Hosting a stress-free kids party

Sometimes I feel like there is so many ideas going through my mind that I just want to run round and do them all before I forget them. Obviously I can’t do that because not only have I got kiddies to look after, I would seriously crash after a couple of days. Taking my time and easing into things is seriously a learning curve for me. I am still learning. But be prepared there are a lot of blog based goodies coming this way.

At the weekend it was my baby’s 2nd birthday party. I don’t know how other parents feel but these are usually times of great stress for me. Half the people that come are super critical, the kids are crazy and at least one of mine will have a meltdown, I invite too many people and I spend 90% of the time either cleaning up or making food and not enjoying the party at all.

This time, I wanted it to be different. I wanted to see everyone, I wanted it to be calm, I wanted everyone to get along. And actually, this time, I think I might have just about achieved it.

I decided before I planned the party that this would be the last kids party I do for family & friends and from now on parties will involve a few kids and a few parents for supervision. So what did I do this time to make it easier on myself? Heres a list of tips that made this party my most enjoyable one yet through 5 and a half years of motherhood.

  • Delegate. I recruited my mum and my sister to help. Rather than them chatting and playing I asked them to help, and of course they didn’t mind. Mum washed up and sister made cups of tea. Thats all. It helped me immensely.
  • Don’t offer different kinds of food. There have been occasions where I have separated children and adults food. That’s pretty crazy. They can all eat the same! And have in the past been running around topping up glasses of bucks fizz and wine and beers. Not this time, it was a tea only party.
  • Simple food. Sandwiches were off the menu because of the time and effort needed to create them. I had quiches (pre-made) garlic bread, pasta salad (actually everything was pre-made lets just get that over with) coleslaw, cookies, bottles of flavoured water for the kids, grapes, strawberries, crisps, sausage rolls, carrot sticks, mini sausages etc.
  • Make clearing up easier on yourself. I bought foil platters, paper plates, plastic knives and forks and popped it all in the recycling bin at the end of the party. Clearing up time seriously reduced
  • Get them outside. Ok it rained, a lot. I knew it would be a squeeze to get everyone in the house so we borrowed a gazebo. Not that the kids minded, especially the birthday girl, she just got wet!
  • When party time is over its ok to usher people out. If you have specified a start and end time on the invitation then people will stick to it. 2 hours is plenty.
  • Some situations can’t be avoided. My boy caused a fight which wasn’t ideal. He was sent to his bedroom for a while which gave him time to calm down but as the party was drawing to a close it was getting more obvious that he had had enough excitement and I started to wind things down with a few songs and asked him to help blow out the candles.


  • Arrange for some down time afterwards. I rewarded myself with a bottle of prosecco and a nice easy tea. The next day we spent time as a family and relaxed. It took me possibly about 3 days less to recover from than other kids parties because I gave us time to rest.

Overall I enjoyed my girly’s party. I had time to take photos of everyone, to greet everyone and even sat down to eat something at one point. Even with one or two little hiccups I would say that I didn’t get stressed. At all. really! Amazing isn’t it. There you go anything is possible!

Have a beautiful day guys,

Imogen x


Morning m’lovelies, hope you’ve all a weekend full of self-care, relaxation and joy! Well at least a bit! Even with essays due, a kiddies party to host and family time this weekend I still managed to make sure i was taking care of myself. Did you?

Today I want to talk about gratitude. Expressing gratitude daily for the things that we have and are is one of the simplest ways to bring joy into your life, without really making any effort.

I first starting writing a gratitude journal when I was introduced to Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach by the lovely Alison at Brocante Home, this is probably 7 years ago now and I have been writing it daily ever since. The idea is that at the end of the day you write in a journal 5 things that you have been grateful for that day. No matter how hard your day has been, there is always at least 5 things to be grateful for.

My basics are

  • Mine and my family’s life
  • My home
  • Food to eat
  • Clothes to wear
  • A bed to rest in

But usually, day-to-day it is the little joys that I like to be grateful for. The happier I am, the more I find to be grateful for and the more I show gratitude for my life, the happier I feel. Pretty amazing hey! Make it a routine then it will be easier to keep up with it. I write mine before going to sleep and leave it on my pillow so I don’t forget.

You would be amazed at how life changing something so simple can be. I really, seriously urge you to do this, if you never follow any other of my amazing Life Balance tips (as if, haha!) you must try to write a gratitude journal.

This is a pretty short post today but I think i have covered how important I feel that this is!

Enjoy the rest of the day you gorgeous lot,


Imogen x

Time to create

Tomorrow my tiny girl turns 2 years old. I don’t know where it went (we all say that don’t we) when I look back and realise that the time has flown by so quickly its emotional, but its also a reminder to enjoy all the time I get to spend with her and treasure it. Especially while she is at home with me every day and while she is so little. So tomorrow will involve a far-too-big-for-a-child-that-won’t-remember-any-of-it party.

The sunshine has been glorious for weeks but now we all waiting for the rain to come and i’m crossing everything that it might just miraculously hold off until tomorrow afternoon at 3pm when the party is over. Otherwise I really don’t know how I am going to fit in all the people! Today I am going to finish the first part of my essay that is due next Friday, decorating a farmyard themed cake, do all the cleaning I’ve been putting off for week while the sun was shining, trying out some pilates, and resting a muscle I pulled in my leg. Wonder if i can fit all of it in? Must remember to not worry if things don’t all work out that way.

Today I am talking about creating. Creating is a pretty important thing for me. I create in many different ways. I write, I paint, I sew, I draw, I bake. There is so many ways to create, perhaps you are doing it without even realising? A part of learning to create Life Balance is making time to create.

Creation is important. It helps us to express ourselves. It is really cathartic. If I go through a stage of my life where I haven’t felt i had the time or motivation for creation then I really don’t feel like myself. Emotions tend to be out of whack and everything feels just too serious. I used to paint more, now I have to schedule proper time to do it so that that part of me doesn’t get neglected. Around working, studying, family and housework I really have to work to fit it in.

In my experiences and most of the people I have asked creating and hobbies are the first things that get ditched when times are busy. People say to me often ‘I used to write music but I just don’t have the time anymore’ this is really sad to me. There should always be time to nurture your creative side. If i ask what they are doing instead the response generally is ‘oh I’m so tired at the end of the day I just watch TV’. But creating doesn’t have to be strenuous, It doesn’t have to take a lot of energy. In fact it can be a really wonderful way to relax.

If I told you to start off by finding a 1 hour space during a whole week to do something creative could you? I bet you probably could. Maybe you could even find 2 or 3 hours. But to start off with just find one hour. If you struggle for ideas or don’t believe that you are a creative person (I’ve heard that a lot!) try looking through Pinterest, there are so many ideas on there with simple step by step guides.

My board ‘Crafts to do‘ could be a good place to start.

There is something there for everyone. For those of you struggling here are a few ideas;

  • Scrapbooking
  • Journalling
  • Painting
  • Doodling
  • Colouring in (there is such a thing as grown up colouring in books nowadays try your local bookshop!)
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Decorating
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Stenciling
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Gardening
  • Building
  • Decoupage

I could literally go on and on, seriously look through Pinterest there is something there for you! It is relaxing and so much more fulfilling than another night watching soaps, (although a few of those don’t hurt either, don’t get me wrong). Most importantly, do it for you. Don’t worry how it will turn out or what anybody thinks about it. Just enjoy the time alone and relax.

Imogen x

How to overcome energy drain

Re-reading my own advice here about energy drain. Need it today!

imogen j hope

When something really drains me emotionally; (for example a confrontation, bad news, a shock) it really affects me deeply. I am particularly sensitive to these things. I wish i was more fiesty and fiery, I used to be, but alas I am not. I have turned into a sensitive flower as I have aged and perhaps just need to toughen up!

When I am completely drained after one of these situations I have to delve into my bag of tricks to make me feel better and these are they

~ Have a cup of tea, whatever your favourite kind peppermint, green, Darjeeling any will work, a cup of tea is like a bath on the inside. For me these situations call for Yorkshire tea

~ Have an actual bath, Epsom salts are great for releasing toxins and lavender oil is the classic for relaxation. If I’m desperate for a a…

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12 Tips for better sleep

Hello again wonderful readers.

I’m not feeling so good today. The smallest of my children decided to be awake and crying for most of the night on monday, I know that was 2 days ago but haven’t recovered still. It takes me a while to get over such a big sleep disturbance. I am irritable, fuzzy, I can’t concentrate and every body else suffers for it. There really isn’t much I can do besides have a few earlier nights to make up for it. Do you do that? I can easily go to bed half an hour early but any more and I struggle to sleep through or a wake up super early. I know some people swear by having a super early night once a week at least. I can’t really do that. It throws me off for quite a while. So for me, I’m afraid, lost sleep is just lost and I won’t find it again. I have to spend a few days being gentle with myself to help me through and sometimes a 10 minute snooze on the couch but not more, or again, my sleep pattern will suffer.


I need 9 hours sleep a night. I have an active lifestyle because I send the majority of my day running after my small children. I think everyone can just about work out what the right amount of sleep is for them. Sleep apps like Sleep Cycle are a super help. You switch the app on and place it next to or just under your pillow while you sleep. By measuring how much you are moving around at any point in the night it will analyse when you’re nearly awake and wake you during your more awake time rather than your fast asleep time-when it is the hardest to wake up. It shows you graphs and stats about your nights sleep and they can be pretty useful, it was because of this that I realised even though I was getting a lot of sleep the quality wasn’t what it should be. Which is why I was really suffering with so much tiredness last year.

If we are getting the right amount of sleep it can really effect so many parts of our lives including

  • Mood
  • Energy
  • Diet
  • Concentration
  • Immune system
  • Blood pressure

If you struggle to get the right amount of sleep or the right quality of sleep there are things that can help you. When I went to counselling for stress/anxiety/depression they covered a big section on how to improve sleep because unsurprisingly these are more likely to develop when you are having trouble sleeping.

Here are a few tips I learnt to help get better sleep

  1. Cut out caffeine. At my worst I could easily sink 8 cups of coffee a day. I had headaches daily, huge crashes in energy levels, terrible concentration and bad sleep patterns. I cut caffeine out completely which was pretty hard, I had lots of withdrawal symptoms and was horrible for quite a few days but when I had got through that, it was actually amazing. I was thinking clearer than I had in months, I had more energy in the evenings to spend time with my family, I wasn’t as irritable, I didn’t get headaches, my skin was so much clearer. Nowadays I have the odd cup of caffeinated tea on occasion when there might not be a decaf option but I never rely on it and I never use it as fuel for my body, its just not good for you. Oh and on the counselling course there was link noted between the big caffeine drinkers and panic attacks! For anyone who’s ever suffered with one of those they will know they are well worth avoiding.
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, within 15 mins or so. Keeping to this kind of sleep schedule will help your body to know when its time to sleep and how much sleep you usually get. This goes for lie ins too. Ever get that feeling when you’ve had too much sleep? This can also ruin your sleep quality the next night. If I get a rare night out and I go to bed late I still get up within half an hour of the usual time (I have small children-go figure) it helps me to get better sleep the next few nights if I avoid a big lie in.
  3. Exercising regularly can increase the quality of sleep and will help you to feel tired when it’s the right time for bed.
  4. Switch off electronics for an hour before bed. The bright backlit screens keep your mind and eyes awake and make it harder to switch off when you get in bed.woman-653892_1280
  5. Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only. That means no films, no TV, nothing but relaxing. Reading is great before bed as long as its nothing too stimulating.
  6. Hot drinks. Try herbal tea or warm milk. Hot chocolate can be a bit sugary for before bed.woman-601568_1280
  7. A hot shower or bath will relax your whole body and the increase in body temperature can really make you feel sleepy.
  8. Don’t let the bedroom get too hot. Keep a window slightly open all night if you can or if its really cold just let some fresh air in until you are ready to go to sleep. Overheating in bed can be a big problem with staying asleep.
  9. Writing things down. If you have a lot of thoughts going through your mind while you are trying to sleep, leave the room briefly, get a pen and paper and spend 10 minutes writing every tiny thing that comes into your head, even if it doesn’t seem important. Get it out and you’ll have less to distract you from just relaxing.
  10. If you do find yourself tossing and turning then don’t check the time. Just don’t. You will never be able to relax knowing just how much sleep time you have left and trying to force it.
  11. Burning essential oils in your bedroom before you sleep is helpful for helping you to relax. Lavender is always a good one to make you feel sleepy but also ylang ylang and sandalwood are really relaxing.
  12. Meditation can help you learn to relax your mind and not focus on your thoughts. If you want to learn to meditate I fully recommend the app Headspace as a good place to start.

All of these tips are things I do for myself. I know how important it is that I get the right quality and amount of sleep so I pass these ideas on from experience. I hope they can help you as much as they help me continuously.

Imogen x

P.S. I am currently working on a life-balance ebook which will be released on Monday May the 4th. More info on that coming soon….

P.P.S. I have some new photos of myself floating about the website which my brilliant friend Gary took for me. Hope you enjoy!


Peace x

7 Tips to Boost Productivity

Good morning lovely readers! Hope everyone has had a wonderful relaxing weekend. I have (mostly) but theres always important things to do. I try my best to find the balance between getting the bits done that I need to for example;

  • Studying
  • Working
  • Quality family time
  • Cleaning
  • Washing

and time alone to recover and to implement self care which, as I grow personally, I know is top priority other wise all other areas of life suffer and pay for it.

So to implement self care this weekend I have done the following things

  • Pampered myself
  • Sat out in the sun
  • Ran
  • Spent time with friends

This way I finish my weekend feeling refreshed and ready to have a productive and joy-filled week. This morning I am going to start off by talking about productivity. Productivity is not only about producing quantity but also quality. How to sit down and start the process of creating a product or a service in x amount of time. In order to produce to our best we need to focus completely on the task stop procrastinating (hey, we all do it).

I’m sure a lot of people have their own way of getting their head down and getting to work. But for those of you that don’t I have a few tips. I am still learning myself. I have 2 children, am studying for a degree, have a house to run and basically a lot of stuff to remember as well as certain things I like to do for myself.

Here are my tips for good productivity


  1. Have a specific time for each task. If you are trying to work or write or do something that requires concentration you need to avoid getting distracted by thoughts of cleaning, washing or whatever other things you need to do that day. Create order in your day and follow time slots for specific tasks. That way it is easier to keep your mind on the job in hand.
  2. Lists! I ❤ lists, I have them for everything. It stops my head being in a muddle and just like the point above it helps me to concentrate on what it is I need to be doing at that time. I use the lists app on my iPhone. I have tried others but go back to that one because you can have as many lists as you need. Its easy to organise and I always have it handy. I do however continue to use pen and paper to make lists. It is easy to look at a notepad when you are at home and totally satisfying when you can cross things off.
  3. Create a space for work. If you work from home then you need a space where you can have peace and calm. Away from toys, other people, kids, distractions. You will automatically be able to keep focussed because work is what your mind is used to in that space. I know it’s nice to take the computer up to bed and get comfy but lets be honest that isn’t where the best work is done.
  4. On the same vein, if you are working or creating from home make sure you are getting up and getting dressed. Hanging round in your pjs isn’t conducive to hard work I’m afraid. I know some people who go as far as to have a work uniform although they never leave the house, it puts them in the right frame of mind for work and i’m sure it works. I haven’t gone that far yet. Maybe one day! I just make sure I am dressed and feeling awake.
  5. Work for short periods of time. If something is overwhelming you break it into chunks. I often work in 25 minute bursts then have a 5 minute break (I read this somewhere, i can’t remember where, probably Pinterest). It just works, sitting for hours at a time can make you feel exhausted and you can easily lose concentration.
  6. Go outside when you need a break. 5 minutes walking round the block or just standing outside breathing deeply will refresh you physically and mentally then you can get back to it with a clear head.
  7. Create a workspace that inspires you. Plaster it with motivational quotes, schedules, ideas when they come to you. An oil burner is good, great oils to burn for concentration include lemon, peppermint and rosemary. Put pictures of loved ones up, pictures of people you admire, people who inspire you in your field and make it bright and airy to boost your concentration.


I hope this post helps you to boost your productivity. Since I have been doing the above I have just been completely amazed and the things I can achieve in a day or even a few hours.

Please feel free to contact me for advice at and share your own tips in the comments too 🙂 

 Loadsa love! 

 Imogen x

Business Planning

I haven’t been posting as regularly this week I know. I have been laying the foundations, doing all the backstage work in order to make this blog into the life changing community I hope it will be one day. I have run a (semi-successful) business before and want to do this properly and I know I need to start with a proper business plan. So this is where I have started. I will post this part of it because I think it is important for you to know where the hell i’m going with this as much as I do.

Here is my vision statement:

The vision for the blog Imogen J Hope-Life Balance is to create an online resource containing helpful information and sources to help people achieve balance in their lives. I want to start by creating a catalogue of blog posts which explain different ways in which I and other people can achieve a better balance in their lives. To have more time and energy for the things that they are passionate about, for example hobbies and interests and to look after themselves mentally, physically and emotionally, so that they can reach greater potential. I want people to see that their lives don’t need to be endless circles of work they don’t enjoy and fatigue. Life can be more fulfilling and creating a better balance is the way to do it. In the future I want to share ebooks, worksheets and online courses containing information and interactive guides on how to achieve greater life balance.

So this is where were headed. I’m learning a lot about online businesses. How to blog and what areas I need to work on. It’s not as easy as churning out the thoughts in my head (who knew??) and I am starting to realise what a huge amount of hard work it is going to be. I am ready for it!

Imogen x

Motivation to Exercise

It’s hard to get the motivation to exercise. It’s hard to find time. Or it’s easy to use that as an excuse! I haven’t made a roper exercise routine before which is why i fluctuate between going hell for leather and months of nothing. It’s easy to come up with excuses not to do it. But there are many more reasons I should be doing it.

Last night I went out for a run/. And I enjoyed it! (Shocker!) According to my RunKeeper App it was the fastest and furthest run I have ever done. I felt Proud of myself, still do in fact. Today I feel more awake, I slept better than normal and I am not beating myself up about what I am eating all day.

I am going to go out for another run tonight. Here are a few tips for motivation that are working for me.

  • Make a playlist that really gets you going, whatever it is that makes you feel fired up. I actually mouth the words while running too 😉 it seems to help with that extra push.
  • Download RunKeeper (or equivalent) apps. You can log other sports in there too, track progress and set goals. I have started with a small goal-to run 5 miles altogether in as many runs as I need. The plans are good too, you can work towards a 5k or other goals and the app actually plans for you when to run, for how long etc. And as you’re running a lovely voice tell you how far you have been and how fast you are going.
  • Reward yourself. So I heard that chocolate soya milk is a good post-workout snack. And my god its delicious. So I have decided that after every run I can relax with a cool glass of chocolate soya milk while I recover. I have also decided that when I hit my goal on run keeper that I am going to buy myself a little something pretty to wear while running, a new top, new leggings, new trainers. I may even work towards other workout stuffs too!
  • Don’t beat yourself up. If you can’t go. If you go but turn back because you aren’t feeling up to it then don’t worry. Maybe that particular exercise isn’t for you. Something out there will be. Get experimenting and enjoy it.

Please comment with any questions or encouragement!

Thanks, Imogen ❤

Try, Try, Try

I read this as a reminder to myself not to put too much focus on how I feel on the outside. It’s working on the inside which I need to focus on.

In Others' Words...

Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim
So they like you. Do they like you?

Colbie Caillait 

Even if you take away the BIG stuff- the violence, the political inequality, and the economic oppression… Being a girl in this world is exhausting.

When we go out on a date, I guarantee I spend 20 times as long getting ready as my man does.  He showers, shaves, puts on nice clothes and is done- and he looks handsome, and he knows it.

It takes FOREVER for me to get ready.  My hair, bless it, is a situation.  I tend to try on half of what I own, before I settle on an outfit.  And then I change my mind.  There’s plucking, and moisturizing, and makeup.  And then I will still second guess myself.

And yes, I understand how shallow…

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Easter hols

Its the 2 week, Easter, school holidays here. It may be a little quieter round here than usual while I try to preoccupy to small children and simultaneously trying not to go bonkers.

So far so good, I have been out this morning with them and hopefully bought enough of everything that we won’t need to go shopping again until term time.

The rest of the day today will be spent polishing off Easter eggs (them not me, mostly ;-)) and playing in the glorious sunshine that springtime has very kindly bought us and maybe a bit of creating together.

I hope to be able to post life-balance related posts over the half term but, hey, I am not going to beat myself up about it if i’m struggling for time or energy. Feel free to contact me via for any questions and help you may need I will make time in the evenings to reply if necessary.

Imogen x