December 2020 – When Darkness Prevails

A young woman in the darkness feeling poorly and lonely Covid Loneliness.

Dear lovely people – what a year it’s been!

I hope you’re all keeping well, safe… and as far as you can be – happy, under these unusual circumstances.

It’s been a while since I put ‘pen to paper’ – and I apologise for this. I had many plans in place, to wrap this year up – as efficiently as possible… a special interview lined up, for an article I was excited to write – and a project closely in tow. And… I of-course, also had plans to venture up north a bit, to spend some much-needed time with my family… all in which, had to be cancelled : ( .

December has always been, one of my favourite months of the year… butmy-oh-my – – not this time around. The exciting build up to Christmas… festive foreplay – if you will; for me – was replaced with a stint in hospital, a great deal of worry, time off work… and undergoing never-ending scans. It’s safe to say – that I sealed up my 2020… as productively and efficiently, ‘as a backwards fart’… as my witty grandmother would say! But it did get me thinking!

I landed in hospital, during a time of the pandemic. At a time when Covid-19 figures were steeply on the rise again; and a new variant of the virus was emerging. My heart had always sunk, thinking about the unfortunate people in hospital throughout Covid – contemplating the reality of them being all alone – and unable to touch or see their loved ones. It was a heart-wrenchingly difficult idea for me to comprehend; and I was now receiving – a very small taste, of the actuality – of this blurred vision… in my mind.

In all… I. Felt. Horrendous. And now… I was left alone, separated from my son and my family – with nothing but my own, torturous-thoughts for company. I was an in-patient within the Surgical Emergency Unit, where I was surrounded by other people – many of whom, were in a great deal of pain. I heard patients asking, if they could have just one visitor – for a short while; this usually being their mum, daughter or husband. The answer was always, a resoundingly clear… no’. I mean – in the politest possible manner; but still a definitive answer, that left a distressing echo in my ears.

As time went on, I could hear the consultants debating my situation one morning; and I then listened to their footsteps, as they walked over to advise me… that biopsies, further blood tests and scans were required. I became anxious; and hyper-aware, of all of the little sounds and procedures belonging to the ward. The morning would arrive; along with a fresh team of day staff; and I would then listen to the handover sessions that religiously took place. The day would gradually pass… and the dreaded darkness would approach again. It felt lonely… and quite honestlyscary.

As an inpatient during Covid-19 – the hospital becomes your axis… whereby earth seems to stop; and all that appears to be happening from your window – is the image of doctors and nurses coming and going. You observe the NHS team, pivoting around their central point – the hospital axis; and bringing with them – either night or day… darkness or light. Day-in-day-out. And. that’s. it…. you lie there in pain, smothered in your own anxieties, unable to feel the touch of a loved one for comfort.

In comparison to many other poor patients around the world – I wasn’t hospitalised for long; and for the most part – I got the all clear… in the end. But what I can tell you, with certainty – is that it was a disturbing experience. I can still honestly only imagine; and send out my biggest wishes for a speedy recovery – to anybody having to spend a significant amount of time in hospital. It’s a frightening thing to have to live through; and my heart is with you all.

As for the clinicians – this was my first experience, of witnessing doctors and nurses operate within a highly stressful environment. As previously mentioned, the staff within SEU, would rotate around this imaginary ‘emergency axis‘ – non-stop, ensuring that each patient was seen. I had a couple of wonderful nurses by my side – throughout, who did all that they could to make me feel more comfortable. I was in a lot of pain, but I was never made to feel, as though anything was too much for these wonderful people. The doctors and nurses of SEU, did our hospital proud – and although I could see that they were incredibly busy – I admired their sheer tenacity and strength… to carry on.

Clinicians work exceptionally hard within the NHS; and it is truly the most precious thing, we – here in the UK possess. I’ve now seen what goes on… under a slightly different light – and I would like to end this post by saying… that we must always respect and protect our NHS… and the good people in it.

Take care of yourselves and others – and here’s wishing you all… a happy and healthy New Year. It may take a while for things to get back to an acceptable level or ‘normal’… but we will get there – eventually ; ) .

Best wishes,

Olivia Xo


‘Who’s Your Dress By Olivia…?’

A beautiful woman wearing an autumn dress made out of leaves.
I’m wearing autumn’…

The Photo blog…

Beautiful woman wearing dress made out of Autumn leaves
The Autumn Inspired Leaf Dress By Olivia Christina

What. is. it. about ‘The Fall‘… as our American friends would call it. How does this stunningly beautiful season even happen – each and every year?

The miraculous changes – the crispy clean air… the colours that quite simply come out of nowhere? It’s as though it’s Earth’s way of saying… yes, I’m sorry darlings – summer is over, but I’m going to make it up to you – with the most unparalleled, spectacular beauty… you will ever see. Let me stimulate every sense in your body. Let me inspire YOU.

A woman walking in stunning colourful Autumn leaves and trees with toddler
Autumn communicating with me ; )

Autumn talks to me – it quite literally absorbs me. And each year I’ve realised, that I become more and more… in. love. with. it. In love with the beauty it brings; and in some ways – a little bit like a teenage crush… infatuated with the way that it makes me feel. It’s short lived of course, but in the few weeks that it’s there… I’m inspired, I’m engaged – and I keep going back!

As always, we’d been out for a nice family walk… enjoying the stunning scenery that Oxfordshire has to offer. We had stopped by a beautiful woodsy place in the Cotswolds; when my little one began kicking colourful leaves around. I was suddenly completely captivated – literally in a trance… just absorbed by the different colours swirling around on the ground. I actually began pivoting around – doing slow-motion 360’s… taking mental photographs of every single detail in my surroundings. It was in that very moment, that I developed this burning desire… to create something, with what I was observing around me.

Family having a day out an Autumn walk in Oxfordshire surrounded by beautiful colourful leaves.
Autumn in Oxfordshire United Kingdom : )

So, it’s no joke – the very next day, I actually gathered up my little tot and ‘the old man‘… and we went leaf-picking – in the beautiful landscapes of Oxfordshire. The first day gathering leaves… was wet. Very wet and windy… so of course, it didn’t quite go to plan! By day two however, we had managed to collect an enormous assortment of all things Autumnhonestly… a bag of sheer beauty. A bag of colourful rays of sunshine – a bag depicting nothing but optimism and joy. At this point, it was like a surge of positive energy, was charging through my veins. I quite literally wanted to wear this feeling…and feel it all over my body.

And this is the moment I announced… ‘I’m going to create an Autumn dress – a dress of nature in its rawest most beautiful form’.

Creating an Autumn inspired leaf dress
Almost there…

Autumn to me, is one heck of a meaningful and powerful season. It is – the season to create… and the season to. let. go. By this I mean – to let go of any negative energy, that may be festering inside of us – to release it. Whatever that negativity may feel like, to you or to me; similarly to the autumn leaves – it is the time to let our colours stand out. It’s the time to grow through our emotions… and to nourish our souls, with the creative vibrations of this season. And, as the Autumn leaves fall – we learn to let go of the things we cannot change or control.

The Autumn air fills with beauty and wisdom – diversity at its greatest… the ultimate contrast of colour and shape. This exquisite season reminds us, that nothing is forever – both the good and the bad. It reminds us to connect with Earth and our truest selves.

My dress is the ultimate expression of me – ‘the introverted extrovert’ if you will. The ‘Fall Dress’ – encompassing the beauty of nature – elegance in the raw… connecting with Earth and suturing my roots – for once and for all. I’m in LOVE with The Fall.

Be kind to yourselves and the environment. Be compassionate towards others – and get creative : ). Also… do subscribe for more from Beauty & The Mum ; p

A woman wearing Mother Nature's dress - a dress made out of elegant Autumn leaves
Autumn Project… Complete – released on Halloween – rather in-keeping really ; )

With love and warm wishes,

Olivia …

or Fly ; )

Eczema Prone Skin…? Aveeno Moisturiser For Mums & Tiny-Tots

Beauty woman with Aveeno body lotion skin care oats baby and mum

The Affordable Nourishing Skin Care For Baby & Mum

It’s often felt as though, I’m constantly on this never ending hunt… for reasonably priced moisturisers, that I can actually apply – all over my body. I’m not interested in hoarding a collection of lotions… for example – one for my hands and one for my feet – and then another one entirely for my body. I. just. want. one. One decent moisturiser, that I can literally slap all over myself – from head-to-toe… and. be. done. with. it.

Yep, I’ve tried all kinds of drugstore options, always in the hope of discovering, a less-expensive staple. I’ve picked lotions up in Boots and Superdrug; and every time thinking – oh yes, this will be the one; but nine-times-out-of-ten… I end up passionately… disliking them. I inevitably discover, that they’re either too greasy or sticky… or as they warm up – the scent turns me off. In all, I’ve identified two cheaper moisturisers, that I’ve been satisfied with. And. of. course… as it always goes – one was discontinued; and then the other was tampered with, by the Cosmo-Dermatologists – so the formula was no longer the same – boo.

I’m sure – similarly to many other ladies; this eventually bought me to the conclusion, that I should perhaps begin requesting the ‘good stuff’, each Birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day! And sowhenever I was asked the question – ‘what would you like me to get for you’ – I would often ask for some outrageously priced bottle of potion, that claimed it would make me feel like a goddess… sent from somewhere out-of-Earth. And – – – erm… I’m still on Earth… well I think anyway !

Honestly, from Drugstore-galore… to the opposite end of the potion spectrum… i’ve certainly trundled through my fair share of cheap – and luxury skincare products. And while I’ll admit to you, that I do enjoy a couple of my branded lotions… I can now confidently advise you, that you can indeed – also find something perfectly decent – on a shelf in your local supermarket. And… we shall come to this part shortly ; )

So, it’s no secret – that I’ve always had problems identifying a lotion to suit my skin; but fast-forward to January 2018… and I was suddenly gifted a beautiful baby boy, who wait for it… had (and still has) problematic skin – Eczema. Oh. My. Lord…. so now, it was an ongoing cycle… of continuously being on the hunt; for a lotion to suit not only myself… but also my little tot! And honestlyeverything I tried for my son… wasn’t working. It was beginning to actually feel quite stressful!

Enter Aveeno…

Aveeno baby and mummy mom body moisturiser lotion for eczema prone skin
Aveeno Daily Moisturiser For Baby & Mum

I had spotted this Aveeno stuff on offer while shopping, but due to so many lotions only exacerbating my babies condition – I had gradually become rather sceptical… and actually pretty darned cautious about purchasing creams. I had liked the look of the Aveeno packaging… and also the product description, so I decided to have a look online to see what Aveeno was all about.

Okay, so in a nut shell… Aveeno is a holistic beauty brand, created by American brothers – ‘Sydney and Albert Musher‘, who’d basically had a fascination with oats – in relation to health, so began researching it in 1945. The renowned ‘Mayo Clinic‘ dermatologists, recognised the brothers work… and not too long after – the Aveeno brand was born!

Aveeno has published seventy years of clinical evidence, supporting the benefits of oats… and other natural ingredients. In all, Aveeno specialise in the utilisation of ‘nature’s ingredients‘ – to create lotions designed to balance and regenerate the skin. Aveeno’s signature product (now used by me) – consists of ‘finely-milled colloidal oatmeal‘… intended to ‘heal dry and compromised skin‘… as they say.

So, after doing some homework on Aveeno, I was pretty much drawn in… by the sheer simplicity of the ingredients. I loved the look of the packaging; and I hadn’t actually tried anything made from oats before; and so – I decided to return to the shops that same day… and purchase the baby and adult version of this cream… along with the baby bath wash. I’m. glad. I. did.

I noticed that after bathing my tot in the Aveeno wash – and then plastering him in the moisturiser afterwards… that he somehow seemed to be a fair bit smoother. The part that struck me most about all of this, was that the next day… to my amazement – my tots skin was also reasonably soft, instead of being broken out in lots of red spots as it usually would be the next morning. His skin certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was indisputably... better. Result!

And what about the adult version of this cream you might wonder…? I was excited to try this stuff I have to say; and I firstly used it on my hands. RESULT. I didn’t find it to be horribly greasy, to that point as always… where I only end up washing it off. I then tried it on my body after showering – and again… I couldn’t actually find anything to complain about. The real tester came the moment I washed my face in the evening and applied it… yet again – absolutely fine. I found that it was really moisturising… without being sticky or terribly greasy.

In all, I would say – that if you’re looking for a moisturiser that isn’t overly expensive, for you and your little one… then Aveeno could certainly be worth a try. It comes in at around £6.00-£18.00, depending on the size of the bottle – so not as cheap as your other drugstore options, but for the results, I personally would buy it any day… over one of the £60.00 bottles I own… just sitting in a drawer – as I find it too greasy!

If you or you tot – have easily aggravated skin, then I would confidently recommend giving the au naturel Aveeno brand a go : ).

I really hope this will help with your moisturiser journey – and I’d love to hear your thoughts… feel free to leave a comment and subscribe for more from B&M :O)

With warm wishes as always,

Olivia… ‘FLY’ ; )


Since it’s Halloween Soon… Happy Halloween ; )

Podcast Episode No. 1 – Mental Health Awareness – Vulnerability:

World Mental Health Day – Vulnerability Mind Your Own Mind

Raising awareness for mental health… let’s keep talking – let’s be there for each other. Please excuse the podcast quality – certainly not the most polished, but all the same, I had some things that I needed to say for World Mental Health Day. Let’s make EVERY DAY… a Mental Health Awareness Day. Feel free to visit me, at With best wishes, Olivia xo
Podcast Episode No. 1: World Mental Health Day – Vulnerability

To Visit Podbean Podcasts Website:

Dear readers,

Thank you for visiting me at Beauty & The Mum – it really means a lot to me : )

I knew that I would… eventually begin a new podcast – it’s just been a case of finding the time! But with it being, such an important weekend – the weekend of Mental Heath Awareness… a weekend for reflection; I wanted to play my part, in helping to continue, to raise awareness, surrounding this sometimes devastating issue.

Mental Health – is applicable world-wide. It can happen to any one of us… even the most unexpected people amongst us.

Please bare with me on the podcast quality – it’s certainly not the most polished… but all the same – I had some things that I felt the need to say… for mental health weekend.

Make every day – a mental health awareness day… and always be kind.

Please leave comments below; and by all means, follow me on Podbean and Instagram for future podcasts : )

Best wishes,

Olivia xo

DIY Autumn-Inspired Gel Nails – Testing The Affordable Brand… ‘Beetles’

Girl dancing wearing October autumn gel nails manicure
Mylee LED nail lamp and Beetles gel nail polish in autumn inspired colours
Mylee PRO LED nail lamp & Beetles Autumnal nail Gels

I’m completely new, to this whole gel nail thingy! Honestly… prettying up nails in this way, was so alien to me… you wouldn’t actually believe. It was only when, two of my colleagues… yes two – were sporting these brightly coloured – perfectly manicured nails, that I was introduced to the world of colourful gels!

After watching these guys waltz into the office – showcasing, such beautiful results, time-and-time again… and listening to how amazing this gel stuff was… I was now somehow indoctrinated enough, to be be convinced that this was the next thing I must do! Lord knows how they managed to sway me, because I’m not usually convinced by these kinds of things… but they succeeded – I succumbed and decided to give it a go… on a budget that is!

So, you see, these ladies always go to a professional to have their nails done… likely hence their tremendous results each time. But, you know… me being mea bit of a tom boy at heart… I decided that I’d probably only ruin them, since I’m so careless with my hands – and that it would work out cheaper, if I just bought the necessary equipment… and did it myself! Honestly… to me, the thought of spending forty-odd quid, to get my nails re-done – each time I messed them up… just wasn’t going to happen!

So, I set a budget and purchased all of the necessary paraphernalia – the LED lamp, the preparation lotions, potions and tools… and of course – the gels. I found that the LED lamps on offer were surprisingly cheap… as were the lotions and tools. I initially purchased the Bella Nails budget lamp, costing only £12.99 from Amazon… and eventually upgraded to the Mylee PRO LED lamp (as seen in photo above), costing somewhere in the region of £35.00. But the gels on the other hand… well… these were a whole different story!

Bella Nails LED nail lamp for gel nails – purchased for only £12.99 on Amazon UK

So, probably like tonnes of other ladies, I suddenly found myself in a bit of a predicament. I knew that I wanted to do these gel nail thingys from time-to-time… and I now had all of the essential equipment to do them. But… and there’s a big but – I was now left having to purchase…. erm – the gel stuff. And… it wasn’t so cheap.

In light of this, I began researching gel nail polish… hoping to sniff out the ideal pocket friendly ones. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, that it was the extortionately priced brands, that seemed to pop up at the top of google results each time!

So, to cut a long story short, I began weighing up the pros and the cons of expensive versus cheap gel… and how much the staying power of the polish really mattered to me. It didn’t take me long, to come to the conclusion… that I was indeed a novice; and I therefore – should perhaps practise with cheaper gels first ! So, I had a good look around… and I eventually settled, on one of the better selling cheaper brands – also available on Amazon… – – – this was the Beetles Gel polish – in a pack of six.

Beetles budget gel nail polish available on Amazon for autumn inspired gel nails.
Beetles Autumn Gel Nail Polish – one of these red looking ones is bright orange believe it or not…

Okay, so first of all – I will share my findings… quick, sharp and to the point; and once that’s done and dusted, I will share the tips and tricks – that I’ve found to be essential, when attempting to make a cheaper gel work… which it actually can – with a little patients that is : )

Girl with beautiful October Gel inspired gel nails manicure
Okay, let’s do it…
  • Okay, so the pigment

This was the bizarre part for me. I had a box of six different colours… and I noticed that some of the shades worked beautifully – requiring barely two coats… but then other shades, were unfortunately still a little transparent after the second layer. The shades, such as… the green, orange and burgundy… were great after two coats. The yellow and one of the purples however, did require a third layer. **Just note… that the colour samples on top of these bottles are not very accurate for the orange and burgundy… well – completely off to be fair! They’re all rather pretty autumnal colours though.

  • Pull/capping

Something I noticed when comparing these to my Blue-sky gels, is that that these produce some pulling at the tips of the nails once painted. Meaning that they sometimes magically… kind of elastically, shrink away from the tips of your nails before your eyes! Again, this surprisingly only seemed to happen with a few of the colours. Fear not – we will later discuss how to fix this issue ; )

  • The Scent

These gels had a rather chemically strong kind of scent… but certainly not dissimilar to any other gel. In fact – almost an identical smell to my blue-sky polishes.

  • Setting

The Beetle gel set like any other gel under an LED lamp – in sets of thirty and sixty seconds. I noticed that certain shades set smoother than others – my theory is that this must be down to the different formulas and consistencies of each unique colour. I’ve found that some shades work beautifully… some don’t.

  • Mixing with other brands

I did actually buy the Blue-sky base and ‘no wipe’ top coat… as recommended by a friend. I found that the Beetles gels worked really well with the Blue-sky bases and tops – bonus.

  • Longevity

Okay, so in all honesty – if you’re seeking something that should last you the whole month through – then these gels probably won’t be satisfactory to you. If you’re okay with something that will last anything from around 7 to 14 days though – depending on how you care for them; or, if you’re simply looking for gels to practise with – then these might well be worth a try. I’m still a tad shoddy at applying this stuff, so I’m happy enough with this for now ;P

Girl holding Beetles Gel nail polish led lamp autumn manicure

Okay, so a few quick tips and tricks for preparing and applying these gels

  • No. 1 – thoroughly clean your nails

The important thing to remember, before applying any gel polish, is that if your nails aren’t completely oil free and clean – the gels will not set as well, or last to their full potential. You don’t need all the fancy cleansers (of course please do if you so wish), but to be honest – I usually just grab some baby shampoo and a nail brush – and cleanse my hands this way.

  • No. 2 – use a cuticle remover lotion and shape, shape… shape!

Okay, so this one is gold… and not expensive. I absolutely swear by the Sally Hansen – Instant Cuticle Remover, priced around about £5.99 – available in boots, Amazon… Superdrug – wherever. You simply squeeze it onto your cuticles; and after fifteen seconds or so – work it in and push your cuticles back with a cuticle stick. The aim is, to wash the solution off after around a minute… as it can be a tad harsh if left on for too long. A product like this, will basically ensure, that there’s nothing sharp for your gel to cling to – and the over all appearance will be more chic. Just be sure to thoroughly dry your nails after this part.

Girl holding Sally Hansen gel nails cuticle remover to do gel manicure
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover…
  • No. 3 – shape your nails

This one goes without saying really – but be sure to shape and smooth your nails with a file. Ensure that they’re the desired length and shape before paining. Level out any bumpy bits on the nail plate.

  • No. 4 – Base coat

The next step, i’ve been told is essential… so I just do it – it’s the base-coat. It’s meant to improve the longevity of the gel, and boost the over all finish. Unfortunately, I can’t really comment too much on the overall effectiveness of the base, as i’ve never actually done it withoutbut I’m told that it’s well worth doing! make sure you cure it for thirty seconds upon application.

  • No. 5 – first layer of gel

Okay, so for the most exciting part – swiping on your favourite colour and seeing how it turns out! As mentioned above – the first layer is the one that you will want to pay the most attention to – if you want to make these budget gels work.

So, as soon as you swipe on your very first nail… you want to ‘cap’ the nail end – or free edge as the professionals call it – straight away. This basically means to just seal the edge with a little gel – to help prevent the gel from shirking back up the nail – and to also help keep the edges chip-free once set. I can’t stress this one enough – especially for cheaper gels, as it will be the difference between the gel setting nicely – or the edges looking incomplete.

It may be also worth mentioning, that you don’t need to push your paint, right up to the nail edges. What i’ve learnt, is that you’re actually far better off… with a tiny space – to help avoid the gel catching on the skin and then lifting off easily. If it sets on your skin – you will certainly have lift-off!!

  • No. 6 – cure with an LED lamp

For the first layer – it’s perfectly fine to cure the gel for thirty seconds… although I personally tend to do it for around 45 seconds – just to be on the safe side!

  • No. 7 – second layer of gel and cure

Swipe on your second coat of coloured gel – no need to cap any edges for this layer. Once you’re happy each nail is on neatly enough – cure again for between thirty and sixty seconds. I personally like to cure the second layer for about 45 seconds.

  • No. 8 – assess the opacity

Okay, so you’ve nearly finished. But, before slapping on that beautiful glossy top coat… you will need to firstly assess your nails, and decide whether or not you would like a third layer. As i’ve found… you may also find that some colours do need a third layer – and others are already completely opaque by round-two. If they do require a third coat – simply repeat the process again.

  • No. 9 – top coat

To be honest, I would always choose the wipe free top coats – it’s just a personal preference – nothing more. I just find that they provide an instantly impressive finish – without having to scrub away any stickiness! You can usually apply your top coat quite sparingly, as i’ve found that a little tends to go a long way. For this part, I would always cure for the full sixty-seconds, as it just seems to ensure that everything stays put.

And that’s it congratulations… you can now admire your work :p #Autumn ready ; )

Woman sitting down wearing yellow floral dress and autumn inspired colourful gel nails manicure

So would I re-purchase these gels?

So, in all… after trying Beetles gels a handful of times now – I think my overall opinion of them, is that they’re lots of fun to experiment with; and they’ve certainly helped me to grasp the different techniques for the application of gels. I think that some of the colours are absolutely stunning – especially the purple and orange shades… however, for the purple – I do usually need to apply three coats. For me, when I wear gloves when I’m washing up and take care of them – I can get between 12-14 days out of them. If I’m going about my day without much care (the most likely scenario for me), then they will last me on average 7-8 days.

So, these gels certainly don’t last as long as getting them done professionally – which is around 4 weeks. But, they do provide a quick solution… for getting beautiful looking nails for any occasion… when you just can’t be bothered with all the worry of smudging them. They’re also great for practising with 😉

I would say, that I would purchase these gels again – purely to add additional colours to my collection, or for a quick cheap fix – when craving a different colour. If it was majorly important to me, that they lasted – then I would definitely look into the more expensive alternatives.

As you can see under the light, the purple is a tad more transparent than the rest! **Note, that the colours here are appearing brighter than they actually are. The previous pictures provide a more accurate idea of the different shades. Hope you enjoy experimenting with your gels – whichever ones you decide to try : )

And The Working From Home Debate Begins… Again

A person sitting on the floor and working from home during pandemic

Little did we know, while celebrating New Years Eve of 2019, that we would actually be cheering ourselves into… a global crisis. The highly unanticipated pandemic, has encouraged many discussions and debates, surrounding working from home – and the prospects of permanently introducing, greater levels of flexibility… into our working lives.

Due to Coronavirus cases being on the rise again – and another lockdown inevitable… the nation has been asked once again by the government, to work from home where possible. This time around however – it’s different… because we now know, what it is that we can expect. We’ve realised what it means to us to work from home – and our opinions on the matter have grown.

If you had asked me about the prospect, of working from home last year – I wouldn’t have known what to make of it. While I know that I would have liked the idea, of having the comfort of my own surroundings – at the same time, I also know… that I would have been nervous about stepping into such uncharted territory. Fast forward a few months into the pandemic – where flexible working became our reality – and it’s meant that i’ve had the space to develop my thoughts, on the pros and cons of home-working…

So, here goes:

Positive Outcome No. 1 – More Rest

This one, is as simple as stated. Since it was no longer necessary to get up so early; it meant that instead of rushing around each morning, I could instead, take a little more time in bed – and then get ready, without the pressure of having to ‘dress-up’ each day. The outcome for me, was that I didn’t feel as drained come the weekend… and feedback had itthat I seemed more relaxed while at home.

Positive Outcome No. 2 – Goodbye Traffic Jams and Carbon Emissions

Far fewer people were driving into work during the first lockdown… meaning, that the stress of spending too much time stuck in trafficwas virtually non-existent. Home workers didn’t have to face it – and for the frontline workers, their journey times were usually halved – due to the roads being so clear. For me – and for many others... this meant that stress levels reduced… along with the harmful carbon emissions – flooding into our atmosphere and ruining our earth.

Positive Outcome No. 3 – The Office Chit-Chat

The office banter… oh lord. I’m sure we can agree – well some of us anyway, that the general day-to-day chit-chat in an office, can be outright distracting and unproductive. Of course, it can be great to have a catch up with our colleagues, but let’s face it – when you add up all the little conversations, that take place within the office each day – you’re likely talking… more than an hour of your working day – basically down the drain. I found that while working from home, I could usually concentrate more, because I could crack on without Sally or Sarah popping in every twenty minutes for a chat.

We then of course, also have the introverts. And introverts, will almost always work more productively – in the tranquillity of their own space. Being introverted doesn’t have to mean unsociable or unfriendly – it simply means a little shy… or not shy. But, whatever it means – it’s somebody who just happens to thrive, in a more peaceful – less-banter orientated environment – and that’s okay.

Positive Outcome No. 4 A Calmer Me – apparently…

So, without the added stresses of having to get up at the crack-of-dawn, find presentable work attire and slap on some make up… then to spend fifty minutes driving into work when the traffic was bad… the general consensus amongst my family, was that I seemed more present and contented. And, to be quite frank – I can say that I would agree with this observation.

Positive Outcome No. 5 – Energy and Productivity

For me, working from home provided me with an ideal family-work-life-balance; which ultimately meant – that myself and my family, were in a better… more energised place. It meant that I felt motivated, to get on with my work at home – and it also meant that I didn’t find any of it to be a chore. Working from home – gave me more time and energy, to get work done… and to also be more present with my son. I found, that because I had more time – and was comfortable at home… I on many occasions actually worked overtime.

And for the cons…

Negative Outcome No. 1 The Convenience of Face-To-Face Interaction

The first negative outcome for me, was the lack of human interaction. And yes, I’m aware that this contradicts, what I previously said about office chit-chat. What I mean… is in the sense of convenience. What I missed while working at home, was the convenience – of being able to show my colleague something straight away... rather than having to rely on the likes of Microsoft Teams. Similarly, if my manager wanted to show me something, she would also have to do it via Microsoft Teams… and occasionally, the internet connection would let us down. Due to barriers such as these, it made me feel, that professional interactions, in some ways – are always going to be stronger, when working closely together.

Negative Outcome No. 2 Two Words... The Fridge

While working from home, I noticed that I was visiting my fridge a little more than usual. I found that concentrating on work… made me feel more hungry – and although much of this hunger will have been psychological… it didn’t seem to stop me opening that cool box several times too often each day!

And To Conclude…

Since gaining a much deeper insight – into home-working-life… and coming to the realisation, that it is in fact feasible… I can’t help but feel, that Covid-19, has placed ‘working from home’ – firmly on the map. To me it seems, that the pandemic has left an indelible imprint on our working culture… and it will likely shape the way that things are done… for the years to come . It’s calved an alternative route – for professionals to explore.

So, for the productive introverts – who have demonstrated that their work can be carried out successfully from home – – I saylet them. And… for the social butterflies who chit-chat their way around the office – and prefer being in an office environment – let them remain in the office. To me… It’s – as – simple – as – that.

I would absolutely love to hear, your own experiences of Covid-19 and working from home, so please – leave your comments down below and subscribe : )

With warm wishes as always,

Olivia xo

You’ve Got To Make Your Bed

Mummy and toddler lying on the bed
A Little Motivation Please…

The Saturday before last, felt it was deemed to be a wasteful day for me. I could just feel it coming. I had all the best intentions, for my sacred time-off at the weekend, but for some reason I just woke up that Saturday morning, feeling sluggish and de-motivated. My plans to get the hoovering done and the garage organised first thing… basically went down the toilet. I was slow that morning – at best… and the more sluggish and slow that I was – the more guilty and dissatisfied with myself I became.

So, what did I do next ? Well, I had a little word with myself – and I then went upstairs… and I made my bed… nothing more. For something that sounds to be, such a simple and mundane task… for me – it completely salvaged the rest of my Saturday. And – here’s why…

Making my bed almost – first-thing that morning; meant that I had accomplished, the very-first task of my day… after fixing breakfast for my son that is. It meant that I had to move my body – instead of just flopping on the sofa. It also meant, that I had to pick the cushions up off the floor… and decide on how to make the room look aesthetically pleasing again.

I repeat, as mundane as it may sound – this one simple task, taking less than five minutes of my time – ended up being, the ultimate gateway… to the meaningful and productive day that would follow. It got me up and movingwhich is always a good start, it then got me thinking creativelyawakening my mind; and most importantly – I could feel the endorphins being released… as I began to acquire a small sense of achievement and pride.

As I admired, my immaculately made up bed – my energy levels began to increase leaps and bounds. The uncomplicated task – of making my bed, had spurred me on… to crack on with my household tasks... and before I knew it not only had I got myself ready to go out, I had also – hoovered the house, put the washing on… and cleared some of the junk out of the garage… all by 11am!

You see, making your bed in the morning, I feel – is what separates us, from the ‘teenager’ that once was – to the adult who now is. And as drastic as it may sound… bare with me on this; but, an un-made bed to me – would be the perfect portrayal, of a juvenile mind. It would be the representation, of a person who is struggling to master the smaller things in life. A-fully-made-bed on the other hand… represents a matured individual the adult who has learnt to master the smaller things; and who is therefore equipped to handle the larger things to come.

I should probably say – that I’m certainly not suggesting that you’re a child… if you do happen to leave your bed unmade – we all do it from time-to-time ; ). But what I am saying, is that it’s the smaller details in life that really matter… and that are unfortunately – often overlooked. If you’re reading this post… and you do happen to be feeling a bit sluggish or just generally down then I have a special request for y o u. As soon as you put-down your phonego and make your bed my friend… if you haven’t already that is!

Because, you may just find, that your beautifully made-up cosy-pit… provides you with just enough incentive – to get everything done that you need to do today : ).

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on all things motivation… so please leave a comment down below and subscribe to – Beauty and the Mum =)

With warm wishes as always,

Fly on the wall

AKA – Olivia

Toddler Tantrums – The Low Down

A toddler having a tantrum in a phone box

Erm no, my baby is so sweet – I don’t think this one will suffer with the ‘terrible twos’… she says!

‘The terrible twos’ – as they sometimes put it… meaning toddler tantrums, is a beautifully-chaotic phase, that appears to pop-up out-of-nowhere – somewhere around the age of two. It’s when your lovely baby boy or girl (it applies to both), really begins to develop their sense-of-self and mind. Unlike the baby that they previously were – craving mainly attention… they have now realised, that they’re an entirely separate person to you; and they have developed stronger preferences… that they’ll as-sure-as-sugar – try to demonstrate to you. At this point, a little power struggle commences – between toddler and parent… but try not to panic – it’s. perfectly. normal !

I remember initially – whenever my little boy was in the middle of a tantrum – I mean rolling around on the floor and screaming-the-house-down kind of tantrum… I always used to think – why are you doing this to me? What have I done wrong? At the beginning of it all I can recall sometimes getting upset… and honestlyalmost taking it personally. I just couldn’t seem to get my head around, how we were laughing and enjoying each others company, a short second ago – yet now, he was treating me as arch-enemy.

I remember trying everything with him – I would initially stay incredibly calm and wait it out. If this didn’t work, I would try to cuddle him – plastering him in kisses and sweet-talk. If this also didn’t work, I would try to be funny – which would inevitably make him become more hysterical. And then when all-else-failed – and I felt I had exhausted my energy resources… I would then become flustered and frustrated with him – which again… only amplified his hysteria.

For me, the time when the penny dropped… on this unfamiliar tantrum-territory – was a very surreal moment for me indeed. I had been bathing my little tot – and we’d been having lots of fun together in the tub, you know… all the toys and the sing-songs – the whole shebang! Everything again – was going beautifully well…until it was time to get out of the bath that is. My little one went absolutely berserk – I mean… probably the worst hysteria I have ever experienced from him.

This time… in place of trying to negotiate with him – I instead analysed, his every-moveincredibly closely. I got down on the bedroom floor with him – and simply sat on the carpet propped up against the drawers. He was screaming, slapping me, putting his head in his hands – he was literally all over the place.

So, I simply sat. Nothing else. I sat propped up with my legs open – so he could come in for a cuddle if he needed to… and I just sat and waited. He was climbing all over me, then running around the room – then climbing all over me again trying to have a hug, then walking away and screaming again. But:- Instead of trying to talk, lots of sugary-sweet-talk to him… I simply held, a gentle look of empathy on my face – so it meant that my whole demeanour, was down to his level and friendly. I then said – in the calmest, most sincere tone that I possibly could – ‘it’s okay darling – I know it’s hard, when you have to stop doing something that you were enjoying doing – yes, it’s okay to be upset darling’. And then I just waited.

Suddenly – my toddler now had his arms properly around me – he was still standing up on me, but every now and again, I just repeated ‘I know darling, it’s hard isn’t it’. I said this ever so calmly and gently – yet somehow, still firmly enough… for him to know that bath time had definitely finished. Eventually – and yet so suddenly… my toddler had stopped the hysteria; and he was now in more of a – sniffy-snotty state. In this moment, I then asked – ‘would you like to have a cuddle baby?’ – (he answered yes)… ‘okay then darling – let’s have a cuddle’ – you get the gist! And then, to my absolute astonishment – my little tot was now fully embraced, in a cuddle with me.

He was significantly calmer... and rather than yelling hysterically – he was now sniffing back much smaller tears. He’d completely “surrendered” – and before I knew it, he was agreeable to most things that I suggested. i.e. ‘would you like to choose some pyjamas now… yea. ‘Would you like to have some milk now darling?’ – yea pleaseand so on.

What suddenly hit me, was the realisation, that this little toddler he. is. just. that a toddler. I realised in that moment, that toddlers do not actually possess – a great deal of logic, or the means to be rational with us. Although their will and ideas are certainly strong… they don’t always know, exactly what it is – that they actually want; and they don’t always know – how to communicate what they are feeling to us. In my sons case, he was feeling frustrated – for the fact that I was going against what he wanted to do; and since he didn’t have the level of communication, or the ability to rationalise – it therefore built up into an explosive form of frustration for him – and he could only express it… in the form of a highly emotional tantrum.

I came to realise – by watching; and by really trying, to find it in myself to understand… that my toddlers behaviour was not in any way done on purpose… or for the sheer sake of it. I soon realised, that it’s simply all part-and-parcel, of this vital stage in their development – an outlet for the emotions, that they can’t quite understand… and of course – just being a normal two-year-old.

When my son was attending nursery, I was talking to one of the lovely nursery-nurses – about his behaviour. At that point, I was at the stage, where I was still getting used to the tantrums. I’d been trying various gentle methods, to help my son work through his anger, but the one thing I hadn’t thoroughly tested… was the ‘naughty-step‘. So, I asked the nursery nurse, what she thought about the naughty-step technique; and her response was, that she felt it would be fine – but, she explained that it was essential – that I stayed near my son – during ‘naughty-step time’.

So, that very night – when my little one threw a big hissy fit – I set out a comfy little leather foot stool… and had him sit there for two minutes. I explained to him why we were doing this – and I told him, that if we are naughty and don’t listen to mummythen we will be taking time-out… on the naught chair. Of course, my son began crying… and crying some more, but… to my absolute astonishment – he stayed on the chair! While he didn’t like the experience – he bizarrely seemed to understand, that he was there as a consequence, of his behaviour. I sat on a chair very near to him – and gently talked him through the process. As we approached the last few seconds, I went over to him (at his level) and asked if he was going to be a good boy?. He said yes – and so, I asked him if he would like a cuddle… and he again said yes. So, we had a cuddle – and then after that, he was happy and also behaved… result!

Something I always wonder as a parent, is what it would it be like – to be a fly on the walljust to observe myself for a moment ? This is a thought, that I now live by – when it comes to dealing with my son; and I would like to share it with you – because it’s a really thought-provoking concept. During any given tantrum, I always try to think to myself, okay – so how would the fly-on-the-wall, be perceiving this? What would the fly have to say, about what the toddler is doing – versus how the parent (me)… is reacting to the toddler? The toddler being two-and-a-half – and me being thirty…? ?

With this in mind… I now always try to look at situations… from the outside in. Meaning, that instead of firstly paying attention to my own emotions – and acting based on what I am seeing with my own eyes… and to what I am feeling inside – Instead – I first look at how I’m behaving… in the ‘eye of the fly’. Because, the eye of the fly – can see everythingnot just your child like you can… they can see you too. The fly on the wall – is your perspective. And perspective – is a really useful and beautiful thing.

Honestly, it’s really not easy being a parent; and I can thoroughly identify and empathise – with every single one of you, who are struggling with this challenging phase. None-of-us are perfect – and we’re all only human, so it’s tough… it really isn’t easy. My sincere hope is, that if you do take anything away from this post… I hope it can be a little strength; and also the courage to know – that you’ve got this. Because it does. get. easier.

With warm wishes as always,

Fly on the wall

AKAOlivia xo

The Tale of COVID-19

This year – 2020, has been an extraordinary year for all of us… in different kinds of ways.

Speaking for myself – I sat cooped up in my bedroom ‘working from home’ for months-on-end. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, my son’s daddy was at home full-time – so in the knowledge that I had a reliable ‘babysitter’… I moved my computer from downstairs, into our bedroom upstairs – for the peace and quiet. While I’ll admit, this set-up did feel a tad strange – it just seemed to be a considerably less distracting alternative – to trawling through spreadsheets… with ‘Cat in The Hat’ reverberating in the background.

So, while acclimating to this bizarre, work-from-home routine – and spending our evenings glued to the BBC news, watching Coronavirus spiral out of control across the globe – in frightening increments each day… naturally, I began to reflect upon this life – in the most profound ways.

Why and how was this happening? Was the origin of this devastating outbreak, really a fish market in Wuhan? Did it seep through the vents of an underground laboratory? Or… was it a manifestation of a supernatural force – an interception of human kind… sent to protect Mother Earth? Was it a divine force convincing us – that enough was enough..? And when the message didn’t appear to be getting through to us all – would the force continue to get stronger?

Divine intervention – attempt number one, initially zoned in on a few thousand Brits – sending them into the supermarkets, in a buy-all-you-can frenzy. Shelves were stripped to their core, leaving key workers, the vulnerable and the elderly – unable to access the most basic essentials, this being – foods, hygiene products and toilet paper.

Inevitably – the nation became angry and bitter – bitter towards the imbeciles, that the divine force sent into our shops – to hoard our supplies. This then lead to a big congregation (at a two-meter-distance of course) – of politicians, having a series of discussions about how they would tackle this madness. Basic life lessons, began being delivered to the public, via the means of television and radio – explaining to human beings, how we should take only what we need; and why we should and can – care for each other by washing our hands.

The British for some reason, were still not getting the message. The nation was insistent upon the idea, that this ‘Covid thing’ was a hoax; and so, they were still going out – without their masks on. The Brits continued to hoard toilet paper in case of… well, I’m not sure.

Divine intervention number two – when basic lessons didn’t work for the proud British, our very own prime minister Boris Johnson, was confirmed to be Covid-19 positive. He was looking like death-warmed-up… and then suddenly – Britain woke up. Now that the main man himself had the virus; shortly after this – the rules were to be implemented, that the wearing of facial masks would be essential. The nonchalant British, would no-longer be allowed to enter the shops – for their toilet roll, if they refused to wear their masks – and restrictions on essential-item-purchases, were to be put in place.

So, with Covid cases beginning to soar in the UK; and with Boris looking so poorly – now in intensive care… Britain finally started taking notice. The nation began abiding by the rules and wearing their masks – and also buying less; and ever-so-gradually – the supermarkets began to replenish. British people began to realise, that they could in fact survive – with far less than they thought; and that there were people around them – in much greater need. Some Brits, even began joining the NHS volunteering scheme – and helping people less fortunate than themselves… divine force beginning to work 😉

Like me, many people suddenly found themselves, in a position – where they were now forced to work from home. The ones who were on furlough, became more grateful for things as simple as time; and the ones working from home, became more appreciative for the fact that they still had a job. The self-employed tore their hair out and prayed for a solution, while others… gave up.

The younger generation, had to find ways to entertain themselves – some even discovered new talents – they never knew they had. Some became impatient – making silly decisions, such as: hosting in-door gatherings – and making the older generation mad. And like me – many of the 90’s babies, entered their 30th year this year… but in an entirely atypical way – in the security blanket of lock-down. So NO boogie-boogie for us.

Air pollution, green house gasses – our biggest global threat. Yet we watched on in astonishment, as the roads began to clear – and a clean-silence filled our air. These unprecedented timesnot-so-surprisingly triggered, a major decrease in harmful carbon emissions… the only positive outcome – to emerge from Covid-19.

But now... the students have now gone back to school – and many of us have returned to work. One by one, we observe the vehicles creeping back in; and on the radio we hear that cases of Covid are climbing back-up again. So around in circles we go… waiting on a vaccine… and a divine interventionnumber-three!

This year has certainly been a sad and uncertain one – unfortunately for many people. Too many human beings, have lost their jobs or even their loved ones – due to this very real virus. For some, anxiety levels have soared… and for the very lucky few – it’s been an outlandishly-extravagant – family-bonding fresh chapter. Whatever Covid-19, has meant to you or to me – the one thing that I’m sure we can all agree on is that it’s been outright blighting and peculiar… and the fight will go on.

The Quick Messy Bun – A Mum’s Guide For When Time Is Limited

Blonde mummy girl wearing her hair up in a messy bun

Hello lovely people – I’m really delighted to see you here… at Beauty & The Mum =)

Today, I am going to talk about – the topic of TIME – a touchy subject for some of us… I’m almost sure of.

Instead of just talking about it though – my intention for this post… is to offer you some ways, to save precious time in your mornings. With this exciting thought in mind – I will be sharing with you, my favourite hair-hacks – that will no-doubt shave off some minuteswhen you need to get out that front door !

In a nut shell – as my life began to evolve in various ways, I certainly came to realise, that as a mum of a little tot, finding time for myselfwas indeed going to be tough. Everything-had-changed. While plenty of things have in fact changed for me, in such stunningly-beautiful waysat times it can also feel as though; there just aren’t enough hours in my day. As a mum – I can often feel like I fail – to tick off my growing ‘to do list’ – and even worse… fail to make myself look presentable at times. Not an ideal reality right… ?!

When you’re a parent – there’s this little human-being ‘creature’, just wanting to follow you around… all of the time. Yes – a real little personand in any ‘spare’ moment, that you might manage to grab for yourself… boom they appear! Of course, daddy may be watching your little tot… but when toddler sees mummy taking a moment to herself… they just have to be part of that moment too. In all – your free time belongs to your little beauty. What’s yours is theirs… and what’s theirs is erm… usually their own 😆.

I’ll say it – at times, it can be tiresome being a parent – and I feel that there should not be any shame in acknowledging this. It isn’t meant in a derogatory way – in any way shape or form. My son is my life – he is my world – and I adore him – – – as you will adore your tots too. B u t, as parents – this certainly doesn’t mean, that we shouldn’t find little ways – to help ourselves feel better from time-to-time ; )

Have a little watch of my video – it may just shine some light on some fantastic hair tricks, for when you are really lacking in… time:

I hope that you enjoyed this video, on how to take your ‘not-so-clean’ hair – and quickly turn it, into a completely acceptable messy-up-do. This versatile style, will work for a casual day look, a work look… and of course – it will be perfectly okay for an evening occasion too ; )

If, like me – you feel incredibly pushed for time sometimes, then feel free to give this convenient hair style a try; and do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below 🙂

Remember – it gets easier… with time!

With love and warm wishes,

Fly on the wall

AKA – Olivia xo