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How to decline requests for professional help

professional meet up for a coffee

One answer: be empathetic.

It’s a privilege to have someone reach out to you in a professional capacity for advice, guidance or to share ideas. It shows that you’ve proven you’re an expert in something. They think they can learn something from you. Enjoy the feeling. Let it get to your head if you want but don’t let it end there.

LinkedIn message

No need to treat people like they’re a bother. In the photo above, my friend reached out to someone twice and that was the person’s response. A few weeks after the first message. If you’ve seen the message and know you’re going to have the decline to meet up, for example, don’t wait two weeks to send your reply. It’s unfair and unnecessary.

He wasn’t about to ask for a mentor as such. It was more of an idea sharing session that he wanted. That response would have been fine if it, say, went on to offer the name of someone else who might have been able to help my friend or asked him to write to her again in X number of months when she may be less busy. My friend made it clear exactly what he wanted to discuss with her but in a case where you’re unsure what someone wants to professionally meet up for, don’t be afraid to ask them to explain or specify. Let them know that should you manage to meet or mentor them, it will help you prepare useful answers for their questions. You can then use their reply to decide whether you want to accept their invitation.

One thing you mustn’t do in these circumstances is to say an outright no and leave someone with nothing but a shutdown. For a lot of people, it takes courage to reach out like this. At the very least, close off the message with some encouraging words and no, “all the best with your entrepreneurial activities” is not good enough.

Oh, and if it’s someone of the opposite sex reaching out to you on a site like LinkedIn as it was in this case, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the message is anything but professional. There are people who use LinkedIn as a dating site but I’m sure the majority of people are there to make career connections.

While this person owes my friend nothing, I still find it very disappointing. What do you think?

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How to increase breastmilk production

Disclaimer: At no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links within this post.

That first month of breastfeeding was the toughest time for me. Hourly feeds and backaches from constantly sitting up to feed were the least of my problems when a couple of weeks in, I became concerned that I wasn’t producing enough milk. My baby’s weight didn’t drop at all but various things made me start to suspect that she might like to have more to drink than she was. I may have been wrong but luckily, I had my mum, my health visitor and Dr. Google on hand to guide me on how to boost my supply!

These are the things that helped me to increase my milk supply and extra that I’ve only heard good things about. They still help me today as I don’t plan to fully wean my little one for another few months:

  • Drinking plenty of ANY fluids – my aunt, a midwife, said to me, “I hope you’re drinking a lot…a breastfeeding mum should be drinking all the time. Drink everything and anything!” She clarified, of course, that she didn’t mean sodas, coffee or alcohol 😀 but any and everything else. I certainly wasn’t doing that in the beginning. I suppose it really should go without saying but in the early days especially, I wasn’t focused enough on taking care of myself and if you’re breastfeeding and having the kinds of night sweats that I was, you’ll need more fluids than you’ve ever had in your life in order to give your baby both quality and quantity.
  • Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed – just plough on. The more you do it, the easier it will get and the more your body will understand what your baby’s milk requirements are and supply more to suit those needs.
  • Pump – in the same way as the with breastfeeding, pumping will stimulate your body and alert it that there’s a need for more milk but be careful with this one – it can lead to overproduction of milk and therefore also mastitis if you can’t keep up with pumping enough to free your boobs of how much is produced.
  • Non-alcoholic beer – this is one that I discovered later on around month 5 but it always works so well for me. Bitburger (pictured below) is my favourite one but I unfortunately can’t find anything like it in the UK. I was spoilt for choice in Germany of course but in the UK, you can’t just walk into your local supermarket and find any non-alcoholic beer options. I found the Peroni brand and I’ve stuck to it even though it’s non-flavoured :-(. It tastes better than any of the unflavoured ones I’ve tried. A word of caution if you do go looking for non-alcoholic beer: there are trace amounts of alcoholic in some of those labelled “alcohol free” so if you really want no alcohol, get those clearly labelled “0.0%”.

Bitburger Radler Alkoholfrei 0.0%
  • Motherkind tea – I saw a definite difference in quantity when I drank this tea. I had always heard about it even before I got pregnant so I knew I’d try it. I initially didn’t like the taste because it was a bit…grassy lol but I got used to it and knowing that it was doing what I wanted it to do made me like the taste of it even more!
  • Corndough (koko [Ghana]/akamu [Nigeria]) – this made the biggest difference for me. It improves not just the quantity but also the quality of my milk as it very obviously thickens your milk while making it flow more than usual. It’s amazing. It’s lucky that I like the taste of it anyway or else I’d be forcing it down my throat. I get it from back home in Ghana but I know that in the UK, it’s available in most African shops. It’s also available online here.
  • Oatmeal porridge – now this is one that I can’t personally vouch for but have heard from people that it really works. I can’t tell that it made much of a difference for me but friends have said that it increased their milk quantity and quality as well. I’m sure different things work for different people.

Have you tried oats to increase your breastmilk supply and did it work for you? What else worked for you that’s not on this list?

food to increase milk supply
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5 Steps to the Perfect Job hopping CV

It’s easier to find a job independently in some parts of the world than it is in others. In those places where you can find multiple job options online, it may seem like an attractive option to move between jobs till you find what’s best for you and I wrote about that here a while ago. Yes, if you’re like me, adjusting to a new work environment ever so often is not daunting if it’s for a great reason like better money or a higher position in your field.

However, it’s not easy to do. Like applying for any job, at any time, and even with the perfect qualifications and experience, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a call back for interview. UNLESS you do the following:

  1. Highlight any accomplishments. Dazzle your potential employer with what you’ve achieved so far. This takes the focus away from how many roles you made those achievements in. The important thing is what you can do, not how many places you’ve shone in. In fact, create an achievements section on your CV if you have enough to make a list and let that section take the lead.
  2. Tell the truth. This should go without saying. Your potential employer is not stupid. While you don’t want them to think you only care about money, you also don’t want to seem like you’ve been switching jobs frequently for no particular reason. Give a good, solid and truthful reason for each move. Especially where you were forced to switch through no fault of your own, for example, a downsizing, be sure to say so.
  3. Pay attention to your employment dates. Much like the first point, there’s no need to draw attention to your length of stay at each job. Use years only and not exact dates. This gives a CV reviewer a fair idea of when you were in your previous roles but it shouldn’t be until they meet you that they have the chance to delve into exact dates and why.
  4. Have a clear and succinct personal statement. Say exactly who you are based on your work experience, what you can offer and exactly what you want. Don’t be shy. For example, if you need a part time role to fit your mummy life, state so on your CV – “Searching for a part time role…”. You are very unlikely to get what you don’t ask for.
  5. Skimp on the skimpy information. What I mean is, it is unnecessary to list two waitressing jobs you had for a total of two weeks while looking for a job in your engineering field. They’re irrelevant to any recruiter or company looking at your CV. Take those off and bring them up in interview if you think you need to. Also, go ahead and combine two roles if they were consecutive and made up of exactly the same duties.

You may notice that the basic message here is to not waste any reader’s time! Let them know within a minute of looking at your CV that they at least want to meet you, even if not give you the job on the spot.Ideally, you should also be editing your CV to suit each role you apply for. In the process of editing, one thing you mustn’t forget is GRAMMAR. This is so important for any CV…

It helps to have a second eye and I can help with that. If you’d like a brief CV review as a job hopper or even a contractor looking to go permanent, send your CV through here and I will get back to you ASAP with some suggestions!

In the meantime, share this post with any job seekers you know – hoppers or not!

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Guest post: The Ambiguity of the Last Child

I’m a normal mom. At least, I like to think I’m a normal mom. I put my mom jeans on one leg at a time all while stepping over the Legos that I told my kids to pick up ten million times the night before. But when thinking about having another child, I have to wonder if there’s a switch that flips that tells you to stop, or if there’s no switch and I’m destined to turn into Michelle Duggar with 19 kids.

I have four children ranging from 1-19. They’re all great, well behaved kids, but I’m done. I think. Before I got pregnant I thought I wanted at least two more children. Then the pregnancy happened, and I thought, “now I remember why I didn’t want anymore.” My husband and I talked about not having anymore kids, especially once the terrible back pain started. After the baby came, then came that high you get when you smell a newborn. Someone once equated it to a hit of heroin. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, as I’m not an avid illicit drug user, but I can definitely tell you there was a high. That new baby smell went straight through my olfactory into my brain and I swear to you it lit up like a Christmas tree. Right then, I told my husband I wanted to do it again.

Here I was, still healing from my C-section. I wasn’t even completely upright yet. My boobs were huge, and painful. My hair was an absolute mess, and I hadn’t showered in at least 4 days. There I was in all of my stinky glory, holding my two week old dose of mommy crack saying I just couldn’t wait to do it all over again. This is insanity. I think back to this moment and plead temporary insanity. I was not having rational thoughts as I sniffed my newborns head. I just wasn’t. Thankfully, within a couple of months I snapped out of it. I’m assuming this likely had something to do with the many sleepless nights, and having my offspring literally sucking the life out of my body every two hours.

This was it. I knew for sure I was absolutely done. Four children is enough. My house is organized chaos seven days a week, we simply cannot add another child to the mix. My kids moved to the next grade in school, birthdays passed, and the baby started to move through stages quickly. Before I knew it he was moving on to solid foods, sitting up unassisted, and starting to pull up and “cruise” around furniture. Then it happened again. That familiar pull. The conversation of “maybe baby” started happening. Thankfully, most men seem to be immune to this drug like chemical that babies exude that make a good portion of women contract baby rabies. He continued to be my anchor.

We decided the best way to handle this situation was for him to “handle the situation” at the local urologist. I paid the deposit for the consultation, and left the scheduling to him as he is the one that has to answer all the questions and go through with the procedure. A few weeks went by, and nothing. No appointment was scheduled. No questions were answered. The not so baby, baby started walking, signing a few words, and saying a few words. My anchor cracked. My senses have gone all swimmy again. I say, “you know, if we do the baby dance at the beginning of my fertile window we are more likely to have a girl.” His ears perked up, “really?” He said. “It’s what I read.” I replied. He just responded with a “umhum.”

That was it. We are here. Three months later. No vasectomy. No birth control. Just the rhythm method and our ambiguity. Will we have another baby? No. Well, I don’t think so. Probably, definitely not, but I don’t think either of us are truly ready to close the door. The last baby is so final. It’s your last everything for parenthood. Last time seeing your baby for the first time. Last time finding out what you’re having. Last time sorting tiny baby clothes. Last time looking at your newborn trying to figure out who’s nose or eyes they have. It’s the last of everything new parent related when you say done deal on children, and I think until we can say for certain we are comfortable closing the door, we will welcome the ambiguity.

By Jacalyn of

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6 Things that can put a mum down

  1. Being questioned constantly on why you’re still breastfeeding your 4 month old when formula exists.
  2. Baby screaming every time you dare to take anymore than two steps away.
  3. Amidst the chaos and stress of caring for baby, being expected to also keep an immaculate home with small items like remote controls perfectly arranged perpendicular to the edge of the table. Many other mums do it. Why not you?
  4. Being called an overprotective mother when you show any hint of concern for the safety of your child. Let her chew on that plastic bag with her sharp little teeth! Who cares that she might swallow bits of it? That’s a sharp table corner that he could bang his head on? So what? Babies bang their heads all the time. Let’s watch him head straight for it. You do too much.
  5. Being made to feel like a smothering mother when you show any amount of affection to your children.
  6. Baby has hit one year old and still waking up a couple of times or more per night.

You know this is all meant very much in a tongue-in-cheek way, of course but when you’re in the throes of depression, it doesn’t take much to push you over the edge. It takes even less if you’re unfortunate enough to be around people who know how fragile you are but choose to try to break you anyway.

It’s maternal mental health awareness week. Mental health is a topic that’s close to my heart and I do believe that it should be close to everyone’s heart. If you feel like you may be close to some sort of a breaking point, you need to talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. Ideally a professional. Look up free resources close to you. You owe it to yourself and to everyone who loves you.