When You Multi-Task Like A Boss…

… it makes you feel like you can achieve ANYTHING.

What is it about multi-tasking that makes you feel this way?

I recently started working from home (best. decision. ever.) and since then, my life has changed. Before, it was chaotic and manic, with me hurrying from one thing to the next, squeezing in work and family time while ignoring things that need to be done around the house…it’s fair to say my house was a tip, we were forever running out of fresh bread and milk, I’d rush my three-year-old to pre-school before jumping on the 7.58am train to work, I’d get home at 6pm after rushing the three-year-old back from pre-school and into a bath. Which was about as fun as booking a holiday and your passport not arriving in time (ooh topical).

But now… my life feels calm and organised. I can smoothly juggle work, home shiz and family fun with time to breathe. That breathing part is important, isn’t it?

Take right now, as an example. I’m currently doing all of the following (right now!):

  • Washing a load of clothes
  • Drying a whole rack of clothes
  • Boiling the kettle to make a cuppa
  • Replying to work emails and organising workload for the rest of the day
  • Arranging a meeting with someone I work for
  • Writing a blog post (this one!)
  • Sunning my legs, as I sit on my back door step

Earlier this morning, I was able to drop my three year-old off at pre-school, drop some stuff off at a local charity shop, come home and tidy up breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, book some activities for our forthcoming holiday at Bluestone Park and pay some bills. I’ve achieved so much already today.

Which makes me want to do the running man dance and high five myself (totally wish you could high five yourself, it would be such a brilliant thing to do at least once a day) because it contrasts so starkly with how I was operating just a few weeks ago.

What is it about multi-tasking that makes us feel such a success? According to Zheng Wang, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, we get an emotional high from it. “There’s this myth among some people that multitasking makes them more productive,” he said in a statement. “But they seem to be misperceiving the positive feelings they get from multitasking. They are not being more productive — they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.”

Some experts say that multi-tasking isn’t the best way to do things – they think we should be single tasking instead – focusing on one thing really well at a time. But when it comes to being a working mum, I disagree. It’s all about how many tasks you can get done simultaneously. So later on today, I’ll be walking my daughter home from pre-school while testing her on how many words she knows that rhymes with ‘goat’ (“No, not submarine…”) and picking up dinner at the same time. That way, I’ll have really earned my 7pm wine, right?

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Work.Life.Mum: Mr & Mrs Smith’s Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman, Smith Hotels

Juliet Kinsman is Editor-in-Chief of Mr and Mrs Smith – the travel company which handpicks the most stylish places to stay, around the world. As well as being an expert in luxury travel, Juliet is Mum to six-year-old Kitty and lives in North West London with her partner. The recently-launched Smith & Family is the go-to place for perfect family hotels, with a child-friendly attitude and grown-up features alike.

Which, for someone who is as posh-hotel-obsessed as I am, is the most exciting thing ever. Being the typical Mr & Mrs Smith customer during my 20s (tripping off to Babington House of a weekend or arranging my hen do at Calcot Manor) I now can’t wait to try out the hotels recommended by Smith & Family.

In the first of a new series of Work.Life.Mum interviews with inspiring women, I caught up with Juliet for a chat about her own travels, how she balances work and life and (naturally) to get some travel tips from her…

Juliet Kinsman and daughter Kitty

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An Open Letter To The 7pm Wine

Kids' bedtime wine = the best wine in the world

 

Dear 7pm wine,

I think I love you. Is that a bit bold to admit so early on? Well, I’ve said it now (hashtag-there-I-said-it).

It’s only since becoming a mum that I’ve truly discovered your healing powers.

Back when I had my first taste of alcohol at around 16 (I’m pretty sure it was something gross like strawberry MD 20/20… I know. Sacrilege, right?) it was out of curiosity and it’s no surprise that for a few years after that, I drank long vodkas and Baileys because they pretty much taste like soft drinks/a milkshake. Throughout uni,  I moved onto more *cough* sophisticated drinks like Bacardi Breezers (cranberry, natch) and Archers and lemonade. I drank in cheesy bars and clubs (Amadeus in Rochester, I’m looking at you) and danced until the designated driver dragged us out of there.

Then, in my early twenties I drank vodka and Diet Coke because I was following the Weight Watchers plan (wish I could go back to my 22-year-old size 12 self and tell her to chill the heck out about her weight) and it was only one ‘point’. I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to save up ten points to drink in one evening, but hey, it worked for me.

It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I discovered your close friend, the after-work white wine. Before that, I hadn’t liked the taste of wine (can you believe that?). The after-work wine was a great stress reliever and when paired with a couple of packets of Mini Cheddars and some office gossip, it was a cracking way to spend every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night.

But nothing compares to you, the post-kids’-bedtime 7pm glass of wine. I tuck my daughter up in bed, read her a story or two, then come downstairs and head to the fridge. The noise of the screw cap loosening coincides with my shoulder muscles loosening. The glug glug glug of the wine hitting the glass soothes my tight forehead. But it’s that first sip…

Cold, crisp, fruity, dry. Bingo.

I don’t event mind when I hear a little voice from the top of the stairs saying “MUMMYYYY! I NEED A WEEEE!” because I know that when I come back downstairs after taking her for a wee/giving her a drink/fixing her covers/moving her teddies/whatever excuse she happens to be using that night to avoid going to sleep, you’ll be waiting for me.

Thanks, you.

Love, your Number One Fan x

<<< I’m linking this post up to The Bad Mums’ Club – a collection of posts by bloggers on our failings as mothers. The Bad Mums’ Club consists of me, Morgana from But Why Mummy Why, Aimee from Pass The Gin and Katie from Hurrah For Gin but really, everyone is welcome. Of course, we know we’re not really bad mums, but I think it’s important to highlight all the imperfect stuff we do, as well as the amazing rose-tinted moments. It’s good to keep it real, right?Do visit MorganaAimee and Katie‘s blogs to read their Bad Mums’ Club posts! >>>

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Kirstie Allsopp & Fertility: Are We Adding More Pressure On Young Women?

Kirstie Allsopp

Kirstie Allsopp caused a bit of a stir yesterday. In an interview with The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon, she spoke about women’s limited fertility and when women choose to have kids. If you believe some articles that sprang up in reaction, she was telling the nation’s young women to bin off uni and find a nice man to settle down with, but I think her argument is slightly more complex than that.

“Women are being let down by the system,” she said. “We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward. At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.”

So far, so good. Have to say that I agree with Kirstie on all of that. Between the age of 18 and 35 we have so much to pack in. Kirstie continues by saying, “[Fertility] is the one thing we can’t change. Some of the greatest pain that I have seen among friends is the struggle to have a child. It wasn’t all people who couldn’t start early enough because they hadn’t met the right person.

“But there is a huge inequality, which is that women have this time pressure that men don’t have. And I think if you’re a man of 25 and you’re with a woman of 25, and you really love her, then you have a responsibility to say: ‘Let’s do it now.’

“I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying ‘Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”

“Yes,” she concedes, “that might sound wholly unrealistic. But we have all this time at the end. You can do your career afterwards. We have to readjust. And men can have fun after they have kids. If everyone started having children when they were 20, they’d be free as a bird by the time they were 45. But how many 45-year-olds do you know who are bogged down?

“I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has.”

It’s fantastic that Kirstie Allsopp has pushed this debate into the media. Talking about fertility and choice can only be a good thing and if it gets young women thinking about what they want from life, then that’s brilliant.

So much of what Kirstie says makes sense – of course we only have a limited window when it comes to starting a family, you can’t deny that, and I love the idea of questioning the order we do things in. Questioning things that we do because it’s how everyone else does it – that is the kind of thinking that led to women getting the vote and the kind of thinking that led to women working in jobs previously only done by men and the kind of thinking that led to fairer pay for women and the kind of thinking that will see flexible working rights change later this month and paternity leave rights change next year.

Questioning how and why we do things is the way forward. Of course it is.

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Why I Want To Raise A Disobedient Daughter

Why I want to raise a disobedient daughter

When I’m in a restaurant and I see children sitting quietly, colouring and sipping on a glass of milk, while their parents chat and eat, I feel quietly impressed. I might even turn to whoever I’m with and say, “Wow, what well behaved children, they’re clearly being brought up well.” It’s fair to say we offer a lot of praise towards parents who raise well behaved children.

In contrast, my daughter is usually the child in the restaurant SHOUTING EVERYTHING (why don’t three-year-olds have a volume dial?), standing on her chair, putting crayons in a glass and shaking them to listen to the rattle it makes, crying and moaning when she drops her colouring sheet (“MUMMY! Pick it uuuuuuup…….. please.”) and refusing to eat the majority of her lunch.

But, actually, I don’t mind.

If given the choice between raising a well behaved obedient child and a challenging child with spirit, I’d go for the latter, every time. Yes, it’s stressful and tiring and it can reduce even the calmest of parents to tears, but many of the traits we think are bad in a child, are seen as brilliant traits in an adult.

Questioning things - it drives me up the wall when my three-year-old asks “Why?” around 89 times a day. Sometimes it’s cute (“Why are you wearing that jacket?”) and sometimes it’s frustrating (“Why do I have to go to bed? I’m NOT TIRED”… usually followed by a yawn and a rub of the eyes) but in the grown up world, I want her to question things and ask why. I want her to look at how things work and wonder whether they can work better a different way. Some of the people we admire the most are the ones who question things. Continue reading