My Little Discovery has Sparked my Christmas Shopping!

Would you consider July too early to start Christmas Shopping? Well I don't! As I've just found a lovely little online boutique called Jonnys Sister!

I came across the site in July and thought their selection of cushions, gifts, toiletries and other pretty things was really sweet. I decided to get some bunting from them with my name on it, as I was going to use it for a business event - here is what it looked like:

Anyway, after seeing how fab the bunting was, I decided to get some bunting with both my children's names on it (one in blue, one in pink) for a Christmas present for them. I thought the bunting would look great in their rooms as we are decorating them at the moment. Then, I decided that it would be even cooler if I also got some for a couple of the other children I buy for at Christmas (relatives and friends) with their names on and get started on my holiday shopping!

You mums will know, Christmas is always manic - especially as it is always down to us to buy ALL the Christmas presents (except our own hopefully), plus all the card writing, the house cleaning and tidying, the food shopping, the tree decorating and the attendance at school nativities and fetes etc. In my house it is even more eventful as my daughters' birthday is Christmas Eve, so I also have to plan a birthday celebration too, ensuring that Santa and 'Christmas Day' don't overshadow HER big day. All of this means that I definitely have all my present shopping finished by 30th November each year (it's too stressful to leave it any later!) Which allows me to actually enjoy December without having to go to the shops when it is just too busy. I don't like the crowds, I'd much rather go shopping earlier on during a weekday when most people are at work and it's quieter! (I know - I'm getting old!)

So I was really quite pleased when I'd placed my order and made a start on the mammoth task that is 'Christmas'. The bunting I got was £33.50 which I thought was great for such a unique and personal present that will last forever. PLUS it is all made in the UK and I like to support British businesses. Thankfully none of the kids I bought for read this blog so they won't find out before 'the big day' what their gift is, it can remain a surprise.

I also like the 'Love Letter's from the site too which would look great in a nursery. I have one friend who is expecting at the moment so I will keep this in the back of my mind!

So Christmas shopping started, I actually feel 'lighter' knowing I'm on my way. I do have another confession though... I wrote my Christmas Cards for this year in August, so that's another massive job out of the way!! I got this trick from my mum and it is a great time saver. We always buy our Christmas cards (for next year) in the Christmas sale when they are half price (it just makes economic sense!) and I store my cards in my loft with all the Christmas decorations so I have them ready when I need them.

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend this year, we were having a lazy weekend - laying out in the garden when it was sunny, reading magazines and having a BBQ, and I decided to do all my Christmas cards, so I wouldn't have to find time in an already busy month! They are all done now - ready to post on 1st December. (Except the immediate family's cards as I get personalised ones for them from the market in the run up to Christmas).

So come on girls, let me know what you do way in advance of Christmas so I don't feel like too much of a freak!! Has anyone started their cooking and freezing yet?!

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Are you a Jugglista?

These are my balls! (yes, seriously!) I'm learning to juggle - literally! I decided that like many women, I'm an expert in juggling a busy life so I may as well know how to juggle properly - plus it's a great 'party piece' as I'm no good at singing or telling jokes!

So in the interests of us Jugglista's helping each other stay sane with our busy lives, I'm looking for your tips that will be uploaded to a new site (currently under construction) so we can all benefit from each others' hard won knowledge!

Email any tips on managing a modern schedule, practical advice for running a home, ideas on how to keep the children happy and insights into how you get some 'me time' to - all ideas and thoughts are welcome.
*Note: this email address is no longer in use but look at for articles about being a busy mum!

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Getting my Groove Back!

I think last week was possibly the busiest week I’ve had in the history of my life! I got my 6 year old back to school and settled into the old routine (having had 6 and a half weeks of play and nothing ‘brain taxing’!) plus my 2 year old boy started pre-school nursery, so he’s had a lot to get used to - we had tears on the first and second sessions once he realised that I was actually going and when I went to get him at 11.30am he looked like a little lost sheep coming out of the playroom into the parents meeting hall to be collected. After the first session I brought him home to turkey dinosaurs as a special treat! Anything to make the whole ‘being separated from mum’ thing seem like a bit more fun, but as I had not had time to re-stock the fridge/freezer before the Friday, I had nothing fun for Friday’s lunch so we made do and after I got my daughter from school we all went to good old Maccy D’s for a Happy Meal! (Me included!)

The parents reading this blog will understand the huge amount of effort that ‘Back to School’ requires, it doesn’t sound like such a big deal but it really is. It’s my job to see these kids through transitions like this, making the events as seam-free as possible and ensuring that they are equipt to cope with these life changes. Not just materially, with PE kits etc, but emotionally too. Who can remember going to school and reaching out to a potential friend in the playground only to be rejected as they already had a best friend (and of course when you are 6 you don’t realise it’s ok to have more than one!) It’s heart breaking when your child runs to you and says “so and so doesn’t want to play with me” and you have to tell them that “it’s ok – they don’t have to play with you, you can go and find another friend who will be happy to play” (knowing that as soon as your child starts having a great time with the ‘second’ friend that the first friend will want to come and join in!) This is the way of life, and it starts in the playground, which is why a successful ‘Back to School’ is vitally important.

So as well as two lots of ‘Back to School’s and getting two children settled in with their new teachers and new set of classmates, I also had to spin the plate that is my business! I have run the business on a ‘skeleton system’ throughout the summer whilst I had my hands full, but it’s time to crank it back up a gear, to do my future planning, organise the next round of client newsletters , have the meetings I need to have, do the networking I need to do, to keep the business driving forward.

Fortunately a lot of my clients tend to holiday in August when their kids are on school holiday too, so the workload drops accordingly but come September it’s back at it full throttle. Last week I also gave an inspirational speech to a group of business women at a function called “Women Inspired” – the event had the theme ‘Onwards & Upwards’. This involved planning and delivering the speech, organising my outfit for the night and hauling ass right up to The Lake District to attend the event (well, it was near The Lake District but it was a bloody long way and I hadn’t realised the trek involved when I agreed to the talk!) However it was an excellent event where I met some lovely ladies so it was worth it, but with all of this activity to do, my ‘me time’ took a battering.

I am on a mission to get into size 10 jeans by next May which is a pledge I’d made to myself a couple of months ago, and for me, I lose weight easier and faster when I can exercise. I’ve really missed my exercise over the summer holidays and now the school routine has started, I want to get back on track. I like to jog down to school with my daughter – she rides her scooter and my son is strapped into the buggy, so we get a workout whilst I do another essential job I have to do. This is why women are great at multi-tasking, we think laterally. What two jobs can I combine to make life easier or to pack more in?! Anyway, I have desperately missed this opportunity to exercise and when I get this 30 minutes of activity, I feel sane! I have the chance to listen to MY music on the iPod (rather than the tunes of Hannah Montana which is what I hear the rest of the time!) plus when I run I can eat what I want and I still shed the weight so it’s a win-win! I did manage to do a 6 mile power walk last week with a couple of school run mums so I got back into it but I ached afterwards, having gotten too used to taking the car everywhere all summer.

Anyway, this week I was planning to start to get some 'me time’ back as I’ve just received my free copy of the new Kathy Lette book in the post! You may remember I did a post recently where I encouraged you to claim your free splash-proof copy (so you can read it in the bath!) and if you haven’t already done so, they still have some left! Click here to get yours!

Have a look at what Kathy says about why she wanted to join forces with Radox on this book launch:

...and here is her inspiration behind the book....

I think that Kathy and Radox have been quite brave in telling us all to be selfish. It’s like they are ‘re-claiming’ the word and changing its meaning, just like Persil did with the ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign. They took something that people would go “ewww!” at and made it into a fact of life and let’s all celebrate getting dirty and actually living! Radox are celebrating selfishness, and encouraging us all to take that time out for ourselves, which we just forget to do (or else we put ourselves at the very bottom of our lists).

Now my kids are settled back into the school routine, and now it's the end of another manic week (which saw my washing machine break down, cannot be repaired and I've had to buy a new one - it's coming tomorrow!), I can try to take some time out and be selfish – doing some of the things that I would like to do but don’t seem to get the time to do!

It’s my birthday tomorrow so I'm definitely being selfish because I have dictated that we see 'Julie and Julia' at the cinema. My hubby says "It's a 'chick flick' but it's tough because it's what we'll be watching. Don't mess with the birthday mama!

Here is Kathy practically describing my life - I ALWAYS get the burnt chop!

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Last night I had a treat in bed! ......

...... I got 10 whole hours sleep! Yes 10!

The culmination of not stopping for breath over the school summer holidays, constantly being on the go and also stepping up my workouts recently as I’m determined to drop some dress sizes must have had an effect and I retreated to my room as soon as the kids were in theirs!

Now my boy is 2, I’m starting to get my rest back again. It’s less often that I’m woken in the night and the sleep helps me to feel sane! I remember in the ‘newborn’ days when you are surviving on 3 hours a night if that, and you feel close to tears most of the time due to the sheer stress of it all, I used to say that I could handle anything as long as I’d had some sleep! Actually, in a recent survey of over 50,000 parents across Europe, over half of all UK mums and dads claim that lack of sleep is the biggest challenge of parenthood – no surprise there!

So in rounding up the best tips, resources and competitions on time management and juggling a busy life for the readers of this blog, I discovered that Pampers are running a competition for tired out parents to win a sleep kit!

If you go to the Pampers website - click here, you can enter a 5 minute survey to win a Pampers Limited Edition Golden Sleep Kit. One hundred entries will be randomly selected and the sleep kit includes a Golden Sleep Guide, Fairy fabric conditioner sample (750ml), Golden Sleep ‘Taggies’ sleep comforter, Golden Sleep CD of lullabies and £1 Pampers vouchers. The contest is open until September 25, 2009 so if you have babies in the house – go for it!

PLUS... (drumroll please!) Pampers are offering the readers of Time Management Mum a chance to win a session with expert sleep doctor Professor Gregory Stores!

This session worth £150 will give one lucky reader the ability to chat through their own specific sleep and bedtime routine issues to get some bespoke advice to help them get back their essential sleep!! I mentioned this to a friend of mine last week and she reckons she’ll be entering this give-away to see what advice he can give her. Baby Lola is just 6 weeks old and I know my friend is shattered – she also has a 3 year old and a business to run so she has her hands full – a typical juggling mum!

To be in with a chance of winning this unique (and possibly life enhancing!) prize, leave a comment below with the words ‘Pampers Golden Sleep’. So tell us what you would do to get some ‘Pampers Golden Sleep’ or tell us the story of your worst night of sleep when you would have loved some ‘Pampers Golden Sleep’! Each comment below will equal one entry into the draw. Become a follower of this blog for another entry (existing followers will automatically be granted one entry) and Tweet about this blog post and competition to gain a further entry to the give-away (but you will have to leave a comment so I know you have Tweeted – if that makes sense:-)

NOTE: This contest is now closed.

As we are all busy mums managing our time as best we can – we don’t need the added hassle of doing it on no sleep – after all, would you expect a performance sports car to run on no fuel!

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My solution to becoming ‘Vesuvial’? ....Just tax the stupid people!

Did you ever see the episode of Absolutely Fabulous with Patsy and Edina who were hauled up in court for some reason or another – probably driving under the influence and parking right outside the main door to Harvey Nichols? When asked to plead her case, the fabulously self centered Edina launches into a rant in which she yells “Just tax the stupid people!” I love that episode. She argues “What’s with these little railings that are outside of shops so you can’t even get in them? I know they are there to stop stupid people running out into the street and getting killed but we’re not all stupid, we don’t all need nurse-maiding! There should be a ‘stupidity tax’ – just tax the stupid people!” If you missed it, here it is – still just as funny more than a decade on!

Well today something happened to me like this. It was my son’s first morning at pre-school nursery and my 6 year old isn’t back at school until tomorrow, so after we dropped him off, my daughter and I went to the local pool for a swim. She is becoming a great swimmer – she loves the water and proudly displays all her badges on her swim towel, so I was surprised when after I set off for a length of the pool, leaving my daughter happily doing handstands in the shallow end, I was told by the lifeguard that “I can’t leave her” as she is under 8. When I replied that I’m just off to do a length and I’m her mother and I’m very confident in my daughters abilities and that I wouldn’t swim off if she wasn’t safe”, she said that “these were the rules” so I said “OK” and went to re-join my daughter.

Not long after, a second lifeguard saw us swimming in the middle of the pool and came to warn us to “Stay out of the far corner of the deep end..... because it’s dark!” (the lights weren’t working apparently) well that was it – I blew my top!

I said to the boy who couldn’t have been more than 18 and was obviously taking his life saving duties *very* seriously, “I’ve been swimming for more than 30 years, what exactly do you think will happen to me in the deep end? Is the Loch Ness Monster going to appear from the 2.0 metre depths and swallow me whole, or will I just be taken by the strong undercurrent of the council run pool to never be seen again?” I mean – how ridiculous. Why build a swimming pool if people aren’t allowed to come and swim in them! Should we all sit at home in a chair and do nothing for the fear that we might ‘do ourselves a mischief’. Come on! This pool could do with a stupidity tax – it’s ‘Health & Safety’ gone mad! I was only there trying to have a pleasant swim with my daughter – not to have to have ‘rules and regulations’ dictated the minute I set foot in the door!

I think under normal circumstances I would have just been bemused at the silly rules and had a laugh at them rather than getting wound up by them, but if I outline the rest of the week that occurred before it, my outburst may be more understandable.

Last week I took my daughter and 2 year old son to see my friend for a play-date. This friend lives a 50 minute drive away and we have to travel on 3 different motorways to get there. So we had a great play-date, then went to do a little shopping in the nearby retail park, and at 3pm I was ready to take them home. We’d get back at around 4pm –just in time to start making dinner. But after driving for just 10 minutes we hit some traffic. It got heavier and heavier until we ended up at a standstill, where we were sat for 3 solid hours. Not much fun with two tired and bored children – especially as I’m potty training one of them! He had to use his pull-up which I wasn’t happy about but my poor daughter had to pee in a cup which I then tipped out of the window! It was hot and sticky that day, and there were some frayed tempers amongst some of the other drivers too. There was some ‘lane hopping’ (even though we weren’t going anywhere) and a quick glance at their faces showed they were as fed up as me. I switched on the local ‘traffic & travel’ news to get some idea what was going on, and do you want to know what the problem was? Some stupid lorry driver had been taking a corner too fast, overturned his lorry and shed his load of eggs all over the carriageway! The radio news presenters thought it was hilarious, making jokes like “police scrambled to the scene” but I wasn’t amused!

When we got home at 6pm, I’d missed the film I was planning to see at the cinema that night (having won a free ticket!) then as I was tired, I accidentally knocked my Diet Coke all over my cream carpet then I banged my head and after that I had to unblock the downstairs toilet! It was the last straw and I just went Vesuvial! “Arrgghhh!”

‘Vesuvial’ is a great term to describe my emotions that day – and I got it from Kathy Lette. You may remember my last post where I mentioned her new book, “All Steamed Up”. Well I was watching her interview by Radox as she’s working with them on their ‘Be Selfish’ campaign, and she uses the term throughout her book. The video below shows her explaining what makes her Vesuvial:

It seems as women, our ‘Vesuvial’ moments come when we have just ‘put up’ with several minor incidents before, then as they all stack up, we explode! I think Radox are trying to diffuse our tempers and give us a sense of calm with their selfishness campaign – as they are actively encouraging women to claw back some time for themselves and they provide the products to do it!

The words ‘Be-Selfish’ are quite controversial as us women have been brought up to put others first and think of others feelings. This goes into overdrive when we have kids, and even though we give of ourselves gladly and do what we do out of love for our children, I think it’s important to recognise that WE need some pampering too and we need taking care of just as much as we take care of our children. Here Kathy gives her thoughts on why she was attracted to working with Radox:

So to stop myself going so ‘Vesuvial’ I just need some more ‘me time’! Absolutely agree – bring it on!

But Radox, if you are reading, I went to ASDA earlier this week to buy some of the lavender shower gel that you do which has a gorgeous smell. It’s my favourite but they didn’t have any so I wouldn’t object if you wanted to help my ‘me time’ by sending me a couple of bottles!

Here is an exclusive first listen of Kathy Lette’s new book “All Steamed Up” which is out this month:

Plus, you can also bag yourself a FREE copy of the book as Radox are giving away 10,000 copies! Mine is already on its way AND the book is splash-proof too so you can read it in the bath! Perfect!

Get it here...

For further information about Kathy’s book or tips on being selfish and getting some ‘me time’, visit and keep following this blog, and let’s hope we have less ‘volcano’ and more ‘Utopia’!

“Be-Selfish" to get to the top of the Class!

It’s September! A fresh start – that ‘Back to School’ moment, the month when you can buy a whole new winter wardrobe because ‘you can’t walk around in your summer stuff now that it’s autumn’ (even though global warming has fixed it so that it still feels like Summer in October)! I LOVE September – not least because it’s my birthday month – all the gift vouchers I get come at just the right time for me to splurge on the new clothes and books I want to buy before I get into winter ‘hibernation’ mode!

So in keeping with the ‘fresh start’ feel, Juggle Mum is ‘a changin’! I have loads of reader giveaways coming up for stressed and harassed mums, and for mums who just want some time to themselves, so make sure you follow this blog as the lovely ladies listed in the ‘Followers’ box will be first in line for the freebies!

I’m a massive fan of ‘me time’ – mostly because I just don’t get enough – when you are catering to the demands of a 6 year old and a 2 year old, plus my business clients and then a hubby, the old ‘me time’ can be elusive, so I love that personal care giants Radox are doing a ‘Be-Selfish’ campaign, encouraging women to take some time out just for them. I have to say, a few more bubble baths on my own wouldn’t go amiss! (And what I mean by that is without kids in with me! I wouldn’t mind more bubble baths with the hubby – we did buy a double ended bathtub for that reason but schedules don’t permit at the moment!!)

So Radox have teamed up with author Kathy Lette to promote being selfish and getting the ‘me time’ you deserve! Kathy’s books are very observationally funny – she’s always been a feisty female from as far back as I can remember – I have a couple of her books, and her latest one – “All Steamed Up” is out this month. Here she is looking glam on the book promotion photos:

...and here:

I think I’d have nails as red and unchipped as that if I was a little more selfish! But to be fair, Kathy’s children are teenagers whilst mine are still in the poo and nappy stages (but not for long – I’m toilet training the boy as we speak!) so maybe there is hope for my nails yet! Have a look at this video which shows Kathy in her very funny way, describe how she became a writer.

I have to agree that writing is cheaper than therapy! I have been writing this blog for just over 9 months now, and it has gradually developed over that time and I’ve nurtured it – it’s like a baby! Early on in my blogging, I joined the social network, the British Mummy Bloggers and found loads of other blogging parents who support and encourage each other – it’s a community of like-minded people, and this helped me to ‘find my voice’. A journalist recently asked bloggers on the site why they do it, and got all sorts of responses from ‘because it is cathartic’, to ‘it helps me promote my business’ to ‘it helps me chart the development of my children’ to ‘it replaces the office banter that you miss when you are a WAHM or SAHM’, so evidently blogging is another great way to get some ‘me time’ and have a chat with other mums. Plus, a major benefit is that you can do it at midnight if you want, whilst the kids are asleep – you can’t have a play-date or coffee morning like that!

Kathy loves blogging too, and sees it as a great ‘career starter’ for writers – check out this video to see what she says about us blogaholics!

Blogging is a really good outlet for self expression and great for ‘me time’ but it can be highly addictive. I decided to just to one post over the whole summer to avoid falling into the trap of writing about every single experience over the school holidays rather than living it! It was actually a great time saving way of blogging AND enjoying the time with the kids, and we packed so much in to our 7 weeks. They are back at school next week so I will have a little more time to myself – and hopefully you will too.

As a special treat, for when you have your ‘me time’, here is an exclusive audio from Kathy Lette’s new book “All Steamed Up” for you to enjoy. If you think you are stressed – have a listen to the life of the lead character in this one – it’ll have you rolling on the floor laughing or thanking heaven that it isn’t you! Enjoy with my compliments, and feel like the special mama you are because only a handful of bloggers have this exclusive advance preview and I’m sharing mine with you!!

For further information about Kathy’s book and tips on being selfish and getting some ‘me time’, visit and keep following this blog!

**NEWS JUST IN!** If you hurry to the Be Selfish website and are one of the first 10,000 people to get there, you can get a free 'splash proof' copy of Kathy's book - perfect for reading in the bath! A free book in the post?! Go for it!!

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