Life: My Move into the Freelance World

It's a bit of a chatty post today as I wanted to talk about my move into the freelance world; what led me to make the move, how I'm finding it and useful books and resources that I've found.

Why did I go freelance?

Since leaving University in 2008, I'd worked in a traditional office environment with the 7.5 years prior to having my daughter being spent working for a wonderful big charity in London in their marketing partnerships team. I was living in London too, however we moved up to Lincoln to be close to family just before Florence was born. I planned to go back part time and hoped for some flexible working so that the commute was more doable, however a few things happened during my maternity leave which made me change my plan.

I realised that my daughter was my biggest priority and the thought of not being with her for 3 or 4 days a week hurt my heart. I did consider being a full time stay at home Mum but quickly realised that I needed some mental stimulation from work. Over the year I had also been doing the social media for my Mum's floristry business, Violet & Vine, helping my Dad with some posts for his design consultancy and also doing some posts for our local pub. I found myself really enjoying it and the thought of having my own business felt so exciting.

It really felt like the right time to give it a go and in June last year I registered as a sole trader and got my first client onboard.

How I'm finding it so far?

A year on and I am loving being freelance - it suits me and my lifestyle down to the ground. We get so caught up in the corporate 9-5, Monday to Friday routine and you forget that there's an alternative that gives you so much more freedom. Being able to work around my daughter has been amazing - I sometimes work in her nap times or in an evening, and she goes to nursery once a week which gives me a full day to crack on (or to get on with house jobs, or go shopping if I fancy!). I love not having a commute and being able to just grab my laptop and get on with work. And I love being my own boss.

I do miss the fun that I'd have with work colleagues as I loved this part of my previous job, but my priorities are so different now that it's not something that's important to me at the moment.

Useful books and resources

I read a few books, joined some Facebook Groups and listened to lots of podcasts when I started freelancing and they were, and still are so useful so I wanted to link them below.

The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon*
The Freelance Mum by Annie Ridout*
The Successful Mumpreneu by Debbie Gilbert*

Being Freelance Facebook group and podcast
Doing it for The Kids Facebook group and podcast

I hope you found this post interesting, and hopefully helpful if you are thinking of going freelance!

*This post contains affiliate links

Daisy x

Life: 5 ways to organise your life

Looking for 5 ways to organise your life? Look no further! I've always been very organised and I love feeling on top of everything - as hard as that is when you have a toddler. I am a big fan of a spreadsheet and lists, all of the lists. I also can't resist a planner (or a notebook to be honest) and have just ordered a shiny new one, even though I will likely use it for a day and then return to using my phone which is what I always fall back to.

Today I'm sharing five ways that I keep my life organised in the hope that they will help make your life a little easier too.

1) Meal planning 

My Mum would always meal plan and it's been something I've done for years and years. It seems like a tedious task but you will always thank yourself for doing it. Every Monday I sit down and get out my weekly planner - you can get specific meal planner notepads or whiteboards but I just use a weekly planner like this one* (Homesense do lots of them too). I'll have a quick look in the fridge and freezer to see what we have and will then plan Florence's lunches and dinners for the week, and our meals too. I'll add notes each day of what I may need to prep or get out to defrost and then from that list I'll create my shopping list. It means less food waste and although you have to spend a little time initially on it, you save so much time during the week as that mental task of wondering what to have for dinner is taken away. I'm definitely not a stickler for it, and sometimes plans will change but just having it there is so helpful.

2) The Organised Mum Method

I want to do a whole post on this as it's been a game changer for me in terms of cleaning and has meant that we have been able to cut down on how often we have our cleaner, and obviously throughout lockdown it's meant that we've kept on top of everything. It's essentially a cleaning schedule where you spend half an hour on Monday to Friday doing an assigned room, or rooms (no weekend cleaning!). You also have a few daily tasks like putting a wash on etc. On Monday-Thursday you clean the same rooms every week and on Friday you do more of a deeper clean on a specific room. It's amazing how much you can get done in half an hour and it feels so much less intimidating than doing one big weekly clean. You can read more about it on the TOMM website here and the book (which I recommend) is available on Amazon*.

3) Productivity apps 

As I've said above, I can't resist a planner however my phone is where I really organise my life. Again, I'd like to write a whole post about the apps that I'd recommend but my top recommendations would be Todoist and Evernote - both which also have desktop platforms which seamlessly sync. Todoist is great for your to do list; you can organise tasks into different projects which I like doing, and I get an email reminder every morning so I can see what I need to do that day. I also love Evernote which is described as a note taking app. You can use this for a to do list too, but I use it more as a virtual notebook with different notebooks for subjects like recipes, present ideas and useful links. It's easy to search too so is quick and easy to use.

4) Birthday card book and app

I used to be terrible with birthdays and would remember a few days before, rush out and buy a card and it would arrive a few days late. I've now got two things that have really helped to organise my 'birthday admin' - the first is a birthday card organiser like this*. It has a page and a pocket for every month which you can write down birthday dates, and then fill with the cards for that month. I will do a bulk buy of cards, usually from Whistlefish and when it comes to that month I know I am covered. I also use a birthdays app (there are loads of apps like this) where I input birthdays and then am reminded a week and two days before. You can also put in the birth year and it tells you how old they are - really helpful for kiddie birthdays.

5) Three task to do list 

This approach is really helpful if you find it hard to get organised, or perhaps write a to do list that ends up being 20 tasks long and becomes overwhelming. It's far more achievable to write down three tasks to do that day as you're more likely to do them, and it focuses your mind on what is the most important to get done. It also feels great to check them off of your list and then maybe move onto other jobs, if you're feeling super productive.

Daisy x

Parenting: Lessons from my parents

I've loved writing this post and thinking more closely about how my parents brought up me, my brother and sister and the lessons they have taught me. How you're brought up has such an impact on how you parent; whether you want to do similar things and replicate traditions or how you might consciously want to not do certain things. I had a very happy childhood and was brought up in a very loving, ever-supportive home and for that I am always so grateful and will never take it for granted.

Here are some lessons I've learnt from the way I was brought up, that I will always keep in mind when parenting Florence...

1. Eat dinner together at the table - I have so many memories of sitting around the table with my family, talking and laughing. We wouldn't do it every night as my Dad would get back home from work late, and so we'd eat early but at weekends we would eat lunch and dinner together at the table. It made our meals such a fun and social part of the day and we still do it now. We wouldn't just chat about our days, we'd reminisce on holidays, talk about how we felt about certain things and talk about fun things like our top 5 sandwiches and what we'd do if we won the lottery. I definitely want this to be part of our family life.

2. Value and manage your money - My Mum was amazing at teaching us to value money and it's something that is ingrained in me. She was always very purposeful with spending and hated to waste money. If we went to the cinema we would go to Woolworthes (ahh, Woolies!) and buy our drinks and pick n'mix there beforehand rather than paying the crazy cinema prices. She would also meal plan every week and when we were a little older we would have chores that we'd have to do in order to get our pocket money. We also had a savings account from when we were young and were taught the importance of saving. It sounds like really simple things but they have stuck with me and I will always value money and teach Florence to do the same.

3. Shower your children in love - this is my favourite one of all and makes me feel emotional to write about it. My parents were amazing at doing this - showering us completely in love. We were made to feel like the most special children in the world and that we could achieve anything that we wanted to. Even when we were going through that awkward teenage stage where you feel horribly insecure, we were comforted by the fact that we could come home from school and be back in that safe love bubble (as cheesy as it sounds). My lovely friend Emma sent me the quote below when Florence was born and I think it's so true.

4. Play games together - some families hate games, others love them. We are definitely the latter and still play them now. It's such a great activity to do together that is fun for everyone, and I have lovely memories of spending a whole Sunday just sat in the living room playing one after the other. I want to have regular games nights in our house when Florence gets older.

5. Invest in property - It's a long way off for Florence but I was always told that property was the best investment and to get on the property ladder as soon as possible (something also echoed by my husband's parents). Chris and I moved back in with my parents to power save for a deposit as it was so difficult to rent and save at the same time. We made sacrifices and it was so worth it in the end as buying our first flat has been one of the best things we've done.

6. Hanging out with your family can be the most fun - I think our family was slightly unusual in that we were super close (and still are) and would spend a lot of time together, even when we were teenagers. We'd love family holidays and outings, and just hanging out together. And we still do. I think it was because we can all be completely ourselves and always have a laugh. I really want Florence to have this too.

Daisy x

Lincoln: 5 child friendly places to visit in Lincoln

Belton House Adventure Playground
Belton House Adventure Playground
Looking for some child friendly places to visit in Lincoln? We moved to the city of Lincoln in 2018, although my parents moved in 2013 so I'd visited many times beforehand. Since moving, we have been exploring what this great city has to offer and I love that we live a short 15 minute drive from the centre. I want to post more about Lincoln on this blog and share more about this great city.

I'm always looking for new places to take Florence and so today I wanted to share 5 places which are very child friendly and well worth a visit.

1) Belton House

Belton House is a National Trust property in Grantham and it is an amazing place to visit with kids, and suitable for every age. When Florence was tiny we would go and walk her around in her pram, and have picnics and as she's getting older she can now enjoy the park. The adventure playground is amazing - it's set in the woodlands and is huge. There's also a little train that you can take a ride on which is very fun, and also fun to see adults having to squeeze onto it with their tiny ones! If the weather isn't good they also have a great indoor softplay area too.

There are child-friendly cafes, lots of walks and so much to explore at Belton. I know we will be going many times as Florence grows up.

Entry is £8 for an adult and £4 for a child, but obviously free with a National Trust membership.

2) Rand Park Farm

Every child loves a farm, and Rand Park Farm is arguably the best in Lincoln. It's huge and has so much to see and do. Obviously there are lots of animals to meet - you can feed the lambs in springtime and the last time we visited there were lots of piglets which were so cute. There's also an indoor playbarn and a range of other activities including tractor rides, trampolines and crazy golf.

Entry is cheaper if you book online at £8.95 per person.

3) Whisby Nature Park and Garden Centre. 

This is a cheeky two in one mention as these are two separate places. Whisby Nature Park is full of wildlife, walks and trails and surrounds a beautiful lake. We have been there for many times for walks, especially when Florence was little and would sleep in her pram! There is an indoor and outdoor play area and they often hold 'Wildlife Watch' kids events.

Whisby Garden Centre is also well worth a visit and is very close to the Nature Park. As well as being a great garden centre (how life has changed now I'm in my thirties!) you can take a short walk and you'll find yourself in the kids area which has an Animal Park and a Playbarn. There is indoor soft play and great outdoor play areas with water and sand play. As with all soft play, it can get busy at weekends which is why I love a quiet weekday visit!

Entry to the Animal Park, Playbarn and Outdoor play areas is £4.95 for children and £2.50 for adults.

4) Doddington Hall and Gardens

I had to include my all time favourite Lincolnshire venue, Doddington Hall which has a special place in my heart as it's where we got married. It's such a family friendly place to visit with something for everyone. There are great walks, bike trails and there are some great seasonal activities like pumpkin picking and Easter Egg hunts. It's also so magical to visit at Christmas as the house is themed and turned into a magical wonderland with a different theme for each year.

Entry prices vary depending on what you want to visit and can be found on their website here.

5) Lincoln Central Library 

I'm a huge fan of a library and took such joy from going to the library when I was younger and choosing which books I wanted. Lincoln Central Library has a huge range of books to choose from, but also has some great events and classes to attend with children. There are board game sessions, crafty Saturdays and even Lego Clubs with most of them being free to attend.

I hope you have got some inspiration of places to visit with your children in Lincoln. Do let me know your favourites too!

Daisy x

Parenting: Florence's 21 month routine

I meant to do these posts regularly after posting Florence's 5 month routine but hey ho, 17 months later and here we are - we're now on her 21 month old routine! Obviously her routine is slightly different with being in this strange lockdown world (is it called lockdown any more?! Probably not) in terms of what she does in the day but her naps etc are all as they would be regardless. She's been in this routine for a while now and it really works for her, and us - I love having a structure to the day. This is based on a weekday routine when Chris is working (from home at the moment).

7am: Florence typically wakes up between 6.45 and 7.45 but usually it's around 7. She went through a spell recently of waking up at 6 (I suspect because of the light mornings) and it was way too early for us but luckily we have some temporary black out blinds* which we put up and that did the trick.

Chris gets her out of her cot and she comes into our bed and will read a book and then watch some TV on my phone with her morning milk - her current show of choice is Postman Pat but we have had months of watching Waffle the Wonderdog.

8am: Chris will take Florence downstairs for her breakfast whilst I do half an hour of cleaning or get myself ready. I'll then take over for the day at 8.30.

9.30/10: Florence is quite unusual as she has her nap in the morning. I did try moving it to lunchtime but that totally backfired and she ended up not napping at all! Morning is what works for her and I won't be messing with it again. She will usually nap for 2-3 hours.

12.30/1: When she wakes up I'll get her dressed if she isn't already, and we will have a little play upstairs before going down to get lunch. Typical lunches are courgette fritters, cheesy scrambled egg and sandwiches

2.30: Occasionally she will have some quiet time in her cot around now. If she's had a short morning nap she may even have a second nap (the dream!) but if she's not tired she just chills with her comforter for half an hour. Hopefully it will mean that when she drops her nap completely she will still have quiet time in her room. If we are doing something in the afternoon she can miss this cot time with no issues.

The afternoon is generally spent playing in the garden or going on a walk, or popping to my parents house now that we can meet in the garden.

5: Dinner time! Typical dinners are salmon, potatoes and veg (she won't eat much veg), cream cheese pasta and meatloaf (random but she loves it).

6: I'll give her some milk and we will snuggle on the sofa for a bit of TV. This is one of my favourite parts of the day.

6.30: We'll go upstairs and start her bedtime routine. She has a bath most nights and then we'll read a book in her nursery and she'll go down to sleep with her comforter.

7: She is usually in bed by 7

Hope you enjoyed seeing Florence's routine at 21 months old - I will try and not leave it 17 months for the next one!

*This post includes affiliate links

Daisy x