Welcome to Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum column, where the illustrator regularly shares her adventures in motherhood.
Last weekend marked Marley’s 2nd birthday. Two years! The most bizarre two years with an ironic twist of fate – I literally cannot believe how fast they’ve have gone, yet in the same sentence it’s felt like time stood still and we’ve managed to lose two years of our lives!
If I think back to my last few weeks of pregnancy, I had just been made a redundant, and we had just entered our very first lockdown. Everything shut down and the world I knew around me had changed.
I remember us driving to the hospital the morning of Marley’s birth: the streets were eerily quiet and it was like a ghost town. Central London was absolutely dead. Marley was born – and my husband had to leave within an hour. I then remained in hospital a further two nights just Marley and me. The hospital corridors were empty, and when staff came to check on us, they were head to toe in full PPE.
Those newborn days are always a bit of a haze. When Riley was born, we had a constant stream of visitors, care packages through the door, cakes, flowers, and impromptu visits – versus May 2020 where we came home to an empty house, no grandparents popping the kettle on, no guests and certainly no care packages in sight!
It certainly does not feel like that was two years ago and a lot has happened since that time. Thankfully we are comparatively in a time now where life is moving back to a more easier way of living and life as we once knew it.
Since the pandemic, I’ve set up my own business, still in the same field: Talent Procurement and PR. After nearly 20 years of working with major companies and firms this is a shiny new experience for me. I’m no longer reporting into a higherarchy of people, and I can now pick and choose the projects I undertake, and the hours I work.
I remember the feeling of being a cog in the wheel of big businesses – and once I had children, I found it very challenging to maintain the expectations of the old way of working – the classic ‘you must be seen at your desk in order to be doing your work’ mentality.
For me, once I had children I never worked harder and I wanted to prove to everyone I was still as conscientious, productive and more successful than ever. I was even working on my days off to show willing, and more importantly, reminding people I was still there and still part of the team.
Being the only mother in my team, I balanced a different time schedule to most in the office, which meant I left early to accommodate a school pick up. Despite logging back on post bedtime at 7pm, I often felt judgement when I left the office early. I longed to feel relaxed about the fact I had to leave the office earlier but it never felt easy. Who’d have known that cut to 2022 and 30% of UK businesses would now be working remotely?
It’s something I could only have dreamed about – that companies would make this part of their DNA and everyone would be supportive of this hybrid working system. It’s taken a global pandemic in order to make businesses see that remote working can work!
This week, I was given a job by my old company to book a keynote speaker and I hired a fantastic analyst and author called Annie Auerbach. Annie runs an insights agency called Sterling and she wrote a book back in 2019 called FLEX: Reinventing work for a smarter, happier life, all about the power of flexible working and how beneficial it can be for both parties – employer and employee.
Annie delivered a fantastic speech educating senior member of staff all about the power of flexible working, from retention and engagement to reducing business losses, increasing the number of women in senior positions and positively impacting employee wellbeing in all sorts of ways.
Companies who have embraced flexible working have had their more productive period to date! This is just proof that it does work if you place trust into your employers. It’s a two-way relationship.
Lockdown has taught us a lot about how we react to a crisis. Annie informed me of a great quote by Arundhati Roy last week: “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal between one world and the next. We can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world.” Let’s hope we all are ready for this brand new world in which we live.
Jakki Jones’ Top Picks
Vuori Performance Jogger, £90
I’ve just discovered this US brand as it’s just landed in the UK this month. They make premium performance apparel inspire by California living and you can really feel the difference. I’ve never had a comfier, softer pair of joggers. Perfect for the school run, a gym class – or dressing up for a pub date night!
Polarn O. Pyret Dinosaur Jumper, £30
I love this brand and this gorgeous collection with Swedish Author and illustrator Sarag Sheppard is a real winner! Marley absolutely loves it.
Goldfaden Brightening Serum, £70
Ive been using this serum for a month and it’s a God send; my skin really feels transformed. Every night I pop it on and I can see my skin looking more illuminated and the texture has dramatically improved. A brilliant serum!
Peace Out Puffy Eyes, £23
I’m obsessed with these and frequently pop these patches on before I go out in the morning. They help guide you towards well-rested-looking contours in as little as 15 minutes…perfect for busy mornings.
Saltee Sea Sun Face Cream, £32
This is a delicious sunscreen. The formula contains naturally derived UVA and UVB and it absorbs super quick and hydrates your skin during the day – which is much needed going forward now the weather finally seems to be getting better. It contains beautiful ingredients including cucumber and birch water; it’s so good my husband has stolen it off me!
Crayola Jumper, now £10
Being a keen doodler I was instantly attached to this awesome Fat Face X Crayola collaboration. Isn’t it fabulous?! Plus, it’s now in the sale – so get in quick!
Erborian CC and BB Cream, £39.50
This Korean Skincare brand have come up with absolutely genius products. Their BB and CC cream are hands done two of the best creams I’ve ever tried and they are forever in my handbag. I use the CC cream if I want a light coverage and a daytime look.
It contains encapsulated pigments which help conceal and blur the appearance of pores and imperfections. The cream goes on transparently and the colour reacts to your skin tone! The BB cream is perfect for daytime too, with just slightly more coverage, as you can build with it. Both leave the skin looking dewy, transparent, fresh and youthful.
Dry Bar Double Shot Blow Dryer Brush, £125
Talk about save the day alert. I’m absolutely useless at doing my hair – this genius product was made for me! So easy to use, speedy and does an amazing job with a girl who is literally the worst at doing her own hair. It looks like I’ve just had a blow-dry! A great investment piece.
Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: Life in Lockdown
We have had an eventful couple of months. Marley has started nursery! Riley started Year 1, Misty started Year 9 and Colby started college! Quite big moments amongst all the ages…and for the first time in 16 months, there is a calm, quiet house (for a few hours at least!).Despite the days seemingly being very long, the summer came and went as quick as a flash. Colby achieved fantastic GCSE results; all 8’s and 9s! A very proud moment for us all to witness, as this past year has been extremely challenging for him.
The past year has been just a strange old time both in the world, and at home. With Riley starting school, Marley growing up so quick, and Misty and Colby moving in with us full time last September – it’s been quite year of change in the Jones Household. Not what we ever imagined. All of us being at home too without a chance to go away or leave the house at times, it’s certainly been quite a different time.
When I think back and imagine what Riley’s first year of school would be, I did not anticipate being unable to go in to her school, nor getting the chance to really meet her teachers, or see her to her little seat. I never imagined that I would not be able to see her art work on the wall, first written letters, or perhaps coming in for a first show and tell. Same for Marley – all the things I did first time around with Riley – be it early music classes, baby play dates, mum and baby swimming lessons and meeting up with all our family and friends – I didn’t really get to do any of these things with Marley.
Jakki Jones’ Top Picks
This month, Jakki has picked out some self-care essentials for you (and your little ones) to help with easing back into those harsher Autumn months and the bust back-to-school season.
Eborian BB Cream
Never have I had a cream that goes on so smoothly, matches my skin tone and gives me such a flawless finish. It’s lightweight and amazing!
Blossom & Blossom Pillow Spray
Evolve Face Mask
Following on from the craze in the USA – with everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Bieber wearing them – I wondered what all the fuss was about with these disposable masks. But having tried them, I’m a convert. They are comfortable, smooth (not itchy or irritable like a lot of disposable masks) and very chic, coming in an array of different colours.
Trish McEvoy Dramatic Lash Mascara
Matthew Williamson x Pooky Lamp
I’ve always admired Matthews designs and this outdoor lamp is absolutely beautiful and so chic! Perfect for evenings in the garden!
Baby Probiotics from Baba West
Since Marley has started nursery it’s been non stop colds, flu and runny noses, I’m sure lots of you are in the same boat. So I have recently turned to using these probiotics from my clever friend Leonora’s company Baba West. These sachets are an amazing way to get 6 billion friendly bacteria into his little tummy! They are tasteless and you can pop them in with milk or water and kids will never know. Genius!
Fred & Noah Raincoat
Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: Life in Lockdown
I haven’t written my Diary of a Mum column for the last few months, as I – like the majority of the nation – have been trying to keep afloat in the crazy, manic world of home schooling, working from home and navigating the relentless day-to-day of home life in lockdown. Unprecedented times, indeed!
To say it has been a busy few months is quite an understatement. Thankfully my husband has been at home with me (usually, at this time of year he is often working away from from home weeks on end and I’d be home alone). It’s been quite an extreme change for us all. Never did I ever imagine my maternity leave would be interrupted by five other people living and breathing in every room I walk into. We have learnt to live with each other and carefully respect people’s space, mood swings, meltdowns and tantrums.
The hoover is never off and the dishwasher is always on. Never have I been to Tesco so much – nor have I looked forward to going to Tesco so much! It’s so nice just to get out, and actually talk to someone other than a member of my family. One of the highlights this year had been going to my local pharmacy and buying a green Rimmel Eyeliner, which took me back to my teenage years. I’ve also been playing a lot of songs from my youth. I have no idea why, maybe it’s because it brings me back to simpler times; when all I had to think about was which boy I had a crush on and what outfit I wanted to buy from Diesel. I never imagined I would actually grow up, become an actual ADULT and have to look after people!
The children managed to go back to school last term (after what felt like a year off) – for a few weeks at least, and then three weeks later we were back to entertaining and feeding them all over again. The whole country was in the same boat but I must admit I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when the children went back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I have loved being with Riley and guiding her through home learning, but boy, was I was happy to see her go back to school! I think we both needed it.
My elder step-children needed it too. Colby, now 16, has had a complex few months, working though lots of personal hurdles and school pressures – especially as GCSEs will now not take place this summer and so pressure is on to make all work every minute of school count to get a decent grade from teachers. Misty, too, has been choosing options and the pair of them, on their computers all day for school are also on them all evening, as for a long time it was the only way they were able to see their friends.
As parents we were caught in that weird limbo of trying to monitor screen time, but on flip side encouraging them to speak to their friends and keep up a bit of normality. Only time will tell what the after affects will be of all of this will be for our children – and ourselves!
As a family we have been trying to appreciate simple pleasures and take pride in small victories. Keeping a tidy home, cooking together and sharing a meal every night has been a highlight. Going out for a walk around the block with the baby and bringing back a coffee. Speaking to a friend at least once a day and writing cards. I am taking each day as to comes right now – trying hard to remember the important things in life and making each moment count as we head out of this latest lockdown.
Jakki Jones’ Top Picks
Boden Unicorn Leggings
Wonder Woman Costume
Weleda Calendula Baby Shampoo and Body Wash
Bugaboo Ant Pushchair
Kukui Noir Eau de Parfum
Jakki Jones’ Diary of a Mum: One Proud Mumma
Who would have thought it? My little girl finally off to big school. Wow, these last four years have flown by. And I’m not going to lie, getting here was a process I certainly hadn’t prepared for. I never knew the school system in London was so tricky and competitive – nor did I care – until, of course, our time arrived and then all of a sudden, I absolutely did!
Just over a year ago we applied for three schools that are local to us, all of which were assessment based. And I had no idea what that meant. How can you possibly assess a 3-year-old? What are they looking for? Who can pick Mayor Humdinger out of a Paw Patrol line-up the fastest? Surely not.
Over the break last Christmas, the nursery had assured us that Riley had had a great term and advised us just to enjoy the holidays and not to worry about the upcoming assessments (set for after the festive brea). But I found I was lying in bed at night worrying: What if she doesn’t get in anywhere? What if they don’t see what we see; a confident, capable, independent little firecracker? (obviously I am biased, we all love our own kids!). I then started worrying about us as parents: What if we don’t fit in? We are both creatives, and I imagined doctors and lawyers’ children lining up to sit these assessments. Maybe we aren’t the right fit!
Despite my anxieties, I didn’t put them onto Riley and to my relief, I realised my negative energy was wasted as Riley knocked it out of the park and got into all three schools! The main fear, I guess, was that I realised it was all out of my hands. Usually if it’s an exam, or project or a big thing happening, I can steer the ship. If I’m not successful, I can just blame myself…. but this was all down to her, no help from me.
It was definitely a first big proud moment. And now we have just completed our first term at big school. I’ve never seen Riley happier. Her confidence, her energy and her determination are all thriving, and it’s been wonderful stepping back, and watching her grow.
These pandemic times have meant we have had to be more distant at the school gates – and I actually think it’s helped Riley and her peers settle in. I am sure it’s made life easier for the teachers, not having to deal with dozens of anxious, over-protective and pushy parents every morning and afternoon, who all require a detailed breakdown and specific feedback as to how their little darlings’ day was. Me being one of them!
COVID-19 has made all the kids more resilient and they just ‘get on with it’. The fact that on their first day of school, each child walked in with just their fellow classmates, rather than holding their parents’ hands, is a big thing for a little one. But what a fantastic, huge step this is, going forward in this crazy world we now live in.
Independence, resilience and determination is key for our future thinkers. I am definitely one proud Mumma!
Jakki Jones’ Top Picks
Love My Read Subscription
I’ve recently signed Riley up to this amazing subscription service where you get a newly released book every month to your door. They have offered me a 20% discount if any of you are keen to use my discount (follow this link!). They will also donate a book to a school of your choice for every 12-month sign-up.
Infantino Baby’s 1st Playset
Marley adores his first playset. The objects are super easy for him to hold, helping his development of motor skills, as well as the exploration of textures and colours. He turned 6 months earlier this month – where has the time gone?
The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play: Easy Activities & Creative Craft for Kids and their Grown-ups
My dear friend Laura has written this amazing book which is all about doing crafts at home. Simple, fun ideas to do with your little ones. A great help in lockdown and everyday life – especially with those trying to get their kids off digital devices.
Kit & Kin Chunky Knit Grey Hat
My dear friend Emma Bunton‘s fantastic eco-friendly baby brand has just launched the most beautiful new clothing, including the cutest hat I’ve seen (modelled expertly by Marley above). This chunky knit hat is not only super sweet but it’s also made from 100% organic cotton and sustainable cotton.
Electric Eye Apparel Sweatshirt
Being a huge music fan, I love this brand. They offer a bespoke service of your favourite lyrics stitched into an item of clothing.
SBTRCT Moisturising Face Balm
I’m Obsessed with this facial balm, which comes from a new brand called Sbtrt. I use it in the morning and at night. It’s really thick and contains Glycerine, squalane, rosehip oil and shea butter which all work together to moisturise, restore and protect the skin. It feels like you are putting goodness back into your skin.