The Baby Business

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When you are having a baby the one thing the world wants you to buy in to is how expensive it is. The marketplace wants you to feel the need to spend hundreds of pounds on travel systems, changing stations, toys, clothes, cribs etc. etc. They want this to feel normal. For some this feeling puts them off having children, but I don’t think it would stop many that truly wanted to have a baby.

I however, want the world to stop buying in to this atmosphere, which is driven by the major companies. I would love to live in a world where buying second hand, accepting hand me downs and doing things on a budget were seen as the norm. It is the baby industry, which has driven us as a society to be working parents, with families seeing no other alternative than for both parents to be working just so they can afford all the things they think they need.

Investments

As a parent I want all my investments in my child and family to be about love and not money. My wife and I feel strongly about one of us being a stay at home mum or dad for our child until they have reached school age. We believe this is more important for her development than anything we can buy for hundreds of pounds. We know we have bills to pay, so one of us will always work but we still value time over any financial reward of being away from the house and being away from our child.

Yes we get pram envy when we see people pushing the latest and fanciest ones in the street, yes we see toys and clothes that we would love to buy for our child but what of these things is our child going to remember? I would rather invest money in her long term future like university than things she will only use for such a small portion of her life and have no recollection of when she is older, except for when she looks back at photos.

Shop around

My wife and I make sure our daughter has everything she needs and that we want her to have, we just make sure we get things for the best price. We shop around, look for deals, buy second hand and see what we can pick up for free. Just because you can afford something brand new doesn’t always mean it is a good investment and just because you can’t afford something brand new doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.

My wife and I proudly only use cloth nappies on our child because not only are they a great money saver, they are better for her skin and much more beautiful than disposable nappies. Yes they may be more work but that it isn’t a factor in our decision making process, as we just want to do what is best for our child. Best for your child isn’t always buying everything and buying it brand new and this is what I want the world to understand.

Ideas

Last weekend my wife and I made a sensory space for our daughter using ideas we found on the Internet, a box, tin foil and Christmas tree lights. It didn’t cost us anything to make yet our daughter loved it and I think it will aid her development. In this internet age it is easier than ever to get deals and ideas, so there is no excuse to be lazy and just buy the first thing you see.

My advice for this week would be if you have children is to enjoy them, want the best for them but don’t get stressed and worried about affording things as everyone with a bit of effort can get the best for their child.

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Doing things right

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This last weekend I was in London commentating on the NFL at Wembley Stadium. It was a fantastic day and a decent game of American football with the New York Jets beating the Miami Dolphins. The NFL is a yearly tradition for me and one that I always look forward to and enjoy.

The one thing I always notice when I go is how much better the NFL (and all American sports) are at putting on a show that British sports. As I was walking up to the stadium there was already so much going on (and I had to be there early). You could get your face painted, you could practice throwing an American football to an NFL player of your choice, there were huge banners and signs up featuring the best players that were going to be on show that you could get your photo taken with and the list goes on.

Experience

Then for the game experience itself, there were fireworks, lights, music, smoke cheerleaders, the national anthems sung by famous singers as well as regular freebies thrown in to the crowd. Some of these things are slowly creeping in to sports in Britain but no one has quite mastered it like the Americans have yet.

The NFL presentation is so slick and professional, from the smallest detail to the biggest; everything always seems to run seamlessly. There was fun for all the family and I don’t think there will be too many that went home who weren’t happy with their experience, although of course many may have been unhappy with the result.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is key with any type of event you are planning or attending. With the NFL you can tell every small detail has been looked at and worked on. Being a regular attendee I can also see ways they are improving it every year as they obviously do listen to feedback and every year they seem to try to do something new and better than the year before.

Next time you plan an event, make sure you look at every detail and make sure you look at it from the attendees point of view, do these two things and I am sure you will have an awesome event. Next time you attend an event try and look at the little details, look at what the event organisers have done well and what they haven’t, try to understand why things have happened and why they haven’t.

A great event should send as many people as possible away with positive feelings and the attendees should feel glad that they gave up their time and or money to attend. Never underestimate what people’s time and money is worth, they are investing it in an event so make sure you invest in them.

Why do people need to listen to you?

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This is a question I wrestle with a lot professionally and personally. What makes, what you have to say important enough, that people should listen to you? If what you say is important enough that people should listen, why aren’t they?

Regardless of your position, background, experience and intelligence, most people at some point in their life have an opinion or an idea that they think will improve something in the world around them but no one will listen. When no one listens to what you have to say, you can become very bitter, very quickly. When people won’t listen, there aren’t enough people who will keep on fighting to get their voice hard.

Frustration

It can be very frustrating when people don’t listen to your ideas in the workplace. One thing you have to remember though, is that there are probably many people in the organisation with different ideas and that just because you might think your idea is the best, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best. It is so easy to get blinkered in to thinking that you know everything and know what is best but it is important that you try not to.

It is also very easy to start thinking that you are the only person with the idea you have in your head and that no one else has ever had that idea or one similar. The reality with most thoughts is that others will have already had them before you or at least ones very similar.

Research

When I have an idea, the first thing I do is research it. See if anybody else has had success with it and then really think about the idea from all sides to make it the best idea possible and turn that idea in to a plan.

There is a phrase that actions speak louder than words; I think you need to apply this school of thought if no one is listening to your idea. Can you do a small trial or experiment of your idea to show people in a tangible way what can happen if they used your idea. In todays world people seem to need numbers and evidence to believe an idea will work, so it is up to you to get those things.

Listening

Companies need to do a lot better job at listening to ideas from all levels of staff, as sadly at the moment too many only listen to consultants or managers. This is a hard dynamic to change and you can’t do it by yourself overnight. Until it does change the only thing you can keep on doing is trying to prove that your ideas are better than others. If they still don’t want them after that, then put them in front of a different audience that might want them.

People need to wake up to the fact that ideas can be birthed in anyone, you don’t have to be an expert, a consultant or manager to have an idea that could change the way a company does business.

You wouldn’t say that to someone’s face

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The invention of social media has a lot to answer for at times. On platforms like Twitter, people seem to think it is acceptable to tweet horrible messages to others for everyone to see, with no second thought on how it is going to make the person they are directed at feel. Because people don’t have to give out their address or personal information on Twitter, people feel they can post anything without the fear of reprisal or getting in trouble as Twitter struggles to police its users due to the volume of offensive tweets being sent out every minute.

Notoriety

What is even worse on Twitter is the mob mentality, people are not only tweeting horrible things to get at people, they are also doing it to get noticed and notoriety as people seem to like favouritng and retweeting offensive things because they see it as funny that someone has the bravery to post it. If only more people clicked the report button, than the retweet button Twitter would be a much better place.

On Twitter people feel they have to react to things they don’t like or people they don’t like by tweeting them back something abusive, offensive or negative. It seems on Twitter that people just can’t let things go and not rise to things that are being said. The best way to shut something down is to not react, as I’m sure most people are posting on Twitter to get a reaction, so if you don’t react they will get bored before long.

Respect

If you have a problem with someone, the best way to deal with them is to talk to them directly and in private. I have respect for anyone who is able to work out their problems in this way. Sorting out a problem with someone shouldn’t be about damaging them or embarrassing them.

Some people think tweets can change the world and take to the platform to attack companies who they think have done them wrong in some way. One thing I have to say to those people is that I don’t think someone with a Twitter account scares big companies. If you have a real problem with a company, do something about it and do something better with your time than just tweeting them everyday.

Making it up

I hate that on Twitter you can make anything up you like about people or companies, tweet it and it is then up there for everyone to see. Sadly too many people read what they see on Twitter and believe it. Not everything that is tweeted is true and if someone is posting unsubstantiated claims it is probably because their actual argument is quite week.

Having the ability to access Twitter anywhere in the world we are, at any time, thanks to the phone in our hands means that not many people think before tweeting and instead of thinking about what is happening they are thinking of the best thing they can tweet. So when you are out and about in the future why not see what changes when you keep the phone in your pocket rather than rushing to tweet about life.

The best way to win an argument is to avoid them

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I think one of the most futile things in the world is an argument. In the instant world we live in, people seem to make arguments out of anything these days. People seem to go online with a want to argue with people or the want to try and start an argument.

If you seriously care about educating someone or changing someone’s opinion I think having an argument is one of the least effective ways of making a difference. If someone thinks they are right and you try and argue with them, all that it is more than likely to do, is get their back up even more and for that person to dig their heels in further. The problem with the internet these days is that you can literally find something to back up any argument and then you wait and watch, when you argue with someone online, for them to come running back with some links they have found.

Relationships

Arguing only leads to break downs in relationships and makes it even harder for you to get your point across to the person you are arguing with, as they are less likely to listen to you. Remember what you say only matters, if the person you want to listen is listening.

Nobody wants to look stupid or be embarrassed. No one likes to get things wrong or be ganged up upon. This is why so many of us are afraid to lose arguments. Taking that step of admitting defeat or being wrong is a step too far for many people, because instead of treating it as learning or being better informed they can’t get past the not wanting to be seen to be wrong.

Challenging

When trying to challenge someone’s views or change their opinions I would always advise of doing this out of the public sphere. You are more likely to be effective in person, talking to someone one-on-one and someone is more likely to listen to you, as they don’t have the worry of other people watching or getting involved, like you have online.

When you are arguing with someone, even if they keep coming back at you, the person might be being affected by what you are saying but they will never admit it and you will never know, these are more reasons why I think arguing is futile. The dangerous thing with arguments is that sometimes the smallest disagreement can lead to the biggest argument and the argument then grows so big that you lose perspective, on how it started and what you are arguing for.

Approaches

This is why I dislike it when I see people out and about whilst on a high street on a busy shopping day who are from churches and ministries (or more often one man mission) who are handing out leaflets and telling people they are going to hell or that they need to repent. The reason I hate it is, more often that not all that approach starts is an argument. If arguing with people worked, every church would be doing it and everyone would be a Christian.

Instead of rushing to an argument when someone says something you disagree with, why not take a moment and ask yourself why you think that person thinks the way they do. Try and understand the person’s past, because normally there are clues there and then try and work out what is the best way to engage with them. Timing is also key, as when someone is feeling emotional about a topic its probably not the best time to bring it up with them.

I’m not saying avoid the hard topics and the hard conversations as I think these are the most important ones to have. There are so many views in this world that need to be challenged, but challenged doesn’t mean argued. To me the more you have to argue the less strong your point is, as it is normally the views that don’t need an argument to back them up that are the best.

An important thing to do is not to take everything on your shoulders; it is not your job in life to change everyone’s viewpoints. You have to be wise and know when someone else might have a better chance than you of changing someone’s mind and leave it to them.

Just remember if you show someone you love them they will be more likely listen to you.

The Weekend To Do List

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One of the things that my wife and I do most weekends is write a ‘to do list’. I love ‘to do lists’. ‘To do lists’ help us plan, help us decide what is important and help us shape our weekend.

Whenever I can in life I want to spend my time intentionally. Time goes by so quickly in life and I want to make the most of it. I think it is so easy to lose time or to not do the most with the time we have and I don’t want to fall in to that trap. If I am going to do nothing, I want it to be because I think it is best for me and because I have made a conscious decision to do nothing. I’m not saying everything has to be planned and that you shouldn’t do anything spontaneously, I am just saying I want to do things because I want to do them, not because I’ve got nothing else better to do.

Importance of weekends

Weekends are important to me, as it is time for my wife and I. After working for 5 days I don’t want to ever waste the two days I get with my wife. I want to make the most of my weekends. Weekends go by so quickly and I want to go back to work on Mondays knowing that I had the best weekend, I possibly could have.

Doing a ‘to do list’ together with my wife on Fridays starts our weekend off in the right way. It gives us the opportunity to let each other know what we want to do this weekend and helps us work out when the best times are in the weekend to do them. This list helps us make the weekend what it is.

Adapting

We don’t always do or achieve everything we set out to with our weekend, but that isn’t the point of the list. The list is an ideal for the weekend but we don’t live or die by it. Sometimes we put too much on and sometimes things change due to weather, illness etc. If these things happen, we just choose what is most important and achievable, then leave the rest for another evening or weekend.

Putting everything down on a list makes sure nothing gets forgotten about and gives us the chance to see how achievable, what we want to achieve is. By writing it all down it is easy to see if you are going to get everything done or not. Writing things down and having a list also makes sure that I don’t make promises or commitments that are impossible to keep, to avoid me letting people down.

Taking the pressure off

The list takes the pressure off, as the final to do list is always achievable and I know it can always be adapted.

The most important thing to me to do, above any ‘to do list’ is spend quality time with my wife, which the list always ensures that I do every weekend.

Generosity

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My wife and I are expecting our first baby this year, an event that we are super excited about! One thing, which has bowled me over since the time we first announced this news to friends and family, is the generosity of others.

I love how life events like this one can bring out the generosity of others and give them the ability to be generous. I think on the whole we are a very generous world; we just all need that opportunity to be generous.

Accepting it

One thing that is hard for many people to do, is to accept generosity. As well as being a generous world we are also a proud world, which can make accepting generosity hard, but I think it is important that we all do, as accepting generosity encourages people to continue being generous.

When receiving generosity it is important to be thankful. Accepting generosity with a thankful heart and showing that thankfulness can mean the world to the person who is being generous to you and is worth more than anything else you could do for them in return.

Sharing

The thing with babies, is that there is normally someone you know or someone in your family that has had one and now has clothes & toys that are no longer being used. People don’t want to throw these things out, so most would want them to go to another child and want to free up the space in their house.

Babies grow up and grow out of things so quickly, so personally I don’t see the point in investing a lot of money in clothes. Don’t get me wrong we have brought a few things, which we like and can’t wait to put our child in but I would never go overboard as there are already so many nice baby clothes out there that aren’t being used and are looking for a new home. I don’t see the point in spending hundreds of pounds on things that will only be used for such a short space of time.

Not a charity case

Accepting things like clothes and toys from others doesn’t make you a charity case or poor, it just means people care for you and your family. Accepting these things is a wise financial decision and it means your money can be spent on other things to make your home and the life of your family the best it can be.

Try where you can to not question peoples generosity. No matter how much you question it, it doesn’t mean you will ever truly know someone’s intentions. Me personally, I like to believe the best in people, so I try not to go down that road.

Being generous to others

There will be periods of your life when you are on the receiving end of other people’s generosity but it won’t always be the case. There will be periods in your life when you are the one being generous to others, but it might be only by taking generosity now that it puts you in to a position to be generous to others later in life.

Never expect or plan to receive generosity just appreciate it when you do. People will show you generosity in many ways, some will be in possessions, some financial, some in time and some in care, just be ready to notice it when someone is being generous and acknowledge it.