5 Simple Ways to Transition into Spring/Summer

1. Go for bright colors

2. Layer up your tops or shirts with a trench coat, jumper or blazer.

3. Swoop the boots for trainers or plums

4. Accessories – add a scarf, pieces of jewelry, hair bows, etc

5. Wear something White –

WHATS IN MY HANDBAG

After my second child I realized that I don’t actually need a separate handbag and a diaper bag. You can carry just one. And if you are a stylish mom, you can use your regular handbag and still carry your baby’s things. Here are top 10 things you should always carry with you in your handbag

1. Wipes – I don’t only use them for the baby, I could write a post on a thousand things I use them for, even for non-moms/baby related things. From makeup remover to cleaning older kids hands in the park before snack.

2. Diaper – I plan my outings most days and know roughly how long I’m going to be out of the house. I take just a couple of diapers. The baby’s diaper is changed just before leaving the house so two extra changes should be ok before coming back. That way I don’t over pack.

3. A bottle – milk bottle. Even though the baby now eat whatever I’m eating, I found out that she still finds comfort in taking her bottles especially before napping. This can make a great difference between a calm baby who allows you to enjoy a glass of wine while out and about with your friends or a fussy one.

4. Paracetamol- over the counter pain killer. As a solo mom I always advocate self care as priority. One day we went away for the weekend while on a business trip and I was in chronic pains. I could not move, I had these little kids looking up to me, including a young baby and I felt helpless. There was no one around that could help. Before dialing 911 my older daughter stepped up and thanks for meal delivery service that delivers to hotel room. I slept and vowed to never leave the house without some pain killers in my handbag.

5. Plasters/bandaids – because kids will be kids and they will bruise their knees on the playground. We could also cut ourselves shaving or some zit decides to pop, you never know.

6. Money – a few one dollar bills. Different from your regular cash in wallet. I used to be a cashless lady. I prefer taking my bank card with me. I mean with Apple Pay and everything being on direct debits I hardly needed to go out with any change. But as a mom with growing kids, when you are out and there might be a ride the kids want to go on in the amusement park and you that needs change to pay, it’s heartbreaking telling the kids they can’t ride because you only have your debit card with you.

7. A pen – because there is always something to be signed for when you have kids. Especially in America! Since moving from London to America I have signed more papers than I can count.

8. A snack – because mommy is always hungry running errands and chasing after the kids. Just kidding the snacks are for kids but It won’t hurt taking one for yourself too. Helps prevent binging on bad food when you have sugar rush. Just a piece of banana or some nuts.

9. You wallet with your IDs and kids medical records. This is pretty self explanatory because you are always asked for those when you are running errands. There is a different health system here and you have to carry your insurance card with you at all times.

10. A little bottle of scent – I used to carry a small makeup bag before but after find a great makeup line that last all day. I don’t anymore and that has saved up a lot of space in my bag allowing me to carry less things and use a regular bag. I however carry a perfume because all the running around makes you sweat and most changing rooms don’t spell too great.

…iRene

STAY AT HOME MOM VS WORKING MOM

As an adult mom with responsibilities and purpose, there is this big question we ask ourselves as soon as we are even thinking about starting a family. Do I stay at home and look after my kids or do I go back to work, get someone else to look after the kids, earn a living to look after myself and the kids and achieve my own personal fulfilment?

There is no one answer to this question and no right answer too. Regardless of what you choose to do, that decision is perhaps the best decision for you. Here is my personal experience and how I came about choosing the best option for me and my kids. Our personal situations and experiences does impact what we decide to do about going back to work or not.

I am a stay at home (I work from home, I have my own small business I do from home) mom. When the two older kids were very young, after my maternity leave (England is better than America for that) I was working full time, schooling full time and parenting full. I had a live in nanny, their dad worked in the London branch of his company so we always leave home together in the morning and come back together in the evening. The kids were between 0-2 and the live in nanny also helped with cleaning. I never allowed anyone else to cook for my husband and kids and I took the kids for swimming and their activities. This was going on ok until my husband changed job. We all want financial stability. If you are an immigrant you would understand the honesty. We always joke, that we did not leave our countries for the English weather. So when an offer that almost triples his wages came up, it was unwise not to take it. However, such lucrative job comes with lots of sacrifices and challenges. One of it being that he traveled a lot, so he is often not around. When the kids were younger, we always traveled with him sometimes but the older they got, the more we wanted to create stability. We can’t have the kids growing up with both parents not around.

I was raised by a single teen mom so basically her immediate family raised me. My mom went back to school and started her own successful business. We were comfortable but we never sat around the table to eat together – she would come home late at night when I was already sleeping, hell we even missed so many christmases together. Probable why I love Christmas with my kids so much. I could go on about the emotional and physical abuse I endured as a child from closest family members who were more than happy to bully me because they knew my mom wasn’t around to hold them accountable and my dad was never around anyway. Although I am healed from it, but I never forget about it. This really affected my choice in raising my kids.

Call me traditional, but my philosophy is that at least one parent has to be at home to look after the kids. I cannot stress how important this is. Money is not everything. You will not allow anyone to look after your most expensive assets. why allow strangers or even family members to look after your priceless kids? I say even families because, I worked in social service for over six years and from professional experience, 90% of the abuse to children, comes from people closest to them. We warn them about stranger danger, the most dangerous people to kids are their primary carers.

My husband being a typical African man, even though he is British, took the job hoping I would automatically love to stay at home. Anyone close to me, knows how much I love kids. I literally love them so much and mine are not exception. I love being with them. I don’t love the work part though, the cleaning etc. When you are a working mom, you are still a full time mom but someone else do the hard physical part. But when you are a stay at home mom, you do EVERYTHING and that is exhausting and tiring, the aches and chills. I can’t remember the last time I don’t take 200mg of pain medicine at night. Unlike how I may come across, I am also very career oriented too. To be honest, not necessarily career, but I am financially minded. I have been hustling, selling things since I was a kid.So yes I am maternal but I am also a firm believer in personal financial freedom regardless of how blissful your marriage or relationship is. Have your own personal bank account and keep putting small amount into it. Me allowing my husband to go work in this new company without opposition wasn’t because I was a submissive or gullible wife, it was a calculated decision. One I did with the happiness and comfort of my kids in mind.

Remember that at least one of the parents always has to be with the kids. How I chose who that would be was a simple calculation. Who earned the most? Unfortunately a lot of men still earn more than their wives. This means a lot of women HAS to be the ones to make the decisions to stay at home. I would love to be the one working but his wages was more than enough to cover all our expenses. If on just mine, yes we might have gotten by but it won’t be enough for holidays or anything else. That was how I allowed him without complaint.

You have to be pragmatic about these things. Yes we live in a more sophisticated world were women rule, girl power, feminism and all that, but this is your family we are talking about and you have to make the best decision ( not political decision) for your family.

Despite choosing to stay at home to look after your own kids yourself, you can still make some income. The truth is that it may not be self fulfilling or financially rewarding as if you were 100% committed to working outside the house. But it is something. My only consolation is when I see the kids striving. I am not talking necessarily about education alone but in terms of the values you wanted them to have. The bible says “raise up your children in the way they SHOULD go”… Your children, the mandate was to you the parent(s), no one can truly want the best for your kids as much as you do. There is also a way you might want them to grow. What value do you want them to have. No amount of detailed written down routine for the carer can instill that into them. Sooner or later the kids will say, you are not my parents why are you asking me to do this or do that. Which is true. We tend to listen to our parents more than our carers.

One thing I also remind myself when I feel like I made the wrong choice is that these years, are investments. They will not be kids forever and by Gods grace, once you get it right with them, you will never have to pay for therapy for them to undo years of abuse they may have suffered. Don’t get me wrong, kids who were raised by at least one of their parents are also messed up ( we are all messed up one way or another), there is just a good messed up and a not so good messed up.

I cannot over emphasis how important it is for you to look after your kids. I know some of us may not have the choice to make, especially if you are already a single parent or you honestly just don’t have it in you. I respect people who know themselves and are true to themselves. You have to do what you have to do. If this is your case, by all means do not feel bad about having to make the decision to go outside and work and have someone else look after the kids. Have that conversation with them, kids are not stupid, they will probably not like it but they hear you. I cannot attend this and that because it is only mommy that has to work so we can have food to eat, house to live and clothes to wear. Even be able to buy you that toy you wanted.

I tell my kids this when I have deadlines and yet they want me to do something (despite working from home, we also get guilt tripped so don’t worry). I also want you to know that by reading this, asking yourself the question of what is better for my kids, you are already an amazing parent. You won’t bother if you didn’t care. You want what’s best for them and sometimes that is good enough.

If you are 50/50 about it, you should know that there is also the option of taking temporary or lesser roles. You may not have as much money as you would have, but at least you will be able to spend more time with the kids. I have seen moms changing careers to become teachers or nurses so they can have that flexibility.

Lastly, that “life – career balance” is a myth. You can not joggle those two things successfully. One has to give. I hate seeing women on newspapers and social media, “mom of three running a Fortune 500 company, or when they say “she combines motherhood and running a successful business etc” Yes the fact is that she birthed three kids but the silent message that she’s a hands on full time mom and still able to run her business is all BS. The truth they don’t tell you is the amount of help, nanny(ies) they have, their mom and sister who regularly take the kids for piano lessons and swimming. Forget the one they had to pose for the camera for, their husbands who is fully involved. Their possible cook and cleaner.

They come back from work tired but the nanny is there to give the kids their bath. But the few days they do it they capture it for the camera on social media so that they can prove they do it all and are involved. If you truly do it all by yourself then you will know that the reality is that you don’t even have the time to get a camera to take a photo when you are busy giving them a bath, helping the older ones with homework, making dinner, reminding them to brush and floss oh let’s not forget you. You have to take off your makeup and drink your water and moisturize. It never ends. These are all staged photos. I am a blogger and and instagramer and that is the truth. When you are in the moment of motherhood, you don’t have time for photos.

When the world found out that Beyonce had three nannies for just the twins, there was a lot of gossiping. I loved her honesty. How do you think Kate Middleton in the royal palace does it? They don’t tell you the amount of servants they have and when people who are honest do, they crucify them. I think it is important that people know the truth. That because you do not have time to go to the gym and loose that baby weight doesn’t mean you are lazy, that because you didn’t get that promotion doest mean you didn’t put in the hours (what hours when you got kids). No one can have it all. Do not set yourself up to fail. Know your own situation and work with what you got. Putting the children first, choose what’s best for your family.

$200 GIVEAWAY!!!

So I had the pleasure of chatting with one of my favorite mommy friendly fashion brand – Pink Blush and it was fun!

You can read all about it here. We are also doing a giveaway of $200 to one lucky person to shop on their website (think that lovely dress for up coming valentine at no cost to you!) click here to enter. Competition closes 1/27/19 midnight.

Good luck lovelies!

HOW TO COPE WITH MOTHERHOOD STRESS

My Handbag is from Dagne Dover I love the inside, it is very mommy friendly and yet stylish. It has little compartment for bottle, iPhone, iPad and more. My Scarf is from Burberry My boots were from London but I have included one from my wish list here which is very comfortable and stylish for women seeking comfort and style. The coat is an oldie but got a similar one here

“She who fails to prepare, prepares to fail”. This is one of my favourite quotes. A quick background story. Today my husband went back to work. He is based in their foreign office and for the past 6 years now, I am left alone to hold down the fort. When we were in England despite having my mom, grandma and several aunts and uncles and cousins around, often times I end up doing it all by myself. Yes we have friends who occasionally chip in to help and we have used hired help but there is nothing like having a steady consistent support around especially from the other parent who cares for them equally.

Then we moved to America where the people we know are thousands of miles away from New York City. People say it takes a village, some of us have no village and when people say “I don’t know how you do it”,I find it a little confusing like they expect me to have a choice. I often tell them why do you think I have a choice “doing it”. I take my role as a mother very seriously. Just like you get your suit ready for work, don’t go out at night partying so you can go to work the next day, I too do things that will not interfere with my job as a mother and wife. I understand that life is stressful. people without kids go through stress as well. And parenting is one of the toughest jobs on earth. Having people depend on you for their every needs is tiring. There is no room for error. If you forget to take them for their flu shot and before others judge you you are already judging yourself. If God forbid they become sick you immediately take on the blame. Thank Goodness for the All-new Echo Show (2nd Gen) which you can use as your personal assistant to remind you of important things.

If we already know that life itself is stressful and parenting is hard, why do we not prepare for it? That is why I started with the quote. You need to understand your triggers and avoid anything that will make you feel bad about yourself. Who are you following on social media? Even if it is your mom being passive aggressive or your older sister always fact checking you, any contents that makes you feel bad about yourself, unfollow them. Its nothing personal, you are not in that zone quite yet, when you feel better and can handle all the drama (although you should never put up with anyone that disrespect you or hurt you), you can follow back. I used to follow a very popular instagrammer but I stopped resonating with her contents, she wasn’t following me back officially but she was ghost following me. Whenever I post something and I express my vulnerability to my followers because I like to keep it real sometimes, the next day, she will post something about being able to do the thing I said I could not do. I wasn’t upset about her strength or anything, I just didn’t want people who were fact checking me. Or think they have to prove they are better than me.

We are like taps, we are constantly giving out something. We give our time, love, energy, affection, resources and wisdom. Some of us over stretch ourselves too much by opening too many taps all at ones. You are your girls best friend, checking up on her, calling her and dealing with her problems, you are your parents ATM machine, you are your siblings second parents sending them to uni or trying to get them a job. Your pastor loves you and that your neighbour who lives downstairs can’t stop singing your praise. You respond to every comment on your social media account, follow, like and comment on every post. You do it all. No wonder when it comes to mom duties you are stressed and tapped out. You cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. You are a human being, not a superwoman. You matter too.

I cut off several family relationships that weren’t serving me or bringing me joy. Same with friendships. My best friend understand that if I don’t call her in six months, it doesn’t mean I don’t love her. Others have given up. I don’t mind. my kids are happy. I am happy. Your (own) family is your priority. Just to be clear about that, I mean your children, especially when you have little kids. They don’t have another mom. My kids don’t even have another person to take care of them if God forbid I breakdown. Their dad work away from home, their family members live far away. Why should I spread myself too thin that I am unable to look after them? Yes the house will be messy sometimes and you will forget to do shopping in the fridge but overall, you are good and they are good. If you have good extended families and friends, they should understand. Instead of using you as their ATM, they should be encouraging you to save for your children’s future. If they are not buying your kids nice presents they should understand that your resources is going into getting them things. You might not be able to stay with them in their feelings during their drama, you are saving your mental energy for when your kids do have a meltdown or you are trying to solve a fourth grade algebra homework. But they should know that doesn’t mean you don’t love or care about them. It is ok to be selfish sometimes. Whenever my husband is around or I have a minder, I meet up with friends. You are not bad for not showing up for Friday drinks every week.

Winter is one of the hardest seasons. Winter blues is real, prepare for it. During the winter months, we often times want to stay indoors because it is cold and miserable outside. You can still go for walks. Just layer up. Pad up the kids, hat gloves, scarf and everything. Stop for hot chocolate and come back home. 5 mins outside is better than nothing. There are so many indoor activities like playing a game of chess. Go to Malls for window shopping or coffee. Meet up with another mom friend not because you are snobbish and only hang out with moms, but because they are in same situation as you and understand when you have to talk over your food to correct your child. If you have single friends who understand, meet them up. Go to each others house. This is when you should plan that play date for the kids while the grown ups settle down for a cup of tea. It doesn’t matter what your house look like, if they are your friends, they won’t judge you. If they do, whatever. It won’t kill you.

Again, who are you following on social media, avoid it. Take off the App and only log in through the web. The stress of doing that will sometimes stop you from constantly checking for updates. Social media isn’t all bad, you have to learn to use it well. I love following pages that make me laugh or inspire my creativity. Some people may be braggy but they are only joking. Seeing other people’s accomplishment pop up on your feed constantly can make you feel like you are failing, even though that is often not the case. There is a lot to be grateful for in your life. You just have to look.

SIT BY THE FIRE

December last year I bought a faux fireplace with a surround for our apartment. Not every apartment in Manhattan comes with a fireplace and I love them. I wasn’t prepared to go through the cold winter without the feeling you get when you sit cozy up by the fireplace. So I got one. This fireplace with surround was one of the best things I got. It burns and looks like real log burning. Looking at the flames burning while sipping homemade cocoa or wine in the evening after the kids have gone to bed makes me so happy. Even my husband who was feeling a little low because of a news he received the other day said he loved seeing the flames burning.

GET LITE UP

Whenever I am in a bright light I feel happy. We all love the sun, there is something about sunlight that makes us feel happy, the fact that is it winter does not mean we cannot create our own sunshine, quite literarily. Use Artificial sun like Carex Day Light Therapy

EAT FOOD THAT BOOST YOUR MOOD

Food like squash which is a great source of magnesium and potassium, eggplant which contains fiber, copper, vitamin B1, and manganese, Spinach, Kale, sweet potatoes which is full of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and turmeric which assists with immune-inflammatory or stress pathways and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. You can sit by the fire and read more about mood foods that can change you and your family’s life.

DE-CLUTTER YOUR SPACE

Believe it or not, your physical environment can affect your emotional wellbeing. Other than decluttering your physical environment, declutter your mind. One of the best book that changed my life and was Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking. Remember when I said I had to let go of things and people that were not bringing me joy. I feel happiest than I have felt my entire life.

WEAR CLOTHES THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

One of my New Year plan is to dress more and look good. If you look good, you will feel good. You don’t even need the compliment although it will make you feel good when someone say you looked nice in that new scarf or red shoes but looking at the mirror, you will definitely feel nice seeing yourself in that outfit you once admired. It could be a bag or a shoe or even a pair of sunglasses. They call it retail therapy for a reason.

click the images
Manolo Blahnik