About Me

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Hi, I'm Lyndsey. I'm a 36 year old Mum from Wales. I have a Masters Degree in Marketing Communications and Public Relations and put it to good use in my work as a freelance Marketing & PR consultant. I also work part time as a fundraising coordinator for a Welsh charity which I absolutely love!! With two jobs, two children, two cats and a handsome man, lets just say I'm a busy lady. 
From 2006-2008, I wrote a column for the Denbighshire Free Press. I was so proud of the feedback I got for this, even the one angry ‘You Suck’ letter to the editor cheered me up no end; it showed that people took notice of what little ol’ me had to say. It’s good to know that people give a rat’s ass either way! So, succumbing to requests from my former fan club (ok, overstating there – readers who had nothing better to do on a Thursday afternoon) under the March 2014 archive you will find a selection of my early Free Press articles. I’d love to hear what you think on any of the subjects raised…you know, rat’s ass either way feedback ;-)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Why Supermums Eat Frogs

The first thing I learned with this seminar is pretty obvious; don’t expect to attend on time, a seminar on motherhood which starts at 9am.  After swearing at every car driving under 50mph for the entire 40 minute drive, I arrived at the car park at 9.15am and was met by a swarm of other women all wearing the same expression –pissed off. I deduced that these women were all mothers on the same course too. 

We stood as a collective around the parking meter, emptying out giant ‘mumbags’ to find purses and already becoming a support unit to each other.  A glamorous but particularly harassed looking woman asks if I have change for a fiver and I joke about how much we need this juggling motherhood advice to which she said “I’m the keynote speaker”.  Ohh… credible lady, she is obviously one of us!

I arrived in the seminar room and tried to shove the ‘Billy No Mates’ feeling to the back of my mind.  In my work, I regularly turn up to functions and events alone, so I did my usual tactic…head for a cuppa/bubbly/biscuit; whatever is on offer.  I passed comment to a nearby ‘Billy’ about how daft it is to run a seminar at 9am, her reply became a conversation starter for me with every the women for the rest of the day – “I am the organiser”.  I was so on a roll!!
So, having determined to avoid offending any other woman for at least the next hour, I found myself a seat near the front.  The harassed keynote speaker was introduced as Amanda Alexander from @coachingmums along with another speaker who’s name, I’m sorry to admit, I can’t remember. Mrs ‘Nameescapesme’ was first to present.  She had a series of charts, graphs and motivational quotes.  Perhaps she was nervous, and I don’t blame her as us mums can be an intimidating bunch; particularly when we are wearing our ‘Ok, go for it, tell me exactly how well you are coping with the is career v motherhood shit and how exactly I am failing -  I.. dare.. you’ faces.  Regardless, I don’t remember a thing that poor woman said.

Next up was Amanda and the first thing I thought was “Wow – how is it humanly possible to look that good in a tight dress like that after having kids?”  I visualised myself grabbing my bingo wings and a stapler…the rest of the picture was a bit gruesome and even in my fantasy, I still never achieved Madonna’esque biceps.  I was thankfully pulled back into reality by Amanda telling me to eat a frog.  Eat a frog!! I ain’t French! WTF?

Eat That Frog it turns out is a book by Brian Tracy.  In this book he tells us how to stop procrastinating in order to get more done in less time.  From this point, Amanda gave a series of scenarios about procrastination and the way in which us mums beat ourselves up in desperate attempts to seem superhuman.  With each scenario, I felt myself sink deeper into my chair as my jaw hung lower and lower.  Has this woman been covertly spying on me over the last decade?  How could she know that I don’t do ironing, but instead shove it in a cupboard / bottom of wardrobe out of sight until my bi-annual ‘I got nothing to wear’ freakout?  How could she know that everytime I am supposed to get something urgent done for work, I contemplate my strategies over a cup of tea - for an hour at least!?  How could she know that I have a complete inability to ask for help for fear of looking like I can’t cope?  This chick was freakin me out!

I shamefacedly looked around the room expecting all the other women to be all smug-looking at their achieving sanity, beauty, money, marriage and superhero status – just like ‘She-Rah’ on the podium.  What I saw instead was a full room of face-palm. The lady next to me leaned across and whispered “I haven’t done ironing in years”. My neighbour on the other-side then leaned in too “me either!  I dry it all flat on the radiator and then I don’t need to iron”.  Ohh, I felt a sisterhood brewing. “I iron in the morning, ontop of a towel, on the coffee table” I whispered back.  Silence. Their eyebrows in their hairline quickly leads me to think that I am apparently too ‘out-there’ for their sisterhood and I slink back into my chair and ‘Billy No Mates’ status.  Amanda reveals that she pays someone else to iron her clothes. “Rub it in why dontcha” I mumble as I reminisce about the days when I used to have an ironing skivvy…he won’t do it now we are divorced; petty git!       

Throughout the seminar, I picked up some great tips and some motivational mantras but most importantly, I discovered that I am not an utter failure when I find myself struggling, but instead I am a flippin ‘She-Rah’ too!  Me and all the other women in the room, as well as every other mum/businesswoman/wife/friend out there.  This seminar gave me perspective.  On a daily basis I organise my two kids’ daily school and social calendar, my own work (still hoping for a social calendar), hubby’s tasks, feeding everyone, shopping, caring for extended family, bills, friend’s dramas, housekeeping *cough*, exercise *cough & splutter* and a multitude of new and demanding tasks which crop up to interrupt my full day of beating myself up for not being the social, sexy cyborg that TV and magazines dictate that I should be…in heels and skinny jeans.  No wonder I feel like I’m losing the plot but yet, here I am, managing to achieve almost all of my to-do list almost every day.  I’m the bloomin Bionic Woman!  So, today I say “yay me”, even if I have just sent my kids to school in 3 day old crumpled clothes.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

She May Be Freezing - But She Is, Like, Totes Trendy!!

OK, so maybe I’m getting old but what’s with this thing teenagers have about wearing coats?  Or rather, not wearing them.  Yes I can hear the inner granny in me raging but baby it’s cold outside! Flaming freezing in fact!

Every morning I fling my daughters coat in her direction and then fling it at her again as she gets in the car, and again as she gets out of the car. She rolls her eyes, tuts, checks for teenage witnesses and then rolls it under her arm and stalks off.  Three days out of every five she has an excuse as to why its either lost, locked in a classroom, lent to a friend or forgotten at the park.  But I’m not giving up that easily. 

Two reasons here peoples…actually 3.  First – I paid a lot of money for that coat (yes, she has gone through 5 in the last year and a half), Second – I’m fed up of her getting poorly and then infecting me with her snotters resulting in me unfit for work & we both end up in the living room, listening to her victim sniffles from under a shared Day of Death duvet.  Third and most importantly – I am making a point.  Just because the other kids are stupid enough to troll around without coats, arms crossed round their chests and teeth chattering, doesn’t mean my child has to be stupid too!  I ain’t raising a kid devoid of common sense!  That’s the point but so far, it seems I am in fact raising the commonsenseless kid…I am losing the battle of wills. 

I point out boneheaded females on nights out who are wearing mini-dresses and surrounded by foggy breath mist and icicles on their heels. “See daughter dear – classic boneheads are going to get pneumonia” to which she says in dizzy teenage speak “I like her dress”.  Urgh..  I tell her about the time I caught pneumonia at the age of 10 because I refused to zip up my super trendy shell suit jacket (neon pink and baby blue circa 1990 thank you ;-) in a thunder storm so I wouldn’t look fat when it billowed in the wind.  She laughed and hit me with “Lols, I totes get it”.  What the hell does that mean?  What the heck language does this kid speak? I spent years insisting she pronounce her words properly “butter, not butah”  “Your not yer” and what do I get for the effort ten years on?? Some weird ass Los Angeles Manchester mutated accent which only mutters in text speak.
So, I’ve tried insistence. Failed.  I’ve tried buying the best, most ‘totes’ trendy coat. Failed. I’ve tried threats of both iPhone and child death. Epic fail.  People, I am open to suggestions...

Monday, 9 June 2014

Should All Schools Subscribe To ParentPay?

“Mum, don’t forget my lunch money” to which I reply “yep, don’t let me pass the cash machine”.  Of course, my daughter is too engrossed in her BBM gobbldegoop messages and I am too busy mentally planning my day, interjected with screaming “for crying out loud..shift it…put your foot down… MOVE IT …you complete and utter $##$!!” so as the cash point becomes a dot in my rear view mirror, neither of us remembers to remember.  This happens pretty much every week since she moved schools.

In her last school in Denbighshire, there was a fantastic website called Parent Pay.  It allowed me to get home, realise that I’d cocked up again and simply log on and ping a payment onto her school lunch account.  even better, when I was in the middle of a presentation to a corporate client, and the 'Mum, I'm hungry and no credit' message flashed up on my phone, I could simply log on via my IPhone and top up her account with no fuss. Job done. 
Not now in her current school.  It’s a case of letting her starve; most tempting when I have already driven 15 miles in the opposite direction, or turn back and drive to the school in order to cough up the dosh at reception.  Inconvenient at the best of times!
An added benefit of Parent Pay was that I could see exactly what my child had, or hadn’t, eaten each day so for any parents concerned over eating issues, this is a discreet and easy way to monitor without upsetting your child.  Furthermore, bills for school trips or school equipment could also be paid via this online account.  I was able to break up the payments for a new netbook into manageable chunks which was a lifeline. 

I will certainly be recommending this website to my daughter’s new school.  It will save me a fortune in extra petrol and mileage.  Does your child's school use this website? Before I go on an all out mission / campaign, it would be great to know if other parent's advocate its use?  Feel free to comment below :-)

For further information visit www.parentpay.com 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The 'Grown Up's' Holiday

My fabulous FiancĂ© surprised me by announcing that he had booked the two of us a week long holiday in Tenerife.  I had to muster as much enthusiasm as he expected to receive but I could tell he was miffed that I was seemingly such an ungrateful cow.  He couldn’t have been more wrong; grateful was an understatement!  I would have been jumping up and down and doing the Can Can for the next six months if it weren’t for the massive brick engraved with ‘Mother’s Guilt’ engraved on it, which was repeatedly smashing me in the face each time I thought about the holiday.  ‘Bad Mummy’ BANG,  ‘Abandoning your babies’ SMACK, ‘Selfish bad, bad Mum’ WHACK.
 
As I tried to push guilt aside and rationalise that I needed time away to recuperate from the worst past three years imaginable, the realisation that the holiday was unlikely to happen quickly set in.  How the heck could I get someone to look after the kids for an entire week? Before I could mumble this sentence out, Hubby2B grinned at me “Kids are spending the week with Auntie Sarah and your parents so no excuses”.   I sighed.  God I love this man!  ‘Bad, selfish Mum’ arghh.. shut up brain, shut up heart, shut up, shut up, shut up….
“Mum, he can’t breathe” my daughter informed me amused, as six months later, my son hung limply in my arms, accepting his fate of death by Mum hugs.  I reluctantly released him and then dragged her over for her turn “Watch my hair” she warned…Teenagers!
At the airport, the hubster suggested a vodka or six to try and relax my abandonment jitters.  I knew the kids were ecstatic to be spending time with humans who don’t hug and smother them every time that they pass into or out of every room, so I bought a beer the size of my head and willed my holiday spirit to kick in; if not then hard liquor spirits were my plan B.
Slightly wobbly, I trawled the airport shops. Blasted with seven different stinks from the perfume counters, a bumper bag of sucking sweets for aeroplane ear popping prevention, I was delightedly gripping a smutty novel which I had been dying to read for a month but seat squirming with kids in the house is a complete fail!  He unzipped his ….”Muuumm Where’s my straightners?”  She felt his huge, bulging…..”Muuuumm Tell her to leave me alone”… ugh, I give up!
On board our Ryanair flight, I was relieved to be sat between my man and a nice dude who was reading a guide to meditation.  Good, that means he will be silent the whole flight I thought.  Hmmm.. Yes, that he would have been if I hadn’t commented on the shocked look on his face as he handed over £7.98 for a single Jack Daniels and mini Coke.  With a fixed smile on my face, I nodded along as he told me his stories whilst wishing that I could read the story that I had just paid for; this guy’s story was more mantra than tantra.
We stepped off the plane and the gorgeous Tenerife sunshine wrapped us up in a hot hug.  Hubby and I turned to each other and grinned. That was the moment “Woo Hooo.. Holiday time” I excitedly clapped.
In the arrivals terminal, we joined up with a group of friends from my fella’s work, who had booked the same complex as us.  A great bunch that I knew would be fun to be around.  Our apartments were Los Geranios in Playas Las Americas.  It was close enough to everything but far enough away from the 18-30s party animals so that I didn’t feel like a frumpy old fogie for the week.  Our apartment was perfect, right next to the pool.  I flopped onto the bed and watched hubby as he began unpacking his suitcase.  Typical army sergeant, gets organised whereas me, I had better things to do!  I threw him one of ‘those smiles’ and described a raunchy chapter from my book until he abandoned unpacking and gave me some attention.  Ok, so I never actually read the book and the raunch was from my own imagination, but he fell for it all the same.  I just wish army dudes didn’t insist on folding every item of discarded clothing first!
We had grand plans for our first day in Tenerife.  Beaches, tapas, shopping, exploring but what we did was soo much better. Sod all.  We made it as far as the pool and for the next six hours we lay in absolute bliss.  Slimy from sun lotion and sunshine sweats, we alternated between sizzling and swimming.  Of course, my definition of swimming is shortarse me, clinging to my man with a near death grip, whilst he wandered the width of the pool whispering sweet nothings; I interjected with occasional panicked warnings that I was snorting the chlorine.  We were in our own little love bubble whilst all around us, topless Brits bobbed in the water.  It looked like tit soup!
That night we met the others for a meal and drinks.  Classic Brits abroad, we snubbed the local dishes and ordered steak and chips.  I ordered a vodka and coke and took a big swig which I promptly choked on.  My friends laughingly informed me that drinks over there were 90% alcohol and 10% mixer.  I declined the offer of diluting with more cola, I can take my booze!
So, utterly hammered after two drinks, I found myself wrestling the microphone from the singing Irishman in a nearby pub.  Apparently I was most entertaining as I bantered between off key renditions of Country Roads.  I will take their word for it.  I woke up the next morning with a ripped fingernail, a bruised shin and as I crawled out of bed, my knee skidded in spewed steak.  After that, I was much more mindful of my alcohol intake…I didn’t drink less but I did think about it a lot more.
The next day we headed to the beach.  The sunshine was blissful. “Hey Del Boy, you wanna buy a watch?”  The first of a thousand street sales guys asked.  “No thank you mate”.  We were pleased to find the sand so soft and the sun loungers so inviting.  There were lots of places to eat and drink and …”Hey Lady, you like a necklace? Buy two get ten free?”  “No thanks”.  We sat in a lovely tapas restaurant where I could hack into the wifi to check the kid’s school Twitter feeds and send illicit imessages to my daughter, who shouldn’t have her phone on in class.  “Thank you for bringing me here handsome” I sighed happily as Hubs held my hand. “I love …What?…Oh for Christ’s sake…NO, SOD OFF WITH YER BLOODY WATCHES - ARGGHH” We had a fab day despite being practically chased back to the hotel by a succession of watch, hat, necklace and ‘lucky ticket’ sales guys.
Every night at 8.30pm prompt, I called home to talk to the kids.  Every night they happily told me about their day and had not a single gripe for me to worry about.  They were even happier still when we told them that Hubby and I had booked the same hotel again and would be bringing them with us in August.
My 36th birthday slapped me awake on day five.  I woke up hungover and older – not a welcome combination for a woman!  Hubby had a birthday treat for me.  He was taking me para-sending.  Did you know that they dunk your arse in the sea? I know that now!!!  Dressed in denim shorts and a white t-shirt, completely drenched, we sloshed our way off the pier.  I headed to the nearest dodgy dress shop, leaving Hubby hobbling behind after an unfortunate ball strangulation caused by the boat harness.  Unable to bring myself to wear any of the dresses, damn pride, I joined my man and our friends at a bar wearing what I thought were the funkiest of Cheryl Cole style kecks ever.  Hubby’s face said otherwise – literally “Pyjamas Lynz? Really”?  He plonked his giant t-shirt over my head and offered me a seat near the back.  We stayed out dancing and karaoke’ing until 3am though so I couldn't have looked that foolish, despite what the photographs are telling me now.
On our last night, I sat on our terrace with a mug of tea, a deck of cards and a well-thumbed smutty novel.  I could not remember the last time I had felt so relaxed. It had been a wonderful holiday and although I was desperate for my kid’s cuddles, I didn’t want to leave.  My lovely man theatrically sauntered out to join me and in one swift move landed a kiss on my forehead and kicked the door shut. “Noooo” I bellowed as he jumped out of his skin and began looking around him like a frantic meerkat.  “Tell me you brought the keys out with you”? I pleaded.  Facepalm!  I tutted as I trotted off to look for someone, anyone, who would have had a spare key to our room and still be around in the early hours.  Did I mention that these were privately rented apartments?  No luck.
So my fella attempted the kind of mission that only hammered people attempt.  Standing on top of his friend’s back untill he could haul his 6ft frame through a tiny window, that was honestly *cough* already broken *ahem*, and dangle precariously inside until he finally slithered through; it was a scene reminiscent of ‘One Born Every Minute’.
Next day and back at the airport, the post-holiday blues hit. Back to work, rain and life stresses.  The airport shop tried to charge me £7 for a bag of Werthers Orignals. ‘Pfft..forget that, I’d rather take my chances’ I thought to myself.  I was stoopid!  I spent the final hour of the journey trying to gouge my brain out through my ears in an attempt to stop the painful throbbing so common with cabin pressure.  I must have looked so elegant to the chatty meditation dude, who was again next to us, as I held my nose and snorted so hard that my eyes could easily have sprang out of my face.
Our baggage was dumped in our hallway at 1am.  We were shattered!  Leaving the Sergeant to his unpacking and folding frenzy, I crept upstairs to look in on my babies.  Yes, I realise that at 10 and 12 years old, they are blimmin big babies but still… I smushed them as much as I could and debated waking them when Hubby2B poked his head round the door.  One of ‘those smiles’ lit up his face.  Silently, oh so silently, I tiptoed from the room.  Obviously the holiday wasn’t officially over yet ;-)     

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Networking Event

So, with business looking a bit slow in April so far, I thought I'd give networking a whirl.  I've worked to capacity thus far but for some reason, business clients have no need of public relations or marketing from moi this month.  Not relishing an April of spring cleaning, revamping my look, daytime TV or whatever else I resort to in an attempt to dull the 'Argh, I've got no work, which means no money, which means no food, bills and imminent homelessness' mood swings.  Dramatic I know but being home alone everyday does things to a single mum brain!

So I put my name down for a local free networking event, put on my 'serious business' dress, grabbed a stash of business cards and set off to meet my potential new clients.  I mean, after all, every business needs marketing!

"Hello, my name is Cameron and I'm in Marketing". Bollocks.  First suited dude up and I am already feeling deflated.  Within his two minute speech though he manages to offend every woman in the room by pointing out that they are all, me included, significantly older than him. Purple faced from the backlash, the poor kid points out that he is only 20 years old.  Two and half minutes in and I am feeling back on top. Phew!

I kept my pitch short, concise and as non-salesie as possible.  As someone with a low tolerance for direct sales people, the last thing I wanted was to sound like one of them.  The others at the table nodded politely but it was clear that branding, marketing strategy, social media training (I know, who needs it with a kid over the age of 3 at home?) and the number of other business facets I offered were not what these particular individuals prioritised at this time.
I signed up to the group membership regardless, paid my monthly subs, accepted the goodie bag containing chocolate and vodka (my kind of group!) and then skulked back home. 

Although disappointed, I rationalised that, so far, all my work has come via word of mouth recommendations so perhaps if I'd made a good enough impression then these lovely business people, suit dude excluded - lovely but competitive, might  recommend me to others.
With my slipper sock'd feet up on the coffee table, a big fat brew in one hand, TV remote in the other and the remains of my sulk ebbing, I flicked on to watch Scoffie and Willoboobies. A half day off was a rare opportunity so took it whilst I could and tried to ignore the washing up screaming at me from inside the kitchen.  

My phone rang after my first slurp.  It was a fellow networker. After a couple of polite exchanges I began to get the feeling I was being 'sussed out'. Hhmmm.. She has a friend in need of Marketing and Events, am I looking for a business partner? Do I want to attend an invitation only speed networking event next month?  Hhmmm... Looks like I did make an impression.  As I penciled in the date, I found myself musing aloud to my utterly disinterested cat Sandy "Yep puss, its been a productive day!"