Hi, I'm Laura and welcome to my blog! I'm a book publicist that works from home and this is about sharing what works for me while working the 'school hours.' I'll be writing about how I manage the juggle between work and parenting as well as highlighting other parents and their careers.
I woke up this morning not feeling my brightest (although who does at 6.30am?) and as I write this (it is currently 12.55pm), the feeling hasn’t really gone away. It is unusual for me to feel a bit ‘meh’ for so long but it is a feeling that I have come to recognise as it is so specific. It occurs around 3 times a year and the worst is always a few days after my daughter goes back to school at the end of August.
As I work from home, I notice the quiet that falls once she returns to school – after 6 weeks of noise filling the house, it at first is elating – peace and quiet! Being able to go to the loo without telling her, making drinks when I want etc… but after a few days, the elation disappears and I have to mourn the loss of the old routine, before I can move on to a new one.
So instead of ‘working’ through it – I’ve learn over the last few years that it doesn’t work for me, I embrace it and have a quiet day. Here’s what I do:
I eat anything and everything I want – just for that day, if I want chocolate for breakfast, then I’m having it. (I did today!)
A long, hot bath is always required, sometimes with a face mask too. (I’m in love with Garnier sheet face masks at the moment)
None of my cleaning routines get achieved. (Sorry Team TOMM)
I refuse to feel guilty for anything – for missing her, missing work or not being what I feel I should be doing. I truly wallow.
At 3pm, I shake it off, dust the biscuit crumbs off my clothes and go get her. I smile and move on.
This might seem a little strange but it truly works for me. Yes I will still miss her tomorrow but because I’ve had my moment of complete wallowing, I know I can now get myself back in gear and start with my new September routine.
ps I *may* have also eaten an entire packet of Jaffa cakes whilst writing the post…
Nothing too dramatic about that statement! Hand on heart I can say that a daily ‘shot’ of wheatgrass has made a massive difference to my energy levels and my health.
It all started in January when I saw Caro Greenwood (@SpikeyMama) talking about the wheatgrass shots that she was given at Christmas. I honestly thought that you could only have wheatgrass anything from health shops and well, anywhere slightly metropolitan. I’d seen smoothies in Pret, Eat and others and always though they looked a bit ‘off’ and really expensive. So I did a little bit of internet research and discovered that you could purchase packs of frozen wheatgrass shots in bulk.
Just a little bit after this revelation, my neighbour invited me to a health talk that she was hosting. This was a talk by a Wheatgrass specialist who was not only able to talk about the benefits of taking a daily dose, but also had women there who could vouch for it too. Most importantly, I got to try it. I was DELIGHTED when I was told that I could mix the shot with a juice – to make it more palatable. It works – I have a frozen shot every morning with a bit of juice, bunged into my blender. It doesn’t taste terrible at all. In fact, I’ve managed to get my husband onto it as well. It costs around £1.70 a shot, which as I no longer live in a city and drink coffees everyday is an expense I can manage. I order a bag that gives me 30 shots at a time and just leave them in the freezer until I’m ready!
How do I know the power of wheatgrass? I took a month off having my ‘shot’ whilst I was on holiday and also I did get out of the routine (oops) and I noticed that my energy levels were not as high, I got tired quicker in the evening and I seemed to get every cold going in the vicinity. I’ve been taking a regular dose now for about a month and can already feel the benefits. My skin is looking brighter, I’m still tired but not as much and I’m not craving sugary foods. Win for me!
I use an organic wheatgrass shot because it was about the same price and I thought it would be better for me.
I use Britt’s Superfoods to get mine and I couldn’t recommend the service enough. This isn’t sponsored at all – I’m just a fan.
To learn more about wheatgrass, I suggest reading this article.
It has been a busy month – World Book Day, International Women’s Day London Book Fair and my daughter’s birthday. For a freelance book publicist, this is a lot of work in a very short space of time and include party planning for my daughter’s birthday, a lot of mental energy required. With my husband also working in publishing, it means that both our schedules are stretched.
Last week I found myself getting more and more angry with my husband. He was just getting himself ready for the Book Fair – sorting out his clothes, paperwork etc… he leaves on the Saturday and returns on the Thursday evening. Whereas I was commuting between London and our home in Leicestershire, staying overnight just twice. This was in a bid to give our daughter a little stability, but also because I didn’t want to be away from her for too long.
That isn’t something to get cross about until I realised that I was also organising childcare, dog care, cleaning the house, organising all my daughters extra curricular activities and getting all the laundry done so that she had everything she needed a week in advance. Plus getting myself prepared for the most important week for my business.
Technically it wasn’t his fault, it is just the way our household has been run. I ‘semi-retired’ when we moved to the countryside to settle Amy into the area and I wasn’t earning much. It made sense for me to take on the running of the house while he was at work. Now though… my business is growing year on year and I’m still doing the grunt work in our home. We hadn’t really discussed this and how he could start to help – I assumed he would realise and he assumed that I was handling it. He hadn’t appreciated my workload and the mental energy required.
I wouldn’t say there was a row but I simmered about it before telling him that I’d had enough. I told him that I couldn’t believe that he was just going to leave on the Saturday and assume that it was okay. He was shocked at my outburst but immediately offered to help. But guess what I did? Yup, I refused and told him I could do it. Argh!!!! No wonder he was confused.
Am I the only one that feels by admitting that I need help that it makes me a failure as a wife and a mother? Because that is how I felt – I needed help because I was drowning under the To Do list and needed a lifeboat.
If I’m not explaining this feeling very well then I fully recommend that you have a look at this article by Gemma Hartley about ‘Emotional Labour‘. It sums up everything I feel/felt. I even forwarded the article to my husband to help clarify my thoughts. (yes, he did read it…eventually)
So after a week away, we have come up with a new way of working our household which involves:
A shared calendar – I now put all of Amy’s activities, school trips and my work meetings in one online calendar that we can both see.
List sharing – one for food, another for birthdays etc… with initials by who is doing what.
At the weekend we plan our meals for the week – this is really useful because it reminds us who will be home or if there is a late meeting etc…
Job delegation – what we expect the other to do during the week. I’ll do the laundry but he will help with the ironing, takes the bins out and cook dinner on a Thursday. (Weekends – we both cook)
Sharing the cleaning schedule – I follow the Organised Mum Method (do give it a go – it has changed my life) and he is now aware of what needs to happen each day.
I will tell him about incoming work deadlines so he is aware that I may be looking for extra support at home
None of these are really that major but I do think that I need to be able to ask for help and learn to accept it. We are learning that our roles in the home are ever-changing and that we need to take a moment every so often to make sure the other is okay. I also need to get over the fact that a lot of time, I will be the one that says what needs doing because I’m at home. My husband isn’t a mindreader and I need to remember that!
I thought that as it is World Book Day I would pop down a few thoughts about why I love to read and also share my latest reviews on a couple of books that I’ve read. I should also point out that I work as a freelance book publicist – I work with books on a daily basis! I’ve worked with fiction and non-fiction authors and I’m in awe of anyone that can write a book. I struggle with writing a blog post, let alone an 80,000 word manuscript!
My favourite reads have changed as I have got older and I’m noticing that I’m really enjoying autobiographies at the moment (Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Craig Brown’s Ma’am Darling are two of my recent favourites) because I think I’m a) really nosy and love hearing about other people and their lives b) looking for inspiration within my own life – who can I learn from and where will that take me. One of my reasons for loving to read is that you never know where you’ll end up. I like to read for inspiration and motivation.
However I will always love Jane Austen (Persuasion is my favourite) as I can remember reading her books as a teenager and wondering when my Captain Wentworth or Mr Darcy will arrive. I’d literally go walking round the fields near our home hoping to bump into a wonderful man! (it never happened…) Her books are definitely the ones that I reach for when I’m seeking comfort.
Which nicely segues into my first review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes (Penguin Books)! This is the last of the Lou Clark trilogy (the first was Me After You followed by After You) and I have to admit that I was so disappointed with After You that I wasn’t interested in reading this book. However I kept hearing people around me discussing it and when I saw a copy in my local library I decided to give it a go. I’m so pleased that I did.
The book starts with its heroine Lou Clark embarking on a new career in New York as a personal assistant to the new wife of a very wealthy man. Here Moyes really excels with a glimpse into the super rich life and I’m a sucker for anything based in New York. As a reader you get to attend these affluent and over the top galas/events alongside the characters and learn about working as a companion where you have to wear a uniform! I loved these bits, especially the complicated wife, Agnes. As always nothing is what it seems and Lou is struggling: finding her feet, juggling a long distance relationship and the continual grieving she feels for Will Traynor – her first real love. (see Me After You) I really enjoyed the book, in fact I’d recommend that you skip After You and go from the first book to the third. You could also happily read this without reading the other two. As you would expect with a classy writer like Moyes, there are moments of hilarity, heartbreak and escape. I loved it.
The next book I wanted to mention was Vox by Christina Dalcher (HQ Publishing). This isn’t a novel that I would normally read but my husband gave it to me as he had heard good things. He was right. It is really good and very addictive. It is written in present day America except that women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. That applies to girls too. (Yup, even 5 year olds) They wear a bracelet/counter that gives them an electric shock every time they go over the limit. The shocks get more painful with every utterance. Women are no longer allowed a passport, a job and must learn to obey their husbands. Homosexuality and infidelity is a sin, as is sex outside of marriage. Punishments involve televised public shaming and labour camps/prison. The idea being that society was happier when women ‘knew their place’. It is completely fascinating because there are times when I thought that it could happen today. Scary!
As a concept, the book is brilliant and very well written. You are on the edge of your seat the entire time however I was really disappointed in the ending – it felt rushed as if the author had run out of steam or had reached their word limit.
Lastly, for me World Book Day is about celebrating books and encouraging people to read more. It doesn’t have to be about the costumes or who reads the most but instead about starting the conversation. I love asking people what they are currently reading – the answer is always surprising! So…what are YOU reading at the moment?
The #10yearchallenge has been doing the rounds on social media and instead of me thinking about how much I have changed (weirdly in the photos, I don’t look that much different except the extra lines around my eyes, I now have better eyebrows and can use a filter!), it has made me think about what I have achieved in those 10 years and what I would like to achieve in the next ten.
In 2009 I was 28, organising my wedding to Jonathan (we married in the August), tentatively dipping my toe into freelance life working 2 days a week for myself and I’d just bought my first house in the countryside. It was a time of implementing the plans that I had dreamt about through university and my first few years working. My ambition in my career lessened as I wanted to find a way to pay my mortgage but having a baby was on my horizon.
In 2019, I am still married to Jonathan (phew!) and we are looking forward to celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary this year, we have a 7 year old daughter and live in our dream house in the English countryside. I work from home, still freelancing with a business that is growing. The #10yearchallenge has made me realise that yes there have been many bumps along the way but what I have worked really hard for, is the life I am currently living and want to continue living.
However, I’m always wanting to move forward and I’m now wondering about the next 10 years. I would like to keep my constants – Jonathan, Amy, health etc…and I’ve been working on a vision board for 2019 but actually I want to look ahead and set goals for the next decade. Not many and they won’t be specific – more words then anything else.
To help me with this, I created a Word Cloud using www.wordclouds.com as it was easy to just write in words as they popped into my head. It is free and very simple to use. I imagine, those of you who are more creative than me will be able to create a beautiful image!
For me, the word that kept coming back was Adventure. I want to have adventures with my family, my husband and if its not too creepy, myself. That doesn’t mean expensive long haul holidays, but I think more getting out of the comfort of the life that I have created in the past ten years and experiencing more.
Here is my 10 year Word Cloud.
Anyway, that’s my take on the #10yearchallenge. What’s yours?