Archives for May 2012

The Classy Wardrobe

Regular readers will know that I’ve been given the enviable task of reviewing not just one, buy viagra but two beautiful items from the work wear range at The Classy Wardrobe. Last week it was all about the Adele, which lots of you told us you love. This week the Oadira has had an outing or two and I just know there is going to be a lot of love for this one too.

I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination but you’d have to be living on Pluto to not yet have cottoned onto the latest trend for the oh-so-delightful Peplum. Kate Middleton wowed earlier this Spring when she wore one and Michelle Williams showed the peplum can be high glamour on the red carpet too.

For those not in the know, a peplum is an additional piece of fabric on a top or a dress, similar to a kick flare ‘skirt’.  Some say a tutu, but that’s probably a step too far for even the budding ballerina inside me. Hugely flattering, the peplum nips you in at the waist, and then skims out over the hips, creating a slightly exaggerated hourglass shape.

The Oadira dress from the Classy Wardrobe is sleeveless with a graduated peplum, which sits slightly lower at the back, over a pencil skirt which ensures that the dress goes in and out in all the right places.  As if the shape isn’t appealing enough, this dress has the gorgeous addition of a teal (detachable) flower which transforms an already lovely dress into a simply stunning one.

The dress is a deeper grey in colour than the earlier Adele I reviewed, more on the charcoal spectrum than the lighter grey and the contrast of the teal flower works brilliantly.  Teal is without doubt my colour of the moment too, so the dress also matches my lounge perfectly!

I’ve been surprisingly delighted with the comfort and ease of wear of the Oadira, as it’s definitely a more structured dress than others I have, and screams glam before it screams comfort. Yet, it is. The dress is of super quality once again, and feels fantastic to wear.

This dress is one for bigger occasions at work, not to be wasted on a day when you have no reason to step away from your desk – this one is all about the look! It’s a perfect desk to dinner dress too, and if you feel the look needs further pushing up the glam stakes, it can be changed quickly and simply with the addition of a thin contrasting belt and strappy sandals.

Being  budding artist and equally keen lover of a pretty dress, Little Princess Pink (aged 5, with the attitude of a 15 year old) took it upon herself to draw me in the dress as she saw me.

So, not just reserved for the catwalk, the Oadira proves that the peplum can be a striking addition to any wardrobe, and you don’t have to be a skinny malinky to wear one, as this interpretative drawing shows!

 

If you want to bag yourself a £100 voucher to spend online at The Classy Wardrobe you can enter this fabulous competition today. To enter:-

Simply follow them on Twitter @The_Classy_W and tweet to say  “I want to win with Super Mummy @workingsupermum and @The_Classy_W http://goo.gl/broKr”

AND

‘Like’ the Classy Wardrobe Facebook Page and leave a comment on their page saying Super Mummy (@workingsupermum) sent you!

Good Luck – the competition closes on Wednesday 6th June at 8pm.

The winner will be chosen at random.

Don’t forget to come back and see if you are a winner.

Disclaimer: The Classy Wardrobe sent me two dresses to review. I have received no monetary payment for this review and the views and opinions expressed are my own. Links to The Classy Wardrobe are provided out of courtesy.

Silent Sunday

Truly Tropical

I’ve become a bit of a weather bore. It’s always a faithful ‘go to’ topic when having to make small talk with the man I speak intermittently with at the school gates but just lately I’ve become a bit of a weather freak. Not quite in the Michael Fish stakes yet, search but close.

Last week it was the rain. How wet is it?! How miserable for May?! Can’t believe it’s still welly season!

This week I’ve annoyingly taken to tweeting (daily) photos of the temperature gauge in my car. There are many reasons for this, viagra notwithstanding that Twitter is the place that we share innane photos like car dash temperature gauges and our attempts at homemade tzatiki turkey burgers.

There’s sheer disbelief. Why it’s mediterranean, nay Tropical around here! We’re not used to temperatures in double figures never mind in the twenties here in Scotland.  The change in my mood has been immense, I am in a positively great mood when the sun shines, affirming my suspicions that I am indeed solar powered. The change of activities the arrival of the sun has allowed us to participate in after school has been welcomed and gotten us out of a ‘home, snack, homework, dinner, telly’ rut. Trips to the park,  strolls to the shop for  ice creams, leisurely glasses of wine in the garden when the kids have gone to bed, weekend BBQs in plan.

It’s got me all excited about our summer holidays too, the coconutty smell of sun cream, the feel of the warm sun on my shoulders (of course, I’m wearing sleeveless things, it’s sunny.) I even decanted shampoo, conditioner and shower gel into travel size bottles for holidays and packed our toiletries. We don’t go for another 7 weeks.

It’s meant lots of outdoor time and fresh air for the kids which leave them with rosy glows on their faces and sleep patterns spanning 12 hours. We’ve slept with the windows open, and kicked the duvet off.  Bliss.

It feels like a proper summer.

The wellies haven’t yet been relegated to the back of the cupboard, and dusting off the BBQ is maybe a little premature as there’s a bank holiday coming up at the beginning of June, so it’ll rain no doubt! Still, that’ll give me something to talk about next.

Tsk, rain in June. Imagine.

 

The Classy Wardrobe

Being a busy mum I have a wardrobe that consists of baggy combats, generic cialis skinny jeans, physician leggings  and tees with dubious stains on, most likely tomato ketchup, yoghurt or snot. Unfortunately / thankfully these aren’t appropriate office attire and on my working days I need to up the ante a little. Working in a professional corporate organisation means smart office wear is essential, and I relish the opportunity to wear heels and register somewhere highish on the scale of ‘respectable looking lady.’

My work wardrobe like many of my colleagues consists mainly of black and grey and I do favour a smart dress (less items to iron than if I went down the blouse and skirt route, and very flattering on the old mummy tummy that comes with the territory of having kids and never setting foot in a gym.)

I was delighted to be sent two gorgeous dresses from the team at The Classy Wardrobe to try out for size, and both have been welcome additions to the work wardrobe.

When the postman delivered the white boxed package containing the dresses, I was in the midst of preparing kids lunch (eggs three ways ala Masterchef – poached, mashed-up in a cup and French toast) and was therefore reluctant to prise open the package until all eggy whiffs were gone.

Upon opening, I felt like an excited child on the morning of their birthday. The dresses were each protected in shiny white tissue wrapping, sealed gently. Enclosed in the box also was a handy Classy Wardrobe bag.

 

The first dress I tried was the ‘Adele‘. In keeping with the shades of grey in my current wardrobe, this dress is a good choice for the warmer months, the light grey colour makes it a better option on a summers day. This dress has a bright colour pop injection with some teal / turquoise piping around the waist, which is both flattering to the shape and a lovely feature breaking up the grey.

The dress has cap sleeves, with ruched stitching and they sit perfectly on the shoulders, not too high to feel sleeveless (and reveal bingo wings if like me you have them), but nowhere near a full sleeve, making it perfect for days when the sun shines, but equally workable with a cute cardi or smart jacket over (matching jacket available.)

The quality of the fabric is excellent, thick without being heavy, and it’s fully lined from top to bottom.  The Adele is an easy to wear dress, comfortable, definitely office practical and professional and very smart too. I was almost disappointed that the next working day was a bank holiday and I’d need to wait an extra day before I could wear it!

The true test for me was the breakfast sitting with the little ones then the school and nursery run which involves no less than six ‘ins and outs’ of the car. Breakfast brought the inevitable onslaught of yoghurty fingers, sticky jam toast crumbs and milky moustaches wiped on mum. Reminding myself for the 100th time that I should feed the crew THEN dress myself I set about with the kitchen roll to wipe up the breakfast I was wearing. The dress cleaned up easily enough, and it’s washing machine friendly too which is also a win.

The Adele dress passed the car hokey cokey of the school run (in, out, in, out, shake it all about) with no crushing or creasing to speak of. My smart new dress drew many a compliment from colleagues, and Super Daddy noticed straight away when getting in from work that my dress was new*.

‘Nice.’ he grunted.

This is high praise.

The Adele dress ticked the quality, ease of wear, practicality and smart / professional boxes, and when compared with other designer tailored workwear brands, it’s competitively priced for excellent tailoring and quality.  I’ll wear this dress on a weekly basis to the office (mixing up the accessorising of course!) and the initial test run suggests this will be a hard wearing, hard working dress.  All round it’s a super dress and when I can I’ll definitely invest in a few key pieces.

I’ll be testing out the stunning and very ‘of the moment’ peplum Oadira dress this week. Pop back to find out how I get on.

*on reflection he was probably wondering when on earth I’d bought this one!

 

  • COMPETITION!

I’m delighted to offer the chance to all readers to WIN a £100 voucher to spend online at The Classy Wardrobe. To enter:-

Simply follow them on Twitter @The_Classy_W and tweet to say ‘ I want to win with Super Mummy @workingsupermum and @The_Classy_W  http://tinyurl.com/dxh5hhh

or

‘Like’ the Classy Wardrobe Facebook Page and leave a comment on their page saying Super Mummy (@workingsupermum) sent you!

Good Luck – the competition closes on Wednesday 6th June at 8pm. Don’t forget to come back and see if you are a winner.

Disclaimer: The Classy Wardrobe sent me two dresses to review. I have received no monetary payment for this review and the views and opinions expressed are my own. Links to The Classy Wardrobe are provided out of courtesy.

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 5

Over the last few weeks, try I’ve been delighted to host this five part series written by Christine Brown-Quinn, inspired by the movie ‘I Don’t Know How She Does it’.
In Part 1, we heard that letting go can be good – we’re not all expected to be super women and it’s mainly ourselves who put this pressure on us. Part two enlightened us with some top tips for managing childcare. The topic of the third part of the series was guilt, and how working mothers can switch their mindset on the guilt trip and last week’s penultimate post explored work life balance and whether it’s a myth or a reality.
This final part looks at the importance of making time for your partner, something I’ve blogged about previously. It’s good guidance and common sense, yet I appreciate how difficult it can be to do.

 

 

  • This is your last chance to win!

 


As part of this series, Christine is kindly giving away four signed copies of her book ‘Step Aside Superwoman, Career and Family is for Any Woman’ and all you need to do to be in with a chance of bagging one is
Either sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter and Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article. Phew! Lots of ways to win!
Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random. Good Luck!

 

 
Make time for your partner – Your kids will thank you in the long run – by Christine Brown-Quinn
We often think that when the focus isn’t directly on our kids that somehow they are losing out. And if they’re old enough to talk, they’ll certainly tell you that that’s the case… When we’re at work and they’re at home, they lose out. When we’re out in the evening at seminar/night class and they’re at home, they’re missing out. It even extends to our relationship with their dad. When we’re spending time with our “other halves”, the kids are missing out. Is this really the case? If you’ve read any of the previous blogs in this five-part series, you’ll know that it’s not. Investing in yourself IS investing in your family. And here’s why investing in your relationship with your partner is also investing in the family.
The kids are happy when the family unit is happy so your relationship with your partner is as important as your direct relationship with your kids. And let’s face it, any partnership or marriage isn’t easy – there are a lot of things to work through. Also, too much focus directly on the kids can actually be detrimental. (The real world doesn’t work that way – they’re not the centre of the universe and the sooner they learn that the better off they’ll be). Keeping the flame alive has other advantages as well – the kids will eventually grow up and leave home (trust me, it does happen!) so it will be just the two of you again so it’s good practice for the future.


During most of the film I don’t know how she does it, Kate Redding played by Sarah Jessica Parker treats her husband Richard like a second class citizen or worse yet, a totally incompetent carer. He doesn’t seem to have any rights when it comes to taking care of the kids or running the household. I cringed when I heard Kate say “how could you let that women look after MY kids when I was away?” as if to say Richard is not competent enough to make his own decisions.
Kate was referring to Richard’s choice of a back-up carer when the regular babysitter cancelled while Kate was away. The husband evidently gets no say in the matter! Think about your own circumstance. Do you ever treat your other half like he doesn’t have a clue when it comes to anything associated with the kids or house? Is that fair? Have you given him a chance? Have you showed him the “ropes”? Remember, people are people and just like micro-managing people at work, your other half will feel humiliated if you adopt the ‘Ms Dictator’ approach. I’ve tried it – it doesn’t work. In the long run nobody likes Ms Dictator!
Over the years I’ve learned that I’ve got to trust my colleagues and my other half to “run the ship” when I’m not around. They need to feel empowered to make decisions and I need their buy-in on how things are run. Otherwise, when it doesn’t work, it’s all my fault. On the other hand, when I do trust them and listen, better decisions can be made. The road to Super Woman is a dead end – you’ll end up burning yourself out which Kate nearly did too.
Gaining respect for your partner’s parental skills is something you have to work on together. It requires constant communication and discussion on approaches to food preparation, discipline, schooling, and childcare. One of my favorite parts of the film I don’t know how she does it was when Richard shows he can take care of things at home – like sorting out his daughter’s ballerina tights while Kate was on a business trip. He had a wonderful look of pride and satisfaction when he told Kate he had sorted things out. Kate glanced at him lovingly as if to say “yes, you’ve done it and I love you for it”.


But running a really efficient Grand Central Station where each parent is pitching in and all the home logistics are running smoothly isn’t enough. Do you have time for just each other? I really felt sorry for Richard when he announces to Kate that she doesn’t seem to have any time for just him. Couples that play together stay together. What was that common interest that brought you together? What interests have you developed together as a couple? I know it’s a struggle to find the time but it is possible – be creative. Plan it out and get it in the calendar.
My other half and I played basketball together when we first met. Later, when the kids started playing tennis, we decided to take lessons and joined a club. Playing tennis for us was really about going back to basics. Both of us have always liked sports and it was part of our relationship from the very beginning. Be prepared for the kids to be jealous of your time together. They will try to make you feel guilty like somehow you’re short-changing them. Funny isn’t it, some of the best things you can do for your kids are the ones where it’s not about them.

 

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 4

In Part four of this series, medical brought to you by Christine Brown-Quinn, author of “Step Aside Superwoman Careeer and Family is for any Woman”, the topic of work life balance and whether it can be a reality is explored.

If you’re  still enjoying the series, and haven’t yet entered our competition, why not do so today to be in with a chance of  WINNING one of four SIGNED copies of Christine’s book. Simply sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter  and  Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ and link to any of the I don’t know How she does it’ posts on my blog / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article.

Plenty of ways to win!

Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random.  Good Luck!

 

Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream for Professional Women – by Christine Brown-Quinn

If you looked up to working mom Kate Redding as a role model, (Kate is played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film I don’t know how she does it), I suspect you’d come to the conclusion that work-life balance is a pipe dream.  Kate does a fantastic job taking on responsibility for everything and everyone, leaving little time to do anything for herself. Just watching the film tired me out!  But does it have to be that way? Are there no alternatives if you decide on a career AND a family?

At a recent women’s networking event I was horrified when I heard that one of top tips for getting ahead was to “work harder than your male colleagues, partner, husband, or brother.” Really? Is this what we are teaching the up and coming women in business today? Aren’t we creating this burden for ourselves by promulgating such superwoman behaviour? It’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter and focusing on a few critical things that matter in building a career. Since we’re not superwomen, we’re only humans, promoting such behaviour as goal surely results in a lack of work-life balance.

Work-life balance is NOT a pipe dream, but there are 3 key ingredients which are often overlooked in making this aspiration a reality:

1. Keep yourself motivated and challenged

WorkingMothers.com 2010 survey Career vs Paycheck revealed that a working mother was happy in all aspects of her life when she had a high level of job satisfaction.  It’s worth noting that job satisfaction was highly correlated to a meaningful career or job – it wasn’t just about the money. Once we lose the buzz we get from our careers, the whole work-life dynamic falls apart.

How many women do you know who come back from maternity leave, feel side-lined, and   subsequently give up. “What’s the point?” they begin to wonder. If they’re going to leave precious little ones in someone else’s care, the job has got to turn them on.  I remember one day when my elderly neighbour saw me coming home from work and how amazed she seemed that I was chirpy and energetic after such a long day in the city. The secret? I felt challenged in my corporate career – the things I was learning made life very interesting.

2. Map out a routine for maximizing your individual level of performance

Organize your easy and tough tasks and challenges around those peak performance times.  Tackle the tough challenges when you feel at your best. For me it’s the first thing in the morning.  My confidence and patience levels are up and my head is clear.

I learned this by trial and error and being aware of how productive I was (or not as the case may be) at which times. There’s a key piece missing here. In order to be at your peak at work, you also need to figure out how much exercise and other activity you need to do (and how to make it happen) to keep your enthusiasm up at work.  What do you really like to do in your personal time that re-energises you. There’s so much focus on time management. It’s misplaced. We need to be focusing on managing our energy rather than our time.

3. Think Like a Business Owner

Point 2 leads really nicely into this point.  At the end of the day, what does a good manager really care about? That’s right, performance. I recently gave a talk about how important it is to invest and enrich in both the personal and professional dimensions of our lives, highlighting that it’s having both parts that can help you achieve optimal performance in each. Huh? Simply put, by having a varied life you avoid getting burned out, whether it’s caring for an elderly parent, hyper kids or a demanding career.

Dipping in out of both lives makes you appreciate each life and the benefits it brings. At the end of my talk an eager member of the audience asked, “But Christine, if I tell my boss how important my personal life is, he or she won’t get it, they won’t care.” I replied, “Well your boss may or may not care, but that’s not the point. As your manager, your boss expects you to organize your life so you can be at your best. That’s YOUR responsibility. Your boss wants to know where you are on your projects.”

The best rule of thumb to use when thinking about how to blend our increasingly complex professional and personal lives is to think like a business owner.  A business owner wants you to be as productive as you can and to manage your life to achieve this. Working 24 x 7, losing your enthusiasm, creativity and motivation isn’t good for you and it’s not good for the business.

Work-life balance is not a pipe dream. Like anything though, you’ve got to be strategic and focus on the most important parts or you’ll get lost in the detail.

This blog is part 4 of a 5-part series: I don’t know how she does it. For other blogs connected to this series, click here.

Silent Sunday – night out with Super Dad

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Supermarket Sweep

Little Princess hates coming to the supermarket.  It’s boring. I tend to agree, cialis generic but I refrain from shielding her from the harsh reality that its one chore that needs to be done with some degree of frequency. Especially if her and her brother continue to eat us out of house and home and get through toilet paper at an alarming rate. Yes of course there are online grocery delivery services to take advantage of, and I do as frequently as I can book a delivery slot. However my faux pas with the Tesco man in the kitchen*  has put me off the delivery route for the time being.

Here are my snippets of wisdom on the supermarket shop with kids in tow:

Do remember to fasten the little buckle on the trolley seats.  Whilst a toddler perching precariously on the wobbly seats provides much entertainment for other small children in the vicinity, it’s no good for the oldies and can contribute to heart failure.  Fact.

Don’t bribe them with sweets or snacks. The resulting sugar rush in the checkout queue and their increased desire for yet more chocolate, i.e. one of everything that’s on offer at the cheeky ‘buy some chocolate on the way out checkout stand’ is not worth it. Neither are the gawps and gasps from other (non-parent) shoppers as they watch open mouthed whilst your kid can seemingly throw sweets and chocolate bars in your trolley quicker than you can take them out.

Do remember to take a changing bag, particularly when your offspring has just been toilet trained or is in the throes of going through the process. Super Daddy once had to do a mad trolley dash from one end of the supermarket to the toilets at the other after then 2 year old needed a poo.  Unfortunately for many people that day he was too late, and had no changing bag.  Yet, in his wisdom continued to complete the supermarket shop with a 2 year old who’d been wiped down with toilet paper and had no clean pants to speak of.  A friend has twice recently had her salad vegetables peed on by a small child. Her own sitting in the trolley obviously.

Do let older children write or draw their own lists to take along and involve them in the shopping process.  Do however ensure their list does contain items actually required for your shop and not just the things they’d buy if left to their own devices.  Try also to ensure there are things from nearly every aisle on the list, otherwise once they’ve ticked off bananas, apples and pears, they’ll be back to bored and sulky again. Another hint is also to ensure drawings are clearly labelled so as they can’t be debated whilst in the supermarket. We’ve mixed up eggs and marshmallows on occasion.

Do play finding or spotting games …’the first person who can see a yellow fruit gets a point’ or ‘who can spot a vegetable we might put on our pizzas?’ Be cautious of I Spy however as the little princess once pointed emphatically and guessed ‘fat lady’ when I was really looking for ‘flowers’

Don’t go down the cleaning products aisle.  Small children getting excited about seeing Cillit Bang (Look Mummy, Bang and the dirt is gone!) or Finish Powerball tabs (The Diamond Standard) really does just draw attention to how much Nick Junior they watch. The same applies to the wine aisle, five year olds recognising the exact wine mummy drinks or pointing out to their younger siblings ‘that’s cider, not beer’ is just plain wrong. Oh, and passing by the flavoured condoms “Mummy can I have this juice carton please?” should be avoided, as explaining its not juice (Well, what is it?) with be infinitely funnier to the good looking guy perusing the range than it will be to you.

I guess the best advice is leave them at home. With a responsible adult of course and not just Nick Junior and the chocolate biscuit tin.

Do you have any supermarket tips you can share? Any ‘why did I think this was a good idea?’ moments.  Do share, and happy shopping if you need to brave the aisles this weekend.

*I said ‘Love You’ instead of saying ‘That’s, lovely, thank you’. He just said ‘Thanks’ back. Cringe.

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