Four big things I learnt last week – and six little ones.

One: I want to keep the fun with blogging and remember why I started this blog – to capture the small family moments that make up a life and capture the best things that make up living in Chiswick and London.

Recently I've been stressing about 'big' blog posts, keeping up with regular content and needing to create a proper blogging schedule. I've needed to remind myself not to lose sight of my original vision – to celebrate everyday family life on the leafy edge of the big smoke, as I call it in my bio, and to have a space to be authentic.

Having said that, I do have a big backlog of review features to write; plus a backlog of Chiswick Five Mins profile pieces to write. — I really love the Chiswick five min slots on my blog – interviews with local folk who make this such a fun and inspiring place to live.


Two: When it comes to great weekends, sometimes simple fun is the best. I know we all know this, but sometimes I just need reminding that I don't have to make the most of every second of the weekend, and don't need to fill it with crafts and day trips and curated happy family times.

Chiswick Boy spent hours running around the house with my digital camera last weekend, taking delight in photographing portraits of me, his pictures, er, the back of the loo.

He's used to taking photos via my phone and ipad, but for some reason the idea of an actual camera has tickled him. I don't get the camera out very often, hence its being all new to him. It took him a while to get over the fact that — shock, horror — it didn't have a touch screen. I'm struggling to understand a world where even a digital camera seems archaic and quaint to a seven year old.

But this new passion for photography in our house is also a great reminder to take more photographs. I've recently joined Instagram – so a perfect opportunity to get clicking more. I'm loving connecting with creative, quirky and very talented women on Instagram – this week I've been oohing and aahing over mystery craft boxes and acrylic jewellery.

 

Three: I'm an anxious person, and I've finally come to the realisation that I'm always going to be that way. I'm always going to have the five year plan, the three year plan, the routines and the to-do lists. I'm a sucker for a new organisational tool, app or book…Hmm… not sure if this is a plus side or not.

In my relationship it's definitely Chiswick Daddy who takes the chilled out, nothing matters in the grand scheme of things, role. I'm the one with about four hundred different goals in sight at any one given time – although again, my blog is meant to be a reminder to me to slow down and enjoy the glorious imperfection of the here and now, as a family.

 

Four: Tidying is a bit addictive. And quite frankly it's an addiction I could well do with. Let's just say that keeping a tidy house is not something I've mastered. Fly Lady, Home Routines App, My own sticker charts – I've tried all the systems. But have always spent more time getting stressed about mastering the systems than actually tidying up – see point three above.

But after blitzing the sitting room a couple of weekends aao, so that the piano teacher could come, I've been vigilant for anny bit of clutter lurking on the sofa or carpet. Please God, long may it last.

P.S. The piano teacher was David George from Notting Hill School of Rock – er, not in Notting Hill and not just rock. David kindly let me sit in on a trial lesson so that I could get tips for continuing to teach my son piano myself. See my interview with David on my blog soon. Er, hopefully soon – see point one above.

 

And here's six little bite-sized things I learnt

One – You can survive without question marks, exclamation marks, numbers, at signs and hashtags on your keyboard. I learnt that when I spilt a glass of beer over my keyboard last week. It's taken a bit of getting used to, and my emails and blog posts didn't seem as strange without question marks and apostrophes as I thought they would. It's just a question of where you put your emphasis in your sentence. Wouldn't you agree.

Two – No matter how much I play skylanders I am always going to feel that I am following Chiswick Boy around aimlessly and rather stupidly despite his encouraging comments and tips.

ThreeSquirrels will try and get into catflaps but aren't strong enough to push them open. I'm trying not to think of foxes.

Four – Somebody threw a Lucozade bottle over the fence and it landed in Chiswick Boy's paddling pool. Chiswick Boy was shocked, as most children would be. So I realised there's a point where some people stop being shocked at this kind of thing and become the kind of person who does it.

Five – Watering plants is a great lesson in action, reaction. When I remember to water them they flourish. When I leave them a day they wilt. This is similiar to my tidying situation – when I do a bit each day the table stays free of clutter. When I leave it, it becomes hard to tackle it at all. And also my sleep situation. When I get enough, my batteries recharge. When I don't, they fizz and plop.

Six – My son is immensely funny and entertaining. And weekends just doing nothing and being as a family really help boost this creative humour. Which make me realise that time spent doing 'nothing' isn't doing nothing at all – kids are always learning, developing, growing. Which I suppose is quite a big thing to learn and not a little thing at all.


What did you learn last week…

 

 

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A Chiswick Five Mins with… Booktime Babies

These features are the favourite thing about my blog. I love hearing about what makes people tick – their routines, their passions and their daily life.

 

We have so many interesting local folk in Chiswick and environs. So it's an absolute pleasure to delve into their lives in this weekly series. This week we meet Wendy from Booktime Babies.

 

Read on and find out why blossom, Chiswick Library and nights in help make up Wendy's Chiswick life

 

 

Name: Wendy Watkins

Business: BooktimeBabies

 

How long have you been in Chiswick? 11 months

 

Favourite place to unwind here? Anywhere along the river; I find water so calming

 

Top local tip? The Deli on Fauconberg Road serves amazing coffee

 

And what's your hidden gem? Not found one yet…but constantly exploring

 

Favourite signs of spring in Chiswick? The blossom in the gardens at Chiswick House

 

Describe Chiswick in a nutshell: A friendly and welcoming community with a great mix of creative people

 

Apart from Booktime Babies, what other hats do you wear? Mum of two and Secondary English Teacher in state schools

 

 

Is your glass half full or half empty? Always full (well mostly…)

Night in or night out: Night in…quiet time is precious at the mo with two children under 2 and half

Secret talent: I've just learnt to quilt, with the help of Badger and Earl

Philosophy on life? If you are worried/scared about doing something, you have to do it and conquer

 

And now a few questions about books & babies!

 

Favourite childhood book: Mrs Pepperpot

Favourite current kids author or illustrator: Julia Donaldson: absolute genius!

Best messy play activity: flour and water: easy, cheap and entertains for ages

Favourite trick to entertain a crying baby: Turn up the radio and dance with them

Library or bookshop: Since being in Chiswick, the library. We love reading and playing in the children's area

 

Booktime Babies info

 

Website: www.booktimebabies.co.uk

Twitter tag: @booktimebabies

Facebook: booktimebabies.co.uk

 

Want to be featured in this section… drop me a line at chiswick_mum at yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

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That was my Chiswick weekend that was

So I'm meant to be doing these updates every week, to capture the small moments that make up a family weekend. Over the last few months I've had a pattern of not getting them done in time to publish on Monday, then I've gaffed for another few days until it's seemed so late that I may as well wait until the following weekend.

As part of my striving to realise that I can't obtain perfection, I've decided that it's better to post a weekly update on a Thursday than not to post at all. And so here we are…my very late Chiswick weekend that was, in all its imperfect glory.

One Chiswick coffee catch up

On Friday I had coffee, separately, with two local Chiswick folk. The two people were quite different from each other, but both had one thing in common – a complete and all-encompassing passion for their business.

Passion is infectious. And it got me thinking that the important thing in life is to have thatpassion. Whether it's for knitting, or economics, or teaching, or kiddie crafts… just something that makes you get up in the morning and say 'yes'.


We’ll always have Paris

Most of my blog features about local folks tend to be done as emailed questions and answers. But meeting people face to face is great too… and Friday was a gorgeous day to be out on Chiswick High Rd, lapping up the cafe culture that Chiswick does so well, with its wide boulevard style streets.

On days like this I sometimes pretend I'm in Paris.

So it's quite fitting that the first person I met was French entrepreneur Marie-Anne. Together with her husband she's the brains behind Pyjama Breakfast – a local home cooked breakfast delivery service. Sitting outside Gail's, sipping coffee, listening to Marie-Anne speak lovingly but practically about home made jam, crepes and good quality bacon was a great treat. And Pyjama Breakfast is such a great idea – expect a write up of our chat, and a review, in a later blog feature.


Dough a deer

Then I went off to meet Chris from Doughlight Creations, sitting outside at the Kitchen Pantry. I know – two coffee shops in one morning. It did feel very decadent.

I met Chris at the Kew Fete the other week, and was charmed by his clay models and the clay he uses – it air dries to an unbelievably light model. I'd bought a tub in bright colours at the fete as part of the Father's Day present, but disappointingly dropped it somewhere en route to home…

Chris gave me a bit of a modelling demo, and shared his story about how he got into teaching clay modelling and stop gap animation to kids. Plus he very kindly and sweetly gave me a tub of clay to replace the one I losts. More on Chris and his fabulous clay in a future blog feature too.

 

Two and Three: Sunshine and art

Picking up Chiswick Boy in the sunshine from school is an absolute delight. I can only do this on Fridays as I work condensed hours at my day job – long days Monday to Thursday for the delight of a day 'off' on Fridays.

I love speaking to the teacher to find out how his day has been, and watching him bound out of the classroom to give me a kiss. Chiswick Boy is seven now and still loves his kisses and cuddles – although I do wonder how long this will last. While I don't want to be maudlin about it, it's clear that he's now wavering between still being my baby and being a big boy… but it's a slow process and this helps mothers I think, as we ease out the apron strings slowly.

After school we love nothing more on a sunny day then to head back to our garden – after the obligatory stop at the ice cream van parked outside the school. We've recently indulged in sun loungers and they are worth every penny. Nothing can beat the sheer relaxation of lying back in the garden.

Chiswick Boy calls his his Hobby Chair… because he can lie back in it and do his hobbies – his drawing, designing games etc. But I call mine the Cloud Watcher – as I love to recline it all the way back and watch the clouds drifting along, accompanied by the regular drone of planes from Heathrow. We were lucky enough to see a cloud rainbow at the weekend – there is probably a technical term for this but I can't be bothered to go off and google it.

After drinks, snacks and recharged batteries we love to get stuck into some artwork. As anyone who's visited Pinterest will know – melted crayon art is one of the hot crafts doing the round and I've wanted to do some with Chiswick Boy for ages. It's the easiest thing in the world – stick your crayons onto canvas and then blast them with a hairdryer. In seconds they're melting.

We also decided to do a bit of Jackson Pollock emulation. First of all we watched some youtube videos of Mr Pollock in his studio, then we set to work. We laid out four canvasses on the table, poured a selection of acrylics into containers and had some very satisfying time, loading up paintbrushes and flicking them onto the canvasses.

The set of four canvasses is now hanging on our wall alongside the crayon art and I'm pretty thrilled with them all.

 

Four: Crocodile Smile

Chiswick Daddy also made this amazing crocodile headpiece for Chiswick Boy over the weekend. He took an old kid's police helmet, and then stuck long egg cartons on to make the long mouth. He then covered the whole thing with lots of masking tape layers, to make a great textured surface for painting.

The inside bits of egg cartons also make great teeth, which were painted bright white and stuck on.

Finally, when all the paint was dry, Chiswick Daddy painted eyes onto card and stuck them on.

I was really impressed with this bit of crafting daring-do. And so was Chiswick Boy.


Five and Six: Bloggers Day Out at Ripley's Believe it or Not

One of the nicest things about this blogging adventure is that sometimes I get invited to go out and try family attractions. It's great on two levels. Firstly, it encourages me to get out and about and try London stuff. Otherwise I'm so in love with my garden and Chiswick that I'd never leave them otherwise. And secondly I get to share these places on my blog and with you

On Sunday we were invited to Ripley's Believe it or Not. This probably isn't a place that we would have visited otherwise – and believe it or not we had a great time. The highlight was definitely the maze of mirrors. More on that and the rest of our visit a review on my blog later.

As part of this blogger day we were also invited to lunch at Bubba Gump. Did you know there was a Forrest Gump themed restaurant in London… no me neither. But there is… imagine how happy you would be if yu were a massive Forrest Gump fan. I'm holding out for the Breakfast at Tiffany's breakfast restaurant… maybe it exists somewhere in the world…But we had a lovely lunch and more on that at a later date on my blog too.

 

From central London to Ancient Egypt

After that Chiswick Daddy had to go into work, but I stayed in town with Chiswick Boy and met up with an old friend – an ex if I'm honest, from before Chiswick Daddy. But we're all great pals.

We took Chiswick Boy to the British Museum. He's mad on Egyptian mummies and we haven't taken him before, so a visit was well overdue. I wasn't sure how long his attention span would be, but he was massively engaged. He lapped it all up, excitedly asking questions and rushing to exhibit after exhibit.

It turns out my ex has become a big ancient history buff – he's an artist so works from home and claims he's got it all from talking books and podcasts. Chiswick Daddy is a great history buff too so I'm looking forward to going back with him. I felt a bitt guilty that Chiswick Boy was enjoying all this with me and my ex, and that it wasn't his dad showing him around and impressively answering his questions. But what can you do – as working-outside-the-home parents it's hard to enjoy everything together.

But we'll definitely be back to the British Museum together. We did two sections of the museum and I reckon that is just enough for a seven year old boy. So there are plenty of visits left to go to.

 

Stamping off

I was trying to have a no nonessential spending month. … but I fell by the wayside this weekend. And one of those moments was at the rubber stamp shop near to the British Museum on Bury Place. If you're at all interested in crafts then this has to be on your must-visit list.

This small shop holds every conceivable type of stamp and we had great fun choosing a stamp each. Chiswick Boy chose a skull and crossbones, and for me he chose a dolphin – 'your favourite animal, mummy' he said, pointing excitedly. We also bought a multicoloured inkpad for rainbow-hued stamping fun.


Seven: Missed the boat

I've also been a bit wistful lately for when we lived on that boat, nestled by Kew Bridge. Every time I look at the river near Strand on the Green, or walk over to Kew Gardens, I feel the river calling to me.

I wonder whether it's time again to think about buying a boat. At the very least a small boat to go up and down the Thames on. I've been wistfully looking at those little rowing boats tied into the mud on the Strand. After all, as Ratty famously said to Mole – 'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing…'

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A Chiswick 5 Mins with… the editor of City Kids magazine

Hurrah – it's another Chiswick 5 mins interview. My regular catch up with the lovely folk who make up our local life.

This time, under the microscope it's Victoria Evans, editor of City Kids Magazine.

Read on and find out why walking by the river, Sunday lunch and garden time help make up Victoria's West London life.

 

Name: Victoria Evans

 

Day job: Editor, City Kids Magazine

 

 

How long have you been in West London?

 

We moved here in 2006 shortly before my daughter was born. The house was a wreck and the paint was still wet when she arrived 10 days early. They finished off around us while I was in a breastfeeding haze!

 

 

Favourite place to unwind here?

 

I’m not very good at unwinding, but I love walking by the river.

 


What's your top local tip?

 

Charlotte’s Bistro for Sunday lunch. Slightly extravagant, but it has never been a disappointment.

 


And what's your hidden gem?

 

This is a more of a “who is your hidden gem”. Reza at Optimal Spine is my go-to man for some proper massage. I see it as a luxury so I don’t go as often as I should. But, if you have a zillion knots in your shoulders and back like I do, he works miracles.

 


Vacation or staycation?


Vacation as I love the sun, sucking up different cultures, and different food. But we’ve discovered the Isle of Wight in the last couple of years. In terms of staycation, it’s hard to beat.

 

 

If you weren't here, where would you be?

 

Somewhere with a beautiful view, mountains or sea…

 

 

Tell us what your business is about, in a nutshell?

 

City Kids Magazine is literally about providing local parents with a go-to guide to classes in the local area and events and activities across London.

 

It came about as I used to spend hours trawling through magazines and websites trying to find things to do with the kids, and never really getting anywhere. I wanted to produce a concise, comprehensive guide that was relevant to me – I’m not interested in after school clubs in Hampstead, for example.

 

But while I may want to stay local during the week, at weekends, London has so much to offer – we like to go and investigate. Feedback from readers has been amazing and I’m so grateful to everyone who has contributed their time and energy in the last year.

 

 

Kids – screen time or garden time?

Garden time, but as our garden is the size of a postage stamp, park time or pool time. Screen time is monitored in our household as the kids would spend all day watching or playing if they were left to their own devices (no pun intended!).

 

 

Apart from your business, what other hats do you wear?

 

Mum, wife, cook, housekeeper, accountant, rule-maker, rule-breaker, diplomat, chief organiser and worrier. Recently also plumber.

 

 

What's on your bedside table?

A lamp, a glass of water, a book I intend to read, and my notebook. Ideas come at the strangest times.

 

 

Is there a book in your bag?

 

Well if you count a diary – very old school.

 

 

Is your glass half full or half empty?

 

Half full.

 


Secret talent:

 

Not sure I have one, but many moons ago I was quite a handy lacrosse goalkeeper! Not a lot of people know that.

 

 

Philosophy on life?

 

Get on with it!

 

 

House clean or house dirty?

 

Definitely, house clean, but a bit messy, particularly at deadline time.

 

 

 

http://citykidsonline.co.uk/

 

https://twitter.com/citykidswest

 

https://www.facebook.com/CITYKIDSWEST

 

Want to be featured in a Chiswick 5 Mins interview… or know someone who should be… drop me a line at chiswick_mum at yahoo.co.uk

 

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Tree Fu Tom live – review feature

Today, for one day only, Sister-in-law and 2-year-old Nephew have been allowed to take over blogging responsibilities: you can think of us as the Provincial Relations. We’re delighted to have the Chiswick Mum blogging mantle passed to us (for these purposes I imagine it to be a sort of Nicole Farhi-type cape, possibly with snood…). We were lucky enough to get sent off to see Tree Fu Tom Live on tour, with strict instructions to report back on how the magic really works.

Who’s Tree Fu Tom? Do you mean his blend of cartoon magic, neo-pagan tree worship, talking woodlice and kung fu has passed you by? He’s a relative newcomer to CBeebies, only arriving in 2012, and this is the first time that the show has been on tour.

In the TV version, young Tom, benefitting from some rather lax parenting practices, appears to spend most of his time in the woods, transforming himself into insect size in order to hang out with a group of more or less moral woodland creatures. When they need help with their troubles [you know the sort of thing: sap leaks, pixies getting out of control, beetles going astray] Tom springs to the rescue, performing magic movements which the audience has to join in.

Not only is it meant to get young couch potatoes up and active while they are watching telly, it’s also been designed with specialist input to help children with dyspraxia through the co-ordinated hand movements.

This is the great aspect of the live show, too, where Tree Fu Tom in his striking green moon boots urges you to get up and make the magic work. Admittedly, Nephew and his friend sat tight in their seats, observing other children eagerly participating with a cool, almost cynical air. But other, more enthusiastic, infants were clearly having a whale of a time.

 

Singing, dancing and magic – live

The live show itself is really involving, in the best pantomime style, as Tom leads his gang of arthropods on a treasure hunt with plenty of singing, dancing, and magic.

There’s Twigs, the hyperactive acorn sprite, Zigzoo the frog with his armful of sub-Dragons Den style inventions, and Squirmtum the foolish woodlouse, who has an unfortunate tendency towards cowardliness (personally, just for once, I’d love to see a courageous woodlouse; they do tend to get terribly stereotyped). Our favourite was Ariela the butterfly, buxom, be-stetsoned, channelling a country music twang: think a six-legged Dolly Parton with a mean line in lassoing errant mushrooms.

Because the mushrooms, of course, are the villains of the piece: two quarrelsome toadstool siblings who are out to cause all sorts of fungal mischief and frustrate Tom and his friends. One of the highlights of the show was hearing quite how disapproving the little boy behind us was about the bad behaviour of the thieving Mushas, who certainly know how to whip their juvenile crowd into a state of righteous disgust worthy of a Daily Mail leader.

 

Granted, this is a bit of an expensive outing, but it’s a treat. The enthusiasm was infectious, the music was incessantly catchy, and the whole show did a great job at engaging children. I was worried that Nephew was a little bit young to get into it at only 2, but although he didn’t understand it fully, he was absolutely entranced, staring fixedly at the stage throughout and wriggling to the music.

Probably an optimum age might be 4 to 6, to fully get the jokes and get into the plot line – but it definitely works for younger children too, because of the liveliness and physical element. It was also very well-timed: about forty minutes up to the interval, a good break and then a much shorter second half.

 

We went to the show at De Montfort Hall in Leicester but it’s on tour right round the country at the moment [see http://www.treefutomlive.co.uk/#!page3/cee5]. Go on, dust off those moonboots and get ready for your child to be spellbound by Tom and his insect sidekicks…

 

Phew – well what did you think of my sister-in-law's review… was I right to let her loose on my blog…hee hee

Please note – my sister-in-law and nephew were given free review tickets to this show, for the purposes of this review. But it's an honest and authentic review. Pretty darn well written I think – I think I have some blogging competition…

 

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Never knowingly undersold ? Women and confidence in the workplace

A couple of weeks ago I went for a job interview for a big promotion.

Now depending on where you are in your own career path, you may think the words 'job interview' to be a normal part of life..

But for me it hurled me into a big pit of soul searching.

  • Why was I going for another job.
  • What was I doing, trying to rock the boat.
  • What if a new job would demand more of my heart body and soul than I was prepared to give.
  • Why was I tempting fate for my family by changing an aspect of my life when the status quo is pretty okay right now.

You're right – I overthink things. But it did get me thinking about my life at work and how it has changed since I became a mother.

 

Flexible working pattern

I really love my job.

By that I mean I really enjoy being at work.

I enjoy the challenges, the team that I manage and all the responsibilities that management of people brings – part mentoring, part coaching and part mothering; just like home really.

I also have the benefit of being able to work flexible hours – worth more than their weight in gold. If time weighed anything.

I've chosen to work condensed hours. This means that I work a full time week in four days instead of five, leaving glorious Friday free for me to do the school run in both directions and spend the rest of the day blogging, or swimming, or cleaning. Less, much less, of the latter.

And during school holidays it means I get a whole wonderful and precious Friday to spend with my son, whether on adventures, mooching around Chiswick, or just in the gentle river of domesticity

So why, I hear you ask, would I rock this particular boat by looking for another job.

 

Underselling ourselves

Well I feel that I've undersold myself in my current role and that I'd like a better reward package for the level of job that I do.

I feel it boils down to two things – money, yes, but also the respect for my talents that a promotion would bring.

Now I'm uncomfortable writing about money and respect – because they feel illogically shallow. In fact I was so scared of being judged that I almost didn't write this blog post. So I decided to do some research into why I was feeling that wanting more money and more respect was shameful in some way.

 

Women less likely to negotiate on salary

It turns out I'm not alone. The Harvard Business Review notes that women are much less likely to negotiate on salary than men. And that the reason is that the consequences of failing are much greater for women.

When negoitating on salary, the Harvard Business Review says, women are more likely to be judged as therefore caring more about themselves and money than about organisational relationships. Men are not likley to be judged this way in the workplace.

In the same vein, I realise that subconsciously I've been scared about writing about wanting more money – or even asking for more money – as I fear being judged for caring about money more than about my family.

And of course we all know that women can care about organisational relationships and their family, and still want more money – but the fears of being judged are deeply engrained.

 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

The other reason for my wanting a promotion is greater respect. Or rather, I would like the greater acknowledgement of my talents and the increased challenges and team size that a promotion would bring

I work in an organisation which is extremely hiearchical and grade-based. I find that the ceiling between the grades is, if not glass, at the very least a barely perceptible perspex. We have equal rights laws and diversity awareness courses coming out of our ears, but there's no escaping that as you get nearer the top of the organisation, the bands get whiter and more male.

At the risk of sounding churlish and egotistical, every day I see people who are working at a higher grade than me, who on the surface are no more qualified or experienced than I am. Yet I've found it really hard to move from my current grade to the next one up, in my current organisation.

Atlantic Magazine says that “explanations for a continued failure to break the glass ceiling are missing something more basic: women’s acute lack of confidence”.

And I think that this is a key to underselling ourselves in the workplace.

 

Women in the workplace

I think that as women we don't push our own agenda at work, and can be more reticent to talk about our achievements. We assume people know what we've done on our project, and the extent of our involvement, so we feel embarrassed about 'showing off'.

We're more likely to say 'we did' than 'I did' – more keen to sell our team then ourselves.

A study documented in Patient Education and Counselling showed that able female medical students showed decreased confidence when dealing with patnients.

Forbes Magazine says that even high executive women struggle with the softer skills of the workplace – like self-promotion.

Kathy Caprino, writing for Forbes, says: women often do, in fact, let their doubts and insecurities about themselves stop them, whereas men tend to push forward despite their doubts.

 

That inner criticial voice

What's interesting is that there's ample documentation to show that women perform equal to, if not greater than, men in the workplace. But that people's perception of our abilities is not based on our outputs, but on our confidence about our abilities.

The Guardian cites a study that shows '24% of women said they'd be at a more senior level in their careers if they were freed of their self-doubt'.

In response, Sarah Graham, Feminist Times, agreed that 'women often have to work twice as hard and be twice as confident to make an impact', compared to their male counterparts.


The vicious circle

There are two things at play here. First, women lack the self-confidence they need to sell themselves. Next, workplaces can be tuned to recognise confidence and mistakingly equate this with competence.

For women who deliver on projects but lack the confidence to sell themselves, they get feedback that they're not achieving. This results in even lower self-confidence, and the vicious negative cycle feeds itself.

For myself, I know I have a constant voice in my head with a critical monologue on a loop: 'you're rubbish, you're awful, you're getting it wrong.'


Motherhood could rewire our approach to the career ladder

There is another thing at play here – one that is much more contentious. Because I wonder whether you can have it all – or even, as a mother if you really do want it all anyway.

For years mothers were told to enter the workplace, free ourselves from a tyranny of dirty dishes in a scullery and take our rightful place as breadwinners and brain users.

But being a mother really has rewired my relationship to the career ladder. Now my focus is on my child and work is no longer the be all and end all, but a means to an end.

The Atlantic Magazine recognises this. It says: 'Some observers say children change our priorities, and there is some truth in this claim. Maternal instincts do contribute to a complicated emotional tug between home and work lives, a tug that, at least for now, isn’t as fierce for most men… '

At home and at work I have days when I feel I am failing – I'm not helping out on a school trip but Chiswick Daddy is free to go. The house is dirty and I've had to dry a pair of tights with a hairdryer again. Or it's Friday after school and I'm taking Chiswick Boy to a cafe for supper because Chiswick Daddy is working and I can't be bothered to cook.

Sometimes I think would I be happier in a world where women hadn't fought for the right to retain a career after motherhood. And yet….

 

… I'd be a rubbish housewife

I look at my house, at my slovenly ways when it comes to cleaning and my wilful neglect of cooking. At how Chiswick Daddy wakes me up in bed with a coffee, gets Chiswick Boy to school and has supper ready when I get home in the evening, so that all three of us can sit around the table together.

So I'd actually be a crap homekeeper. Plus as I said above, I do enjoy my job while I'm there.

So I'm not quite sure whether what I want is permission to succeed at work, or permission for it not to matter.

And does wanting to slide a little further up the greasy career pole make me a bad mother… or does it just mean that as a mother and woman I'm never going to think that I'm succeeding

 


Which way to turn

Oh and the job I went for ?

Well I didn't get it. The questions were quite leftfield and while I love thinking on my feet, I don't think I got enough of my key project examples in to really show I had what it took to do the job.

Am I sad – no. Part of me – most of me – is glad that I get to stay in the comfort zone.

At the moment I know confidence is an issue. Only I don't know whether I need to find the confidence to say that a promotion doesn't matter and I'll stick with the work-life balance. Or the confidence to keep going for other jobs until I'm offered one with the rewards package I'd be happy with.

 


What is your experience of confidence – as a mother, or in the workplace?


Sources of quotes

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/iu-msg100308.php

https://hbr.org/2014/06/why-women-dont-negotiate-their-job-offers/

http://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/lack-of-confidence-holding-back-womens-careers

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815

With thanks to http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ for the illustrations.

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Children and family choices from the Bedford Park festival – 12 to 28 June 2015

The Bedford Park Festival is a bit of a Chiswick fixture. Over 17 days there's a variety of talks, concerts, shows and activities – with something to fit even the hardest to please person. It is organised by St Michael and All Angels Church with the 'active help of many non-churchgoers'.

Organisers say the 'fortnight of arts and social events raises money for charity and celebrates the wonderful sense of community in Chiswick'.

The Frozen sing a long was definitely the highlight of the children's programme – but it's now sold out, unsurprisingly but still disappointingly if you didn't get a ticket in time.

But chin up – I've worked with the organisers to pull out the other best choices for kids and families. So without further ado, here is is – the Chiswick Mum guide to Bedford Park Festival.

 

Star Wars Epic Yarns

Saturday 20 June 2015, 10.30am, £3.50

St Michael and All Angels Parish Hall


One of the odder offerings, but even more loveable for that. A celebration of a board book series which involved handcrafting felt Star Wars figures and using them to recreate iconic tableaux from the films.

At the event you'll get a book reading, and have a chance to do some felt crafts.

Book online: http://www.bedfordparkfestival.org/e/97/children-s-morning-star-wars-epic-yarns

 

Pinball Wizard competition, up until Sunday 28 June.

I love pinball but have only been able to show Chiswick Boy the xbox version – now pinball comes to Chiswick. Hurrah indeed.

Head to Chief Coffee's Pinball Lounge, in Turnham Green Terrace Mews (by Snapdragon) before Sunday 28 June.

There will be prizes for the players who get the highest total on each of the six pinball machines. Bagsy the Star Trek one.

Simply take a photo of yourself with your winning score and tweet it to @chief_coffee. Or email it to hello@chief-coffee.com. And ask the coffee shop staff for a High Score form to fill out your details.

http://www.bedfordparkfestival.org/e/107/pinball-wizard-competition

 

ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS JUNIOR CHOIR AND ROSALIND LENEY'S PUPILS' CONCERT, Sunday 21 June 2015, 6pm

£5

The Studio, 2a Blenheim Road, W4 1UA


Advance booking only from Rosalind Leney on 020 8994 0762

If your child's in the school choir or plays piano, then why not put them on the other side of the audience and bring them to watch another choir and piano pupils.

Organisers call it: “A varied programme of short piano pieces by Rosalind Leney's pupils' and choral music by St Michael & All Angels Junior Choir, performed in a beautiful Bedford Park studio.”

http://www.bedfordparkfestival.org/e/70/st-michael-all-angels-junior-choir-and-rosalind-leney-s-pupils-concert

 

 

CHISWICK AND BEDFORD PARK PREPARATORY SCHOOL ART EXHIBITION,Tuesday 23 June 2015 to Thursday 25 June 2015

St Michael and All Angels Church


Admission free. No booking required

Tuesday 23 June from 3.30pm – 6.30pm
Wednesday 24 June from 1pm – 5.30pm
Thursday 25 June from 1.15pm – 5.30pm

My son creates art practically from the moment he gets up to the moment he goes to sleep. So I think it's a lovely idea to bring him to see an exhibition just of kids art. Students aged 3-11 from Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School have produced artwork for this.

http://www.bedfordparkfestival.org/e/47/chiswick-and-bedford-park-preparatory-school-art-exhibition

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Swedish ethical fashion that hits all the marks – review feature of Me&I

Last year I reviewed two items from the Me&I collection. Both are still going strong, despite several washes and unforgiving rough and tumble family life.

So this year I was thrilled to be invited to select two more items from their new collection to review – one for me and one for Chiswick Boy.

 

 

Brightly coloured ethical fashion with true wow factor

Last year I wrote about how delighted I was to discover this clothing firm. Vibrant colours, refreshingly unisex items for children, plus soft fabrics gorgeously cut and finished. And a truly ethical ethos that delivers on a practical level – clothes are made in Portugal and there's a full ethical statement on their website.

 

Khaki jumpsuit made me jump for joy

I decided to be a bit more adventurous than the cardigan I chose last year, and I went for a jumpsuit. Now I know that the 19 year old version of me would be horrified by my definition of adventerous now being a jumpsuit. But kids, family, the daily juggle, and suddenly yes – trying a jumpsuit instead of my go-to wardrobe of skirts, cardi and boots does feel adventurous!

I wasn't sure if it would fit my shape (small and curvy) but when it arrived it fitted like a dream. Again, simple fabrics, great cuts are the secret to Me&I's range. The jersey material hangs really well and it's a truly beautiiful shade of khaki which has prompted me to seek out more clothes in this colour – I didn't have anything this shade in my wardrobe before.

 

As comfy as your favourity pair of PJs

What surprised me most was how amazingly comfortable this jumsuit is to wear. It's as comfy as my favourite jersey pyjama bottoms – and believe me, I love to hang around in my pyjama bottoms! (Yes, I'm one of those people who gets into their pyjamas as soon as they get home – no matter what time of day it is!)

And I can honestly say that I have not had as many compliments on a piece of clothing as I have since wearing this. I truly truly adore it. In fact I've had so many compliments that I'm going to get the jumpsuit in black too. And please Me&I, bring it out in some other colours

Styling – vests and boots

I tend to team this with my newish leopard spot caterpillar boots but I imagine that you could dress it up with heels. Although I think it looks pretty dressy with flats too! .

It needs a vest under it as it's a loose crossover style at the front. I've used multiple colours – from black and beige neutrals to a bright orange pop of colour, and they've all worked.

What else can I say – I love this item! It's been a true revelation for me!

 

Rough and tumble test – kids' joggers

Now on to the item I chose for Chiswick Boy. Last year I chose some yoga pants in blue and they've been such a success that this year I went for jogging pants – in bright red.

There's nothing you could fault about these. They're bright, vibrant, ethically made and have fabric that's guaranteed free from chemical residue.

 

Designed by someone that really knows kids

Finally – kids trousers that have been built with kids and parents in mind. As well as ticking all the ethical and environmental boxes, real thought has gone into making trousers that will last for years. You can roll them up if they're too big and they still look great – and roll them down again when you need to.

The slimline style fit in the leg is fantastic – streamlined enough to do sports in, and smart enough to wear outside the house as day wear (I normally don't like Chiswick Boy to wear jogging pants outside the house as 'normal' wear).

Chiswick Boy put his through the paces at Boston Manor Park after his tennis lesson – as you can see from the photos.

 

A great brand – that makes you feel 'in the know'

I'm really excited about finding Me&I. The clothes are made from great materials, look original and are in gorgeous colours. When you get compliments on an outfit and say where you got it from 'Swedish brand Me&I' it feels like an insider secret. And best of all they're an ethical and environmentally sound company.

Okay – buying from Me&i is slightly different. Please don't let this put you off – the website explains it all easily. Rather than ordering online you contact a sales rep (easy form on their website), or attend/host a me&i party. All the details are on their site. Let me know if you host a party!

http://www.meandi.se/en/

This is a review feature – and I was given the items for the purpose of review. But the views are entirely my own.

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A Chiswick 5 Mins with… Kelly Reeves

Our regular feature catching up with the local folks who help make up our Chiswick life. Today it's local mum and photographer Kelly Reeves.

You can't go far in Chiswick without running into one of Kelly's photographs. An active local Twitter user, Kelly's beautiful images capture local events and people perfectly and provide a literal snapshot of life.

As a portrait photographer, photography is her business as well as her love. She's also the official photographer for local Foucan Freerunning Academy and the Super Saturday of Sport.

Read on and find out why unwinding with coffee, Spring blossoms and social media help make up Kelly's Chiswick life. Plus get Kelly's lowdown on her love of photography, and the answer to the ultimate question – can you take a good photo with an iphone?


How long have you been in Chiswick? I have lived in Chiswick for 15 years.


Favourite place to unwind here?

I love to unwind with a coffee in one of our local coffee shops. Badger & Earl is one of my faves – it has such a relaxing vibe.


Top local tip?

Get yourself on Twitter and come along to the Chiswick 'tweet up’. It’s a great way to meet fantastic local people :)


And what's your hidden gem?

My hidden gem has to be Gunnersbury Triangle nature Reserve. Tucked away opposite Chiswick Park station. This truly is a hidden gem! Offering lots of daily activities or just a pleasant stroll away from the hustle & bustle of the high road.


Favourite signs of spring in Chiswick?

The blossoms in Stavely road – just beautiful!

Tell us about your day job, in a nutshell…

I am a local portrait photographer & official photographer to Sebastien Foucan’s Freerunning Academy & Super Saturday of Sport.

Apart from this, what other hats do you wear?

I am a bit of a social media geek – you can find me on pretty much every platform! I am a mummy to 3 and nanny to 1.

Is your glass half full or half empty?

Definitely half full.


Night in or night out:

Night out – we are spoilt for choice here in Chiswick, right?


Secret talent:

I am a netball goal shooter.


Philosophy on life?

Live and let live.

And now a few questions about photography:

First camera you ever owned: My first camera was a polaroid given to me as a child by my dad.


Best shot you've taken: Has to be of a newborn just minutes after birth.


Black & white or colour? Black & white.


Favourite photographer: I love the work of Lee Jeffries. His portraits are simply stunning.


Does the camera ever lie? Hmmmm the camera not so – the edit most definitely.


Photoshop or no photoshop? Personally I love natural shots, however my clients can’t get enough!


Settle this question once & for all – do you need a posh camera or can you take a good photo with your iPhone?

IPhone picture quality has improved so much & combined with all the apps you can now purchase, great results can be achieved. You can’t beat a camera set to manual partnered with a quality lens and a good light source though! Knowing how to use them together helps :)

Website: www.kellyreevesphotography.co.uk

Twitter Tag: kel02100

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyreevesphotography

 

 

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Have you been hit by the fear?

Twitter user @MrsLeapOfFaith posted this today – which sums up nicely what I've been feeling lately:

Torschlusspanik (n.): the fear, usually as one gets older, that time is running out and important opportunities are slipping away #German

I'm a big fan of language and one delicious linguistic oddity is the way that different languages have words for whole concepts that other languages don't.

For the last few months I've been pursued by a feeling that time is running out and that there's something I'm meant to be doing, that's on the periphery of my vision… but which I just can't glimpse.

 

Are you a list maker?

I'm a big goal setter AND a big list maker. I have a new year routine where I set out my 10 year goals, 3 year goals, annual goals. I then divide each of these annual goals into dozens of baby-step tasks, and try and slot these into various weeks – or at least tackle some every week of the year.

My lists drive Chiswick Daddy mad – but if you're a list maker then you'll know the allure of bullet points on a page!

My goals centre around five key themes:

  1. Children
  2. Family, friends and community
  3. Financial and career
  4. Creative (writing and performing)
  5. Healthy mind and body

 

So do you feel the fear?

Yet despite this goal making I still feel that there's something I'm meant to be doing, but that I'm not. Something that I should have achieved but haven't – but can't put my finger on it.

There's certainly things I'm striving for. On Children for example, I have my son which is absolutely amazing. I think being a mother is a wonder and despite all the goals I haven't met yet – when I remember that I have a son I breathe a deep sigh of relief and say 'yes – thank goodness!'

As you may know if you are a regular reader of my blog, I am trying to conceive number two at the moment. It hasn't happened as quickly as I'd like and this is really one of my key focuses at the moment. It just doesn't seem to be happening for us. Whereas child number one appeared so unexpectedly that it came as a complete (pleasant) shock!

 

Family and friends

I am a family girl at heart. My year revolves around the family celebrations – birthdays, christmas, Easter…and I'm happiest when I have my brother, his girlfriend and their baby, my mum, and my aunts and uncles around me playing silly word games or having a singalong. I love any excuse for a family gathering.

Friends are harder. It's very hard to keep up an active social life when you have a child. Not many of our pre-child friends have gone on to have kids themselves. And while I thought that once my son started school we would make lots of friends with other families, it all centres around the kids parties.

So I now have built into my daily schedule a reminder to text or email a friend – basically I'm trying to remember that you only get out what you put in.

 

Social media is a godsend for community

Even though social media is global, for me the wonder of twitter and blogging has been the ability to connect with the local community. I've 'met' so many wonderful people this way that I count people I've only met virtually as people I know well! And I'm lucky that in Chiswick there is plenty of opportunity to go out and meet twitter friends in real life. While blogging has helped me connect with both local people and other mothers from further afield.

We're still largely homebirds in the evening – let's face it, getting a babysitter takes time and energy that as parents we're short of! But it's great to know that the opportunities are there – and I'm planning to make more of them!

I'm lucky to live in an amazing part of London where there's always something happening at a weekend – most of it free, and very kid friendly.

 

So what's glimmering out of sight?

So what is this Torschlusspanik that I feel? The book I've yet to get published? The musical comedian I long to be? A lurking feeling that maybe one day we should move away from beloved Chiswick and London? Or is just a sense that life is so short and fleeting?

What do you think?

 

 

 

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