Tag Archives: mums

A Super Summer Family Evening at Whipsnade’s Sunset Safari

Cheetahs, peacocks and zebras, oh my! Yes, it was that kind of evening at Whipsnade’s annual Sunset Safari…and those were just the high-flying aerial, acrobatic team feats. IMG_5120

Although there was a mild breeze, the weather was thoroughly cooperating for what is one of ZSL’s nicest family summer evening’s out. The far-reaching skies were ranging from reds, to yellows, to lavender and as the sun was setting over the Chiltern Hills you could feel the zoo come alive in ways that aren’t regularly experienced on your average day out.

It was a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the Whipsnade gates after closing time and see the zoo looking nothing like it normally does. As soon as you get past the entrance, you’re immediately drawn to the subtle music of chilled beats and the multi-coloured beanbag beds perfectly placed around the acrobatic apparatus…clearly where part of the evening’s bendy performers would amaze and delight.

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Intermingled between the aerial performances, there were hula-hooping leopards and stilt-walking peacocks strutting their stuff, mariachis bringing the sounds of Mexico as well as the entrancing steel drumming man. The variation of music throughout the evening kept the parents energetically relaxed and the kids happily dancing past their usual bedtime routine.

To add to the atmosphere there was plenty of food and drink to keep you satiated and interested: Pizza, Mexican, Thai, and of course the standard of hot dogs and burgers were all on offer. This and the added bar options make for a lovely evening out.

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Once fed and relaxed it was time to tour the zoo animals, after-hours. You can tour at your own pace, lookout for the zoo’s nocturnal animals, listen to talks, learn about conservation, and even pretend you’re a zoo vet for a moment.

All in all, it was a super summer sunset safari evening and one to look forward to on the calendar each year.

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Guest Post: Are “Running Clubs” Just for Professionals?

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Everyone’s heard of their local running club, or has that one person on Facebook who seems to be forever running marathons up and down the country; but are running clubs just for seasoned pros, or can anyone get involved?

We think the latter – the more people who get fit and active the better! And St Albans Half Marathon agree. Race Director, Katie Foweraker, says “We have over 6500 people taking part in our event each year, and the majority of them have never run a Half Marathon before! We are a community event and so our focus is on getting everyone in the area active and putting on a fun-filled community event to raise money for local charities”.

“We got some feedback after last years event that many women wanted to participate but just couldn’t get into running. The intention was there, but they didn’t know how to start, where to run or how to progress past a 60 second jog”.

Following this, St Albans Half Marathon started a Ladies’ only running group, Athena. About to launch their Spring Groups, which will be the second cohort since they started in January this year, Athena meets throughout the week with trained leaders to help the ladies progress reach their running goals.

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“The Spring Groups are a perfect time to start.” Says Katie “We will take the Athena ladies right up to the St Albans Half Marathon on 12th June 2016, where they can join ‘Team Athena’ in any of the races and reach the finish line together with their new found friends!”

The St Albans Half Marathon also has a Walking Half Marathon and 1.5k Fun Run so there’s something for everyone. And with a free ice lolly at the finish line and Athena ladies at your side, you will be smiling to the finish line!

As it’s a big community event, there will also be food and drink, children’s sport activities, face painting, arts and crafts plus inflatable fun, so you’re sure to have a great day, enjoying the sunshine and being active with the family!

Why not come along and get involved? Visit www.stalbanshalfmarathon.co.uk for more information on St Albans Half Marathon and Athena. Or if you’re not local, why not start your own beginners running group?! Just gather a few friends and set off with a St Albans Half Race as your motivational goal. Remember – a little run is better than no run!

“Be that person on Facebook sharing your finish line photo with your ice lolly in one hand and your medal in the other – you can do it!”

If you’d like to run the St. Albans Half Marathon then use code MUMSNET for 10% off all races – valid for the first 50 people only!

Post written by St. Albans Half Marathon staff writer.

 

 

Five Tips for Planning a Business on Maternity Leave

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Lindsey Fish is the founder of Mums Enterprise Roadshow. The  idea was born from her own experiences of becoming a mum and launching her own corporate event management agency, Little Fish Event Management Ltd instead of returning as a Marketing Manager in the city after maternity leave. Here are her five top tips for planning a business while on your maternity leave:

  1. Numbers and ££ – look at all your options

This is all about how much money you need to make to survive, to pay your bills and I would suggested doing the maths for every scenario.  About 5-6 months into my maternity leave I started to do the maths.  How much money would it be to a) return to work b) return for 3 or 4 days c) get a local part-time job out of the city d) what about being self-employed?

After all my calculations were done it ended up looking like I would be working my socks off and it just wouldn’t be worth it.  I’d have to put Molly into childcare from 7-7 and after all other bills were paid I would be left with only £600 of my own from quite a nice salary, it would be even less if I could my days down to 4.  So that was when I seriously started looking into working for myself and I had my target which was to earn this £600 per month which was totally achievable.

  1. Write thoughts on paper

An idea has to start somewhere and the first thing to do is to get it from being a thought or an idea and put it onto paper.  This could be in whatever form you want.  A diary, a blog, just a scrap bit of paper with notes.  Whatever it takes to get your idea somewhere safe, to where the idea can be curated and nurtured.

You may have one idea or you may have 50.  Put them down in a way you can clearly identify each one, clearly understand the train of thought so that it gives you something to work with.  Nobody else has to read this, you can swear, scribble, include stick-men or anything else which just gets the idea out of your head.  This is the time to write down your business ideas no matter how silly or daft to anybody else you’d think they are, so no holding back.

All of a sudden it all becomes more viable, you get a feeing that it could actually amount to something.

  1. Write your business plan

So now you are ready to seriously think about your business plans.  It’s time write up your business ideas again but this time in a much more structured way and other people may see this one.  There are lots of places you can find Business Plan templates from, Virgin Start-up have a lot of helpful resources including business plan templates.

Writing a business plan makes you think, it includes every step for you to actually create a viable business and it will form the basis of everything which happens next.  Take it seriously and complete every step.  Even the steps which you dislike.

As I am a marketer I actually also completed a Marketing Audit and Marketing Plan first as for me that helped create the vision of my business and I was comfortable with writing those plans and doing that research.  I then moved onto my business plan which was something I hadn’t done before so was less confident about.

Remember business plans are working documents and will change and be adapted as you go, so don’t worry if there are gaps to begin with.

A really important part of this step is figuring out how much money you need to actually start the business and how long you need before you need to start to make money to carry on.  I started Little Fish with only two months maternity salary so everything was done on shoestring.  I only spent around £300 in my website and my brother is a graphic designer designer who did my logo and brand colours for me (before Lucy became my business partner).  I only had two months after launching to secure a client else I may have had to consider looking for a ‘real job’.  Thank fully I landed my first client job in that 2 months….phew!

  1. Research

So there will be an element of research in your business plan but I wanted to put this as a separate point as it relates specifically to market research.  Testing your idea and your audience, and this really is crunch time.  Is there really an audience or any customers for you and your idea?

I emailed local small to medium companies in Hertfordshire the link to my anonymous survey.  (which I did via Surveymonkey).  It was only short and asked various questions with the last one being ‘Would you consider hiring an event management company like the one I am planning to launch for you own event needs?’ I had a 30% yes and 70% no from only a handful of respondents.  But to me 30% yes’ was enough to take the plunge.

For you this could be asking public in the streets, do the online survey, make a few calls.  I really would always, always test your idea in some shape or form (friends and family don’t count)  because without having an inkling or any feedback from your target audience, which you would have identified in your business plans, then you won’t know if you really have a viable business idea.

  1. Go for it

If you have the answers you need and are confident there is a market and space for you in it.  You have done the planning, you know what it is going to cost you to get going. Then go for it.  Don’t hesitate, don’t sit on the idea for weeks on end.  Make a decision and go for it – start putting the wheels in motion.   My to-do list after I had made my decision looked like this:

  1. Decide on a company name
  2. Write up my brand mission, vision and personality
  3. Brief my brother on my brand so he could create the logo and brand colours
  4. Start to write up a web wireframe and write the content for each page
  5. Start to write ‘content’ for my website which I would use to promote the website (help, tips and blogs)
  6. Set up a target sales list of the companies I wanted to target to sell too
  7. Start to compile a press list of target press I would send my launch press release too
  8. Create a sales presentation so I have something to take to meeting or send potential clients

It goes on…but you get the idea.  To me this is and was all really fun stuff and it took me only a matter of 1-2 months to get it all done.

So there you have it

I launched Little Fish Event Management on 2nd June 2014.  I started planning the Mums Enterprise Roadshows in March 2015 and I went through all of these steps before launching either of my ideas.

I am by no means a business expert but I think it always helps to share how others have done it and I hope sharing my way may help you in some small way if you are currently thinking about what to do after your maternity leave comes to an end.

Lastly…

If I could turn back the clock I would have certainly spoke to an accountant before setting up my business.  I wish I had set up as a limited company right away, I setup in my first year as a Sole Trader which meant all the revenue I generated didn’t belong to my business.  I have since set up as a limited company but it feels like that first year effort has been lost as Little Fish didn’t own that turnover.  I am glad I did start on the VAT flat rate scheme from the get go.  These are both things an accountant could have helped me with.  Our event partner is My Accountant Friend but of course there are many out there.

The Mums Enterprise Roadshow is an event offering ambitious mums services, advice and opportunities whether you are wanting to re-train or refresh your skills, find more flexible work, start or grow an existing business.

Each event will be host to over 30 exhibiting companies at each, all of whom will be offering advice, services, work or business opportunities. There will be a selection of short 30 minute workshops for you to choose to attend along with live case studies and a Q&A panel from successful women who have been there and done it.  Earlybird tickets are £35 plus booking fee and are on sale now.  Tickets includes all your refreshments, buffet working lunch, access all areas, a comprehensive showguide and an awesome goody bag.

When & Where?

*Thursday, 9 June 2016 
Moorpark Mansion,
Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
*Saturday, 18 June 2016
Paradise Wildlife park
Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

Attendance fee: Introductory offer of £35.00 per person plus booking fee.
All day refreshments, lunch, access all areas and goody bag

Purchase tickets, here: http://www.mumsenterprise.events/tickets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother’s Story : Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week 5-11th October 2015

            I have a son, Theo, who is a funny, grumpy, cheeky and – though I say it myself – good-looking teenager. He also has cerebral palsy. When he was born, he weighed 900 grammes, he needed a ventilator to keep him breathing, he was profoundly deaf and had significant brain damage causing quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy. In addition, his lungs were so weak, he suffered four near-fatal collapses in his first three years of life, requiring him to go back on a ventilator each time and finally to have major reconstructive surgery on his wind-pipe. In total, he spent nearly half of that first three years in intensive care. All in all, not what you’d call a great start in life.

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      Like many, though by no means all children with cerebral palsy, Theo was born premature: put simply, the more premature you are, the more likely it is that you will have cerebral palsy. Theo was born at 26 weeks gestation – that’s approximately 5.5 months after he was conceived. But since babies are now being kept alive from 23 weeks, far from the number of children with some form of CP decreasing, if anything, that number is going to increase with time.

When you’re told your child has a disability, no one comes to tell you about all the different therapies available and the different educational options – or to advise you which to pursue: it’s up to you as a parent to find out.

I don’t think I’d ever even met someone with cerebral palsy. It was pretty much the limit of my knowledge that SCOPE is the national charity for cerebral palsy, so that’s where I started. It was SCOPE who told me about Conductive Education and Scope who told me that the only place offering it as a full educational programme in Central London was The London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy, then called the Hornsey Trust.

I signed up for a first session with a conductor at the centre soon after Theo was first discharged from hospital – about 6 months after he was born. I remember the conductor lying my tiny motionless baby on a mat on a wooden plinth and saying to him “I lift my right arm up, up, up.” Theo looked at her but made no response. “I push my left leg down down down.” No response. “I lift up my head and look at my Mummy.” Nothing. “Right”, said the conductor, “then we’ll just have to do it together”. And as she repeated each instruction, she began to move his limbs and head, so that he experienced the sensation of movement and the sense of control over that movement.

I went back, week after week, for that individual session. I got to know all the songs, all the chants, the order of all the bodily movements. Gradually, very very slowly, something began to happen: Theo started to initiate some movement. At first it was tiny: the flicker of a muscle. Then it was a slight rise of an arm. Then a tiny bend of a leg. Eventually, a struggling, triumphant attempt at a roll.

By this time, we’d joined a weekly Parent and Child session with two or three other babies at Hornsey. For a couple of hours on a Tuesday morning, our children would go through a lying, crawling, walking and sitting programme and we as parents would learn how best to handle them. “I keep my feet flat, flat, flat. I keep my back straight and I keep my head in the middle” we would all chant, willing them to demonstrate. That was when I learnt quite how determined Theo really is – and how much competition motivates him.

From there Theo moved to a part-time place in the nursery and then finally a full time place. Over the years at LCCCP, I watched him grow stronger and more able by the day. But if I’ve given the impression conductive education is JUST a physical programme, I’ve way undersold it. Throughout all the years there, Theo was always incredibly keen to go to school and keen to learn and I can’t help thinking this is because what conductive education taught him, right from those earliest times, is that, despite a very significant disability, he could LEARN. For children like Theo, learning that you CAN control your body is key to them learning other things – and that’s why conductive education weaves so seemlessly into the National Curriculum. By dint of the extraordinarily close individual attention the London Centre gives children and the huge amount of positive feedback, they do maximise their functional independence. But they ALSO fulfil their academic potential and develop a real love of learning. And for all those reasons, I shall be eternally grateful to the highly expert and dedicated team who educated my son there.

Theo is not going to run a marathon; he’s never even going to walk independently, but the progress he HAS made is extraordinary given his starting point in life. He’s just completed his first work experience at Tesco; he’s on the school council; he goes biking and swimming twice a week; he goes to music school on a Saturday and sings in a choir; he loves water rides and theme parks; he can read, he has computer skills which far outstrip mine, he’s continent, he can feed himself; and – most significant for a child who was once thought unlikely to use much speech – he talks non-stop and has developed a fine line in asking awkward questions.

Each Summer, he goes on a two-week mainstream summer camp and is totally relaxed about not knowing anyone before he goes, including the people who have volunteered to be his personal carers. When he came back this year, he had at least four new best friends. I thought you might like to hear what the camp leaders wrote about him: “ Theo took part in every aspect of camp life: he cooked, built fires, collected water and always joined in campfire songs. He kept us laughing through the rainy days and was amazingly confident with staff and children alike . He’d often remind us just how much fun we were having by shouting “We’re having a giggle.”” I don’t really think you’d find many able-bodied 14 year olds with such confidence, let alone someone with Theo’s disabilities. Thanks to conductive education, what you now see with Theo is what you get: a happy, confident, capable child.

There are children with cerebral palsy who can and should be in mainstream education. But Theo is not one of them. Children like him, with their plethora of specific difficulties, really need the unique education that The London Centre offers: without it, they simply will never reach their potential. With it, the sky is the limit.

Catharine Seddon

HERTFORDSHIRE MUM RECEIVES SMALL BUSINESS GOVERNMENT BACKING

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Jenny, mum to three young children, has been living in Hertfordshire for around two years now. As most mums out there will know, life with children is hectic. The school run, pack lunches, dance clubs, football practice, homework and housework. It’s non-stop. Whilst none of us would change it for the world it’s nice if you can carve out a little piece of your life that is for you And that is what Jenny has done.

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Most people would look for a part-time job, something to simply get them out of the house for a few hours, but not Jenny. She took the brave decision to launch her own company ALEXI London – a new British Jewellery brand that celebrates the essence of femininity.

In a previous life she spent over 7 years traveling the Far East, Australia, the Balearics, Spain, Italy, USA and the Caribbean. Travelling has always been one of her passions and one that she was keen to fully explore before settling down to have children. Not only was it a lot of fun, but it has also helped her to develop ALEXI. Each country has had its impact on both the ethos of the company and the collections themselves.

ALEXI is based in a beautiful converted barn in Gaddesdon Row. After the various school and nursery drop-offs are complete, Jenny drives to the ALEXI office where for the rest of her day she can leave the baby wipes and snack packs to one side and, instead, deliberate over her Spring/Summer collection or over the next trade show to exhibit; and let’s face it enjoy a hot cup of tea!

Jenny is a firm believer in creating a good work life balance. She also knows first-hand that it can be difficult for women to be both a mother and have a career. That’s why she made the decision to offer flexible working to her employees. Pop by her office at 930 AM and it’s a hive of activity, pop by after 330 and you’re likely to find that half her team are out doing the school run.

So how is business going? 18 months in and business is going great. Sales are strong, the diary is booked up and Jenny was thrilled that ALEXI was selected for GrowthAccelerator – a government-backed service offering strategic support to businesses with the potential to improve and grow. Jenny believes in ALEXI but it was great to hear that the government scheme did too!

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OFFER: Free postage and packaging for Mumsnet

Jenny is a huge fan of Mumsnet and wants to thank them for the opportunity to tell mums in Hertfordshire about her new business. As a thank you to Mumsnet she would like to offer their followers free postage and packaging on any orders they place throughout March, when they quote “ForMum” at the online checkout at www.alexiaccessories.com before the end of March 2015.

Affordable glamour

There’s a world of glamour and fashion out there that women often want to be a part of, but find difficult within the constraints of juggling the pressures of everyday family life. Prices are honest and affordable and the range can be easily shopped through www.alexiaccessories.com So no need to battle the shops with children in tow. Jenny has everything she needs to take to take ALEXI to the next level. A fabulous brand, great products and strategic support through the GrowthAccelerator Scheme. But don’t take our word for it browse the latest collections for yourself.

Thank you Mumsnet for letting Jenny share her story.

To follow Jenny’s story:

www. facebook.com/AlexiAccessories and Twitter @alexijewellery

For more information please contact Jenny, Director and Founder of Alexi Accessories Ltd. on sales@alexiaccessories.com

For Marketing and PR queries please contact Clare Sidebottom clare@alexiaccessories.com

HERTS GOOD THINGS: Three Things to do this Weekend in Hertfordshire

I was thinking it might be nice to do a series of blog posts of ‘Herts Good Things’…It could be food, locations, things-to-do, etc. They won’t be posted all the time, but they’ll all be connected in that they’ll all be tried-and-true good things in Hertfordshire. If you all have any suggestions for some good things, let me know!

This said, Friday is here which brings a sigh of relief to many, but to many it also means the children are home, the family is together, the weather forecast is good, and we need to do something! So, will it be the same old thing you do locally every Saturday and Sunday or will you try something new?

Not sure if any of these Herts Good Things will be new for you and your family; but again, as the forecast for Hertfordshire is set to be pretty decent it might make sense to get out and about a bit. Get some last-of-the-summer warmer air before those autumnal walks (we’re also looking forward to) set-in. So, here’s my list for getting outdoors this weekend:

1. Walk in Wendover Woods:

We did this as a family a couple weekends ago and it was really fun. There are tons of trails for walking and cycling, a great little cafe, there was a lovely little craft market going on that weekend, a wonderful, mostly wooded, play area for kids of most ages, and best of all, a Gruffalo trail. We had so much fun spotting the characters until we finally caught our nemesis the mighty (amazingly carved) Gruffalo. The best part is it’s FREE, with the exception of parking (nominal).

More info here:

http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire/parks-playgrounds/283797-wendover-woods

2.  Heartwood Forest:

This is the largest new native forest in England. A great project and another great place for some fresh air and exercise. Parking is free, you can take your dogs, and it’s not a far jaunt from St. Albans to grab a nice lunch before or after.

More info here:

http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire/parks-playgrounds/284821-heartwood-forest

3.  Great British Sculpture Show at Hatfield House:

The show finishes at the end of September and I have to say I’ll miss it. We had a season’s pass and spent many summer days walking amongst the bronze, metal and stone sculptures placed throughout the vast Hatifeld House gardens. My children would run around, pretend they were the sculptures, and tire themselves out. Only for us to head to the lovely, albeit slightly pricey, cafe to re-charge and head to the adjacent play area and farm. I would also recommend checking out the actual house if you haven’t. It doesn’t take long to tour and it’s well worth the visit.

More info here:

http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire/exhibitions/158607-the-great-british-sculpture-show

Ok, so that’s it for this week…Check out some of these Herts Good Things with your family and enjoy your weekend.

Good news, right?

OK, monarchist or not, I think the anticipation of another royal baby is wonderful news. A baby is great news in itself, but one with all the pomp and circumstance following, even better. Especially when there is just so much evil going on in the world at the moment. It just something positive to think about. 

In between my days of caring for my kiddos and trying to work efficiently, I worry. Yes, I worry. I worry about the Ukraine. I worry about Iraq, Israel, Syria. I worry about Ebola. Worry, worry, worry. What kind of world are we bringing our children into? It scares me a little at times. We’re so lucky to be sitting here in little Britain, right? We could be one of those families in the Middle East…but then time passes, life happens, and we get back into the daily grind and forget about how great we have it and how thankful we should be every single day we rise.

So, remember, it’s a great day today. Today is all we’ve got. Make the best of it. The sun is shining and there are new beginnings; and there’s a new baby on the way! 

photo: courtesy of Daily Mail