The art of hapa-zome – a Japanese printmaking technique that uses the natural pigment in leaves and flowers to dye fabric.Read more
Guest post by Katie Hylton from Crossword Solver
Language development and learning is an incredible journey that opens doors to new experiences, broadens horizons, and offers a world of opportunities. But how do we organically create language learning challenges for homeschoolers that fit our busy schedules? The answer? Keep it simple.Read more
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Research has revealed that more than 183 million items of kids’ clothing that are thrown into landfill annually*.
If you follow the TMC Kids Club Bucket List Challenge (if not, why not!) you may have noticed that we suggested one thing you could do this month is to create a Journey Stick.
The History of The Journey Stick
“First, a little background on the journey stick for you. Aboriginal people in Australia used journey sticks to more easily recount their journeys to other people upon their return. They found a large walking stick, collected materials found along the way, and tied them to the stick in chronological order. Native Americans also decorated sticks to recount their journeys and tell about their travels. These sticks can be used as storytelling and navigational tools. The collected materials and markings have various purposes. Some things can be used as markers for natural features in the land, such as tree bark to indicate passing through the woods. While particular symbols carved into or painted onto the stick could show weather patterns, natural features, or events that took place.”
– Sara McCarty / Run Wild My Child Blog: Journey Sticks and the Art of Storytelling
A Journey Stick is an amazing way of encouraging your children to engage with their surroundings on your daily walk. In a world where we are always on the go, even slowing down on a woodland walk can sometimes be a challenge – so having an activity to do while you’re out can really help with that slow and simple lifestyle.
Making your Journey Stick
Find a nice thick stick! Wrap some string or lots of rubber bands around it (which, from experience, is much easier to navigate with little hands).
Pop on your wellies, a nice thick coat and get outside! Start picking up leaves, feathers, sticks, twigs (anything that’s safe to do so) from the moment you step out of the door. Make sure to start your journey stick from the bottom, so that it can show a chronological timeline of your journey.
Added Bonus: There are hundreds of ways that you can use nature to enhance your outdoor adventures. Whether you turn your stick into a journey stick or something completely different, encouraging your children to use nature in their day-to-day lives is fantastic for their imagination and observation skills.
Here are some amazing books that you could read alongside this activity. Make sure to tag us using #thatmamaclubig with any photos that you take so we can share your ideas!
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Handling your child’s education isn’t always easy. There are so many options and so many choices that you are going to have to make, meaning that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The only thing that you can do is try to break everything down and hope that you can make sense of what is going on. In this article, we’re going to be looking at some information surrounding children’s education, so keep reading down below if you would like to find out more.
YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION
The first option that we have for you involves home schooling. This is a fantastic way to spend time with your child, ensure that they are learning things that are going to be helpful to their lives and so on. A lot of parents choose homeschooling if their child has issues with socialising, or if they feel as though the schools in the area aren’t up to standard. Don’t forget that the last academic year was done largely at home due to the COVID-19 lockdown that we faced, and we all survived that, didn’t we?
Don’t forget though, homeschooling doesn’t mean that you personally have to teach your child if you don’t feel qualified. You can hire someone to do this, it’s not an issue and it might actually be the better option.
Going To School
Of course, the other option is that your kids go to school. We understand that some parents are still nervous to send their kids to school due to the pandemic, but school can be really beneficial to kids. It helps to develop social skills, and ensures that they are taught by people who are qualified to do so, having expertise in certain areas of the curriculum. Trying to do what is best for your child isn’t always easy, but if you think about it, going to school gives them so many opportunities. They can join sports clubs, make friends their own age and a range of other things too. Starting out in a childrens nursery will aid them in development from a very early age, which could be the help you need as well.
Finally, when your child comes home with homework, how are you going to handle this? Are you going to make them sit at the kitchen table until it’s finished? Will you be able to help them? Sitting down and helping is a way to bond with your child, while also ensuring that they understand what is going on in their classes. The last thing that you want is for them to pretend they know when they don’t, and helping with their homework will give you a good idea as to what’s going on.
We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see that while handling your child’s education isn’t always easy, if you break it down it’s a little easier to deal with. We’re not saying that you’re not going to have a tough time with it on occasion, but you will be able to get through it no matter which option you go for. We wish you the very best of luck and hope that everything goes okay!
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When you’re home schooling, you have to deal with the reality that you’re often playing to compete with the kind of experience that schools can and it can be difficult without the kinds of resources they have. School trips offer students the opportunity to see parts of the world they might not otherwise, often with an educational bent. Here are our top tips for fitting travel into home schooling.
Finding the spots with educational potential
A big part of any school trip is, of course, that education is made a part of it. It’s not just a vacation (though you should have vacations just for fun with your child, as well, of course), it’s an opportunity to learn. As such, you should look at some of the most educational travel spots that you might be able to visit. Places with rich history, diverse cultures, or that have developed industries that you’re teaching about, such as tech havens, are some examples of spots that might offer a lot of educational potential for your kid.
Organise it with other parents
Finding education travel spots is one thing, but solo travel for just you and your kid might be too expensive to do every once in a while. However, if you are part of any home schooling groups that you have gotten together with before for things like field trips, it might be worth bringing up the subject of booking school trips for multiple kids at once. You can take advantage of group discounts and work with travel agents that are dedicated to helping educational groups find the accommodation and travel opportunities they need.
Keep it local
You don’t necessarily need to go flying abroad anywhere in order to have a great travel experience with your kid. If you can find a spot that’s a little more local and offers just as great educational opportunities, then you may want to make it a staycation, instead. After all, there’s a good chance that the cities close to you have museums and galleries that can offer a nice dip into some historical or cultural education for your child and help you teach all manner of subjects.
Run your school on the road
Now, this is a tip that not everyone is going to be able to meet, simply because it’s quite a demanding and different lifestyle. However, the rise of travel schooling has seen a lot of parents take to the road with their kids, travelling the world with them while providing homeschooling on the road. As you might imagine, that can result in some pretty demanding schedules for the parents, but it also allows for the widest range of opportunities to use the world itself as a teaching tool. Is it a change you could afford to make?
Be sure that you’re aware of your budget and ability to organise when it comes to setting up any trips, especially when you’re organising with multiple families or kids. Offering travel opportunities for your child can be great, but you don’t want to experience undue stress as a result.
BY VICKI YADAV (GUEST WRITER)
Hello! I’m Vicki, founder of Primary Steps, an online consultancy for parents of 3-7 year olds. I am really excited to share with you a little bit about Story Scribing; a technique used in many Early Years and Infant settings, and a very easy thing for you to try at home.
What and Why?
Put simply, story scribing is recording your child’s stories for them. It is a really valuable opportunity to support children’s understanding of themselves as authors and to value the creativity and composition of writing – because writing is not just about being able to physically transcribe words. Story scribing is not an alternative to encouraging young children to make marks and write; rather it is a technique to use in addition to or alongside their mark making opportunities. With the pressure of the handwriting, phonics and grammar taken away, children are able to focus on just simply the telling of the story. They are able to become an author rather than needing to be a “writer”.
To begin with, I recommend modelling scribing your own stories. Have a special family story book and either tell your story aloud and write it down yourself or tell it to another family member to scribe for you. In order to model good writing habits it is important to say aloud each sentence before it is written down, record it and then regularly re-read what you have written to check it makes sense.
Find times within the week to share your stories as a family and to give the stories an audience. If you have enough family members you may also like to act them out! Once your child has observed you composing your own stories and either scribing them or
having them scribed, you can offer them the opportunity to join in. Be patient as for some children it may take them a while to feel confident in sharing their thoughts and ideas. This should be a relaxed, unpressured opportunity for your child to share their story rather than a planned and timetabled activity I recommend that you sit next to your child so they can see you recording their words.
It is important that you write exactly what they say, even if it is not grammatically correct, to show you value their words. To begin with, their stories may consist of only one sentence, i.e. ‘I played in the snow’ or even several single words. This is very common and you will see their ideas develop with time, experience and increased confidence.
Some children may like to help with the writing; that is great and welcome their enthusiasm but don’t worry if this is not the case – remember the main purpose is composition not transcription. My final tip for story scribing with your child is to make it fun! Children love silly stories;
they love stories which include family members and friends – best of all they love stories which include family members and friends doing silly things!
This is a chance for your child to experiment and explore the use of words and sentence structure and it has the potential to really help them fall in love with storytelling!
YOU CAN FIND VICKI ON;
INSTAGRAM: PRIMARY STEPS
WEBSITE : PRIMARY STEPS
BY JESS FLEMMING (GUEST WRITER)
HOME SCHOOL EXPERIENCE – FROM SOMEONE WHO NEVER WANTED TO BE A TEACHER
Last time I became an emergency teacher I struggled to find the balance of working from home and home schooling. Coupled with the anxiety and uncertainty of what was being thrown at us – it didn’t really make for a very happy house.
There was a lot of screen time, a lot of bribery snacks to stay quiet during meetings, a lot of shouting and crying. We were in true survival mode. After the kids finally went back to school in September, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I could get back into work without attempting a side dish of phonics or maths with it. But I did feel a real guilt that the world had stood still, yet I hadn’t.
There were all these parents who had made the most of this unexpected time with their children, but I felt like I’d just fobbed mine off with another bear fruit and yet another episode of Not Enough Nelsons. So when lockdown 3.0 arrived again, and the role as supply teacher came up again, initially I cried. Like WTF how can this be happening again sobs. I was crying for selfish reasons. The relentlessness of being at home, with the kids. 24/7. I mean, who the hell would choose that life!?
But I wanted to make amends for what I didn’t achieve in lockdown 1.0
I went into this new adventure with a lot more of a positive mindset. (See, I’m even calling it an adventure. I want to use the phrase ‘a fucking wild ride’ but I won’t) I was initially undecided about Arlo going to nursery (why is it safe for him, but not her?) but I decided it was safer for all involved to eliminate some of the sibling spats that would happen if they were both home together all week.
We drew up a plan/some rules to help us all feel more balanced on the working/parenting seesaw.
- Lower expectations!
- Go on lots of fresh, outdoor walks – we’re part of a step challenge so that’s got us moving a lot
- A bit like a dog, have lots of ‘treats’ on hand to reward good behaviour/good work
- We draw up a plan of what online learning tasks we will do each day & Sofia picks the order (giving her some ‘control’ of the day)
- Do not compare yourself to other parents and what they are doing
- Remember, learning can come in all forms – for example, we count door numbers and play eye-spy on our walks
- A school day doesn’t have to be 9am-3pm; a typical day for us looks like 1.5 hours in the morning and then another hour later in the day – any more than that and she’s crawling under the desk
And as for work? I’m still working four days a week, but I wake up at 6am and work uninterruptedly for a couple of hours. It’s amazing how much you can get done when the house is silent! I log in for the morning calls and then I spend an hour or so ‘teaching’, I then get back on with work whilst Sofia plays. We go for a lunchtime walk, do a bit more school work and then it’s class dismissed for her. She gets screen time and more snacks and I crack on with my real day job.
Lastly, this is not forever. Let’s keep sight of that and all give ourselves a whack on the back knowing that when times get really tough – we bloody smash it. Even if ‘smashing it’ just means getting up and dressed that day.
YOU CAN FIND JESS ON;
BY HANNAH RIX (GUEST POST)
The past 10 months has felt like the worst version of the Hokey Cokey EVER, hasn’t it? I’m not going to remind you of the details, but I’d love to give you a tool kit to help survive this next stint of home-schooling hell (well, try to anyway). Here are some of my top tips on how to survive home learning, for parents of one child, multiple children, children with SEND, with a bit of learning and literacy thrown in for good measure:
- Incorporate chores into a daily routine to earn tokens/stickers/merits towards a reward – all you need to do is draw up a chart (even better get your child to do it) with each job and a monetary/reward value (for example, emptying the dishwasher could be 5 tokens). Keep a tally on how much each child has earned in a day and they can ‘spend’ their tokens on a reward (for example, to earn iPad time you need 20 tokens).
2. Keep your ‘living space’ and ‘learning space’ separate – it’s so hard to do this with limited space (myself and my husband had to do it in a 1 bed flat with only 3 rooms) but even if it means sectioning off the dinner table as ‘learning space’, it leaves your sofa and as ‘living space’. This will be extremely helpful for you and your children’s mental health when it comes to switching off. Make sure you keep all things associated with ‘learning’ away from your ‘living space’ so the boundaries are clear to you and them.
3. Learning buckets or baskets – home learning is resource heavy, especially if you have children at multiple stages. Organising their resources, books and pens into separate bins, wallets, whatever storage container you have available, will stop any confusion or squabbles. It’s also a great way for your child to visualise what learning has to be completed that day. Once the bucket is clear, they’re done! Yay!
4. Come up with a family contract – I do this with my new classes at the beginning of every school year. We set ground rules for respect and personal responsibility. Get everyone to sign it and put it on display. Make it clear what the consequences are if anyone breaches their contract. You’ll need this to ensure you can have at least one hot cup of coffee a day!
5. Snack sacks – you know the drill, the second your child’s bored, they want something to eat. To subside the constant badgering for snacks, organise their daily snacks into lunch bags or boxes. This way they can see what their ‘daily allowance’ is. If they want to eat them all before 9am, let them! They’ll quickly learn self-discipline and responsibility when that 4pm hunger kicks in and there’s no biscuit to scoff.
6. Create your own daily timetable – this is a little trickier if you have children that’re logging onto the dreaded Google classroom every day. But if you’ve got younger children, organising their schedule will give them a sense of control over the day and be aware of the routine.
7. Invest in whiteboard pens for writing practice on windows – cleaners, don’t come for me! As long as you use a dry erase marker and tape up the edges and ledges of your windows, let your little ones write away! This saves endless pieces of paper ending up in the recycling and also makes writing fun and a little mischievous for your little ones.
8. Be honest with your children and their teachers – this is an impossibly hard situation for all parents. Most of you are juggling a full-time job, housework, cooking and home-schooling. Give yourselves a break when it doesn’t go to plan. And tell your kids about how you’re feeling and ask how they’re feeling too. As an SEND teacher, I’m constantly worrying about my parents. Luckily my students are still attending school but it’s still a strain on them. Approach your children’s teacher or school and ask for help if you need it. We’re here to help support you AND your child.
Know that everything you’re doing is phenomenal. You’re all heroes. Fighting a daily battle of will and patience.
Remind ourselves every single day that our children will regard this time as ‘the period when my parents were absolute champions’.
“Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength.” – Tom Brady
We hope you enjoyed Hannah’s post on how to survive home learning!
Reading Mate Website (with blogs and videos from Hannah)
YOU CAN FIND HANNAH ON;
BY WHITNEY DAVIES (GUEST WRITER)
Whitney is a primary school teacher based in Staffordshire. She has been teaching for nine years and is now part of the senior leadership team in her school. She is also the SENCO (Special Educational Needs coordinator). Whitney shares her life as a parent to two year old Rory over on Instagram as @mommy_davies. We have asked Whitney to share her top home learning tips.
HOME LEARNING TIPS
Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to That Mama Club for asking me to write this guest post. As a primary school teacher with almost 10 years experience, I can honestly say these have been the hardest and strangest months of my teaching career to date. With the majority of the country’s stuck at home, there have been many new ways of life we’ve had to become accustomed to. I’d like to share some home learning tips, resources which you may not know are accessible to you at home, and some positive affirmations to help you through these unprecedented times!
You Are Not Home Schooling!
Now this is a bold and controversial statement for me to begin with, but I feel the term is misunderstood. Yes your children are at home, yes your children are completing school work, but it is not home schooling. If you were home educating your child, they would not be enrolled in a school, you would be responsible for all of the lesson planning and you’re subject to inspections from the local authority. This time around, teachers are providing much more for children at home, with many providing live lessons. 12 months ago, remote learning wasn’t even a thing, and now it is law for schools to provide a minimum of 3 hours learning a day (higher in Key Stage 2!) for children at primary level. In the first lockdown, learning was being set, but with less pressure from the government, and with the beautiful summer weather on our side, it was a little easier. Now, the learning is much more structured and formal, and with more people working from home now than ever, trying to find the balance is tricky.
Parents, just like in most other aspects of their child’s life, are there to guide and support their children whilst juggling work, but ultimately, your child’s teachers are still responsible for their academic progress. When you decided you wanted to become a parent, you didn’t ‘sign up’ to be teaching them the national curriculum during a pandemic whilst working full time. Nobody expected to be living life like this, and teachers didn’t expect you to be doing their job for them – these are the things they don’t teach you at university! Tap into the resources school are providing, whether that be a video call, resource packs, or an email address where you can bombard the teacher with questions. Us teachers are here for you and working harder than ever before.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Something is better than nothing. Children are far more resilient than we are as adults. I can say from experience, that our children returned to school after such a long time off, and you wouldn’t have known they’d had almost 6 months off. Their passion for learning was still there and they were so eager to get back into school.
Routine & Rules Are Key!
We know that routine is good for everyone. We’re all trying to get our heads around establishing a new routine. Just when we thought things were getting better, it’s been thrown right back up in the air. When schools reopened to all children in September, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We never imagined that we’d be back to pretty much where we started. We’ve done two weeks now and we’re all still finding our feet. My biggest piece of advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself, and do what works for you. I know this is easier said than done, but a routine that works for one family will certainly not work for another. Depending on what your home life is like will depend on what a good routine is. I have families whose parents are working 8-4 from home so ‘school starts at 4pm. I have families whose parents work nights, so they sit and work with their children as soon as they get home before they go and catch up on sleep. I’ve got learning being submitted at all hours. Yes there may be live lessons, or meetings which you have to attend at particular times, but otherwise, there are 24 hours in a day and you can use them in a way which suits you.
Once you’ve found your flow, stick to it. Getting up each morning knowing what your day is going to look like will alleviate a lot of anxieties. For example, making sure everyone is up, dressed and ready for ‘school’ at the same time will get you all in the right frame of mind and ready to tackle the day ahead. We don’t want our children to lose that desire to learn, so if it’s a constant battle trying to get them doing 8 learning assignments a day, then don’t do it. The time parents have with their children is precious enough as it is, you shouldn’t have to spend it arguing about doing some learning. As I said earlier, something is better than nothing. Short bursts of learning split up with breaks is much more effective than slogging over the same piece of work for 3 hours. Remember, children will probably get their learning done much quicker at home as they’re working on a 1:1 ratio rather than 1:15 or 1:30 they may have in school.
Technology Is Your Friend!
Another controversial topic! There have been debates surrounding screen usage and screen time since it ever became a thing. Whether you’re an advocate of screen time or not, we cannot deny the fact that it is a huge part of our lives today.
The reason why I mentioned technology here though has nothing to do with the learning side of things…for now. It is just as important to look after your own mental health as it is your child’s, so if they sit watching YouTube for an hour so you can reply to emails, put a load of washing on or just so you can have a hot cup of tea in peace, that is absolutely fine and you are not a bad parent.
Our children are growing up in a society where technology is all around them, and they’ll be training for jobs which don’t even exist yet. Allowing your children to have access to technology for a range of purposes will support them with their future prospects.
Life Skills Are Important!
This is one thing that I think we can all take away from lockdown. We’ve all suddenly become Mary Berry and Alan Titchmarsh rolled into one. When you think of learning, people automatically think of reams of paper full of maths questions. However there are so many skills that we can’t always teach at school that are invaluable. Maths is found everywhere – playing shops where children can buy and sell things from the cupboards in the kitchen, baking cakes where they have to weigh out the ingredients. These are the types of activities where children will learn far more than they would doing a worksheet but are often overlooked. Getting them to help around the house with simple chores will also help them develop a sense of responsibility, but it also helps you out too!
Use What’s Out There
Especially this time round, there is an abundance of resources which you can tap into without paying a penny. This is where I’m going to come back to screen time but talk about it from a learning perspective. Here is a list of resources which I think are great and use them as a teacher myself in school and at home.
The BBC have done a brilliant job by carefully selecting the programmes they are playing on their channels. Most programmes on CBeebies are educational without children even realising. Why not rely on Andy & The Oddsocks to teach them a bit of History or Joe Wicks to get them active? Don’t waste your energy reinventing the wheel if it’s already there at your disposal. As I said earlier, if you know they’re engaged in that, it leaves you free to do whatever you need to do as a parent.
The Oak National Academy has approximately 10,000 resources and lesson plans which are totally free of charge and accessible to parents. If you’re unsure of a concept in Maths for example, your child can be taught by a qualified teacher before completing their task – told you technology could be your friend! In addition to this, if you’re on particular phone networks, accessing the website will not eat into your data allowance. https://www.thenational.academy
Teach Your Monster To Read is a wonderful app which does exactly what it’s name says. It’s jam packed with activities to support children’s development in reading, from learning initial sounds in phonics, right up to confident readers. This is aimed at children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 (up to Year 2) and is currently free to download.
Phonics Play is another fantastic online resource which has been made freely accessible throughout lockdown. This is used in many schools as a great interactive tool when learning phonics. It’s full of games and printable resources which will support their phonic development. This will be a familiar resource to many children so they will like the continuity between home and school. Just use the username ‘jan21’ with the password ‘home’ to access the free resources.
White Rose Maths is a popular scheme across the country that many schools (including my own) use for teaching. Their activity workbooks for each area of Maths for each year group is available to download for free on Amazon. Download the Kindle version (and download the Kindle app to a device if you don’t have it already) and away you go! These are lovely colourful activity booklets the children can complete as a short Maths activity.
Remember, these times are not normal, and the priority for everyone is to stay safe and happy. When children feel safe and happy in the environment they are in they will thrive. Just like every other aspect of parenting, do what works best for your family, and it will be the right thing to do.
I hope you enjoyed my home learning tips! We must be thankful that we’re in a digital age where our children can still access learning despite being at home, so embrace it and remember, us teachers are here to support you in any way we can!
Mommy Davies x
YOU CAN FIND WHITNEY ON;
INSTAGRAM : MOMMY_DAVIES
BY ASHLEE (Guest Writer)
Last week, as a country all gathered round our TV’s to find out our fate for the next month and whilst a total lockdown was expected it was still something that sent a chill through my core…. the schools were shutting. I, like many other parents out there work full time, and I have been working from home since the beginning of the last lockdown in March. It was an adjustment to say the least, but luckily for me, whilst I continued to work my husband was placed on furlough which meant he could take over the non-enviable task of running Daddy’s Home School.
This time round, it is different. Both me and my husband are working full time and have our 7-year-old daughter completing her schooling from home. Now, I love my daughter very much but being sat in the same room as her for 13 hours a day is a little hard to take particularly when I have a job which requires me being able to focus just on what I’m doing, which can be difficult when I am listening to “Sir…. Sir….Sir” continually.
We have been lucky in a lot of respects that our 4-year-old can still go to the childminders and the 7-year-old has zoom lessons all day which should require little interaction from me, however it doesn’t go that way sometimes and I have been pulled away from work in order to help solve technical problems (thanks zoom) and to run through problems that she cant understand and her teacher is otherwise occupied.
I’ve always tried to be honest when talking about parenthood especially when it comes to things people are afraid to say for fear of being judged, so here we are a week in..
This is what I have learnt so far:
- I absolutely made the right choice in not becoming a teacher……I don’t have the patience for it, and I salute those of you who do!
- Self-care has NEVER been more important; I have to take time out more now because I am surrounded by work and the kids 24/7
- I miss being in the office…. it’s quiet, have tea on tap and I can snack all day with no judgement.
- I am incredibly thankful that my daughter enjoys learning and wants to participate in school. To those of you whose children don’t enjoy it I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you (P.S. its OK to sneak off for a cheeky gin in the cupboard….no judgement here)
- We are all winging it, no one has a definite plan that works for this situation and every single situation is different. Don’t worry if your kids are not doing much “learning” this is new for all of us.
- Take each day as it comes, I’m a planner and I’ve had to stop because no one knows just what will happen each day!
Being a working parent is very similar to being a juggler. You have several balls in the air at the same time making sure that nothing drops. Work, the kids, the house, finances, social life, partners, mental load, and ourselves.
In unprecedented times like this its OK to drop a few balls in order to keep your sanity. The house is a mess? So what? It’s not like anyone can come and see it? Your workplace needs to be accommodating to the situation. Hopefully your colleagues are understanding that you may disappear from time to time but it is unavoidable.
Be kind to yourself and remember that we’re all in this together! Have you been working from home?
YOU CAN FIND ASHLEE ON:
BLOG: STICK THE KETTLE ON