Category Archives: sleep

Voyage Fairtrade

Sam Birtwistle is a young entrepreneur from South Devon.  His business, Voyage Fairtrade, sells fair trade and ethical goods, handmade by artisans from all over the world.

What is Voyage Fairtrade?

Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods – from ornaments to practical home items.  The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible.  This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.

What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?

I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries.  With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.

What was your inspiration to start your own business?

I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16.  I was working in my first job, in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!

What is the best thing about running your own business?

You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything.  You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!

What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it.  My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!

What advice would you give to young people considering self employment?

Anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications!  I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off.  I have other disabilities too, as my balance and coordination is quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business!  So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!

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Filed under creative, online business, retail, self employment, sleep

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Advice.  When you become pregnant, you suddenly find that everyone wants to share their advice with you.  It could be your close friends and family, but more often than not it’s complete strangers giving you unwanted advice, usually whilst fondling your bump or baby without asking!  Most of this advice is well-meaning, from people who have been there and know how hard it is – they just want to try and make it easier for you, and feel involved with your little bundle of joy.  It’s down to you to decide which bits to take on board and which to ignore.

We asked Mums on Facebook to share the best piece of advice that they’ve been given.  Here are some of their responses:

Esther: Try and avoid directly comparing babies too much, particularly in terms of milestones.

Anne: Trust your instincts and spend time getting to know your baby, and don’t worry so much about what the books say! 

Victoria: Take all the help that is offered, and don’t think people will think you are a failure if you ask for help.  They won’t.  They’ll just think you are sensible for recognising when you need a hand, like we all do.

Arabella: Buy a baby sling!

Louise: When things get rough, say to yourself…….it’s just a phase.

Charlotte: Get a good group of mum friends around you who are supportive and good fun.  They’re the ones who will get you through the bad times and enjoy the good times with you!

Charlotte: At work when I was pregnant I had an elderly man tell me he was going to give me the only two bits of advice I would ever need.  The first was – don’t encourage them to talk as once they do they never stop.  And the second was – don’t worry they eventually grow up and move out.  I’m not sure either would be in the attachment parenting handbook but it made me laugh at the time, and still does!

Justine: Books are just other people’s opinions written down. It made me realise that they are not the law to follow, but only what others THINK and I could take and leave advice as I so chose!

Sarah: If it’s not a problem for you, it’s not a problem.

Louise: Slow things down and enjoy it.  I finished work and was expecting a good couple of weeks of putting my feet up, reading, and preparing for the birth.  My little one had other ideas and turned up 12 hours later.  As a result I stayed in work mode for weeks, rushing around trying to be superwoman.  I eventually got the confidence to just chill out and enjoy the here and now and to stop willing him to be at the next stage.  It was my mother-in-law who said enjoy every moment as they don’t stay as babies for long.  And having watched Child of our Time over the past couple of nights, I realise just how quickly they can grow up, especially when I look at my little boy who resembles a toddler now much more than a baby.

What’s the best piece of advice YOU have been given?  Did you realise it at the time?

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Filed under children, Inspirational Women, planning, sleep, work-life balance

When to take a break

I like keeping busy, and definitely find that the more I do, the more I want to do.  As regular readers will know, I have two young (and very energetic) boys, a part time job, my own business, and have been planning my wedding over the last few months.  Last year I trained as a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter and was really enjoying volunteering at local Sure Start groups, but things were so hectic over the last few months that I decided to take a break from Peer Supporting to give myself some more time.  (Though I have met so many breastfeeding Mums through the Flexi-Mum project I’ve probably ended up doing just as much peer supporting!)

I am someone who wants to grab every opportunity I can, and I find it very difficult to say no, so making the choice to take a break was difficult for me, but it was so worth it.  I’d much rather do what I do well, than spread myself too thin and not manage anything as well as I’d like to.  Now that the wedding is over, and I’ve enjoyed a few quieter weeks, I’m looking forward to getting back into some more peer supporting, and spending some more time on my own business.

It can be difficult to make the decision to take a break, and sometimes it’s not possible.  But I think it’s really important to assess everything you are doing and cut back on things when and if you need to.  I’m lucky to have a very hands-on husband and we are surrounded by family members who can help us out with childcare when we need it – not everyone has so much help (hats off to anyone who manages to be a Mum living away from their own Mum!) and we do really appreciate it.  If you don’t have family close by, then try making arrangements with friends for childcare – even if it’s just so you can take a bath or get your hair cut, or catch up on housework.  It’s often easier to look after an extra child as they entertain each other.  Try setting up something like my “Team Tea” idea on a regular basis too.

It’s important to assess your life balance every now and then to see if you need to cut back on anything, or if you need to make more time to do something (it could be time with the kids, housework, reading, relaxing, seeing your friends that don’t have kids, having a date night with your partner) and then really make an effort to rearrange things so that you can fit everything in as best you can.  For me, one of the big things is seeing friends.  During maternity leave it was lovely catching up with friends most days, but now that we’re all back at work it can be ages between seeing friends and I have to remind myself that that is just the way it is when we all work!

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Filed under childcare, employment, food, Inspirational Women, planning, self employment, sleep, work-life balance

Yawn! Working when you haven’t slept

Ok, so everyone knows that having a baby means you will be having a few sleepless nights.  And for some parents that’s all it is: a few weeks of broken sleep before your baby gets the hang of it and sleeps through.  Not too disruptive as you are on maternity leave for that time anyway.  But for many, many others the broken sleep goes on well into the second and third year.

So how are you supposed to cope with sleep deprivation when you’re back at work?  Sure, before kids you might have had the occassional drink after work that went too far, so you were tired and useless the next day, but with a baby it’s night after night after night after…  The sleep deprivation can really build up, and it can become a choice between going to bed at 8pm every night or staying up to a reasonable hour but spending the next day half asleep!

In all honesty, if we’ve had a bad night and I’ve got work in the morning, the worst bit is just getting up and trying to make myself look presentable.  It’s the days where I have to get up and deal with two tired children that are the hardest!!

So, I’m afraid to say that I don’t have any tips for dealing with the sleep deprivation at work, but if you do, please, please share them below!  Also check out The All Night Milk Bar group on Facebook, to see that you are not the only one who’s up all night!

I also recently wrote this guest post for the Close Enough to Kiss Blog.

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Filed under children, employment, self employment, sleep, work-life balance