I’ve Moved!

woman in grey shirt holding brown cardboard box

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Hello lovelies!

I’ve seen an uptick in traffic on this blog recently. However, I’m no longer writing here due to an issue with my blog name. If you would like to hear more from me, please do visit my new blog, Big, Bold & Bright where you can read all of your favourite posts plus lots of new and exciting updates.

See you on the other side!

Helen xx

 

 

14 Reasons Blogging Makes Sense For Disabled People

Photo by Judita Tamošiūnaitė on Pexels.com

Hello lovelies and thankyou for joining me today,

Having just closed down my other blog, I have a sense of sadness about me today that comes with failure. I tried and tried for a while but alas, the statistics showed that the support for my other blog just wasn’t there. With that said, the support for Hear It From Helen has grown quite rapidly and this blog gives me a sense of energy that I cannot describe, and so it goes to demonstrate that this blog is ultimately where I need to be.

Today I wanted to write a little bit about why blogging makes sense for disabled people. I have to be honest, in my younger years (and even my teenage years), I had aspirations in life that would have been unobtainable for me for a variety of reasons. Among careers, I envisioned myself as a spy, a forensic expert, an audiologist and a journalist and so, I suppose, it makes sense that I’ve now landed up on becoming a blogger.

One of the things that has long held me back in life is my disabilities. They don’t hold me back in a big way, but they hold be back enough that I am far too much of a liability for many companies to want to take on. That a slip could aggravate one of my pain sites and leave me incapacitated for weeks isn’t a responsibility that many managers (perhaps understandably) want to risk. When I went through disability employment agencies, finding a career for someone who was both disabled and smart was extremely hard. Unfortunately, it seems that the UK job market sort of assumes that if you have a physical disability, then you likely have a mental disability, too.

Now that I’ve been blogging for two years, here are fourteen of the reasons that blogging makes sense for me, as a disabled person.

It allows us to share our journey

Every disabled person has a story. Whether they were born with their disabilities or disabled as the result of a tragic accident or illness, every person has a story and many of us have tales of overcoming the obstacles we’ve faced. I for one was considered as “difficult” until I was seven years old, when I was diagnosed with a hearing impairment and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I can also remember in vivid detail the day that my life changed from a badminton injury. For someone who was disabled in an accident or through illness, sharing their journey can help them raise awareness of their condition or the dangers of certain sports. Sharing our story can be part of our own healing process, too.

It allows us to use our skills

Every person on this planet as a skill, and nobody is without them. I’ve seen dyslexic people with fantastic singing voices and paraplegic people create art using only a paintbrush in their mouths. For many disabled people, writing becomes a skill that we hone through sharing our journey, a skill that can extremely useful when it comes to starting a blog.

We feel like part of a community

Dear readers, let me be completely honest with you. Never have I felt more welcomed, more accepted and more part of any community than I have felt when I joined WordPress, and that is a feeling that so many disabled people struggle with. When I was younger, I was frequently forced to attend social clubs with people who I had nothing in common with, and so I was always the weird, disabled kid who couldn’t kick a football. Now, because of WordPress, I am a disabled housewife with a dog and a blog, but also a member of this community. I belong with the other housewives, who also run housewife blogs.

Blogging can become a career

Although my blog isn’t currently earning me any money, blogging can become a career. Job Centres are loathed to suggest blogging to emplyment seekers because it’s not filling any of the roles that they are paid to advertise, but it can be an avenue to explore. If you have something to give and have some basic computer skills that you can use, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider running a blog – you never know where it may get you!

It gives us a sense of identity

Once you become a disabled person, being disabled sort of becomes your identity. You aren’t known for anything else about you at that point, your disability becomes who you are. I often hear myself referred to as “anxious” or “the lady with knee pain”. Nothing else is identified about me, I’m not the crazy woman with red hair or my blue eyes or rock ‘n’ roll t-shirts, it’s my anxiety and chronic pain that people remember about me. When you run a blog, you step away from you disability and you find something as well as your disability. Instead of only being your disability, you can share the things that you are into and demonstrate your personality. As a blogger, what marks your success is your commitment and personality, rather than your physical abilities.

It allows us to work from home

Way back in 2009, I found supported employment for two hours per day, Monday-Friday. To get to work, I’d need to pay £7 per day for return tickets on two different bus services and was earning on average around £230 per month, tax-free (one advantage of being disabled and employed). When I started working, my housekeeping for living at home with my parents also went up, meaning that I was travelling 3 hours everyday and ending up financially worse off than if I simply wasn’t working at all. Sure, it gave me some skills and a reference (which probably wouldn’t be good, but that’s another story) but in the end, I actually made myself ill through stress. There were also occasions when I risked slipping on the ice (and aggravating my condition) because I didn’t want to lose the job that wasn’t really earning me any extra money in the first place. By working from home as a blogger, I can avoid personal injury and not spend what little money I have on travel. It’s great if you qualify for a free pass, but I was never afforded that privilege and so working across town was never viable for me. I also can’t ride a bike or a trike because of my cerebral ataxia, making that mode of free transport an impossibility.

It allows us to write about the things that interest us

I used to have a friend with Neurofibromyalgia who went to gigs, I have a friend with kidney failure who writes about kites and gardening and I love to share recipes and the antics of my little dog, Hugo. Disabled people are far more than just disabled people and we all have hobbies and interests just like anyone else. Blogging not only allows us to share information and insights that might not currently be out there, but it also allows you to read such knowledge and information from someone you might not otherwise expect.

It gives us a portfolio for other work

Even as only a short-term solution, blogging gives a disabled person a great piece of work from which they can demonstrate their capabilities. As a disabled person, it can be extremely hard to have qualifications, experience and references for many jobs, and so having a blog that demonstrates your potential can help boost your employment prospects – as long as it’s well constructed!

It encourages us to get out

Before I started writing reviews for restaurants, I lived a very reclusive lifestyle. Getting my groceries online was cheaper than getting on the bus and going shopping, and so I did. Sending a text or making a phonecall was far more affordable than going out for dinner to see friends or family, and sometimes they were also busy. Now that I write honest, exposure-free reviews for establishments in my locale, I don’t need to wait for others to be free. I can decide a good time with my husband and our reviews give me content for my blog then I can catch up with my loved ones another time. It’s a win-win situation, all-round!

It encourages us to look after ourselves

Before I started blogging, I didn’t really care what I looked like. I was me, I was a housewife with no potential. Now that i run my blog, I know that I represent my brand and how I look is a reflection of me and my brand. If I want my blog to look good, I need to make sure that I look good, too. It might not be all of the time (I don’t wake up with make-up on!), but I at least think about how I look when I’m out in shops and restaurants. If you’re serious about your blog, you start to think about how people perceive you.

It forces us to try new things

How will I write about new things if I’m not willing to try them? How can I share reviews if I refuse to go out and review them? By writing a blog, you need to find things to write about, and sometimes that means being willing to try new things. Too many disabled people allow their disability to define them and their capabilities, which means fewer opportunities for trying new things. Whether it’s pushing past social anxiety or managing dangerous sports in a wheelchair, you are limited only by possibility, and anything that you achieve is worth documenting in my humble opinion.

It gives us a sense of pride and something to talk about

When you talk about your blog, there is a sense of pride that goes with it. It is not just a blog, it is your blog, your pride and joy, your creation. Your blog should reflect you, and should want to share it, too. Your blog is there for all of the world to read, so you might as well be proud of what you do.

Similar to above, all too often, disabled people are defined by what they can’t do. If your blog is a success then it goes to show something that you can do, and that is something that you should be proud of.

It shows us that we CAN do something

I’ve written before about my detest for the word “disabled”. For disabled people, it’s all too easy to focus on what we can’t do, which can bring about a sense of depression. Every like, every follower and every comment is an indication that our blog is being read and our work is being appreciated, which brings me to my last point..

Which boosts our self-esteem

Never have I smiled more and been more radiant than in the time that I’ve been a blogger. I feel like a person, a human, with real potential and real capability. I’ve heard from several people (not to brag or anything 😉 ) that I write well, and that is such a great boost for my self-esteem. As someone who struggles with confidence in her capabilities, hearing that I can write well and that I am appreciated by people all across the globe does great things for me, mentally.

I hope that these twelve points have helped you consider keeping a blog, if you’re a disabled person. Do you already run a blog? Why not say hello in the comments?

Keep smiling, everyone!

Your friendly, disabled blogger, Helen xx

10 Reasons People Aren’t Reading Your Blog

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Hello lovelies,

I was inspired to write this post as I saw a dear friend of mine struggle with getting any readership on his blog. I put a couple of ideas to him, but then I sat back and realised, it’s probably not only him who is struggling with his blog.

Becoming a blogger has been challenging. There are so many little naunces that you have to check off to make your post a success, and admittedly, even I sometimes forget them before I post. Sometimes a post is really popular, and other times your blog just dwindles and struggles to get any attention. Sometimes blogging success really is just a matter of time, But if you’re stuck and you’re looking for some tips to help, here are ten ideas from my own experience.

1. You write about the wrong stuff

As a rule, when people read, they’re looking for something that may be valuable for them. Whether it’s an experience at an attraction, a review of a product, some tips with something or an opinion that they might agree or disagree on, people want something that serves them. You may have had a lovely time with your family and be extremely proud of them, but really, that sort of thing is better kept for social media. Unless there is something that people can take away from your stories, you may struggle to make up the numbers. How about visiting attractions to review together, or trying foods from all over the world?

2. You aren’t on social media

My first question is why not? My second question is which ones would you use? There are so many and it’s important to pick the ones that you feel you would use. Owing to it’s largest user database, then Facebook seems like the best place to begin, but loads of bloggers have Youtube channels and Instagram accounts and that’s cool, too. Ideally, you want to use two or three, so choose the ones that suit you best.

3. You aren’t using any pictures

In the time that I’ve been using Unsplash, my blog has seen quite a large traffic increase, and that tells me something – that adding some pictures is really worth it! Pictures add colour, they add contrast and they make your posts a little bit more appealing. No need to go crazy with it, just try one or two per post and don’t forget to give credit for any free images.

4. You aren’t entertaining (ouch)

Confession time. I’ve read quite a few posts and clicked ‘back’ without reading to the end. Why? Because the author wasn’t very engaging. Maybe you read like a boring college professor or you swamp your audience with information. Imagine that you’re trying to explain something to a reasonably intelligent good friend – how would you word it differently?

5. You aren’t using tags properly

I’m not taliking about hashtags, but blog tags. As a rule of thumb, I aim for around 5-10. Too many can seem like an overkill, too few and your posts might not be noticed. Play around and find a number that works for you. Also, try different words for the same thing (blogs, blogging, writing etc).

6. You aren’t commenting

Comment, people! Visit the blogs of readers that visit you (especially the ones who visit you often) and comment on their posts! It builds friendships and it keeps people coming back to your blog. You don’t need to do it everyday. I schedule half an hour once or twice per week to send out some love, and it works!

7. Your paragraphs are too long

I’ve been there myself. The great wall of text and you just switch off (particularly if it’s poorly punctuated). To help your readers not fatigue from reading the fruits of your labour, try to break your posts down into small, snappy paragraphs to make things more manageable to read. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but a punchier new approach may see you a small increase in traffic.

8. You favour quantity over quality

I fully understand, you think that blogging more often will increase your readers, but sadly that isn’t the case. Remember my first point, people want to read something that serves them, and so quality, informative posts are what people want to read. If you post regular posts that offer your readers nothing besides some temporary boredom relief, there is a chance you may be pushing your readers away. If you’re just starting out, try initially for just one post per day, and make it worth reading.

9. You don’t write often enough

While writing too often may be your problem, the opposite is also true. If you don’t write often enough (at least initially) your blog will struggle against those who write more often. I generally aim for five days a week, with a break on weekends. If your blog is still quite new, you may want to write at least 2-3 times per week.

10. You haven’t been writing long enough

It’s always too easy to try something and give in, but if you’ve only been blogging for a few weeks or months, try changing your approach, and keep going. In the first six months, my blog saw nearly no traffic at all. Even with only five posts per week, it’s now seeing traffic every day. I had to create my logo and get out there and try new things to give me something to share. Why not try some of my other nine tips before you give up on your blog completely?

Of course, none of these tips are a guarantee for success, and that’s probably why they’re free. Play around with your blog and try different types of content and themes. It does take some work to get it right and to feel like your blog has the potential to succeed. But when the likes and comments start to flow in, the blogging community is a truly wonderful place to be.

How have you seen your blog succeed? Why not share some of your tips in the comments?

Keep smiling, everyone!

Helen xx

Blogging Tips: How To Use Jetpack’s Star Ratings (And Give Half Star Marks!)

Hello Lovelies,

If you’re like me, maybe sometimes you like to write a cheeky little review for something or somewhere and you want to throw in a star rating to give your review that all-important reviewer feel. If you know how to add them then great, but if not, the process is very simple:

Provided you have the Jetpack plugin enabled, simply Add New Block > Search for a block > Enter ‘Star Rating’ > Click Star Rating and select however many stars you want to give. Easy!

Now, let’s say you and some friends went to watch a new flick and you’ve written up a review. It was okay, but it wasn’t great and you want to give it half marks. This is where a lot of bloggers (myself included, until yesterday!) get stymied;

Currently, you have two options. First of all, you can award it 3 out of 5 stars, which you don’t really want to do because that’s not the half marks you advocate. Secondly, you can set the blocks star count to the full 10 and then highlight half of them. Nightmare!

So what is a reviewer to do? Well my friends, have have no fear, Helen is here with her handy dandy reviewer guide to star ratings.

To give half star scores, simply pick the number of stars to the nearest whole number. In this case, 3 stars.

Now, click the last full star. In this case, the third star. Ta da! That star is now only half filled in!

WordPress (or Jetpack) really needed to take the time to create a wee pop-up tutorial or something to tell you how this works because honestly, had I not clicked a star by accident then I never would have known and I’ve seen many other bloggers tripped up by this also (just ask Google). If you write reviews like I do, it can help keep your reviews looking smoother. I now have to go back through all of my reviews and tweak my star ratings to be closer to the truth because somebody didn’t take the time to write out a few lines which would have told me what to do!

There you have it folks. I hope this article helps you if you use star ratings for anything!

Over and out until next time,

Helen xx

Happy New Year Everyone!! (100th Post!)

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Wow, what a celebration! Not only is tonight New Year’s Eve, but this is my 100th post here at Hear It From Helen! It’s been an adventure for sure and I thank you all so much for your continued support.

In the new year, I promise even more of my product and place reviews, mental health writes, recipes – plus much more of my wonderful little dog!

Stay tuned for more!

Have a lovely New Year’s Eve and I shall see you all back here in 2020!!

All my love

Helen xx

Intruder Alert: The Update

Good afternoon folks,

As you may have noticed, yesterday I didn’t get around to blogging. I was planning to write in the evening after a hectic day but I kind of ended up in inconsolable tears because of exhaustion, too much housework and missing my dead Dad. As much as I wanted to write and felt like I should write (so as not to disappoint you all, of course). I simply couldn’t bring myself to manage it. I was cold, exhausted and tired, and the best thing for me in the moment was sleep.

Yesterday morning, I was led on my bed and waiting for the nice Tesco man to arrive. I’d promised myself that, once the Tesco delivery had been made and the groceries were away, I would crack on and do some blogging.

That was when my phone rang.

“Hi, is that Helen?”

“It is, yes. How can I help?

“It’s the police here, I understand you reported an incident, I just wondered if it would be possible to pop out and visit you today?”

Suddenly, I was catapulted into a dilemma. The nice policeman officer wanted to visit me, but my lounge was a mess and I had oh so blogging to do. I had to make a snap decision. Think, Helen, think. Blogging or housework, what to do, what to do?!

I had to choose housework, and fortunately, my decision paid off. Drinking in the cosiness of my lounge, the new beat manager complimented my home,

“It’s nice though, isn’t it? You’ve obviously made it a home.”

I eyed the faux leather storage ottoman which I’d stuffed to the brim with sort-it-later bags, and smiled.

If only you knew.

After my neighbour’s gruff initial introduction, the beat manager was immediately wary of him. When he came into my home, he didn’t wait to ask if I got on with my neighbour. He challenged me on everything, the burglary, my neighbour, drugs in the area, everything.

Oof, so it’s like that, huh?

I denied all knowledge of where the drugs are in my street. I know where they are and I know what goes on, but it’s the whole adage of shitting on your doorstep. I know what goes on and I know it’s not legal, but I’m not going to go bothering them if they’re not bothering me. Naughty? Yes, but I need to put my own safety first. When I was young, I grew up in a household whereby my parents were quick to react to anything that our neighbours did wrong, and it created a lot of hostility which made the area difficult to live in. I’m not in any rush to make that same mistake here.

“Is that it or is there more?” he asked, watching the thirteen second clip.

Well, that was it.

Let’s be real here, I said that it was suspicious activity, not that he had successfully broken into our home. I said that I felt that the police should be aware, not to send out a forensics team. More than anything, I wanted the police to have an ID on him in case he tried to break in to anything or anywhere else. I mean, by all accounts, it is still an attempted burglary.

“Can you get a still photo from that video?”

I flipped through my gallery and presented the already-taken still photo, quite smugly.

“That’s good! Can you email that to me and I’ll send it out to the boys.”

I paused for a second but I decided to bite my tongue. I knew for a fact that there were at least two female PCSO’s in our local community but the threat of finding myself in handcuffs was not worth the comment.

And girls, I urged telepathically.

“Do you want me to say anything?” he asked, indicating to my neighbour’s rubbish in the shared front garden.

Ooh, officer, you are out for blood!

“He’s already been spoken to, so let’s leave it for now” I urged, I knew what would happen. The more pressure the local authority applied, the more my neighbour would whine to me. It was bad enough being the accidental double agent in all of this after what I now believe might have been a white lie from my neighbour in the first place.

After the beat manager left, I returned to the kitchen to make more lemon cheesecakes and tiramisus to freeze, ready to defrost and serve as desserts for the next month.

As I turned the food processor on to whisk the cream, a text message appeared on my phone screen.

Everything ok?

It was my neighbour, the very same man that the beat manager wanted to speak to, and the very same man that my local authority now wants me to spy on because of his mattress in the front garden and piles of all kinds of rubbish at the rear. It was a horrendous position to be in, both the friend and the foe, simultaneously.

Yeah, fine. Just about last Thursday, I replied.

Everything was fine, because the intruder never did break in.

But you’re screwed, I thought.

***

Next week, I’ll share with you how to clean and prepare your home for guests to an impressive standard and in only 20 minutes, following on from my surprise visit!

The Home Truth!

Good evening lovelies,

Last night, I mentioned in my post that I currently have 5 crates of stuff piled up on my living room floor. Well, readers, here it is!

As you can see, it’s an absolute eyesore that’s needed sorting out for weeks, but you know what? Other things and my readers are far more important!

The good news is that it only took me about twenty minutes to organise it, but the bad news is that most of it is now piled in semi-organised piles on my coffee/dining table (it converts, don’t judge me!). I’ll have to put that lot away now before I can do anything else, but hey, it’s all part of the process.

As a blogger and housewife, I believe that one of the most important things I can do for you is to be authentic, to let you in and let you get to know me. Of course, that won’t be to completely let you get to know me, but it will be enough that I don’t feel the need to shamefully hide my crates of disorganised heaven-knows-what from you.

I was inspired to this idea of sharing life behind the scenes by my blogger-friend, V at #MillenialLifeCrisis. I think more and more bloggers are beginning to be more honest about the fact that blogger life isn’t nearly as perfect as it’s made to appear. I think that’s great! For bloggers, I think the need to compete and feel like you belong and only bring your A game is so prevalent that knowing that everybody else struggles in some way can go a long way to help you feel less alone. It helps to know that nobody is perfect, we all have ways that we can improve.

On that note, it’s now time for me to put my laptop away, wipe down my desk and get back to my housewifely duties.

Until tomorrow, folks!

Stay well,

Helen xx

A Sobering Thought

Good afternoon lovelies,

As you may have noticed, on my blog, I do reviews. All of the products I mention and places I’ve been are products I’ve bought or places that I’ve been to. I would not, ever, review or recommend something that I myself have not tried.

Which is why this article really worried me.

The fact that these celebrities and social media influencers could be paid to recommend a product that they themselves have not tried or investigated is incredibly dangerous. The fact that they even advertised the fact that the ‘drink’ (albeit not real) contains hydrogen cyanide without knowing what said chemical does, is even more so.

Is that what blogging and social media has come to? Is that what’s required to go big? Potentially poisoning and killing people?

That’s sick.

It’s beyond fucked up that people will willingly be paid to put people’s lives at risk. I’m not saying all, because I’m sure some people really do make a concerted effort not to mislead their audience, but if fame means putting people in danger, then I’m out.

I may not be famous now, but if being even remotely famous means I risk killing people, then I never want to be famous. Ever.

It’s incomprensible that these people who are supposed to care about and love their followers are by definition the same people who will lead them, potentially, to their deaths.

And because of what? Money.

We all, bloggers, social media influencers, Youtubers and anyone else I’ve not mentioned, we all need to work as a collective to make sure that our audiences are never, ever put at risk of death or serious harm because of our actions. Could you live with yourself, knowing that one of the people who followed you died because of your misinformed promotion?

I know I couldn’t.

Please, I beg of you today, please think of every one of your fans and followers. We owe it to them to review a product and investigate it in full before we promote it. Lets do our homework and keep our fans and followers safe, before we accidentally promote a product containing hydrogen cyanide for real.

Who Does What When One Of You Works From Home?

My experience, and some tips to help you manage.

Good afternoon lovelies,

Yesterday, I hit a bit of a dilemma with housework and blogging. I love blogging and I have hopes, dreams and ambitions of turning my blogging into a career path, but there was just one problem – while I was blogging, the housework wasn’t getting done. If I was cleaning, I couldn’t also be blogging. There were two jobs I needed to do, and only one of me. I couldn’t be blogging and cleaning, I had to decide.

One of the things that has annoyed me for some time is the fact that many of the people around me don’t take my blog as seriously as I do. My neighbour knocks on my door and chats about quite frankly nothing at all, my father-in-law calls me up over matters which are, technically, home life matters. My biological family see blogging as a hobby not a potential career path and for a long time I’ve felt like my husband expected me to clean because hey, I’m basically always at home.

Even little Hugo stands in the doorway and refuses to move. If I’ve been to the loo, he wants to use the doggy loo (the garden, of course) too. It can be very hard to stay on task when you have every reason to believe that you aren’t being taken seriously and when you’re being distracted by your home life. It does frustrate me. Of course I don’t get paid for what I do currently, but if I get good enough at what I do, then there is every reason that I could do, and that’s what I’m aiming for. Owing to my good grades and determination, I was offered help to go self-employed all of those years ago and in the end I got no help at all. Now, I’m coursing my path, all on my own.

Yesterday, before I posted, I wrote a journal entry which I shared with Matt. In it, I penned out how I feel like he doesn’t respect what I do and he treats it like a hobby. He can’t be my “number one fan” and not be supporting what I do, that just doesn’t make any sense. I also pointed out that written text on the internet isn’t magical. For those words to appear in the order that they do, some poor soul needs to have sat down and written it for you to read.

On this blog, that poor soul is me.

I made a mental note that today, after my mandatory two posts, I would clean the kitchen. Imagine my shock then that when I went out to the kitchen last night, it had already been cleaned.

“Wow! The housework fairy has been!” I teased.

I hate nagging, I really do. We’re the kind of couple that seldom argue, it’s just not our style. Things get a little bit heated, we take some time apart to cool down and reflect. I grew up in a particularly hostile environment (my neighbours more so than my parents, although a few of their arguments have scarred me, too) so I’m quite conflict-avoidant, but something had to be done.

Because of what I do, I make friends quite regularly with a lot of people who work from home, and quite often we have a good laugh at some of the banialities and annoyances that come from our home/office life. Everything, from people not respecting your working time to being distracted by home life and having a cat walk across your keyboard or working with the dog led by your feet.

Everything.

One of the common occurences that comes up, is housework, particularly for people who are married, in relationships or people with roommates. We’re at home all day everyday, right?

Well yes, but no.

One of the biggest (and smallest) things I did last night was to separate my lights out on Google Home. When I tell Google to turn the office light on, the bedroom main light comes on. When I tell Google to turn the bedroom lights on, the lamp on my desk/dressing table comes on. I also put my laptop away after blogging and only use my mobile phone for social media, and it’s a crime for me to sleep with my laptop on my dresser/desk.

Work, and sleep. They may be in the same room, but I have some hard and fast rules that I make myself adhere to.

But that needs to apply to all things.

We may be ‘at home’, we may work ‘from home’, but we aren’t ‘at home’ in the same way that you’re used to, or thinking. For me, when I enter Work Mode, I am working. I refuse to have anything to do with anything that needs to be done around the home, and even Hugo only gets to outside when I make my mid-morning coffee, or when I stop for lunch. I clean after ‘work’, in Home time.

The same way as my husband should be.

I know that right now I’m not earning, but I firmly believe that the “you don’t get paid, so you should be doing the cleaning” mentality is wrong. When you start a job on a minimum wage, nobody expects you to do more housework and do less as you get promoted. Even if I’m not currently earning anything, I’m still giving something back to society for the benefits that I am receiving. There are plenty of people in the British society who are on the same rates of benefits that I’m on and are capable enough that they could do something with their time, but aren’t doing anything to give back to the community.

In an ideal world, I could give up my Employment & Support Allowance and turn self-employment (ahem, blogging) into a sustainable living. Sadly, we aren’t there yet, so that isn’t a possibility.

With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you avoid a nasty argument, following on from our own experiences.

  1. Communicate, but don’t blame

This should be at the top of your agenda. It’s important that you both talk about what you do, how much you do and the way that you are feeling. One of the things that I am very aware of is the fact that Matt feels like we don’t get much time together in the evenings, so I try to make sure that blogging and some of the housework are done while he’s out of the house, then it’s just the things that we can do together before we relax, or things that I can do while we watch TV, like loading the dishwasher or preparing food (in the adverts) and pairing up odd socks.

2. Minimize

I won’t lie, folks. I have 4 crates of junk piled up on my lounge floor at the moment, that I need to go through. They are old storage drawers full of junk that needs sorting out and, most probably, getting rid of. It’s that old adage, the less junk you have, the less stuff you have to clean. Apply it, and mean it. I know I should.

3. Don’t try and keep up with the Jones

I’ll let you in on a little secret, and it’s a secret that so many bloggers hate to admit. Our homes aren’t nearly as tidy and beautiful as you’ll be led to believe. We may have one corner that looks nice and that we’ve chosen to use for a perfect photo, but I’ll guarantee that there is junk in every room and clutter on the floor. The focus of the photo is on what we’re blogging about and want you to look at, not anything else about our home lives. Even I’ll readily admit to digitally manipulating images to make things look better than they are, it’s nothing new. None of us are perfect, even if photos will have you believe that we are. Focus on being the best that you can be and don’t worry about anyone else.

4. Outsource

I’ve already said to Matt that in the New Year, I’ll probably hire in a gardener. Here is the deal. There is one of me, one of him and both of us are glued to a computer for about 7 hours a day, trying our best to earn an income. If we’re working, we’re not cleaning or gardening. If we’re cleaning or gardening, we can’t be working. There is nothing wrong in asking for help, it’s what these people do for a living. Don’t be ashamed in hiring someone in to help because you don’t have the time – these people want to pull up your dandelions!

5. Manage your time

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, if you work from home then it’s vitally important that you manage your time. For me, that means I start blogging at about 9am and I finish at about 4pm (so that I can fit in a few hours of cleaning!). I also do my utmost not to blog on weekends. For me, evenings and weekends are family time with my husband (and my family, when I see them), and it’s vitally important that you make time for yourself, and your family. When we’re finished on a Friday, I’ll have you believe that us home office types want nothing more than to pack up and clock off like everyone else. Set rules for yourself, and stick to them!

How do you and your family manage your home/office life? Let me know in the comments!

Helen xx

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas..

Hello Lovelies,

Finally it’s time for my Fun On Friday post, and what a week it’s been! All those little starts and touches that make the festivities.. well., festive!

This week started off with a bit of a chuckle for me. First of all, space in our flat is limited, so we decided on a “Nordic” Christmas tree with a 3ft Christmas tree on the shelf unit. It seems simple enough, right? Well..

For one, the Nordic tree is really a wire sculpture with a tape wrap around and three foot tree was clearly made on a 2:! scale. One doesn’t accept returns and the other isn’t worth it, so we decided to push on,

The first course of action was to try and make the wire sculpture look a little bit more real. Not to be outdone, I spent some time dilligently hanging baubles on the ‘branches’ and securing them with a spot of PVA glue. I think it worked?

The min tree itself was wrapped in some battery-powered fairy lights and shoved, admittedly unceremoniously, in the bedroom window. The window faces the street, so I suppose it’ll add some festive cheer, even if not much.

I’ve decided not to be a complete Scrooge and realised that maybe my minimalist Christmas just wasn’t meant to happen. Admitting defeat, I ordered a 3ft tree from a reputable seller, whereby I know what I’ll be getting myself into.

Below is the festive memorial wreath that I made. I’m actually quite proud of it, I think it looks good. It was a bit fiddly to assemble, but I think it’s paid off. It still chokes me up to see ‘Dad’ on there though. I’m not ready, but then, I suppose you never are.

Tomorrow we’re off to the German Christmas market. I can’t say that I’m not a little bit excited, it’s something of a tradition. We starve ourselves beforehand, then eat so much considerably unhealthy food while we’re there. It’s a once a year treat and even if I do spend a few days feeling considerably bloated afterwards, I’ve still got all of next year to work it off 😉

Over and out until next time, folks.

Enjoy the weekend!

Helen xx