It's over to you 

Hello and welcome to my new style blog... Might not look massively different to you but it now enables me to do things on it, well that I have no idea how to do but I'm a 'I'll do that if I want to' kinda girl so you might find some new features around here in the not too distant future.  To launch this new little space I handed this blog over to all my friends on Insta to answer any question you would like to ask... A sort of 'ask me anything' as I get lots of DMs each day on different topics. 

So here we go!

Q - what made you start your Insta/ blog?

A - I had my Instagram set up from before I got pregnant with Bella, I just posted the very odd Valencia toned photograph but by the time Annie came along I really wanted somewhere to be able to document all the cutesy outfits, sleeping baby pics and rejoice in managing a warm cup of tea without completely boring my Facebook friends. The blog was more for me, a creative outlet where I could document a snippet of life whilst also having a little escape, I have been used to working from a very young age and having 2 maternity leaves so close together it was nice to let me feel I was working on something. 

Q - what's your job?

A - I get asked this one a lot and starting back to work after maternity leave I was kind of worried about the blog and Insta, not because anything I mention is about the company but because in the job I do I work with/ manage a lot of people and over sharing isn't something I would normally do but with my Instagram being very honest at times and documenting both the highs and lows I really felt I completely opened up. My fears were unnecessary though as my company really encourages being yourself and embracing technology, my blog even formed some discussion in a meeting for promotion. Anyway I am sorry I am missing the point, I am a store manager for a large supermarket retailer, I still prefer not to mention the name as even though I talk regularly about my work life 'balance' I still like to keep them separate. 

Q- I love your names for your girls, they suit them so well, how did you decide on the names Bella and Annie?

A -  oh I love this question though it could get long so will try to keep it sort. I always loved the name Isabella but Colin preferred Bella, I knew that she would probably get her name shortened anyway and the minute she was born she just looked like a little Bella... Beth and Nora were also names I considered calling her and I still love these names. 

Annie- well I loved the name Nora, Martha or Annie, I found out my granny passed away just as I found out I was pregnant and Colin's granny is also called Annie but even as she was born I just couldn't decide. I loved Martha but knew that lots of people didn't like the name, tired and after a full 24 hours with no name I quickly decided on the name Annie as it was the majority vote, stuck a post up on Facebook and within a hour regretted it. Don't get me wrong I totally love the name now and she suits it so so well... But she will always be my wee Martha 😉 poor kid ended up with 3 names Annie Florence Martha, well if Princess Charlotte can have 3 names so can you! 

Q - How do you do your make up in a hurry, for me I am up at 5 and out by 6:30am.

A- snap! I have super early starts too and give about 15 mins for hair and make up. I always shower the night before so it's just a case of washing my face, brushing my teeth and firing some slap on. 

I hope to do a blog post soon on this as I have been asked a lot and give the details of all the product. With severe lack of sleep I need to look like I have had 10 hours sleep in 10 minutes so a base of concealer around my eyes and any spots is a must. I am not into/ don't have the time for any of this contouring stuff, what happened to a good old bit of blusher and bronzer? Anyway my make up routine is very old fashioned with a base of foundation (normally Estée Lauder double wear or Mac Studio fix fluid), Nars bronzer and Nars blusher, I then use Lily LoLo on my eyebrows, a quick few strokes of mascara and a long stay lippy as I am awful at reapplying. If you want more make up details and skin care I am happy to do a full blog post. 

Q- if you could give your 24 year old self advice what would it be?

A -  jeez this one is hard, it's only 4 years ago and I just found out I was expecting Bella. I think that it would be that kids don't always have to mean a step back in a career, that no time is better than now and for me, life is only beginning. 

Also I wish I adapted this a little earlier when I felt anxious 'will it matter in a year, will it matter in a week, will it matter in 24 hours, what can you do now, that's in your control?'- when I go through this I always feel any stresses lift away.

Q- any advice when juggling work commitments (esp with long hours are required) and juggling children.

A-  I would love to know if anyone could put their hand on their hearts and say they have this one nailed. I for one couldn't say it with such confidence but with every passing week I feel like I'm getting a little better. 

I think if you have good childcare that when you are at work you know that your children are safe, fed, warm and well looked after then you can put your focus into the job and then time management and organisation becomes key. I never used a planner before and it's now become critical, I plan every hour and rarely take full lunches or have working lunches to ensure every minute is maximised. When I leave on time I don't feel guilty though I don't get away on time everyday. It's the quality of the time you are there not the quantity. For me coming in after 6 then having 45 mins to 1 hour to get ready for bed and a story is hard as they are normally complete rushes with overtired children but even getting a 2 minute cuddle and catch up on your knee is golden. I spend half an hour once they go to bed to get ready for the next morning then grab a hour on the sofa with a cuppa tea. My biggest piece of advice though is to try and drop the guilt I read it even in the 'when long hours are involved' line, do what we need to do and when we have our days off we can give them lots of attention our kids will look back and see that we did our best. 

Q- how do you put up with Colin?

A-  I have no idea and ask myself this on a daily basis though he can do a ponytail, make the girls laugh to they can hardly breathe, iron, make tea and change the beds. I also do kinda like the daily banter, we aren't really a lovey dovey soppy pair but he still lets me lie my feet across him on the sofa at night and tells me to text him when I get to the car park at work in the morning.. I think that's romantic. 

Q- how do you keep your house so tidy with 2 small ones?

A- storage! Behind closed cupboard doors, cubby holes and in storage boxes is a different story and sometimes we operate an 'open at your own risk' policy but we both like things tidy and a little organised. If I'm honest my house wasn't this tidy before kids and I know it should be the other way around but before I wasn't as focused in organizing and trying to keep on top of things. I think it's because now it can spiral so quickly so I do tidy often, when the girls go to bed before I get a shower or a cuppa I run around the house putting everything back where it belongs, clothes away and toys shoved back in toy boxes.

Q- Do you have a family planner/ routine that allows you to manage work/ parenting (as much as physically possible)

A- Yes I have started to use a planner, just a day to view one. I never kept planners before but now it's the only way I can make things work. From planning childcare and both my own and Colin's working hours to appointments for everyone, tasks and what I need to do when I am in work.

 When I am working I am almost handing the girls over for the whole day from breakfast to dinner and sometimes bath as I can be away from 6:30am and not home to 6:30pm so the routine on those days is normally bedtime routine then clear up, washing and lay clothes out for the next morning. I would love to hear other people's routines too and how they do it... Any tips are welcome. 

Q- how do you organise your wardrobe and how when you open it do you decide what to wear every morning.

A- I have built in wardrobes in Annie's room, they are built in to the eves and split into 3. I have devided this into dressy clothes, comfortable/ casual clothes and then work clothes. Though after a few weeks they do get mixed up.

I am a hoarder but have been getting better at letting things go as I normally just have 3 pairs of jeans, a few tops/ jumpers that I wear on a daily basis and just rotate. If heading out for the day or somewhere special I do tend to look on Pinterest for inspo then look in my own wardrobes to see if I have something of a similar style. 

Q- what's your make up and dressing routine as you always look well dressed, groomed and put together even with 2 small children and funny working hours. 

A- I am going to do a make up blog post seperate but when I get up in the morning for work I brush my teeth, wash my face and instantly do my make up while the kids watch cartoons and jump around the bed. I have a 20 minute window here before they get annoyed. I always shower, dry and straighten my hair the night before so my hair is just a matter of quickly brushing it or tying it up in a ponytail. If working I will leave my clothes out the night before but if I'm not I won't rush to get ready in the morning and instead will go down and make breakfast first. 

I believe a bit of tan once a week also makes you look less tired and more put together than you actually are. 

Q- work like balance you really do look like you can have it all- how?

A- Oh I question every day this so called 'balance'. I'm learning to balance my expectations and that's the only thing I'm getting better at. I should say that my husband works shifts, I plan my own rota (to an extent, its retail so most Saturday's etc will be worked) but because we can work around each other we only need the girls minded twice a week so we are definitely in a great situation that way. 

Even at that it's a struggle and I have had to accept that I need and want to work, it's going to be hard but I need to just take each day as it comes, make the best of it and really be there with the girls when I'm off.. They join me in the toilet and all, we don't miss a second together.

Q- How do you get to blog/ Insta with a busy job, house to clean, 2 girls and a hubby.

A- My Insta is a hobby, I don't overthink it and I snap a pic, edit it quickly and post it up though right now I know I'm really not great at replying to all comments which I do feel bad about. I only really blog about twice per month max as it is more time consuming but I would love to post more. 

I normally post a pic or write a blog when sitting down in the evening with a cuppa and some reality television I'm not really watching on behind me, it is a little escape and due to the busy job and tiny babies that's what I love about it too. The hubby.... Well he is neglected 😉

Q- How do you shop for clothes with your little ones, where do you buy your work clothes from?

A- I do 80% of my clothes shopping online, I know the delivery drivers by name and know that 'Michael' the DPD knocks the door like we owe him money and we need to put a sign out if Annie is sleeping. Every time I go clothes shopping with both girls I leave swearing I will never try that again. 

Work clothes I hate spending money on as business dress can be very 'samey' I have recently got some nice dresses and short jackets from Zara, the very odd thing from Next, Topshop will have some formal dresses you can add a jacket too and when I have something really important on then Hobbs or Ted Baker. I plan to buy less H&M/ Next pieces and try and just buy one timeless Hobbs/ LK Bennett piece. 

Q- how do you get everything done especially your housework?

A- I am so lucky as Colin or my mum does our ironing then I try to keep the house tidy daily and clean floors/ bathrooms/ change beds etc once a week normally in the morning when Annie naps. My house isn't as clean as it looks on my Instagram, the good thing about using an iPhone instead of a camera is it misses some detail. My windows are well overdue being cleaned, my skirting boards are collecting enough fluff to make a jumper and all cupboard fronts could do with the sticky hand prints wiped off but sure the house is definitely lived in.

Q- cleaning tips/ products as your floors are always sparkling.

A- The floors are brushed at least once a day and then twice a week we wash them with hot water and the tiniest drop of flash floor cleaner, too much cleaner smears your floor and leaves a residue so warm water is the best. Cream shiny floors aren't as big an upkeep as you expect though I can deal with them not always being polished looking.

Q - What would your perfect day/ night involve?

A- ohh I like this one! I have always found that the simplest of days are normally the nicest. Obviously it would start with a full nights sleep as everyone is in great form then. A crisp, dry day to go a nice walk with the family, go out for lunch after and head to mums when she cooks for the whole family, nieces and nephews are there and we can have a wee glass of prosecco. I find now with the kids that the days with least pressure or extravagance are always the best!

Q- What are you most excited about Christmas for? And what is your Christmas Day routine?

A- I can't wait to walk in the front door after work on Christmas Eve, get the girls into the bath, put on their fresh PJs from Nana and read some Christmas stories then the next 48 hours will be all about spending time with the family and being totally there for the kids. Our Christmas Tradition will change a little this year as normally we go visit Colin's mum and dad then over to my mum and dads but this year we want to let the kids enjoy staying at home and playing with their toys as really this is the first year of excitement for Bella.

Q- Do you ever get recognized?

A- Yes, it's crazy and it's been pretty frequent recently especially when I am in Belfast. I definitely do get a little embarrassed as I am sure I probably spam so many feeds but everyone has been really lovely.

Q- How do you keep succeeding in your career, how do you stay focused on it and how do you deal with setbacks/ stress and stay positive?

A- I started with the company on a graduate programme that aimed to have you signed off as a store manager in 5 years, though every hurdle was an achievement and at stages I never saw myself making it, at least not so fast. I have had my fair share of failings and set backs but they haven't been any more than that... I took a week to lick my wounds and got back at it. I do believe everything has learnings may that be about yourself, others or how you do things. If I'm honest before having children I probably would have saw it as a career set back or stopper but in actual fact they give me the real push I needed. By stepping up I could afford to cut my hours back so instead of going higher for more money it was really for more time at home. I think the key to it is simple, by having no other aim than giving it 100% and treating people right above all else though I do suffer a little from imposter syndrome and keep thinking that some day they will wake up and think 'that girls been bluffing all this time'. 

Thanks for all your questions and I hope this hasn't bored you all too much!

Have a great week,

Anna xx

Ps, thank you for all the support, comments, messages... It means so much!