the bantam blogger

#5in5

So recently I overheard a conversation that basically went, if you could achieve 5 things in the next 5 years what would they be? I thought it would be a great topic for a blog post.

So I thought about it… and thought about it and thought about it. I’m the sort of person that is always looking forwards. I want to do and see so much, and whilst I am happy and grateful for my life I can’t help but think about the other things that I haven’t done yet.

Since I had my kids though, the majority of the things that I want to see and do involve the small but oh so important people in my life. I want them to have as many opportunities and experiences as possible. Which leads me nicely onto the first thing on my #5in5 list.

 

1. Take my kids to Florida

Easily at the top spot for me is a trip to see Mickey and friends in the Florida sunshine. I am lucky enough to have been to Disneyland Paris already. I went as a teenager and single adult, we took the kids back in 2014 and we have booked a surprise trip for them this year too. But there is SO much more at Florida that goes alongside Disney – Epcot, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Wet n Wild…. the list is extensive, and it would be a .. well I don’t want to say once in a lifetime as I’ve heard you need to go at least twice to really do EVERYTHING.. but an incredible experience that I would love to have with my kids whilst they are still young enough to appreciate the magic. If I had to pick one holiday to have with my kids, that would be it!

 

2. Grow my business

It is still less than a year since I started freelance writing and my business has already taken off quicker than I could have imagined. I am lucky enough to have a regular network of great clients, fantastic referral rates and have worked on some really interesting projects. I have also had the opportunity to diversify into other areas. However I would love to be able to continue to grow and develop my business in the next 5 years and perhaps get into the realms of expanding? Who knows!

 

3. Learn to swim

You may or may not know that I still can’t swim and I am absolutely petrified of the water. Countless people have offered to teach me and countless people have failed. Part of me thinks, you know what, I’ve got to 33 without being able to swim I’ll just not bother, but part of me would really like to learn. I think this is a pipeline dream though, I honestly don’t think I will get over my fear enough to achieve it!

 

4. Move house

It would definitely have to be right at the end of the 5 years, but I would like to think about moving to a nicer area and get a house with a proper study – which may be vital is my business does grow! I do love a lot of things about my house now, and I absolutely hate moving, but it would be nice to be in a safer area so I’m less worried about when the time comes for the kids to get the bus to secondary school and go out with their mates and stuff!

 

5. Have another baby

I really want to expand my family again…. Kidding! Sorry had to put that in case my mother-in-law or hubby reads this… love to keep them on their toes! No that ship has well and truly sailed! My real number 5 however…

5. I would like to do more for charity

We put our hands in our pockets quite regularly when it comes to supporting various charities, but I would definitely like to start making a more hands-on effort, starting this year.  In July I plan to run the Race for Life: Pretty Muddy  as part of a team of girls who want to raise money for Cancer Research – a cause particularly close to my heart since once of my best friends was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the end of 2015.

The R4L:PM is going to be the first in what I intend to become regular fundraising efforts that I make over the coming years.

 

 

So that about sums it up, my #5in5. I’m interested to hear yours?!

Dee xoxox

Why I hate being a parent #1

Today I hate being a parent. In fact, the truth is there are lots of days I hate being a parent and anyone that isn’t full of bullshit will attest to the fact that there are lots of days that the bad parts of parenting outweigh the good. That’s why I have titled this one #1… I fully expect there to be many more to follow.

So why do I hate being a parent today I hear you ask. Simply because, I feel like shit. This morning I woke up with a bit of a sore throat, but generally didn’t feel too bad. And this morning was great, I took the kids and my friends daughter to the cinema. The kids were brilliantly behaved and enjoyed the film. Life was grand.

However since coming home my sore throat has turned into a throat full of razor blades, a painful head full of cotton wool, a stiff neck, aching legs and a desire to curl up on the sofa under a blanket and sleep. However I am mum, and mum is not allowed to be sick.

To be honest I don’t feel like this often. Do you know how I know? Because when I ask my kids to sit quietly this afternoon and either read/play on tech/watch a film, they look at me like I have an alien crawling out of my head. At this point I don’t have the energy to check if I actually have.

I hate being a parent because you aren’t allowed to be ill. Within the last 5 minutes alone I have asked the kids to keep the noise down no less than 14 times. Yes they are sitting down playing together but do they have to shriek like a banshee whilst they are doing it? Invariably one of them will annoy the other and I will have to intervene and stretch my already breaking voice to shout at them to leave eachother the hell alone.

Worse still, I am a self-employed parent, which means I can’t take time off work when I am sick either. I have multiple deadlines to meet within the next few days, and I am currently harnessing the creativity and motivation of a dung beetle.

So that, ladies, gentlemen and fellow owners of small, feral creatures (aka kids), is why I hate being a parent today. hey, at least I’m honest about it!

 

I’m Back!

So as you may or may not have noticed, I literally disappeared from the blogosphere in the latter half of 2015. It wasn’t an intentional move on my part, but as it turned out my business really took off and between juggling being a mum, wife and part-time copywriter things all just got a bit manic. I didn’t really have any time to myself at all, and I was far too tired to even think about blogging.

However, it dawned on me over Christmas that I do really miss it. So I am going to make a concerted effort to come back here more often this year. At least once or twice a month. What I write may be utter boring drivel, but at least I will be making a little time for something I enjoy doing!

I hope you all had fantastic Christmases and New years, I can’t actually believe we are the end of January almost!
Dee xxx

What a mum really feels when her kids go back to school

This week, up and down the country armies of parents will be cheering as their little bundles of joy will be returning to school! It follows 6(ish!) weeks of wonderful bonding time with them – and of course playing referee between them and their siblings 24/7! No doubt they have eaten them out of house and home, made too much noise, too much mess and not listened to what they were told. They have probably uttered the b-word at least 3 times each day … “Muuuuuum I’m BORED”. So yes, it’s a blessed relief when, for 6 hours of each day, they are someone else’s responsibility! 

I’ll be one of those mums tomorrow. Have you seen that YouTube video of the monkey dancing? If not it’s here: Monkey dance!

That will be me… All the way back to the car! 

But…. Whilst I’m dancing on the outside there will be a little piece of me that is lost on the inside. A tiny, microscopic piece of my heart gets chipped away each time they return to school because it means that they are one step closer to growing up. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know every day is a day older, a day more independent etc, but the first day back is a milestone. Another year further on in their education, another year of expectations of them to do well. Another year of them learning to be independent which, although I know they need to do, makes me worried about the time that they won’t need me so much anymore. 

Another year of worrying that they are happy in school, that they have good friends, that they aren’t being bullied and that they aren’t afraid to be themselves. 

So when you look at me, the mum on the school gates who is outwardly cheering that her little horrors have gone back to school, know that whilst I might seem heartless and like I’m wishing the years away, on the inside I’m a little sad, worried and emotional too. 

Good luck to all the kiddies who are starting new schools and classes this week, and those simply “going back to school”. I know you’ll do great. 

Dee xoxox 

Kids & Media Device Usage: How much is too much?

It seems kind of fitting that the day I intended to do this blog post, I came downstairs pre-8am to find the kids both sat like this…

kidsmedia

I posted the pic on my personal Facebook page with the caption “peace and quiet sponsored by Nintendo”.

We all know that kids are now exposed more than ever to a wide variety of media devices, and handheld computers like Nintendo 3DS’s are just the tip of the iceberg. From television – which seems almost primitive compared to some technologies – to Xboxes, iPads and Smartphones, most kids have access to one or more of these devices on a regular basis. My 8yr old has a Wii, a Kindle Fire, a Nintendo 3DS and an iPod touch. Oh and a tv/dvd in her room. My five year old has a Kindle Fire, a Nintendo 3DS and will be getting a tv/dvd from Santa this year.

With easy entertainment at the touch of just a few buttons, it is easy to embrace media devices. They are a great way to keep the kids quiet – as demonstrated by my picture this morning – without creating much mess or noise. When it comes to eating out in a restaurant, I almost always take the kids handheld devices so that they have something to keep them occupied if there is a long wait for food. My 8yr old always unwinds with a dvd before bed. The kids both love Minecraft and will happily sit and play it for an hour at a time without moving from their seats.

On the surface it all looks great. Mum/Dad gets some peace and quiet and the kids are kept busy relatively cost and mess free. And there is plenty of evidence that supports that media device usage does indeed have a heap of benefits, particularly in terms of language development. However, there is also evidence to suggest that too much screen-time can actually have a negative impact on some areas of kids lives.

So how much is too much? My friends over at California Cryobank have created the following powerful infographic detailing the pro’s and con’s of children using media devices. Their research clearly illustrates the effect that too much screen time has on our kids health and development. It’s thought-provoking stuff and well worth five minutes of your time to read – hence why I am sharing it with you today.

Feel free to like, share and comment on this infographic from http://www.cryobank.com entitled “The Pro’s and Con’s of Children’s Media Device Usage”.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dee xoxox

 

Shortlisted for a Design Award!

 

So this morning I woke up to an awesome email! One of my clients in Australia has been shortlisted in the category of “Best App Startup” in the 2015 Design 100 (Australia) APP Design Awards!

My client is HIKE POS – a retail management solution that bridges the gap between selling in store and online. Their service and associated products make retail simple thanks to a user-friendly platform and more features than you can shake a stick at including inventory tracking, employee management and comprehensive analytics.

Hike is a fantastic client to work for and the team has worked really hard to get their amazing business off the ground.

I am also honoured to be listed on their award shortlisting details :

Hike Awards

I am looking forward to getting stuck into more work with them after the summer break!

For more information on Hike then check out their website https://hikepos.com

For more information on the awards then please check out this link: http://appdesignawards.com.au/AUSAPPS15/entry_details.asp?id=14058&category_id=6898

Congrats on the nomination to Hiren and everyone else at Hike 🙂

Getting under the skin of Psoriasis

So I read this article in the newspaper this morning

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/6599095/Psoriasis-sufferer-proud-to-reveal-sores-to-the-world.html

And I just wanted to do a quick blog about it because I am full of pride and support for this amazing lady. Not just because she is incredibly strong but because I know her story – I know it because I have lived it.

Whilst I am not going to give you a full biography of my life with psoriasis, I will give you the bare bones of it.

I have suffered with psoriasis since I was 3yrs old. All through both primary and secondary school I was teased relentlessly by certain individuals who told me that I was ugly, that I had “the lurgy” etc. They told other kids not to hang around with me or they would catch it too.

My teenage years were the worst. I hated school. I had very few friends, I had absolutely no self confidence or self belief. Puberty made my psoriasis even worse and much of my hair fell out. I hid my skin under long sleeve blouses and tights that itched the hell out of me but were better than having my skin on show.

All through this time I was back and forth to the hospital, trying every possible treatment under the sun. Dozens of different steroid creams, soaking in coal tar baths, being smothered in emollients and wrapped in bandages. I couldn’t wait to leave school at 16 so I went to college instead. Unfortunately things weren’t much better there.

When it came to the world of work I was lucky to be able to get good employment, but one employer made my life very difficult. When my skin got so bad due to the stress of working there and I was hospitalised with life-threatening erythrodermic psoriasis, I was “let go”.

In my early 20s my skin started to improve a little and so I changed – I had a small circle of friends, I became outwardly confident to make up for the fact that inside I was still nervous about rejection.

My tale has a happy ending though. When I was 23 I met my now-husband. Granted my skin was mostly under control at the time, but there have been times when I have been suffering badly with it, particularly during my pregnancies when it is not possible to take drugs to keep it under control. But my husband is amazing – he has only ever seen ME and not my skin. To the point that he only really notices if it has flared up because of the way that it affects me – the itching, the slight depression that accompanies it worsening.

So now, 2015 and I am a happily married mum of two – which during my teenage years felt like something I would never achieve. I am still taking strong chemotherapy drugs which – touch wood – are working well to keep my skin under control. I can’t remember the last time I felt the necessity to cover my face with a scarf or my arms with a cardigan.

And whilst I am nowhere near as brave and strong as this beautiful lady is, I can honestly say that I am over hiding away. The important people love me no matter how my skin looks.

So I applaud this amazing lady for being so confident, so strong and so inspiring. She proves that true beauty is a whole lot more than what is on the outside.

If you would like further information on psoriasis then I can highly recommend that you check out https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis

Thanks for reading

Dee xoxox

psoriasis%203

Keeping the Tooth Fairy Happy: My Guide to Oral Care for Kids

Any parent will tell you that persuading children to brush their teeth can be a difficult task. When there are cartoons to watch and toys to play with, those four minutes a day that your little one needs to spend brushing can seem like an eternity. Children with additional needs, and particularly those with sensory difficulties, can be even harder to convince. However, regular cleaning and teaching them about making good nutritional choices to support their oral care will ensure that they have healthy teeth and gums throughout their childhood. If you want to ensure that your child understands the importance of looking after their teeth then read on for my guide on how to keep your tooth fairy happy and make oral health fun for kids.

First Teeth

Babies may start showing signs of teething from as young as 8 weeks of age, but typically the first tooth shows up between 4 and 8 months. That said, some children cut their first tooth much later – my son was 14 months old – and although rare, some babies are actually born with a tooth! As soon as your baby gets a tooth you should begin the cleaning process. Get them an infant toothbrush to hold and demonstrate to them putting it into their mouths and the actions that they need to make. When you actually brush them, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. The important thing at this stage is to get them used to brushing their teeth as a part of their daily routine.

If you decide to give your infant a drink in a bottle then always try and give water or milk rather than juice. Bottles encourage prolonged sucking which means that any sugary drink that may be coating the teat/nipple will be in contact with your child’s teeth for an extended period, increasing the likelihood of decay. Teeth are also more at risk at night when there is less saliva to protect them so the sooner your child drops any night-time feeds the better… for your sanity as well as their teeth!

Nutrition

Good nutrition is not only important for your child’s growth and wellbeing, but it also plays a vital part of maintaining good oral health. Here are some basic guidelines for helping your child make the best nutritional choices for their oral health, but for more comprehensive advice please visit: diamondbraces.com/snacking-and-oral-health

Calcium

Calcium is an essential nutrient for developing strong teeth, and works to fortify the adult teeth during childhood.  A glass of milk is a great accompaniment to your child’s snack. Children under the age of 5 are recommended to have full fat or semi-skimmed varieties, whereas older kids can opt for lower fat versions.

The recommended daily allowance of calcium varies dependant on child age. Current guidelines suggest the following:

Children aged 1to 3 : 500mg per day

Children aged 4 to 8 : 800mg per day

Children aged 9 to 18 : 1300mg per day

milk

Snacking

Whilst we frazzled parents believe that our children suck the energy out of us for their own personal use, they also need plenty of snacks to keep them going. Unfortunately a lot of convenient snack items are packed full of salt and sugar, making them far from ideal choice for maintaining healthy teeth, particularly as brushing after snacks is a rare occurrence and sometimes impossible to do. Limiting processed snacks and keeping a supply of healthier, teeth-friendly alternatives is advisable. Raw veggies, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain toast, and even cubes of cheese are much better alternatives.

Fruit

Fruit always seems like a great choice for a snack as it is usually easy and convenient, and it’s healthy too, right? Yes fruit is a healthier snack than the processed snacks I mentioned before. However it is also full of sugar – albeit the naturally occurring kind – which also damages teeth. Limit fruit and opt for veggie-based snacks where possible.

Drinks

It will come as no surprise to you that water is the very best drink that we can give to our children for their overall and oral health. It is sugar free, calorie free and great for staying hydrated. Sugary and fizzy drinks should be avoided as much as possible, and if you opt to give your child fruit juice, try and limit how often and opt for unsweetened varieties where you can.

Making brush-time fun

As I said at the start, getting your kids to take time out of their busy lives to brush their teeth can be a challenge. Making it a routine and making it fun are the best ways to ensure that they look after their oral health.

Ideally both children and adults should brush a minimum of twice per day and after each meal if at all possible, and you should do it for at least 2 minutes each time. That is a lot longer than most people realise and definitely much longer than most people brush for. Setting an alarm or using a timer is a good way to keep track, but I highly recommend using an egg-timer. Kids are fascinated watching the sand trickle away and the two minutes are quickly over for them. They are inexpensive and easy to find online. Another alternative is to find a song that they like that is at least two minutes long and ask them to brush for the duration of the song. They can even have a little dance around the bathroom whilst they do it!

Brushing should always be done in a circular motion so encourage your kids to make “train wheels” with brushes (with accompanying noises if necessary!) and use brushes with smaller heads to help them get to those harder to reach teeth. Battery-powered toothbrushes are also a great choice for helping children do an awesome job of brushing.

Other useful ways to encourage brushing include stickers and reward charts and allowing your children to pick out their own toothbrushes.

Don’t forget about the dentist!

As soon as your child has a number of teeth ensure that you register them with a dentist and start taking them for the recommended schedule for check-ups. Your dentist can ensure that your child’s teeth are in optimum health, your child will learn to feel comfortable in the environment, and going for an oral check up will quickly become an easy routine.

I hope that you have found this guide interesting and useful, and can use some of the ideas and information to make brush time fun for your children. For further, comprehensive guidance on oral health I recommend visiting this awesome website, diamondbraces.com.

livteethcleanPhoto: my 8yr old enjoying brush time!

 

A little education about misunderstood children

Every time I read this I dissolve into tears, but as the parent of a ‘misunderstood child’ I feel that it sums her up perfectly.

It is also a good reminder to me when I am feeling less patient with her to try and see the world through her eyes.

Please take a moment to read the poem below, for my daughter and all the other misunderstood children who face a daily struggle against stress, anxiety and the ignorance and judgement of some.

Thank you xxx

themisunderstoodchild

Post kick-fit update

Well needless to say I didn’t have the energy to blog Friday night, post kick-fit.

The class was really good, but really hard going in places. Now I know I’m not fit, but I didn’t realise how badly unfit I still am.

It started off with walking, stretching, some light jogging (which felt to me more like running!), some other aerobic moves and OMG …… burpees! Now I CANNOT do burpees at all. I have zero upper body strength, heavy boobs and I could only do a few before having to stop. Apparently burpees are a regular part of the class though so I am clearly going to have to shape up or ship out. I may start practising in the week…. once I stop hurting!

The boxing element of the class was great, I’m a big fan of getting the frustration out!

We also did a little circuit training which was fun, required effort but didn’t completely kill me, and I found a great exercise to tone up the old bingo wings!

Aching like a bitch yesterday and today – mostly in my arms and shoulders! Hopefully I will be fully recovered ready to go again on Friday!

xxx