Craft | 9 Activities for Balancing Motherhood and Working from Home

Craft | 9 Activities for Balancing Motherhood and Working from Home

 

Easily one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How do you manage to entertain your kids and work from home?”  This comes in a few variations but usually, it’s from other mums who also work from home or are dealing with toddlers who are sick and trying to catch up while working from home. I want to state this very cleary from the start, every child is different. What works for my kids may not work for yours but maybe you can adapt these ideas to suit your child’s personality. I hope this inspires you to come up with some creative solutions of your own and if you do please share them because I am always on the lookout for new ideas.

The nine activities that I use are:

 

1 – Activity Boxes

I have a number of activity boxes that are packed with different activities that the girls (2 and 3 years old) can do at the dining table while I work on the laptop. These are shoe boxes that I decorated or IKEA boxes with a lid. These are always my first port of call in an emergency. It’s much easier to occupy the girls at a dining table so I can work in the same space.  These boxes are filled with:

  • Stamp Kits: Paper, ink pads and stamps. I got mine from This is Knit and Easons and I use them for both the girls’ entertainment and my bullet journal. They play away while I work and if it ends badly then everyone ends up in the shower.
  • Colouring kits: Pencils paper and sticker books are always a favourite.
  • Play-Doh Kits: or homemade playdough and old plastic chopping boards for them to use as a base.

The best part about these kits is that you can put whatever your child is interested in, in these boxes and pull them out when you need an extra half hour on the laptop.

 

2 – Lego / Wooden Blocks

I can’t believe how often my girls have just built towers over and over again. They play together and apart. They have a system, one builds and one tears it down and fixes the blocks all in a row but it works.

 

3 – Post It Box

I’m not sure where I found this one but oh boy has it saved me a few times. This is an old shoe box that I covered in wrapping paper and when I get junk mail I fold it and pop it in. Then, usually, my youngest will take the lid off and open all of the ‘mail’ while ‘reading’ it. She then tries to pop it all back in the envelopes and then posts it back in the box. As this became a favourite, I got a second box for her to post into as well.

 

4 – Dress Up / Make Believe

I know this seems a little crazy but depending on the girls’ mood, if I dress them up and give them wands or wings they love flying around the house. We use the hall as a flying/landing strip and the girls happily play together. I have music on the laptop that rotates and they have to change their play to suit the music.

 

5 – Empty Boxes

I cannot stress this enough, never ever throw out empty boxes until your kids have played with them. They can colour on them, play hide and seek and if big enough you can cut out windows and use as a playhouse. The box our Dyson hoover came in was gold for entertaining the kids. They just liked to crawl through it over and over again. Then they would fight as to who got to sit in it. I added plastic balls from the ball pool at one stage too and they loved it. The best thing is it just goes into recycling when they are board. For this reason I have started looking at cardboard toys as usually they get bored after a while so instead of having more toys stacking up in boxes in the playroom I can just recycle it instead.

 

6 – Beech Walk / Excercise

This may seem counterproductive as you want to sit and write but if your kids are full of beans and you need to sit and wok then it will go much better if you can wear them out first. I will take them for a beach walk and let them walk until they start moaning at me to go home. Then when I get back I have the activity boxes set up on the dining table or sometimes they just want a nap. Either way, I get my two hours to work so I’m happy.

 

7 – Aquadoodle

The Aquadoodle was a gift for T’s birthday but my kids love it. It’s a giant mat with a pen that you fill with water and you just let them draw and scribble on the mat. We got a second pen when my second child wanted to start playing with it as they are rather impatient when so young. This was amazing when my girls were too young for crayons. It only works on the mat and you just dry the mat when they are done.

 

8 – Indoor Picnics

We have both indoor real and pretend picnics were the girls have to lay out the blanket and set places for them to sit. This is great for teaching them skills and for keeping them occupied. Usually, it starts as pretend and then ends up with them asking for sandwiches or fruit which is great because if they are eating them they are quiet.

 

9 – Movie Time

I put this last on my list as it really is my last resort but when I need quiet time for a phone call or I have something I need off my desk quickly I do use the TV as a babysitter. I pop their favourite movie on and I pop in earbuds and work away from the sofa. I can see what they are up to and I can work at the same time. The problem then is trying to turn off the TV once I’m finished. I don’t like them having too much screen time in a day so usually, this is for when they are quiet and in need of quiet time.

 

There is no magic formula, there are days when my kids are upset and in need of mommy and there is nothing I can do and work gets shoved into the hours when they are worn out and sleeping. I fit my work around what is needed at home though when my kids were smaller, I was doing both at the same time but they usually slept more or on could play on playmats. I hope this post inspired some creative ideas of your own.

 

xxx

 

Love | Happy Birthday!

Love | Happy Birthday!

 

I really can’t believe it, I mean where has the time gone? It’s very hard to believe that it’s twelve months since the Cottage Notebook was born. People say never listen to that voice in your head at 3 am but I am so glad that I did because it quite literally changed my life. The funny thing is I think my life became more chaotic! There are so many ways in which to approach today’s Birthday post from the ’10 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging/Podcasting’ to  ‘Tips for Starting a Blog’ but this post is going to take a slower more personal pace.

I sat down many times to write this post and it wasn’t easy. There are so many things that have happened in these last 12 months all because I stopped making excuses and just started to write and record. This online creative space is mine, it’s my space to write, share, enthuse about craft and have a giggle at my gardening attempts but what you all probably don’t realise is just how much of a lifeline this space has been for me personally.

 

Why I Started Blogging

It’s not a secret that I didn’t adjust to being a stay at home parent well and really, in all honesty, who does? In one moment you go from being a single being with bodily autonomy to being at a tiny humans beck and call. I’m a mum who breastfed and there are days when either little K or little T wouldn’t get off me and I found those days tough.  I found that closeness hard and among all the other things that new parents have to deal with, you also need to figure out how to survive at home. For me, I loved my pre-baby life. I loved my job, the customers, getting up having a shower and leaving the house every day. I loved my peaceful days off but I also love my kids and so began that adjustment period.

I guess it takes losing something to realise why you valued it in the first place. When I had baby number two, it was so clear what I needed in order to be the best mum I could be. I needed something for myself. Something I could nurture and grow, learn new skills and find a sort of balance between my need to be a parent in a way that aligns with my values and my wanting to work and to feel like I am still contributing and developing my sense of self. That I had skills beyond babywearing, cleaning, feeding and soothing. I had no idea where this would all lead, I just needed to know that my years in higher education weren’t a complete waste and that I could still be part of the creative world that I loved.

 

 

So on September 16th, 2016 the journey into blogging and podcasting started and you can read just how the first 6 months went here. There are things that worked and things that didn’t but the one thing this space has been, was and still is my lifeline. When I’m a sleep-deprived zombie mess, I write. When my kids are being terrors and I close the bathroom door and cry for a bit, I come back and I write. When I grieve, I write. All of those posts don’t get shared but the ones that I have the courage to post, do. The one thing that has held constant through this year is this: that this space can be anything I want or need it to be and that ladies and gentlemen is the one thing that got me through every single really tough moment in the last year.  I had given myself a space in which to breathe and be myself.

This blog was never about amassing a huge following but I’m so glad that you all found me and helped me through the tough times and celebrated with me on the successes. The blog was about holding me together and boy did you all do a fantastic job of supporting me and helping me find my feet and what I love. I went from typing alone to writing with a purpose. From recording in my spare room to recording in my ‘office’ with professionals in this industry that I love and admire. From being a stay at home parent to being a VA and freelance writer and social media consultant. The thing is I had amassed all of these skills I just had no confidence in using them and without the support of this wonderful community I wouldn’t be where I am now and that is a happy mum who is comfortable at parenting and working from home but don’t get me wrong the struggle for that balance is ongoing.

 

Thank You

At its heart, this is a Thank You post from me to you. Thank you for joining me on this crazy journey and allowing me to share, vent and cry when I needed to. Thank you for the support and guidance and most of all nudging me in the right direction when I get lost. I know I have achieved a lot in the last year even though at times I feel lost, I never dreamed I would be published in a magazine, be a podcast guest, work with such amazingly talented artists, be able to take photographs for my blog/Instagram and also be paid to take photos. To top it all off is this year’s V by Very Blog Awards. I guess to some people blog awards don’t mean a lot, but to me as this blog has quite literally been my third child, it means the world to me to be up there as a finalist among such amazingly talented writers and bloggers such as Evin OK, Where Wishes Come From, Pieces by Aideen and Professional Stitch Ripper. Go check these guys out they are wonderful and all in their own unique way. I really can’t wait to see where year 2 takes us all. I love sharing interviews with you all and I love introducing new people into craft or slow living but most of all I love the yarn!

To celebrate the blog’s birthday Laura from Ellie & Ada has dyed a special colourway for me called Garnet and you can find it in her shop here. I am also running a birthday giveaway on Instagram next week so keep an eye out for that and you could win one of Laura’s skeins along with some very special items. So, you can support us by purchasing a skein and enjoying Laura’s beautiful dye work. This is a sock base (75% Merino and 25% nylon) so it’s perfect for that winter sock project you have been eyeing up for you. Isn’t she gorgeous:

 

come, click, buy 😉

 

And so I  leave you guys with a song that you can Dance it out to, don’t read into it too much because my memories from this last year are AMAZING, it’s just what I’m bopping away to right this second:

 

xxxx

 

 

 

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Love | Expectations in Parenthood

Love | Expectations in Parenthood

Last week we finally had some time off as a family. Like many young families, we don’t get to do this often and with two toddlers, well, you can imagine already being worn out before you pack and start making sure everyone has everything they need. The weather, in case you missed the news, was fairly dramatic which lead to some amazing beach photos during some fast moving fog. So, although we couldn’t play outside for very long, I did get to make use of the fog and keep the toddlers entertained.

Holidays are supposed to be about rest and recharging our internal batteries but not if you take them with two smallies in tow or so I thought. I’m always surprised how seemingly mundane situations teach me something either about myself or my kids. I was terrified of all of us sleeping in one, albeit, bigger hotel room.  We don’t sleep that much as it is so the thought of being in a hotel room with our kids for 4 days with no one sleeping or one toddler keeping everyone awake, didn’t really excite me. It turned out I was wrong on all accounts but it did lead myself and my husband to discuss the expectations that we have as parents. Not the expectations of our children but the ones that are put upon parents or we put upon ourselves.

Expectations

I’m not really sure when the expectations started. Was it during pregnancy? Birth? Or did it start before then? I’m don’t know when they started to creep in but those expectations that start rearing their ugly head almost as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, the ones that imply that as a parent you suddenly know everything. As if magically at that instance of birth you are filled with a wealth of knowledge. Erm, well I can tell you that the magic fairy was on leave the day I became a mother and that magical ability never came my way.

As a child, we think that our parents know everything. If we have a pain they can take it away, if we have a need or a want they can fulfil it. Being on the other end of that spectrum is somewhat terrifying. That realisation that we are all just fumbling along and trying to make it work. Each family trying to maintain a balance and do what is right for them. That there is no magic playbook and yet I somehow imagined in my naivety that we would be amazing parents. We are good parents, amazing isn’t a word on our spectrum. The toddler years are like firefighting. You try to hold it together as best you can and the days when it all goes to pot, well just let it and bring out your knitting.

“I am still so naïve; I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please, don’t ask me who I am. A passionate, fragmentary girl, maybe?”

-― Sylvia PlathThe Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

We came around to talking about parenting and I wondered how we could be parents and raise two children when both of us are still very much trying to figure out life, who we are and where we fit. How can we guide or nurture our children in social situations when there are times we both fail at this spectacularly.  That as parents we now have to look after ourselves and our children without quite knowing how to do either and to top it all off we have to try and do it while sleep deprived zombies.

We came to the realisation that there are days that we will fail and I imagine they will be spectacular failures but on the flipside, there are days we will be fantastic parents. Days when our kids are laughing, playing and everyone is happy and their needs are met. There will be those magic days where for once everything is exactly as it should be. But those days, they wouldn’t be so sweet without the epic failures, the tantrums, the night terrors, the leaps, the constant whines of “I’m hungry” and “Mommy/Daddy” and the family favourite question of “Why on EARTH is there banana on EVERYTHING?”

The key to keeping me back from the precipice is either baby wearing or downtime. Peace and quiet to sleep or read or reflect or just be completely silly. I hope you find that time for you, a parent or not each person deserves that time to be alone to get to know themselves a little better. I’m happiest when I get to dream, write, create, knit or take beach walk alone and failing that babywearing while doing any of those things usually helps me to feel like I have had a break.

Today, I want you to do something kind for yourself and then tell me what it is in the comments.

 

 

 

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Love | Those Quiet Mornings

Love | Those Quiet Mornings

Those quiet mornings that start at dawn where the promise of a great day begins. You know those ones where the birds are singing and sunlight is filtering through the curtains? Those ones that follow with your child’s laughter breaking through the birdsong, not crying or fighting or screaming because someone took their toy but just laughter. Those mornings are the ones that I cherish and they are all far  to few and far between.

The differences between myself in my twenties and my thirties are vast, it is the same as comparing a rose just blooming to one which is just bare roots. In my twenties, I was permanently full of energy and I wanted to explore the world. I walked the Wicklow Way, climbed mountains, toured Europe and visited America to name a few. I wanted to experience life, to find out what I liked all while working on a chosen career path.

It’s funny how we change and adapt as we grow. In my thirties, I love and cherish my settled life. These mornings like this morning when we are all at home, no one has to rush off to work or appointments. Those mornings where we have breakfast in bed, cuddles and TV followed by feeding the birds and waking up the animals, that’s if my toddlers didn’t get there first; where I can hold my partner’s hand and drink hot coffee and listen to my girls laughing and playing together. I want nothing else. I am completely happy.

This is so rare that I know as soon as my eyes open that it’s one of those mornings. Usually, it follows a full nights sleep for everyone and almost always it’s a Sunday after the manic insanity of Saturdays.  This morning started out just like this and it was magical. The cottage is still in renovation mode and it’s still driving me crazy but I just didn’t care today. Yesterday I was sick and I just had a home couch and Netflix day with my littlest. We laughed and played, we slept and we watched TV. I drank in her clean, freshly bathed smell from her hair when I cuddled her on the couch. I normally cram in far too many things while my children sleep but yesterday I was forced to lie with her and I had forgotten how much I loved it. The way she holds my fingers or pats my leg. The way she dreamily wakes up to check I’m there and instantly falls back asleep.

Transition

This transition from pre-adult to adult even though it’s marked by age and happened through experience. I realised as I chatted to my partner over coffee, still all tucked up in bed we have both achieved so much prior to meeting each other that when we met we could grow together. I am a very headstrong independent person. So much so that when I get lost or confused especially around a career choice or something for myself it actually scares me. I’m normally target or goal driven and I love ticking off those markers to make those dreams closer to a reality.

This is why those quiet mornings are so unsettling. As much as I love them it’s unsettling to be quiet, calm and happy all at once. Like I’m waiting for the phone to ring with bad news or to whisk one of us away. That by allowing myself to fully commit to these mornings and enjoy them completely that they won’t exist or will disappear in an instant. I guess this is part of my transition from twenty to thirty. Before I always lived in the moment. I barely made plans that were longer than a few months or a year at most. Now I have plans that are years in the making that I’m fully committed to and sometimes I don’t recognise the person that I am.

This morning made both of us reflect on how we got here, to this place, to this moment.  We laughed at our other options that we had of travel, work etc. Had we taken any of those other roads we wouldn’t be here. Our family wouldn’t be here and I certainly wouldn’t be writing to you. I would probably still be in science of some kind or in a different country and the scary thought is my partner could be in a different country or as a horrible thought no longer alive. Both of us made very small choices that led to here but we became so busy that we barely get family time or holidays. There is always a sacrifice and that is usually family time.

But in these mornings, I remember why I made all of my life’s choices and my life although far from perfect, is right where I want it to be. Can you say that? If you can’t, what is the one change that you can make to turn it into the life you want it to? Do you have these mornings too? Can you tell me your secret love or just what they mean to you? Don’t get me wrong I would love for many different things to have happened, winning the lotto would be amazing for one but on these mornings I know there is nothing I would give up or swap out. That little head bumping mine to say ” ‘orning ” followed by a head pat or rolling over to freshly made coffee or a cuddle from someone you love in a warm safe place. But as always the mornings give way to midday, my toddlers get tired and cranky and there is yet another dirty bum to change, hunger to quench and an argument over toys to sort out. No matter how hard you try to keep that feeling of being complete and happy, time moves on and those feelings and self-surety are lost in those mornings. That’s why this post is an ode to them of sorts because I feel like if I don’t treasure them and immortalise them in writing, that the next time I stop to reflect on one of those mornings it might be too late to cherish any one of these things that makes me truly happy.

 

 

 

Love | The Great Elf Hunt

Love | The Great Elf Hunt

This week has slowly been getting worse. It started out fantastic with my daughters birthday and went from bad (site deletion) to worse (mums aren’t allowed to be sick you know that right?) So I thought I could share a snippet of my daughters birthday with all of you and you never know it might inspire you.

Monday for us was the day of The Great Elf Hunt. My kids are infatuated with Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and when it comes to playtime here at the cottage they usually want to play in the garden and look for faeries and elves. So for T’s birthday, we went on a trip to Malahide Castle to hunt for elves in the woods. This place is magical it has beautiful woodland, a fantastic playground, BBQ area, butterfly garden, tea rooms and well everything you could want with the added luxury of a castle on the grounds too. In short a little girls dream.

Confession time.

I would love to say we are great parents and have all our ducks in a row but with everything going on with work, events, renovations etc. we were stuck for a present for T. I bounced back and forth with ideas but couldn’t settle on one and we always have a family day for birthdays as the kids are so little at the moment and what they really love is time together with us playing and going on adventures. So off we went, a family of four equipped with rain gear because we live in Ireland and oodles of curiosity and excitement.

I was not the best on Monday I was tired, sick and doing my best to be happy when all I really wanted to do was crawl under some covers and just sleep. I sucked it up and at times not well but that’s when my Husband took over with the magic of storytelling and popping a coffee in my hand. I love being surprised by my husband and he never ceases to do just that in both good ways and bad but on Monday I saw him being a parent to a three-year-old and I was surprised.

He became a child again. He climbed hills, over logs all the while helping T get immersed in the story of the elves who lived in the woods. He got excited with her when I didn’t have the energy to do it. He played games, took photos and helped T climb a tree and when it came time to find the elves the trees were listening. At the exact moment he said “Listen can you hear them” she replied yes and the trees started raining pine cones. He picked one up and held it out for her to see. ”

“This” he said while kneeling in front of her “This is a magic pine cone.” As he turned it over in the light that filtered through the trees she tried to grasp it but he pulled it back. “T this is a present from the elves for being such a good human in the woods. You took care while looking for the elves and they have rewarded you with one wish. When you want to make your wish, just give the pine cone to mammy along with your wish and she will show you what to do”

T plucked the pine cone from her daddy’s hand with a look of pure joy on her face. She came running over to me to tell me what had happened because myself and her little sister couldn’t climb the ridge to where they stood. I asked her if she was ready to make a wish and she said no. At 3 I was sure she would have something she wanted but no she didn’t. She said she wanted to fly but didn’t want to use her wish on that. Phew because I have no idea how I would have made that work!

So we wandered on through the woods, playing, hunting for mushrooms, taking photos and generally just having fun being a family. As we turned to head on back to the butterfly house and private gardens, T grasps my hand and pulls me down to her level. “Mommy, I want to keep my wish. Here can you mind my pine cone” and she tries to pop it in my pocket. So that was it. This child had just been given the chance to choose anything she wanted but obviously, it was an important decision because she really needed to mull this over.

The next day she hunted out her pine cone from the buggy and brought it to me. She had been watching My Little Pony and I was ready, I knew this was the moment our little girl would ask for a pony. I was coming up reasons as to why the elves couldn’t give her a pony, where would we even put a pony! So, I steeled myself and got down to her level.

“Mommy, I want a scooter”

I was taken aback and I didn’t know what to do I was sure she was going to say pony. I didn’t move but she pulled out my hand and placed her pine cone in it. “I want the elves to build me a scooter in their workshop like Scootaloo.” So we went into the back garden, found our magic elf tree and popped the pine cone underneath. We told the elves and we left them a handmade elf wreath for their door and that was it.

That evening daddy the elves delivered a My Little Pony scooter to Taryn and the magic of the elves continues.  She was so delighted she thanked the elves and mammy and daddy but she has slept holding her scooter since it joined us. I think we got off lightly but T couldn’t have been happier for her special day and I don’t think I could have either.

I learned a few things on Monday. My daughter at 3 is fearless with endless curiosity and imagination. The simplest things make her happy and I love this time with her. I also learned it’s ok to take a back seat in parenting and that it allows my husband to shine in ways he doesn’t get to midweek. More daddy daughter days o’ fun ahead I think because it’s Friday and all I can do is lounge on the couch and try to get better.

Have a great weekend!

 

Love | Do You Know Yourself?

Love | Do You Know Yourself?

 

A funny thing happened from a week of writing using prompts, this blog has started to feel a little more like home, like the comfortable place I wanted it to be. That place where I could practice my writing and share my thoughts and have tea with an old friend. It was always supposed to be a place to share my friends with the world but also to have a place to check in and compose my thoughts. A place to figure out my journey in written form. Writing long pieces on a daily basis has become the norm around here and although I won’t be keeping up that pace, let’s just enjoy this closeness while it’s here this week.

Last night I took part in the Instachat over on Twitter. As usual, I was late and scrolling through the questions and answers trying to keep up. I came across a tweet that was about community and how Instagram had helped a single mum of twin girls. It got me thinking and I remembered that my escapism was this blog and the surrounding social media. That by writing and talking with all of you that, that is how I kept an element of sanity in my life during those early days of baby and toddler insanity. That image above is about as real as it gets here on a tough day. I haven’t brushed my hair, I have managed to get dressed but I haven’t made it off the couch.

I keep reminding myself that those sleepless nights and pyjama days that blur from days into weeks, you know those ones where you feel like you could actually loose your mind and you feel like you never come up for air; those were the ones that changed my life and not just because I was now a mother but because it forced me to create something for me. By constantly giving to other people you get burnt out so fast and those baby hormones, well they are just dagnammit evil. How on earth are you supposed to function as a human when you are crying into your cereal because you used the blue cup instead of a mug for coffee?

 

Do you know yourself?

 

There are so many thoughts that go through your mind when you are going to have a baby but they never really prepare you for actually having, holding and then raising one. I never really thought that even at 0 months old they would teach me things about myself, I mean, I have been with myself for 30 plus years, I should know myself right? Turns out that I didn’t know myself as well as I thought and as I read that tweet I wanted to run over and hug this mum and make her tea and tell her the world will come right again.

 

 

They will *eventually* sleep. They won’t need you in the same way they do when they are brand new. At almost 3, T is strong, determined, willful and only needs me to provide food, shelter and the odd magic kiss to make the owie go away. I can’t take any credit, she came into the world that way. That need, that smothering, clinging need she had is gone and in its place is the need for me to guide her and set boundaries and explain the answers to her never-ending cycle of questions.

I’m not a parent blogger but these little insights into my thoughts can sometimes help you, you know who you are, to get through the day. I remember reading a paragraph once from a lifestyle blog, that in my opinion, was the most ridiculous thing I had ever read. I one hundred percent disagreed with everything, from how they thought kids should be dressed and how they should meet the world. That an emphasis at a certain young age should be on styling and not on growing up and having fun. I remember feeling sorry for that child, it would never get dirty and play in old clothes, make mud pies and just have fun. By reading this piece it taught me what I did value and what I wanted to teach my kids. In my disagreement, I found another piece of the puzzle of who I was even if I was still sobbing into my mug of coffee because of those dang hormones.

It’s ok to be lost. Your children will grow, you will go through things you never thought possible. Life is a journey and you can’t be the same at the end as you are at the beginning. At least, I don’t think you can. In those early days, if you get through a 24 hour period and everyone is ok, they may be dirty, in need of a nappy change and you are wondering why you ever bought a bed in the first place; if you make it through you are winning. Never compare yourself to others, no two babies are the same, no one knows what the most difficult parts of your day are, only you know this and whatever you need to do to see the day through it shouldn’t be judged by others*. Parenthood is hard and yes it often feels like we are alone, let me assure you, you are not. The madness will end and it will be replaced by another parent trial but there is a whole community out there, just like you. The stay at home parent, struggling to get through the day and we will be there to hold your hand when you need it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with an interview from an independent yarn dyer so for my craft and creativity readers, come back and have a read with a cuppa.

 

 

*I’m not condoning drinking or anything else that can actually cause harm to the kids here.

 

 

Love | Illusion of a Life

Love | Illusion of a Life

Illusion
Today’s post is in response to the Daily Prompt by Ben Huberman

I follow a few writing prompts and usually, they inspire a post that I hold on to but on rare occasions like a previous prompt from WordPress, I get to urge to write immediately. Usually, it’s something that has been on my mind and the prompt just draws it out. I have spoken previously about my intentions for this blog about finding my voice online and my niche but I have been very firm that this is a place to write, for me to express myself creatively and to stay in touch with old friends.

I posted a version of the image above on Instagram and like so many other images on that platform, it gives a brief glimpse of a person’s life, a snapshot of moments. The illusion that all is right with the world and as you scroll you can get lost in that beauty. Do not be fooled, these images are curated and edited and I only wish I could look as fantastic as some of the parent bloggers out there. My own feed is something that I have never been comfortable with. I wanted my children in there because it reminds me of them when I’m working but I also didn’t want their life in photos for the world to watch them grow.

Balance

What has happened is the illusion of a life, one of perfect balance between motherhood, freelancing from home and a bountiful garden. Is it wrong of me to shatter that? My life is far, far from perfect. Just like ever other parent out there, I do my best to balance the needs of my family with those of my own. I only recently decided what I want my Instagram feed to be. I wanted to pull back from the need to post because I’m told I have to in order to grow my following but to post because I want to.

Instagram is an art, to take images and showcase them to a viewer in an enticing way. It can also be just about sharing images with friends and keeping in touch but for me, I need there to be a reason to post that isn’t about blog growth or statistics. If I don’t enjoy doing something it is immediately apparent that I am doing it because I have to. Recently I started using Instagram for reflection, to house all of my thoughts along with sharing images that I thought I had learnt something valuable and fun while taking them. Guess what, the community responded.

Sincerity

Because I wasn’t pitching my blog posts or podcast or just posting random images my profile has seen more growth and organic interaction than ever before. You can see exactly the point where I changed my mind and decided what I wanted that platform to be for me. It will be based in real life but curated to form an illusion of a picture perfect life here in the cottage. It will be moments of our lives but what you won’t see are the tired toddler tantrums, the 3 am feedings, the day where I couldn’t even find the time to get dressed out of my PJ bottoms because I don’t want to remember those days. I want to remember the ones where we played in the sun, where my toddlers helped me style photoshoots, where my garden was blooming at it’s best and I found the time for a peaceful coffee or to knit a few stitches.

If I can’t hold on to those perfect moments then it makes those tough parenting days even harder. I’m comfortable with building the illusion of my perfect life, it will pick me up on the days when all I want to do is give up and sit on the bathroom floor and cry. I will be able to see my garden as it should be in full bloom when it’s raining and the winter chill is setting in and all I can see are bare patches that need work. In my life, I need to wear so many hats as a mother, a wife, an employee, a business woman, a writer, a creative to name a few so I have to have somewhere to draw strength from and if that needs to be an illusion of my constant perfect life than I am comfortable with that. After all nothing is perfect, those moments are fleeting so grab them with both hands and hold on tight because around the corner is another moment akin to a toddler tantrum.