Sharing life’s experiences 

  

*The examples in the blog below is in relation to female experiences. However, the concept and benefits of sharing should apply equally to men*

In the world we live in today, sharing knowledge or encouragement could often been seen as helping the competition of helping someone else become better than you are. However, I have come to realise that encouraging people who have discovered their purpose and are running with it, is way better than saving all the tips and encouragement for yourself. In addition, we say love is what the world needs, I see encouraging and sharing tips as one a way of expressing love. If you love someone, you won’t watch them do something wrong or not as effectively when you know of a better way they could have done it. There, I said it.

Applying this to businesses, if you look around you, you will find that there is hardly a business that is a monopoly. From coffee shops to bakeries to restaurants to law firms and so on. I remember when I was toying with different business ideas I was considering doing and while I was mulling over the details and discussing this with my friend, within a few days or sometimes on the same day, I would see on Instagram or another social media platform that another friend who I haven’t shared this dream or idea with is already doing something similar. I will be honest with you and say that this often discouraged me because I felt like, argh that was my idea, now she’s doing it, there is no point in me doing the same thing or something similar, she would think I copied her. I was more concerned about people thinking I copied their ideas, even though I genuinely think up similar ideas. 

Like I have said several times, it is good to surround yourself with people that will encourage you, spur you on and would generally give you good positive advice. What a good friend said to me was filled with wisdom. She shared her own experiences with me and how seeing other people doing similar things has not stopped her in pursuing her goals and dreams. She said, it is possible for people to have similar ideas, however, what makes you different is your unique selling point. What else do you bring to this idea you both have that makes it special. Let me try to break it down. There are loads of bakeries out there, some are unique because their customers are in specific local areas, some because of the texture of the bread, the shape of the bread, or the bread is low in fat or not made with gluten and so on, I could go on. Basically, there are different wants to make bread and in most cases, each type of bread has a specific group of customers. So in as much as you have similar ideas, you will find that if you do your research well, you could be targeting completely different groups of customers and both be excelling in the same field.

I am now going to apply this same idea to our personal lives. The general (key word here being general) pathway of life is this. You are born, you go to school, you get a job, get married, have kids and then at some point we all die. However, even as most of us have similar experiences in life with a few differences here and there, in my experience, I find that we only share selective life lessons with each other, in most cases, the good and interesting parts of our lives as opposed to the challenging parts. I’m not fully sure why this is the case. One of my biggest flaw and assets is the fact I am an open book. I love to share, particularly because I wished more people shared with me before I got into certain situations.

Reading books and watching movies often feed us with this perfect idea of life and how things work. Our friends and family could also, unconciously give away the same vibe.  I remember my wedding night, oh my goodness. Nothing people told me and nothing I watched on tv/read in books could have prepared me for what was going to happen. However, when you watch movies and speak to some friends, it sounds like having sex just involves the both of you laying down and viola the deed is done. I learnt the hard way it doesn’t just happen like that. Of course after this experience, I was quick to let my friends behind me know it is not as easy as it looks or sounds and it could take several attempts. Of course it gets better eventually and easier. I initially thought after my own experience that I was weird or the odd one out but soon after, my friends had similar experiences and I stopped feeling weird!

Moving swiftly on from that. What about childbirth? This was a whole different case. Once again, no one can prepare you for this and every woman’s experience is different, however, the process is usually the same. I always encourage first time mums to have an open mind while doing their research and to also speak to people who are willing to share their own experience. It is also important that you don’t narrow your research early on. For example, for ladies who do not want to have a Caesarian section, it is still useful to research into what is involved with this. This is because childbirth can be very unpredictable and some ladies start off having a natural birth and things change so quickly they find themselves in a theatre. It is in the same way it is important for ladies who do not want epidural or pain killers to also do some research into pain killers because you will find that often, a lot of women change their minds when they are in pain. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to make an informed decision. For example, epidural can o ky be administered at certain stages during labour. Some women find that by the time they ask for it, it is too late. If you have this informstion before hand and you decide you want epidural, at least you will know to ask for it sooner rather than later, or ask for your midwife’s opinion on when to get it.

Still on childbirth, I didn’t realise until I was pregnant, that pushing out a baby was by the end of it. No one told me before I stumbled on the information on an online community that I would also have to push out the placenta. To be fair, the work involved with this is not as bad as  pushing a baby out but it is still uncomfortable. You can either choose to push out the placenta naturally, or your midwife can give you an injection to speed up the process. Totally up to you.

I also did not know, until it happened to me that for days after birth, I would still be contracting. I understand this is because your uterus is shrinking back to its original size, or trying to. I was glad when this stopped though. Another thing I did not know was that for up to six weeks after childbirth, you are encouraged to take it easy and not do anything too tasking to allow the body heal. Tasking activities, my friends, includes sex. How does one even prepare for this?

I won’t say anymore on childbirth but I think I have shared most of what I can remember anyway. Having a child is a beautiful thing, but if I knew these things at least I would have been mentally prepared for what was coming my way. Some friends I have shared my experience with have been very grateful for my honesty and my willingness to discuss the gory details with them.

I know most of what I have shared today has been about the childbirthing process, but the concept of sharing equally applies to everything really –  from tips to applying for jobs to things to do while on holiday.

We are often too much in a hurry or too engrossed in our own lives (or smart phones) to share our experiences or notice that the person right next to us is struggling and needs our help. But we can change that today by making a concious effort to care more and share more appropriately.

I hope this encourages someone out there to share!

Have a great week!

My reality: dealing with a 2yr old toddler

Around the time my son turned two, people, used to comment about the fact he was now a terrible two. I have extracted a definition of what the phrase terrible twos mean from the Mayo clinic website below for your information.

The terrible twos are a normal stage in a toddler’s development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word “no.” The terrible twos typically occur when toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence

Basically, in lay man terms, this just means a lot of screaming, misbehaving, mood swings and making mummy and daddy look like they have taught you absolutely no manners! 

When people passed this comment to me about my son, the Nigerian Christian in me was rebuking and saying it was not my portion or his and he would skip this phase. However, within 2 -3 months after he turned two, I couldn’t deny that my son was exhibiting the characteristics of what was a terrible two! So many times I just stare at him like are you being serious! I will give you an example.

Our son is normal 2 year old toddler, he pushes boundaries, but which male (and some female) toddler doesn’t. He knows to say please, thank you and sorry at the right times and if you tell him off for doing something once (e.g picking things up from the floor and eating it), he would in most cases pick them up and bring them to you to take away this temptation from him lol. If he wants a snack or water or to eat he knows how to ask and if he has a dirty nappy he will 80% of the time come and tell you he has a dirty nappy or even bring you his baby bag so you can change him. So there is a background to this lovey young chap.

Imagine my surprise and genuine shock the first time he throws himself on the floor crying like he has been beaten or just fallen down. I rush to him to ask what the matter was but he just kept crying. Eventually I offered him some apple or crackers and he stops crying and says crackers. In my head I’m thinking, why didn’t you just ask, why did you need to cry or scream! So this happens on and off and if it isn’t water he wants, it is a snack or he wants you to get up and play with him. It is something he would normally, in his own way articulate. 

How do I deal with this I ask myself? I try so hard not to lose patience and to deal with the situation as positively as I can. However, when I can’t deal with it positively, I simply ignore him because I know he is fine and he is not in harm’s way. So I simply ignore the screams, carry on with what I am doing while he rolls on the floor or throws his tantrum in whatever way he chooses on that day. On some occassions he eventually comes to me by himself for a cuddle shortly after which he would stop crying. Other times, I go to him eventually and offer him one of the usual culprits or give him a cuddle. On a few occasions, I have made funny faces at him or mimicked him crying and he often starts laughing. This doesn’t always work though. 

I find that it helps to know you are not the only mum going through this and a number of toddlers go through this stage. I have extracted a little bit more information from the Mayo clinic website below that nicely summarises what they are going through and why they respond in the way they do below.

While the terrible twos can be difficult for parents and caregivers to navigate, keep in mind that 2-year-olds are undergoing major motor, intellectual, social and emotional changes. Their vocabularies are growing, they’re eager to do things on their own, and they’re beginning to discover that they’re expected to follow certain rules. However, most 2-year-olds still aren’t able to move as swiftly as they’d like, clearly communicate their needs or control their feelings. This can lead to frustration and misbehavior — in other words, the terrible twos.

Like I said earlier, I try to be patient and understanding, but I am also very concious that he is beginning to learn that there are rules and consequences. I am therefore careful to make sure that however I decide to handle his tantrums positively, I am not undoing the good work instilled in him already. It is ultimately important that when these episodes happen, we are not coming across to our child or children as reinforcing bad behaviour. Therefore, it seems ignoring them until they calm down or until you feel it is appropriate, may be the best way to deal with this. This is obviously easier said than done, but I constantly pray for the grace and strength I need!

It is particularly hard to curb these tantrums when you are in a public place. My least favourite activity to do with my son is going to the supermarket because he wants everything and ends up crying because I don’t give it to him. On the fruit aisle he wants banana, then he wants ham then he wants cheese and so on, you get the gist. It is a frustrating experience for the two of us. In as much as I want to give him exposure to the supermarket and point out things to him and teach him what they are, I’m afraid at this stage, all he wants to do is eat them! As a result, where possible, I leave him at home with a responsible adult and go on my errands. If I must take him along, I pack his own snacks with me and give him those instead at various intervals. This seems to work for the majority of the time. I would like to shout out the men and women out there who see a mum struggling with a toddler throwing a tantrum in public and try to help in their own way by making funny faces at the toddler or by speaking reassuringly to the toddler. This usually distracts the little one and could even result in the toddler laughing. Worse case scenario, they keep crying, at least the kind stranger tried to help.

Most of all, regardless of what they do, as mums, we will always love our children. It is important  that we communicate this to them often, especially at this difficult time. We should keep trying to help them understand better ways to communicate. I know they are still building their language skills and may not understand what you are saying, but I have been so pleasantly surprised by the amount of what I say my son understands. He may not be able to speak to me clearly but I know he understands me majority of the time. So, don’t underestimate your little genius!

If like me you are in the same shoes, hang in there (I know I am, sometimes by a thin thread!). This phase too will be over soon enough. I hear by the time they are 4, we are in the clear! 

Enjoy the rest of your week and don’t forget to share your experiences and tips (if any).

JDIM

When Mama lost her Mojo

Hi blogsville!

So I have been on an unforgivably long hiatus from this blog. Forgive me. I thought I was having a writers block and searching for my next blog topic, not knowing that I was actually shying away from what I really ought to blog about.

It was not until my girlfriend asked me point blank recently if I was okay and happy that it occurred to me I was going through some kind of a phase. The answer to those questions is yes and yes. However, she went on to say – you seem to have lost your spark! That was it – the eye opening moment. We got talking for sometime and then I realised I was just overwhelmed!

Mama lost her mojo. I thought I was fine, surviving, living in the moment as much as possible but I quit fighting. Thankfully my family life is great but there have just been other things on my mind. For example, sick family and friends I have been praying for and waiting to see results, I had a tough spell at work shortly before we left on our holiday (which was fantastic by the way). There are also several grown up changes that we need to go through and decisions that need to be made and the list just goes on. So, I just pushed all these things to the back burner, and stopped doing anything other than necessary day to day things, hoping no one would notice. Thankfully, it coincided with when we were on holiday so there were no major repercussions. So that is how I lost my mojo!

Following the discussion with my friend, another friend shared on our women of prayer group a devotional about how when we pray, our prayers are like seeds sown. Sometimes it takes time to germinate, time to reap it’s fruits and so on. That, also gave me some rest. I will like to shout out to my friend, my sister’s keeper, who saw through my shell and said something about it to make sure I was okay. Now it is out in the open, I am fighting again… as is evident by this blog and other things. I am truly fine 🙂. I will also like to encourage you all to reach out when you are in a little bubble. If like me you do not realise you are in a bubble, if someone genuinely asks you, reach deep and discuss it, it will be for the best. Most of all, surround yourself with friends that will add value to your life and care enough to check on you, even when to the world you are doing just fine.

So, let’s get started!

My last post was about tips for travelling with a toddler. The last few weeks have been filled with travel for us. From Portugal to Calgary to Maryland to New Jersey and back to London. It is safe to say we aren’t going any where any time soon! It has definitely been busy but fun. The most challenging part of our trip has got to be shopping with a toddler. We learnt this the hard way! More on this some other time.

I will start with Calgary.

Calgary was amazing. It was our first time in Canada but in the short time we were there, I could sense the warmth of the Canadians. It was also great spending time with our friends who live over there and meeting their bundle of joy for the first time. It was great seeing our son and their daughter hit it off like old friends. Our friends were so hospitable and literally made us feel right at home. They took us to Banff for Easter Sunday brunch and boy did I eat! As a foodie, I was in food heaven. The view from the restaurant and even generally in Banff was stunning. I took the picture below using my iPhone on our drive there and it doesn’t even do it any justice. Although it was cold by my standards, I think the good overshadowed the cold for me. All I can say is this – Calgary, we will be back.

Somewhere on the way to Banff
 
Our next stop was the States. It was honestly all about family. Everyone happened to be around as it was my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday party! We all had a great time and once again it was great for our son as he had his cousins all around. The first thing he wanted to do when he got up in the mornings was to see his cousins. 

We also visited my little cousin in Maryland and I really wanted to get a gift that she will remember fondly and so instead of buying her a toy or an outfit, I decided we will make a personalised decorative craft for her room together. She loved this idea and so using a picture frame, A4 paper some glue and buttons and beads, we spelt her name with colourful buttons and beads. The design is a bit wonky but we had a great time doing it and she was happy with the result.

 

Thinking about it, this was the longest we had been away since our honeymoon. It was great to just completely unwind and yes, temporarily forget about work.

The greatest challenge however on this trip was jetlag! Oh dear, especially on the little one. On one occasion in Canada, we had to keep him awake after waking him up from a ‘nap’ (he fell asleep at 4pm and was ready to sleep till 3am!) by having a bath for him while he cried all through. I felt mean, but it was necessary and seemed to do the trick. However when we got back home, we had the same problem and as he started waking up at 11pm asking for dinner, singing his nursery rhymes and so on, while myself and his dad desperately wanted to sleep! It took a lot of trial and error to get him back to his routine a week later but thankfully, that phase is gone. 

So it’s been a fun holiday and we are back to our daily routine. I’m back at workand yesterday   I was literally chasing my tail. It was so busy, I felt like I never even left the office. As I was trying to wind down a deliverable on one project. A tax director was on my neck wanting to discuss another project with me. I’m not complaining, I love being busy, it makes my day go a lot quicker.

So that’s a quick update from me. It won’t be long till my next post, I promise.

I trust you are all well and a big thank you to the ladies who have checked on me asking for the next post. I appreciate you all.

Loads of love 

JDIM

JDIM Tips: Travelling with a baby/toddler

Somewhere in Lanzarote. Photo taken by justdoitmum

Good day darling readers!
It’s been a busy few weeks with a poorly toddler. Finally, the light is so bright at the end of the tunnel! It’s amazing how they pick up all sorts of virus from nursery! I can only hope his immune system is being developed to be extremely sturdy so in future he is sickness proof!

So now that we are over the sick spell, it is time for us to start planning for a few holidays we have coming up over the next few weeks. I remember the second time we travelled with our son, he was 9 months old then. We were only flying less than 2 hours to Nice for a long weekend and we packed the whole world! I think it is safe to say we have since picked up a few tips here and there for more efficient travelling with a baby/toddler.

Here are a few tips which were useful for us. As always, feel free to share your tips as well.

1. Where are you going?

I know this sounds like a silly question. However, whether you pack the whole world because you are travelling with a child or just enough, for us, depends on where we are going. If we are having a city break, travelling to the states or to Europe, or to a country where we are staying with family members who have kids, we tend to pack more conservatively. This is because, often you find you can pop into the local supermarket to top up on essentials if you happen to run out of supplies. 

However, if you are going on an adventurous holiday or to a country you have never been to before and you don’t have family there, my rule of thumb is – I’ll rather be safe than sorry. Pack as much as you can for your baby or toddler, within reason of course.

2. Ditch the hand luggage!

I remember the first time my sister-in-laws suggested this, I looked at them like, what are they saying? How can I ditch my hand luggage? However, the last couple of trips we have taken with our son has been a lot better without hand luggage or with minimal hand-luggage. Let’s break this down a little.

Imagine you are at the airport, for the ladies, you have your handbag and a hand-luggage to wheel around. If you are travelling with your partner, he too maybe has a laptop bag, and a hand luggage to wheel about. Between the both of you, you have a child in a push-chair, who also has a baby bag with his nappies and food and toys and change of clothes in. Now tell me, how do you intend on juggling all of your luggage with a cranky toddler? Exactly, I thought so too. 

Ditch the hand-luggage or limit it to two pieces so one person can handle the luggage while another handles your kid(s). It is even more important when you are travelling alone with your kid(s). If you can get away with travelling with just your baby bag, just do it! This can obviously change when you have a child old enough to carry his own luggage. Good luck!

3. Are your kid(s) diesease proof?

Are you kids up to date with their jabs/immunisation? If for whatever reason you are anti-immunisation, I’m not even going to argue with you. Just ask yourself if the country you are going to may impose serious health risks. If the answer is yes, either change your plans or get the child the jab! I should add that the fact you are up to date with your jabs does not necessarily mean that your child will not fall ill. However, it reduces the chances of contacting anything serious. I remember the first time my son went back to Nigeria with us, I think that was the day he started being weary of going to the doctor’s surgery as he had to get three jabs in one day. Did I enjoy seeing him go through all that? No. Was I happy I had done everything in my power to make sure he was protected for his upcoming trip, yes. Better safe than sorry.

4. Snack up!

 

snacks for the little one on a recent trip

Most kids snack inbetween meals anyway. However, I find that being prepared with a variety of snacks in my son’s baby bag helps pass time and keeps him busy while waiting to board the plane / during the flights. We have never been fans of giving kids sugary snacks (except they are natural sugars). This is not to say he hasn’t had the odd one here and there but we encourage him to have snacks like breadsticks, raisins and fruits instead. He is more than happy with these. So, his baby bag is always prepared with small bowls of fruits, raisins and breadsticks snapped into two. Some kids also enjoy vegetables like carrot sticks and cucumber sticks. However, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive the OK response from my son when I tried this (I won’t give up though). 

During the flights when your child is getting restless, offer them snacks. It is always best when these are snacks they recognise, like and are used to. There is no point trying something new when you are thousands of feet in the sky.

You should also pack enough of these snacks (not necessarily fruits as I’m sure you can buy these everywhere) to last you your entire trip and the flight back home.

5. Prepare for ear popping 

Some people have issues with their ears when they fly, particularly at take off and landing. I know there have been some occassions when my ears would just feel really blocked or hurt during these periods. An adult will usually try a series of things including sucking on a sweet. As sugar is not really encouraged in kids (as it can make them over active particularly if you are trying to keep them calm during a flight), you could invest in some sugar-free sweets for kids that are old enough to have sweets. For younger kids, babies for example, you could either breastfeed them, or give them their bottle of milk during take off and landing, so that they are doing the sucking motion at this time which will help their ears if necessary. 

I’m sorry to admit that I don’t really have any tips for kids who aren’t old enough for sweets but too old for milk! Maybe when my son is at that age I will be forced to be innovative and share then!

6. Capol? Check!, Nurofen? Check! Thermometer? Check! Make sure you have travel insurance!

Kids are unpredictable. In as much as we never pray or plan for them to fall ill, you wouldn’t want to be unprepared. Pack a bottle of capol and nurofen and your thermometer just in case. If things get worse (hopefully it won’t) contact your travel insurance company to see what your medical options are before you head back home.

7. Pack for all weather

If you are going on a sunny break, pack a few long sleeve tops and trousers for the kids as often, in the evenings, it gets windy and colder than during the day. Also, you may want to go on a boat trip or something similar which usually involves cold winds.

I remember on one occasion, we went to South Africa at the beginning of their summer. The plan was to stay in Johannesburg but plans quickly changed which meant we got to spend a couple of days in Cape Town. It was equally warm however, as tourists, we found ourselves at the top of the Table Moutain, which is 1,085m above sea level, with our then 9 months old son, in his summery outfit! Of course it was colder up there. Thankfully we had all sorts of outfits in his baby bag. We quickly layered him up and wore a pair of socks for him as gloves! It was a great experience though. I can’t wait to tell him the story when he is much older.

8. Pack their favourite toy or activity

To the extent their favourite toy or activity is portable, take it with you on your trip, you won’t regret it. Our son loved his toddle bike which we took everywhere with us. When he outgrew that, he got a foldable tricycle from his uncle or Christmas which we now take anytime we travel. He loves riding on it when he gets bored during our vacations. I also pack his bath toys and a couple of books to read at bed time.

Obviously, I’m aware kids are entitled to limited luggage space when they travel. I happily sacrifice some of my own luggage space for him because I know if he is okay and happy, I too will have a lovely time.

9. Room service is your best friend 

Now, South Africa was the first trip we made with our son and I have to say we learnt a lot on that trip. I remember naively planning to have dinner out in restaurants after his bed time, thinking it will be lovely as a couple. We quickly learnt that there is nothing lovely about a cranky crying baby in a restaurant at dinner time! We soon learnt to either have dinner and ensure we are back at our hotel before 7pm, or order room service. This way, our son could also be in bed at his usual bed time.

Also, for breakfast, we find it is worth the investment paying the extra 5 pounds or whatever the equivalent is to have breakfast in our room. This is because I don’t have to worry about my son running around in the breakfast room at the hotel, or disturbing other people who are trying to eat. In the comfort of our room, he can make as much of a mess he wants, as much noise as he wants and eat at his own pace. This has absolutely worked for us and I would recommend this tip in particular for anyone who can afford it.

10. Manage your expectations

Remember that travelling as a couple or alone is completely different from travelling with a child. Children need to be entertained, children have their routine and often struggle when this changes. Children will also often get bored by activities that adults enjoy. So I encourage you to manage your expectations. Try to plan a balanced routine that both you and your kids will enjoy. Leave the more mature outings for when you travel without the kids. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford travelling with your nanny, do your mature activities while your nanny babysit your kids. However, remember you are all on holiday together as a family and so don’t go off by yourselves too often, no matter how tempting this may be!

I hope you find these tips useful!

Enjoy your holidays!

Just do it mum

Let’s talk about breasts 

  
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for you to do this if you don’t already.  As always, I have a little personal experience story to share with you.

Come with me to spring 2009. I was in my final year at university studying chemical engineering. In particular, I was in the middle of my research project. This project is a big deal. However, around this time, I happened to notice a lump in my breast. I can’t remember how I found it, if I went looking for it or if I stumbled on it, but I found it. Cue in dress and fear and everything else you can think off. I knew very little about lumps then and to me it had to be cancer. I tried to stay calm about but mulled over it and did nothing about it for weeks (I do not recommend this approach by the way). 

Eventually, I decided to stop wondering what if and do something about it. I went to see my doctor who confirmed it was a lump and referred me to Royal Marsden Hospital (closest breast specialist to my university). This cued in even more fear on my path! So, I called my mum who is a nurse back in Nigeria. She tried her best not to panic and went on to ask me a whole load of questions about the lump. Is it mobile? Does it hurt? Is it smooth? How big is it? The trouble was, I couldn’t immediately tell if my answers to those questions gave her comfort or not. Eventually she told me not to worry and it sounds like it is not cancerous but to let her know how he appointment goes.

So, appointment day arrives and my aunt accompanied me. She is a pharmacist. To be honest, I find it helps to have someone medical / knows about medicine to go to such appointments with you, they tend to know the right questions to ask, especially if you were clueless like me at that time. After the consultant checked for the lump, she decided she would like to do a biopsy on the same day to definitely rule out cancer. I don’t think I had the time to be scared it was just kind of a is this really happening situation for me. The biopsy was unpleasant but I wasn’t uncomfortable for a long time as it happened very quickly and I was given local anaesthetic. We were told to come back in a couple of hours for the result so we went to a local cafe for lunch.

My aunt prayed with me and try to distract me from thinking about it. Two hours couldn’t go any slower if it tried! We got back to see the consultant and thankfully, she confirmed the lump was not cancerous. However, due to the size of the lump, I could either take it out or leave it in. In my mind I wanted to leave it in because the doctor had confirmed it was harmless so why bother. My mum wasn’t having it. I had a lecture over the phone about how my body is not meant to have lumps in it so why leave it in there. She then went on to say if you are concerned about what your husband (or did she say boyfriend, I don’t remember now) would think, then he is not meant for you if he has issues with the scar you will have on your breast. I ignored that statement because there was no way I was having that conversation with my mum! Lol. 

We booked an appointment to have it removed. It was going to be a day surgery under general anaesthetic. My dad was able to fly in from Nigeria to be with me along with my aunt during the procedure. I once again pushed it out of my mind as much as possible. I took a week off university to get this done and recover, I so one realised I didn’t need that long. The procedure went well and I was home before I knew it. The scar also healed nicely, you wouldn’t realise I had a scar except you took a double take. I went back for a check out and everyone was happy with progress. 

Fast forward three years and it was back. Oh no, not again. This time as a newly wed I just couldn’t be bothered to go through it all again. However, my husband being a doctor was in the same boat as my mum and so I went through the whole process again. This time I knew what to expect and it took a similar number of days to recover. 

So why the reason I have just shared this with you is to let you know you won’t be alone if you find a lump. I have friends who have had similar experiences as I did, we are #teamlumpybreast. It is not sexy I know but I guess the doctors/consultants can’t help themselves and use that term to describe our breast when they are checking us. I remember at the last ultrasound I had, the lady told me that if she were to pick 5 random ladies and did an ultrasound on their breast, she will find one person with a lump in hers.

Ofcourse I know not all lumps will be bening like mine were and that is what often stops some women from checking their breasts or going for check ups. What I would like to say however is this, the chances of cancer being treated is higher if it is caught early. So please check your breasts regularly or have it checked by your doctor if you do not know how to do this. You can click here for tips available on the NHS website on how to check your breast.

I hope this blog will encourage you to check yours and you in turn will encourage a friend to do the same. Accompany each other for appointments if that’s what it takes or ask your partner to come along with you or check for you. Ignorance is not bliss, be pro-active about it.

Good luck and feel free to tell us about your experience.

The ‘M’ word

This is every mum or mum-to-be least favourite word to talk about, but it is necessary for people to know that these things happen and if it happens to them, it is not because they did something wrong.

The M word I mean in this context is miscarriage. A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks. Before I got pregnant, I used to think miscarriages were very rare and only women with certain pasts (e.g previous abortions) or unhealthy habits (e.g chain smoking, drug addicts and heavy drinkers) were victims of miscarriages. 

It was not until I started bleeding a few weeks into my then pregnancy that I wondered why this was happening to me. My midwife, family doctor and early pregnancy nurses and doctors explained that it just happens and no one knows why. I did some more research and I was none the wiser as to why this had to happen to me. So after loads of tears and days of crying, I accepted my faith and we tried again, which thankfully lead to our now healthy and full of energy son.

So what did I find when I did my research? (Source: http://www.nhs.uk)

1. The cause of a miscarriage is not always known, particularly in early pregnancy. 

2. In majority of the cases, it is not caused by what the mum has done.

3. It’s thought most miscarriages are caused by abnormal chromosomes in the baby. Chromosomes are genetic “building blocks” that guide the development of a baby. If a baby has too many or not enough chromosomes, it won’t develop properly.

4. If a miscarriage happens during the second trimester of pregnancy (between weeks 14 and 26), it’s sometimes the result of an underlying health condition in the mother.

5. For most women, a miscarriage is a one-off event and they go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.

6. Most miscarriages cannot be prevented but in the UK, if a woman has more than 3 miscarriages, the doctors try to see if any medication can help her carry her next pregnancy to term.

Most women don’t share or are encouraged not to share the news about their pregnancies in the first 12 weeks as miscarriage is very common during the first 12 weeks. It is a lot easier not to share the news then as imagine how painful it would be having to explain to all those people why there is no baby 9 months later or why you are not yet showing a few months later. 

In addition, what tends to happen is that once a woman experiences one or more miscarriages, she gets anxious in future pregnancies, remembering her past experiences. It is very sad and unfortunately, I have no tips on how to manage this as it is simply easier said than done. However, as a Christian, I know I can always go to God in prayer and live by faith and his words and that gives me comfort. 

I also know that a lot of women have miscarriage scares during their pregnancies as a member of BabyCentre’s birthboards, I know first hand that a few peoples pregnancies end in miscarriages, a few people have miscarriage scares and the majority of people have healthy pregnancies. However, there is always that one woman who posts on the birthboards about how she doesn’t like hearing about the losses and will stop reading the loss posts. I mean, I am sure the ladies posting about their losses don’t like posting about the fact they have just lost their pregnancy and they aren’t even asking for sympathy, they are just letting you know why they will no longer be active on the board and in most cases they never come back to comment, so saying that, I feel it is very insensitive.

Okay, rant over.

If you know anyone who has suffered from a miscarriage recently, give them your love. Don’t tell them they are lucky that it was earlier rather than later, or that it’s only been a few weeks, or that they escaped having an incompletely formed child. It may be tempting and it may make sense for you to say that or even logical, but please, “I’m sorry for your loss.” will do. 

So now that I have explained that these things happen, I would like you to know that the aim of this blog post was not to spread fear but to give you facts. The chances of having a successful pregnancy is very high, but at the same time, a few peoples pregnancies tend to lead to a miscarriage. Women who have had miscarriages can but have healthy babies. Stay healthy, take your vitamins and seek help when in doubt!

Is it time to move on from your current career?

A number of people ended up in their current careers by chance. I noticed in my generation (in particular, those in their late 20s – mid 30s), that only a handful of people went on to work in careers that relate directly to what they studied at university. I am one of those people! I studied chemical engineering and I am currently an International Tax Adviser (a tax accountant). One couldn’t differ more from the other. It all started out with me interning with my current employer and they retained me afterwards. It has now being nearly 6 and a half years. It was not too challenging transferring my skills as new trainees were required to pass both tax and accounting professional exams to qualify as a chartered tax account and a chartered accountant, so I got the necessary training.
This will usually be the case for others in my shoes. You join a big multinational firm, you are trained for weeks, months or years and also on the job, and then you are expected to get on with your work. For some, this is enough training but for others, they find themselves firefighting and struggling and not quite settling into the role. This often leads to not so good feedback during the appraisal process and little prospects of rising up the career ladder.

It is not only those with no background in their now chosen career that could face this challenge. It is also possible to have a strong affinity for something but not be very good at it. It isn’t good enough to like something, you also need to have the necessary skills to succeed at it, otherwise, you will either get frustrated, or you will be happy doing what you like without progressing!

Instead of feeling inadequate about where you are now, especially if you ended up there without much thought, I hope the suggested below will help take you to the next level where you can start feeling adequate and even become a trailblazer in what you do!

1. Self assess

Do a gap analysis. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Spend time on yourself! Retreat somewhere nice and comfortable to do some thinking. It could be to a coffee shop, an early night so you can spend sometime on your bed thinking about what you want (ah! You thought I was going to encourage you to on a solo self finding holiday.. Think again). If you will rather do this with someone, arrange a catchup over lunch or dinner with a trusted friend and talk through this together. If you have a supporting partner, this could even replace pillow talk. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing what my husbands goals and aspirations are, I’m sure your supportive partner will be happy help you with this one. Just remember that at the end of it all, the decision on next steps should be all yours.

2. Focus on your findings from tip 1 above

Did the gap analysis result in you staying with your current employer? This is not impossible. If this is the case, focus on how you can improve on what you are currently doing or consider whether to stay with employer but to change roles or team.

If you gap analysis requires you to move, do your research!! Don’t fall into another per chance job. If you must, make sure it is one that you enjoy and can thrive in. You will be surprised how much information Google has! As there is currently no pressure to change jobs (seeing as you haven’t been fired!), take your time to do your research. However, set yourself a reasonable deadline and be accountable to a trusted person so that you don’t convince yourself you are okay where you are because you can’t be bothered to look or change jobs!

Speak to people who are currently in that industry and instead of focusing on the pros of the job or industry, focus on the cons. That will help you make a more informed decision. I got this tip from a really close friend recently. She said, and I am paraphrasing, it is okay to check out some of the people who currently are employed by the company you are looking work for on LinkedIn. I mean we check people out on Facebook and Instagram and so on, so why not for professional reasons! Look at their career profile, how long they have been at the company and whether they have changed roles since joining. This gives an indication of what career progression is like at the company and also its ability to retain its staff.

Short list the potential industries or employers that fit your bill.

3. What is your main driver?

Is it finances? Is it flexible hours? Is it more experience? Are you looking for something more longer term? These and other important factors are what you should be thinking about at this stage. Once you have decided what is important to you, it is now time to see if any of the industries or employers you have shortlisted above will satisfy your main drivers.

Consider also whether your skills be easily transferred to this new role.  Do you see yourself excelling in this new job after you are settled in? You don’t want a job that requires no thinking at all. You will still want to challenge yourself a little, so a new job where you still have things to learn will reduce your chances of getting bored and unaccomplished, and having to go through this process again.

It doesn’t matter if you are moving from a technical position to a managerial or administrative position. I was speaking to a friend currently at this stage recently and she is considering moving to a less technical role. I encouraged her and said every successful business has a team of people at the management level. From the chairman to the CEO to the CFO, to the chief marketing officer and so on, not everyone is technical. However they are all needed to keep the wheel well oiled. Without them the business cannot be successful.

4. Speak to recruiters 

I know recruiters can be a pain sometimes, especially when they call you at your desk at work, in the middle of your afternoon when your boss is sitting right next to you!

However, they have their role in society. They know who is recruiting and if they do their job well, they will only shortlist you for jobs they know you will do well in. However, beware of recruiters who haven’t done heir home work. For example, I got promoted to manager in October but some recruiters are still offiering my assistant manager roles and I’m like err NO!

This is another area where your LinkedIn account could work for you. Recruiters often head hunt on linked in and even HR departments in various companies have also contacted people in the last offering them a chance to discuss opportunities in their companies.

I’m sure you would have received one or two or more of such. Remember when you are contacted, you are in the driving seat and so you have control. Ask questions. Ask them direct questions, particularly tailored around the reason you are thinking of leaving your current job so that you don’t end up with a new boss but the same problem. It is a no obligation contact.

This is cheeky but even if you decide you don’t want to work for a company, it doesn’t hurt to get some interview practice. Who knows, you may decide at the interview that you actually like them and want to work for them. Worse case you have had some practice.

As always, good luck!

How are you doing 2016?

 Another year has just started! Can you believe it?

We are currently on vacation, hence the short break from the blog. However, as I’m sitting here in our apartment, counting down to dinner, I can’t help but think about the new year!

I’m not a huge fan of new year resolutions because I cannot honestly tell you that I have ever truly completed any, or know any one that has! However, I see the reason behind them as they help you focus and align your thoughts towards your goals, albeit in most cases temporarily.

So, I am asking, what would you like to have achieved in a years time (notice how I haven’t used the words new year resolution above!)? If like me you like writing in notebooks, get out your 2016 notebook and write down your goals for the year. If you do not know what your goals are yet, spend the next week thinking about this and then dedicate about 30 minutes, while it is still fresh in your head, writing this down.

Your goals do not have to be groundbreaking or sound impressive, sometimes, it is righting the small things that helps us to achieve greatness. You know yourself better than anyone else, be honest with yourself and make sure your goals are focused on areas you know you can improve on. Your goals should stretch you and shouldn’t be something you can accomplish in a day. Don’t think about it as a new year resolution, but as investing in yourself as a person and in your future. Pick goals that will contribute in building you up personally or professionally. A number of people tend to go for loosing weight or dieting in the new year, if that is you and you have never been to the gym before, give it a few months before committing financially long term to a gym. It is very possible to lose weight without going to a gym. Join a local boot camp, by an exercise dvd that costs way less than a gym membership, research on eating clean and healthy, make these small changes, build up your stamina and then if you are still disciplined enough to follow through with a gym membership, go for it.  This is just a tip as I have fallen for this before, joined a gym, hardly ever went and I was locked into a 12 months contract!

Finally, for this to be effective, you need to be accountable to someone you trust. We all have a number of friends with different personality traits. Pick one that you know will genuinely help you on this journey and be accountable to each other.

As for me, I have quite a few things I will like to accomplish by the end of the year, but in the spirit of accountability I will share one. I need to get my finances on lock down! I need to spend less and save more. I’m a kind of person that if something needs to be done, I just do it without thinking too much of the financial repercussions, from birthday presents for friends and family to gifts for different occasions and just generally buying nice to haves for myself and friends. 2016 for me is the year to find other thoughtful ways to be nice and cut down drastically on nice to haves and focus on need to haves where necessary!

I will definitely keep you posted and my plan is to reflect on how I am getting on monthly. This is going to be a huge challenge for me, but I pray that I will be able to discipline myself enough to go through with it as it will be very worthwhile!

I wish you all the best as you embark on this journey! Have a blessed and fulfilling year ahead!

Making time for your hobbies

A friend, suggested I share how I make time for my hobbies and I couldn’t think of a better time than now to write this post as I hosted a few people recently for my husband’s birthday and baked his birthday cake for the first time yay!

Just so we are on the same page, I will start by giving the definition provided in the Oxford dictionary for a hobby:

An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.

Everything I say below is intended for activities done in your free time for pleasure and not as a business. A completely different mindset is required when you decide to turn your hobby into a source of income. The tips I will share below will not be fully relevant in such cases.

So here we go. I enjoy cooking, baking, hosting guests, organising parties, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading and watching tv. To be honest, the list goes on, but these are the top of my list at the moment. 

Prior to getting married and having a child, I was able to do all of this relatively easily, without even thinking about it or having to compromise. However, with marriage comes responsibilities and even more so with a child. This meant I had to make time to do the things I enjoy outside of my normal day to day life. 

My husband’s birthday cake

It was hard at first, and even nearly upsetting when I realised I couldn’t do it all. However, I studied economics at A levels *geek alert* and I think it helped me come to terms with this. Basically, there are limited resources in the world and to focus on developing a product requires an opportunity cost, i.e. a forefeited alternative. This is a very hurried way to explain it but I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Applying this to my situation, I realised that to bake or knit or whatever it was I wanted to do, there was a forfeited alternative which came in various forms, from lack of sleep, not reading a novel, not cooking,to not spending quality time with my son and husband, and so on. Once I appreciated this, it was easier for me not to feel guilty when I decide to spend time on my hobby as I have already weighed the cost of forfeiting the alternative.

I hope that once you realise that spending time on your hobby means you are forefeiting spending time on something else you have to do, or you equally enjoy, you will find the tips below useful.

5 tips on how to make time for your hobbies. 

1. Maximise your commuting time

If you are fortunate enough to be  driven to work (either by train, bus, car share etc), count yourself lucky as you have precious time in your hands that those who drive themselves do not.

You can maximise this time by reading a book, knitting or crocheting a few lines of your project, draft your next article or blog, you can spend this time to do some general research for hobbies that are not portable. For example. As I have never decorated a birthday cake before, I spent the week before my husband’s birthday scrolling through pintrest and YouTube, doing some research on how to decorate the cake I wanted to bake and also buying the ingredients online. This meant I didn’t have to spend as much time worrying about this when I got home in the evenings.

It is very tempting to spend this time sleeping or browsing social media. It is okay to do this, but like I said above, there has got to be a forefeited alternative. If you are struggling to find time for your hobbies, you may have to forfeit sleep or browsing social media for this. 

Finally, as a Londoner, I am fully aware that you do not always be a sea on the train and so it may not be convenient to do anything. I find that it is usually busier in the mornings for me and so in most cases I can find a seat in the evenings. This is when, if I want to, I usually knit. If however you are struggling to find space to do something substantial on your commute, you can  read a novel or do some research. You can do things like that standing and a cramped train should not always hinder you.

2. It is okay to have WIPs

I used to beat myself up for starting knitting projects and not finishing them. I felt like I was in a competition with myself.  However, I recently came to the realisation that this was putting undue pressure on myself and stopping me from enjoying my hobby. Once you stop enjoying it, it stops being a hobby and becomes a responsibility. So now, when I start a project, I allow myself to take as long as it takes to complete. However, if I am knitting towards a particular deadline (e.g. a gift for a new born baby) then my attitude towards it is different. 

I also get bored easily by what I am doing, especially if it is not turning out as nice as I expected 😜. I love to see results quickly. This means that I keep researching new patterns and start working on another project before I even complete the first project. It is also important to acknowledge that some hobbies take longer to complete than others. If you are an artist for example, working on a portrait will usually take a lot longer than baking a cake or reading a book. So make sure you allow a reasonable amount of time for you complete your project so that you do not get unduly frustrated . 

I have shared two pictures below of my complete and incomplete project.

Incomplete: a quilt for my son
 
 
Complete: a mug cosy
 
3. Schedule your hobbies

Yes, you heard that right, schedule your hobbies. It sounds very obvious doesn’t it? However, if like me you have a lot of hobbies, I recommend that you firstly prioritise your hobbies otherwise your diary will fill up quickly. Firstly decide  which one, or two do you enjoy the most, and then which of them will be the most convenient and realistic to pursue. This makes it easier and more achievable for you to continue to enjoy this hobby. This is not to say that you have to dump the other hobbies, it just gives you the permission to focus on the few that is sure to give you more satisfaction.

Scheduling hobbies is particularly useful if you are into a particular sport, or a popular hobby. It is possible to join your local team, book club, knit and stitch group, toastmasters, crafts club, fitness class, whatever it may be, especially when you live in the Western world. You find that such groups meet regularly, it could be weekly, twice a month or monthly. If you do not have a group you can join locally and you are feeling brave enough, you could start your own, but may require more of a commitment from you than joining an already existing club.

Joining local groups does not mean you have to attend every meeting, because let’s face it, life happens. However, it gives you a structure to follow and accountability. Once you discuss this with your other half, I am nearly certain he will not be too hung up about babysitting for an hour or two every other week so that mummy gets to have some mummy time. 

4. Include the family

Get your husband or children involved in your hobby. If you love to bake, bake together. It may be more messy than doing it alone but you will get the satisfaction of bonding with your family and also accomplishing spending time on your hobby. The more you do it together, they better they themselves become at it and before you know it, you have a shared bond.

Investing the initial time at the beginning to wet your family’s appetite for your hobby could help you in the future. See it as a long term investment. As they begin to enjoy it, it becomes easier for you all to do it together. It is also a way to teach them new skills. For me, my son is still too young to cook with me, but I get him involved with baking when I can. He is my chief taster! Also, like I said above, I enjoy watching tv so I watch his shows with him and he watches mine with me (obviously age appropriate). Finally, reading books, his attention span is still very short, but we are slowly but surely getting there with him reading books. In the future, I hope he too will enjoy reading books as much as his mum does!

5. Budget for your hobbies

Ah! I didn’t realise knitting and sewing was an expensive hobby until got into it! Needless to say, my husband asked me to start budgeting for it! I don’t blame him though, I would have done the same. It is easy for the cost of your hobby to creep up on you without you realising. When you are doing your monthly budget, include some allowance for your hobby. This way, you won’t feel guilty when you are buying the things you need and at the same time, you will not buy more than you need, at least until the next budget round. 

If your hobbies are expensive, save towards it and always look out for deals! I know from living in the UK that websites like wowcher, groupon, Amazon local and so on, always have deals, especially theatre deals. For those who like to travel, websites like iPods and Expedia are great for comparing flight and hotel costs. For those who like to dine in restaurants,  if you are in the UK buy a tastecard, which gives you two for one on meals provided the restaurant is on the tastecard scheme and you book a table in advance letting them know you will be using a tastecard. I have done this before and we saved a whole load of cash! Make sure you make use of such deals. For me, attending the knit and stitch show meant I could buy a lot of knitting products, from wool, to pins to buttons at a reasonable price. Do your research on how to save money on your hobby, you won’t be sorry. Saving money is the new black! Spending money you don’t have or more than you should is so yesterday! Lol 

I hope the above tips will help you make time for and save money on your hobbies! Feedback is always welcome and please do share your own tips on how you make time for your hobbies in your comments below!