Five Things I Learned This Week – Don’t visit Ikea on a Sunday
Do not put energy saving bulbs in dimmer lights
We have this light in the boys’ room. It has always taken a candle style bulb and when the current one burnt out I took the opportunity to replace it with an energy saving bulb working on the basis that once warmed up, the energy saving one would be brighter. It was brighter. It was also capable of causing an epileptic fit given how much it flickered and scared the four year old witless. The good news was that all it took to get the four year old to sleep that night was threatening to turn on the light and watch the room turn into some sort of cheap horror movie. The bad news was we were back to square one, having spent £5 on a bulb and still didn’t have a working light. While my partner was at work I swapped the energy saving bulb for the one in his bedside lamp (hoping he wouldn’t notice). All is working brilliantly, except when he decides to read at night when the brightness of the bulb lights up half the street. Will try to remember to add candle style bulbs to my next Amazon shop.
If an appointment gets changed update your diary immediately
Most people know that I live and die by my diary and if it’s not in the diary, then it’s not happening. My youngest son has an appointment with his consultant at the hospital every six months. I put the appointment in my diary when making it at the hospital. They then wrote to me saying they had changed the appointment and I kept meaning to change the info in my diary.
My partner and I are going away for our birthdays and we have painstakingly had to work around when our children are with their other parents, work schedules and this consultant visit. In the end something had to give and I said I’d change the appointment….. which I went to do a month after booking the flights (no idea why I haven’t managed to organise this before now).
It’s lucky that I don’t get embarrassed (even when I asked someone when her baby was due and she said ‘I’ve had all my babies’ and was about 65 to boot), as the administrator on the other end of the phone had no idea what I was talking about as the appointment on his system was for the week before. Brilliant. No harm done, I now have the correct date in my diary and will find the time to break the news to the long suffering partner that we could have gone away earlier, with cheaper flights, between now and when I publish this list (yes he reads it each week so nowhere to hide).
Long term rewards work best in our house
The kids have (once again) ganged up on us and decided that what they really want is a bigger house. And a butler. And a hot tub. Given that my partner and I don’t live together so the kids can mainly choose where they want to while away their time (usually whichever house has the most junk food in stock), I felt this was a tall order. Instead I grabbed a pad and pen and asked the kids what they would like to do to their bedrooms to make them stay in them more. I mean, make the space more suited to their personalities. The list is mammoth and involves a loft conversion (in our rented house), a lot of bedroom decorations, about £4k of technology equipment and some chalk paint for the walls (can you tell there’s a girl in the mix?) Once the list had been streamed to realistic proportions and will *only* take approximately 20 weeks to carry out, we decided that rather than give our offspring all the stuff for free, they’d have to earn it.
Having given up on parenting for the day and gone in search of a glass of wine, I left it to the two eldest kids and my partner to hash out the details of how to earn all this stuff (butler not included). They quickly came up with a ‘home points’ system where they could do jobs to earn points and certain amounts of points would be awarded to the different items. In true Cruella de Ville fashion I wandered in, wafting my wine, and announced that points would also be deducted for bad behaviour.
The result….. I have barely had to do any cleaning this week, the dog has been walked (albeit in 11 minute bursts which the kids swear is a really long time) and the four year old has slept through the night in his bed on more than one occasion. If they keep all this up perhaps one day they will earn enough home points for us to get a bigger house.
Find your voice and use it
A month ago I wrote about the importance of identifying your target audience. This is vital to the success of any business, especially small businesses which tend to be quite niche. You can’t be all things to all people and you shouldn’t want to. A successful business will stand out to their ideal audience, be noticed by their lower level audience and not at all by those who aren’t the ideal customer for their product. When a client/customer is engaging with your product/service, they are engaging with you and your expertise. Therefore it is essential that you find your voice and speak to/deal with people in a way that feels wholly authentic to you.
This means not being the person or speaking in the way you think others expect you to, instead just be you. Speak in your voice, say what you want to say and write in the tone that comes naturally to you. Unless your natural state and voice is in the tone of Victor Meldrew, in which case perhaps have someone else do your marketing for you, I promise your audience will connect with you and you’ll attract the type of person you like working with best.
Visiting Ikea isn’t the best way to spend a Sunday
On Sunday my partner and I decided that life’s not challenging enough with our blended family, running a business, his day job, my neurotic dog and his temperamental cat, what we really should be doing is testing our relationship by trekking to Ikea. My friend, Katy (Hi! Sorry I’m so crap at keeping in touch) once referred to Ikea as ‘the relationship wrecker’ and that term has never been far from my mind. Optimistically we headed into the car declaring our relationship strong enough and we sailed off into…. a typical London traffic jam. A journey that should have taken 40 minutes, took 1 hour and 32 minutes. Once we arrived at Ikea we quickly realised that we hadn’t got the memo; Swedish meatballs clearly have replaced the traditional Sunday roast as just about an entire London borough (and a big one, like the one I live in) was squashed into the food hall. They say that queueing is the British National Sport so we got in line and prepared to come first. After a restorative coffee, we spent a happy couple of hours tripping over other people, walking painstakingly slowly behind families of 8 or more and being bashed into by other peoples’ children. We made a solemn vow to each other, right in the middle of the ‘office supplies’ dept that no matter how much our own children begged and cajoled, we would not allow them to enter this hell-hole and spend all our money. As youcan see from the (terrible) selfie, we survived and the weird look on my face isn’t even a smile through gritted teeth. I was just cold and wondering why I’m awful at taking selfies. The moral of this story – don’t do what we (and most of London) did and go to Ikea on a Sunday. Instead shop online, pay for the delivery and treat yourself to Sunday lunch at a local pub. I promise, you’ll enjoy it a lot more.