Save Your Advice

Did you ever notice that almost as soon as you’ve inhaled the new baby smell from your little bundle of joy someone is there to offer ‘advice’?

From sleeping to eating there’s always a guaranteed trick to make you the perfect Mum with a baby that eats anything, sleeps all night and is toilet trained by 10 months.

The only advice that I would give to those so knowledgable; hold your lip until your asked.

Being a first time Mum is so hard without the constant second guessing and feelings of judgement. We know you mean well but put it in a different context- imagine you take on something new, a job perhaps. How would it feel if I came round and told you what you should be doing in your job, not supporting you and praising you for what you were doing well with?  I know you might have had four children and they all survived but do you know what: all children are different, times change and you have clearly forgotten how annoying the constant ‘advice’ part is!

For the first year (sometimes 2), my hormones are still a bit crazy. I’m flustered, sleep deprived and trying to wrestle with the idea of leaving my clingy child with someone else to raise whilst I return to work (which covers child care cost and only a little more!). I spend most of my (minimal) free time googling baby sleep training, healthy baby meals and baby milestones to make sure I am conforming to the expectations of society and doing all I can to help support my little growing human. Adding in the inevitable splash of baby blues, lack of social life and dwindling romance I don’t need the additional sh*t the your advice brings.

Its not that I don’t care about what you think, its because I care too much. What you think means a lot to me. Every word of advice makes me think I’m doing it wrong. Every look or laugh when I muck it up just reminds me there is always someone there to watch me fall.

So please save your advice and support me in the ways i really need (make me a coffee, offer to take a washing away, empty my dishwasher when you come for coffee or just hold my perfect little bundle of joy for ten minutes).

 

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Red Thai Beef Curry

Steven and I love Thai food, our favourite restaurant being Chayophraya. So after having a think about dairy free meals I came to the conclusion that Thai is quite a safe bet? A lot of Thai cooking involves Coconut milk/ cream, which is even better than dairy right?

We have been eating a lot of chicken recently so I decided to crack open the slow cooker, once more, and go for a beef curry.

I have to say, It was really tasty and I actually winged the recipe- yep it’s a botch job that actually worked!

Here it is…

Ingrediants

* Morrisons lean beef stewing steak

*2 packs of Morrisons coconut milk

*1 small tub of red Thai curry paste (could be used twice but I put it all in)

*1 red chilli (finely chopped)

* 1 red bell pepper (sliced into thin strips)

*1 yellow bell pepper (sliced into thin strips)

*1 red onion (thinly sliced)

* a handful of small broccoli florets

* lemongrass

* 1 tbsp of ginger

*1 tbsp of garlic

Method

add the beef into the slow cooker with a cup of water, the full lemongrass stem, the ginger and garlic. Leave this to slow cook on low for around 4-6 hours (until tender).

Once the meat is almost ready remove the lemon grass. Then add in the red Thai curry paste, coconut milk, chilli, peppers, onion and broccoli. Allow to cook in the slow cook for another 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.

Make sure you give the mix a good stir and serve with some Thai crackers and microwaveable coconut rice (the only quick part!).

Although this is quite a time consuming recipe the prep is actually not to much and very worth it! Yum

Please let me know if you have any dairy free recipes I can try out or some easy and quick treats.

Syn Free Slimming world wild Salmon Risotto

This is a recipe supplied by a reader and it looks delish. What’s more, if you are following the slimming world diet, this recipe is COMPLETELY syn free! 🎉

Wild Salmon Risotto- serves about 4.

Ingredients:

2 cups of rice (wholemeal)
400g Salmon Fillet (works out at about 2 large fillets)
1 tbsp ginger (i bought the Asda easy ginger)
1 tbsp garlic (I bought the Lazy Garlic from Asda)
1 tbsp chopped red chilli (Again, i bought pre chopped chilli)
3 x limes
Chives
150mls light soy sauce

Salmon:
wrap the salmon fillets in tin foil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 30 mins at 200 (or until cooked through).

Sauce & Rice:
In a measuring jug, mix together the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chopped chilli and the juice of all three limes.

When the salmon is cooked, remove the foil and the skin. Flake into large chunks and pour in half of the sauce. Leave to marinate for 20 mins while you cook the rice.

When the rice has boiled, drain and add in the salmon. Pour in the remaining sauce, mix and sprinkle with chives.

Serve immediately.

#slimmingworld #synfree #salmon #easytomakedinner

Stay At Home Work Ideas

When starting, growing or considering  family there only seem to be a few options relating to work. After your initial mat/pat leave (some only get three months) you can return to work full time, part time (if its in the business needs- remember this isn’t a give in) or compressed hours. Some of course choose to stay at home and have the finances to support this. Unfortunately this isn’t always an option for all.

Im not in any way saying that being a stay at home parent is the be all and end all but for those that want to then you should definitely explore every opportunity.

Although I would have loved to stay at home full time this wasn’t really practical for our family needs. Fortunately I am in a job where I can work part time or on an ad-hoc basis (when i need to) and this works well for our family right now.

When thinking about a stay at home business it is essential to come up with a business plan, no matter how small your business or potential revenue. this will help keep you on track, figure out your target market and consider any potential profits/ losses.

I read recently that a high percentage of small businesses (SME) fold within the first year of trade. However bleak this may sound though if you have a unique selling point, good business plan and the motivation to succeed than you will soon be on your way to success. Likewise, the statistics for woman in business and looking more positive than ever with 21% of SMEs being female-led, and 28% of FTSE100 board members being female (go us!!).

I’m no expert but I have a few rules on what I think are essentials in SME start up’s. Rule number 1, in my opinion, is know your market. Research competitors, see what they offer, what makes them successful and how they do things. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel but you can learn from them and be even better. Rule number 2, for me, is make sure your marketing is on fleek. A social media presence is now, more then ever, so important for SME. Its a source of free marketing and can reach a wide demographic. Rule number 4, don’t break the law. Make sure you have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. resetter your business, for tax, any employees, contracts etc. this is critical as failure to do so can lead to hefty financial/ legal liability. Its not worth the risk! My final rule, number 3, is make sure this is something you are passionate about. If you are, others will see this and will have more buy in to your service/ goods!

Whilst on maternity leave I did look into options for stay at home careers and came up with a list of good potentials. Although these are all pretty cool I panicked and stuck to what I know best but for the brave mumprenuers out there, here goes:

Crafter

Good at arts and crafts? Have a creative flair? Then this might just be the SME you need to be doing. This is a hugely growing market with the need for personalised items in high demand. The types of items you could create and sell are endless, but here are a few of my top picks: personalised frames, personalised children’s goods (bags, toy chests, pillows, t-shirts etc), wine glasses and holiday related gifts (Christmas/ Easter/ birthday/ firsts).

It a relatively low-cost start up too. Supplies can be bought on online market places like EBay and Amazon, Hobbycraft and the Range. Box frames can also be purchased for cheap at Ikea https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/decoration/frames-pictures/ribba-frame-white-art-00378403/ . You might choose to make scrabble family name frames, my first day at school crayon on frames or a whole host of other occasion frames. Here are a few you tube links to show you the how to on creating your own masterpieces.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n2CfU0k1o0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlBcrI92QXI

Here are a few I made-

Picture1

Virtual Assistant

Have a background in admin or just good with writing and being organised? Why not try a career as a virtual assistant. This is an interesting option as you could go 2 ways- out on your own or working via a third party. If you go it alone you need to be really on your A game with regards to sales and marketing. You will need to attract your own clients and work out how you can meets their needs and what services you will provide. Will you offer a telephone answering service? If so, you may need another line. Will your work mainly consist of social media management and writing? If so, a laptop may be all you need to get going.

It is important to hit the ground running with this and set clear lines with each client. Offer a terms of service which will outline what you will provide, how much you will charge (per hour) and an exit clause which should detail how the contract should end i.e notice period required by either party.

Here are a few companies which act like 3rd parties (doing the sales end and supplying you with work for a commission, usually paid at the other end of taken off your hourly rate), I should point out I only found these via google and haven’t had any experience with them personally-

 

https://www.virtalent.com/apply-virtual-assistant-jobs/

http://www.timeetc.co.uk/be-a-virtual-assistant/

http://www.virtualassistants.co.uk

 

Online Seller

This is something virtually anyone can do! It has no start up cost and is extremely helpful in decluttering your house and the houses of others.

Have a rake through your wardrobe, toy chests, garage and attic. Im sure there is a ton of stuff collecting dust and taking up space right? You know the saying… ‘one mans junk is another mans treasure!’.

Wash, iron, polish or spruce up your items and get listing them. You can advertise them for free or at a really low cost (usually taken form the sales fee) on sites such as EBay, Gumtree, Amazon, Schpok and Facebook groups.

Personally my favourite is the Facebook groups (usually your areas name follow by for sale, free or wanted). With these you can request the buyer collects and also negotiate a price, if you so wish?

It’s actually really exciting selling stuff you no longer want and seeing money in return. if you run out of stuff you can considering offering a sales service to friends and family. ask them for their unwanted items and do a sales split with them i.e you will ‘market’ their goods and arrange collection/ drop off and they will give you a percentage of the sales price. You will probably be surprised by all the people who would take you up on your offer. Everyone loves a de-clutter!

Dog Walking/ Cat Sitting

This is an excellent option for all those outdoorsy types or for parents with pets (animals, not the kids!).

can you imagine it…taking the dog out for a walk with the kids or baby in sling. Taking an extra 2 or three and actually getting paid for what you would be doing anyway?

Dog walking is big business and can attract double the hourly rate of a childminder sometimes earning up £12 p/h per dog!!

A few things to consider before venturing out on your own with this one though- how are you children with pets? Would you feel safe with your children around other dogs? do you have a large enough car or would your clientele be local enough with access to a park on foot?

You now need to be certified to be a Dog Walker in Scotland. I don’t think this is a largely expensive or lengthy process but its definitely something you will need to do prior to em’bark’ing on this career.

Edinburgh council register http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20178/park_management_and_rules/252/commercial_dog_walkers/1

Cleaning

Are you nifty with a duster? enjoy seeing things sparkle? Why not put your skills to the test and become a domestic cleaner. You could start up your own cleaning business.

Again, this is a very low cost start up. You really just need some cleaning equipment and a few clients. You could work this around getting free childcare (and if you didn’t want the kids to feel your absence, you could try and slot in cleaning jobs during your Childs nap time with them being babysat).

A good place to start with this is to get a family member or friend on board, offer to do a one time deep clean for them and get them to give you a testimonial/ review. from here, get yourself a Facebook page/ Twitter/ Instagram account and start posting photos of your immaculate work (bearing in mind the privacy of your clients). Create offers and MEMES to share your business page and remember to link with other groups on Facebook to promote your business. Another place to advertise for free are sites like gumtree. If you want local clients, why not create a flyer and do a mail drop on the school run or while out walking the buggy? Cleaning rates in my local area are between £10-15p/h and a deep clean can go for about £60.

 

 

This article is purely an opinion based piece and should not be taken as careers advice. Wit is essential when starting a business that you consider all legalities and costs and make an informed choice using professional guidance. When starting a business you will also need to consider what type of business will you be- self employed, limited company etc. This may put you off and seem a little overwhelming but its actually all very straight forward. You can arrange to meet with a business advisor for free through Business Gateway Scotland (if you are resident in Scotland) and they can give you advice about all these things and often recommend free start up courses and funding options to get you on your way to success. Good luck!

When are the kids old enough for chores?

When I was younger my siblings and I would need to carry out chores to ‘earn’ our pocket money. I know times have changed but it really got me thinking… am I denying my child the chance to develop basic skills for independence by doing all I do.

My eldest child will soon be 8 so with this in mind and his love of money I have set up a jobs board in the house. Each job will come with a visible cash incentive. Im not talking change the light bulb or cook the family meal, just the basics to get by and contribute to the house hold.

I decided to scour the web to find out what others were doing and what would be reasonable expectations. Here is what i found…

Allot of really OTT chores that I would never trust/ expect/ want my child to do at 8!!!

So here’s what I think is reasonable:

Making bed

Tidying room (putting toys away, hovering the floor and dusting)

Putting washed clothes away neatly in own drawers

Dusting

Hoovering

Preparing own breakfast (including toaster once shown safe opperation)

loading/ emptying dishwasher

Setting table and clearing it

This seems like loads, right?

Well don’t panic, I’m not asking my child to do all these things at once. The chores are completely optional and ways in which he can earn a little extra pocket money. Its not about getting these jobs done its more about preparing him for the outside world and making sure he is a positive contributing partner/ member of society one day (something Im sure will be greatly appreciated!).

I, like most, LOVE Pinterest and found this really cute chores idea (its important for Lewis to have a visual aide to help incentivise him!)…

https://pin.it/xxweenxzjy7tjy

Got any other chore ideas or tips, feel free to drop a comment?

 

Roasted tomato, red pepper and onion soup…

This is a delicious and really easy soup to make. Prep time is about 5 minutes and cook time is about 21 minutes. I use a soup maker machine, but a pressure cooker would work just as well.

Ingredients

10 x tomatos

2 x red peppers

1 x red onion

2 x ham stock cubes

A pinch of salt & pepper

 

Method

Rough chop the veg and add to the soup maker.

Add in 1 cup of boiling water and the crumbled ham stock cubes.

set for 21 minutes and relax. The soup maker cooks and blends on the ‘smooth’ setting.

Cost

This soup made 4 good sized bowls. I bought the ingredients from Lidl (already had the stock cubes n my store cupboard). All together the cost was;

Tomatoes £0.79

Onions £0.20 (roughly as bought in a bag)

Red peppers £0.98

Total= £1.97 ( roughly 50p a bowl!)

 

I served this with a loaf of crusty tiger bead!