Christmas Traditions

11855667_10153556074987442_2245968308611609691_nWe are all in the thick of it. I mean, this week alone I have had two Christmas dos – a third tonight, a school nativity and countless questions to why can’t I open all the doors of the advent calendar!

 But I do really love this time of year, especially nowIMG_4397 I have kids. There is nothing more amazing than seeing them happy and excited, in awe of the lights and decorations. As adults, we lose that and I for one am trying to bring it back into my life and live the wonder like them.

12342428_10153773203157442_4380311720577637269_nAnyway, back to the title…traditions. One thing I love is finding out people’s Christmas traditions. Every family has their own ones for many different reasons. In my childhood, the rule was you ate breakfast before you went into the living room to see if Santa had been – he always had…like you would even question if I was on the nice list! gummiebearsAlso, every year, my dad and I would watch a video of a ZZTop documentary and then Gummi Bears.

IMG_0035In my husband’s home, they would all go into his parents room, sit on the bed with his parents and open their stockings. I have other friends whose traditions range from one present before church to one present on Christmas eve.

One of the things you don’t really think of when you get married is how to combine these traditions, what do you keep? If any!

My-Favorite-Christmas-Tradition-Is-300x300We have created our own family ones- mainly as we couldn’t agree on any bar Gummi Bears! So here are ours:

•           New Christmas Eve PJ’s

•           Not 5am!

•           All go downstairs together

•           Take it in turns, we watch and interact it’s not a free for all! This includes the cat!

•           We have a lot of candles…a lot – Sainsbury’s Christmas scent is the best

•           Homemade rum truffles – lots of rum

•           Homemade Christmas cake – A LOT of sherry

•           Champagne and beer

•           Sainsbury’s red currant jelly

•           German gingerbread  

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What are yours? I would love to know.

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Why Social Media is good!

I have put a wee list of reasons why you need to be on Social Media. It just so happens that this is something I can help you with. I can give you a social media plan, analyse your social media or even run it for you! So here is the list:10-Tips-to-Buying-Gemstones1-239x300

  • It allows you to create relationships with your audience and helps to build trust. It makes your business seem more human and something your audience can relate to.

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  • You can receive instant feedback from your customers, which gives you a valuable insight into what it is they are looking for and allows you to react quickly.

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  • You can share your message with a large potential audience as quickly as possible.

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  • You can increase your audience and find many more potential customers by being visible.

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  • It is easier on your budget than traditional marketing channels. Facebook and Twitter may make it difficult to reach all of your followers without paying for ads, but they are still a cheaper alternative even if you go down the paid route.

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  • You can learn about your audience, something that is key to your success. This allows you to target your audience more effectively.

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  • You can learn more about your competitors too, helping you stay ahead. What do they do well and what do they do badly?

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  • Social media is an easy way to direct people to your website. Get more shares and you increase your search ranking as well.

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  • It helps you to increase brand awareness by being more visible in the places your customer are. Everyone is on social media! Remember, this also means that you have to be responsible for what you post.

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  • Whether you are on social media or not, your customers are and they could be talking about you. Why not talk back?

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Here comes Christmas

 baahumbugNow some people might put me in the category of bbbaaaa humbug, but I don’t start Christmas until December. This is for two reasons, one I am married to a Scot who won’t let me do it any other way and the second is that it is my eldest’s birthday on 18th November so up to then it is just all about him.

 So with Christmas coming, everyone is starting to think about the Christmas Holidays! Are you wondering how you are going to do your social media, emails etc over the holidays? I have the answer…ME!!!

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Sorry that turned into a sales pitch – not really sorry…or am I? 

crazy ffamily But anyway! December is the really crazy time for business’ and families so it is a time when you may find that someone like me in my role, where you can utilise me for as much or as little time as you need, could be useful! I can do things from Christmas present sorting (oh yes I do that too!) to sorting your social media and answering your emails over the Christmas period. Want to send a Christmas newsletter but don’t know who to or have time…call me! 

 Yes, ok, this was a total sales pitch!

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Quality not quantity

So on Friday I didn’t do a blog. The reason behind this was, well several things. I was super busy and had been all week. No, I’m not telling you this for sympathy because I love it. Also I hadn’t written anything that really fitted. Sometimes I write and it froze and sometimes I stare at the screen. Sometimes it is best to say nothing then say something for the hell of it. So why have I even written this piece. I wanted to let you know that you haven’t been forgotten. That I do love writing for my blog. However I would rather give you quality and not quantity.

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Naysayers

blogIf you follow me on social media, you will see that recently I have been posting about naysayers. The people that say you can’t do it. The reason why this is on my mind is that it was exactly a year ago that I started to seriously consider going self-employed. I started to do the maths and convince myself no. Then I convince myself yes and so on and so forth.

diaryBasically, nearly every Dernie is born in October or November. This means with Christmas coming up too, this is the most expensive time of the year, so it was easy to talk myself out of starting up, along with the help of some naysayers. These are people who say you can’t do it. They say this because they’re not living their dreams. They say this because they wanna break you down.

IMG_4222However, some of them say these things because they’re scared for you. You see, my thoughts on this go full circle. I would advise any friend to seriously consider if this is what they want to do. Going self-employed is fun and I love it but it doesn’t suit everyone. There are stresses.
I’ve got two kids and a husband, a mortgage and the cat! I have to consider them as well.

But Taylor Swift puts it best when she says the haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate) and the best thing to do if you truly believe that you can do this, if you have sat down and you’ve worked everything out, if you have spoken to the other people that it’s going to affect, then you just have to shake it off, shake it off!

Yes, I have basically ripped off T Swift for this!

12002153_639545886188361_233385032975899758_nThe reason I say this is my family are amazing and so supportive. It was a year ago when I started considering leaving my full-time employment, however, I didn’t take the plunge and do this full-time until March the following year. Since then, I have loved every second. Jack, my eldest, says I’m a better mummy. My husband says I’m happier. People say I look physical different and I’m hoping that isn’t related to my weight!

So many people will tell you no, you can’t do it, but do you know what…you can. You can do anything that you want to. Never let anyone else’s opinion stop you living the life you are meant to.

 

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Crying again! Thanks John Lewis.

john-lewis-logoCongratulations John Lewis, once again you have made me cry with your advert! I think this one resinates with all of us as we all have parents and grandparents. However, I wonder how much pressure they are under each year to produce this masterpiece that costs them 7 million pounds!

cocaCoca-Cola started this trend when they created the Christmas Coca-Cola Truck back in 1995.The thing is, Coca-Cola haven’t really developed this any further, because they haven’t needed to. They are such an iconic brand that once they decided what they wanted a Coca-Cola Christmas to look like, they never needed to change it. They made a handful of Christmas adverts and have remained the icon that they are. People, including my family, have Coca-Cola advert competitions where the first person to see it contacts the rest and announces they have won – we all then owe the winner a drink. The biggest problem for me is they tend to do it during X-Factor and I don’t watch it, which tends to mean that I end up having to buy one of this lot a drink! familyIn fact, the advert should be first shown in the second ad break of the X- factor this Saturday should you play! 

The advertisements may cost millions and millions but how many of you buy into it? It may seem like a giant outlay but the revenue that they make from it and making them an iconic brand is worth every penny.

iron brewI think that it is time that I share with you my all time favourite Christmas advert. As most of you know, my husband is Scottish so we sometimes spend Christmas in Scotland and that is where I saw this. The Iron Brew Christmas advert. The best one ever so sit back, get that hot chocolate and enjoy my favourite advert.

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USP…well thats me

What is your USP? USP

When I first started in this crazy world of self employed this was the most asked questions and for a long while I would blag my way through it and hope that people would move on. Only now, nearly nine months in (WOW) do I truly understand how and why this is important.

cropped-cropped-ljpa_master_logo2.jpgLet me take you back in time to when I started. I have a wonderful friend who is a designer who designed my logo (Hi Alex!) He always said that one of my USP – especially visually for a logo is my glasses which I wear all the time. I never really understood it – a designer I will never be!

Now I get it! I totally get it! I went to a networking meeting and handed out my business cards and went away. The next day I got an email from someone who wanted to work with me, mainly because they remembered me as I was wearing the glasses in my logo. It made me memorable, that is my visual USP but what about my business USP?

IMG_4325My business USP is ME! That is right I am short, crazy, a mummy of two who LOVES what she does (and occasionally wears a dino tail!). You need to think about your USP. It is important and key. You need to know and believe in it. 

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Playboy….say WHAT!!!!

playboy marylinRecently I have been thinking about one of my original blogs and thinking that I need to revisit it. I was sent an article by a FEMALE friend (yes, that is actually important to the story) who saw this and thought of me and it is from an interesting source. Playboy…yes Playboy!

http://www.playboy.com/articles/12-struggles-only-people-who-work-from-home-truly-understand

Haven’t you heard? There are no boobies any more! They ACTUALLY focus on the articles!

So many of these are true. I mean I rarely take lunch breaks, I don’t know when to stop – it is after 9pm, the kids are in bed and I am writing this now.

I am loving my work and yes, there are days that I work completely in my P.J’s, no make up and don’t brush my hair! But then there are the days I go into the office. Those I cherish. I love the offices that I go to. It gives me a blast of reality and has introduced me to some of the best friends that I have – Hi Queen B – and hopefully will keep!

WFHI think that my biggest, ‘I agree!’ moment when reading the article was with number 9. People assume you are free when you work from home. The amount of times my wonderful husband has come home and asked why the house hasn’t been cleaned, or my childcare find out that I have been at home and ask if I can have the kids whilst I work. I mean I love my kids. My kids are bloody epic, if I do say so myself, but it is as near as damn it impossible to work when they are at home. They don’t understand that I need to concentrate, they don’t understand not to pull the power cable, that I am filing or that I need quiet to talk to a client and do you know what – I don’t want them to! I want them to always know that congrestionthey are as much as a priority as my clients and work, as I know that so many children relate work as a negative thing. Something that takes the parents away from them. I know that mine certainly used to. Getting the balance right when you work from home is key. I spoke to another friend – hi Sarah – who just reminded me that 5 minutes is NEVER just 5 minutes. When you try and do that, you loose an evening with the kids!

So, enjoy the article and actually reading the articles in Playboy. I mean, guys, for years you have been saying that you are only reading Playboy for the articles…haha.

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Mumtrepreneur series – Number 1 – Fit4Tots

I have recently met several wonderful fellow mumtrepreneur and Lesley and I clicked straight away! Lesley set up Fit4tots with Sarah Dineen and as a mother I love anything that gets kids moving. So instead of me rabbiting on and on I am just handing over to the lovely Lesley Waldron.

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Screenshot_030I received a request to guest blog for the lovely Laura as I was watching my son’s swimming lesson. He’s 3 and an active boy. I love watching him play with balls and run around like a crazy thing. He’s blessed with naturally good coordination and plenty of opportunity to practice a variety of skills and activities at pre-school and at home. But when I watch him in the pool it’s very different, and that difference is confidence. I realised that although we are active as a family we haven’t done a huge amount of swimming with him and that it’s an important life skill. So, he’s cautious and uncertain in the water and the others in his class are more confident and a lot splashier than he is.

It could easily put him off swimming for life by eroding his confidence further and creating negative associations with the experience of lessons, but the teacher is fantastic at tailoring her instruction to the various levels of children in the class, at encouraging him to test himself a little further than he would with me and congratulating him on every advancement. As a result he loves swimming, he loves telling his sister and Daddy what new thing he has learned and can’t wait to go to the next lesson.

What I love is that he is learning some important skills here – that practice will help him get better, that even if he isn’t the best in the class he can still improve and will receive positive encouragement, and I hope he will have a positive association with swimming for life.

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I’m on a bit of mission to create that positive association with physical activity and sport for pre- schoolers, and not just my own. I run classes that are designed to give children as young as 2 the chance to practice and improve the skills of agility, balance and coordination, to associate these with fun, with sports and help them look forward to and enjoy PE and sports in and out of school. Children get lots of positive praise, as well as the opportunity to work as a team or in pairs, and learn that all important skill of turn-taking (not an easy thing for a 2 year old I tell you!).

1383270_977122972297847_5008930254718243369_nDid you know that over 60% of children don’t get enough physical activity a day (3hrs plus for pre- schoolers, at least 1 hr for children over 5). And that a lack of physical activity in the population as a whole is having an impact on our life expectancy. It’s scary stuff. Parents, teachers, sports coaches and health professionals all have an important role to play in encouraging children to move more and enjoy a variety of physical activities. There are some great resources out there – from Change for Life online, to a variety of companies like my own promoting and encouraging families to find the fun in fitness and sport. It’s individuals like my son’s swimming teacher who can really inspire for life – I hope she realises the value and importance of her role.

Lesley Waldron Fit4Tots

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“You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.” – Anna Quindlen

IMG_4325Some people say we should separate work from home. I don’t. Why? I am a virtual PA (I know you know that since you’re on my blog). I am my business. I am also a mumma, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. This is the reason why I sometimes share stuff about my life. You get the commodity, the full packet and why wouldn’t you want it? It’s those things that drive me. It’s those things that make me work hard and given me the ability to process and work how I do.

IMG_4946A great friend (Hi Joel!) told me; “people buy from people.” From that moment I made the decision to be me. 100% me. I think that is shown by how I network. I go in my dress but always wear my red Vans! If you meet me on a normal day, I usually wear jeans and Nike High Tops.

Why? I spent many years in the corporate world where I looked like everyone else, I couldn’t express me. Now I am me. I have multi coloured bits in my hair, well, they were purple but they are fading at different rates so look pretty cool at the moment (if I do say so myself). I wear the clothes I am me in.

IMG_8517I love my work. It doesn’t feel like work. I have some amazing clients who range in industry and its bloody awesome! But, each client knows and respects the fact that I am me. Because that, my friend, is the way I roll!

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