Post Comment Love 31st May - 2nd June

Welcome to another Post Comment Love, a linky hosted by myself and Stephanie where we welcome all bloggers, all topics, to share with others right here. We look forward to reading the different types of posts every week - what have you got in store for us?

I've had the boys at home this week, which means everything is crazy. The house looks like a toy tornado has rushed through and left chaos in its wake. My routine is messed up, the boys haven't got up before 7am all week and I'm looking forward to getting back to our normal routine.

Not that it hasn't been good having them at home. We planned a few outings into the week around Hubby's work and we managed to go out for a meal or two too. Once the boys are back at school that's it for about 7 weeks. Then it will be summer and I have no idea what we'll do then - but at least I have 7 weeks to think about it!

Just a quick update from me this week as I've got a mountain of washing to do before Monday and LP wants snacks every 5 minutes!

What have you been up to this week?

Blogger Showcase Benjamin from Grow With Less and French Together

Who are you?

I'm Benjamin, a 26-year-old Frenchman living in London. My hobbies include drinking oolong and white tea and reading fantasy books such as Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I also enjoy walking around new cities and spent 7 months teaching French in South Korea. I'm also the founder of a little marketing blog called Grow With Less and of a not so little language-learning blog called French Together.

How did you discover blogging?

I have always wanted to have a website and having an audience has always been a dream of mine. I started with a terrible website full of horrible Flash games back when I was 14 and then tried to launch lots of different websites. My first blog was Parlons Allemand, a now long gone blog helping French speakers learn German. Not an easy task! 

Why did you start blogging?

I created my first blog because I wanted to motivate myself to learn German by sharing my journey with others. The goal was also to get a following but I wasn't really considering myself a blogger at the time. I then decided to try to make blogging my career and started French Together, a blog helping English speakers learn French. This was far more successful and it ended up becoming my full-time job.

What do you find most challenging?

The lack of feedback makes blogging frustrating at times. It's tough to publish a post I spent hours writing and not know what people think. Do they love it? Is it actually helpful? That's why I find working with other bloggers so important. The road to blogging success can be lonely, sharing the journey with other people helps me stay motivated.

What is your favourite topic to write about?

I love sharing new ideas and mindsets. Articles in which I share my unique perspective on things are often my favourites because they allow me to fully express myself and make a difference. This includes busting myths or showing people that they don't need to pretend to be someone they are not to succeed. 

Are you blogging for fun or do you have goals?

I'm a full-time blogger and blogging is my only source of income so my goal is obviously to earn money but I couldn't imagine doing it if I wasn't interested in the topics I write about. In fact, I regularly publish articles on topics I really want to write about knowing full well that they won't get lots of visitors. I would say my main goal is to share actionable tips and solve my readers' problems. 

What's your favourite thing about blogging?

There is nothing I find more rewarding than getting a message from someone telling me I helped them. Earlier, I wrote that blogging can be lonely, especially at the beginning, but knowing what I write makes a difference makes it worth it. I also love sharing my ideas and genuinely enjoy writing. 

Have you ever attended a blogging conference and if so, what did you think?

I never attended a blogging conference per se but I did meet other bloggers at language-learning conferences such as the Polyglot Conference. Meeting other bloggers was great because I could see they truly care about their job and the content they create. For most bloggers, blogging isn't just a way to make money or become famous, it's a way of sharing their thoughts on topics they genuinely care about. It's also an awesome opportunity to discuss topics my friends don't necessarily care about or understand such as SEO, marketing and copywriting.

What are your three best posts:

Funnily enough, my best posts are not necessarily the most popular ones. They are often more mindset-oriented. 

Describe yourself in 3 words:

Curious tea-drinking dreamer. 

Are you a tea and biscuit or coffee and cake person?

Tea is my everyday drink, it keeps me focused and makes everything better but I also enjoy drinking the occasional latte. And cakes...Well, I love them but I try to only eat cakes during the weekend when I go to a coffee shop so I don't get addicted :).

What's your idea of the perfect night out?

In a quiet restaurant talking about random topics with my wife or some friends or walking around an unknown city at night :). 

And the perfect night in?

Drinking tea and watching a movie or TV series with my wife. Reading a book I can't put down or hosting a dinner party for some friends. 

What would your best friend/OH/mum or kids say is your best quality?

My listening skills. I have been told I'm great at offering constructive feedback and making people feel better.

Connect with Benjamin

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Benjamin, I love your 3-word description of yourself! Feel free to grab our featured badge and display it ever-so-proudly on your blog.

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Each week you'll be able to link up from either of our sites and between us Stephanie and I will comment on every post linked.

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Thank you for popping by.

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London With The Little Ones: 10 Fantastic Activities For All The Family

Quick question: what’s the best city in the world? In the words of Joey Tribbiani... it’s London baby! 

Every parent can appreciate the rewards of spending more time with their loved ones. Even days spent in the garden can be truly special, but there’s nothing quite like a day or two in the capital. Here are some of the best things to do during your stay. 

1| Tour A Sports Stadium 

London is a city packed with globally recognised sports venues. The list includes Wembley, Wimbledon, Lords, and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The youngsters might not be ready for the roar of a matchday, but they can enjoy a tour of the backstage areas. 

2| Create M&Ms 

A trip to Leicester Sq is likely to be on the agenda of any London day trip. M&M World is a great place to visit at any age, but the kids will be particularly excited by the chocolate. Why not create your own to commemorate the day in style? 

3| Tour Westminster 

Whether it’s riding an iconic red bus or crossing Waterloo Bridge on foot, the Westminster area is home to all the attractions your kids have read about. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye are just some of them. Buckingham Palace is close by too. 

4| Catch A Show 

London’s West End is a place of magic, and there are many family-friendly shows on offer. Whether it’s a matinee or evening performance, seeing one of the latest London shows will provide a memory that’s cherished forever. 

5| Picnic In The Park 

If you want to venture to the outskirts, Richmond Park is blessed with deer and other animals. Alternatively, Kew Gardens is an attraction that everyone should visit once. However, Hyde Park and Finsbury Park can be just as enjoyable. It’s the perfect way to take a break. 

6| Climb The O2 Arena 

A fun and achievable physical challenge followed by an incredible view from atop one of London’s most iconic venues, the O2 Climb has it all. The activity is open to everybody aged 8 and over while teens are sure to love it too. 

7| Get Some Education 

London is home to many art galleries, museums, and exhibitions. Some charge a small fee while others are free, but all of them are worthwhile. The right venues are particularly good if your son or daughter loves art, dinosaurs, or astrology. 

8| Attractions For Kids & Big Kids Alike 

The list of attractions aimed at kids but loved by adults is endless. The London Zoo, Aquarium, Warner Bros. Tour, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Madame Tussauds, and Shrek’s Adventure are just some of the options. Book in advance for cheaper tickets. 

9| Take A Boat Ride 

A relaxed boat ride is a great way to see the city from another perspective while many double up as restaurants. A Thames cruise is the most likely option, and they can be found at various points along the river. It’s fun for all the family. 

10| Be Entertained 

The street entertainers on the Southbank and at Covent Garden provide entertainment for all the family. There will also be some great photo opportunities. With plenty of shops nearby, you’ll be able to find the I Love LDN t-shirts that the kids will want to wear too. 

What it's like being a mum with boys

Whether you've just given birth to your first son or you have a toddler running around your house without that nappy on I can imagine you wondering what it's like being a mum with boys. Being a mum of two boys, aged 10 and 14, you could say I have a little experience in this area. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, so here's what it's like being a mum with boys.

Be prepared for being a mum with boys

  • Mess. All the toys. All the blankets. Every single thing they own. It will all get pulled out of boxes and poured onto the floor wherever they go. I've had a lounge carpet filled with Lego, building blocks, clothes, and more. My eldest used to line up his dinosaurs in one long line, the same with toy cars, and my youngest? He liked piles. Piles and piles of toys so that he could rummage through it all or spread the pile as wide and as far as it would go so he could see everything. But it's not just the toys. Even at 10 years old, and having been told about a billion(!) times LP still leaves clothes on the floor wherever he goes, and BP, at 14, leaves crumbs wherever he goes. As a mum with boys you need to be prepared for the mess!

What It's Like Being A Mum With Boys | The mess - you have to be able to deal with mess!
Dinosaurs - check. Animals - check. Blanket - check.

  • Toilet issues. When you're potty training you're prepared for pee on the floor. You expect there'll be accidents and for the most part it doesn't bother you. What you're not prepared for (or I wasn't anyway) is pee on the floor forever more. You have no idea how many times I go into the bathroom and get a wet sock because there's pee on the floor. And not just that, but pee on the seat too. It is one of those things that will always be there, whether they're 5 or 25. I repeatedly tell my boys to put the seat up and to pee into the bowl, but of course being a mum with boys my words go unheard. Or at least that's how it feels. No matter how many times I say it, I still leave the bathroom with a wet sock! I love Rita Templeton's post on this over on Scary Mommy - 10 things you'll learn when you're a mom to boys.

To wake up to the sound of my son saying 'mama, mama!' It's the best sound ever.

Miranda Kerr

  • All the laundry. My washing machine is always running. I've often wondered if I'm just washing clean clothes because as soon as I have washed and ironed something it ends up back in the laundry basket. Most of the time I think they just put the clothes into the basket without wearing them. My boys' bedroom floors are filled with clothes most days. When they're deciding what to wear and pull clothes from their wardrobe, if they decide to not wear something it ends up on the floor. When they get undressed at the end of the day the clothes get thrown onto the floor. My youngest throws clothes on the floor wherever he goes. I've found pants pushed down the side of his bed, socks behind his bedroom door, and clothes stuffed into a basket filled with dress-up clothes. It's a never-ending battle.

What It's Like Being A Mum With Boys | Bedrooms - filled with clothes, everywhere!
A sight that greeted me in my youngest's bedroom recently.

  • Safety. It's a constant concern. When my eldest was a toddler we had numerous visits to hospital with bumped heads. I lost count of the number of times I was called to school because he'd had a fall. One time they even had to take us to hospital because I was so worried and shocked that I couldn't drive. He was fine - but the shock really bothered me. And the funny thing is my eldest is the careful one! When my youngest was born I was prepared for more - but I had no idea the kind of things he would want to do. LP loves playing football, he enjoys climbing, and being outdoors. He's such an outdoorsy boy and I am constantly on edge. He hasn't had as many accidents as BP - so far - but he is definitely more of a dare-devil. I'm not sure how long my nerves will hold out!

  • Food. You need to have a stocked cupboard ALL THE TIME when you're a mum with boys. They eat constantly. When they come in from school they want a snack. After dinner they want something sweet. Mid-morning means mid-morning snack. If they've been outside playing they'll come in and ask for something to eat. And not just that - but as they grow they'll want to eat more! BP, now much taller than me, eats much more than me too. He likes a lot of food and I've found myself giving him more than me when I'm dishing up dinner. He has bigger meals when we go to fast-food places and at restaurants he no longer eats from the kids' menu. I am definitely starting to spend more on the weekly shopping, and my youngest is still only 10 years old - I daren't think about when he's older.

  • Smell. This doesn't usually start until they hit the tween years - but it soon escalates. I hate to say it, but entering my teen's bedroom is not an experience I enjoy. In fact I often hold my breath hoping to not have to breathe! My youngest has just started to be a bit smelly after playing football or being outside for a while. And his bedroom is heading the same way as his brother's. Unfortunately there's not a lot I can do about the smell - it's just them growing up - so I open the windows when I can and fill the room with air fresheners.

What It's Like Being A Mum With Boys | Better to smell flowers than your son's bedroom!
Fill the room with the scent of flowers!

  • Showering. This goes hand in hand with the smell. Reminding my boys to shower is becoming quite a pain. I never realised how much of an issue it would be when I became a mum. But believe me, when you're a mum with boys you will constantly have to remind your boys to have a shower. My eldest is the worst - it's like I've told him there's no internet for the rest of the month. He stomps about, grunts, and hopes I don't tell him to wash his hair - which I do more often than he'd like. LP isn't too bad, he asks to be reminded to have a shower when he's been at his football club and more often than not will just have a shower in a morning. I'm hoping this continues, because with everything else entailed in being a mum with boys making the shower reminders a little easier would be a welcome relief.

Being a mum with boys isn't all bad!

  • All the love. If there's one thing that being a mum with boys has taught me, it's to get used to being cuddled, hugged, sat on, and loved. Because boys love their mums. They love others too, but mum is their world. Even at 10 when LP hurts himself he wants a hug from me, and when BP is feeling down I know that I can hug him and make him feel a little better. 

  • Gaming. Now I know this only works if you're a gamer yourself, but why wouldn't you be? Anyway, boys love games, and I don't just mean console games. We play board games all the time, most weekends we'll play a board game of some sort. Of course the console games are useful too - because it means you can get stuff done while they play! 

What It's Like Being A Mum With Boys | Gaming can be a useful thing!
Gaming - I never thought I'd use it as a distraction tool!

  • Toys. Yes, I mentioned toys above but there are loads of interesting toys you get to play with when you're a mum with boys. From Lego and toy cars, to big Batman caves and figures, there are tons of toys you can enjoy playing with, with them. You get to see them creating things out of Lego, you get to watch them be creative in their play, and you get to help them learn all the car types when playing with their toy cars.

  • Protection. Whether you've fallen in the house or you're older and need some help opening a bottle, your boys will help you. They'll protect you from falling by holding you up, and they'll look after you. At 10 and 15 my boys are already taking care of me in ways I hadn't anticipated. Like BP, who is much taller than me, can grab things from the top shelf in the supermarket that I just wouldn't be able to reach. Or LP who, when I'm cooking in the kitchen, comes to ask if he can help in any way. I know I'll be safe with my boys around.

To be a mother of a son is one of the most important things you can do to change the world. Raise them to respect women, raise them to stand up for others, raise them to be kind.

Shannon L Alder

  • Science. Okay so this might go for girls too but being a mum with just boys I don't have any experience with girls. But my boys are scientists in the making. They love talking about science and discussing the different aspects. I'm not a scientist but have always found space really interesting, so we talk about it a lot. The Hubby is an intelligent man and read all sorts of stuff, and always knows interesting facts about science so he's always their go-to man when they want to talk. I love that we can talk about something they enjoy.

  • Long conversations. As the boys get older we're having longer conversations about more in-depth topics. Like science, they love discussing things and giving us their opinions about things. LP has been doing science experiments in school and loves talking about what he learned. And when BP gets talking about something he likes - like programming - you can't shut him up! I love that we can talk to our boys about all sorts of topics and they listen (when they're not being typical teens/tweens). We have long conversations during our many walks and cover a range of topics. 

What It's Like Being A Mum With Boys | Chatting with your children is amazing.

  • Bond with dad. I always had a strained relationship with my birth mother, and so when it came to my children I made an effort to understand what they're going through. I don't want our relationship to be strained. But at the same time I don't want their relationship with their dad to be this way either. I needn't have worried because the bond between father and son is amazing. For my boys there are particular things that show it. For LP it's bike riding, he loves to go on long bike rides with his dad. Not to mention that he'll climb on his dad's knee in a morning and just cuddle for a while. And at 10 years old I think it's pretty impressive that he'll still do this. BP likes programming, like I said above, and his dad is programmer. They can spend hours discussing BP's latest project or going through some troubles he's having. It's great to see them chatting and bonding.

What It's Like Being A Mum With Boys | Bonding, chatting, and science vs pee on the bathroom floor - which wins out?

I'm sure that some of these things are the same for mums with girls, but as a mum with boys I don't have any experience in that department. As another mum with boys I do love Geraldine's take on it, and in this post she explains Why I love being a mum of boys. Being a mum with boys is both good and bad but the good far outweighs the bad, even if it doesn't look like it on paper! 

Being a mum with boys is amazing in so many ways, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

How many things in the list have you experienced?

Get your boys to be creative, or just enjoy some puzzles, in the Fun with AniPals activity book!

What is self-care for stay-at-home mums?

As a stay-at-home mum you spend all your time looking after others, but how much time do you spend taking care of yourself? Self-care for stay-at-home mums always seems like one of those things you'll get done "one day" doesn't it? There's just so much other stuff to get done that self-care is probably last on your list. In fact, what is self-care for stay-at-home mums? Well that's why I'm here today, read on to find out how you can take care of yourself while still taking care of your family.

The importance of self-care for stay-at-home mums

When you spend your days taking care of others it's easy to just keep going, even when you don't feel like yourself. You fill the washing machine, wash the dishes, clean the countertops, and tidy up the kids toys without a thought for yourself. You make sure the kids are sent off to school with packed lunches (or sorted for school lunch), and you buy all the things you need to make a wonderful dinner for the family. And then you start on the daily chores.

What Is Self-Care For Stay-At-Home Mums? | Forget the chores and concentrate on yourself for a change.

But, making time for self-care - giving yourself a time out - does wonders. Just the fact that you're thinking about no one but yourself can give you some relief from stress. It may sound selfish, but sometimes that's what you need. No matter what activity you choose to do the act of giving yourself some time instantly makes you feel better. And what's more, if you plan the self-care time you can even get excited about it before hand.

Why not listen to a few of these TED talks to learn about the importance of self-care.

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

Benjamin Franklin

So why is self-care so important?

Gives you a break from stress - whether it's the kids driving you nuts, too much laundry to get through (hello washing mountain!), or simply the day-to-day tasks of being a stay-at-home mum, the stresses can get you down. By taking a break from all that you're giving yourself a little relief and stepping away from the stress. You will feel lighter, and maybe even be able to cope with more as a result.

Time alone - Do you ever get any time alone? When was the last time you read a book? Or had a bath uninterrupted? I'm lucky to go to the toilet without interruptions and my boys are 10 and 14 - if your kids are younger I can imagine the interruptions are numerous. Getting that time alone is so important, it can help you organise your thoughts, it helps you calm yourself. Just stepping away from the to-do list and the needs of everyone else, and focussing on self-care, will make you happier.

What Is Self-Care For Stay-At-Home Mums? | Sit and drink a coffee alone. Get some peace.

Soothe yourself - Self-care is another way to soothe yourself. You can use a hot bath and relax for a while, or book yourself a spa day and enjoy a massage. Whatever you choose to do it's that soothing feeling that will make you feel so much better. It's a healing activity and when you're bogged down with to-do-lists and kids' needs it can feel like the weight is too much. By giving yourself time to heal, soothing time, you will feel 100 times better.

Inner happiness - This isn't the happiness you feel when someone asks you if you're happy, this is the inner glow, that thing that makes you smile inside. Self-care gives you that. And as the saying goes "Happy mums raise happy kids" - so why not make yourself happy?

Self-care tips for stay-at-home mums

  • Set time aside. Carve out some time during the day for yourself. It could be 30 minutes to read a chapter of your book, or it could be just 5 minutes to enjoy a hot coffee, but make sure to get a little time for yourself. Let the family know the time is for yourself and you're not to be disturbed. Let yourself indulge. Like Katrina over at Rule This Roost says "schedule it and follow through with it".

  • Spend time with friends. If you have young kids and a Hubby who works it can be difficult to set time aside so why not spend time with friends instead? If they have kids too you could take the kids to the local play centre and enjoy a coffee and a chat while the kids play. Chatting to friends about things that are bothering you, or just having a little laugh, will make you feel better and you'll smile.

What Is Self-Care For Stay-At-Home Mums? | Meet up with friends for a laugh, and some self-care.

  • Plan an exercise routine. Get up an hour earlier than everyone else and go for a walk (or a run if you like!). Once the kids are in bed head to the gym and run off that stress. Or find a local yoga class and take the hour for yourself. Exercise is a great way of adding self-care into your day, and while it may feel weird to start with you really are looking after yourself by being active. I recently started attending a yoga class on a Saturday morning and I feel so much better for it. It's not helping with the weight loss but it definitely makes me feel good. 

  • Engage in non-baby/kids related things. When your life revolves around your kids you can end up losing yourself. You forget who you were before you had kids and it's difficult to think of things to do when you're not being "mum". That's why doing non-baby related things is important. If you like reading pick up a fiction book - I'm loving Solitude right now. Step outside of your own world and into the fictional world. Have a hobby you used to love? Get back to it. Remembering who you were before you had kids will make you happy - and give you the break you need.

If you are to be a light for those you love, you must find ways to nourish yourself, to feed your fire and keep it burning.

Seed & Song

  • Shower. It's amazing the difference a nice long shower can make. I will often stand under the hot water and smile as I let the water flow over me. There is something particularly enjoyable about a long shower and when you get out and put on your favourite perfume or spray too it makes you feel a whole lot better. Washing your hair, styling it even, will make you smile too.

  • Dress nicely. If you get up every day and wear pyjamas and a dressing gown all day you're going to start to feel bad. If you wear the same things every day you'll end up in a style rut and start to feel bad about yourself. Instead of getting yourself in a rut take a moment to look at your wardrobe and pull out an outfit you love. It doesn't matter if it's for "going out-out" or just for hanging around the house, if it makes you smile - wear it! I have a lovely friend, Renee from Mummy Style, who helped me recently and she told me something I'll never forget - "dress the body you have, right now". And if you're struggling to find anything you love in your wardrobe check out Renee's Mummy Style Experience which includes a Wardrobe Cleanse and then she'll send you a gorgeous lookbook where she suggests clothes you'll love. She helped me with my wardrobe recently and now I love getting dressed every day - I even bought a new dress that I'll actually wear!

What Is Self-Care For Stay-At-Home Mums? | When was the last time you went shopping?
When was the last time you went shopping?

  • Resist the urge to clean. I know the feeling, you're sitting on the sofa having just finished your coffee and you're thinking "I really ought to vacuum the carpet" or "there's a load of laundry that needs doing". Then you get up and get on with the chores, forgetting you're supposed to be taking care of yourself. Self-care is about taking care of YOU, not making sure the cleaning has been done. Do your best to ignore the cleaning and enjoy a little time for yourself.

  • Don't feel guilty. This is one of the hardest things to master, especially when you're new to taking time for self-care. As a stay-at-home mum taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your family. Having a shower is not something you should feel guilty about. Wanting to read a book is not something you should feel guilty about. And wanting to enjoy a hot coffee in a morning is definitely not something you should feel guilty about. Allow yourself that time - guilt free.

What Is Self-Care For Stay-At-Home Mums? | Self-care - not something we ever think about, but maybe you should.

Self-care for stay-at-home mums is just as important as taking care of your family and getting the household chores done. Isn't it about time you scheduled time for self-care, the same as you do for the chores?

How would you spend your self-care time?

Become an Organised Mama and you'll have time for all the self-care you want! Grab the Organised Mama Pack, it has chores lists, a daily planner, and even a chores list for your kids (for you to fill in).