Things we love.. Jo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes

Jo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes Front Shot

We are such fans in our house of these Jo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes. So much so that the little lady is on her third round of them for the second year in a row. They are the perfect spring/summer shoes for an active toddler. The little lady started wearing them when she was one and she is just about to turn two! Whilst they are marketed as summer canvas shoes, the little lady has worn them well into the Autumn and Winter seasons with tights as I have always struggled to find other casual toddler shoes that compare. We’ve found them to be comfortable, durable and kind to little feet and we just can’t get enough of them.

Jo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes Side ShotWhat attracted me to them initially was the simple classic design, wide range of colours and sweet prints such as the Ditsy floral print, Red and White Polka Dot and Navy pairs we just bought, and the Pale Pink and Red versions that we had previously. The little lady loves them and I love them too, which as any parent will know is a winning combination, especially those with growing independent toddlers! We always get lots of comments on them from friends, family and other mums, including those with little boys who usually ask me where they are from. Luckily the shoes are unisex so im sure they look great on boys as well as girls. They also do a soft baby version and a more sporty sneaker “a la converse” range of the shoes which are just as sweet. Whats even better is that they are such great value at only £12, and just in case you have trouble picking just one like I often do, when you buy two pairs you get £5 off. Dont all rush at once!

Jo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes Red and White Polka DotJo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes Ditsy

Jo Jo Maman Bebe Canvas Summer Shoes Navy

This review is an independent, unpaid review and part of the My Petit Canard Things We Love Series which is all about sharing great finds and things we love. Please feel free to share some of your great finds with us too!

Being a mother has changed me..

Being a mother has changed me, significantly and profoundly. I no longer want what I thought I wanted, and it has taken me almost a year to realise that. I headed eagerly back into the office after 10 months of maternity leave, desperate to get back onto the career ladder in a new role and a new organisation. I quickly proved myself and celebrated early successes. My drive and determination to carve out a successful career in the city paid dividends. But that success has come at a price to work life balance and family. Ironically I left my last role and previous employer to achieve work life balance and now it seems more elusive than ever. Alongside an already a tumultuous year where I have had to endure the pain of helplessly watching a parent deteriorate before my eyes, managed a house move and started the little lady in nursery, I have spent much of the last six months feeling overwhelmed, over worked, tired and frankly wondering whether it is all worth it. Over the last two months I have thought about work an awful lot, wondering whether I am being over dramatic and just need to suck it up, or whether what I want has changed. I went back to work because I wanted to feel fulfilled and I thought that the success, the status and the recognition would give me that. At times it has, but I’ve come to realise recently that I already feel fulfilled because I know what I can achieve and actually that is enough. Being a mother has changed me, significantly and profoundly.

Beginnings and endings

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It’s been a strange end of the year and start to the new year. I’m one of those people that loves Christmas, particularly now that I have a little one, but I almost equally love the new year for the fresh start and all the possibilities it brings. I usually go to town at christmas, and am full of positive enthusiasm at the start of a new year. But this year both seem to have passed me in a bit of a blur. Because life, and the world around me has temporarily been on pause since Christmas Eve, eve when my father unexpectedly fell ill. Life since then has been lived day to day, waiting for news of progress that never seems to come. Hospital visits and constant phone calls. Family meetings and planning for a future that is so unknown. Guilt, worry and self loathing on the days that we can’t get to the hospital or make those calls, because normal life must go on.

But in every adversity, there is a silver lining. Because if it weren’t for my father falling ill, I wouldn’t have had the time I have had to be still and reflect. To think, I mean really, really think, and listen. For the first time I actually heard all the words in Bob Marley’s buffalo soldier and I have heard that song, my fathers favourite, a million times over the years. I wouldn’t have taken the time to do nothing but enjoy the company and presence of my little family. To have the days and days that we have had together at home doing not much more than the playing, relaxing and getting to know one another all over again. Nor would I have had the time to spend as much time with my siblings as I did. It has been a horrible, difficult, tiring and emotional time, but it has been wonderful in those moments where I have momentarily enjoyed being still, being present, being loved and giving love.

So going into this new year I am going to try to consciously find time to reflect and be still, and of course, blog a whole lot more. With that in mind, I want to say thank you to all my friends and family both at home and on Twitter for their support and love over the last few weeks, and for gently encouraging me back to blogging, I have missed it fondly. I have a lot to write about so I really hope you all want to read it..

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The guilt

The guilt is eating me alive. I have come full circle it would seem. From being eager and excited to get back to work, to feeling the awful mummy guilt of leaving my little lady day after day. The only thing that takes the edge off it is knowing that she is with family and that she is happy when she is there. But it’s the getting her there and waving goodbye in the mornings that’s hard. Knowing some mornings that she is still tired and would much rather sleep than being coaxed awake by mummy who “has to go to work”, but who knowingly and guiltily made the choice to go back to work. I know in the back of my mind that she is fine and that this is fine, that its good for her to spend some time away from me and the husband, socialising, playing and learning to be with others even if it is family. I know that this is the right thing for our family from a financial perspective and I know that I needed to go back to work for me. It was and still is the right decision on the whole. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling terrible some mornings when I can see that the little lady doest really feel like getting up, or getting dressed. I was certainly under no illusions this morning that it was one of those days, when she refused to kiss or say goodbye to me as daddy whisked her out the door. As I start to get back into the routine of it all, as I start to get fall back into the monotony of it all, I can’t help but ask myself whether I could have compromised more. Whether I could have considered the options more. A full time new job doesn’t leave much time for anything. Out the door at 8am and back in at 7pm. That’s a long day, even for me. But isn’t this what everyone does? Isn’t this the norm? Isn’t this reality? Isn’t this everyone’s story almost? I love my little lady and I love working, and somehow, someway we seem to have found a way to make it all work. But something still doesn’t feel quite right. Something feels out of balance. Something is making me feel a little bit guilty..

New beginnings

End of the road

It’s a funny old time right now. Its my last day at work and I’m at that crux between leaving one career and starting a new one elsewhere. I feel the sadness and nostalgia of leaving where I am now, but the excitement, anticipation and (I must admit) anxiety of starting somewhere new. I haven’t really written about my experience of making the decision to leave a job I quite enjoy at times, and an organisation that I am rather fond of because I haven’t been quite sure how to process it all. In all honesty, I think it’s been a bit of a shock to the system. As much as I had considered the possibility of a potential career change after returning from maternity, I hadn’t actually expected it to materialise so soon. It all just kind of happened in a bit of a whirlwind and a blur and I’m not sure it’s quite sunk in yet. The last four weeks have flown by and it’s only really now that the gravity of the changes ahead are starting to dawn on me. It’s not the first time I’ve changed jobs in my career, it’s not actually the first time I’ve left my organisation, but for some reason it feels like a bigger risk this time round, albeit a calculated one. It feels like there is so much more riding on it and I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a parent now or because I’m older, but I suspect it’s both.

So where I would usually feel excitement in the weeks leading up to leaving an organisation, and most certainly wake up feeling ecstatic on my last day I instead feel a slight angst which I just can’t seem to shake. The thing is, it’s just all a bit ridiculous because I know that this is a move that makes sense from a family, career and financial perspective. The role couldn’t be more perfect if I wrote it myself. It was like I wrote a wish list of things I wanted in a job and someone tapped me on the shoulder then dropped it into my lap. It is that ridiculously perfect. I feel like shaking myself, slapping myself and then telling myself to SNAP out of it!

I can only liken how I’m feeling to the scene in the first Sex and the City film where Charlotte is overly anxious and worried after finding out she is pregnant after she thought she would never be able to conceive. She expresses her angst with Carrie, convinced that something will go wrong because only good things have happened to her in life. How good things can’t consistently happen to one person. That somewhere down the line something bad will happen to them. That is how I feel right now. Like my good luck streak is going to run out somewhere along the line and I’m scared that it will be with this move. I have been so fortunate, lucky and blessed in my life. Good things have happened to and for me in almost all facets of my life. I am genuinely happy with my life and the way it has turned out and I would like to believe that things can be as good as they look on paper. That I can be as happy in my new role at a new organisation as I have been here over the last four years or so.

So am I on the cusp of the start of an exciting new future or an epic fail? Who knows, only time will only tell so watch this space..

 

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Role models wanted

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As I sat down at my desk this morning and settled into reading the post maternity coaching materials that popped into my inbox asking me to think of three women I know who are great role models, I realised something quite profound. I can’t name three role models. In fact, I can’t even name one. Of course you can always call on the Sheryl Sandberg’s and Oprah’s of the world, yada, yada, yada. But these aren’t people I actually know. These aren’t people who I can actually emulate and model myself on. These aren’t people I can talk to and ask questions. This is a problem.

I have been at my current organisation for over four years, and whilst I have been here I have met and made the acquaintance of some lovely and rather fantastic women, some of whom I now call friends. Yet in all those years, I have never come across anyone that I have ever considered role model material – either as a successful woman in leadership or more importantly now, as a working mother. There are plenty of women doing well, women who are respected. But would I say they are role models, no. Because despite my organisation introducing and supporting various working parent initiatives and enabling true flexible working (it does exist!), I have not seen any women demonstrating that it is possible to have and do it all. By that I mean, be amazing at what they do and still have the time to see and spend time with their families. Of course there are plenty of working parents in my organisation, but all too often the ones that are staying at the top of their game are the same ones I have seen still sitting in the office or online beyond the hours of what would be considered bedtime for most children. I was horrified to hear not so long ago of a considerably senior woman in my department who completely overlooked her young daughters birthday and tried to arrange a client meeting on that day, only to be reminded by a colleague as to why that date probably wouldn’t work for her. I don’t want that for myself or my family. I want to be successful and respected at work, but not at the expense of quality time with my family. So it’s a bit of a conundrum, which actually led me to my very recent decision to leave an organisation that I really do love being a part of. It’s not their fault, they really have tried to enable and empower working parents. The problem I believe actually lies in the culture and fabric of Consulting. An environment which lends itself to and favours young, carefree, childless 20 something’s. I’m not saying that you can’t be a family orientated 30 something person. You can. Just don’t expect to be home for bedtime if you want to get ahead. Consulting is a world where clients expect and demand the best, at all times, and rightly so. Sometimes that means working very long days to deliver. Sometimes it means working away from home for days, weeks or months on end. Sometimes it means making and changing plans at a moments notice. Flexible and adaptable are our middle names. All these things that sounded so glamorous and exciting when I started out are the very things that terrify me now that I have a family.

Now I understand why there are so few women at leadership level in some organisations. Because certain types of careers and families just don’t mix. I am expecting a move back into Banking will be almost, if not equally as demanding as Consulting is. But I need that, because I am one of those crazy career driven women that wants and needs to work. But I move in the hope of achieving the holy grail of work life balance, and of course of finding some role models along the way, because goodness, us working mums need them!

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The milk is gone..

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Its official. We have stopped breastfeeding. The milk has gone.. After five consecutive nights without a dream or night feed our breastfeeding journey came to an end back in May. Interestingly it wasn’t anywhere as traumatic, difficult or emotional as I thought it would be. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Easy almost. Dropping one feed, then another, and another, gradually transitioning from breastfeeds to formula feeds. Three weeks on and we had gone from exclusively breastfeeding to exclusively formula feeding, with no fuss from the little lady and no discomfort for me. No leaks, no engorgement. Nothing. It felt comfortable (figuratively and literally), natural and most importantly it felt right for both the little lady and I. What surprised me the most though, is how easily the little lady took to formula feeds. After her rejection of expressed milk from a bottle in her early months I was expecting some degree of resistance to the move to formula, but there was nothing. She happily accepted formula feeds as soon as I introduced them which made the whole process a lot easier and a lot less emotional.

Stopping breastfeeding is something that I was expecting to be difficult. I had considered stopping before, but when it came to the crunch I wasn’t ready. The thought of it was fine, but the reality of stopping was too hard. Too emotional. Too personal. But this time round it just happened, much without me thinking about it after realising that the return to work was looming on the horizon.

Two months on and it feels like we were breastfeeding a million years ago. You forget how quickly things move on with a little one. But in the moment things always seem like so much more than they are. Hours can feel like days, days like weeks and weeks like months. The smallest things can consume you without you realising it. I can barely remember how those early days of breastfeeding felt, a journey that I never imagined would last so long. A journey that I wasnt even sure would begin. A journey that was almost cut short. But a journey that I am so glad we made.

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