Real Mum Interview – There’s Something About Bola

This month’s real mum feature is on Bolanle Williams Olley, who in my opinion should be crowned Chief Multitasker and general champion of the just-go-for-it attitude to life.

She runs in her spare time, founded and runs an ankara children’s wear line called BeauBelle Africa, raises money for charitable organisations every year and promotes Nigerian charity initiatives under an Insta-page called REACH and is completing a masters in her area of passion relating to education policy.

Hmm, the crazy part is she does all this while raising two young children alongside her husband (Tsola, now 2 years old and Teniola, 4 years old), AND working a 9 to 5 job as an Accountant too!

Are you thinking what I’m thinking… how does Bola manage to do it all?

I asked her a few questions about life as a young Mum back in 2016, and I want to share with you today, her response on how she balances all her different roles. Find out what she had to say on that question below!

The question, we’ve been waiting for. What are your biggest tips for balancing motherhood, marriage and life?

The biggest thing on this topic, for me, is time management – my days are very planned out. I think about how I can maximise my time and knock several birds in a specific time frame, so I can do the things I really want to do. For example, if I have to do laundry, and I have to crochet, I have an order – I’ll put the laundry in and while that is going I crochet. Like people always ask, how do you have time to do the crochet stuff, I tend to do it on my train ride to and from work. For me it’s relaxing. It is imperative to maximise your time. There are days I want to laze around and do nothing, and I do that, but for the most part I make sure my time management is on point.

The second thing I do is always create a to-do list. I feel it helps organise my day better.

Another thing is, it also helps to organise what you want to do. This is the same thing I do at work or at home when I was on maternity leave. I make sure I write down five tasks I want to achieve. I break them down to smaller tasks so it doesn’t seem like too much to handle. It also helps weed out what is important and what isn’t.

Finally, I am of the school of thought of ‘just do it’. Sometimes projects come to me last minute, but I make sure that once I decide to do something, I find the time to do it. I just do it. It doesn’t hurt to try. If you try and it doesn’t work out, you move on to something else. I would rather not have a ‘what-if, what-if’ moment, I will just know that I tried my best. I believe that we are all well equipped to achieve anything we put our hearts to do, depending on what your intentions are. In terms of my charity projects I have, I make sure I am doing in for the right reasons – in terms of career, life, school – I just do it!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Bola!

Isn’t she wonderful? Stay tuned with MummyFix for more on this interview and others with some of my favourite Mum crushes who are out there doing motherhood and trying to live their best life too.

xo

Self-care is Important for Mums – this Funny Video Explains Why

Self-care is really a ‘thing’.

I have  found, these last couple of weeks (post partum & parenting two kids), that being well-fed and rested, as best I can, gives me that extra energy and drive to do what needs done during the day. It keeps me feeling like me – which is a great feeling, most days. lol.

As a mum it’s so easy to reach our limits and not realise until we’re completely exhausted.

Taking time out for yourself is even more important during the busy holiday season. This is typically a time when many Mums are doing the most – hosting guests, cooking and tidying/cleaning, traveling, round-the-clock child care etc. Basically, taking care of this, that and the other.

Kristina Kuzmic, in this hilarious video, shares on why it is just as important, to take care of YOU,  during the holidays or at any other time. Watch below…

 

A Natural & Intimate Engagement Shoot – I Love this!

 

I love looking at images of engagement shoots, and I love these photos, but first I wanted to share a few thoughts on the Nigerian wedding scene in general.

The wedding industry in Nigeria continues to grow from strength to strength. Florists, wedding planners, bridal shower organisers, shower props designers, make-up artists (or MUAs, as they’re often called), wedding invitation experts, made-in-nigeria bridal outfitters, aso-oke makers and photographers – I could go on.

If you need your make-up done tomorrow the price is N10,000, if you need your make-up for your wedding day done, also tomorrow, the price multiplies to N250,000.

I still do not understand how that works, but I admire those benefitting. To be fair, the same goes for weddings abroad too – the price multiplies once it becomes clear the service is for a wedding.  The Nigerian wedding industry has spurred so many supporting businesses and I always joke that I’m yet to find my wedding hustle because it seems to be a money maker for many players, too! I don’t know how true that is – do you think just a small handful are benefitting or a great number?

Anyway, engagement shoots are one of the popular images of weddings we see on social media and online, in general. Couples are getting more and more creative with the themes, too – 100 points to the underwater shoot couples. Pre-wedding shoots are a trend that’s here to stay, it looks like.

I think there’s something special about engagement shoots. I like the calm, the love, the hope and the promise of companionship and togetherness that radiates!

I particularly like it when they are stripped down to simple background, simple clothes and plenty of focus on the love and chemistry between the couple.

I bookmarked this engagement/pre-wedding shoot back in 2012, and even though we opted not to do a pre-wedding shoot, it is still one of my favourites, today. What do you guys think? I know some of you may be eyeing up her hair, but for a naturalista like me, the fullness is goals, lol.

More pictures below.

 

pre-wedding shoot

 

Did you have or do you plan to have an engagement shoot before your wedding day? What was the theme?   Please share links or Instagram hashtags of shoots you’ve seen and loved, I would love to see.

 

ps: the couple were real, but not engaged (at the time, anyway). They posed for a photography workshop.

pss: newly wed? check out this analysis of marriage.

(Photos by Jose Villa for OnceWed).

The Back-at-work Blues & 5 Ways to Cheat it

No matter how ‘fun’ your job is, the first days back at work, after a relaxing time off, can be difficult.

Typically, motivation and productivity are low.

For some of us, the idea of hours straight without the children after so long starts with a ‘yes’ feeling. But as you watch the hundreds of emails roll in and the piles of paperwork awaiting you become visible, you may start to sing a different tune.

Use these tips to bounce back after any holiday, particularly those romantic getaways, the type where you actually got rest and relaxation on (or maybe not that much rest… wink wink).

 

Return to work mid-week

I call this the ‘easing-yourself-in-gently’ technique.

Starting back at work on any day apartfrom Monday, makes the week a little bit shorter.

It also gives you a chance to get back into the work routine and temperament, slowly.

 

Do the hard stuff first

Thanks to human nature, we all want to do the things we enjoy doing most, first. Then you procrastinate about the more annoying stuff, and subconsciously hope it goes away. Most times it doesn’t go away.

The work we like to procrastinate about is boring, monotonous, not to our strengths or just not fun to do. When I was in corporate world, the hard stuff included things like: doing my time sheets (I did client work), archiving work that had been done (involved chasing people), speaking to the client to chase my requests (who else hates bothering other people?).

Well, apparently we should save ourselves the hassle by doing the harder or more boring work, first!

 

Make a list

Create a to-do list. Tick things off your handwritten (preferably) to-do list. You’ll feel like you’re getting things done.

The mind is a powerful tool!

 

Don’t over estimate/ over stretch yourself

Get realistic and work it out, realistically, how much you can get done in those first few days? And then concentrate on doing a good job on those three of four tasks. Only three or four.

If you try to out-do yourself, you might get overwhelmed in the process. I for one hate a long to do list. Apparently, by concentrating on those few tasks that are achievable or that progress can be made on, you get a more satisfying feeling.

 

Schedule a treat

It could be ice-cream, your favourite meal, a catch-up with friends or TV – plan an end-of-the-week treat.

Schedule something for the end of the week, so you have something to look forward to. This will help you stay motivated and make getting to the end as productively as you can, even more worth it (hopefully).

 

Bonus point – just allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Do your best!

It is totally normal to go in the first couple of days and just not be ‘feeling it’. Do not feel bad. Dust off the guilt; chances are your boss (or employees) feel exactly the same way you do.

The objective is to get through the day and if you achieve a few things along the way, too (you will, you will), then GOOD!

Ladies, even reading this now, In January, after my first two weeks back at work has been a lesson. I’m actually already feeling like I need another couple of days of TLC. I have had a cough, now getting a cold, but mehn, things can only get better!

 

 How did you deal with getting back to work after summer holidays or even the long Sallah weekend just passed? What tricks did you use?

Nurturing Friendships as You Get Older

One afternoon I met up with my friend and business partner – we had a meeting at her apartment. After the meeting I got up to go, but she offered me lunch and I was not in a rush, someone reliable must have been watching my daughter, I can’t remember who now. I said yes. I could say yes to friendship that afternoon.

She said she was just making something quick and I had no expectations whatsoever. Next thing, she sets the table – it’s a perfect setting for a light lunch. She brings out salmon – a rare treat in Lagos, thanks to the price and even offers wine – ah, yes, yes!!!

 

So, the full offering arrived and it was lebanese bread, grill-pan seared salmon and courgette. Both fish and vegetables are seasoned very lightly and humous with some chilli pepper is served on the side. It all looked so good.

We talked – this time not about business, we ate and I was very grateful in that moment that she was my friend, because the whole scenario was nurturing my tummy and my soul.

 I realised in that moment, that friendship is about support and about being there in hard times and having fun times together, but it’s also about giving. It’s about doing something special to treat your friend from time to time. And they’ll do something special to treat you from time to time, too.

It also reminded me that you have to put the work in with friendships. That they need attention and to be nurtured like any other relationship.

At this stage in my life, I dodge friendships with people who have too many close friends (it makes me nervous). Potential new Friendships are difficult because: I am too shy, or lazy, or a combination of both to do the work. New friendships make me feel guilty – will I disappoint you? Because I dont do a lot of the social right now.  But I do not take my friends for granted.

My lunch partner friend has made

 I have learnt over the years that if you have the right friends, even that small handful will feel like a multitude of friends. Enough to satisfy your intellect, give you laughs, call you out when you need to hear that your ish stinks and at the same time, make you feel loved. And, yes, I won’t say no to the occasional lunch, brunch or dinner, too – at your place, mine or dining out!

 

What do you look for in your friendships now that you’re older? Have you managed to maintain the same friendship group from school ? Do you do dinner or have a routine/tradition for keeping in touch?  I would love to hear your experience of friendships and making friends at this stage of your life.

xo

 

Mummy Blogger or Back-to-work for a New Mum?

Let’s start from 2014, the old blog…

When I started writing a mummy blog (the old and now deleted one), it was different. As a new Mum, I was trying to avoid a situation where I could potentially be annoying my friends with daily updates about my baby.

I was obsessed, like any new mum, and seemed to have so many stories to share about my new adventure.

Admittedly, these were not stories about war and bravery, but to me, they were far from boring.

Every little smile was exciting; every new day survived on 3 hours of sleep with multiple feeds and nappy changes in between, was a mountain climbed, every shower – an achievement.

Anyway, I am sure you can understand why I decided to write posts, rather than send messages to my whatsapp groups, about baby. It can be hard to judge clearly, what is adorable versus what is simply ‘adorable to-you’ because, you know, it’s your baby.

Another reason I was writing? I am that person who’s always found it cathartic to write.

Being a new mum can be overwhelming, and that’s an understatement. The weight of the responsibility, the sleeplessness (is that even a word?), the steep learning curve as you’re getting to know baby. In this new world of parenting, I found writing gave me a sense of pride, joy, and achievement (outside of mummy life). Plus the posts were a reminder about all the wonderful things my baby and I were doing.

I was quite content, then this happened…

 

A light bulb moment for me

I was at the bank and that day, the guy at the bank wanted to update all my information. Since, I had nowhere else to be urgently – I think baby was fast asleep being watched by my Mum and I was good for another hour or so, before it was milking time again. I said OK.

He asked questions and I answered, then he got to the part about what I do.

I said I was on maternity leave – in my head this was correct, but he was not satisfied.

“When are you returning to work?” said Mr Banker clerk.

“I’m not sure”.

“Ok, so right now you don’t have a job.”

“No”.

I kept thinking, mummy blogger, I blog. I had been spending hours documenting my journey through motherhood so others can learn and not make the same mistakes I made. Maybe even just one person? But the word refused to come out.

He then said: “would it be fair to say you’re unemployed?”

I found myself nodding. Even though a big voice in me said “No, I reject it”. Haha – it’s the Nigerian ex-Redeemer in me.

“So I’ll put unemployed down here”. The banking clerk was still talking.

I managed a low, almost whispered ‘yes’.

What am I doing – I thought to myself. And so there it was. The man at the bank confirmed what I had struggled to admit to myself at the time. I was unemployed and I needed to decide if I was actually going back to the financial world or really, seriously try my hand at Blogging as a career.

 

Time to do some thinking – looking back at finance

It was time to face the reality and start thinking about my future career.

I had been interviewing in my old industry – finance, but did I really want to change the wheels and do something radical, different? What was stopping me? Beyond the job interviews (I am coming back to talk about this!), where was I going to lay the roots of my next career?

Twelve months before that, I had left my old job, complete with clear career progression path. I left out of sheer arrogance (I see that now) and determination to find myself something that I was passionate about and loved to do. I remember meeting the Head of HR to explain my decision to go. ‘Nothing lined up yet – very unusual’, so she asked me time and time again…

‘what are you doing, what are you doing, take unpaid leave?’ (a learning point – I should have taken the unpaid leave option, just to have. Or maybe not?).

I wanted to go somewhere I fitted in. Somewhere I could do my job and not feel like I had to wear a mask. I did not like smart casual clothes,  hated heels (not compulsory, but when you’re young and managing people, meeting top Executives, it helps). It seemed like was time to go somewhere I could see people who I could aspire to. People who looked like me.

I said a firm ‘no’ to Ms HR.

Decision time – mummy blogger or no?

Now back to reality, I really had a chance to do all I had said I wanted to do. Something really different.

The bank clerk probably just thought he was doing his job, filling a form, but he forced me to admit something. I needed to make a decision to either do the professional job or take seriously the new route. The new could mean being: unrecognised, unrewarded, unpaid (initially at least) and possibly unsatisfied.

That was how over the next few days, I gave myself permission**, to put everything I can, into an area that is so important but the world has become accustomed to telling us is a side-job.

It’s seen as something to do and quickly return to life and work as you know it. Something to fit into your ‘real’ life. But many of us in it know that once you become a Mother, your world changes forever, and navigating that journey becomes a whole new WORLD of its own. You put in support, you delegate where you can, but even when your child is sleeping well, you don’t sleep the same ever again. And if you’re like me, you have this quest, this fire in you, to parent the best way you can. You need tools, you need other Mums (and they need you too), you need clear reliable information. Could I build something?

That day , I somehow decided I was going to mother and I was going to empower other mums too, in their parenting journey.

Mummyfix – the new blog

It’s two and a half years later.  This blog is about doing what I described above. I do have a lot to share (built up from my days of writing) and a lot to learn from you. I’m hoping we will talk and share honestly, our experiences on the parenting hot topics and other topics, too.

There’s other Mummy bloggers and websites, what is different about Mummyfix? It is a community for young Nigerian (and African) Mums at home in Nigeria or abroad.

At first, I thought I was going to just be giving out information. 500 posts on Instagram later, I realised I was gaining a lot of insights from other mums – helpful tips, profound stories. I was gaining friends and online friends. I figured out that Mummyfix is really a collective sharing space for talking about all the difficult, fun, fulfilling, tiring, rewarding days of parenting and life.

 

More from me?

Apart from the regular blog posts, there’s:

(for direct links, hover over parts in italics)

free downloadable guides  – I carefully prepare these based on my experience and official research (click the link for baby shopping list, weaning guide etc)

mummyfix Instagram page – I share videos, other mum stories and ask questions about parenting.

mummyfix circle Facebook page –  A closed page for you to ask parenting questions and we solve them together.

New parent pro course – I prepared a free course with key information on 7 hot topics for new mums. Please email me if you want to join the course.

I will also put in a new tab for early learning, because I talk about it a lot! In the meantime, if that interests you too, check out PoPP Lagos.

I’m glad you’re still here.. I promise, my regular posts are shorter!

I hope you spend some time discovering, reading & sharing  your own nuggets of wisdom too!

If you enjoyed my story or specific posts, share with friends using the button below.

ps: Please share with me below, where in the world you are and the type of posts you’ll be looking out for on the blog. Welcome friends :).

 

 

** with the support & permission of my family, of course! But initially I slept over it, prayed over it etc.

***I ended up going back to work in a new field- early education, but that’s a topic for another day.