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Annie Ridout  Author - 4th Estate / Editor - The Early Hour / Journalist - Guardian, Stylist, Red / Speaker - BBC, Stylist Live / Poems - @annieridoutpoetry

Are you a freelance mum? And would you like to share 'how you make it work' with The Early Hour readers? I'm launching a new series called.... drum roll..... THE FREELANCE MUM. And I'm looking for women to feature. So if you're interested, or know another freelance mum who might be, leave a comment about what work you do (want to keep it varied) and I'll send a DM shortly. Chars!

This is my daughter's magic wand. She made it herself (clearly) and puts it under her pillow every night before bed. A few days ago, she said it was actually a present for me and left it on my dressing table. But then just before bed, she said that it belonged to *both* of us, and asked if I could give it back to her because otherwise she'd have bad dreams. This morning, she told me that if any boys touch her magic wand, they will become allergic to butter. Where do children get these ideas?

I think there's an element of choice in terms of our attitude towards life; how we play the highs and the lows. But what about mental health issues, and the sometimes incontrollable - and potentially disastrous - effect they can have on your mood and outlook? Thoughts?

My son is currently a bib-refuser and a sometimes high-chair and buggy refuser. Would you like to know my parenting strategy? Let him sit on my lap to eat breakfast and lunch, turn a blind eye to the food stains permanently dotted all over his clothes and unstrap him from the buggy so that he can waddle along the streets at baby-pace.
I never planned to be a certain type of parent but I seem to have accidentally fallen into the ‘if it doesn’t hurt them, or anyone else, let it happen’ camp. My feeling, from experience, is that letting toddlers exert themselves occasionally makes them feel like they have some control and eventually they start doing the thing you want them to be doing again. The one non-negotiable is sleep. I’m strict with sleep, and it works well for all of us. Other than that, they quite often win.
What are you like as a parent: gentle, disciplinarian, lover-of-rules or a mix, depending on the day and your mood? #parenting

You know how I was just saying how sweet my kids are and how good they’ve been today? Well, while I was posting my gushy piece, they were throwing books out the window and tipping all the craft materials on the floor. So, you know, I’m an idiot. #kidsnotinstagram

Some days, I feel anxious and overwhelmed because there’s always so much to do - parenting, work. Other days, I feel angry; furious, even. And I shout or growl at the kids (and then have to apologise). But some days are like today, and they are both well-behaved and sweet, and they eat all their food and play together, giggling at their in-jokes (right now: throwing a pot of glue out the window). You’ve got to have the bad days to appreciate the good. Remembering this helps me to ride out the storm(s).
How was your day?

Our new paddling pool, courtesy of the street. Love a little street-find. We’re constantly finding beautiful doors, good books and furniture. But I’m particularly pleased with this paddling pool, as the inflatable ones are basically disposable - constantly tearing or bursting. This will last a lot longer.
Do you have lots of gems being ‘thrown out’ around where you live?
#scavenge #thrifty #reuse #gogreen

In life, you have the people who give you shit and then you have the people who make you feel really good about yourself. At @clementineappuk, we're focused on the second group - the people who bring you confidence, happiness and inspiration. And that's why we started the 'Inspiring Women' series: short audio recordings, inviting one woman to share the story of another woman who has inspired her, and boosted her self-esteem. So far, there have been odes to friends, family and bosses. But for mine, I spoke about my editor @4thestatebooks, Michelle Kane (@michellekane1). If you'd like to hear my (3-minute) recording about how Michelle has - and this isn't an exaggeration - changed my life, for the better, follow the link in my bio.
Who is your Inspiring Woman? .
#inspiringwomen #clementine

Last week I turned 33. I like this number; three is magic - two threes is DOUBLY magic. So I'm getting all superstitious about the potential for good things happening this year. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to hone in on what I'd *like* to happen... (note: I'm already happy with my family life, so the focus here is on work stuff). .
1. My book, The Freelance Mum (out Jan), becomes a bestseller. .
2. I get a book deal for the novel I've started writing. .
3. I get a column. .
4. The business I'm becoming a partner in (more details very soon), grow HUGE. .
5. I write more poetry and songs, and get publishing deals for both.
In one of the books I'm reading - The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - the author says that seeking 'more' in life is actually a negative process, as it means instead of feeling grateful for what you have - and satisfied - you're saying: this isn't enough.
I get the sentiment but I don't agree. I think setting aims is positive, it's about recognising what you do and don't like, and working out how to have more of the former and less of the latter. .
What do you think - is it positive or negative to set life aims? Who's up for sharing their top five (or even just one) ambitions?

"I have natural afro hair (not chemically relaxed) so there are days when it can take ages to get right. If I’m having a good hair day or I’ve got my hair in braids, then I can be ready in 20 minutes." Janine Hardy (@thejaninerenee) - mum-of-two and Family Merch founder - on mornings... (link in bio).
How long do you take getting ready in the morning? .
#morning #mornings #mymorningroutine #myearlyhour #theearlyhour

Happy Father’s Day to my own dad, who taught me that the practical and emotional aspects of parenting are divided; that dads can be involved too. This must have been written into my subconscious mind when I was working out who I wanted to settle down with, because I’ve wound up making kids with a dad who’s here every morning and evening, talking to our kids, teaching them right from wrong, pulling them onto his lap when they feel sad, encouraging their enquiring minds. Happy Father’s Day to the man who fathers my children, too. Xx

I may have let my son eat avocado skin this morning but now he’s sleeping and my daughter’s doing crafts rather than watching telly, so.... #goodmumbadmum

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