Ms I Can Do It All (my thoughts on Emotional Labour)

Or…why I am my own worst enemy.

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.

My busy London week meant I spent a lot of time at the train station
My busy London week meant I spent a lot of time at the train station

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.

Commuting to and from London during the week meant long hours...
Commuting to and from London during the week meant long hours…

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.

Fed Up by Gemma Hartley is worth a look at after reading the article I mention
Fed Up by Gemma Hartley is worth a look at after reading the article I mention

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:

  1. 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.
  2. List sharing – one for food, another for birthdays etc… with initials by who is doing what.
  3. 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…
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Other reads:

Working from your local library

Image of Bingham Library

Today I visited my local library – I live near a small market town in Nottinghamshire which has a few cafes that I occasionally work from on my “Treat Wednesday” (I know it’s Thursday) but I’m trying to not spend as much in January and felt that the library could take me out of the house, show me some inspiring reads and allow me to choose some new books for Amy.

It was really great! Surprisingly busy, free Wifi and a selection of tables to work from. I’m such a book geek that I found sitting amongst the shelves very inspiring. I also loved sneaking a peek at what people were picking up, putting back and borrowing. There was a hot drinks machine as well if I fancied a drink. Bravo!

I’m guessing that it could be a little noisy for some as there was a children’s reading group there whilst I was working but I tend to be able to switch off. I noticed a few people putting on headphones at one point!

I left with 6 books – 4 for Amy and 2 for me. I also read a good portion of a parenting book that I’m thinking about purchasing. All in all a great place to spend a few hours and I got my work finished. Yay!

So if you are looking for a new venue to sit yourself for a few hours, then I would suggest having a look at your local library.

Love Libraries image campaign by The Library Campaign

Happy New Year!

I posted this on my Instagram account on New Years Day
I posted this on my Instagram account on New Years Day

Hello! Apologies for the non-posting but I decided to have a break from the blog and actually most social media over the school holidays. It has been a brilliant way to discover more about what I want to blog about this year but also my plans for the future.

When I started the blog, I was passionate about searching for solutions and inspirations for parents who want to work and be a hands on parent. I actually posted about this on my private Facebook page and was surprised at some of the negativity that I received. I think that I was a little naive! However, what it has taught me is the cliche that I really should follow my own path, not be concerned about what other people may think and to enjoy it. These past few weeks away from the laptop has shown me that I not only really love my job but I am also enjoying blogging and using Instagram.

Instagram post!

I have chosen not to get caught up with the numbers as well, or trying to be somebody or something that I’m not. What I am going to continue is to offer advice and solutions that have worked for me on this precarious juggling act of work and parenthood. I’ll also share my failures as well. No one gets it right everytime.

I’m really excited about the opportunities that have already started to open up with this blog and I have fantastic parents to feature that share the feat of a work/life balance. Here’s to a great 2019!

How I Work: Jo O’Sullivan from Ta doodle dah

 

I love these blog posts! Finding out about the different ways we all cope with our 9 to 3 fascinates me. Like the lady I’m about to feature, I have a job that I love but needed a creative outlet to complete my happiness – hence this blog. Jo is an amazing, talented self-taught designer who runs her own company as well as being a teacher. I certainly feel exceedingly humble when looking at her achievements.

I came across Jo through my favourite social media platform, Instagram. Her designs are like a breath of fresh air that ping out from my phone.

Name of Business: Ta doodle dah (I create eye-catching eye-catching paper goods for children.)

Photo of Jo Sullivan of Tadoodledah
Jo O’Sullivan is a teacher and runs her own design paper product business.

What do you do?

I’m a part-time teacher in an Independent School and work on Ta doodle dah around my job and three children.

Where do you work?

I usually work with the laptop on my lap sitting on the sofa (great for my posture!) or at the kitchen table. I keep all my stock in boxes in a room in the dining room and pack orders on the table in there; not very glamorous at all!

How did you get to this point in your career?

I’ve been teaching for over 10 years and have only just launched Ta doodle dah this year. I’ve always been quite creative, but never really discovered my creative outlet until I started graphic designing at home for fun; I downloaded Adobe Creative as a trial and was instantly hooked! I’m completely self-taught, I love the freedom it gives me and I’m excited to see where this little business takes me.

The best part of my job is…

…Creating designs that people like and receiving lovely messages from them.

Just a hint of some of the designs from Ta doodle dah

The worst part is…

…Trying to find the time to do everything! I try not to be sitting with a laptop out when the kids are around, but it is really really hard.

Favourite time-saving trick?

I wish I had one! I think living near my parents helps me a lot as they do the odd school run for me and cook them dinner once a week; this is a lifesaver!

Best advice for anyone working the 9 to 3?

Working 9-3 feels like the shortest day sometimes but I always try and do the jobs that I really can’t do when the kids are around. For example, if the dishwasher needs emptying, I know I can do that when the kids are home, so I’ll leave it until later on. I try and prioritise the most urgent jobs that I really can’t do when the children are around. I can always think of a reason not to do the cleaning! Oh and I try not to fall down an Instagram rabbit hole and give myself a time limit on scrolling!

Favourite social media accounts/blogs?

Just a peek from the Instagram account of Ta doodle Dah!
Just a peek from the Instagram account of Ta doodle dah!

I love so many accounts and small businesses on Instagram but my favourites are probably @meandorla, @velveteenbabies, @wonderandrah, @little_jagger_, @emilybrooksuk and @susiejverrill.

Follow Jo on Instagram @tadoodledah

Please do visit her website: https://tadoodledah.com

My favourite meeting places within Kings Cross/St Pancras Station

 

Image of St Pancras and Kings Cross
St.Pancras and Kings Cross stations are brilliant places to base yourself for a day of client meetings.

This is quite a specific post! I was sent a few emails from my last post asking me where I like to meet clients in the Kings Cross/St Pancras area and can I make any recommendations. Sure thing! As I mentioned, some days I literally spend the entire day in this area as a lot of my clients either go through the stations on their commutes or have offices close by.

There is of course the usual coffee shops and chains that you see everywhere so I’ve tried not to highlight them (except Leon) and instead offered up a few other places that you might like to try. Personally I prefer a location that I feel might help the meeting along and I don’t always get that vibe from a Starbucks or Pret. (both are plentiful in the area)

Formal breakfast

Granger & Co – I absolutely love this restaurant! It is fairly expensive but they cater for all allergy issues with style and their food is delicious. My

Image of Granger & Co
One of my favourite restaurants in the area. I’d stay all day if I could.

favourite is the Avocado on sourdough with a side of chorizo. Their Almond milk Chia seed pudding is wonderful whether it is for breakfast or as a dessert. They sell out of that one quickly though so I always have it for breakfast. You can feel quite hemmed in there as the tables are packed together so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have highly confidential stuff to discuss. Booking in advance is essential.

I also sometimes stay here after my Breakfast meeting has left and have a Coffee meeting with another client. You can sit up at the bar if you wish. It is more informal and a great way to check in with your client. I’d do this for a client that I know really well.

WARNING – their loos are the darkest place on earth. Not the place for touching up your make up.

Relaxed breakfast

Sourced Market (St Pancras Station) – order and pay at the counter service. They have the biggest pain au chocolats that you have ever seen. Plus Monmouth Coffee (which is my favourite coffee) and really interesting fruit salads, porridges and pastries. Grab a stool on one of the benches and away you go. It is a nice place to meet for a quick catch up.

Eleveneses

Yumchaa  (1 Granary Square)- this is up the road from Kings Cross at Granary Square and is housed in the same building as Central St Martins. You definitely get a strong hint of cool from this place and the people watching is superb. I like to meet new quirky clients here – often authors and artists. The tea selection is impressive and I can wholly recommend the Almond milk chai tea.

Drink, Shop & Do (9 Caledonian Road) –

Drink, Shop & Do – A fantastic awe-inspiring place to visit!

this is a fun spot for a catch up. Lots to look at and can provide inspiration for a creative meeting.

Formal Lunch

Caravan (1 Granary Square). This offers a range of lunch options and is another great spot for associating yourself with a bit of cool! You see journalists from The Guardian here occasionally and lots of media types. That may make you want to avoid it! The food is good, and booking is necessary.

Dishoom (5 Stable Street) I’ve not been here yet but my friend has and fully recommends it. The food is delicious and set very stylishly. Booking is preferred. You can literally stay here all day – they cater for all meals. Apparently their Chai Tea is not to be missed.

Informal Lunch

Leon (St Pancras Square) – you can’t go wrong with Leon. Okay the service

Visit Leon in St Pancras Square
I like to go to this Leon – not the one in Kings Cross.

is a little rushed and there is always a massive queue but I like to go to the one on St Pancras Square. Less hectic then the one in Kings Cross station by the platform entrances.

Yo Sushi (St Pancras Station) – noisy but you can either sit at a booth or by the conveyor belt. Fun, simple and never disappoints. You can have a great catch up here without fuss or waiting in a queue.

Afternoon Tea

Le Pain Quotidien (St Pancras Station) – admittedly another chain but its a

Le Pain Equotedien is a great catch up place.

small one and I like their long tables! Within the central hub of the station, it is always busy and humming with life. I get travel envy as I see people grabbing food before they head to the Eurostar. I love their jam and the simplicity of the menu. Great cake too.

AMT Coffee (Upper Level St Pancras station) – great for grabbing a coffee and finding a place to sit on the station concourse. It tends to be quieter up there in the afternoon before the commuters start turning up.

Evening Drink 

George’s Bar at The Gilbert Scott

George’s Bar – The Gilbert Scott (St Pancras Station) – a beautiful bar with amazing, classy cocktails! I wouldn’t advise you to have more than the one though. They are dangerous. This is a lovely setting and perfect for a quick ‘thank you’ drink with a client.

Searcys Champagne Bar  (Upper Level, St Pancras Station)- well I had to mention it! This is another ‘treat’ place for me but it is great and far less noisy than George’s. You can soak up the atmosphere of the station and network.

The Parcel Yard (Upper Level, Kings Cross) – this can be a little rough around the edges at times

The Parcel Yard is always busy but great when you have a seat!

but that’s simply because it is so busy. They can serve a mean Gin & Tonic though and I’ve had a few after work drinks here before catching the train home.

In general there are loads of places within this area that you can use but these are just a few of my favourites or ones that I have been recommended. Let me know if I’ve missed somewhere superb!

ps This is a great link to Central St Martins website that recommends places too.