Lessons from Life

A stormy rainy day in Saturday and Mr PB and I ventured into London. We were headed for the Barbican Centre for day 1 of the Sunday Times Life Lessons. 

A range of inspirational speakers covering a broad amount of topics on how to make the most of your life – both at work and at home.

With a spectacular lunch at a local Italian in the middle of the day, the morning and afternoon seminars were extraordinary, mind-boggling and very insightful.

Here are my main takeaways:

– A working mum shouldn’t work like she doesn’t have children or have children like she doesn’t work!

– Be ruthless & respectful with your time

– Respect others desires for attention

– The opposite of stress is kindness

– Use controlled breathing to calm

– The smallest change you can make to your life that will have the biggest yield is going from sitting to walking

– Own your failures with as much conviction as your successes

We listened to Alex Pang, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Dr David Hamilton, Dr Rahul Jandial and The Amazing If.

Life Lessons from a Brain Surgeon

Shorter

Feel Better in 5

Little Book of Kindness

Squiggly Careers

I would certainly encourage you all to add their books to your Amazon wishlist!

x PB x

Friendship goals

I have spent an evening with a bunch of friends. Friends that are like family. Who let you into the fold no matter of the time that you’ve spent apart.

At the end of another eventful week of work and home, I could have quite easily put my pyjamas on and settled in for the night. 

But something makes you power through when you know the antidote is laughter, smiles and being yourself.

So, it made me wonder why some friendships last a lifetime through all the ebbs and flows and others disappear without any true understanding of why.

I have certainly lost friends at a time when I thought they needed me (and I needed them) but it was a friendship built on one sided compromise – a square peg round hole type

And yet, I’ve gained friends when I didn’t feel like I deserved them. Not being present, not making an effort and taking days to reply to one simple “hey how are you?”

But it’s those friends that seem to have stuck – through the thick and thin with me just being me, them being them and not giving too much but not taking too much either 

Relax into a friendship if you want it to last. When choosing where to spend your time, say no politely or yes with enthusiasm. Don’t apologise but don’t seek an apology either. We live our lives the best we can and the best of friends will make room for that no matter what.

To my bungalow bunnies and my BATS & NCT family 

x PB x

I was coasting through life

Before Christmas, I suffered with about 5 colds in 3 months and had reached rock bottom – I was trying to learn a new role in a big organisation whilst juggling the responsbilities of parenting. I think I must have slept through September and October because they are a blur in my memory. I was coasting.

I knew that I needed to change some things and some of these things needed to be drastic in order for it to feel like I’m actually a human being who can cope!

  • I started taking vitamins – the WellWoman multivitamins, one table a day, to try and boost my immune system and improve my energy levels.
  • I upted my water game, drinking at least 1 litre a day
  • I dramatically changed my eating habits – a cold turkey routine of no snacks (other than fruit or veg) and reduced my caffeine intake.

However, I knew that eating and drinking properly wouldn’t solve the juggling and trying to be in 2 places at the same time.

Something had to give.

An honest conversation with my employer reassured me that there were no expectations around working hours and truly I was putting the pressure on myself, so I started to say no more.

  • If I had a day working from home in the diary, I stuck to it and joined meetings remotely.
  • I ensured I left promptly even if it meant leaving a meeting early to make sure I wasn’t rushing in rush hour to get back to Little PB.

No-one blinked at any of this – it was all considered to be the means to an end when you are a working parent.

But most importantly, I asked for help. I realised that I am not invincible and there are family and friends who want to help, particularly if you are struggling.

In addition to all of this, I realised that what I was missing was time for myself and given I didn’t want to sacrifice time with Little PB either side of work, I needed to create that time either before Little PB wakes up or after he has gone to bed.

I did both.

Mr PB gets up around 5.30am to get ready for work. So I got up at the same time too.

  • Whilst he makes coffee and eats breakfast, I wash my face. I find washing my face as soon as I wake up, helps me stay awake. It also gives me a surge of energy and gives me proper time to enjoy the process too.
  • I make myself a tea and whilst its brewing, I’ll do some stretches, perhaps do some hinching and feed the cats (I like my tea strong so I leave it to brew for a good few minutes)
  • Whilst Mr PB is in the shower, I climb back into bed and read – I will read from Simple Abundance, a page a day book, and a chapter of my Mindfulness in a Frantic World book.
  • Once Mr PB leaves for work around 6am, I jump in the shower and have at least 40 minutes to make the bed and get myself ready for work before Little PB wakes up.
  • I don’t look at my phone until 7am at the earliest and deleting the Instagram app during the week has certainly minimised the draw for mindless scrolling

But in order to have an effective morning routine, my evening routine is where it starts.

  • I will head to bed around 9.30pm.
  • In addition to the usual skincare routine, I will get my clothes ready for the next day and pack my bag.
  • I will also write my to-do list for the following day , reviewing my meetings and the top 3 things I want to achieve. This helps me sleep better, knowing what I have ahead of me – I appreciate that some people prefer not to know!
  • I’ve also created a evening routine station on my dressing table – eye cream, moisturiser for my feet, hands and face, cuticle oil, sleep oil, lip balm & sleep spray.

Climbing into bed around 9.45pm, I read a chapter of my book and drift off. Unless Lilttle PB stirs in the night, I will comfortably sleep through until 5.30am.

By giving myself this time both in the morning and evening has transformed my energy levels and focus during the day as well as my overall mood.

I hope this helps to inspire some of you who perhaps feel somethings needs to change

We are all here for each other

x PB x

 

 

New Year, New Me, blah blah

In the eve of a new decade, social media is plastered with far-reaching goals and habits that probably won’t stick beyond January 2nd along with the usual reflections of how good or bad a year 2019 has been.

And I am not alone with any of the above. I looked back on my year in photos and there have been plenty of wonderful moments mixed in with some moments I’d like to forget and not repeat. 

One photo in particular was of a mug of lemon water taken on 6th January waxing lyrical about how I had a new habit and was starting the year off right. That habit lasted a week I think.

For 2020, I’m not setting goals or intentions. I’m not launching into a new routine or thinking of habits to try to stick to. My life is busy enough.

So, I’ll be doing what I’ve done every morning and every evening but a bit more consciously and with a bit more enjoyment about it. I’ll try to rush less and embrace my love of being organised along with some EARLY NIGHTS!

There. Done. May 2020 be filled with laughter, enjoyment, smiles and happiness and if there be tears, let them be short in duration followed by a comforting hug.

x PB x

What would you do with 12 hours?

Well, apparently, I spent it doing nothing important.

I discovered the screentime function on my iPhone the other day….and I learnt that I spent nearly 12 hours in a week on social media. 12 HOURS!!!!

I then found myself trying to justify it – well, its how I keep in touch with my friends (cough “rubbish” cough), but it’s good research for me to see what others are talking about in the planning world (cough “rubbish” cough). Ok, but if I didn’t look at social media, how would I know what’s going on in the world (cough “rubbish” cough).

I succumbed to accepting that the reason I was on social media that much in a week is because I was filling my empty time (and maybe even my family time…..ok, actually my family time) with mindless scrolling and comparison.

How did something which didn’t exist 10 years ago now take over my week quite so catastrophically? I heard someone say that we don’t open our door every 5 minutes to check if anyone is there so why check our phone?

And to be honest, it scared me. What had I missed in those 12 hours? What had I not paid attention to? What could I have been doing in those 12 accumulative hours that was valuable and important. Well, I could have been writing this blog post for a start!

So, I thought about what I should do – and I didn’t start mindless scrolling to avoid making some decisions.

Don’t think that by realising my failing, I STOPPED and deleted my Instagram account in a vain attempt to think it will help or threw my phone in the bin. Because it won’t help – I’ll find another way to look, be it logging onto the computer at home or peering over someones shoulder on the train, or even just uploading the app back onto my phone.

That’s what people with addiction do. They look for the loophole. And yes, I said addiction because actually, the thought of being without my phone and being connected to the world wide web, freaks me out and if I haven’t looked at my phone for a good hour, I feel lost – like I haven’t ticked something off the to-do list.

So, let’s get real – my phone IS a way of connecting with my friends and family – sharing family photos via WhatsApp, creating something and sharing with all of you on Instagram – as well as checking the weather, my bank balance or my train time. The honest truth is without our phones, things would be pointlessly difficult and painfully slow so I’m happy to embrace that part of technology.

But I do want to reduce my mindless comparison time – because that is what it is – comparing yourself with the world as much as you may think its about admiring other peoples talent and it makes you feel pants. Research has suggested that Instagram is the worst for young peoples mental health with negative results such as anxiety, depression, dysmorphia and FOMO (fear of missing out).

As a mother, the above worries me more for Little PB than me – so I need to change my habit drastically to ensure he understands the positives you can gain from technology in your pocket.

These are the steps I’ve taken and you are welcome to do the same:

  • Deleted my Facebook app – I really don’t need to know (or even slightly care) what a school friend who I haven’t seen or spoken to for 15 years ate for dinner last night
  • Filtered my Instagram – if I felt a sense of comparison or frustration with a series of posts from someone, I have unfollowed them – its no different from what happens to me by others and its widely accepted as OK.
  • Set limits on a my ScreenTime function – 20 mins of social media a day and once you are over that, it reminds you (and effectively tells you off for trying to access more!)
  • Set a downtime on my apps between 9pm and 6.30am so all my non-important apps become inaccessible during that time to avoid scrolling before bed and first thing in the morning
  • Rearrange my home screen so I’m only focused on opening apps that are useful and beneficial to me – Audible, podcasts, BBC News and the weather app
  • Just turn my phone off (I used to make the excuse that I had to keep my phone on if Nursery called – I just changed the number to my work phone because they will only call me during working hours anyway!)

I’ll be sure to update you on my progress but please also share your views & comments

x PB x

 

Guest Designer for The Reset Girl

I am a relative newbie in the planner world compared to some and therefore when The Reset Girl team asked me to be a Guest Designer, you can imagine that my world was suddenly filled with the celebration emoji!

The Reset Girl was one of the first YouTube channels I watched when I became aware of this whole world of planning and crafting – a world I now know was missing in my life. Those waving hands at the start of a video sharing a style of crafting that I truly related to, I even now watch back on some of those classic episodes for inspiration.

I was determined to make the most of my Guest Designer slot. I was immensely excited when I saw the Hopeful Collection as it was just my colour palette and I knew I could do it justice (or I hoped I would be able to!)

There are so many beautiful pieces of work being created by the Design Team, I knew I couldn’t compete so, I focused on using the collection in my planner – how you can use the collection to decorate your planner and use in a layout, specifically in my Erin Condren

So, my projects included:

Listers Gotta List:

Using a vintage children book is such an easy way to collate LGL layouts. The Reset Girl collections compliment this style so easily and so with a pair of scissors and a glue stick, you can create some beautiful lists

Planner checklists: 

The collection comes with a selection of printable lists and so I chose a couple for my planner and laminated them back to back. Attaching an EC coil clip, this is such a simple way to add practicality and personality to your planner. A dry wipe pen will make full use of these lists whilst you are on-the-go

Shaker Dashboard 

Using 2 of the printable papers (that floral is just divine), I used my We R Memory Keepers Fuse Tool to create a shaker dashboard. Adding some ephemera and sequins, this is a beautiful addition to my planner and the perfect page marker

Vision Board 

Although its March (nearly April!), I was keen to remind myself of the commitments I had made at the beginning of the year. Armed with a selection of magazines, I cut out pictures and words that inspired me. Along with cuttings from the Hopeful Collection and some more of those fabulous printable papers, I created a layout in my Erin Condren that is such a wonderful sight to behold! A great way of motivating me to stick to my intentions!

Planner Layouts 

I was keen to show how the collection can be used practically in your planner as I know a lot of Reset Girl fans are also planner addicts too! Lots of enjoyable fussy cutting, I love the spreads I created – again with just scissors and glue!

The colour palette was perfect for all my projects and I can look back through the pieces with pride and joy. I hope you enjoyed the pieces I created and it gave you some inspiration for future projects

x PB x

 

Barcelona with a toddler

Spontaneity isn’t something I usually go in for but with the desire for some much needed sun, time away and a British Airways companion voucher about to expire, Barcelona felt like the perfect trip for a long weekend…..with a toddler!

I’ll be honest. I was a little apprehensive. Long haul trips to the US with plenty of days out to keep little one entertained felt like a breeze compared to a short(ish) flight, transfer via public transport to a hotel and stuck in a city not being able to enjoy the nightlife as you may usually do pre-children.

How wrong I was. In fact, I would go as far to say that Barcelona is by far my favourite city to take a young family to, because it has so much more to offer than just being a city.

We started the trip off with an overnight stay at the Sofitel Heathrow Airport to ease the early flight of 7.45am the following day. It’s such a great base for a one night stay and makes travelling with young ones very convienient. The added bonus was a new feature of BA bag drop and check in. A fully functioning check in desk with weigh scales and printed barcode stickers meaning that we could drop bags off and then head straight to Terminal 3.

We travelled by Heathrow Express and it was super quick! We were through security and in the lounge with an hour to spare before boarding. An enjoyable breakfast of pastries and coffee with a view of the planes kept Little PB entertained.

The flight is a little over 2 hours. With films downloaded on the iPad and a helpful love of his headphones, Little PB was quite content for the whole flight. 

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our driver from Sun Transfers. I definitely recommend a private transfer as it avoids the hassle of buggy, bags and baby to contend with. The transfer took less than 30 minutes.

We arrived at Midtown Apartments, locates between Eixample and the Gothic Quarter. We were very impressed with the amount of room and facilities. A great space for a few days and very central.

With plenty of the day still to enjoy, we headed off to the aquarium. We walked from our apartment which took around 30 minutes but you can get the metro or a bus – the whole city is well connected by public transport. The aquarium is a good morning or afternoon spot – it certainly wouldn’t take you more than a few hours to work your way around.

For our first evening meal, we tried some fantastic tapas just round the corner, El Camino. Tapas is great for little ones – such variety and as much grazing as you like. We now know we have a 2 year old who loves a charactuerie board, melted cheese and squid.

Day 2 involved a bus ride up to the top of the mountain to Tibidabo, the theme park. You could  enjoy the scenic route via the Blue Tram and funicular railway but we opted for the direct bus service from Place de Catalunya at only €3 euros each.

The theme park is a great day out with young families. Lots of great rides for all ages and even better are the views back down to the bay.

The evening tapas was at El Nacional. A fantastic array of small restaurants all under one roof and they do the best dulche de leche ice cream.

Day 3 centred around some traditional sight seeing. We bought tickets for La Sagrada Familia and found there is a significant benefit in having a buggy with you as we jumped most of the queues.   A short metro ride took us down to the beach where we enjoyed the only chicken burger I’ve eaten in it’s entirety.  I would highly recommend a lunchtime feast at Bacoa Burger as not only is the food exceptional but the view of the sea isn’t bad either.

From the beach it’s a short walk to the base of the cable car. The queue was long but was well timed with Little PB’s nap and the weather was glorious! It was worth the wait though as the view from the cable car is breathtaking. The cable car takes you up to the Olympic Park. You can usually get a funicular back down but, you guessed it, it was closed so bus it was! This time less crowded and better air conditioning.

Despite being full from lunch, we still found time for some tapas – fois gras flatbread and grilled squid with squid ink risotto soon became firm favourites.

We booked a transfer back to the airport for the final day. A prompt pick up at 11am, it only took 20 minutes back to the airport so plenty of time to enjoy some brunch in the lounge. The lounge facilities were excellent – a wide choice of food and plenty of space. All went to plan with the flight home and we were soon back in grey British weather.

Barcelona will certainly be a city we return to. It was easy. Relaxed with lots of variety and still plenty to do on our next trip. Mr PB, when can we go again please?

x PB x

 

Spring has sprung! 

With the sun shining and temperatures set to reach a beautiful 18c this weekend, you could be fooled into thinking that we’ve skipped Spring and gone straight to early Summer!

But do not fear, for those temps are short lived. And so, there is still time for a refresh around the home (and you!) to welcome in the longer days. 

1. Get those windows open! On beautiful sunny days when the air is fresh, turn the heating off and open the windows. Unsurprisingly, during Winter, we rarely sit having dinner with the doors open but when the opportunity arises, recirculating the air brings freshness into the home! It’s almost like your home is taking a deep breath after hibernating.

2. Get your bed linen on the washing line. There will never be a smell more sweet than clean linen that’s been spinning on a washing line in the sunshine

3. Time for a declutter. Get everything out of your wardrobe and drawers and start a mindful sift of the items you no longer love. It will give you a spring in your step wearing older pieces you had forgotten about or perhaps fixing that button on your favourite dress or shirt making it wearable. You don’t need to spend money on a new wardrobe – you just need to shop within your current one!

4. Book a haircut. Or a treatment or something that makes you feel that you are dusting off Winter and striding into Spring

5. Treat yourself to a home DIY pedicure. I rarely paint my toes in Winter but adding a splash of colour can make you feel positive to those heady days of Summer to come (even if you only see your toes when you’re in the shower!)

6. Buy some daffodils and tulips. Such a simple but beautiful way to add some sunshine into your home

7. Do some gardening. If you have a garden, give it some care and attention with a bit of de-weeding, some careful cutting back and a tidy. If you don’t have a garden, perhaps buy a houseplant or a window box. The evenings are still set to be cold so don’t plant anything that might not survive a frost but just the preparation towards planting can be therapeutic 

8. Go for a walk. It’s easy to stay indoors when we’ve been used to it for the last few months, but push yourself to take a walk round the block and enjoy the sounds of nature around you

9. Get up early to hear the dawn chorus. I really encourage you to get up before sunrise one morning and listen to the dawn chorus. It’s been a beautiful way to start each day listening to the birdsong in the garden – awakening into a new day

10. Reset your intentions. You may be doing great with your New Year intentions or you may be in need of a refresh so spend some time reflecting and adjusting for the coming months

Hope that is all helpful! Enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend

x PB x

My top 5 stress relievers 

In a world where we are always on the go and social media can take over, how we notice we are stressed and what we do about it can soon be forgotten.

So, I have 5 key steps to help calm and relax whenever I feel overwhelmed or just not myself

1. Write things down – I finally found a purpose for all those notebooks I bought over the years. I pretty much have one in every room I use in the house and one in my bag. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed or worrying that I’m missing something, I write it down. I have a master to do list in my home planner and work notebook that ensures I capture everything

2. Getting up early – I certainly feel more stressed if I don’t start the day off right. Dragging myself into the day does nothing for my overwhelm. So, I 5-4-3-2-1 myself out of bed an hour or so before Little PB and that ensures I can get the house tidy and clean, make a cup of tea, shower and be ready for the day

3. Listen to a mediation app – I listen to Insights. I love it and use it on the go and at home. It’s fabulous for guided mediation (cos I ain’t no good at the DIY version!) and some only last 15 minutes making a perfect quick pick me up 

4. Pamper night – I’ll grab a face mask, my favourite skin care and the self tan! A tan in winter can do so much for my wellbeing – it helps to remind you of those heady days of summer (whilst smelling of digestive biscuits for 24 hours)

5. Reading – whether it’s an audiobook or an actual paperback, reading puts me in a different world and helps to suppress some of the overwhelm and calm the racing heart beat down

What do you do to alleviate stress levels?

x PB x