- The Organised Mum
“There is more to life than house work”
Welcome back to Season 3 of Fifty Shades of Motherhood and The My Bump 2 Baby Expert Podcast! This week in a special crossover episode Carla talks to Sunday Times Best Seller Gem Bray aka The Organised Mum about how she turned her anxieties around motherhood into an amazing brand. She discusses her app TOMM, upcoming journal, and much more!
Instagram : @theorganisedmum
Facebook : The Organised Mum
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Pre Order her Book here : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Organised-Mum-Method-Journal-Sort/dp/0349429502
Carla: Unfortunately in life, things happen that we have no control over, which is why My Bump 2 Baby works with one financial advisor and one family law, solicitor in each town throughout the UK. If you have not protected your family in case the worst should happen please, please think about it. So many families are left homeless when a loved one passes away and the spouse left behind cannot afford the mortgage or the bills.
[00:00:31] We insure our mobile phone. We insure our household appliances. We insure our pets. Why don’t we insure ourselves? Please please today go to www.mybump2baby.com/familyprotectionlegal and find your nearest financial advisor or family protection specialist. It is so important that you were covered should the worst happen.
[00:01:03] Are you looking for groups in classes for your little one? Perhaps you’re looking for pregnancy classes for yourself. My Bump 2 Baby is the UKs leading pregnancy to preschool directory to find your nearest pregnancy to preschool group classes, lesson or service, head over to www.mybump2baby.com. You can also read our reviews on the latest products, days out and services.
[00:01:51] Hello everybody and welcome to 50 shades of motherhood and The My Bump 2 Baby Expert podcast. Today, we are joining both podcasts together to bring you a very special episode. Today, we are interviewing Sunday times bestselling author, Gemma Bray. Gemma has a very interesting story as to how she began her amazing business. Gemma suffered with anxiety after the birth of a first child. And I don’t want to give too much away. So listen to this episode, relate be inspired and I hope you do you enjoy it?
[00:02:51] Hello everybody and welcome to this week’s episode of 50 shades of motherhood. Today, I am joined by Sunday times, bestselling author, Gemma Bray, and also the creator of the amazing Tomm, which I have probably all told, told you all about already, but hello, Gemma. How are you?
[00:03:11] Gem: I’m I’m really well, thank you very much. I’m excited to be, be with you.
[00:03:16] Carla: I’m really excited to have you here really looking forward to having a chat with you about, about how you are, where you are now, because you’ve, you’ve got an amazing community of parents and not just parents, people that follow your methods. And you’ve done all this, um, after becoming, um, a mum. And it was all through you know, your anxiety and struggles like that. So were you planning on your first child or was it?
[00:03:43]Gem: Yeah, we were. I mean, so I was quite, I, I was quite young. I mean, I wasn’t, I mean, I was, when I had to Thomas, I was 23, 24 and I felt like that for me was the right time to have my first baby. I’d like all like growing up, like in the late, like teenage years, I was like, I can’t wait to be a mum. I can’t wait to be a mum and so like, I got married. I got married really young actually I got married at 20, 21 years old. That marriage didn’t last. I got married far too young. So I had Thomas when, um, I was in my early twenties and I remember going to like the NCT group and like, most of the mums were in their mid thirties. Um, so I was, I felt really, really young, but we had, yeah, we had planned him. I didn’t have any problems falling pregnant. I mean, that’s something that I have been blessed with. All three of my pregnancies have been healthy, I got pregnant really quickly all three times. Um, so yeah, he, he was, he was planned I think, but I think because I’d got pregnant so easily and because I’d had a healthy pregnancy. I mean, I did have awful morning sickness, but it wasn’t bad enough to be hospitalised or anything like that. But I remember thinking, what the hell is this. It’s like because morning sickness, I think is one of those things. Where no one really tells you how bad it is and like in the films and like on the tele, you’ll see like some really this woman she’s a little bit flushed. Her cheeks are quite rosy and she just comes out of the, you know, the loo just having dab, dabbing her face because she’s just been a bit sick.
[00:05:25] Carla: It’s always the day after they’ve had sex as well. It’s like the next day she’s already getting sick in that, you know.
[00:05:33]Gem: So that’s sort of floored me. Um, but other than that really, really healthy pregnancies. Um, and because I kind of sailed through them, I think it was more of a shock when I had Thomas and I, I think, I think it’s perfectly summed up. By, um, the moment that I looked in the mirror after I had Thomas and my tummy still looked pregnant and I noticed stretch marks that I haven’t been able to see cause they were underneath the bump. And like that, I remember looking down and going oh my God. What’s happened to me. And I’m just like the day after I’d given birth to him, I was like hobbling to the toilet because of the stitches and I was just like, okay, this is different and it really, it really hit me and it, I, everything was just out of control. I like, this will come as it will not come as a shock to anyone who follows me on social media. I liked to know what I’m doing. I like control. So having a newborn baby that control goes completely out the window.
[00:06:44] Carla: It definitely does. Yes.
[00:06:47]Gem: And, um, I remember when he was a few weeks old, just thinking like there has, there has to be, there has to be some sort of pattern here. I mean, I refuse to believe there isn’t. I’ve just not noticed it. I’m just so sleep deprived. I’ve not noticed it. So when I got, um, I got, I had an Excel spreadsheet and I colour coded it and I was like, right. Sleeping. Okay. Eating, awake periods. And I was like, and I look at this after a week and I was convinced that it would, I’d see some sort of correlation in the colours and it just looked like a patchwork quilt. There was just colours everywhere.
[00:07:18] Carla: Thats amazing that you got the spreadsheet. I love that idea. Gemma were you really organised before Thomas then? Were you like always super organised or?
[00:07:31] Gem: No. Well, what happened was I, my mum thinks it’s hilarious that I do what I do when I’ve written books about what I’ve written about. Cause she, like, she will tell anyone who listens, how I was as a teenager. Like she used to find like week old pack lunches underneath my bed. Like I always had holes in my tights. My hair was always just. Slightly, you know, never quite got to how I wanted it to be style-wise. No. So the short answer to that is no, it was only an after I had kids that I realised that things run an awful lot smoother when you kind of have a plan.
[00:08:07] But what happened at the beginning was when I had, when I first became a mum, I went too much the other way. So I realised that my life was out of control because a newborn had just been put into to it. And I had no control over when he slept et cetera. And I tried, I really tried to double down on that and I thought the only thing that I could control would be how the house looked. And, um, I couldn’t control my postnatal body. It didn’t look the same, but I could control my house. Um, and if everyone saw that I had a gleaming immaculate house, this is how I rationalised it in my head. Everybody would then assume that I was completely coping with it. And just bossing being a new mom. When the reality was, it was just a massive smoke screen, almost like a defence mechanism to stop anyone coming in too close and checking if I was actually okay.
[00:09:02] Carla: Do you know, it’s so funny when you went back and said, I am the ma well, before I was the messiest person ever, and I am, I’ve had bad anxiety since losing, during pregnancy, my little twins during pregnancy. And since then, my mental health has been like panic attacks, et cetera. But the way I’ve coped is cleaning. And before I found out about you, actually, I was literally cleaning all the time, because it was the only thing that kind of kept my mind active. I couldn’t just sit and think because then the intrusive thoughts come in. Oh, you’re not a good mum. You’re not this. You’re not that. And so that’s what I did. And, um, yeah, we’ll go on to that shortly, but know that that does make sense.
[00:09:44] Gem: Yeah. I think it’s quite, I think it’s really common actually. And it is, I think a lot of people, we all have different ways of, of, of coping and almost hiding from dealing with the root problem. Um, and it’s just sort of distracting ourselves, whether that’s over cleaning or overexercising or, you know whatever, it was almost like I always try and think of it as like a getaway car, really, just to distract you from the actual, the actual problem. And it’s really, you know, it’s human nature. Cause who wants to sit with those uncomfortable failings because it’s not nice.
[00:10:23] Carla: No, it’s not, it’s not. So yeah, that really does make sense. So it’s like having something that’s yours and that you can control and, you know, and it, it, it almost is like that shiny thing where people just see it and think, Oh, look at Gemma, she’s got it together. You know, her house is pristine. So were you cleaning all the time then?
[00:10:42] Gem: Yeah, so it got to the point. So before I had kids, I would just be like, a big clean, like once a while, because you know, when you’ve got two adults that go to work all the time, it’s not really a lot to clean it there? Really. Um, but then I was what, when Tom was really little, um, I was just I’d get up, I’d get dressed and I would just start cleaning and I fixated on certain things. So for me, it was always the hoovering cause we had a dog. Um, so it was hoovering. It was the kitchen worktops and it was just all certain, shiny taps. I was obsessed with cushions. I look back now and I’m like, why did I fixate, I was always in. Like either. Um, w I was always looking for cushions. I was always trying to find the perfect cushion.
[00:11:32] Carla: Yeah.
[00:11:32]Gem: It’s just weird. Anyway, it got to the point where I was, I stopped going to see my friends because I was like, no, I’ve got to do the cleaning. And I know that if I go out, I’ll feel guilty that I’ve left the dishes or something like that. Um, and it got to the point where I was like, cutting bread over the kitchen sink to not make any crumbs on the counter. Um, and it was actually the turning point actually for me was, I mean, my, my, friends and family would laugh and be like god you’re obsessed. And I be like haha. It’s like when someone says, Oh, you know, you, you look a bit thin or something like that. If you’re on a diet, part, well, part of you might think, Oh great.
[00:12:16] You know what i mean, it’s like almost like a badge of honour kind of thing. It’s just your brain works like that. Um, but I remember the turning point was when. The, um, health visitor came and I’d read on an internet forum. Which you should never do.
[00:12:34] Carla: No.
[00:12:35]Gem: Um, health visitors always come and check your loo and they always ask to use the toilet because they can judge. We’re looking back now. I’m just like what, um, they, they judge your house or your ability based on how clean your loo is. I now know that that is. So untrue because so many health visitors have said, can we just please debunk this myth? So I was, I fixated on this. I, I said, right I got to go and clean the loo and I was on my hands and knees and I’m scrubbing the toilet floor before she came. And she never used the loo. She never asked to use the loo. And I’m going do you want the toilet?
[00:13:18] Carla: Another water? Another water?
[00:13:21] Gem: She was, she was actually really, she was so. She’s obviously really good at her job. And she’d asked me, you know when they discharge you and they ask you to fill out those forms. But at that point, how often, how many times did you cry? duh duh duh and I’m like, fine. Fine, fine, fine, fine. Fine.
[00:13:38] Carla: Yeah.
[00:13:39] Gem: There you go. Like that. And she was just like, Hmm, is this true like that. And, um, yeah.
[00:13:47] Carla: Did you find that you were getting, I mean, this is where I was, I was getting frustrated with people in the house making mess and I’ve got a little boy and he does make a mess, but sometimes it would really get to me, I’d be like, I’ve just tidied that, I’ve just tidied that. And it’s a bit, you know, a bit snappy.
[00:14:03] Gem: It is. Yes, absolutely. 100% that, and it was, it was getting in the way of living. Life basically. And so I was stopping, seeing my friends because I was prioritising the housework and it was just, it was just all wrong. And it was that with the real turning point, when she said, when she sort of realised that I wasn’t as fine as I was portraying to everybody else.
[00:14:28] And she just said, look, you know, and , this will always stick with me. And I often quote her. She said that as long as you and your baby are happy and healthy and cared for everything else is just sprinkles on your cupcake. And I was just like Oh, Oh. So it’s okay. You know, if I walked around Tescos and I’ve got baby sick down my back, that’s fine. That’s normal. Actually. That’s completely normal and it’s completely normal to still be in your dressing gown. Um, at 11:00 AM with a newborn because you’ve been up all night and not only is that normal, it’s probably also encouraged because it means that you’re giving yourself a bit of a break. And, and that, that was really the turning point. And at that point, I realised that if I didn’t do something about it, it was getting to the point where I wouldn’t have been able to reverse it. And yeah, it was becoming so prevalent in my life in such a big part of my life. Like I’d wake up in the morning. The first thing I think about is what am I going to clean?
[00:15:28] Carla: Yeah. You get in a cycle though Gemma don’t you? You can sometimes get in a bit of a cycle where you become, I mean, with my, uh, after my anxiety was all health-related and because I can’t control that, it’s like, you can do what you can control, but the health anxiety was the same, it’s a bit like OCD, isn’t it? Where you feed it, you keep feeding this thing and it just gets a bit out of control. Doesn’t it? And you’ll get more and more and more obsessed with it.
[00:15:55] Gem: I, yeah, but I think the thing with anxiety is it can. It’s a, it’s a funny thing. Cause it can, it attaches, it can attach to anything and sometimes you just like, Whoa, Whoa. Well hold on a second. But I wasn’t anxious about this three or four years ago. Why am I anxious about it now? And it almost like it finds a weak spot and attaches it to itself to it and all, and all of a sudden your anxiety is manifesting itself in a different way. I mean, I used to suffer, um, horrendously with panic attacks and, you know, they’re very few and far between now, but like if you’d have told me when I was having really bad anxiety and panic attacks that I would go on live telly. I’d be like no I wouldn’t. Because I was like, I’d be convinced I was going to faint on live telly or something, but it’s just, you’re. I find that as I’ve gone through life, my anxiety never has actually gone away. It just kind of meanders and attaches itself to different things, which is just great.
[00:17:00] Carla: Yeah. I don’t think you can ever get rid of it. Well, that’s it. And you know, when I was a kid, my mum, I think looking back, I’ve always had it. I don’t know about you, but my mum used to be very much like I’d get a bit down and she’d be like, right early night, get TV on. And you know, and I never really knew what mental health was. Obviously, it’s really important to share about it as well, but sometimes when you’re younger, you don’t really know. So then you don’t think about it too much, but as you start to get older, then once you realize what it is, I think then you think about it more and you worry about it more don’t you?
[00:17:34] Gem: Yeah, and I think it, and it becomes more, more of a thing. And like you say, you, you feed it and then almost you become anxious of the anxiety itself. So I know that when I, when I was having really bad panic attacks, I was fearing, fear itself. If that makes sense. Like, I was scared of becoming scared and it was just like, what, what is this? And I think I’ve always been predisposed to it. Or, um, like when I was really young kid at school. I used to hate being late, like so much so that we’d have to arrive everywhere, like half an hour before, because I would get really anxious about, you know, being late for school.
[00:18:12] Carla: Oh, that is so lovely. I was one of the late ones that would be like oops sorry.
[00:18:19] Gem: I was such a swat, I was such a swat at school that was like I cant be late, I cant be late.
[00:18:21] Carla: Oh, that’s. No but it is, it follows you through life. Doesn’t it? So, so what was the turning point then for you when, when you just thought I can’t do this anymore?
[00:18:30] Gem: So I, so I sat down at my, I sat down in my kitchen and I was, and I said, what, what do I want, what do I want out of life, basically? How do I want to be a mum? How do I want to approach motherhood? And I was like, well, all through my motherhood, like pregnancy, I had seen, had been bombarded with images of women with cherub face kids, you know, feeding them to like carrot puree in their white jeans, you know, and that’s what I thought it was going to be like. And it obviously isn’t anything like that.
[00:19:06] I mean, for some people it is. But for me it wasn’t. Um, so the turning point was sitting down at that kitchen table and working out that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life cleaning. I wanted to go and do something. I wanted to go and enjoy being a mum and going to the park and making sandwiches and not caring about, you know, making a mess while I’m preparing a picnic. And so I, I sat down, I had this note paper and I was just like, well, what I’m going to do is I’m going to compartmentalise the cleaning to 30 minutes a day. So what you have to understand is. My house was like so clean at this point that I was starting from an already clean house. And I was like to maintain this I can, I probably only need to do 30 minutes and I’m going to try and not do any cleaning at the weekend. And I, I, I allotted each day of the week to a different room, essentially that I was going to clean in and I just. I stuck it on my fridge. And, um, my friend, my best friend’s husband came around. They came around one day and he sort of looked in the fridge. What, what day is it today? And it was a Thursday. And he said, Oh, it’s kitchen day. They were all taking the Mickey. But I was just like, no. Cause it was working. It was really, really working. And it just got to the point where I just knew it off by heart and it just became, my routine, like eating breakfast or having a shower. It was just right, I’ve got to do 30 minutes. It’s in the, in the living room today. So that’s what I’m doing. And then I’m going to just stop and go and do something else. Um, and it, it was difficult at first, really stop, stopping after 30 minutes. And it was difficult when. After you’d done it. Someone would have inevitably make a mess, like you hear the noise of like the Lego bricks or the wooden blocks being tipped out. And it’s just that, and that is still something I I’m always working on that, always working on that, especially now that my kids are older, like my oldest is now. He’s coming up to 15 and walking into his bedroom. Sometimes it’s just like, I have to take a deep breath before I go in. Cause I know that it’s not going. I know it’s just going to be carnage. Um, but yeah, and it just stayed with me and it always, always helped. So, yeah, it worked so I’ve stuck with it.
[00:21:33] Carla: I think, I think that’s a massive thing. Isn’t it? I think Instagram and Facebook is great, but sometimes you’re scrolling through and there’s just absolutely picture perfect houses, everything. And it’s just like, Oh my God, if she can do it, and she’s got a newborn baby and I’ve got a five-year-old, I can’t do it. What, what’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me? And it’s like, you’re constantly beating yourself up, but you’re looking at lots of different people doing amazing things. And you thinking that you need to be excellent at this. Excellent at that. Excellent at that. And I think it’s actually just understanding, like, you can’t be everywhere at once and you can’t be perfect either. And I think that’s really hard.
[00:22:13] Gem: Yeah, it is. And I think, I think what’s also really important to remember about is. I think especially Instagram is a lot of Instagrammers who are, i’m not, not talking and about like your mates who are on Instagram or whatever, you know, the people earning a living from social media, um, It is their job. It is their job too. And they become almost like a brand. If that, if that is their brand to, um, show, um, like motherhood or if it’s a mummy blogger or something like that. And maybe they’re working with, um, supermarkets or, you know, other companies, it is their job to portray their lifestyle in a way. That makes the people who are consuming their content want to buy the product they’re advertising and it’s it’s, you know, it is their job.
[00:23:05] You know, if someone was advertising, I dunno, just pick something at random. Someone was advertising a vase. Right. And they took, and they were getting paid by vases.com and their living room was a mess. And there was a burping cloth with baby sick down it next to the vase. It’s not aesthetically pleasing and people would be like whatever, but you know, if it was a good shot and it was staged just like in any magazine or any advert on the telly.
[00:23:29] And I think it’s so easy to get sucked in to this imagery, like I was when social media didn’t exist when I was pregnant. Thank God. But like, you know, cause it would have just made everything a thousand times worse, but it’s so easy to get sucked into this. Well, like you said, if they’re doing it, why can’t I, and because it.
[00:23:53] You you can’t because it’s not real life. And like you said, you might be looking at someone who’s got an immaculate house and one picture the next picture down the feed. It’s some fitness influencer who, you know, is drinking green tea. After, after doing hot yoga in the morning, they have two completely different lives, but all of a sudden your brain has gone. Not only do I need to have a perfect house, I also need to have a perfect body. I’ll be up at 5:00 AM and doing hot yoga. And this is all too much to cope with. It’s really difficult.
[00:24:22] Carla: It is. It is. And it is, I mean, social media is great in some ways. I mean, obviously, you know, it’s inspiring, isn’t it looking at people and there’s so many good things to it, but I do think, yeah, you want a bit of everything, don’t you? I mean, I’ve got, I’ve actually got Michelle Keegan saved on my screensaver at the moment because to stop me eating after lockdown. So the other day it was so embarrassing. I actually went to the car park, went to pay and this man before me, he was trying to pay and his card, didn’t work. And I said, I’ll pay that for you. Cause I’m trying to do one nice thing a day at the moment. Anyway, I went put my phone there and he was like, Oh, Oh, I said, Oh, it’s Michelle Keegan. I said, Oh no, I’m not. I’m, its just so hard to explain. But anyway, so for good things, you know, it can work in a good way, looking at all these, all these amazing people.
[00:25:12] Um, but also I think, you know, when you’re not feeling a hundred percent on everything, I mean, it’s this morning I woke up at six. And I was like right I need to clean, but then I also need to exercise and then I also need to get ready for George for school. And you just don’t know which direction to go in sometimes.
[00:25:30] Gem: No, and it is, it’s your brain just suddenly becoming so overwhelmed then it almost, and I actually did an Instagram post about this yesterday because I very oddly, like I never expected this to happen. So obviously I started TOMM because I was over cleaning, but over this last period of lockdown, my mental health has just done something that it’s never done before. And it’s just like, my brain has gone into this fog that I just, I wake up in the morning. And it’s like where has the motivation gone? My motivation has just left. So I’m now using TOMM to motivate me to clean and it’s just, it’s just really. Weird. And I kind of feel like I’m seeing it from the other side, because there’s two main groups of people who use TOMM.
[00:26:21] There’s people that over clean and that are using it to curb their over cleaning. And then there’s the people who just don’t know where to start. So maybe their house has been neglected. Maybe they’ve been ill or they’ve been a carer, or they’ve just, the housework has just been so low down on the priorities that they haven’t even registered it. And. Yeah. And I’m now, I’m just like, okay, this is, this is, this is brand new. This is a brand new situation. And it, thank God, it’s it, you know, it works. It’s still working, but from the other side.
[00:26:50] Carla: That’s amazing. Well, at least, you know, it works, you know. Thats great. But, so, so when you sat down and you created this, uh, amazing, amazing app, um, Tell me, like what, how did you know what it was going to turn into?
[00:27:06] Gem: Oh God the app. It’s like the most stressful thing in the world. Um, Mike and I, um, my husband. Uh, uh, you know, we love each other dearly. We all kind of, we are soulmates. That the first app that we, um, released, we almost, we almost got divorced.
[00:27:25]Carla: Oh, really?
[00:27:26] Gem: It was so stressful. Cause I said to him. Let’s build an app, like that, and I literally, I’m not techie in any way. I’m like, which, which plug does this go in? Like, you know, and, and he is. Very, you know, he knows what he’s doing and he’s like, I’ll, build it for you’re darling. I was like, Oh thanks. And so we had no team behind us. And, um, we launched that a couple of years ago and I was so naive. I had no idea that so many lovely people would download it and it just. Crashed. And it took us about four months to fix it. Um, so I have a love, hate relationship with that app.
[00:28:04] Carla: Oh, I, well, I do, I do love it actually. That’s what I first listened to you, but it was a recommendation from one of our area managers actually. And she said, You need to get this app. And she, a first of all, listen to the book and I listened to your audio book and it was amazing, really inspiring. And it did make me chuckle as well. Um, but then, um, I got the app and, uh, gosh, I absolutely loved it. It’s just given me a new lease of life, really. Um, but. You know, I used to be person that used to avoid housework and now like, you know, then I got obsessed with it. Cause I get obsessed with things, you know, once I’m deciding I’m doing something, it’s like the other month I was like, right, I’m going to start reading. Instead of reading, I ordered 15 books, you know, it never happened. They came they’re still in the packaging. It just, you know, I get a bit obsessed. So when I, um, got your app. Oh, my goodness. I was like in my element, but it meant that I could actually have a bit of a break and time away, guilt, free time away from cleaning as well, which is important.
[00:29:05] So, so, you know, when you created it, Gemma. And you actually, did you just sit down at the table and, and draw up this plan then?
[00:29:13] Gem: Yeah, I did. I, it was, it was, it was on a scrap. It was on like a, just a scrap bit of paper. And I’m really wishing, you know, in, in hindsight, I really wish I had kept it. I’d have probably framed it or something. I, but obviously it was, it’s long, long, long, long gone now, but I never, ever expected it to. To be what it is. I always expected it to be something, it was so private and, you know, people used to take the Mickey, you know, with me like friends and family. Cause they knew it was like kitchen day or whatever. I never really spoke about it to anybody. And it was, it was actually Thomas it’s very confusing because Tom, Thomas, my son was the newborn that kicked it all off. And um, when I named it, The Organised Mum Method. It was so tongue in cheek, because it was something that I was aspiring to be, you know, and I never thought I would. And then it was the acronym was Tom and it was something like, it just seemed too good, an opportunity to not, to not take up. But he dared me to talk about it on Instagram and it was one years eve and we were doing our new year’s resolutions. And he said, I dare you to talk about you cleaning online. Cause I’m quite a competitive person. And um, because my, like my eldest, had dared me to do it, I was like, well, I’m going to do it now. I’m going to be an example. And I’m going to set an example for my child. Um, and I fully anticipated that it would just fizzle out, like after about 10 weeks and I could quietly just shut the account down and no one would ever talk about it again, it was just that during that time, when mum tried to be an Instagrammer?
[00:31:03] Um, but yeah, it took off and it was, it was. It was really weird. And I think at the beginning, some people, I don’t get it so much now, but some people struggled with the name and the concept. And I think some people thought it was, um, quite a sexist concept. And, um, it was like dragging women back to the 1950s, because I mean, there are obviously, cleanings a big thing now on Instagram, but when I started it really wasn’t like it, it was just. Not what it is now in any way. And. No one really spoke about it. And I think that was the thing. This cleaning was one of those things that you always had to do, unless you could afford to pay someone to do it for you, but no one really spoke about it anymore. And I found that with my generation, I went to an all girls school and we were, you know, we had it really rammed into us that we could be anything that we could want us to be. We could be lawyers, doctors, you know, there’d been this. You know, feminist revolution and, you know, we’d got the vote and it was up to us to go out and be pioneers and dah, dah, dah, dah. And there was so much focus on that, that we just like learnt how to sew a cushion in design and technology, which, you know, I’ve never sewn a cushion since.
[00:32:22] Um, and we learned how to make a Cornish pasty. Oh, it was nice. It was really nice. That was a good day at school. And no one really, no one really taught me how to yeah. You know, battle lime scale, or, um, how to do your laundry in an efficient way because it, it, it wasn’t forward thinking enough.
[00:32:46] Carla: Yeah.
[00:32:47] Gem: For the girls of the nine, of the 90s.
[00:32:49] Carla: Yes. It’s almost gone the other way where you’re not allowed to discuss those things. Some people don’t like you discussing like women discussing cleaning, which almost then makes it, it’ll just keep doing a U-turn sometimes doesn’t it, you’re not allowed to when it’s like, well, actually some, some mums, a lot of mums I know. The mums i know, actually, uh, through circles of friends, we are the cleaners in our house. Uh, there are some dads, I know, that do it. But you know, at the end of the day.
[00:33:18]Gem: Well, it’s facts. It, you can’t escape facts and the facts are, I mean, listen, I am a proper feminist. I am raising three boys. My husband does his fair share. We all share the cleaning. Some, in some households. That’s not what happens and that, that might be by choice, you know, and it’s, and it’s not, uh, you know, it’s not us to judge, but 98 and this is not a made up statistic. 98% of the women. Um, uh, sorry, the people in my Facebook group are female. Now. Some people say, well, that’s because you’re a female and they, you know, and it’s called The Organised Mum.
[00:33:58] So like, chances are you are going to attract more females, but I would absolutely love it if it was a 50 50 split.
[00:34:07] Carla: Yeah.
[00:34:07] Gem: And what happens is, and this is something that. I’ve seen time and time and time again, like when I was an antenatal teacher, I used to then do postnatal classes as well. And what happens is in many cases, not all, obviously, I don’t want to caveat that. People will take maternity leave. So women will take maternity leave because. That is in many cases, it’s the majority of the cases the woman. So will take maternity leave and all of a sudden, while she’s on maternity leave, all of, the other jobs that go along with running a house suddenly get lumped in. To her remit her sphere, whether or not that’s because she can’t stand, sitting and feeding the kid, looking at the laundry. So it’s just easier to go and fold it. And then it’s such a slow creep that her partner may be just going out, doing, working. When, if she wants to go back to work, there then comes a really awkward conversation because for the last, however, many months to a year, the other person who’s been still going out to work and not taken leave has not had to deal with the house as much. And then it’s like, can we redress the balance? And it’s really awkward.
[00:35:19] Carla: Yeah. And it can cause arguments it definitely can.
[00:35:21]Gem: It really does. I mean, we have to be so careful in the Facebook group because A its the internet…
[00:35:28] Carla: Yeah it scares me.
[00:35:31] Gem: Anyone weighs in. But like, we have to be careful because you can have a, you know, a woman that’s really at her wits end because she feels really put upon that she does everything in the house. And it’s really difficult to try and moderate that in a way that she feels heard and she gets the advice that she needs without it turning into just another thread on the internet, where people are just bashing men for being lazy, because that is just such a generalisation. My, my husband is like the opposite. He does. He does so much to help in the house, but everyone’s situation is different and it just cause so many arguments.
[00:36:07]Carla: Exactly it really does and that’s it. And I think sometimes even the night feeding, we had a bit of a thing around that because one of my friends, her husband would do it like during the night, because he was up more and his, he worked for himself. But then I was like, I admit I was, said to my husband. I was like, well, he does the night feeds. Why can’t you do the night feed? So in the end, we found a compromise where he did it on a Tuesday and a Friday, which actually worked really well because it meant I had a night, a full night’s sleep to look forward to, you know, two points in the week, but it is, everyone is so different and everyone’s got different things that they can cope with and things that they want to do. So, no, I totally get that.
[00:36:48] Gem: And also every, everyone’s got different levels of cleanliness as well, and it’s very. It’s very unusual to end up with someone who has like the, exactly the same standards. This is, the majority of the case is someone who’s either a little bit more tidy than the other person. And it’s the person that’s a little bit more tidy that usually breaks first, and is like Oh, I I’m going to go and tidy up because I can’t cop anymore and the other person’s like what? It’s fine. It’s fine. And they genuinely don’t see it cause it’s not reached their threshold yet.
[00:37:18] Carla: No, I know. That’s it. And I imagine most of the arguments around house, the house are about cleaning.
[00:37:24] Gem: Yeah.
[00:37:25] Carla: Um, but Gemma, can you tell us a bit about, obviously without sharing too much, because I want people to check out your amazing method, et cetera, but can you tell us a little bit about how it works and the structure of it?
[00:37:38] Gem: So, it’s. First things is we try as much as possible to keep weekends completely free. So like my, um, little phrase that we stick by is there’s more to life than housework, so we weekends are meant to be kept for fun stuff with the family or hobbies and that sort of thing. So that means over the week, you have a set day, which is assigned to each weekly day. So Mondays are living rooms. Tuesday is bedrooms. Wednesdays hallway. Thursday is kitchen, and then Fridays, we have a deep clean in a different area. So it works on an eight week rolling schedule. So every Friday for eight weeks, you’ll go and deep, clean. The living room or you’ll go and deep clean the bathrooms.
[00:38:27] So what that does is that tackles what I used to be guilty of when I was over cleaning. Of just becoming fixated on the same thing, like just hoovering all the time or polishing the taps in the bathroom all the time. Because when you go to that one level deeper on a Friday, we call it the Friday focus. You are not just doing surface cleaning. You’re like moving the sofa, or you’re doing a little bit of decluttering. So over the each eight week rolling cycle, your house just becomes progressively cleaner. And what many most people find is that when they start the first couple of weeks, There are like I, I could never do this. I could never clean my kitchen in 30 minutes. This is just too much. So we always say, just do, look at the list of jobs as like a pick and mix. Like it’s just a default suggestion. Cause obviously I don’t know what you’re, these people’s houses are like. Like, I don’t know the lay of the land in their house. Just do the most urgent ones.
[00:39:22] And over time it will just get quicker and quicker and quicker. And it’s funny because people will message me and say, when I first started, I used to look at this list and laugh and like now I’m four, five weeks in, and I’ve been consistent with it and it’s just taken me 21 minutes to clean the kitchen. And I never thought I would get to this. So the whole premise is, it’s little and often every day, but not weekends. And over the course of the eight week rolling cycle, it just, you just chip away, chip away, chip away, and it just becomes cleaner and cleaner.
[00:39:55]Carla: That’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. I personally, I’ve used that. I’ve obviously told you all that, but I found it really, really useful, a good way to, like you said, just stay on top of things. So actually you get that surprise visitor, obviously not at the moment, but you get that as a surprise visitor. And it’s not like, cause I used it, the doorbell would ring and I’d have literally fabreeze, everything like, you know, or you’d get someone saying, right, I’m just around the corner from yours. And you’re like, Oh shit!
[00:40:23]Gem: What do I do first get dressed. What do I do? Yeah.
[00:40:27]Carla: And that is it. So this has been a lot better because now. Well, not now, hopefully soon when people do actually turn up or, you know, I’m not good with people that just turn up at the house. So I don’t know about you. Why I honestly freaks me out.
[00:40:42] Gem: No I can’t cope.
[00:40:42] Carla: I pretend not to be in sometimes actually, to be honest with you. I kind of have a look through the spy hole, but it just depends who it is, but if I’m not feeling it, um, it’s not getting answered. But, um, with the, um, With that, it’s just a case of kind of not feeling. I mean, I don’t know before, what would happen to me is I have to have these random, big cleaning sprees. No one would ever come round. And then as soon as that house is horrendous, it’d be like *knocking sounds. I just be like oh for god sake.
[00:41:16] Gem: Its sods law.
[00:41:17] Carla: Yeah. So it’s a good way. This of just basically staying on top of everything. Like you said, for 30 minutes a day and you have your playlists and stuff like that. Don’t you? Where you can kind of have a 30 minute playlist.
[00:41:28] Gem: So that the music is all, I’m going to, this is not like unique to me, but music has always been really important to me. And I always find that if I’m kind of feeling a little bit low or not really feeling it, the right playlist, can turn my whole day around. But if I get, if I’m in, like really bad traffic and the right song comes on, I’m like, this is absolutely fine. This is fine. This is fine. So those playlist again, they were like something that I it’s, it’s funny actually, because I, I create those playlist every week. I like sit down on a Friday. It’s like my, one of my favourite jobs during the week. I’ll sit down and I’ll go through my playlist. I’ll create five for the next following week. And I never really. Think about anyone listening to them because I just choose the songs that I like. Yeah. I am of a certain vintage. So that I’m forty so, like, it’s not, I couldn’t tell you who is in the charts these days.
[00:42:26] Carla: Oh I couldn’t.
[00:42:27] Gem: So, no, I just it’s just like old school, like stuff. Anyway and, um, a couple of weeks ago, Spotify, because I do them on Spotify launched a brand new, like they had an update on their app and it broke the link from my app to their app. And we suddenly realised how many thousands of people were listening, because we suddenly got so many help desk tickets on the customer service help desk. We were like oh my god people actually listen.
[00:42:54] Carla: Yeah i bet you forget.
[00:42:57] Gem: Yes Gemma people listen. It’s like when you do podcasts or something, it’s like you’re talking and you sort of get caught up in it and you don’t think that, someone’s actually going to listen.
[00:43:05] Carla: You don’t do you? You just kind of get on with it. And then sometimes like the other week I was outside Georges school and a lady was like, hiya, you alright? I love that podcast. I was like, uh? Who are you? Like you just don’t know, you forget don’t you because the internet is amazing. Isn’t it? And you forget.
[00:43:20] Gem: Yeah thats the thing, it always makes me jump because I think. I was in Tescos last summer when we were allowed out, we’ve been to Thorpe Park and, um, I was so sweaty. Um, and I forget that I do things on like Instagram and YouTube and people watch it. And this lady came up to me and it wasn’t in our local shop. And she came up to me. She was like, hello. And I just went hello? I was like do I know this lady? And then she explained, and I was like, Oh, Oh, I’m really sweating. I’m so sorry. Thomas was like, why did you say that? I was like I dunno I panicked.
[00:43:59] Carla: Oh I know, Oh yeah. You have to say something though. That’s why with this podcast. I mean, sometimes I have to reign myself in cause to just talk too much, but it’s, it’s always, Oh, I don’t know when people kind of catch you off guard. I always say something stupid or I spit or something like that. You know, when I’m talking, I’m just like, Oh yeah. And then I dribble or something nothing. And I think why did I even speak? What was the point? So, yeah, totally get that. So, so Gemma, you, you are also bringing out your very own journal aren’t you? So can you tell us a bit about that?
[00:44:34] Gem: Yes. Okay. So for years, team Tomm. That’s what we call people that follow The Organised Mum Method have been saying, bring out a journal, bring out a journal. And I was like no, no, no. And in then the end, they, they broke me. They broke me and like the publishers said, shall we do it? I think people want one. I was like, Oh, okay. They twisted me arm. But it was really important to me that I just didn’t go into a room and created the sort of journal that I would use, I needed it it’s a real collaborative effort.
[00:45:03] So I went onto the Facebook group and I was like, if, if we were going to produce a journal, what would you want in it? And like, so everyone just waded in and come up with their suggestions and it’s re it’s, it’s fantastic actually. Cause it’s, it means that we know that we’re what we’re putting in people are A actually want, but B will actually make it useful. Because I don’t know about you, but there was. In the past, I will buy like a blank notebook and I’m like, now this is the start of something amazing. It’s a whole blank canvas. And I fill out two pages and I’m like oh whatever.
[00:45:39] Carla: Yeah. I’ve got loads in the drawer, but my problem is the messy handwriting. If I cross things out, I don’t want to use it anymore and it’s gone. So I have got loads.
[00:45:48] Gem: Oh I like that. I like it when it looks used. But yeah, half used notebooks. So it’s really important to me that this journal actually gets used. Um, so yeah, it’s coming out in September. Um, we’re sort of still putting the finishing touches to it and, um, I’m writing little bits for little parts in it still.
[00:46:06] Carla: Is it for cleaning directly for cleaning or a bit of everything?
[00:46:10] Gem: So it’s a bit of everything. So it sort of combines, um, the organised times technique with the organised mum method. And it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s very interactive so people can, can make it their own. I don’t wanna say too much because I’m trying to, I’m trying to twist their arm on something that will make it absolutely phenomenal, but they’ve not, they they’re like. They’re resisting me. At the moment but I’m like, come on, you know, you know that this will just push it into amazing. They’re like, they’re like, Oh, but that’s going to cost too much money. But, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s interactive and it’s, it will be adaptable. So yeah no, it’s not just cleaning and we’ve put a lot of thought into it. Like things like columns, which way should the columns run and like what makes it more usable and things.
[00:46:56] Carla: Oh wow.
[00:46:56] Gem: I know things about journals now that, that you shouldn’t ever have to know.
[00:47:00] Carla: Yeah. I bet. I bet. Yeah, because of course when, um, there’ll be a lot of mums listening to this. That may be just hard a baby. Or they’re thinking, right. I’m not, I don’t want to go back to work, but I want to create something. And it’s just, it’s interesting to know, like market research is where it’s at. It’s about finding out what people actually want and it’s great you use that community like that. It’s a great group. Um, there’s, everyone said that it’s quite quite funny. Sometimes reading the posts in there.
[00:47:28] Gem: It’s important to me that group because you know, the internet, like we said is amazing, but at the same time, it’s a double-edged sword. Like there’s, there’s, there’s wallies everywhere you go in life, which means they will be Wally’s on the internet. Um, and, but I kind of, I look at that group and like any all social media, like my front room, really someone someone’s come in and had a chat. So it’s really important that we try and keep that. As nice as possible. It’s, it’s impossible to keep all the Wally’s out 365 days of the year, but you know, we do try our best. And one thing that we are, I am actually really quite proud of is that, um, when the app really took off, I, I was running the help desk on my own. And I was just like, I can’t do this. I can’t handle this. So I have now employed three mums who work from home. They work, they set their own hours basically. And yeah, it just feels lovely to be able to employee mums on their own terms really. Cause when I first became a mum, like I’m sure every, you know, all parents who are trying to fit work around the baby. How many of us have like Googled part-time work? Part-time work from home.
[00:48:44] Carla: Yeah,
[00:48:44] Gem: What can I do from home.
[00:48:46] Carla: Yeah. Anything from home.
[00:48:49] Gem: And thats what got me into writing. Cause cause when I was, I mean, I had an English degree. I’ve always loved writing, but when I, um, became a single mum. I was like I need to, earn money. I can’t go out to work because, um, the kids were really young still and I couldn’t afford childcare. So I needed something that I could do in the evenings. Um, and I just signed up to like a load of freelance writing sites and I used to, you know, produce 300 aritcles or, um, Airport car parking.
[00:49:20] Carla: Yeah.
[00:49:21]Gem: And I was like oh this is so dull but it, you know, paid the bills.
[00:49:26] Carla: Yeah, exactly. That’s it. And I think sometimes it’s just, I mean, yours, it’s inspiring because your journey similar to mine, actually, My Bump 2 Baby was born from me getting postnatal depression after, after having my little one. And it’s funny because when you’re at that all time low, sometimes that is when something amazing is created as well. Um, and I think.
[00:49:49] Gem: Because it’s born out of necessity. I think, you know, you needed it at that time. So you’re filling, and you’re fulfilling a need. That other people will have. I think that’s what it is.
[00:50:00] Carla: I think you’re right there. It is because a lot of mums end up kind of working for themselves, don’t they in producing these amazing like businesses and, and these amazing products and it’s because they’ve needed it. So you’re absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So Gemma, any top tips to leave us with?
[00:50:18] Gem: Yes. The first one is, I’ll give you a couple. So the first one is more of like a philosophy and this is something that it took me ages to wrap my head around and is something that I still have to remind myself of daily is that there’s a massive difference between a home that’s just a little bit messy cause people live there and it’s lived in and a home that is genuinely filthy dirty. Um, and you know, your kid might be playing. You clean the house, its living room day it’s Monday, you’ve done your 30 minutes in the living room. And then in the afternoon, your kid, you look into living room there’s loads of toys and it’s just surface mess. And it’s because you have, your family are living in that house. So that’s for me, the first thing is, is to really remember and recognise that if you’ve done 30 minutes cleaning, if you’ve, you know, if, if you, if you’ve done cleaning for your day, you have done enough and everything else is just life mess. That can be, you know, reasoned away like that.
[00:51:20] And the practical tip that I would say is, um, if you are in a state with your house and you feel like you don’t know where to start, it’s full of clutter. Um, what always seems to work for people is choosing the two rooms of the house where you can make the, the biggest difference, the quickest. So for me, that is like maybe the kitchen or the living room. So the rooms that you are going to see all of the time, because once you start to make a little bit of progress, it will turn something on in your brain. Even if it’s the tiniest amount of progress, you will feel like you’ve achieved something. And that is highly likely to spur you on and do something else. So if I was, if I had to walk into a house and I was helping someone do like a massive declutter. I’d be like, right. Which rooms we’re going to choose one room, or we’re going to choose the room where we can make the biggest difference the quickest. Not the spare room, you know, not the loft, you know, the room where you will walk in and go, wow. Okay. This looks different. Um, and just tackle things little bit at a time. Even if you’ve only got 10 minutes just say, right, I’m going to do that bookcase. And just do the book case. Don’t pull the whole room apart, just stick to certain zones of the room, because otherwise you’ll end up in that awful situation where you’ve literally pulled everything out. And everything is everywhere. And you’re just like what have I done, what I’ve done? And just close the door and leave.
[00:52:51] Carla: Yeah. Sleep in the other room. I’ve done that in my bedroom, before I emptied all the wardrobe out. And then I thought, Oh, I’m not sleeping in here. Just sleep in the spare bedroom because you just run out of energy. Don’t you?
[00:53:02] Gem: That it, it’s just one cupboard, one cupboard at a time, one bookcase, one wall at a time. That’s how I tackle it.
[00:53:09] Carla: I love that. No, thank you so much, Gemma. Really, really appreciate you coming on here. Can you just tell everyone where they can find you and we will obviously put your links in the show notes.
[00:53:18] Gem: Yeah. So, um, on instagram, it’s The Organised Mum. On Facebook. It’s The Organised Mum and also there’s some YouTube videos, but that’s not called the organised mum, that’s called Gem Bray because I was just, you know, feeling a little bit fancy.
[00:53:34] Carla: Yeah brilliant. No, that’s perfect. I’ll put those links all on there and the link to the app and also they can pre-order the journal now if they want.
[00:53:43] Gem: Yeah, they can pre-order it. Yeah thats out in September.
[00:53:44] Carla: Ill put the link to that on there as well. Okay. Thank you so much.
[00:53:48] Gem: Thank you, have a great day.
[00:53:51] Carla: You too.
[00:53:53] Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of Fifty Shades of Motherhood. Fifty Shades of Motherhood is all about being free, being real, being raw and saying what you want to say without fear of judgment. So if you have enjoyed today’s episode, please, please share it with your friends. You never know who it might help.
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