Bear in mind, if the kids are her number one priority, then the way to get up to number 1.5 is to go with it, rather than against it!  (Hint: this is how you get more sex with your wife).

 

3) Be Patient

Remember that this will pass, the kids will get older and she’ll have a chance to breathe, and come back to you.  Make sure you’re worth coming back to!

Don’t fall for that ‘My wife doesn’t understand me’ way of thinking and find some other woman to have an affair with; she’s just looking at you as someone who has already proved they can commit, and will do exactly the same thing to you eventually.

Get an interest that you can be passionate about during the few years the kids are little.

Get interested in the kids!

 

What do you reckon?  Am I too harsh?

Have you managed to keep the romance alive despite the kids?  Does your other half complain?  Did you come out the other side and manage to rekindle the love or did you find it was wrecked by the stress?

BTW I’ve written lots about sex and being parents, if you liked this post, you might want to read some more.

 

A Name For Our Revolution: Come and have your say

I’ve got a plan for a revolution.  First starting with mummy bloggers, and then spreading out into the world.  It’s your revolution too, so I’d like to know what you’d prefer to call it.

So what’s the idea?

  1. To strengthen the position of Mums in society.
  2. To encourage Mums to feel strong and confident in our differences
  3. To help them to appreciate that given different circumstances and different shoes, they might be different too

 

A ‘good mother’ is a mother who is herself, not trying to be someone else.  Therefore we are all going to be different, with different types of families, different backgrounds and different priorities; just plain different.  Difference is interesting.  That’s the objective; for there to be a point to you, because you are a unique you; as Ralph Waldo Emerson (a 19th century philosopher) said “Envy is ignorance, Imitation is Suicide”.  It’s ok to have a different opinion and you can still like/respect me whilst disagreeing with me.  Plus, that if I’m sure of myself, I won’t be threatened by you having a different opinion.  I won’t even need to try to convince you of it.

Mums are incredibly important to society, because we are where things start.  At the moment we don’t have a strong standing in society, and I believe it’s time to change that.  If we publicly have a go at each other and criticise each other (which is different from disagreeing respectfully), that we reduce our power and standing in society, plus waste time and energy.  I’m not suggesting that we can never bitch about someone or sound off to a good mate, as getting it out can be helpful in gaining perspective.  What I’m suggesting is to change what we do after that.

I believe that there is ‘hope for us’ as women, and we don’t have to accept the gender generalisation that a large group of women will always spend time having a go at each other.  I think that we can learn to take a breath, have a cup of tea, and imagine standing in another woman’s shoes to find the common ground; and that by doing so we’ll get the insight to stop slagging each other off.

So here are the ideas for what to call the ‘revolution’.  They’ve come from the first Mums already excited by the idea.  Now we need a name, then a badge, then for some big communities to back the initiative.  So what would you like to call it?  The only ‘rule’ is that the name doesn’t point the finger at another community e.g. Dads or non-mums and that it focusses on what we want rather than what we don’t want; so ‘Mums without judgement’ actually uses words that we don’t want.

If you have a better option, feel free to add it in the comments, otherwise let me know which ones you prefer ….

1) Standing in other Mums shoes

2) Mums stand together

3) Mums in each others shoes

4) United Mums

5) Mums Different United

6) Mums United Different (shortens to Mud)

 

Which name is the most powerful, the most inspiring?  Which one will people remember?  Please let as many people know as you can, so that we can get as much feedback as possible.

UPDATE: Tag Line and Badge

After all the fabulous comments here and at BritMums, I’ve decided to definitely go for ‘Mums Stand Together’, I’m going to grab the twitter id’s and sites for that and ‘Moms Stand Together’ just incase we need that at some point.

But you guys are right – now I need a tag line!  Plus it must take into account all the concerns – so it’s not about us all agreeing, or not debating, or all being the same.  The main objectives are

1) to help a Mum step back for a moment and think about how she would feel if she stood in the other Mums shoes – hence reduce the in fighting

2) to help us have a stronger presence in society by standing together

Hows about:

Mums Standing Together, strong in our differences?

Also, I either need someone willing to do a swap for a header and badge (I can offer an hours coaching worth £130?) or a company to sponsor someone to do it for me – any ideas?

Family gap year

Family Gap Year vs Finding The Magic at home

Family gap year
Family travelling the world in a motorhome

With the big hairy northern one being made redundant, we’ve been talking about taking a year out as a family gap year; maybe 6 months in the states, home for my brothers wedding and 5 months in Australia and New Zealand.

Curly headed boy is 6yrs old, and having been to a private school is a bit ahead of our local state schools, so if we home school as we go, it will definitely not affect his education and he’ll be fine to return to a state school.  Plus I think he could do with some time out.  Little Dimples is nearly 2, so she would come back to a years pre-school before reception.

 

What I don’t want to do though is run away thinking that we can get something from the year away that we can’t get from staying and ignore the potential downsides.

So the question is what do I think I’ll get from it?

  1. Adventure and magic
  2. Self discovery for me and the big hairy one
  3. Time for the family to come back together and strengthen
  4. Time for us to think through what the big hairy one would like to do career wise in future
  5. Time out for Curly Headed Boy from 2yrs at a hard core school to rejuvenate
  6. Teach the kids how exciting and fun it can be to learn
  7. Expand the kids horizons, show them what else there is in the world
  8. Reduce the kids reliance on stuff and show them how lucky we are and what a ‘rich’ life really is
  9. Create stronger and more consistent rules and boundaries for the family
  10. See things I’ve never seen before

At the end of the day I’ve realised I want my children to have a ‘rich’ life, so if this will help them start on the road towards that, then great.

Realistically written down like that, there is no reason why we can’t do those things in ‘normal’ life.  But it will take a lot more focus, because it won’t be happening automatically from our environment.

The potential downsides are that we could nearly kill each other in the process of ‘self-discovery’, Little Dimples might not get important socialisation time, we could get sick or have an accident, if mis-managed it could end up costing us too much money and it could make it even more difficult for the hairy one to get a job on his return.

If we don’t go, the downsides are that we might not stay focussed on the changes that are needed, although there will definitely be a change, because we are going to change Curly Headed Boy’s school.  There’s no real way to replace experience though, because you just can’t be sure of what you would get, so it’s difficult to try and replace it.

But if we can managed to stay, plus achieve all of that list, that would be a really amazing achievement though.

It’s a bit of a conundrum and at the moment there are a lot of opportunities out there, I think that we need to do more research and follow a few of the options along to see if they give us a clue.  After all, if someone offered the big hairy one a fantastic job tomorrow, that might be a big hint to stay and just plan a great adventure for a holiday.

 

Time for a change: Women bitching about other women: Sally Bercow vs Kirstie Allsopp

Time for mums to stop bitching about each otherSo another story about a mother, having a go at another mother, very publicly because obviously the Daily Mail loves that sort of thing.  Sally Bercow decided to slag off Kirstie Allsopp for being out of touch and middle class. So I’m going to have a rant.

For a start when are women going to understand that until we start to stand together we are going to be cutting off our noses and constantly degrading our social power?  It’s perfectly OK to have different interest and different beliefs and still stand together for goodness sake.

Sally criticises Kirstie for having too much time to waste on doing crafty stuff.  But she herself clearly has too much time to waste if she spends it slagging off another mother.

Apparently it is also a crime to be ‘middle class’, but I’m pretty sure that it’s been proved that ‘the middle class’ is now the majority of everyone in the UK, so that would be at least 3/4’s of the british public then Sally?

She also says that Kirstie is out of touch.  But that is totally untrue as I have learnt since becoming a ‘Mummy Blogger’, because the blogging world is full of Mums making stuff with their children.

Personally I love doing creative stuff with the kids, and I’m well aware of how important it is for their emotional and mental well being to keep their creative juices flowing somewhere other than the Wii.  But I’m totally undomesticated and have no ability to make clever craft stuff myself.  In fact my son goes to sewing school club because he said it was a good idea as I’m so hopeless!  So I’m not the type of person that you would expect to watch Kirstie’s craft program, but I LOVE IT.

It took me ages to work out why I love it, but I did.  She has passion for what she’s doing and I find it infectious.

Passion is what we need right now.  Plus in a time of financial strife, ideas on things to do that don’t cost hundreds of pounds are also a very good plan.

Now in my blogger/blagger post I got loads of responses when I said that I have a plan for Mums for  2012 to create a movement to change the way we behave towards each other, and give us more power in society.  My plan is to build on top of the wheels already in motion, not to create new ones, so I’m not looking to create a new community or forum, it’s more a ‘movement’ that connects all the existing ones together as a recognised set of shared values.

Step 1 is to start in the mummy blogger world.  The campaign needs a name, badge, and ‘manifesto’.  I have a rough plans for them all, but I’m only the ‘founder’ of this movement, I’m not planning on being the ‘boss’ of it.  So I’m going to set up a Facebook group and let anyone who is interested help out with the final choices and polishing of this step.  I’ll also share some of my other ideas for the next steps, and look for people and communities to put their hands up to be involved.

The message is going to be empowering, not about victims.  It’s about what we are aiming to create, not what we don’t want.  It’s about declaring that we are going to try our best to give other Mums the benefit of the doubt and try standing in their shoes for a moment.  It’s a reminder to us to do it when we get stressed or upset my another Mums behaviour.  We can still disagree, it’s not about mindlessly agreeing with each other, its just the method of disagreement that’s all!

So are you up for it?  If you didn’t comment on my previous post about the blogger/blagger issue to say that you were keen, pop a comment below and I’ll be in touch!!!  I’ve got loads of ideas on how to make this work, we just need Mums to get involved and decide it’s time for a change.  Come on guys, let’s make 2012 the year that we start to be the people making changes in our society!

What would happen if Aliens did land next week?

The aliens are coming!

Well, not definitely, but did you see that someone analysing the feed from NASA reckons they’ve found a HUGE space ship near Mercury?

It could of course be a trick of the light.  But what if it where true?

A little part of me got all excited; after all life is a bit tricky for everyone right now, it would certainly take our minds off our money worries etc (if you’ve just been made redundant or are worried it might happen, check out my series of blog posts).

We get our knickers in such a twist about the fact that everyone has totally different values, morals and ethics around the world.  Can you imagine the difference when there’s a different planet involved?

They could be totally self-sufficient, and have learnt to live without eating or drinking.  Or they might eat their own toe nails, or worse ….!

Some religions would be up the spout.

What about the first alien-human marriage; how long before that was allowed legally?  Mind you, I find it difficult enough married to a hairy northerner (being a sunny Bristolian at heart), can you imagine the culture clash in that?

I reckon that racism etc would reduce, those people could all focus on anyone not human.

What if they looked so like us, that you couldn’t tell who was alien or not.  Wow the paranoia!

I bet if they did land that next Christmas the ‘must have toy’ would be an alien; that’s one thing I’m sure of!

I thought you might like something different to think about; what do you reckon about Aliens landing next week?

Blogs

I’m a Blogger Blagger, fancy joining me?

So loads of people have been commenting about whether bloggers in general are blaggers, or whether it’s just the new ones, just mummy bloggers or just a small group or large group of them.

Then there was a particular incident where a ‘Real Mum’ (how self-righteous is that title) decided to have a go at a Mum who had missed a problem her daughter had.  Us bloggers tend to cover our embarrassment and shame with humour, and ‘Real Mum’ didn’t understand the psychology of it, so just decided to lay into the Mum.  Of course what this does is create a scenario where loads of people come to rescue the ‘victim’ and it all escalates.  Included in this conversation was an attack on the ‘new bloggers’, blah blah blah.

It’s a pretty typical Mummy Blogger rant about how some people are better than others etc etc.

Officially a blagger is basically a scrounger.  The feeling is that they ask for too much for free, and they are a pain wasting people’s time.  There is a sense that they are asking for too much and not giving in return and with no discernment.  There is that feeling that they are asking for something that they probably don’t deserve or haven’t earn’t.

So let me set a few things straight.

  1. We are ALL blaggers somewhere in our lives.  If you aren’t blagging on your blog, you are doing it somewhere else, it just might be somewhere more socially acceptable or subtle.
  2. It’s always wise to aim for a fair deal where anything is concerned, and in this case that the PR, company with a product, blogger and reader wins.  It’salways going to catch up with people if they don’t follow this rule, and you don’t have to do anything in order to make sure of it.
  3. It’s crazy in a recession to be self-righteous about earning money or being valued for your time as an entertainer/writer/blogger.  It’s not bad to get something in return as well as the enjoyment of writing.
  4. You don’t get much unless you ask.  Just because you aren’t tweeting, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking.  If you are on any kind of blogging list or using any kind of SEO you are basically putting yourself out there to be found.

So I’m going to confess.  I’M A BLAGGER.

I’m not of the old school, my blog was started in 2009.  So I’m also not of the new school of Mummy blogs.  I have some street cred blogging wise, but there are people who get thousands more hits a month than me.  But I’ve definitely blagged.  There are also times in my life where I didn’t blag.

How can I say that everyone has blagged?  Be open minded for a minute and look back over your life.  Did you ever blag clothes, food, money or stuff from your parents?  Did you ever blag to get a job?  Did you ever blag to keep a job?  Have you ever asked your kids to do something, go somewhere or get ready for bed/dinner/bathtime without really offering something in return?  Have you ever pretended that you were in complete control of the situation with your kids, but weren’t really?  Have you ever asked your husband to buy you something that was probably too expensive, but you ‘really needed those shoes/handbag’.  Did you ever cover up a haircut?  In the case of anonymous bloggers, isn’t there a sense of them pretending to be someone?  In fact don’t all of us do that a bit, as most of us have rules about what we don’t blog about.  Have you ever pestered someone to get something done, at work or at home?  Rather than think that you have never done it, just look for where you did.

Here are some examples from me:

I failed at blagging when it comes to money, rent free living, car etc from my parents, whereas my brothers got all that stuff.  But I did come out of it more independent and financially stable, so it worked for me long term.

I totally blagged my first job, it was a recession, I’d just graduated and I phoned up a company for a consultancy job I didn’t have the experience for.  Someone told me a week ago that they heard me as a 20yr old saying ‘You’ve got to interview me, because otherwise you’ll miss out on a really hard worker’; what a cheek!  I feel that my 13 yrs in IT was a blag.  I might have become a ‘global technical specialist’, but it was actually because I did work hard, and not because I was a techie at heart.

As a blogger I blagged the most amazing competition prize from The Wagon company, and in return I got nearly 600 reads of my post, The Wagon company got more hits, more learning about social media and some great contacts, and one of the 126 people who applied for it got £180 worth of Red Radio Flyer.  I count it as a blag as I hadn’t done a competition before, and suggested it to the company after they approached me to use a picture of my daughter in our wagon.  Plus I was really lucky that I had a relationship with some family festivals who were happy to let me mention it on their walls, so I got lots of mentions.

I don’t do many reviews, normally it’s of stuff I’ve bought already.  Mainly because I do them on a whim and can’t be bothered for a few pounds.  So I’m not just a blagger, but I’m an expensive disorganised blagger.  I can’t really be self-righteous about the fact that I don’t accept many of the offers I get, or that I don’t take free stuff from events, because I’m just a choosey blagger, that’s all.  Plus, if I was more organised, I’m sure that I could review products that I need and it would work out for everyone.  It’s a bit like the fact that there are people who earn a living from competitions, and one of the reasons is that loads of us don’t enter competitions because we don’t think we will win.  They don’t win all of them, but they enter so many that it works out to be viable.

I have just blagged an £89 gorgeous coat for my readers (watch this space, because it’s going to be in a competition in a couple of weeks).  To be honest the lovely ‘Best British Bloggers‘ offered to connect me, after I cheekily tweeted that I loved Joe Brown’s stuff, and had lost weight and couldn’t afford to buy a new coat, so did anyone know how to contact them.  This is still true, however in the rules of wiseness that I mentioned above I’ve now suggested to them that we might all gain more fairly if I do a competition (sob sob, shiver shiver).  So they agreed, and have kindly thrown in a consolation prize of a top for me to review.  It’s totally a blag according to the rules of the game, because I tweeted the company name and was there anyone who could get me a free coat.  No I haven’t done many such tweets, part from a blog post about how much I love IKEA, which didn’t work.  However, it was really cheeky considering the price of the coat, and although it will work with one of the themes of my blog, there are people out there with more hits that might work better for the company.

My blagging is going really well because of the MADs win.  Someone with three times my readership asked me to write a guest post about being a successful blogger, and I agreed.  I decided that if that’s the way people wanted to see it I wasn’t going to argue with them, even though it was really only down to a very beautiful glass ornament.  In reality I blagged the glass ornament by asking my readers to vote for me, several times, and maybe a few more times, and did a silly video.  Because of the blag that got me a MADS win, I’ve won a Netbook, which I’m seriously considering giving away as a competition prize to my readers because of the wiseness rule I mentioned above and because I’m about to ask for something else from my readers.  You see; another blag.

Stop worrying about other people blagging, it’s a waste of energy.  It’s a phase, people will grow out of it.  Things will change.  New ways of blagging/PR requesting/making relationships with companies will come and go.  Yes, it puts us into disrepute, but the media will always find a new way to have a go at Mums or bloggers anyway.  There will aways be blaggers.  We will all blag free stuff somewhere in our lives.  Blagging will continue.  It has it’s uses.  When misused it backfires.

What’s most important is that we are all MUMMY bloggers (i.e. Mums who blog, please don’t get all het up about the fact that you happen to be a Mum and a blogger and that I’m not distinguishing between them).  So we are all MUMS.  What this world needs is stronger MUMS.  It needs MUMS who stand together despite their differences and say that we are a force to be reckoned with.  Mums are where everything starts.  It’s where the family starts and that’s where society grows from.  We are REALLY important.

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have much clout out there in society.  They don’t value us much, we don’t get the pick of the resources from the governments, and the media totally enjoys taking a hit at us.  So what do we do.  Do we give other Mums the benefit of the doubt, imagining that we might do the same if we were standing in their shoes?  No, we slag each other off.  No I don’t imagine that we can stop being judgemental, just maybe that we could stop being judgmental of Mums.

I’m not suggesting we stop disagreeing either.  It’s just that there is disagreeing, and there is trying to make sure the other person knows you are right.  There is discussion and there is bullying.  There is open and interesting exchanging of views and there is ridiculous mud throwing.  There is politeness and there is the use of inflammatory words that will piss people off and upset them.  There will always be mistakes in communication.  The key is to own up when we piss people off and not keep trying to defend out ‘rightness’ in making it look like we were criticising someone.  It’s about being secure in the knowledge that we are all different and that is OK.

My final blag is that I’ve written a book.  Some people think this is amazing to have been able to write a book.  To be honest it feels like another blag to me as it is a Kindle book, and I love to write, infact I’ve got another 10 books sitting in my head.  But I know that my intentions are true, even if it is a blag.  This blag could help a pile of Mums who are overwhelmed to get less stressed and enjoy being a Mum more.  It could bring back the sparkle to their lives.  So it’s a blag worth doing.  Oh and it’s a blag that will be out next week, and following that on other ebook readers, and then paper back.  Oh and it’s a blag that will only cost 99p, so it’s a no brainer as far as far as I reckon it.

So I’m all sorts of things that make people cringe.  I’m a Mummy.  I’m a Mummy Blogger.  I’m a Blagger.  I’m judgemental, but I’m trying my hardest to stand in the shoes of other Mums and give them the benefit of the doubt.  I make mistakes, but try to own up to them and not get defensive.

You are also all of those things, but are you aware of it?  Or are you spending too much time in your neighbours business?  Or are you interested in making a change, using your blaggness for good?

I’ve got a plan for 2012.  It’s a HUGE blag.  It’s to do with getting Mums together, and showing how powerful and important we are.  It’s going to encourage Mums to proudly stand together in their differences (not against Dads, or none Mums, just together).  I need some fellow blaggers …. let me know if you can blag enough to make a big enough difference.  I need blaggers with influence, blaggers with something inspiring to say, and blaggers with connections.  I’d like to connect to other blaggers also interested in the same issue too.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, more combine a pile of wheels into a juggernaut for change.  I’m not going to explain how/why/what yet, it’s a secret for a little longer, but if you are interested let me know and we can start the ideas growing.

 

How to organise a play room

What to tell your kids about Advertising?

How to organise a play roomApparently today the government is suggesting media lessons for primary school kids.  Do we really need this?  What do you tell your kids about adverts and the effect on our decisions?

Well, funnily enough I had a chat with Curly Headed Boy last night.  We normally watch Cbeebies and Disney, which are advertising free; sort of, because the programs themselves are a pretty good advert and Little Dimples will pick up anything with ‘Poggle’ in it (Iggle Piggle) or ‘Oink’ (Peppa Pig).  But as he is learning spanish at school we switched to Nick Jnr in order to watch a bit of Dora this week, which means that there have been 101 adverts of rubbish toys that he now wants for Christmas and his birthday.

So I explained that adverts are evil and they mess with your brain so that you want everything they show you!  Curly Headed Boy isn’t daft, so his answer was ‘For real Mummy?’.  No of course that’s not the whole story.  An advert can also be useful to inform us of something that is available (just you wait for the one I’ve done for my up and coming book!).

I don’t really think that Curly Headed Boy needs lessons to make him media savvy.  But there will be kids whose parents will forget, not have the time or not think to mention it.  Plus when school tells him something, it’s generally considered law; hence the ease with which I can get 5 a day into him now.  So really, I don’t care if they do or don’t do a lesson.  It won’t be a massive waste of time, after all they are just in primary school.

I’m not convinced it is the highest priority at school in general as we still have a huge percentage leaving primary school without being able to read and write.  However, when people stole stuff in the London Riots, what did they steal?  Brands.  So perhaps it’s not so daft?  Maybe the little kids will tell off their parents for being so brand ruled as well?  But it won’t be enough, so it needs something else later on as well.  After all I was totally against smoking until I was 16, stressed, and miserable, which led to 10yrs of inhaling nicotine.

What do you reckon?  Have you had ‘the chat’?