Win It Wednesday! The opportunity to change your life!

I just had the most awesome weekend of my life! I went with 2 friends to the Christopher Howard BTS - which is "Breakthrough to Success". It is a 3 day event held in London (actually they hold it all over the world - Hawaii, Portugal, Italy etc) but I was in Earl's Court! However it didn't really matter where the venue was because I only saw the inside of the hotel for the whole weekend anyway!

It started on Friday at 9am but as a school run mum I had my duties to do so I couldn't catch the train to London until Friday evening. It was 11pm before I reached the hotel! However I didn't mind, it turned out that Saturday was going to be my breakthrough day, as you will see.....

The event is a long one - starting 8am Saturday until 10pm ish but as it happened we didn't get out until 11.30pm! Sunday was another long one - 8am start and ended at 9pm but it was SOOOO worth it!

Christopher Howard specialises in NLP - he is like a guru whom the best minds in the world go to for guidance. He is bezzie mates with Richard Branson and has been with him on Necker and he has American best selling authors on his speed dial! His training and events are all about reprogramming the mind to get rid of the negative, limiting stuff and to allow yourself to dream big - that whatever in the world that it is you want - you can have.

I am no stranger to dreaming big. In the last year I have written a best selling book and launched this blog! Yay! I have also developed in my business and I have more plans up my sleeve for the future, but to be honest, I have always wanted one certain thing and it has eluded me until now.

I have been overweight since being a teen. I was a classic 'comfort eater' - very emotional, if I was happy, I'd eat, if I was sad, I'd eat! I'd even eat when I KNEW I wasn't hungry but it was like a compulsion. Food was my friend, it gave me a hug when I needed one. I did manage to lose 4 stone and drop 5 dress sizes before I became pregnant for the second time. I thought I had cracked it (I was exercising a lot, although my eating habits didn't change that much) although the pregnancy was my excuse to eat again and stop exercising so I put the whole 4 stone back on (and then some!)

This weekend at the Christopher Howard event changed all that.

I knew that if I could just get into the habit of taking the healthy option rather than the one laden with creamy sauces or smeared with butter, then I'd lose the weight, but getting started is the hardest thing of all. Once you have a few days track record of eating well behind you, it's easier to continue. You don't want to undo the hard work you've done. But starting when you are feeling like you need a hug - real or otherwise, is tough.

This weekend Chris Howard from his stage platform managed to successfully perform NLP on about 1000 audience members. He created an atmosphere of possibility - that anything can happen. And it did. Several of us had tears in our eyes afterwards. We were hugging and 'high fiving' and we went from a room of complete strangers to a group who had just shared a life changing experience that day. After the NLP session we not only had our own goals clearly in our minds, but we looked at each other through different eyes. These strangers became friends.

My goal was that I will fit into a size 10 jean by May 2010. I am currently wearing a 20-22 and am back to my biggest ever weight. However this time is it different. This time I OWN the goal. It is already mine. I just need to take the decisions I need to take and do the actions I need to do between now and then for that to be my reality. I can truly and honestly say that it WILL happen. I have never been so sure of anything in my life. The nagging little 'internal head voice' has gone. She has been silenced and instead my 'inside the head cheerleader' is doing her thing to encourage me! I am as committed to this goal as I was committed to the day I said my wedding vows more than 10 years ago - I'm THAT sure. ...and it is an awesome feeling to be so sure!

Historically I would never have declared a goal so publicly. I suppose I wanted to keep it quiet - for now in case it didn't come off, so I wouldn't look foolish. But this isn't the right mindset if you want to achieve your goals, and this was part of the weekend's learning. I currently have pictures of me how I look now on my Facebook page but what I plan to do is to do a 'goal achieved' blog post right here next May, when I am in my brand new size 10 indigo jeans, that hug my butt and are boot-cut style. When I have those jeans I will take a picture and put it up side by side with my 'now' picture so you can see the realisation of my real world results.

Ladies (and gents!) if you have ever wanted to get on with whatever your own big dream is, then this weekend is the place to do it! The next event is in London in November but I think there is a Dublin event before then if you fancy the trip! However I was also fortunate enough to get some freebie tickets for the event to give away, and I wanted to share these with my blog followers!

If you would like to attend this weekend event for free (saving £895.00) then leave a comment below for one entry. Become a follower of this blog for 2 extra entries, Re-Tweet this blog post for another entry (and tell me you have done so here so I know!) and all the entries will be placed in a hat and I'll send out a ticket to the first 20 names I pull out.


This was an awesome event and I am planning to go again next year and do further training with the group, so I can continue to set and achieve my goals and dreams.

Before you go - don't forget to diarise May 2010 to check back on this blog. Those size 10 jean pictures WILL be here!

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Time Management Toolkit...

As a Virtual Assistant (and therefore have to be super organised in the office) I am often asked by entrepreneurs how to cut down their 'to do' list or how to get through their mile long list of tasks. I will be working with one lady next week to do just that and I'm relishing the test.

Entrepreneurs are great - they are the toughest time management challenge as they are very 'ideas' oriented and have lots going on. Often multiple projects at differing stages of completion, many demands being made of them and a short attention span. Life is too interesting to focus too much in one area but they also have to knuckle down in their various projects otherwise nothing will get done.

So I was thinking today of how I organise myself and it really boils down to a tool-kit which I carry round and use to help me plan out the many (many!) commitments I have - both in business and in my personal life as a mum. As the very minimum, here's what I suggest:

a diary & pen
a pack of Post It Notes
a phone (for texting and calls)
a few envelopes (I use the free ones that come with store card bills - they are just for helping me to organise my tasks- I'll explain more later!)
some small white stickers (for labelling stuff or using in place of correction fluid when diary plans change - you can write immediately on a sticker!)
a dictaphone for capturing ideas but an alternative to this is a phone with a voice messaging capability (to email a voice message to yourself) or you could just 'call home' and leave a voice message on your answer-machine, as long as no-one who hears it will steal your ideas or think you are mad!

This little lot will easily fit into a small space (you don't need many envelopes and stickers as you 're-stock') but it will be enough to help keep you organised. When you are 'out and about' you can use the pockets of downtime you may find (10 minutes whilst waiting for your next meeting etc) to plan out your diary. The Post It Notes are for marking pages in a booklet that you want to come back to, or writing out a reminder to yourself for a certain day but that you don't want to clog up your whole diary space with that reminder - for example, you can write a shopping list onto a note and remove it from the diary page after you have been to the shops and therefore keep the rest of your diary uncluttered.

The envelopes I use for containing several items that need to be kept together but in a neat way so they don't get lost or over-clutter my handbag. I am having a weekend trip with my girlfriends this week, so I have one envelope with my train tickets and hotel confirmation in, so they are easily found when I need them but I can put the envelope onto my dressing table until Friday when they will be needed. However they are kept together safely.

The other major thing I use when organising myself are those plastic baskets that you can buy cheaply (I get mine from a Pound Shop!) I have several - they are all the size of a ring-binder but I have them on my desk, stacked with different items in them that I need to keep safe or transport from my home to office. I also keep a spare basket in the back of my car so when I'm out I can put things like used plastic bottles in (after the kids have finished their drink and I want to take the bottle home to recycle), and wet trousers (my son is still in nappies) will go into the basket for washing when back at home. Also magazines that have been read and need taking back to be passed onto friends go into the basket, as well as any rubbish for the bin, or shop bought items that don't need to come out again until we get home etc. Once we are at home I don't have to spend ages in the car gathering up all the various items that have been stuffed in there - I just pick up my basket and take into the house for sorting.

By having a handy tool-kit to use whilst you are out and about, it's easier to keep on top of jobs as you go, which is a massive help when you are juggling multiple tasks. It's very time consuming to have to re-visit certain things when you get back or when you are alone later, rather than completing jobs as you progress through the day. I learned this the hard way, I'd often attend meetings and take scruffy notes which I'd then have to type up later and then diarise certain spin off activities. I felt that I didn't want to 'hold anyone up' whilst I took time to write my notes properly, but nowadays I'd rather have them wait an extra few minutes whilst I take care to do my planning in front of them. The person you are with can see that you are carefully considering where to put their task or when the job will be done, and you don't then have to re-visit everything later on!

When you are dealing with a lot of different activities it can be easy to become muddled so having your own tool-kit, adapted to the way you work will make light work of all the 'admin/maintenance' so you can get on with enjoying what you are up to!

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The Capsule Handbag!

I just LOVE my bags and shoes! If there was a kind of 'detox' for bag and shoe aholics, I'd probably need to do it, but thankfully there isn't!

Have a look at my current fave bag - it's from 'Primarni' and was the bargain price of about £8!

I think that after many years of trying, I have now perfected the 'capsule handbag'! Here is what I keep in mine:
- essential make up bag and inside it contains 'sample size' items so I don't have to lug my bathroom cabinet round with me but I can still stay fresh! Notice the clear pockets so you can see everything before you open the bag!! (It's a bit sad but I also carry round a single freezer bag in this make up bag for the often half eaten muffin that my kids hand back to me but want me to 'save for later'!) I also have a plastic bag clip in there to clip up half eaten bags of crisps! I have learned my messy lesson over the years when I have had more rogue crisps in the bottom of my bag than in the factory at Walkers!.
-Sunglasses. I feel 'put together' when I can reach into my bag and pull out the shades on a sunny day!
-clip lid box filled with dried apricots! I have a sweet tooth and these seem to satisfy to stop me buying a Mars bar when I'm out!
-Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment Cream - the best! (I get it Duty Free when I fly - gives me something to do whilst waiting for the plane!)
-The pink striped tin by 'Moxie' is a new brand of pads/pantliners. I like to carry a couple just in case and this box disguises what they are in case I drop the bag and the contents spill!
-two mobile phones. My (work) BlackBerry is in the red case - my (personal) pink phone is for fun and so the school can get me if they need to! However usually used for the essentials of texting my pals about the latest Katie and Peter saga, arranging playdates and swopping jokes!
-The red blob in the far right of the picture is a cloth bag - a spare so I don't have to take a supermarket bag. It folds really small and is handy when you are just popping in and end up getting more than you intended and cannot carry it without a bag!
-My purse of course! Mine is orange and I'm still looking for one good enough to replace the best purse I ever had which was by Liz Claibourne. It was hot fuchsia and I got it in Dubai. It lasted about 6 years until it started to rip. I loved that purse *sniff*! This orange one is by TK Maxx - not as good but will do for now!
-I always carry my Flip Camcorder (in black) with me. It's so handy for recording ad-hoc kid moments that you cannot schedule but I also use it for recording short video tutorials to do with work!
-Now I look like a female Bear Grylls but I do carry round this pink 'army knife' with me. It was a stocking filler gift one Christmas but it is so useful when you have kids! I have used the Phillips head and the flat head screwdriver many times to change the batteries in a childs' toy, The LED light comes in useful when it is dark or to entertain a fractious toddler. I peak his curiosity by illuminating stuff! It also has pliers, a knife, and a nail file but I never use that! I prefer my proper salon style emery boards!
-Lastly the see through zip bag at the far left is for holding my Flip camcorder, army knife etc so I can easily find them at the bottom of such a big bag!

My bag is a bit like Mary Poppins' carpet bag - you never know what I will pull out of there!

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Cool book alert! Busy mums will LOVE this!

After a very kind reader posted a note on this blog to tell me about a new book, I just *HAD* to check it out!

The book is called "How to be an 'Amazing Mum' When you Just Don't Have the Time" and it is written by mum of two and journalist Tanith Carey. Here is the cover - cute!

Now I have to say I'm a pretty savvy mum myself *ahem!* I have created my own shortcuts over the years to getting things done - keeping my plates spinning all day, ensuring the kids have everything they need for school, play dates etc and still running my business and my home as effectively as possible. I'm not saying the house is perfect but there are no mice at least!

However this book had so many tips that I'd never thought of before, ranging from basic strategies for getting out of the house on time each day (no mean feat in itself!) to travelling with kids, getting through the chores in record time, getting vegetables down the kids, ways to organise your home to make it work better and handling events like children's parties and Christmas.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Juggle Mum is all about YOU - the mum, rather than the children. You are the Kingpin (or 'Queenpin'!) that your whole family's world revolves around, so I like things that are more about YOU than the kids. The title of the book seems to be more about the children's benefit but trust me, when you see some of the tips included you will agree that some of these strategies are to make the MUMS life a lot easier!

After reading this book I went out and bought some drinking yogurts for me as I frequently do the school run on an empty stomach having spent the time before leaving the house ensuring the kids were fed and the days bags were loaded in the car. I also bought 2 mesh washing bags for my two to put their undies in before putting in the wash, meaning that all socks and pants are pre-sorted after the dryer and ready to go to the correct child's room! I also resurrected the 'Good Girl Chart' that had gone out of favour and was taking up space on my dining room table, and improved the tasks that earn a star to be more age appropriate, like tidy your own room for my 6 year old. I'd previously only used the chart to stamp out tantrum like behaviour rather than to incentivise positive habits like putting her own clothes in the laundry rather than leaving on the bathroom floor, so this has been a good nudge for me.

There is one tip in the book that I can give an improvement on, so here goes mums:
On the subject of children's birthday parties, Tanith says "After the party, don't bother with personalised thank you cards. Write down who gave what and then email a brief thanks with the party picture." Not bad, but after all the party preparations I am ready to relax after the party and thinking about thank you notes is another "To Do" on my already packed list. (My daughter's birthday is on Christmas Eve so I have enough going on after her party without having to worry about doing the 'thank yous' So My advice is to put a generic thank you note into each party bag which the guests will take home with them. Job done! The note I use each year (it is saved on my computer and I just print it out onto jazzy coloured paper) is:
"Thank you very much for coming to my party and for the lovely present. I had a great time and hope that you did too! Love (child's name) xx"

All in all the book is packed with pure advice, page after page and gives useful, practical tips that can be adopted straightaway to start to gain some control in your life.

The book is published by Lion Hudson at £7.99. Available on Amazon and all good booksellers.

I am constantly keeping my beady eye open for any useful resources that help mums control their time or have more 'me time' so as I come across them I will share these resources on this blog. If you come across anything that might be useful to busy mums, post a comment or send me an email and I will check it out!

... If you like what you read, follow this blog and join the coolest hot mamas in the blogosphere! You get the kudos of being publicly named a 'hot mama' and I get to feel popular! Go on - it's just a click in the box to the left of this post!

Just cannot stop laughing!!

A blog I regularly follow is April Showers - she is an awesome blog designer and was responsible for the fantastic uber fashionable layout for Time Management Mum (this is the name of this blog before it became 'Juggle Mum'!

Anyway I have just seen this over at her blog and couldn't resist posting - this video really IS effin hilarious!! I love the bit where the angel 'feels her up'!!!

Check it out!

... If you like what you read, follow this blog and join the coolest hot mamas in the blogosphere! You get the kudos of being publicly named a 'hot mama' and I get to feel popular! Go on - it's just a click in the box to the left of this post!