Don’t underestimate the power of small things

This photo is of two postcard-sized paintings I painted and framed recently. They now live over the bookshelf right next to my favourite armchair.

In the past week, I have also completely overhauled my website (with professional-quality photos, which my talented husband shot for me as I had no photos of myself without the kids). I did some research around my coaching business, wrote some content for this blog, mowed the back garden, gathered another bag of stuff to take to the charity shop and a bag of clothing scraps to recycle, and sorted some clothes to/from the loft as my boys change their clothing size. Alongside all of these tasks, I also managed to have time to read for pleasure (George Eliot’s Middlemarch) and for learning (Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind), go for coffee with my husband, take my son to a park for a playdate after school, and go for a run.

This isn’t a list designed to brag (though reading it back I’m afraid that’s how it comes across…sorry about that). It is to demonstrate the amazing power of small things.

I have learned this simple truth time and time again before forgetting and then rediscovering it. But there’s a reason “Little and often” is one of the mantras I repeat to myself: little things, done every day, make a huge difference. Continue reading “Don’t underestimate the power of small things”

Simplify and getting rid of the junk

This morning I watched The Labyrinth with my five-year-old. (Aside: I am so happy he’s really old enough to appreciate and watch it with me!)

And one of the scenes that has always stuck with me, and which struck me even as I watched it today for the thousandth time, is when Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) finds herself in the junkyard.

A hunched woman with piles of junk on her back tries to convince Sarah that her material possessions is what she was looking for. But as Sarah handles her various possessions – a teddy bear, a wind up dancer, a lipstick – Sarah remembers she is looking for her baby brother, who she needs to save from the Goblin King (David Bowie).

I am deeply repulsed by this image, of the darkening sky over a land of junk as far as the eye can see, as solitary figures dig to add more junk to their hunched and overloaded backs.

And whilst the metaphor is heavy handed and made for all ages to get, it remains powerfully apt for me.

We are drowning in junk

From the plastic piling up in our landfills and oceans to the rise in self storage because we have more stuff than we can fit in our homes, there is too much stuff.

And our homes have also become bigger than they once were. The 1905 workers cottage where I live was originally even smaller than it is now, having been extended during its lifetime to build a third room upstairs and a tiny kitchen and bathroom downstairs. I can’t imagine how a family of four might have lived here when it was just two rooms downstairs and two upstairs.

And the junk isn’t what we’re looking for. Continue reading “Simplify and getting rid of the junk”

Do as I say, not as I do

There have been several times when I’ve caught myself telling my five year old something and feeling like a hypocrite. Like when I tell him to calm down and yet I know how much I struggle to contain my emotions at times (a work-in-progress I write about here frequently).

It got me thinking about all of the lessons I (try to) teach my son regularly that I could do with following myself. A bit like the popular Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. And the more I thought about it, the more things sprang to mind. Here are a few of my favourites. Continue reading “Do as I say, not as I do”

Making the most of the summer

As we celebrate the last day of school, I’ve been preparing for the summer holidays. This is kind of a one-time thing for us: I’m effectively a stay at home mum this summer, and it’s my first summer holidays with a school-age child. I see an expanse of six gorgeous weeks with my boys. Even the weather has been unusually dry, sunny, and hot. What could be better? And I’m reminded of something I read recently: we only have 18 summers with our kids. Not much at all, is it?

Then I think practically about it. I’m approaching the last thirteen, unpaid weeks of maternity leave as summer holidays start, so money is tighter than tight. And I’ve been enjoying my time with my baby while my older son is at school, which is my quality time with baby but also when he is nursing or sleeping in my arms, it’s my only me-time all day. During the week-long holidays so far this year I’ve not really had time to read or write or meditate. How will that go for six weeks?

And then there’s also the very real situation when my son stands in the lounge and asks me what is something fun we can do together today and all I hear is crickets chirping in my head?

So holding both the amazing opportunity and the challenge of full-time and largely-solo-parenting, I’m sharing my brainstorm of ideas to make summer work for my kids and, importantly, for me, too. Here we go. Continue reading “Making the most of the summer”

Dinner on the table – tips for busy parents

I think we’ve all been there: you’re walking in the door with your kids coming back from the nursery or childminder’s and a full day of work. You’ve got your bags and your kids school stuff (often with an oddly-shaped-but-extremely-fragile-and-difficult-to-carry craft project your kid made at school – what’s up with that?). You walk in, throw the stuff down, set the baby down, help the kid get his shoes off. All you really want to do is sit down and have a cup of tea and five minutes to yourself but you also know you needed to start dinner about five minutes ago and the baby has started chewing the legs of the furniture for good measure (no? just me?).

Continue reading “Dinner on the table – tips for busy parents”