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Articles tagged with: Work

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #25 'Working Together'

on Sunday, 21 June 2015.

Two months ago we made a huge decision that would truly change our family dynamic. That decision was that my husband would give up his full time job and set up a business from home. A business that both of us would work on together. Sometimes I still can't believe it's actually happened, for us it really is living the dream, and I am so glad that we took a risk. It definitely isn't dramatic to say it's completely changed our lives.

It definitely wasn't a decision we made lightly. I have been working freelance on and off for about three years, but took the risk and ended up handing in my notice in my previous travel industry marketing job when LL was 11 months old, after deciding not to return after maternity leave. I have always been career orientated, having a great job before the girls, but for my previous role I had to go away a week of every month and that just wasn't right for me after having my babies. I've been properly working freelance for a year and a half now and it's the best thing I ever did. I work mainly managing social media clients, doing blogger outreach, writing and of course having the odd opportunity that this blog brings. Sometimes it can be scary not knowing what money I could be bringing in each month, but luckily I have some great long term clients now who I hope won't be going anywhere for a while. Mr E is a designer and had been working for a local company for a couple of years, with some freelance work on the side in the evenings, and for ages had been saying he would love to work for himself. However we just didn't dare take the risk, after all we really relied on his full time wage.

But then just before Christmas he got given the opportunity to do a short term freelance project on the side in the evenings and at the weekends. That freelance work went really well and the company he was doing it for offered him a full time six month contract. After much discussion we agreed that this seemed like the perfect opportunity to set up on our own as we had the security of six months worth of work and therefore six months worth of pennies coming in. And that's where we are now. We decided on a new business name, set up our company, and created a lovely, motivating little office space for ourselves.

Sometimes I still can't believe we are doing this. It sounds cheesy but I feel like I am utterly living our dream. I didn't know what it would be like at first having him at home constantly, but I genuinely couldn't be happier. In fact we have both commented that our relationship has actually got even stronger as a result of this change in our lives. We are joint parenting our girls, we get to be together so much as a family, and to put it quite simply my best friend is by my side non stop. We have settled into a routine that I work 'properly' on a Tuesday and Thursday when the girls are at nursery all day, but in reality I work a lot more than that in the evenings, nap times and whenever I can squeeze some more time in. If Mr E has got a lot done in a day, he will often finish at 3pm and let me do a couple of hours work for a while- and that's where it's just so fantastic and flexible.

Mr E has always been an incredibly hands on Dad- he gets the girls dressed in the mornings and gives them breakfast, and has done from Day One. Because he worked locally he was home for tea time and he plays a huge part in their lives, he has never been a parent who is frightened to have them on his own, he would have them for a week at a time if he needed to. He has also always been incredibly supportive of me and my work, and now it all seems to have just slotted into place. We both help each other, bounce ideas off each other, but most of all we have fun. There's nothing better than having a 'work mate' you can suddenly stop working and cuddle, or someone who can tell if you are having a bad day and will go and get some chocolate and a diet coke from the shop. We laugh all day long, it's never serious in our little office, and I genuinely do enjoy spending time with him.

Of course I wouldn't want to paint a picture that it's the perfect working life, because of course nothing is rarely perfect. At the moment he is still in this six month contract, but I am sure life will be a little bit more stressful when that ends. After all he will have to find new clients all the time, and we all know that isn't always the easiest when there is so much competition. When Mads was just a few months old Mr E got made redundant and it was such a scary time, I remember at one point crying my eyes out as we couldn't afford to pay our mortage one month. Luckily now we are comfortable, but I don't want it to be like that again. And yes of course we bicker, like most couples, although I wouldn't say working together has made us get sick of the sight of each other and argue more. But some days he can definitely drive me mad and I know he would say the same about me. I also massively struggle with a work/life balance, some weeks I am fine and feel like I switch off, but some weeks I struggle and am up till the early hours catching up, or just generally feeling stressed with what I have to do. I am not good when stressed and sometimes, especially when you factor in this blog and all I like doing for this, I just feel so worked up and on edge.

Above all though, it has been such an amazing time for our family and I couldn't be more thankful. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have him at home with me, and helping me raise our children so equally, but at the same time it isn't solely luck- all those years of 2am finishes, years of stressing about money, wondering how we were going to pay the bills, all those cancelled trips away because we had to work, and all those weekends where one of us went to a local hotel to work and missed out on family time have finally reaped rewards. It might not last forever, one day the money might not come in as regularly, and one or both of us may have to return to  other employment as opposed to working for ourselves, but for now I am going to treasure every single minute of having no boss, (Mr E if you are reading this you are not my boss like you like to pretend sometimes!) the fact that we can sneak off for a lunch together, have an impromptu day out as a family, and above all raise our little girls lovingly together.

It's been years and years of very hard work to get to this point, but for now I'm living my work dream. And actually I am living my life dream too.

It's not always perfect, most definitely not. But it's my perfectly imperfect life. And for that I couldn't be more thankful.

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 *****

I'm away this week and silly me forgot to ask my lovely friend Donna (hi Donna!) to host it as she usually does, but fear not, I will read the other ordinary moments when I am home!

Have a good week everyone! x

 

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #17 'Early Evening Picnics'

on Sunday, 26 April 2015.

We are a massive picnic family.  Anything that saves us washing up is always a hit in our books, but more than that, my girls' seem to think that eating on a blanket on the floor is really exciting.  We often have carpet picnics on a weekend, where we eat our lunch on the floor of the living room, but now Spring is officially here we have already managed to squeeze in two picnics outside- we really do all love them.

Mr E and I are still getting used to working alongside each other, it's been less than a month, but so far it is going really well.  The change, although huge and very scary, has been absolutely wonderful for our family.  It's great that he can be a lot more flexible than when he was working for another company, so on the odd occasion he has finished early to allow me to get more work done on a day I don't normally work, or helped with childcare if I have needed to pop out somewhere.  But above all we are just a team and we share and work together nicely.  And of course, sometimes working for ourselves can be wonderful when it comes to other things as well.

On Tuesday's the girls' go to nursery all day, it's their one day of the week that they do a full day.  But last Tuesday the sun was shining and we both decided to finish work a little earlier so we could go together and pick them up a little earlier than usual.  Both of them were really excited to see both of us there, normally I drop off and Mr E picks up or vice versa, but we stopped at the shop on route for essentials and then headed over to their nursery.  We then told them we were off for an early evening picnic to which they both so happy about, it really is the littlest things sometimes that make them smile the most.  We parked up at a little bit of open greenery near where we live, and armed with Peppa Pig cupcakes and other yummy treats, we headed off to find the perfect picnic spot.

The sun was setting and the light was gorgeous, and I took these few photos on my iPhone.  I sat eating my pasta salad and watched my two girls laughing and giggling together, sharing their food, and chatting about what they had got up to at nursery that day, and I honestly felt a real feeling of contentment.  There's been lots of big changes in our family recently and we are both working so hard, sometimes I don't feel like we ever switch off, and it can make me feel stressed and on edge.  Working from home and for yourself appears to be amazing on the outside, and for the most part it really is, but it can be hard to find that work/life balance and it can be tough at times.  But as I sat there on our picnic blanket watching my little family relaxing and having fun, it really brought home to me exactly why we do it.

For us.

For our family.

 To be able to be spend time with these girls and watch them grow.  

And to enjoy the most simplest of ordinary moments.

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Our New Shared Workspace Makeover...

on Monday, 13 April 2015.

There's been lots of changes in our house recently.  Mr E is now working for himself, in fact we are working together, and that means that he is based at home.  For years I had my laptop and he had his Mac desktop crammed into a corner of our living room against the sofa on a small white metal garden table as we couldn't find a desk small enough.  Obviously when we found out he was going to be working from home we needed this situation to change, as it was completely impractical for him to work in our living room when the girls and I were at home.

We decided to change Mads old room into our new joint workspace, and therefore turn LL's old bedroom into a shared bedroom for the girls.  (You can check out that room makeover here)  This meant that we could create a study from scratch, something which I was really excited about.  I am thrilled with the end result- so far I have been so much more productive working in our new room rather than on our dining table.  It also has done wonders for me switching off and relaxing in the evening, as I leave the laptop in it's new place on my desk, rather than have it downstairs with me on the sofa.

The room is a very small space, in fact a single bed would pretty much take up the entire room, but I am so pleased with how we have set it out.  If feels quite spacious and also we have lots more storage space than we originally had- after all these years I even have a drawer for all my camera bits, whereas before I used to hide them down the side of the sofa.

Here is our shared workspace in photos...

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We needed a space for both our computers, and rather than look at two separate desks which would take up a lot of room we found this amazing double desk in Ikea- which was absolutely perfect.  It's really narrow, but couldn't be better for what we need it for, plus I love the white gloss.  

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Our black and white chairs were ridiculously cheap and also from Ikea.  I love the prints above our computers, the camera one is by Seventy Tree and I have wanted it for ages so Mr E kindly bought it for my birthday, and the other one Mr E made himself.  

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I love my little ceramic elephant which I bought from Paperchase, he comes with a pen which he holds in his trunk and you can write important messages on him. (they wipe off)  It says on his ear 'elephants never forget'.  Very cute.

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I love this tiny little bell jar from Paper Marche Shop over on etsy, they are made to order, and you can write your own message on there.  I chose 'Do What You Love' cause cheesily that is exactly what I am doing- there's nothing like a good motivational quote. ;)

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I really wanted to get a peg board for memos and things, plus I found this one that exactly matched our colour scheme.  I got the inspiration for it from my lovely friend Rachel who also has a few dotted around her house.

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Amsterdam holds a special place in our heart's after one of our favourite trips there, and I got these little postcards as a gift from my gorgeous friend Keri-Anne who surprised me in the post last week.  The wooden postcard is also a little note in the post from another blogging friend Lucy, what a lovely kind bunch bloggers are!

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In one corner of the room below the pegboard we have a set of storage shelves, again from Ikea.  (We heart Ikea!) The box shelves are so great for different types of storage.

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I've wanted to put my David LaChapelle books on display for ages- Mr E has bought them for me over the years as he is my favourite photographer.

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Little knick knacks.  These two ceramic houses came from Dunelm Mill and I randomly spotted them when I went in to buy some light bulbs.  Glamorous.

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Mr E bought me these Sketch Inc nesting dolls for my birthday- I have been admiring them for ages but never told him.  He knows me and my nesting doll obsession far too well!

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We have a similar storage shelf on the other corner of the room, but this one is an eight shelf one rather than four.

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I had to buy this old fashioned egg timer, but Mr E really doesn't like it for some reason.

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This glass jar came from H and M Home, as did the candles inside. 

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Can't beat a succulent. 

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I love this little area the best.  I am obsessed with photo walls (every wall in our house is covered with photos) and all these prints mean something to us.  You can't really see the Enjoy the Little Things print as it's hard to take a photo of it because of the light glare, but it's gorgeous and from my old friend Ben's store Old English Prints.  

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I love the 'It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice' quote- so true!  It's from Bonne Nuit which is a little shop I found over on instagram.  I can't remember where I got the 'Creativity takes Courage' print but I bought it for Mr E as I think it really rings true for the fact he has given up work to start his creative business.  The 'Blogs & Diet Coke' print is one Mr E made for me, and the others are just random little ones I have picked up here and there.

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The habitat clock is my favourite, I have wanted to get one for years and years but never really had the right space for it, so I treated myself to one with my birthday money.  I love it so much.  I have had the little black and white lomo camera for years, as I have mentioned previously I collect old cameras.

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I love this little globe that Mr E bought me (he's a pretty good husband actually!) and this print which was given to me ages ago by my friend Katrina when we started our travel site.  I love the fact that there are little details in the room that show off our hobbies and passions- like photography, design and travel.

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Yay for cacti.  Although they are prickly little customers as poor Mads found out the other day!

 

Overall I am really pleased with our new shared office space, I love to go in there, and it's helped wonders in motivating me and also helping me switch off in the evening time.     

 

If you want to see what the room liked before click here.

If you want to see my other interior posts click here.

 

 

 

 

 

A Post About Nothing In Particular.

on Wednesday, 04 March 2015.

Do you know sometimes when you have lots of rambling thoughts and things to say, but they don't quite warrant enough space for a post solely on their own?  That's sort of how I am feeling.  In fact that's kind of how my whole mind is feeling at the moment- it's jumbled up, full of random thoughts and I don't seem to be able to focus on anything in particular depth.  

As a family we are about to embark on some seriously exciting and scary changes.  On Friday morning my husband handed his notice in to his work.  He is our main breadwinner and the one secure salary that we have, but as of eight weeks time when his notice period finishes, he will be joining me in the world of working for yourself.  He has worked on freelance projects in his spare time on and off for a long time, but an unexpected opportunity came up for him to have a six month contract to do some work with a company and after much discussion we decided that it was too good to pass up.  It means that he has a certain amount of stability for six months and it gives him time to build a name for himself, before he is very much on his own and it is up to him to find new clients.  We are actually starting a business together- our skills very much go hand in hand, he is a designer, I work in online marketing, and so it makes sense to combine the two.  I have my freelance life already so that won't change, but I will become a partner in his new company too- it's all very official and exciting, but incredibly scary too.  

I am so excited for him and I am excited for our family.  It isn't something we have entered in to lightly, after all we have two small children and a mortgage to pay.  But if he didn't do it now he would have always been wondering 'what if?'  I know myself, on even a small level, how hard the freelance lifestyle can be sometimes.  Some months I worry about money non stop and some months I have lots coming in- it's certainly unstable at times.  But he is very ambitious and he has his head switched on so I know he will be ok.  It feels like the right step, albeit a slightly daunting one.  

We have decided for six months or so that he will work from home, so it means that it is even more necessary to get our new study done now.  Then after that he may look into getting a little office somewhere.  It is going to take a while to adjust to him being at home, I do rely on him a lot when he is here, so I know that I am going to have to bite my tongue and not ask him to help me with things when he should be working.  The girls and I are out and about most mornings on the days they aren't at nursery anyway, and then on the days when they are we can sit and work together.  I am looking forward to having him home with me, but it's going to take a little getting used to.

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Unrelated photo, but I just love this one of myself and my big girl.

 

Aside from that exciting and rather life changing news, I have been thinking a lot recently about the fact that I don't ever really switch off.  I don't just mean from my 'online life', I mean from life in general.  My brain seems to whirl constantly with thoughts, ideas and just general things, and I never seem to be able to relax anymore.  Even when I am supposed to be relaxing, say for example in the evenings when I am not doing blog stuff, I am looking at my phone- I even take it in the bath.  It is such a stimulus and I have been thinking a lot lately that I need to get a better balance.  The other evening Mr E and I watched a film called 'Disconnect'- it's a drama/thriller all about life online (I definitely recommend watching it, it gave me chills), and that also really made us both think about the way in which social media especially has crept into our lives- how we will occasionally absentmindedly check our phones when we are sat having dinner- what a bad example to set to our girls.  I am by no means terrible or the worst out there, but I do flick and waste a lot of time on social media (especially you instagram!) when I am not even actually responding or commenting on anything.  It's so hard when your work and hobby are all part of being online, but I don't think that what I am doing is all that healthy.

I have decided to make little changes just to try and help me switch off more than I do at the moment.  The biggest one is that Mr E and I are going back to our regularly weekly 'date night'. We started this last year and loved it, but slowly we allowed phone's to creep back in- each week it's someone's turn to 'host' it- it might be make a nice dinner, choose a nice film to watch, or plan a little surprise for the other person, but we make one rule- absolutely no technology whatsoever. (bar the TV!)  I turn my phone off and that's it for the evening.  While I probably only go on my laptop maybe once or twice in the week, as I said before I am on my phone far too much, and our date night is our way of spending quality time together rather than just being semi engaged in each other while spending time on our computers or phones.  

My other big thing is that I have been going to bed far too late.  I have decided that I am going to go to bed at a sensible (ish) time each night and make sure I don't look at my phone in bed, I am going to spend at least half an hour each night reading my book and winding down.  Obviously a phone or iPad is a stimulus and I wonder if that's another reason I don't sleep that well.  I used to read a book a week before children and blogging came into my life, and so this is something I am going to make sure I do every night in the hope that it relaxes me a bit more and helps me switch off.  I am pretty good at not really checking my phone at the weekend as that is our family time, bar putting the odd instagram photo on, but I want to try and reinforce this a little more too.

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Last weekend I went away on a girly weekend with three of my lovely friends Lucy, Morgana and Jenny.  They are all friends that I made via blogging, but friends that I now consider to be close 'real life' friends as well.  I had such a lovely few days, it was the longest I spent away from the girls, and although I missed them terribly, I really needed it.  It was wonderful to be in the company of such kind, yet also inspiring women, and going away and having a bit of girl time and head space made me realise that I need to switch off more and try different ways of relaxing.  On one of the days we went to a yoga class and while Jenny and Lucy often do yoga, Morgana and I were a little cynical- but I actually really loved it and it did help me relax and unwind.  I am going to start trying to do the odd You Tube yoga session in the evenings to help me unwind before bed.  I do online kettlebell workouts and run in the evening a couple of times a week though too, so it's trying to fit it all in.  

What is it about a girly weekend that's good for the soul though?  I came away feeling really inspired in all manner of different ways- inspired by mine and Mr E's new business due to Morgana and her dreams for her shop Little and Fierce, inspired by Jenny and how organised and driven she is, and inspired by Lucy and her ability to switch off and not let things bother her. (oh and inspired by her amazing Mexican Soup recipe too- who would have ever thought I would be inspired to get in the kitchen!)  We laughed non stop, confided in each other and chatting about deep and meaningful stuff- I feel so lucky to have met them all.

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Last year I was heavily involved in my fitness mission and that has helped me feel like a new person.  But since Christmas and our holiday, old habits have been creeping back in and although I did a bit of exercise, I stopped running.  I found myself getting lethargic and a bit snappy, while also putting on a bit of weight as although I was still eating reasonably healthily, I was letting myself have a lot more sweet treats again.  About three weeks ago I decided that I needed to stop or I would end up going back to my old ways.  I have started running again, even joining a running club.  Yesterday morning I got up at 5am and went for a ten mile run- I must be mad.  It's so easy to get back into the habit though, and now I am back training for five races this year- I am also determined to get some ab muscles for the summer!  Excercise makes me feel so much more confident and eating better makes me feel good too. (I will do a fitness update soon!)  I also had my hair cut the other day, I have had my hair the same for so long now, just varying shades of brown, but this time I had some ombre put in the ends- I have been meaning to do it for about two years- and I am really pleased with it.  There's nothing like a slight change of style to help renew a bit of confidence.

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New hair. Stupid pose. Never been any good at selfies. ;) 

 

This post doesn't really have any sort of purpose but it was therapeutic writing it all down and giving a bit of a life update!  I feel so genuinely lucky to have the opportunity to do the work I do, both my freelance work and of course blog things as well, and I really am so happy with our life and my little family.  I just want to make simple changes in order to be a better Mummy, wife and become even happier and more motivated in all aspects of my life.  

 

 

 

 

 

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