Never discount a chance meeting, it might get you on radio!

I know that we all have busy lives and so logically we will often not bother to chat to or make friends with people in a situation that doesn’t obviously make sense.  But if you are open to it, there are sometimes magical things that will come out of it.  For example, you might really get on well with a Mum when waiting at the school gates, but her child isn’t in the same class, or you find out that someone is moving, so it seems wasteful to spend time on them.  I’m going to tell you a story about how sometimes just following your heart can really work out.

Many years ago (must be about 10), in my very ‘new age’ stage, I attended an ‘animal communication’ course by Amelia Kincade.  I was a Reiki Master (a type of simple hands on healing), and really fancied concentrating on animals.  However, I quickly discovered that it was not my forte!  I think that the most exciting thing I managed to ‘hear’ was something about a blue bowl.  I met some lovely people and one of them mistakenly emailed me afterwards thinking I was a different Lisa.  So we kept in touch on and off over the years, and I think I wrote something for her when she set up a newspaper in London, even though we actually had no idea what we each looked like as it had initially been a case of mistaken identity.  In the meantime I’d gone on to study with my mentor Dr John Demartini, who helped me to combine my tree hugging side with the computer programmer scientific side.  At his first ever UK event in 2007 I heard there was a Francesca helping out with the promotion and so I wandered up and introduced myself to her, and from there a lovely friendship blossomed.

Francesca and I continued to ‘break the rules’.  So when she started up a networking event for key members of a new online community, she invited me, even though that meant bringing my toddler with me.  There we all were, seriously discussing missions and all sorts of other blah blah stuff, with curly headed boy joining in and wandering in between everybody’s legs.  He called Francesca ‘sparkly lady’ because she always wore sparkly clothes or a sparkly necklace, and fell in love with her brother-in-law who has the same rock star red curly shoulder length hair and showed him how to play his guitar.

I get 15 minutes some mornings to make phone calls enroute back from the school run as Little Dimples stays at home with the little irish granny I have adopted, so a couple of weeks ago I put a pile of names in my favourite’s list as a treat to call and Francesca was at the top of my list.  So, we’re catching up about everything we are doing, and she mentions that she has just started co-hosting an internet radio show on Wednesday’s which is all about ‘Creating our own reality’, and within minutes I was invited on.

So yesterday morning, a chance meeting on a very new agey course had me doing my very first ever radio interview.  I was pretty scared, but apparently I sound really calm.  Must have been Carl’s meditation that I was listening too as I was having problems with logging on that kept me calm!  I really recommend their show, as Carl and Francesca are not your typical new agers, and they have great ideas to share with a huge dose of sense of humour.

Here’s the URL if you fancy listening to my show:  BarefootBroadcaster.  I talked about all sorts of things, and they’ve asked me back, so I’m really chuffed.  They particularly wanted to focus on how we ‘create our own reality’, and we’re keen to hear how I’d gone from being told I was ‘barren’ at 19, to having 2 kids at 41.  So we chatted about that, and about not pushing to achieve your goals, but using a more intuitive or heart led approach.  Carl was also really interested in the fact that I do baby signing with the kids, which reminded me that I really must blog about that soon, as Little Dimples has just started the classes and is loving it.  We finished off on something that I am very passionate about, which is how as parents we can help our kids to know who they are from the start, rather than have to wait until they are 30, 40 or 50 to have a clue.

So, don’t get all freaky about keeping in touch with everyone you ever meet.  But remember that sometimes it’s worth it, because there are special people out there who don’t quite ‘fit with the plan’ or logic of life, but we feel drawn to them.  I’ve seen lots of mums in the mornings (me too sometimes), not even noticing that there are Mums in different classes.  In fact, they are so unaware, they walk through Curly Headed Boy’s line as the kids are walking into the class room.  It won’t do the kids any harm to keep looking out of the box and noticing other kids in the play ground, so there’s always space for us to do the same.

Right, off to write a post for next week, as it’s half term, so I wont get time then.

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This is how come we haven’t gone anywhere by car for 9 months!

When Little Dimples was born I had a theory, that having had a rubbish sleeper who hated cars, I would most probably get a fabulous sleeper, who loved cars, but to balance it out was trickier during the day (curly headed boy was pretty easy, despite a wish to be held a lot).  But it didn’t work out that way!  She HATES the car, and is only a smidgen better at sleeping; probably because I went straight for co-sleeping this time.  This means that we have a pile of patient people out there who haven’t seen us for probably 10months or more, unless they were willing to travel.  I imagine that some think that we are exaggerating though, and if I hear one more time ‘Really, my child slept in the car!’.

So here is the reason why I eventually started to pay a lovely little old lady to look after Willow to reduce the car trips from 20 to 10 per week.  Yes, it does go on, and on, and on, and in fact this is not her at her worst, because after 5mins she also goes bright red and starts to sweat (no I did not purposely put her in the car to record this video).  Once started there is no way to get through to her.  We’ve tried toys, holding her hand, constant nursery rhymes, music, mirrors, different times of day, different car seats, a chiropractor, making it more comfy, making it less comfy, loads of things!

There are 2 rays of light though:

  • Curly Headed Boy was the same, but when we turned him round to the front facing seat at 9 months, he was fine.  Little Dimples should be big enough when she reaches 10 months, so not much longer to go.
  • Mickey Mouse and an Ipad have come to our rescue and at least 50% of the 10 remaining school trips are OK, because she can sometimes last 15 minutes!  This might sound like a bizzare or expensive option, but after many hours I promise you, you’d pay anything.  Goodness knows what it is about Mickey, but Little Dimples has loved him since the first moment she clapped eyes on him (yes, I am a bad mother, who watches Disney and Cbeebies with her kids).  On the iPad (which appeared for my birthday after we tested it out, lucky me!), he is incredibly clear, so he gets hung on a piece of string over the headrest in the car.

If you happen to come by this post because you too have a screaming baby in the car, then try all the things I mentioned, but if the worst comes to the worst, just remember that it will be over and try to reduce the numbers of times that your baby gets that stressed out, as it is not good for their brain development.  There are advantages to having to stay put sometimes.  It saved us tonnes of money because we couldn’t face travelling to Devon for a holiday, and couldn’t find anywhere abroad from the nearest airport by train.  I am really tired, especially after falling ill, so it reduces the stress levels as travelling with a baby is tough.  Plus, those ‘free’ weekends when we would have travelled to visit people, have instead been times that we have been consolidating, ebaying and freecyling our house; it’s beginning to look really sorted.

So a big ‘Thank you’ to all those family and friends who have been so kind as to visit us this year; just hold on, it’ll get better come 2011 and we’ll try to make it up to you!  To those in the same position, breathe and remember that ‘this too shall pass’.  To all those who hate TV and think it destroys children’s brains, my baby’s brain would be much more detrimentally affected without Mickey; there is never one rule for everyone and if you don’t recognise that there is a benefit to everything somewhere, then you are not trying to address the problem clearly.

Help, Am I Deluded?

I’ve met my fair share of coach/therapist/healer types who were extremely deluded about either their grandiose plans, their skills or their market actually wanting them. There have also been a fair amount if people with a great deal less training and experience than me, who were a load better at marketing and therefore a hell of a lot more financially successful. So the question is, am I deluded too, or is it just a matter of my marketing skills needing a polish?

The thing is, I’ve spent nearly 11yrs in this business in one form or another, and although I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s enriched my life with less stress, 2 miracle kids, a lasting relationship and a feeling of contentment, it hasn’t done so financially. I’ve got to ‘that time’, it’s ‘make or break’. I’ve decided to focus on mums as it is a subject close to my heart. I’ve got a fab new way of doing my coaching online, which makes it more accessible and affordable for mums. Lastly, I’ve signed up for a ‘bootcamp’ to help me launch my new product. But is it doomed to failure, because no one wants it or me?

Let’s back track a bit. When I became a mum, I realised that the training I had received was brilliant, and saved me many hours of angst. But it was also inappropriate for a mums time and resource limitations, so I created the mummy whisperer program. I saw all these mums talking/blogging about losing their identity, having problems with conflict or lack of communication in their families, and getting stressed out because they thought they/their kids/partners/life should be different. My thought process was that they ‘needed’ all these things I could do to help them be more contented with their lives and grow strong families. But, do mums really want it? That is, it might sound nice, and a few might sign up, but are there enough who REALLY want it? And would they want me? And would they pay enough to make them appreciate it and give me a fair level of earnings?

Apparently, I am meant to focus on a smaller niche than just mums, one where I have experience, credibility and contacts. The idea is if I focus on a niche, my message will be clearer and will get more mums signing up. So that has made me decide to focus on mums with kids starting nursery or school. Not new mums of babies, because my longer term plan is to provide them with a book, and not mums of teens because I don’t have teenagers yet. But if there is a market, the next question I’m facing is wether I need to cut it down even smaller to: working mums, work from home mums, or stay at home mums. Now I reckon that my program would help them all, especially as they all face guilt and work/life/rest/play balance in some way shape or form. But I can also see several potential problems, especially that working mums don’t have enough time left over to make their lives easier, and SAHM’s wouldn’t want to spend the money on themselves. By creating a program that can be worked through online, I was hoping that mums could fit it into their lives more easily, and by giving a payment option over 3 months with a 14 day free trial it would make it more affordable. But that might not be enough, or is that where marketing comes in?

There is an even bigger problem as well! What I’m offering is a way for a mum to be more sure of themselves and listen to their own natural instinct and knowledge of their family, instead of a one-size fits all parenting technique. But do mums want an answer tailored to their own family, which leaves them in the driving seat, or would they prefer to be told what to do according to a set of rules, even if it’s pretty much impossible to create? If there are mums who like the idea of what I offer, does that mean that they are already going that way and so don’t need my help?

In the past I have specialised in mental health issues, relationship problems and small business owners. Perhaps a mum facing the loss of her marriage, mental health or business would be more likely to ask for help. But if that is the case, then I’m going to have to take more time off work, because I don’t currently have the time to support these more extreme demands; I was planning on tackling them later.

What do you reckon? I’d really appreciate any feedback (be gentle please!; so I’m going to offer a copy of my book ‘getting the hang of gratitude’ to one of the people who leave a comment (I’ll use some random fair way of selecting!).

It’s All Change On The Western Front

It’s been a weird 6 months, I appear to have been in mega ‘declutter your life’ mode.  You would have thought that giving birth to little dimples, and curly headed boy going to primary school would have been enough really, plus getting really sick.  But I appear to have been on a mission.

Maybe it’s because now I have two kids, there really isn’t any space for anything that is irrelevant or takes up time/space I can’t afford?  Did anyone else find a similar thing happened to them after having a second child?

I’m also much more aware of my age (41), and am having no problem in remembering to eat healthily or take vitamins and minerals that I probably wouldn’t have been reliable about beforehand.  I realised that if I’m to see my grandchildren, then some serious work needs to be done to get it into working order.  Perhaps it’s a big reality check that happens in your forties?

Or is it because it’s my ‘saturn return’ in astrological terms or ‘mid-life crisis’ in psychobabble terms?  My lovely astrologer (seriously, if you ever wanted to try it, he’s a lovely guy, brilliant value, very good at it and it doesn’t matter where you live) did say that it was hitting me this year.

I’ve found a wonderful woman locally who will take all the stuff  you just haven’t managed to get round to selling on ebay and do it for you (if you near St Albans and want her name, feel free to leave a comment below).  Although she takes a fee, I reckon that she makes more on the sale anyway, so it’s well worth it.  She took a car load, plus sold a bike and a dog kennel that got picked up from our home.  Then even better was the discovery of freegle (used to be called freecyle), which is a yahoo group where you can offer ANYTHING for free and within 24hrs it’s gone; FANTASTIC!

We had a flood from the shower, so downstairs is going to be refloored (we have holes in the floor from the dog scratching) and the walls painted in industrial child proof stuff!  So the house is getting a make over too.

I even in a fit of madness went from this, to this (plus yesterday I had all the grey dyed out!):

Meanwhile big northern hairy hubby is also at it, with a sudden fitness regime and a success at losing weight that he hasn’t had in 10yrs.  I think that we would both admit that our relationship needs a bit of polishing after all these years (21, how scary!), so there is change afoot there too.

The biggest change came as I decided what to do about my work.  I found it increasingly hard to work out how things would work with the second baby.  Now that I’m just focussing on Mums and am just overseeing my more general therapy business, it was easier, but also I realised that coordinating our schedules was almost impossible.  Plus for Mums I really needed to be able to provide incredible value for service for a really affordable price, but without making it pointless me working.  I was seriously considering just giving up work.  After all, I could be a stay at home mum (SAHM), and in the time I would normally work, I could get fit, look fab, and then when the kids leave school I’ll be about 60, so pretty much ready to retire.  There would be a hell of a lot less juggling to do.  But there would of course be the downside that I lose my sparkle when I don’t work at all, so I might look better, but I wouldn’t be much fun.

By the way, you might not know what I actually do?  I’ve updated by about page and background, just incase you are interested as to where I came from, and what my qualifications are.  But basically, I’m not a parenting coach.  I call myself a ‘mummy whisperer’, because I’m just here to help the mum to be clear on who they are, become more contented, get more sparkle in their lives, and create a strong family with less conflict and stress.  (There’s lots more information on this blog about the ‘fun creation equation‘ and my services, plus on my main site).

Then out of the blue I found my solution!  It’s so exciting, I’ve kept quiet about it all summer, because I wanted to show you what it would look like before I mentioned it.  I’ve found a way, that I can provide help for Mums ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME of the day, 24×7, ANY DAY of the week, for ANY LENGTH of time.  Plus the amount of stuff I’ve put in the package is well worth about £7000, but I can sell it from £379, with the option to pay by paypal/credit card over 3 months, so it is really affordable.  Plus, it will be there for the Mums FOREVER, to reuse over and over again, for that one price.  Plus, for anyone who can’t afford it initially, I’ve got a FREE INTRODUCTION, and will be adding a £27 product to help people sort out their finances.  It’s way better than just 1to1’s because all the information is there to be referred back to at any time, and better than workshops, because no one can slip through the cracks and pretend that they understand. (Please forgive me for the shouting in capitals, but I’ve been keeping quiet about this all summer, so I’m kind of over-excited!!).

‘So what on earth is it?’, I hear you ask (hopefully?!).  It’s using a product called **jigsawbox, funnily enough created by another Mum who must have been in the same situation as me.  It means that I can put my workbooks or workshops online into packages.  When you login, there will be different modules, inside of which will be videos, audios, and text explaining that particular subject.  Then to help you learn it properly there are exercises for you to fill out.  But the best bit is, when you press [send to coach], I can then add my own feedback, so we can interact online.  There will also be the option for free webinars, or to add 15min skype chats or longer 1to1 sessions for some Mums who need more assistance (for example, if there are relationship issues, PND, or past abusive relationships).

Now I haven’t done a video to show you properly yet, but I will do, so keep a look out for it.  But in the meantime, you can get a free introduction to this fab system, plus start to have a look at your own identity and how your family is working at the moment, by signing up for free email list (see RHS).  I’d love to know what you think, so please do leave comments below.

So how come has all this come about?  Well, it might sound a bit tree hugging, but I’m sure there is a vibe of change in the air.  I was too late to get involved in *** Josie’s (a well known mummy bloggerwriting workshop about change last week, but there seems to be a lot of it about.  It’s the jewish new year, and schools always start at this time of the year, so maybe we are all programmed to be thinking about it around now.  There are days when it feels exciting, and others when it feels very scary, and almost like I’m grieving for something being over.  I cried buckets on the last night of big brother, and when curly headed boy started school, but in a way they were just opportunities for a few tears to do with something deeper.  As my mentor says ‘the greatest transformation happens at the border of order and chaos’, i.e. nothing gets changed without some discomfort!  So onwards and upwards, one step at a time, is my motto at the moment.

Is life changing for you too, or is it just those of us in the mid-life crisis?

** I am now an affiliate of jigsawbox as well; of course, because I think it is fab, I want to share it with other coaches/therapist/trainers out there.  If you decide you like it after hearing from me, feel free to email me for more info, and I’d really appreciate you using my affiliate link.  I haven’t found anything else that even matches it a little, it has been going for over a year, so the kinks have been sorted out, and there is tonnes of support.

*** Josie is one of the 3 mummy bloggers who recently went to bangladesh with Save the Children, and have started a Press for Change campaign to push Nick Clegg to commit to making the huge rates of child mortality in third world countries a thing of the past.

Staycation vs Vacation vs Crazy Gap Year

This summer we opted for a ‘staycation’ with curly headed boy (4.5yrs) and little dimples (6 months).  For ages I had perused all sorts of vacation options, but there were three problems:

  • I was shattered and really wanted bigtime pampering and five star service (for that read price!)
  • Little Dimples was just turning 6 months, so just about to start weaning and changing on a daily basis, so we had no idea what she would really want, plus really hot (like greece) wouldn’t be ideal with a little baby, and she screams in the car, so the UK wasn’t an option either.
  • Little Dimples had just decided to develop a bit of separation anxiety, or preference for who she liked to be left with, so a creche might not work.

So we opted for a ‘staycation’.  I did miss the automatic relaxation I get from the sound of the sea, with a bit of warmth, and laughing children in the background.  But we had someone to look after Little Dimples, and Curly Headed Boy went to camp a few days, so we had a bit of time together to chat, plus get a couple of massages each.  It made me realise that it would be more sensible to take care of my body regularly, rather than wait for holiday time, so I’ve kept up the massages/reflexology since then which is helping with the general exhaustion and breastfeeding.

We had some great adventures as a family too, and found that going into London really suited both the kids, even if it was just to meet up with friends.  The science museum is a must if you haven’t taken your kids.  It’s free (but I recommend taking refreshments, because big-time rip off!), and the kids section is so much fun.  Curly Headed Boy keeps ‘doing science’ when he finds reflections since our visit.  We are definitely going to go back in the next month or so to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs again.  There’s a splash park in St Albans, which I’d been meaning to go to for years, and we are members at a local children’s farm.

There was one big disaster when the morning that we were off to see ‘The Lion King’ I asked big hairy northern hubby to check if pushchairs were allowed, only to find that under 3’s were not allowed.  Seriously, it’s a Disney show!  Before people start leaving comments saying how they hate being interrupted by kids at shows like that, let me point out that I’m not daft.  Curly Headed Boy loves shows and would definitely have the stamina for it, and he has read the book, bet you haven’t recently!  Little Dimples might have needed a break, but being a matinee it was perfectly timed for her nap.  We couldn’t go because Curly didn’t want to leave his sister behind, and I couldn’t leave her for that long as I’m still breast feeding.  So learn from my lesson.  It might be disney, but many shows in london are not actually for young kids.  I was very tempted to give my tickets to 3 smelly tramps, but couldn’t find any, and sadly couldn’t find anyone else either, which was a big shame.

Since then I’m even more chuffed we stayed at home, because having gone through the whole rite of passage of curly headed boy starting school, I’ve got very different opinions on what I would like to do for holidays with the kids.  Watching ‘My family’s crazy gap year’, I had a huge realisation.  I was incredibly lucky as a young baby and child to travel to africa every year, and go to lots of places in europe as a young girl, and colorado as an adult.  There are tonnes of amazing places in this world that I never got to go to as I didn’t have a gap year.  I’d love to make sure that over the next few years I can share my children’s first experiences of some of these places, and set them off on a path where they remember to look for the magical places on offer.

So that’s my plan.  Take care of myself during the year a bit more, so that I don’t need the huge relaxation of a holiday (not sure it’s possible with young kids anyway), and make a big long list of places that we can go as a family.  They don’t have to be posh or far away or an amazonian rain forest (like the TV show), it’s about giving them a richness of experience.

So here’s the beginnings of my list:

  1. A Festival: I’ve never done a festival and the other day read about camp bestival, which sounds fab!  It’s certainly the only way that big northern hubby is getting me in a tent.
  2. Lake District: Dare I admit I’ve never been there, I’m more of a devon & cornwall girl!
  3. Isle of Wight & Jersey: as above
  4. Lapland: I know it can be a bit rubbish, but if we get a good trip it’s meant to be amazing (in a few years when little dimples is 3/4).
  5. Colorado: Definitely need to take them there, I LOVE this place.  I might be a rubbish snowboarder, but you can pretend to be quite cool when sitting on your bum looking at the mountains.
  6. Africa: specifically zimbabwe when it is safer and when the kids are older, so I’m less worried about giving them malaria pills.  I’d LOVE to do an elephant safari oneday if it was one where I could be sure the elephants were well cared for.
  7. Aura Borealis : This is for big hairy northern husband ;o)

So can you help me with ideas to fill up my list?  Where have you been?  Did you take the family?  Feel free to link to your blogs if you’ve blogged about it (sorry I’ve not learnt how to do a mcklinky thingy yet).

Feel free to promote your holidays or your company, but beware: if they are boring, bog standard and have not an ounce of ‘experience’ in them, then they wont get shown ;o)  For instance, a mummy friend of mine just stayed in devon at a farm, which sounded brilliant, and amazing value: something like that is definitely a ‘yes’, and I’d love to know about it.  But your villa on whatever costa, however nice, doesn’t fit the bill for what I’m interested in today, unless you are also teaching curly headed boy to become ‘Avatar’ (he’s seen the cartoons, not the film ‘the last airbender’), have some great tree hugging stuff for me, a pool for little dimples, and a mountain for big hairy northern husband to climb.

School: The Problem Is They Can’t Do Everything

I’ve unravelled some of my discomfort last week with curly headed boy starting school, so I feel much clearer this morning.  Apart from the obvious Rite of Passage, it’s because there has to be a compromise and there is no such thing as a perfect school.  Please Note, I’m a very fond mummy, but I’m not clingy, so don’t assume that was my problem, I’m a bit sleep deprived and might get grumpy if that steriotype is put at my door ;o)

What can a school give your child: learning, academic results, confidence, sport, individuality, life lessons, art, creativity, experiences, friends, discipline, so many things.  But none of them give it all, that’s the problem.

Let’s look at our decision process when it came to picking schools.

State Schools: The UK has a good state primary system and I had always said I would NEVER pay for a young child to go to school.  But when I heard myself say that, I did get a little uncomfortable, because ‘never say never’, and sure enough it didn’t work out.  We moved into a lovely new estate when I was pregnant, with dodgy local school, but lots of fab schools around us.  So the plan was to send him to one of several.  However, a few years and a big baby boom later, and the only option was the local school (sadly I’m not catholic, otherwise there are lots of catholic schools around).  Now, I’m not suggesting that this school would have ruined his life forever, and he would certainly have experienced a different kind of reality.  But kids do need to feel like they fit in, and I winced when seeing 5yr olds swearing leaving the schools, with Mums smoking and swearing back.

Tree Hugging: My next plan was to go for a Steiner School, which I had again always assumed would be a good choice for me.  I happened to be offered a table at their fair, and was incredibly impressed with the confidence and individuality of the young teenagers as they strolled around the corridors busking and looking much cooler than the standard wannabe fashion follower.  But as I learnt more about it, I realised that it just wouldn’t work for curly headed boy’s values.  He wanted to learn, learn and learn some more.  So waiting until 7yrs to read and write wouldn’t have worked for him.  Plus it was a risky choice as we have often moved due to job changes, and he might then end up in a place without a Steiner school and have a huge amount of catch up to do.  He wasn’t the type to want to spend an extra year at school either, although I see that it makes a great deal of sense.  Plus I was a little uncomfortable with the deeper beliefs in the school system and knew that with the training I had over the past 10yrs, I would have been in major disagreement with some of their most deeply held philosophies.

Private Sector: Inevitably we moved onto the private sector, but it was a bit late in the day, I was naive, and had no idea of the amount of competition involved.  I thought that if you had a relatively bright kid, you applied to one school, and that was that.  I soon realised this was not the case and had to apply to 4 in total.  (I do understand that I am lucky to have this option, but it’s neither an easy option to decide to spend that kind of money every year on schools).

Option 1: Had the most holistic feel of them all, but this year a big sibling intake, a new headmistress starting and unfortunately I had inadvertently moved to a nursery the rumour is that they didn’t like.  Their assessment day was weird; a long line of teachers march in, randomly pick a child, and walk off with them.  I suspect that curly headed boy took a dislike to the teacher, so despite a very successful open day and private walk around with the head we didn’t get offered a space (the teacher wouldn’t explain why she needed to keep the 2 photos of him that she had, and that she’d been given them by me anyway, so he could just ask me).

Option 2: Had a lovely concept of EVERY child learning to do EVERYTHING, but the downside to that was saturday school.  I had a strong feeling that we wouldn’t fit in there with the other kids, which is very important to Curly headed boy.

Option 3: Seemed to really concentrate on creating programs that would encourage and bring out the best in your child, whatever that was.  The problem was they only had 4 spaces as they only had 1 class, already full from the nursery.  Plus, there would have been no one there that Max knew, which would have been very against his values.

Option 4: A very traditional school.  People pick it because they can rely on the results that it gives, and thinking about it this week I can see that this gives a huge amount of security as it’s not necessarily the private education that counts in our competitive job market, but the academics you get.  A large number of Curly Headed Boy’s friends are going here, and it is massively comforting for him to meet them in the play ground (there are 3 classes here).  Plus, there is a great mixture of backgrounds, which he likes.  His old nursery had all your ‘standard’ backgrounds of white, asian and black, but also russian, french, jewish, oriental; and he loved meeting lots of different types of friends.  But as you see from last week, there is very little ‘touchy feely’ stuff and so I’ve been uncomfortable about the lack of information provided and the lack of forethought in helping the kids to fit in.  Some people would probably consider me as a bit ‘bloody minded’ as I don’t tend to just do something, just because I’ve been told to or am expected to!

As it was, it was Option 1, 2 and 3 put curly headed boy on their ‘reserve list’, and Option 4 offered him a place.  I could probably have pushed 1/2/3, but decided that I would go with 4 as they wanted him from the get go, so I trusted that they knew he would fit in best there.

So there are the options we faced:

  • State sector, which would have saved us lots of money and given him a good ‘normal’ academic start, that we could easily have afforded to add to if he wanted to learn something extra on the side.  But the problem of the baby boom, leaving us with a less attractive school.
  • Steiner system, full of individuality and community spirit.  But also with it’s problems.
  • Private Option: where the education is more focussed on academics.  When watching a TV program yesterday called ‘My family’s crazy gap year’, I realised my big concern was about ‘life experiences’ and a more holistic view of life being missing.  Both of which are very important to me.

I firmly believe that there are no mistakes and that there are as many pros as cons to all options.  Today I realised how come I have picked the ‘right’ option for curly headed boy.  The option I have picked works for his high value on learning and friends.  Meanwhile, everything that I am concerned is ‘missing’, I (and big hairy northern hubby) have all the skills to fill in.  I love doing creative stuff, know how to support/encourage him when he is unconfident, can add some extra sports classes at my gym and he can do lots of sport with hubby.  Meanwhile, having had a chat with hubby yesterday, we can fill in the ‘life experiences’ with holidays that ensure he and little dimples gets a broad education.

So phew: that’s one thing sorted off my brain anyway!  It does feel very uncomfortable when in a situation that feels very opposite to your own values.  It’s about working out why it is, and then looking for the balance.  Mind you, I will keep my eyes open to options as he gets older, and not count out a ‘crazy gap year’ of our own oneday ;o)

Andrex Puppy – Prizes To Be Had And A Conversation About Disability

Just incase you didn’t guess this is a sponsored post ;o)

The guys at Andrex contacted me to ask if I would let you know about a competition running at the moment, and you know what that means – PRIZES!

Before I let you know more about it, I thought I’d chat a bit about the power of brand.

Funnily enough my little boy was given an andrex puppy last week by a lovely little old irish lady who is helping me out in the mornings, so I had a long conversation with him over a couple of days about blind people, guide dogs, and charities.  The puppy was a great way if gently introducing to him the concept of people having disabilities, without it being too scary, plus with the additional concept of their being something positive that people can do about tackling their challenges.  Many people find marketing to be an uncomfortable subject, almost ‘bad’ because it encourages us to spend our money and has a subliminal kind of power over us when there is a strong brand image, especially when it comes to Ben10 (ugggh!) and Power Rangers (double uggh!).  I certainly immediately think puppies and guide dogs when I think Andrex.  However, there is always a ‘good’ side to everything, and this opportunity to explain something important to my little boy was very helpful.

Marketing is actually just a company letting us know what they have got, and trying to persuade us that their version is better than someone else’s.  I was disappointed to find out the other day that there is a Mum working as a chiropractor literally a 5 min walk from my house.  She hasn’t done a flier drop, because she has been so affected by the concept that marketing is ‘bad’.  What a shame; as I have gone to a different chiro with myself, my baby, my son and my husband in a local town, whereas it would have been much easier for me if I had known about her.  It is wise and actually caring to understand your value and how you can ‘sell yourself’ to your loved ones, boss, children and customers.

With corporate brands us ‘grown ups’ have a degree of discernment about us (apart from my husband when anything new called ‘Apple’ arrives as he LOVES all things macintosh), but I do think that it is wise to ‘protect’ our little ones until they have a degree of emotional maturity.  So my 4yr old boy is only allowed to watch cbeebies or disney because they don’t have adverts; seriously 10mins on any other channel is followed by a list of ‘I want xxx, and xxx and xxx and MUST HAVE xxx’.

Ironically, when I looked it up on the internet, Andrex has actually supported many charities, it’s just that the combination of puppy and guide dog is such a strong image, that I naturally assumed it is always that way.  The Guide Dog promotion was in 2006, and they made nearly £250,000 which is over 40 dogs.  But they have also supported Teenage Cancer Trust, Dogs for the Disabled and Look Good Feel Good.

Right, onto the bit where you can get prizes!

If you love dogs (don’t worry PS, you don’t have to look!), then you might love this advert on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-reVUJzMnx0

Then here is the andrex puppy facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/TheAndrexPuppy

The game is quite simple; all you need to do is have a pull on the Pup-o-matic (which works in a similar way to a slot machine, but instead of boring fruit symbols you get to play with the Andrex Puppy and his friends) for a chance to win one of thirty top prizes every day for 21 days with a total value of over £20,000.

There’s a whole host of fun things to be won from a Sony Cybershot Digital camera to gift vouchers for all your favourite stores (all chosen by the Facebook fans), as well as many smaller prizes such as money off coupons and Andrex Puppy goodies.

I’ve just won a 50p off voucher, and every little bit helps; that’s atleast half a cake from another very strong coffee shop brand with a green logo, which I happen to be a major sucker for ;o)

Let me know if you win anything and pop a comment back here!  Good luck