Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: When the Mum is supporting the family.

Agony Aunt for MumsSo many people I know have been affected by redundancy like us.

It is now a FACT OF LIFE and something that no one should be ashamed of (easier said than done).

This guest post is from a lovely blogging friend of mine Muddling Mummy.  I’m sure many Mums who are having to work at the moment feel the pressure, especially when they are the only income.  Maybe this is how many Dads feel too?

I’m going to put some ideas to help her out at the bottom, but I would love you to include your tips too or stories to show her that she’s not on her own.

 

Redundancy – 11 months on

This isn’t a post I thought I would ever write – both of us had assumed that, even though the jobs market is super grim, that he would find another job – he had a few leads, people were making positive noises and all in all it didn’t look too bad really

Roll life on another 6 months and it doesn’t look terribly rosy – whilst we can talk a good talk in front of family and friends there isn’t another job on the horizon and we are looking at going into another year with this hanging over us

People are interested in what is happening with him – they say how well he looks, ask after what’s he is up to and worry about how he is coping about this whole thing.  Nobody ever asks me if I am ok, nobody ever notices the pressure that this situation has created for me

We are lucky that I kept on working after the girls arrived – partly because I wanted to carry on with my career, partly because we knew that two of us working in the same, vulnerable industry meant that having two earners gave us flexibility and the chance that we’d have at least one income if things got sticky.   My income is ok, we can manage ok on it but we are seriously considering that I move back to a full time contract – the hard won 80% seems like too great a luxury at this stage and the money would definitely come in handy

I’m also having to face head on that it is my career now that needs to be pushed ahead – I’m having to have difficult conversations about promotion and starting to have to really push onto the career ladder.  I don’t mind, in fact a small part of me relishes the chance, but I do regret that I am being forced into doing something that I am not quite ready for.

Again, nobody has mentioned that they notice that I am working longer and harder and that I am the breadwinner keeping my family together – I feel as if I get zero credit for this and all the stick from not fitting in with the largely stay-at-home mummy group at my daughter’s school.

All of this is made harder by my husband not having really picked up terribly much on the home front.  Following Lisa’s tips for helping to deal with redundancy we spent a few evenings in the first grim week writing down ideas for things he could do in this unexpected break – we have tried to view this time as a sabbatical and a chance for him to spend time doing fun things.  Again I am beginning to feel that whilst he has had an extended period of doing what he wants to, I find myself still picking up a lot of things on the home front and having to work harder – I can feel resentment starting to bubble up and his blank lack of understanding of the small, boring things that make up running a household doesn’t help

I honestly don’t know how to fix things – I feel as if we are on different sides of a widening chasm and I don’t know how to build bridges across – another part of me is upset that it has to be me that notices that things aren’t right and that has to fix this.  That has to fix this on top of everything else.

Who knows how long we could go on like this – the job market looks worse not better than a year ago – I can see a future where I have to embrace being the sole earner, I have to really work at my career and I will be the one supporting the family but I’m not sure I can see a world where my husband changes his spots and starts supporting me emotionally and practically through that.  That expectation gap worries me because I can see it slowly pulling us further apart

I just wish that someone, anyone acknowledged that this is hard for me too and gave me some credit for all I have done and am doing – it sounds selfish, it probably is but the bottom line is I don’t think we can carry on like this and I don’t want to be another statistic of a marriage that failed when a job fell away

 

My Answer

Oh honey I know you were worried that you were being too self-centred.  No of course I don’t think that.  I just think that you are feeling unappreciated and stressed.

I’m so glad that you contacted me, it’s time to do something about this, because the resentment is bad news for your health and relationships.  Sorting it out now before it all goes pear shaped is a good plan.

BUT, because I love you, I’m going to give you some tough love.

You need to stop being so blinking competent!  You need to stop giving the impression that you can handle everything.  I know you talk more honestly on your blog, but I’m less convinced about how ‘honest’ your mask is in real life?

I’m a good example of what happens when you ‘keep on keeping on’ and I promise you, you don’t want my Fibromyalgia as an eye opener to how much you need to take care of yourself more.

I wonder how many men feel like this all the time?

I bet loads of other women are feeling exactly like you at the moment; forced by the recession, debt, bills, divorce or redundancy in their other half to work more than they want to.  You are not alone.

The good news is that we had exactly the same problem with the length of time before a job came along the first time that the Big Hairy Northern One was made redundant.  This time round the search for a new job was a lot quicker, but that was down to a couple of things:

1) Our previous experience of how long it can take, so how important it was to get over the wallowing stage more quickly

2) The Hairy one’s openness to new ideas landing him a fabulous 4 day pw contract that is giving that ‘time out’ option at the same time as providing for the family.

So the ideas I have for you are to help you:

1) Reduce the resentment so that you can talk openly with hubby

2) Get the ball rolling on the job front.

To reduce your resentment:

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

1) Write 50 (that’s FIFTY!) reasons why there is some kind of benefit, silver lining, upside or something you are getting from the fact that you are the only earner and may potentially have to go back to work full-time. (Go deep, each time you find a benefit then ask yourself ‘and because of that I get’ or ‘and that means that’).

2) If you get too excited about working full time, then write 50 downsides to the fact that you are having to work, I want you balanced, not one way or the other.

3) Think long and hard (maybe chat with a mate too) before considering giving up your part-time status.  It will be difficult to get back.  If you are considering a 3rd child I would be very wary to give this up.  Easier to cut back on spends and have a tight budget, than to give this up.  At the same point in time having a career is important to you, and if you decide this is your opportunity to have an ‘excuse’ to go back to work full-time with a focus on your ambition, then go for it.

Chat with hubby:

1) Write a list of the things that you would like help with around the house or with the family.  Facts work with men, so keep it as factual as possible.  Avoid all statements like ‘You have done xxx or You have not done xxx’.

2) Tell hubby that you really need a chat about how things are going and ask him when and where he would like it within the next week.  (Go out for coffee or somewhere else, not at home if possible).

3) Explain that you are overwhelmed, and how you feel.  Not using the word ‘You’ in the conversation, i.e. not loaded at him for putting you in this position, just sharing whats going on with you.

4) The plan is that he listens, and you can then share your list of what he can do to help.

5) Then you guys come up with a plan of action of something that he does every day to progress the job search: contacting people, updating CV’s, thinking out of the box about options etc.

Next Chat with hubby:

Book to then have a weekly chat with him once a week in an evening, to see how things are going, how you are feeling and how he is progressing.

If at this point he doesn’t pull his socks up, then it’s time to get the frying pan out.  No, I’m joking!

But it is time to do an ‘intervention’ and explain to him that he needs to get his act together and get a job.  Sometimes being ‘nice’ doesn’t help people.  Sometimes they need to be told sort their act out.  Even if he is suffering for depression or lack of confidence, that’s understandable, but he needs to DO SOMETHING about it.

After Christmas

If there is no increase in support, and no change in his behaviour, then find a local relationship counsellor (I would pick someone with experience in CBT too and go private rather than wait for Relate).

I am not a fan of counselling, but it has it’s place.  One thing is that it gives a safe place for you guys to talk about how you are both feeling, and the other is that it can help people HEAR things that they don’t hear when their other half says it.  It won’t cost lots, probably only £30-£50 per session.

Tell me and we’ll come up with another plan!

But hopefully you’ll be all sorted and much happier by then!

 

Readers Ideas/Stories

Anyone else with a similar story to share or ideas for MuddlingAlong Mummy, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

The Simple Things In Life

Does everyone like the simple things, can it be learnt?

The Simple Things In LifeI spent all friday filming a ‘thingy’ you’ll see soon about top tips to save money.  I’ve actually found myself more contented and less stressed having had to cut back since the big hairy northern one was made redundant, so it’s got a very positive spin on it.

Then we had the lovely weather at the weekend.  I love the smell of spring.  I love lying on grass and being barefoot.  I love counting daisies with the kids.  I love picnics.  I love walking the dog in the evening when it’s around the time that the sun comes down and everything starts to smell different.

So I’m a big fan of ‘the simple things in life’.

For many of us I think that the recession is forcing us back to a time where we can appreciate these ‘simple things’.  I’m not being flippant about the fact that there are also extremely difficult times at the moment, but for most of us who still have food to eat and roofs over our heads it’s not the worst thing that could happen.

Or is it?

I was brought up to climb trees, lie on my back and watch the clouds, and imagine fairies in the bushes around me.  What of the children with different interests who grew up to love stuff, clothes, gadgets or expensive things?  Is it more difficult for them?

The media is full of examples where kids are sent to somewhere to get back in touch with nature; like ‘Living with the Amish’ or years ago there was a bootcamp thingy for troubled teens.  Those teens eventually seemed to reconnect with nature and come home more complete and contented.  So maybe it’s possible for us all?

Perhaps it’s about finding our version of ‘the simple things in life’?  The big hairy northern one would love nothing better than a huge rucksack and unattractive fleece on his back whilst trudging up some cold and dreary mountain.  I admit that this doesn’t work for me as I’m more of a chill out and make daisy chains kind of girl.  Thank god the idea of ‘glamping’ is now beginning to filter down into just making camping more homey.

What do you think?  Is the potential to find contentment in ‘the simple things’ inside of us all?  Or are some people too far gone?

What are the ‘simple things’ that you love that cost hardly anything?  Or is the idea of cutting back horrific to you?

If you have to give up more and more of your little luxuries as this recession continues to hang around, is it causing you more stress or setting you free?

Do we take too much for granted and think that expensive things are necessary when they aren’t really?

 

cinderella complex

#DoSomethingYummy: A Warning From My Childhood: The Cinderella Complex

cinderella complexThis post is being written as part of the blog prompt for #DoSomethingYummy  from Typecast which is the campaign for CLIC Sargent Charity for children with cancer.  I’ve picked the prompt ‘What kind of family did you grow up in? ‘

I did some research into CLIC and found this info on their site ….. As the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent is the only organisation to offer them all round care and support. That’s because we’re there every step of the way:  During treatment – providing specialist nurses, play specialists, Homes from Home  In hospital & at home – offering specialist social care and support in the community – services for young people, holidays, grants  After treatment – helping survivors, supporting those bereaved

 

I have what I call a ‘juicy’ family history.  Ironically, it’s not some of the more difficult or shocking things that happened in my past that causes me trouble sometimes; I’ve been there, dealt with most of them and forgotten more than I can remember.  No, at the moment I’ve realised that I’m still haunted by the ‘Cinderella complex’.  I was reminded of it when I read Claire Macnaughton’s post.

I’m writing about it as a warning to all Mums of young daughters, who like Little Dimples, might like watching Snow White or any of the other hundreds of disney films available.

So cut to my teenage; ailing elderly parents,and many an afternoon watching subtly brainwashing black and white movies to make sure I stayed chaste and ‘saved myself’ for ‘the one’.  This was a very clever move on behalf of my mother, who was never going to do ‘the talk’ with me.

I was a thorough romantic and loved any type of romantic film.  But it birthed a belief in me that there would be ‘ONE’ person that I could rely on for ever and for everything, who would be totally and persistently reliable.  This belief has haunted me ever since in many different formats, and I’m still trying to shake it.  It is a truly dangerous believe, because it is totally impossible for it to be true and I’d held it as a basic fabric of my existence.

The truth is that everyone is reliable, if you understand them well enough to be able to predict their behaviour.  However, they won’t always be able to be there for you, do what you want them to do or want to be there for you.  Plus if you don’t know them deeply it can appear that they are very unpredictable.  Problem is; no one told me that.

At about 20 I suddenly realised that my mother (nick named the ‘wicked witch of the west’) wasn’t that all encompassing ‘would love me whatever I did’ person and quickly put the crown of responsibility on the big hairy northern husband’s head.  We are obviously still together 23yrs later, but that crown well and truly fell off.  I didn’t mind the crown falling off his head, but my problem was that I realised that no one else was going to pick it up.  It broke my heart and made me question the worth of the world for a scary while.

I thought I’d cracked it, but I actually replaced it with therapy; specifically the very complicated one that I’ve trained in.  This let me down as a Mum, as it was totally impractical in the life of a mum.  You can see where I was motivated to create the ‘Mummy Whisperer’ from now can’t you ; to create that reliable presence on the internet or in a book that a Mum could just pick up whenever she needed it?

I thought I had cracked it again.  But in my recent tiredness, I realised that I had sneakily replaced it with a slightly different belief; that I could be sure of what I was getting from people I paid.  Hence I employed a cleaner, and little old irish granny and would often choose to throw money at a problem, whether it was needing some energy (reflexology) or getting some DIY done.

It’s not so dangerous a belief any more, just uncomfortable to discover with hubby being made redundant, so a lot of the support systems I had built up are no longer there.  I’m tired.

Time to look for a new option maybe?  Or time to break the myth so that it doesn’t cause me trouble any more?  I know that there are predictable things in the world, but none of them are sufficient for me; even the weather seems unreliable now a days!  Perhaps I should look at why I wouldn’t want one reliable source of support; it would actually be very suffocating after all?

In the meantime, I don’t think that ‘Twilight’, ‘Disney’ or ‘Gone with the wind’ have ruined my life.  But as a Mum of a little girl, I plan to just whisper a few realities in her ear so that she doesn’t grow up to face the harsh lessons that I did.  It’s a fine balance between allowing her to see and feel the magic in the world, but also have two feet grounded on the realities of the world.

Isn’t it ironic that what seemed like one of the easiest parts of my childhood has actually caused one of the biggest problems?

Have you found that some of the best times of your childhood have made your adulthood difficult?

Did you fall for the Cinderella complex?  Does it affect what you let your children watch?

I’d love to know what you think.

Money Saving Tips

Money Saving Tip: Use up month!

With Christmas credit card bills enroute, Little Dimples birthday one month away, and hubby still looking for a job having been made redundant, my money saving tips are definitely relevant for me, so I thought this one might help you too.

I call it the ‘Use everything up month‘!  It’s great when combined with a good de-clutter, and if you want to make a bit of extra money a quick take back of presents that didn’t fit, or selling on Ebay or Car boot sales, and a look at what expenses can be quickly cut.

We often go out and buy things that we didn’t really need right at this minute, don’t we?  My particular downfalls are lipgloss, and face products.  I’ve basically banned myself from Boots from this time forward!  So it’s time to take a good look at what is in your cupboards and use them all up before you go out and buy more stuff.

What’s your downfall? …

Food

  • Anything you got in a BOGOF (mine are pasta bake sauces which seemed like a good idea at the time)
  • There are those tins at the back of the cupboard that you keep just in case (my mother had ones that were 20yrs old!)
  • And the old bags of stuff so that you can bake things that you didn’t bake (that’ll be hubby’s job as he’s the one that can cook in my house)
  • The FREEZER! (mines not too bad actually, but it’s small, so it can’t be.  But that Tuna needs eating!)
  • Jars off stuff to be used up in sauces (We got a free risotto one I haven’t used yet)

Beauty Products

  • Body moisturiser (I keep saving it for a special day, so I have way more than I need)
  • Shampoo (I have a friend who has so many bottles, I can’t believe you need more than one type surely?)
  • Presents from relatives (heh it might be useful, and who cares if you smell a bit weird!)
  • Face wash/masks (you might as well, they’ll go off otherwise)
  • Make up (don’t let yourself get tempted by the pretty colours until you’ve finished what you have)

Other

  • Books (another of my problems, especially now I have a kindle)
  • DVD’s (have you watched everything you have, before you need to buy another or go to the cinema)
  • Children’s magazines (Curly Headed Boy is under instruction to use up or bin the 6yrs worth of magazines he has)

Think about how much money you can save in a month.  If you don’t have to buy much for 5 meals, you could be drastically reducing your food bill.  If you don’t add any beauty products to the list, I bet you’ll save a fortune.  And even though I thoroughly recommend my book as it’s only 99p (and btw you can read kindle books without a kindle), those 99p’s can really add up.

Got any tips or blog posts about using stuff up, feel free to add them below!

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.

 

Redundancy Tip No4: What expenses can you cut straight away? What do we really need?

I’m not a pessimistic person, but facts are facts, and it is possible that it will take a while to get a job after a redundancy.  So it’s important to quickly work out what expenses you can cut straight away, as it will reduce stress later on.

I’ve been wondering about society’s views on what we really ‘Need’ for a few months.  Frankly I think that as a society we are spoilt and we are bringing up spoilt kids, and I don’t exclude myself from that.  I’m probably a bit old fashioned, but is Sky really a necessity or is it a luxury?

So very quickly after the big northern hairy one was made redundant I started to look around at what we could cut out:

I split them into:

  1. Planned costs
  2. Costs to cut straight away
  3. Cost to avoid
  4. Costs to delay
  5. Costs to cut later

 

 

PLANNED COSTS

It’s useful to do this, because it shows you how much you would have spent, and therefore how much longer any redundancy money can last than it might last in a normal year.  E.g. holidays, DIY, new clothes and new gadgets.

Christmas: I’ve explained to Curly Headed Boy that some more expensive presents take longer to make and therefore Father Christmas couldn’t make them and have enough time to do everyone else’s presents.  I keep reminding myself: whats the worst thing that could happen?  So he might not get everything he might like, but that’s not so bad.

COSTS TO CUT STRAIGHT AWAY

I suppose these are the luxuries that we really don’t need.  Luckily we don’t go out socially lots, don’t eat many take aways, don’t smoke, and only drink a little.  I’d already removed my fake nails.  The cleaner sacked herself.  The biggest cost for me was that my business wasn’t paying it’s way.  So my focus has been on sorting that out.  It’s easy for hubby, he’s already saving us a massive load of money without train tickets, Starbucks and lunch!  I can’t do without my Frizz Ease shampoo, but my main luxury is paraben free skin stuff and makeup, which I could do with downgrading.

A tip is to have a ‘Use up month’: Use up food at the back of the cupboards, check how many spare toiletries you have and make sure that you have used everything up before you buy something new.

COSTS TO AVOID

I’m terrible in Boots, I don’t know what happens to me, so I’m banned from there!  Christmas decoration shops also bring out the worst in us.  I have definitely banned TV with adverts, and am sticking to Disney Junior, Cbeebies or stuff we have recorded; we don’t need to give him more ideas!

COSTS TO DELAY

Of course the dentist hits this one, any excuse!  With Christmas coming up I’ve just delayed buying myself anything and it’s all gone on my christmas list.  I’d like to do a writing course at some point, but there’s really no problem with delaying it for a while.

COSTS TO CUT LATER

As soon as you can it’s important to look through all your accounts for the past year and check out what you regularly spend money on.  There will be house, sky, telephones, car insurance/tax/mot etc.  If you don’t have clarity on your monthly/ quarterly/ yearly spends, then now is the time.  As you look at them, multiply weekly/monthly costs by 12 to see how much they cost you per year and whether they are worth it.  Make a list of priorities and what you realistically can do without.

Check out my decluttering tips, because you can actually make money on the old stuff you have hanging around as well.

Panic

If you feel panic about the idea of spending less money or cutting back, I do understand, because society has ingrained in you that you need this stuff.  So ask yourself ‘Whats the worst thing that could happen without it?’ and keep asking until you calm down.  Realistically if you can eat, and have somewhere to live, then you’ll be alright and you will have the time to turn this all around.

Tip No3 For Families Dealing With Redundancy – Listing Opportunities

So as you know the big hairy northern hubby has been made redundant, and I blogged about the first steps to do, which included wallowing and getting some perspective on the old job.  Then I blogged about how important it is to look at the basic foundations of your life to strengthen you whether you have or are worried about being made redundant.

Now we are going to start to look at some ideas for the way ahead.  It’s very key to have the mind set that there is a ‘silver lining’ waiting out there for you and you are going to snap it up.

So, what could be the ‘opportunity’ for you in being made redundant?  I’m going to list a pile for you, because I know it can be tricky sometimes to even think it through.

I’m hoping for tonnes of comments to add to the ideas and give you a boost of confidence too.

 

 

First there are some basic ones to do with a slight change of job:

  • Work with different people – maybe you weren’t really a match for them, maybe they were mean, maybe they socialised a bit too much and you need to drink less, maybe they were boring?  The HR people actually told me once that it must be stressful for me to work in Oracle because I was so different!
  • Change what you do – maybe you would like less stress, or to focus on just one area, or have more variety?  I was better with a job that didn’t have too many big highs and lows, so support was much more consistent for me in comparison to consultancy.
  • Change which area you work in – Your skills might easily translate to another area of the business or a similar one.  I get bored quickly so when I worked in IT I went through consultancy, training, project management, support, account management and software engineering!
  • Change the hours you work – perhaps the days were too long, or you could go part-time?
  • Change the commute – maybe there is something nearer that would be better, or on a different tube line that would reduce the stress levels
  • Reduce or increase the travel – do you want see more or less of the world?
  • Change how much you were paid – did you need a kick to earn what you deserve, or would you like less responsibility and less money?
Then we can think out of the box a bit:
  • Change the work-childcare mixture in the family – perhaps you would work less days and your partner would like to work more? One of our best friends now works a reduced hour week and it makes total sense.
  • Work abroad – maybe it would suit the family to go away for a few years, learn a new language or see a new culture or have a better quality of living
  • Go contracting or consulting – I can’t believe I never did this for a while when I worked in IT, we are thinking it might be a good short term option while we think through all the options.
  • Move location – we are thinking of going back to good old Bristol
  • Start your own company or small business
  • Take a family gap year – I’ve always wanted one of these
  • Take a period of time out to rethink – maybe you need a massive change and time to get healthier physically, emotionally and mentally?
  • Take time out from work and spend it with the kids? maybe with some cuts and the money from the redundancy you could literally stop work for a while?
Each option has ups and downsides obviously and we are a little worried about the effects of some of them long term.  But I think the key is to balance the logic and practicality of your head, with the fear and intuition of your gut and the whispers in your heart.
I’d LOVE your ideas or experiences; maybe they could help us or some of the other people who read this blog.

 


Are you looking after the foundations of your health, strength and vitality?

Life is getting tricky at the moment.  Since the big hairy northern hubby got made redundant, all I keep getting is messages about how it’s happening to loads of people.  Then there are the awful stories about mainly men who freak out and kill themselves or their whole family just because they have gone down the financial pan.

So I’m going to get on my soap box for a bit, because there is no harm in making sure that you are strong enough just incase things go wrong.  It’s like buying insurance and putting it in a drawer just incase you need it.  In this case the insurance is all about taking care of yourself, getting stronger and enjoying your life as it is.  That way you have the strong foundations to handle whatever life throws at you, and if life doesn’t throw anything at you, then you gained anyway.

I was where some of you are.  I was trying to make life work, be a great mum, work, be a wife, and keep all the juggling going.  But life started to get really hard for me when Little Dimples was born (the reasons really don’t matter, it’s just life), and for a year I got worse and worse, eventually ending up quite pathetic, very weak and terribly shocked at how I’d managed to get there.  I wouldn’t really call it depressed, because I was able to pull myself out of it, but it wasn’t a contented place either, despite Little Dimples.

On January 11th of 2011 I woke up one morning and thought ‘F*ck this for a game of laughs’ and started turning it around.  On November 11th of 2011 I published my book about it and it hit the best sellers list straight away; which is slightly freaky!

This time I did it the ‘right way’.  Because I’m a ‘coach’ type person I’d often go straight to problem solving, therapy or personal development types of stuff.  But I was in too bad a state to do that.  So I started at the beginning with the basics.  I blogged as I went, not always sharing how tough life was, but giving the odd hint here and there (you can see the blogs under the ‘sparkling you’ tab).  Gradually I realised what I’d always ‘known to be true’, but I really ‘got it’ at last.  A mum needs her foundations to be strong.  They are the foundations upon which she will stand and hold up her family in times of trouble.  They will help her support her hubby when he struggles.  Most importantly they will keep her going.  In many ways there is no point in doing the ‘clever stuff’ if the foundations aren’t in place, because everything will just come tumbling down.  Frankly, thank God I did it, because otherwise the last couple of months would have been really crap; whereas instead they’ve just been challenging and I can see the possibilities in them.

So what are these foundations?

  1. Simple ways of keeping mentally focussed on what we wants in our life and what we are grateful for, so that we can feel more contented and less worried about what is lacking.  Things that don’t take any extra time per day, and are practical to fit into a busy Mum’s life and help us to work out what our big priority is going to be.
  2. Sorting out our time with Dump, Delegate, Do and Delay according to what our priority is and making sure that there is time for other sides of life.  It is so important to keep the rest of our life going, not just as mums, because that is our safety net when the shit hits the fan.  You won’t believe the help I’ve been getting from the Mummy Blogging community over the last couple of weeks, to try and get my blog to pay more and take the pressure off.
  3. Getting Healthier and Fitter, because the body does an awful lot to keep us emotionally stable and give us stamina to keep going in the toughest times.  My running girls are great, come rain or shine, someone is daft enough to come out with me!
  4. Organise the house so that there is space to breath in by de-cluttering and organising it, otherwise for many it can be a constant source of discomfort all day long.  There is often so little time in the day, but there are ways of saving time and effort when the house flows well for the family.
  5. Sort out the financial mgmt so that it’s clear how the money is and will be spent.  It’s not about blame, it’s about being sure what the situation is so that you can adapt if need be.  I’m sure that you can imagine how important it is for us as a family now to know how we can cut costs quickly and easily, and we can only do that because we had a clear budget.
  6. Then add a serious amount of sparkle!
You might be surprised to see no talk of relationships in the list (thats my next book!), but that is because I focussed on what a Mum could adapt and change all on her own.  There is no need to change the kids, the partner, the friends, the house, the job or the financial situation.  It’s about making what you have got work before you move onto improving the rest.  I can’t tell you how much difference this has made to me, but I know that the people close to me have felt it, and that the Mums who were testing my book over the summer are beginning to get there now as well.
I’ve talked to so many Mums and clients this week who don’t have these foundations set, so I thought I would blog about them as maybe lots of people are thinking about it this week;  They aren’t clever foundations.  They aren’t some big complicated new personal development technique.  But they will work.
I really hope that with my book I can help thousands of Mums get stronger; which at the moment is really important as things out there in the economy still look gloomy.  That’s one of the reasons why I self-published instead of the traditional route.  This way my book is just 99p (you can read it on a Computer, phone, iPad or Kindle) and nearly everyone can afford it.
Anyway, wether you buy my book or not, just remember to check and see that your basic foundations are strong, and that you are taking care of yourself.  You are important in your family, and you deserve to enjoy your life.

If you’d like more information about the book <click here>

If you’d like to buy it <click here> (UK) or <here> (US) or search for ‘Mummy Whisperer’ on your local Amazon site.

<<Click here to find out how to read a Kindle book without a Kindle!>>

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Dealing With Being Made Redundant When You Are A Parent

So the big northern hubby got made redundant on monday, perfect timing with Curly Headed Boy’s birthday coming up, followed by Christmas and then Little Dimple’s birthday.  Poor guy, this is the second time he’s been made redundant, last time it was when Curly Headed Boy was 6 weeks old, just after Christmas.  Lovely!

So I thought I might as well start a series about what to do when you get made redundant, so that we can share how we deal with it and hopefully help all the other parents facing the same problem at the moment.

The great thing about my tips is that having experienced this situation before we really know the mistakes that you can make when being made redundant or when your partner is made redundant.  This time it’s going to be really different, and hopefully by sharing I can make sure that it’s going to be different for you to.  The plan is to save you time, heartache and money, and get you back working, where you would like to be asap.

First, it’s important for you to understand that it’s very easy to take this personally, but in reality if you work in London you are going to be made redundant at least once in your life, probably more, and if you work elsewhere then expect it to happen once.  Maybe the a ‘job for life’ is over, but perhaps it will make ‘interesting job lives’ instead?

 

I’m not going to rant today.  But I will say these two things:

  • What comes around goes around
  • Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to a companies survival and any company that doesn’t get that is stupid
  • Wise companies will look at long term costs and find that retraining (skills or personal development) is cheaper than redundancies and hiring costs.
  • Options are not always black and white.  Sometimes it’s worth discussing with your staff what ideas they have.  Maybe they would be willing to work less hours or be more flexible.

There we go, Onwards and Upwards!  Here are the initial steps in the first week after the redundancy hits:

Step 1: Wallow

Go on feel rubbish for a bit.  It’s important not to suppress it or ignore it.  Just limit it to a few glasses of wine/beer and don’t consider actually taking any action against the people concerned.  Also don’t accept any offers from people to sort out the people concerned!

Step 2: Put a specific time deadline on how long you are going to wallow.

If you are the partner, I recommend making sure that this is between 1-7 days and no longer.  Listen to how they feel and don’t offer solutions until you are really sure.  If they are willing to talk, help them to express how scared they are, before you start with the ‘there there, it’s going to be OK’ routine.

Step 3: Start thinking about all the things that didn’t work for you in the past job.

Write them down.  (Writing is magic, you MUST write them down).  Keep going with the list, as this will help you when deciding what you can or can’t face again in your next job.  Plus it will reduce the feeling of upset.  Be very specific, so don’t just say ‘the commute’, say ‘being squashed with loads of people, spending xhrs, smelling of london, miserable people’ etc etc.

Step 4: Write down all the things that you haven’t been able to do because you’ve been working:

E.g. exercise, eat healthily, talk to friends, read a book, watch a film, paint the house, tidy your paper work, DIY, write a book, sort out your photos, make something, play with the kids, read to the kids, spend time with your partner.  This is the list for you to keep referring back to whenever you are down and to use to make sure that you get up off your butt and make the most of the redundancy.  It is quite possible to not make the most of it and have weeks, months or years go by.

Ok, so that should keep you going for a while, more tips next week!

Remember, that if you fancy using this as a way of turning your life around, that my book ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You’ is out on Amazon and is already a bestseller and ONLY 99p!  Currently it is available as a kindle book which you can read on a Computer, phone, iPad or Kindle.  But by the end of 2012 it will be in paperback too.  It will help you to see life differently, become more contented, have more time, get more energy, sort out your house, manage your money and get more sparkle in your life.  Maybe this is the perfect time for you to have a life makeover?