Juggling the Daily Circus

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Good evening lovely people!
In my life here are two questions I get asked time and time again. In fact I am fairly sure I have reached a stage of my life where 80% of my adult conversations are about these two topics. 

Do you really stitch everything by hand?


How do you find the time!?

The answers are easy "YES! can you not see that I have more plasters on my hands than fingers?" and "Honestly I  haven't got a clue" but they don't tell the full story. They are the answers I give to avoid wasting my rare precious adult conversations. (If you are at home with small children I am sure you will understand what I mean when I say adult conversations, you know the sort that don't involve cbeebies and dinosaurs). But they don't give the whole story.
Yes I really do stitch everything by hand, yes I am aware there are machines that could do it 100 times faster but then it would lose the magic. 
And as for juggling our daily circus. I have become incredibly productive in the tiny moments of calm every day. Girls eating breakfast? Right I wrap parcels. Girls happily playing lego together? Right grab a hoop. I always have work ready and waiting to be picked up at a seconds notice because when your life revolves around the constant demands of two quite highly strung little ladies you never know when those moments of peace are going to come. I cannot afford to waste those moments getting something ready to make as you can guarantee by the time I have someone will need me.
As much fun as it would be to confess that I am in fact Superwoman or I have mastered the mystery of time travel that just isn't true. Pixiecraft provides a significant amount of our family income so I HAVE to make it work. My girls will only be young once and for me, being there with them is vital. Home educating, is extremely important to our ethos as a family and so we fit a lot of our lives around that, including me being at home with the girls 24/7. These are the most important parts of our life and everything else has to bend to fit it.
Now that is not to say our life isn't with difficulty or that we live in a little blissful world, learning together and making beautiful things every day. We have minimal family support due to many complications so most the time it is just us here holding down the fort. My house is not as clean as I would like it to be, our diet needs much improvement . Sacrifices are made, money is tight and sometimes I worry how we will keep us above water. Sleep is often pushed aside to catch up on work. Being together all the time tests all our patience at times but we get by and for the most part it works. We try to accept the negative parts for what they are and if they become overwhelming and creep into our happiness it's usually time for a pizza and a decent nights sleep!
Do no underestimate the strain working from home when you have a family puts on you all. We constantly get comments such as "It must be lovely to stay home all day and play" as though I sit around drinking tea whilst my children skip around merrily in their ironed clothes eating nothing but salad. Some days our house is so chaotic I wonder why the neighbours have not yet called the police to do a welfare check. Our home is filled with love and laughter (and a endless supply of biscuits) and that helps but there is nothing like a bit of time away to bring you back refreshed! I try to go for a short walk in the evening when I can just to bring me to a point of being a functioning human.
As it is Autism Awareness week it seems wrong not to acknowledge the part this plays in our life. Autism changes everything for us. Sometimes it brings magic and amazing joy and sometimes it is so intense it seems impossible to get through the day. 
I am sure if we lived in a world where waiting lists weren't years long and support was next to non-existent that would make things easier but we just do the best we can with what we have.
In the home educating world particularly we have on several occasions encountered a real negativity towards labelling children as "Autistic". Although I can see why people may think that as I do see there are some negative connotations attached to the word but I truly believe that is something that can be changed with discussion and awareness. The world is full of labels, whether we acknowledge them or not they are there. Labels are just a way of helping us identify and understand, they create bonds and communities which can be a real source of support in the more difficult time. I recently read this wonderful piece about Positive Traits which I wish I could make everyone read. 
Our days can be chaotic or peaceful. We take each day as it comes and do our best with what we have. 

Here are my top tips for juggling business and family life:

  1.  Seize the moments of "inbetween"
    Those small gaps in the day can be wasted so easily or filled with small, productive taks
  2. List your priorities
    Base your life are what you NEED to get done and what is most important to your happiness
  3. Breathe!
    Take regular breaks, I know, I know it's hard when you have kids. But an hours walk alone brings you back refreshed and more productive than before.
  4. Get organised
    Keep a list of everything that needs doing in order ideally. Once it's written down and visual it's easier to keep track of where you are. That especially helps when you have baby brain (which I still have 4 years later!)
  5. Lego
    Find something that your kids adore. Something that sucks them in and it's okay to let them play alone for a while! We taught our girls from being tiny that I cannot be with them playing all of the time as I have to work. It's second nature now and at 2 and 4 they can entertain themselves wonderfully!
  6. Find your rhythm
    For some families, they need routine to function so work out your routine and make it fit. For us we go with the flow some days I work intensively all day (and night!) and other days I barely even pick up a needle and we play all day. It balances out for us in the end.
    You cannot do it all. Don't aim for it, it's impossible and depressing. Just focus on doing enough, and if you can't even do that today okay. Grab a cake, write a list and tomorrow try again. 
I hope you all have a lovely (and productive!) long weekend.

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  • Louise Collis on

    I’m even more in awe of you than before I read about your life and I know you wouldn’t want people feeling sorry for you as it sounds like you just get on with it and enjoy. I too work from home and have people thinking you’re putting your feet up watching This Morning. I actually think it’s harder working from home as you have to be much more disciplined as you don’t have a set time to work. Your blog really made me feel better about my house as it is organised chaos. We have three boys ages 13 9 and 6 and it has got so much easier as they’ve got older. I feel like I’m constantly having to live up to my sister in law whose houses are always immaculate and feel the constant negativity from the mother in law. Luckily we don’t see much of them and can live how we want without the critical eye. I do keep trying to remind myself I’ve always been like this despite my mum being immaculately tidy and I very much doubt I’m going to change so f##k everyone else.
    To finish…. I adore your work and thank you for your honesty, it makes us all feel better in this world of shaming xx

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