Sparking creativity without the mess!

I seem to have neglected the blog recently, which is totally unintentional but when Life takes over and little ones are poorly there’s very little that can be done.

That being said we’ve still being documenting our days over on Instagram and there’s been lots of gradual changes in the way I’ve been choosing to parent Adam.  I’m loving taking a more Montessori style approach with him and one of the key elements in Montessori Style parenting is to have everything easily accessible and allowing children to choose their own activities with their creativity using natural materials.

Adam has always loved colouring and painting and I love that he has this creative streak in him like me but the clean freak side of me has always sat on the edge of my seat while he’s painted or used pens anticipating he would have it all over the carpet, furniture and walls at any given time.  I’m always torn between allowing him to be free in his creativity without stunting it but it’s hard when he’s shaking his paintbrush everywhere and I’m constantly following him with a wet cloth ready to mop up spills but we were very kindly sent some Paint Stick from LittleBrian through WirePR recently and honestly they have been a game changer!

They look like little glue stick which twist up to allow your child to paint straight to the paper or almost any other material (including clothing so do be careful!) and once they’re done the paint dries to the paper almost instantly and you can pop the lid back on ready for next time.

Adam has honestly loved that he doesn’t constantly need me to wash or clean brushes for him and he can just take the kids off as he wants a colour and paint straight away. Before we were having to set up his paint station with a water cup, multiple brushes, an oversized apron so he didn’t get paint all over himself and I was constantly washing the brushes as he wanted to change colours.

They come in lots of different shades and variations including metallics, neons and even crayons which I have my eyes on for Adam as he loves crayons.  So if you’re anything like me and love creating colourful crafting memories with your child but hate the mess and can’t fully enjoy the experience because of the fear of spills and stains I think Little Brian Paint sticks are definitely something to look into!

My next Montessori plan is to set up a little craft station for Adam that he can access himself whenever he wants and you can bet the Little Brian Paint sticks will be on there!  I will keep you posted on how I set that up so to keep the most up to date with our day to day activities head to my Instagram account @syrah.j and if you have any Montessori/creativity ideas for toddlers then definitely send me a DM through Insta because I’m very much into that style of parenting at the moment.

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Heating Style, helping to make our house a home – AD

I’m  Buying our own home wasn’t really top of our list of priorities, it was just something that we did after getting married right?  It was just one of those milestones in life that came naturally like a tickbox that needed filling.  We met, fell in love, got married and bought a house right? But finding out we were pregnant just as our offer for a house went through?! And moving in when almost 7 months pregnant?! None of it went quite to plan, we’d have liked some time make our new house a home before having a baby but sometimes life doesn’t go to plan…

I’ve always felt like this house doesn’t fit what I’d always dreamt of my house being like but it’s taken some time for me to learn to cherish this home, we’ve never had the time or money to make it look perfect but it’s precious because every outdated corner and chipped doorframe holds a memory of our little boy.  After all we bought him from the hospital into this house and this is where his every ‘first’ has been. First time sitting, standing and walking. He took his first steps in our dreary old kitchen and the outdated second hand sofa is where I sat when I watched him first roll over. This room is where we spent most of our days, feeding and napping when he was a newborn and now it’s where we have daily dance parties.

Our home isn’t perfect but it’s slowly getting there and with the help of amazing brands like @heatingstyle1 who chose to collaborate with us through @influens.t.a.r, this home is very quickly filling up with lots of warmth and love! They very kindly sent us their Korlea radiator to help us in our aim to make our house a home and we couldn’t be more pleased with it.

From the second we began talks with the brand through to organising delivery in horrible winter weather, their service has been incredible and their products are not only luxurious and very well made but built to last and reasonably priced.  We couldn’t be happier with out little touch of luxury in our home and will definitely be coming back to Heating style when we plan on doing more work to the house.  If you’re looking to make your home extra special I highly recommend taking a look at Heating Style’s website where from stunning vertical designer radiators to stylish bathroom towel rails, Heating Style have it all.



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#Ad giving you a #Headache?

If you’re a blogger or social media presence then I’m sure you’ll have noticed that recent events surrounding New Advertising Standards Authority Guidelines have almost caused the world of social media to go into meltdown.  I don’t think I’ve received more messages regarding a topic on Instagram since I started many years ago.  So this post post is here to tell you, don’t panic!

I’ve wanted to sit down and write this since the uproar began but I needed the time to clue myself up on what was actually changing regarding the ASA and how it would actually affect all of us.  Now I’m only human and a one woman band so there is always room for error but I hope that I can help clear some things up for us all.

Before we get stuck in grab a cuppa, sit yourself comfortably and we’ll get started and you may find that it’s all much simpler than you or I first thought it was because the ASA and the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) have now just teamed up with the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) to create clear laws and boundaries in order to make Influencer Marketing fair for all whether you have 10 followers or 10 Million.  And actually they’ve made it really easy for us by creating a simple easy to follow diagram and downloadable document to ensure that you can correctly disclose your posts which I’ve included in the post below but here is my simple take on the whole disclosure system when it comes to ad campaigns on your social media.

Your disclosure should always be at the beginning of your caption or clearly marked on the photo/video segment where an advertised product is present.  Gone are the days of being able to get away with hiding your #ad in a sea of 20-30 other ads in the hopes that your followers wont see it. If somebody makes a complaint to the ASA you will be liable.

ADS – If you have been given monetary incentives to post about a product it is obviously an AD.  If there is no monetary gain and you are gifted the product but the brand has stipulated any rules or agreements on your post, for example they have given you certain hashtags to use or they have asked for their product to be shown on a certain media platform of yours, THIS IS STILL AN AD. If it wasn’t they would send you the product regardless of you sharing it or using it.  I have seen many variations of this however, some influencers have used AD – Gifted, AD – Unpaid, AD – In collab with, but the important thing to remember is, that the word AD is there, at the beginning, in black and white and clearly visible.  In the simplest terms possible, if you are paid to create an ad campaign or given a product or taken on a PR trip or given ANYTHING FOR FREE and the brand has any sort of control over the way you post about that product or campaign – it is an Advertisement.

Sponsored – This is where all of the above for the AD applies EXCEPT the brand has absolutely no control over what you post.  If you were sent a beautiful pot of tea set by a company in return for a review but they havent stipulated any guidelines at all, they haven’t said it needs to be on Instagram or that you have to write a blog post, they haven’t even given you a time frame to post within.  This is a sponsored post.  They could even have paid you for the content but if there were no rules in place, it’s a sponsor not an AD.  According to this document from the ASA/CAP/CMA even if a brand asks to see the post before you set it live, that’s an AD as you’ve not been given free reign over it.

Gifted – The only time that this is appropriate to use in a post is when a brand has contacted you and asked if they can send you a product. FULL STOP. And that is where the conversation ends.  If you then try the product and love it and choose to share it with your audience you are 100% allowed to say it was Gifted. This diagram from the link above is very useful when it comes to trying to understand how to correctly disclose ads on your posts.

Phew! If you’ve made it this far then give yourself a pat on the back, and me because this post did actually give me a headache! I hope it’s been helpful and I’ve tried to put as many useful links in there as I could to help you manage the new changes. If you found this useful then please share, I worked hard and I hope that it’s helped some of you understand things a bit better.



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This is me…

Since having Adam I’ve done a lot of losing and finding myself.  It’s funny how becoming a parent can do that to you isn’t it?!  I started this blog when I found out I was pregnant and instantly felt very alone in the things I was experiencing and the way I was feeling. The parenting blogger market is so heavily saturated but the real, shitty gritty stuff is still buried deep down below all the perfection of parenting and I wanted the shitty stuff. I wanted someone else to tell me that what I was feeling wasn’t strange, or wrong or unheard of! I wanted someone else to write about what I was writing about. And then I started believing those to be my weaknesses and I hid them from the world (those posts are set to private).

Those feelings haven’t really changed very much since having Adam, they’ve actually grown and evolved.  Feelings of losing myself as a person, losing my independence, suddenly being thrown into this huge amass of responsibility.  Since falling pregnant and becoming a parent all I’ve wanted was to shake those feelings!  I didn’t want those feelings anymore but I’m learning to embrace them.  I went from being an independent working professional, showered and dressed every morning and not smelling of congealed breast milk to barely getting a second to breathe, let alone eat or sleep and constantly rocking the messy bun with added grease and it was a shock to the system to say the least.

So naturally I’ve gone on a very long soul searching journey whilst riding the motherhood train and I seem to finally be finding my feet.  Being on maternity leave meant I had lots of free time on my hands (in between the sleepless nights and cluster feeds) to work on finding me again.  It took a while but I realised I could be me whilst still being Mum.  I rekindled my love for writing but also found a new passion for photography and with Instagram being a visual platform, that is naturally where all of my efforts have been spent recently.  If you haven’t found me on my blog, it’s most likely I’ve been on Instagram, Liking, Commenting and creating a bit of magic for my feed but I’ve also been creating lots of useful Instagram related content for my wonderful friend Jodine and her new venture Brand Influencers UK.

Instagram has fast become my little obsession but I am by no means an expert.  I do enjoy learning the inner workings of Instagram and as well as following the works of Sara Tasker, I am partial to spending my spare time learning about what works for Instagram and what doesn’t and I love shouting about it from the rooftops but for some reason I just don’t put my own knowledge into practice.

My downfall when it comes to Instagram or anything for that matter, is that I fail to practice what I preach.  I know what works and what gains traction but I rarely find the time or energy to put those things in to practice. 2019 is the year I stop making those excuses and practice what I teach!

I have had a fair bit of time to soul search these last few weeks (that’s what being admitted to hospital twice in the space of a week does to you!) and I’ve realised that my whole purpose for blogging or Instagram blogging hasn’t changed. I still very much see it as an outlet for my mental health journey and a way of communicating feelings that I otherwise may not be able to express. But the way I convey my message has changed, I use photography and editing as a form of therapy and what better platform to do that on than Instagram right?!

So there is a little insight for you about my journey and how it has evolved over the past year or so for all the new followers who have found their way to me through Instagram and for those that have been there from the start. I’m still learning and growing, and I don’t claim to be an expert but I now where my passions lie, I know what makes me ME again.

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Helpful Thinking for Anxiety…

As some of you may know, when I took my break from work I vowed to get a better handle on my anxiety before even attempting to go through that all over again.

Those with anxiety, or any other mental health issue for that matter, will know that you don’t just wake up one morning and be ‘cured’ of those harmful thoughts or depressive feelings.  You can’t just pop a pill or wrap a bandage around it and hope that all will be better in a few hours because these thoughts come from deep within you, sometimes they are deep rooted and have grown with you for years and attempting to fix those thoughts take a lot of time and effort.

Since starting therapy I’ve been working on a few techniques with my therapist and nothing has helped me more than keeping a ‘Helpful Thinking Diary’.  When I first learnt what this was and how it worked I thought NOPE!! That wont work for me.  I was very used to avoiding all negative or anxious thoughts until they suffocated me and then it was just too much to handle!  Like an overwhelming surge or emotions and I’d end up drowning in them.  I’ve learnt that burying my head in the sand until i’m choking on it just wasn’t good for anybody and it wasn’t resolving anything, just adding to the many many layers of worries and fears and it did come to a point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

Now I feel like before I continue I should disclaim a few things, I have no formal qualifications in therapy or mental health.  I did not develop these techniques and am not associated with any persons or corporations that have developed them.   That being said I am somebody who has suffered with a lot of issues on the mental health spectrum, and I know what works for me and what doesn’t. This is something that I have tried in various forms and it has been really helpful for me and my catastrophic way of thinking and when I find a technique that works for me I literally want to shout about it from the rooftops.  If this helps just one other person then it is totally worth speaking about it openly.

I started by getting a small notebook, something lightweight and small enough to throw into my handbag anytime and a pen.  If you love your stationary as much as me this can be a part of the therapy, the beginning of learning to manage your detrimental thought and worries.  Make it a positive treat, a nice little bit of self care that you don’t have to feel bad or guilty about.  This little mode of thrashing out your anxieties will help you feel so much better in the long run so it’s so worth it!  I did consider doing this on my phone just in the notes section and in an age of constant screen stimulation this could be what works for some people but I wanted to step away from the phone a bit.  It’s so easy to be distracted by messages and social media notifications while you’re trying to put yourself in a different mindset and I know that if it was me, I’d end up replying to messages or checking my Instagram notifications and the entire task would be thrown out of the window.

So once you have your vessel, begin filling it with helpful positive things.  Take one of your worries and centre it on your page and once you have your worry begin constructing your branches.  One should say ‘whats the worst that could happen?’ and the other ‘Whats the best that could happen?’

Now break down each main branch further, for each scenario ask yourself ‘what past experiences prove these points?’ For example lets say your fear is your child being harmed if you go out.  The worst that could ever happen is that serious harm comes to your child while you’re out.  But the best is that you go out, achieve whatever you needed to achieve while you’re out and have a lovely day with your child, they get to build their social skills and you get those shoes you’ve been eyeing up all month.

Breaking those two scenarios up further, What does past experience tell you about your fear?  You have been out many times with your little one and thankfully they have come to absolutely no harm therefore the likelihood of it happening is very small.  Some may argue that it is is still a possibility for your fear to come true but break that down further.  Harm could come to anybody at any time, My little boy has more bumps and bruises occuring at home than anywhere else but I would never refuse to bring him home because of the fear he may come to harm.  Past experiences show you that when you have left the house with your little one no harm has come to them but they have interacted with nature, their surroundings, strangers in the street.  They’ve gotten some fresh air and maybe they’ve napped better after they’ve been out? So past experiences show you that it is beneficial to leave the house with your little one.

This is obviously a scenario that I’ve invented to show how, by breaking up the best and worst scenarios you can assist your mind to think more positively.  I’ve used this technique a few times recently and found it so helpful I just had to come on here and write about it

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