Happy Face Project Part 3- Why Crawling On The Floor Will Make Me A Better Mum

Drove to university to complete paperwork. Prammed Miss 1 yr all around the campus for no particular reason. Went for a brief window shop at the local mall. Miss 1 yr getting a wee bit rowdy. Mini gluten free blueberry muffins save her day.

Drove on highway all the way home. Well, to another mall to pick up my lifesavers. Lifesavers= new reading glasses. Old reading glasses? Covered in white-out by Miss 1yr.

Zoomed home so Miss 1yr can nap. I also want to crash. Realize I haven’t had a meal today. Or a snack. 2pm. Bad example to my kids. Guilt and reason still doesn’t spur me on to eat.

Miss 1 yr wakes from a peaceful 15minute (far too brief) slumber. I plonk her on the floor, feed her more lunch (which I must admit, started to look mighty tasty to my ravaged stomach) then let her “read” a book. “Read” to a 1yr old= rip pages out of a newspaper.

Miss 1yr begins her slow crawl to the dining room. At random, I follow her. On my hands and knees. Painful. She notices me. I speed up and let out a monster growl. She cackles hysterically. She speeds up towards the window. I speed up. She’s laughing so much that she’s crying. I start crying. She stops. I sit up. She moves to a sitting position. And then says “Mummm Ma” and grasps my hand. Her hand is a third of mine in size. Match sticks compared to branches. Looking into my eyes, she’s just confirmed that we’ll be best friends forever. Holding her tight, I kiss her Cabbage Patch Kid cheeks and reposition her for a crawling race. She wins. Don’t ever tell her I let her win or she’ll be heartbroken for sure.

Moments like this take me to the calmest, most love-filled place I could ever imagine. The world stops and I’m reminded the only thing that matters is my family and friends. Bottom line. And that I need to get on my hands and knees to see the world more often, a different perspective can change everything.

If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

I’ve been on an extended break from Little Red Writing Solutions to focus on my family commitments over the Christmas and New Year period. It has been wonderful to just be with my children and my husband and to be able to just relax and have fun without any major planning.

In the back of my mind however, I have been going over and over what heading back to “work work” will mean for me. I write during the night when my children are asleep and I have a part-time day job which keeps me more than occupied.

But soon, my contract will end and I’ll need to find more “work work”. You may or may not know that I am a Registered Nurse and was working in Surgical Nursing until I went on Maternity Leave to have my daughter in December of 2012. Alongside writing. Then in April of last year, my Mother passed away unexpectedly and my whole career vision started to shift. I couldn’t go back to Nursing out of fear of breaking down in front of patients. I couldn’t face introducing myself to a patient with the same name as my Mother. I was frightened to leave my children to go and care for other families when I needed to be around them so badly. So it was with this sudden change of heart that I decided to let myself look into other options, without feeling “guilty” for leaving Nursing.

I made the decision to take on a temporary contract at a hospital I was very familiar with, just so I could work, heal and have the time I desperately wanted with my young children. The job has been wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed it and still have a few months left.

In the meantime, as I continue to write for Little Red part-time, I’ve happily and proudly come to a conclusion. With my extensive public health care experience and my profound passion in the areas of grief and bereavement, depressive illness, anxiety and panic disorders and mental illness, I can happily announce I’ve been accepted into a Masters in Psychology program.

I needed to take greater responsibility for my long-term happiness and for the future of my family and believe that this path in life is for me. So with this career change, so changes the rest of my life! I haven’t left Nursing behind yet and I’m not sure if I ever will, but for now, I’m putting all my (spare) energy into this new program, combined with Little Red.

Little Red will continue on as normal (refer to my Facebook page for opening hours and the product/ service listing), I just needed to share my good news.

Cannot wait for these new challenges to test every inch of me!

Lauren @LittleRed

My Favourite Right Now/ Why I’m Who I Am

Today’s experiences are tomorrow’s memories

{Barbara Johnson}

I’m living my life in the hope that I have plenty of years ahead of me and that my time isn’t cut short. Every part of every day is important to me. I try not to forget the fine details, for these are the ones that will illuminate the landscape of my children’s own memories.

Little Red’s Guest Book- Emily Foote (Me & Em Graphic Design)

ImageMe & Em Name Print

(Image courtesy of Emily Foote)

Can you introduce yourself and your business to my readers?

Hi my name is Emily Foote of Me & Em Graphic Design. I’m a Graphic Designer and artist who has created a gorgeous range of products to decorate babies & children’s bedrooms.

What made you take the leap into small business?

At the time I was a single parent, working in graphic design for the local newspaper and studying part-time to reach my goal of becoming a freelance graphic designer. I didn’t want to be limited to designing for newspapers, and I wanted the opportunity to put more of my personal stamp on things as I have a strong need for self-expression.

Which social media platforms do you use to publish and promote your work? (include links here if you like)

Almost all of them!! I love social media as a way to promote my products and services, it allows me to do it all for free, and to reach out to my large circle of friends & family and tap into their networks as well. I especially love the visual aspects of Instagram and Pinterest.

Facebook

Etsy

Pinterest & Instagram: meandemandyou

Who and or what inspires you in your life and your business?

Other female artists and designers inspire me, such as the late textile designer Florence Broadhurst – she was such a vivacious character and had a real drive and determination to succeed – but unfortunately passed away.

Colour & nature are always intriguing to me, I can generate new ideas just from looking at a particular colour swatch or plant in the garden! I also love to play around with interior design in my house.

How do you treat yourself after a long week of work?

My weekdays can be incredibly hectic as I’m still working 2 jobs part-time on top of running my business, so I definitely need to wind down on a Friday night! I take my partner Steven and 5-year-old Hunter out to our favourite pizza joint. Hunter thinks it’s great because it’s the only chance he gets to have lemonade!

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Me & Em Number Print

(Image courtesy of Emily Foote)

If you could donate $1m to a charity of your choosing, which would you choose and why?

That’s a hard one because I’d love to help everybody! But Epilepsy Action Australia is one that is close to my heart – my eldest cousin Robin suffers from a very rare form of Epilepsy – called MELAS. It affects the nervous system, brain and muscles, creating a slow deterioration in bodily functions. He has stroke-like episodes which progressively damage all his systems, however he’s lived well past the expected age for survival of 30 years of age. I’d love to give $million to aid in the research of this disease.

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve received?

Be yourself! You cannot get the best out of life if you try to do exactly what other people are doing. Forge your own path, and blaze your own trail.

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Me & Em Personalized Wedding Bunting

(Image courtesy of Emily Foote)

What is your favourite of all the products you’ve created and why?

My favourite product is the Vintage Floral custom name poster. Each illustration is researched and created specifically to match the meaning of the child’s name. I love when I get a new order as it sparks my imagination and allows that creative drive to happen. Personalised things make such special gifts that can be treasured forever.

What has been your greatest achievement in your business to date?

There’s no one thing that I focus on but the general pride I feel in creating and running this business all on my own is a fantastic feeling.

How have you overcome your biggest challenge (in life or business)?

The biggest challenge for me in my business has been time management! I still struggle with it occasionally because it is a constant thing that doesn’t go away on its own. When you are the sole owner/operator and employee, you have to do EVERYTHING! To manage this I write lots of lists, have a diary and calendar handy all the time, and prioritize/rearrange schedules constantly.  My email is always active and if I have 5 minutes spare I use it to get on top of any communications I’ve not yet responded to.

Name three things that put an enormous smile on your face.

1. My son’s cheeky grin and giggle – he is a very charismatic and funny little boy, I think he’ll go into a job in theatre when he’s older.

2. Food! I’m a self-confessed foodie, I eat a lot, cook a lot, and talk about food all the time!

3. Babies – I love the innocence and purity, their tiny little bodies, sweet-smelling skin and that they rely on you for all their needs.

If you were granted $100k for your small business, how would you spend it?

I would probably use it to develop heaps of new product ranges, not just for babies & children. I’d love to put my stamp on interiors with tableware, upholstery, bed linen, wallpaper etc I could go on for hours!!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? In ten years?

In five years time I’d like to be working from home 5 days a week with excellent sales and time to create new products for your home.

Can you describe your business in three words.

Uplifting, Bespoke & Inspired.

What makes you different from your competitors?

Great design should be thoughtful, considered and deliberate – some large businesses out there are spewing forth mountains of new products and imagery which are highly manufactured but poorly executed. They are created to fill a perceived market, but not everyone wants a picture that a million other people have also got. My designs are unique, original illustrations which have been thoughtfully developed and lovingly created.

If there was one person you could swap lives with for a day, who would it be and why?

I have a girl crush on Beyonce, so I’d love to step into her shoes and get some great business advice. Also to be able to sing like her would be amazing, currently I love to sing but nobody else does!

Which song that always gets stuck in your head? 

That Taylor Swift song “Trouble” gets in there all the time!  “I knew you were trouble when you walked in…”

Your next holiday destination and what will you do on the first day?

Really hoping to have a mini getaway to a B&B in the King Valley. Not too far from home, and a nice quiet place to relax. I’ll be reading magazines and having a massage for sure!

Which small business are you loving right now? 

Nest Design Studio – Belinda is an Interior designer who specializes in making over children’s bedrooms. They are delightfully uplifting rooms and are decorated with such care.

Any parting words for my readers?

It sounds corny, but follow your dreams! You can be anything you want to be if you work hard and have determination to succeed.

You can help me build my Em-pire by liking and sharing my Facebook page, or head on over to my Etsy store to make a purchase! Each package sent is a little bundle of joy for you and me.

www.etsy.com/shop/meandemgraphicdesign

Thanks so much to Emily for participating in Little Red’s Guest Book today, I’m a big fan of her work and can’t wait to see where her vision takes her next!

If you’d like to be part of Little Red’s Guest Book, please contact Lauren via lauren@littleredwritingsolutions.com.au

LEJ

I know nothing about Australian Politics but I do know this….

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My two reasons for EVERYTHING I do.

I’ve been on Maternity Leave since just before Christmas last year. It has been the most amazing, eye-opening experience. And that’s just the being a stay-at-home-mum part. I gave birth in February to my beautiful daughter and have been the primary carer for my two piplings ever since {my son is 5 next month}. While my husband works full time, I care for the kids, do kinder and childcare runs and all the “mundane” mum tasks. I, however, am relishing the experience because I never got this stay-at-home experience with my first child. It’s been too perfect for words to just be focusing on my new baby and making sure my son feels like he is {more than ever} my world.

Such a brilliant part of my leave, and one that has put my mind at ease and reduced stress levels is the fact that I was fortunate enough to be able to receive employer-funded maternity leave, as well as paid parental leave via the Government. It has meant that as well as taking up my new role as Mum of Two, I have also been able to still contribute in the same way financially to our household, which means a lot for my confidence, my identity and for my goals in life. I am woman, hear me roar!!!!

Thanks to the Government, my husband was lucky enough to receive the two weeks paid paternity leave to spend with us at home. It was time where he bonded with his new girl, spent time just being with his son {when he otherwise would’ve been hard at work} and giving me the much needed support in those early days with a newborn.

The hunt for our new PM will come to a head shortly and for Mums and parents everywhere, the Paid Parental Leave and Maternity Leave Schemes could be a deciding factor in where many votes lie on September 7th.

What has this paid leave meant to me? Everything. Most importantly, I have felt I have been able to combine my role as primary carer for my children with secondary income earner. Many families, for example those in a single income situation or for single mothers, may not have this opportunity. This precious time getting to know and bond with my new daughter has been a time I will remember for the rest of my days. And even with the 18 week scheme currently offered by our Government {it will grow to 26 weeks, if Abbott gets in}, I felt extremely lucky.

I can’t imagine that many couples who are considering starting a family or adding to their brood would look past Tony Abbott’s 26 Week Paid Parental Leave Scheme. You can read more about his plans for this scheme here. Some may not like him as Leader of our great country, but to me, family is my priority and if this scheme was to come into action, it would get my vote. Simple.

I put my family first and believe that it is such a fantastic opportunity for women to receive paid leave whilst caring for their young children. As well as providing much needed income at the time, the benefits include: having more time to secure a child care place/sort out childcare programs for when and if your child needs to enter care, women are less stressed upon re-entry into the workforce, women are more inclined to return to the same type of work they took leave from in the first place ({great for employers who want experienced employees} and apparently is much better for women financially when it comes to superannuation, retirement planning and time out of the workforce over the course of their careers.

According to Mr Abbott and his Gang,

“Of the more than 30 countries in the OECD offering a paid parental leave scheme, Australia is one of only two nations that fail to pay parental leave based on a replacement wage”

(Liberal Party, July 2013)

And under this scheme, a mother’s wage will be fully replaced, superannuation and all. Sounds good to me! Let’s hope the promises are delivered upon for all those hopeful parents with their fingers and toes crossed. It’s hard enough to create a baby for most couples, it’s seriously hard work to grow a baby then give birth. So then the ACTUAL hard yacka of raising and nurturing the child with full payment is something I would smile upon.

For me, it has meant stress-free time. I can have those nights where I get no sleep and we have the chance to catch up the next day, at home, where we are comfortable and all I need to do is catch the kids up on sleep, rather than leave them to go off to work in that foggy sleep-deprived state. All you parents out there know that fog, it take so long to lift after a new baby has arrived! It has given me the greatest opportunity to form a strong bond with my daughter. I feel I know her more than I knew my son when he was the same age because she hasn’t really had to leave my side yet.

I know nothing about Australian Politics but I know that this is something I’d seriously consider in my voting plan on September 7th. Anything that help parents gets a stamp of approval in my book.

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My precious bookworm

How do you feel about Paid Parental Leave and Maternity Leave? What do you think could be improved? How would these schemes change your life?

LEJ

Little Red’s Guest Book- with Tracey McIlwain (from Nature Direct)

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(Image courtesy of Tracey McIlwain- Nature Direct)
Hey Tracey, can you tell my readers about your small business adventure- how you came to be a part of Nature Direct, what Nature Direct is, what kind of service and products you provide and your target clients?

 
 At Nature Direct we create happier, healthier home and work environments by offering a unique range of non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning solutions and disinfectants created by nature. Our products are effective, powerful, affordable, safe, sustainable and non-hazardous. They are available exclusively via our Show’n’Go presentations and delivered straight to your door. At Nature Direct, we believe that the journey towards a healthier and safer future for ourselves and our world begins with a single step. Nature Direct is your first step in the right direction. Nature Direct is for everyone that has a toilet!
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(Image courtesy of Tracey McIlwain- Nature Direct)

 I stumbled across Nature Direct 12 months ago – like many mums – I was raising a family and concerned about our health – I was looking for an alternative to “bleach”. Nature Direct became my solution and more …..I was tired of working in a stressful job, travelling 1 hour each way, with no opportunity to return to work part time after maternity leave and thought this could be the answer. Being a Nature Direct Distributor has provided me with the opportunity to work flexible hours and stay at home with my daughter; as well as the opportunity to spread the message of health and wellness.

 

Is this your first venture into small business? Do you have any other small business dreams? 

Yes Nature Direct is my first venture into a small business and I would love the opportunity to spread the message with all Australians

Why Nature Direct? 

I’m a passionate business mum wanting to change people’s lives – Nature Direct allows me the opportunity to serve my community and my customers.

Describe how you achieved a business goal you set for yourself and how did you celebrate achieving it?

In my business, personal and business goals go hand in hand. This last month I set myself a target of rebuilding my business and achieved it by stepping outside my comfort zone and reconnecting with previous customers and acquaintances which resulted in booking more Show n Go’s and hence, more sales.  I celebrated with a bit of a dance around the lounge room and a nice family dinner out.

Name your three favourite internet sites 

MindBodyGreen, Care2 and Environmental Working Group

How do you wind down after a hard day at work? 

Been known to indulge in a of glass wine (or two)

Where would your ideal dinner date be in Melbourne and what would you order?

At my local Japanese Restaurant and I would order California rolls and be sipping on French Champagne with my awesome husband!

What are your immediate and future goals for your small business? 

This year my goal is to double my business income and also sponsor customers into the business to share the success and rewards!

Wearing sunglasses indoors- strange or stylish? 

Hungover!

Your best tips for mums out there who are aiming at combining motherhood with running a small business?

Take each day as it comes and just keep putting one foot in front of the other – baby steps each day can amount to huge achievements!

Which of all of your cooking recipes would you want your children to teach their children? 

Yorkshire pudding – passed down from my great grand mother who was English!

What was your last dream about?

A Holiday

Describe your business in three words

Natural, informative, Effective

You’ve slept through your alarm and consequently have missed an important meeting with a propective client- what do you do to retain their interest in your business?

Be apologetic and completely honest – always think this is the best policy and most importantly – be myself!

Which quote do you live your life by? 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Which small business have you come to love in the last few months?

Healthy Angels – foster a positive start

Which is your favourite Nature Direct product and why? 

EnviroMist – What other product on the market can you buy in the market place that is Natural, can sanitises and deodorise in one?  Just love the fact that I can use it as my hand sanitiser, toilet spray, fridge wipe, clean the kiddies toys and chopping boards as well as a mould inhibitor in the shower – and with no need to wipe!

Which part of running a small business is your favourite?

Meeting new people and making great friends, doing something that does not feel like work!

Do you have any current promotions for your clients or prospective clients that my readers must know about? 

At Nature Direct we value our customers and have fantastic host offers: Lifetime Membership, Pack Upgrades, percentage off sales and more.  For the month of August we have an extra special offer on our fantastic mop system (see facebook page for video).

Any parting words for my readers? 

For the SAHMs just keep plugging away and do something to contribute to your business each day (even if that means taking time to look after you).

 
Thanks so much Tracey for your pearls of small business and natural product wisdom! I really appreciate your time and hope you all took something important away from Tracey’s responses.
Here are Tracey’s details, should you want to get in touch with her to discuss the Nature Direct range
Tracey McIlwain   FYI: note it is Mcilwain (the i is a capital)
Nature Direct Distributor
M. 0403 312 905
Stay tuned next week for Little Red’s Guest Book!
LEJ

Organizational Skills- Optional. Stamina- A Must.

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So this morning Master Nearly-5 had his first “I don’t want to go to kinder”, “I can’t put on my velcro shoes today“, “I don’t want that breakfast”, “I’m about to explode” meltdown. Set off by Miss 6 Months giggling at him crying, Master Nearly-5 was hysterical. “Tell her to stop laughing at me, it’s not funny!!!!’ he screamed as he tried to get ready. I must admit after an hour of tears, repeated outfit changes thanks to giving birth to a reflux-laden baby, spilling the milk and literally crying over it, and falling over in the driveway in full view of the neighbours, I had had just about enough!

Pushing my patience, testing how far the boundaries stretch. Using the waterworks as a tool of his sneaky trade. Master Nearly-5 is going through a phase which requires me to be super on-the-ball and strategic about my choice of words and actions.

After sorting through the drama that was the first waking hours this morning, the Master was settled with his kinder friends and playing happily. So where was this boy as I stood crying over milk this morning? Ah, that’s right. I’m Evil Mum apparently, the Mum that yells, that punishes and makes rules instead of strawberry cupcakes. And the Kinder Teachers aren’t like Evil Mum, so best behaviour is part of the show.

It took all my energy, just to get out the door this morning. After what has seemed like weeks of grappling with this child I love so much, I let out a sigh of relief. It took all my patience and skills just to get him out of our house today. I did it!

For those who don’t know, Master Nearly-5 is completely healthy, physically and mentally. No underlying concerns. But WOW, he hasn’t been the easiest child to nurture of late.

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As all the mums (and moms) would know, when you fall pregnant and give birth, a lot of your parenting dreams can fall by the wayside. Not everything turns out as you planned. And there’s little you can do but just accept what you can and use the supports around you.

Your friendships turn into play dates. Relaxation, it turns out, is the point at which the matchsticks you’ve used to prop your eyelids open pop out and you fall into a deep sleep. Sleep now includes time fighting for an inch of doona, fighting for mere minutes of uniterrupted slumber with three in the bed, which becomes four in the bed on weekends. The tiny child, who needs you the most wakes you up for a feed and with that, you realize it’s not long before the sun will be up and all you’ve got will be needed again. And yes, you really do need to do it all again. For many more years yet.

People ask “what’s happened, are you okay?” when my house isn’t a complete mess. People comment “Oh it must be great to have a sleeping baby at home”- Miss 6 Months DOES NOT DO DAY SLEEPS. So no, it’s not so great. My husband wonders why I’m up until all hours doing things that could be done in the daylight. The brain of a mother never swtiches off, is what I constantly need to remind him.

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And it’s at this point that I find myself this morning. For someone that’s usually so organized in all facets of life, seeing the milk on the floor, watching Master Nearly-5 fight to within an inch of his childhood to not have to go to dreaded kinder (who’d want to go somewhere where you can eat when you want, spend time with your friends, have a nap if needed, read a good book or two and get really messy with paint and or bubbles?) and having Miss 6 Months teething and in pain, yet still managing to laughing at us both really woke me up.

You can be the most organized Mum in the universe- one who labels jars of spices, has a clothes sorting system for lights and darks and never EVER washes them together. The Mum with children who are enrolled in 18 different activities on a weekly basis and activities and times never get muddled up. The Mum who has a completely finished to-do list each day and everyone is still happy and smiling. One who never misses an appointment or arrives late thanks to great diary keeping. That Mum who can visit four friends for play dates in one day and still manage to cook a roast dinner before bathing the kids. But if your Missus and Masters want to tantrum and fight, to demand a “day off” from kinder, or to just plain test you, it’ll take all you’ve got to get back on track.

It makes you take a step back and realise just how tricky parenting can be, when you truly believe that work work achieves more than house work, when feeding yourself needs to be accomplished in a matter of two minutes, give or take a few moments of heart burn. When adult versus child negotiation skills are the first on your CV. When just going grocery shopping requires you to turn into an octopus combined with event planner and child-wrangler all in one. And I really need to get a new internal memory card- I missed five things off my shopping list last night and didn’t even take Master Nearly-5 and Miss 6 Months with me. I went shopping alone, for me-time, yet they were all I could think of.

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So before I return to work work this drizzly morning in Melbourne, here’s a friendly reminder from one busy Mum to the next: I typed this entire post whilst wrestling with Miss 6 Months, making phone calls to electricity companies and trying to eat my own breakfast, so just go with the flow. And go easy on yourself. Event though the tantrums are difficult to cope with in the midst of one, it’s all part of learning to be part of a family. If washing doesn’t get done, it’s ok. And definitely don’t cry over spilled milk. You’ll look like a “silly goose”, according to Master Nearly-5.

LEJ