Top tips on organising your week 

Does your week fly by too? My to-do list is growing each day. So it’s time to use my organisational tricks and maybe try out a few new ones. Running my own HR consultancy Collective Insight, working with clients and managing projects for Lucky Things means I have to be organised. It also means we need to organise our home life too. So here’s seven ways to organise your week… Continue reading

Let’s talk about depression all year round

As you may have noticed by now, Lucky Things blog is a big supporter of wellbeing. Feeling well isn’t just about your physical health but also your mental wellbeing. Yesterday was known as Blue Monday. A day in January where people may feel a bit blue, down or low. Or just plain depressed.  Read more to find out about why 2016 was an interesting year for us. One we’ll never forget. Here’s seven reasons why we need to talk about depression ALL YEAR ROUND… Continue reading

Why do girls love pink?

The p word. Regardless of how you try to bring up your daughter colour-style wise, girls always seem to love pink. When we knew we were expecting a little baby girl, I avoided buying her lots of pale pink clothes. The closest to pink I bought for her baby wardrobe was coral (which is actually one of my favourite colours). So as a baby, Big Munch was dressed in lots of grey, navy, bright colours but rarely pink. Three years later and the colour scheme has switched. Big Munch is in charge of her style decisions. She does not need any guidance from me on what to wear. It’s all about pink, pink, pink. To be honest I don’t mind her wearing so much pink now but I do wonder why little girls are drawn to pink. So why do girls like pink so much?

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Inspire: Joanne Croot from online store Retro Kids

Well it was pretty amazing collaborating with all of the talented people who featured in the Inspire series in 2016. To kick off this year’s series, we have Joanne from the online store Retro Kids. I first come across Retro Kids when I was looking for some fun melamine plates for Big Munch and Toddler Munch. Then I realised this online store wasn’t just about buying stuff for children, it has fun stuff for nostalgic grown ups too. 

Hey Joanne, thanks for appearing on Lucky Things. Happy new year. Tell us a bit about your corner of the country? I live in Northumberland.  I love that I am close to the city of Newcastle, lots of beaches and countryside.

Who do you live with?  My two daughers aged 4 and 6.

So, what first encouraged you to set up Retro Kids online store?  I worked as a Prison Officer for a little over a decade and once my family arrived, the shift hours no longer fitted in with family life.  I became frustrated at the bureaucracy and craved more of a ‘work, life, balance’.  The doom and gloom of the role made me crave fun and colour!  When voluntary redundancy was offered in late 2013, I grabbed the opportunity and set about researching for brands that fitted in with my store vision.  Retro Kids is an independent shop that launched in April 2014 following a few technical website set-backs and those who are curious can read more on my blog.  There very nearly wasn’t a Retro Kids!

Do you have another day job or do you focus on your business full-time?  I am fortunate now that the business is established to concentrate solely on Retro Kids.  I worked part-time alongside the business for the first 18 months.  I am entirely self-funded.  A liberating and scary feeling when you have two little children to feed.

What is the inspiration for Retro Kids?  Retro, Kitsch and Kawaii fun stuff for little and adult kids.  A place to buy from, that makes you want to be a kid again.

What’s the best thing about setting up Retro Kids?  The best thing is seeing your ideas come into fruition.  

Seeing your ideas in action must feel great. Oh do you also mind sharing what’s the worst thing? The worst is dealing with technical website issues that are beyond your control and expertise.

Retro Kids always seems like a feel-good brand to me. What advice do you have for parents and carers who want to encourage their little people to be feel good about themselves?  I am no expert.  As a parent myself I am raising my girls to be confident and they are in bucket loads.  Listen, love and support your little people.

You’ve mentioned three important words just now.  What’s your motto when things get a bit tough for you? “Remember why you started”

Tell me about one of your favourite childhood memories. I have too many!  I remember so many happy times playing with children in the street.

Life can be a funny thing. What have your children taught you about life?  They have grounded me, made me want to strive better for them.  Taught me to be patient.

As well as being grounded and patient, what are your three tips for staying organised as a working parent?  Early starts, lists and accepting help when offered.

What would your dream weekend be if you’re on your own?  Dream weekend on my own would be a busy City visit like New York or Barcelona.  

And if you’re with your family? With the family it would be camping in the countryside.
If you were given time and a deal to write a book, what would it be about?  I would write about my career in the Prison Service.  The training, dark humour, prisoner antics, bureaucracy, and sadly other negative things that happen in that environment. 

What are three of your favourite items in your wardrobe? My vintage top, my daughter’s christening  dress and bargain pair of sale shoes.

What music and tunes are you listening to at the moment?  I listen to all genres, I especially love R&B and classic soul.  Stevie Wonder being my all time favourite.  At the moment I am listening to James Arthur.

I always sing Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour to my toddler. What grown-up tunes do you enjoy playing to your children?  We listen to the radio in the car mostly and the girls ask for it to be turned up if they particularly like the sound.  They also have varied tastes!

And what tunes do you remember listening to growing up? Paul Young, Madonna, Billy Ocean, Whitney Houston,

Now you’re taking me back! I loved Billy Ocean’s tune When The Going Gets Tough (and his video). Before we say bye for now Joanne, what are your three lucky things?  (Favourite things that make you happy or feel grateful – apart from your kids or partner or family). For me it has to be popcorn, red wine and travel.

Pop over to the lovely Retro Kids store online when you get a chance. The range of treats will take you back as well as the spotting cheery things that will brighten up your day. The Retro Kids sale is on now (at the time of publishing this blog post). 

Over to you…What do you love about retro toys from your childhood? What did you like about the chat with Joanne? Is there anyone who you think should feature on the Inspire series this year? Leave a little comment below…

If you fancy checking out other Inspire interviews, just click here

Ways to practice mindfulness tips in your daily routine

We’re hearing more and more about mindfulness. Life is getting more complicated, with and without the use of technology. Lots of people spend time living online. I’m looking forward to hearing Dr Tamara Russell chat about mindfulness at the next Lucky Things Meet Up at the end of January. So I thought I’d share a few tips on how you can use mindfulness in everyday life and weave it into your daily routine.

So what is mindfulness again? Well, my definition is about taking a moment to stop and feel, hear and see what’s going on in your mind. Right now as you’re reading this blog, what are you thinking about? What can you hear? What do you feel like? Mindfulness is about using all of our senses. Something we forget to do. Some of these senses we take for granted when we’re busy. Mindfulness isn’t about zoning out and ignoring feelings; it’s about acknowledging them so you can move onto the next thing with a fresh outlook. You also don’t have to carve out a chunk of your day to focus on mindfulness. You can be mindful whilst you have a few minutes or whilst you do something that needs some concentration. Here are some daily routine moments where you can practice a bit of mindfulness…

  1. Waking up…When we wake up, the first thing we do is start our day! If you can, take a few minutes to wake up slowly. So don’t jump out of bed, rush to get ready or reach for the phone. As you’re lying down, look around you and take in what you can see. Any corners of your bedroom you didn’t notice before? Any shadows or patterns from the morning light (or darkness if it’s winter). If you need to get out of bed to see the kids, take a few moments together and be mindful when you’re with them.
  2. Brushing our hair…This is a fab one as we might also be in front of the mirror. It’s a chance to reflect on you (literally) as well as enjoying the relaxing movement of the brush. What do you usually think about when brushing your hair? Are you more likely to think of your to do lists or other everyday worries. I also love being a bit mindful when brushing my daughter’s hair.
  3. Brushing teeth…This is a great one, as I was reminded by @This_Mama_Works on Instagram today. You can also practice mindfulness standing up. It’s handy incorporating it into our daily routine. Maybe I should pop a post-it on my bathroom mirror saying “Be mindful whilst cleaning  your teeth!”.
  4. When you’re giving children a cuddle…This is one way for me to practice a bit of mindfulness. Cuddles are to be treasured as the next thing we know, our kids are too big and don’t wish to be cuddled as much. When I cuddle Big Munch or Toddler Munch I always do three things: listen to their breathing, feel their little heartbeat vibrations and smell their hair. So practising mindfulness shouldn’t feel like a task, it can be incorporated into some of your favourite things.
  5. Folding the washing…This used to be one of the last chores on my list but now I see it differently. I actually love folding the girls’ clothes. Looking at the colours brightens up my day and the outfits remind me of different outings together. It’s nice feeling the different textures. It’s nice seeing how small their clothes are as again it’s about enjoying the moments whilst they’re little. Folding clothes also reminds me that I’m lucky to be their mama.
  6. Putting on lipstick…Now that I’ve committed to wearing more lipstick colours and more often, I also think about the process of applying lipstick. There are lots of things I love about lipstick.  It takes less than a minute but it’s quality mindfulness time. A friend Alicia reminded me that lipsticks have a certain texture as well as their own smell. Doing things where you have to concentrate are perfect moments to try out a little mindful time.
  7. Eating…We all have to eat right? But how mindful are we when we eat? Being mindful can actually encourage us to enjoy our food more. The ladies from Supercharged Club reminded me that you don’t have to exclude all treats to be healthy. If we want to have a treat, then have it. But make you your really enjoy it. That means being  mindful and thinking about how nice it tastes, thinking about the texture, smells and how it looks. It’s also a chance to think about what it means; for me it’s a little reward.

Do you practice any mindfulness? If so, what do you like about it? When do you find it easier to be mindful? Anything that makes is difficult to practice mindfulness? Leave a comment below as it would be cool to hear what you think about being mindful.

x Sunita (right off to try a bit of mindfulness whilst I eat my cake…)

P.S. If you’d like to read more about Dr Tamara Russell and her thoughts on mindfulness and jump-starting creativity, check out her interview on Run Riot.

Top tips for encouraging confidence in children, by Livvy Gormally, Let’s Ask Livvy

In part 1 of Livvy’s guest blog for Lucky Things, we looked at children’s confidence as a behaviour and how confidence needs to be taught, learnt and nurtured, modelled and reinforced. She also talked about how it needs to be taught across environments and in different situations. Confidence can dip and how confidence can be boosted and the importance of praising the behaviours that we want to see more of. With this in mind, here are Livvy’s top tips for encouraging confidence.

  1. Break down big or daunting tasks or new activities into bite sized pieces and offer appropriate praise and reinforcement for each little step towards task completion. Breaking things down and praising the little steps helps build confidence by boosting the kids at every step along the way.img_9309
  2. Make sure you have realistic and age appropriate expectations for your children. Pushing a child into something that is not age appropriate, where they are yet to develop the necessary skills can have a negative effect on confidence levels. Similarly, pushing a child into something that you feel they should be able to do by a certain age can also greatly affect confidence. For example, leaving your little one at their first parents don’t stay party or your older one for their first sleepover, may not be easy, it may need preparation and work from all involved to enable them to have the confidence to try.
  3. Try to work out the function (the reason why) of any behaviours you see as result of trying something new. If your child experiences an increase in challenging behaviours when trying something new, try to work out why? Are they due to avoidance because the task is too hard, are they escape behaviours because they do not have the skill set to complete the activity, do they need increased support, are they getting too much support and want to do it themselves?
  4. Gradual increases in independence leads to confidence. It is essential to encourage your children to become independent, try new things knowing that to find something tricky is ok, have a go at something knowing that it is ok to fail as this is how we can learn and adapt for next time.
  5. Teaching your kids that sticking at something you find challenging can be so rewarding and even though they may find the activity difficult. Overcoming those difficulties with support and reinforcement along the way leads to more confident and independent learners.
  6. Reading is a good example of this as becoming a confident reader happens in baby steps it takes time, effort and practice and the child who refuses to practice is not necessarily saying I hate reading, they may just be really confused by the concept of language, feel frustrated they can’t read the book they want to or have a fear of failing. Teaching your kids how and when to ask for help. Knowing your own child, their levels of independence, resilience and how best to support them through their challenges. Knowing that each child is different and you have to work out what each child needs and play to their strengths, while trying to encourage further development by helping them tackle the tricky things.
  7. It is important to stress that we all lack confidence sometimes and it is not to say that if you feel like you lack confidence as a parent you are unable to raise confident children. Our children’s confidence comes from being loved and nurtured, from learning it is OK to fear things and that it is OK to fail at something. However, in behavioural terms every day is a learning day and I would encourage every parent to try and work out what makes them lack confidence. Is it the parents who make things look like a doddle, our parents, our friends, our partners or social media lives? I can assure you that each and every one of these people has their own struggles and lack confidence at times.
  8. I think it is important for our kids to know that even as adults we face struggles and lack confidence sometimes, but even as adults we are still learning and growing as people. That it can be strength to admit weakness, to ask for help and to being open to growth.

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Why I love going on a walk around the block with the kids

Whatever the weather, it’s good to get some fresh air. Sometimes there are days where the weather is unpredictable so you have to grab those opportunities to get some outside play-time with the little ones. A few parents have been asking me for ideas for free things to do. Here’s seven things I love about a walk around the block with the girls…

  1. We’re going on a mini-adventure...Let the kids know you’re going on a little adventure to see what we can find. Wrap up warm and bring the waterproofs if you need to. You don’t have to be out for long so it’s a nice activity before meal times.img_7200
  2. See your local area in the eyes of a child…Kids seem to spot things we may not notice. I love it when three-year old Big Munch spots new flowers or notices something different down our road. Acknowledge the random things they discover and talk about them when you get home. You can also praise them for their discoveries.
  3. You’re not far from home…You don’t have to pack the changing bag or other kit as you’re not that far from homely facilities and food supplies. This might mean you can get out of the house quicker. img_7182On the other hand, it could mean you decide to leave the house with a Frozen Princess or superhero. Guess I’m more relaxed about the dress code when I know we’re not venturing far. Check out Big Munch’s walking socks below. Serious business. Big Munch also loves bringing her umbrella as a prop.img_7178
  4. Walk slowly…There’s no rush when you’re having a stroll around the block (or down the road). Enjoy the slower pace. It’s nice to take your time and walk at the little people’s pace. We still take Toddler Munch in the buggy so she can watch things from her wheels.img_7180
  5. Number and letter spotting…This game is great for pre-school children. Ask them to spot “their number” (their age). Big Munch loves doing this.
  6. Colour spotting…Similar to Eye Spy, you can play another game where you spot different colours (or patterns). Usually Big Munch wins as Toddler Munch is too young to play! img_7185
  7. Letting them explore with their feet…When you spend time focusing on your surroundings, kids have the chance to discover new things. Big Munch spotted  a special building near our home the other week. Something I never noticed before.

What ideas do you have for getting out of the house with kids? Any ideas for free activities? Do you ever go for a walk around the block? What do you love about where you live? Leave a  little comment below…

Food: Lunch at Drake and Morgan’s The Folly, City of London

I’ve worked in the City of London for over 15 years. We were spoilt for choice when it came to popping out for lunch or after work suppers. Over the past couple of years I discovered the Drake and Morgan venues for lunch, drinks and supper. All of their venues also do a mean brunch. Here’s seven things I love about The Folly in one of my favourite corners of the City… Continue reading

Top tips on getting organised from the last Mothers Meeting of 2016

I’m always interested in how others get organised. Sometimes we talk about if there is such a thing. Does anyone feel 100% organised all of the time? It’s also about juggling rather than having everything sorted in a military style. I guess we also decide how long our to-do lists are, but there’s the daily and weekly tasks as well as our other mini life projects (family, us, or work-related). At the last Mothers Meeting of 2016, I asked the panel about their top tips for getting organised. Cherry Healey and Jenny Scott hosted the chat with Anna from Mother Pukka, Zoe from Dress Like A Mum, Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers, Hollie, creator of Yes Mum cards, Clemmie from Mother of Daughters and Clemmie Telford from Mother of All Lists. Here’s what they had to say… Continue reading

Why it’s important to celebrate your achievements

We can give ourselves a hard time can’t we? It’s also the goal-setting time of year. We may want things to be bigger and better than before. We may even be putting pressure on ourselves to pursue goals that aren’t right for us or our values. We may feel we need to set goals to be successful (definitely not always the case). Goal setting is good for us if it’s realistic, we stay true to what’s important to us and what works with our lifestyle and other commitments.  Before you start rushing into planning goals, take some time to reflect on things you’ve achieved on the personal and professional side. So here’s seven reasons why it’s important to celebrate your achievements or what I call WOW moments…

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Photo courtesy of Katrina Campbell Photography

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