Life of a Mum

Christmas Gift Guide

I’ve been busy looking for gifts for Dorothea- so thought I’d come up with a gift guide blog. Dot is nearly 4 at Christmas so that’s the age group these would be suitable for.

I’ve based this on the 4 gift rule- Something they want, need, wear, and read. It’s an easy way to teach your children that they can’t have everything they want.

This is a mix of things I’ll probably get her, or things she already has and loves that your little ones may love too.

I’ve tried to stick to the more ethical/eco brands or items from small businesses. Hope you enjoy.

Want- they’ve probably asked for similar

The perfect pram.

The Neo Vario from Bayer design is a Combi pram- so easily converts to a pushchair; it can also be set up child facing or world facing. Dorothea loves the swivel wheels, meaning it’s easy to manoeuvre and great to run with. You little one won’t be disappointed with this beauty

Playset of your favourite book

Dorothea loves ‘we are going on a bear hunt’ so she adores this linked play set from Small Eco steps – it’s a great way to make a story last longer. Other story playsets are available. Use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

Rope doll basket

Dorothea adores her babies- but doesn’t have anything like this- it’s such a reasonable price too.

https://www.nordicstork.com/collections/imaginative-play/products/rope-doll-basket

Need- these are my must haves for 3-4 year olds

Peg Doll

We love our Peg Dolls from Little Rainbow Play they can be made to order; so to look like your family, or your little ones favourite characters. Small enough to pop in your bag to amuse them at dinner, but a good chunky size for small hands. Great to support a small business too.

Balance board

A great investment is a Balance board- wonderful for all sorts of play. Dot loves hers to rock on, as a slide, or to grab a blanket and chill out on it.

Use ‘ivfninja’ for 10% discount Capikooa shop

Dorotheas favourite Doll

Dot loves her dolls- this is one of our faves. Dinkum dolls come in a diverse range of skin tones- you can also buy cute clothes and accessories. This would make a fab gift for any little one.

https://www.babyandthegang.co.uk/collections/dolls/products/olli-ella-dinkum-doll-sprout

Wear- our go-tos for an awesome wardrobe

Pigeon Organics

We love Pigeon Organics year after year they are one of our favourite brands. They wash and wear really well and the classic designs and fabrics will never go out of fashion.

Buy preloved

You can’t go wrong with good quality preloved; you get more for your money and you get to be smug for shunning fast fashion. I love preloved, as it means I save on half of Dots wardrobe, meaning I can splurge on new items from the brands I love.

My favourites are Peachy & Birdie and Kidclo give them a try.

Frugi at Small Eco Steps

We love Frugi’s values and always adore mixing up their bright colours and funky prints! For Christmas or parties their skater dresses are always a winner. Shop at Small Eco Steps and use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

Shoes from Colourful Soles

Don’t worry grandparents; you can grab a voucher so they can go for a fitting. Colourful Soles (based in Lutterworth) stock a wonderful range of brands and styles; we rarely leave the shop with just one pair. The experience for your little one is also just awesome; a colourful shop with toys and Peppa Pig on repeat- no stress here!

Read- our favourite books

Books by Joanna Hutchinson

If you love the rhymy style of Julia Donaldson with colourful and cute illustrations- then these are the books for you. Your little one will love the cute characters, such as Hettie the Yeti, and also love guessing the rhyming word. The tales are perfect for true story lovers- as talk about other favourite stories, and are a great length for bedtime. Books by Joanne Hutchinson

Personalised Christmas book

We love this stunning book from Personalised book shop – it has so many cute touches- you can make the character look just like your little one, add a photo and a message too. Use MMMAIVF20 for discount.

Usbourne Christmas books

Every year some of our favourite Christmas books are from Usborne books- this year is no different. Great story’s, activity books and sticker books Katrina’s reading corner is my distributor- mention ‘ivf ninja’ for discount.

I’d love to know if you chose my recommendations- please drop a comment below or tag me on Instagram @ivf.ninja

Guest Blogs, highlighton other fab ladies, Life of a Mum, Other fabulous ladies

Nicky Masson – A global force to be reckoned with (guest blog)

Interview and words by @chameleoninhighheels

When you speak to Nicky Masson, a friendly smile and inviting enthusiasm in her voice make you feel at ease immediately.  But there is also an air of calm collectednessabout her, a sense of empowering confidence that is infectious and inspiring. Nicky Masson is a business coach and mentor at Nicky Masson Global, helping individuals and businessesachieve their goals, get results and focus on a positive mindset.

I first met Nicky over four years ago at a local baby massage group where my little one had chosen to scream for the entirety of the course. We bonded over a shared determination to breast feed our babies and Nicky was giving supportive advice as a mum of two which I, as a first time mother was incredibly grateful for. 

We recently reconnected as part of Nicky’s exclusive Make It Happen membership program, which offers advice and coaching to new and existing entrepreneurs. I met her for coffee and flapjack to chat about her journey over the last 4 years, her business and life as a full time entrepreneur and mother.

When I ask Nicky how and why she embarked on her career as a business coach, I am taken aback by her candid honesty.  Nicky describes 2016 a key transitional stage in her life.  She got made redundant from a job role she had known for many years.  In response to this, she set up her own network marketing business but failed to make significant progress.  “My fear and anxiety stopped me”, she smiles shyly. “I had so many ideas but I just couldn’t apply myself.” A chance meeting at a webinar introduced her to her mentor and has been working with him ever since.  “It was a catalyst toacknowledge that I had to work on myself and change.  Theway we act and behave is a mirror to what’s happening on the inside. I realised that, if I can achieve it, then I can help others to do the same.

Does she think being made redundant has shaped the way she approaches her own business?  Nicky is thoughtful with her response and I can tell this delves into some difficult memories.  “I left a good job to be a mother and returned to find it had been taken from me.  Instead I had to do menial tasks that gave me the feeling of being neither wanted nor skilled enough, all because I’d had two babies and worked part-time.”  Recalling my own experiences of returning to work after maternity leave, I can empathise with Nicky’s recollection. She also sums up the emotional side of employment as a new mum perfectly: “As a mother you are vulnerable and dealing with so many emotions.  Being given the feeling you are not good enough anymore makes you question everything.  In the end I just felt numb and went through the motions.” She laughs, but it doesn’t come from the heart. “Ironically, by treating me this way, my employer didn’t get the best out of me anymore either.” Nicky suffered from postnatal depression and anxiety, something she struggled to comprehend and combat.  “I didn’t understand what it was, why I felt the way I did.  It wasn’t a good time.”

Has this insight into darkness helped her in her own development and that of her clients?  Nicky nods passionately.  “Through my mentor and the coaching process I got answers to who I was.  I believe that personal development is incredibly important in any business, yet most people don’t get trained and furthered that way. Most companies only focus on knowledge and skills.  However, 85% of how you work is about your attitude. If you focus on the positives and embrace change, you will thrive.”

I am interested in how Nicky combines running her own successful and growing business with being a mother to two young children.  I mention that a recent study conducted by the universities of Manchester and Exeter showed that full-time working mothers with two children experiences significant stress levels that could, in the long term, be harmful to their health (Barr, 2019, The Independent). Does she have any tips for other mums? “The biggest thing is managing and separating your time.  It’s all about focus: If you focus on your work you will get things done and, in return, you will spend less time doing it.  Likewise, once you are with your family, that’s where your focus should be.”  
Does she ever experience mum guilt, I ask.  “Yes, of course.  It happens to all of us.  When we work we think of our kidsand during family time we may want to check emails.” Her words resonate as I recall my own guilt since the day I dropped my babies at nursery.  How does she cope with her own mum guilt these days?  “I am getting better”, Nicky smiles serenely.  “I have created a better environment for myself with my business and I can help others achieve the same”. 

I feel it’s time for my million-dollar question: Does she believe that women can have it all? Nicky’s response is immediate, firm and delivered with such conviction I want to close my notebook and sign up for whatever course she wants me to sign up in the future.  “Yes, without a doubt”, followed by a pause, and I am not quite sure if I need her to elaborate.  However, she has an explanation up her sleeve.  “Women in general deserve so much more credit in modern society.  We are the ones who do all the juggling and wear the different hats. We do it all.  The important thing, however, is that we have to believe that we can have it all – if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen.” I wonder if Nicky still has moments of doubt or if she has figured it all out.  She laughs. “I constantly work on myself.  There are still things that hold me back and,as with everyone’s road to success, it’s work in progress.”  

We leave the café over an hour after our official interview has finished, reminiscing and ponder over where we are now. Nicky’s achievements and proven strategies have intrigued me to interview and write about her, something our past selves would probably not have predicted. What I can predict, however, is that there is a lot I have already learnt from Nicky, and can’t wait to implement her strategies.

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