A Day With... Leah Samuel
I set my alarm for…. On the days that mini-me has to be at school for 8am (twice a week for Athletics and Dance) I set it for 5.30, 6 and 6.30 and drag myself out of bed at 6.45.
On the normal 9am days I set it for 6.30, 7 and 7.15 and get up at 7.30.
That hour from the first alarm to getting up is my absolute favourite time, that glorious half asleep, duvet snuggle in the morning. Getting out of bed is the hardest part of my whole day. I know the best business people and life coaches et al advocate getting up early and being productive but I DON’T CARE! I wanna languish!
I actually get up at… 6.45 twice a week and 7.30 thrice a week. Feeling fabulous and re energised. In the summer I actually don’t really need my alarm and the need to languish also lessens.
My morning ritual(s) is/ are… Not sure what I do can be called a ritual, or that I even really have one, most days the plan doesn’t go to plan. I’m absolutely AWFUL at routine! My psyche physically rebels against it, no matter how well intended or necessary it is, something in me is just resistant (part of the reason I work for myself).
On the mornings where I’m not being resistant to myself, I’ll check my messages, post to social media, write a to do list in my notes (usually no more than 5 items), roll out of bed and jump in the shower. This is obviously after the duvet has released me.
What do you do next? On the mornings where my “rituals” are working I release myself from the duvet, turn the oven on, have a shower, turn the kettle on, get dressed, wake mini-me up, make her breakfast while she’s in the shower (like Tamu this is usually a cooked breakfast, we don’t do milk so there’s no cereal and don’t really do bread so no toast), make her lunch while she eats her breakfast, do a bag/activity check (she packs her bags the night before - she is good with and actually loves routine thankfully), wait for her to feed the cat and guinea pigs (rolls eyes), wait for her to make her takeaway cup of mint tea and leave the house. This happens smoothly maybe twice a week.
Some mornings despite having everything I need for mini-me’s packed lunch the duvet has held me hostage and we have to go to the drive-thru Marks and Spencer on the way to school (before you ask, it’s the petrol station!). Or even though every item in the house is clean and put away and her bag should’ve been packed the night before she can’t find football socks or tights or a SKIRT!
To wake my kid up I… Sing! To her dismay. Every morning. Usually some nonsense about waking up. Or whatever I was last thinking about/doing before I go in her room, so it could be as ridiculous as “the cat food is finished and my bedroom is really hot, do you want waffles and eggs for breakfast” all to a fabulously soothing lullaby. She hates it and always gets out of bed really quickly!
For breakfast I have… Whatever I WANT! I have a couple of food intolerances and breakfast is the meal that is hit the hardest, so I’ll literally have whatever I want. Sometimes it’s something resembling breakfast food like gluten-free toast with grilled bananas, peanut butter and cinnamon sprinkled on top (but even though it’s gluten free I can’t eat it often, my stomach only likes it in small doses), other days it’ll be tomato soup or tuna and rice or a salad and some days it’ll be cake, chocolate or a £1,000.99 popcorn bar from Pret!
My go to outfit is… Layers. I love layers. I also love colour, especially in a coat. Clashing colours and patterns are my faves, they hide the fact that nothing is ironed! Usually jeans and a top or dress - I LOVE jeans worn with a dress! In the winter I’ll have a bright coloured coat and patterned scarf. And always a shiny or tasseled brogue or a pair of trainers.
I chose my career/ job because… Whilst in my previous career I was doing it as a hobby, and found that I enjoyed it so much more than my actual career. So I went back to College and then Uni to become a Graphic Designer. And I’m so glad I did. I LOVE IT! I’ve been a freelancer/working for myself for the last 11 years on and off. 9 months into my first design role I had so many private clients I decided that I didn’t need the job and would work for myself. Little did I know while handing in my notice that I was 2 months pregnant. So I was pregnant and pretty much jobless, but it all worked out. Mini-me was a dream to be honest and my family were amazing. So I worked while she slept and slept while her fab godmothers looked after her (they didn’t know at the time that they were gonna be her godmothers but they were there nonetheless).
The 2nd and 3rd strings to my career came about when the digital age kicked in full force and I realised that I HATED designing websites, but print design was on the decline. So I added Social Media management and Proof Reading to my resume so I wouldn’t have to compete with millennials for digital design jobs that I didn’t actually want. I now do all 3 of these things from home/cafes/friends kitchen tables at varying times throughout the week.
Describe your typical work day… Once myself and mini-me are up and out the house I drive her to school, if I’m home for the day I’ll stop at my parents house and smile at my dad until he gives me something for lunch, then I’ll go home and work until it’s time to pick mini-me up from school. On the occasions that my body shouts EXERCISE I’ll work until it’s time to go to the gym for whatever class I’ve booked and then come back and work until time to pick her up. If I’m out at meetings I usually finish in time to pick her up or my Dad or her Dad will. Once we’re home we’ll do homework, play board games, cook dinner, drive to extra curriculars. When she’s asleep I’ll go back to work. If her Dad is picking her up then I don’t stop, I just keep working on and off throughout the evening unless I have somewhere to go. If I’m on my laptop I’ll plug it out at about 9/10 depending what my workload is for that week and when the battery dies I’m done. This is on a good day, some days deadlines see me working well into the next day.
For lunch I… Eat whatever my Dad gave me, usually their dinner from the night before, unless they had something I can’t eat. If I have to make my own lunch I’ll eat leftovers, or some kind of soup or salad. If I’m being really lazy I’ll just pick at stuff or eat cake. If I’m out/working remotely I’ll get something delicious from wherever I am.
My biggest career related achievement is…Starting again when I’d already trained to do something else. And starting Qyuu, I had the idea while looking for a new diary, I wanted it customised but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. A lightbulb clicked after about 2 weeks that said “Durrrr you’re a graphic designer! Do it yourself!” So I made my first Qyuu diary, a few people that I showed really liked it, so I printed a run of 100, opened an Etsy shop and they sold out! So 2 years later they’re bigger and better and I’m adding new products.
I dread work when… School is on holiday! It seems to happen so often and can really be a juggle. Although it’s much easier than having to be at work in an office during the holidays. The first year my daughter was at school I had gone from being a freelancer to full-time in-house designer (I’m still not sure how it happened) and it was truly awful!
If I could exchange my career for any career in the world it would be… because… Author. Because there is an Author inside me, she’s the one that eats all the cake. Watch this space for my Children’s fantasy series and/or Bridget Jones diary type novel. You heard it here first :-)
At the end of the work day I… The end of what…? I don’t understand the question… I’m not sure that it ends, if I’m not working I sleep.
The first thing I do when I get home is… I actually don’t know. Take my shoes and coat off I guess… Ohhhh actually I hang my keys on their peg! After too many mornings of me digging around in the pockets of random clothes, or various coats or bags (I could never remember which I’d used last) mini-me suggested a key peg. So I religiously hang them up as soon as I enter the house.
My go to dinner is…
Quick: Curry Mutton defrosted from the freezer with white rice and plantain in Yorkshire Puddings.
Quicker: Salmon (tinned, I don’t like fresh salmon unless it’s smoked) wild rice, sweetcorn and spinach.
Quickest: M&S Dine in for Two for £10
I unwind with…
A book on holiday, ideally once a week lol
But in real life it’s conversation - I speak to my mum ridiculous amounts daily (it makes us both less productive, but is necessary), my dad and siblings and go to’s daily, not all of them every day. Convo’s with them make working from home less isolating and give me daily belly laughs. There are also cocktails… My current fave is a Rose liquor with Elderflower and Rose Lemonade. Delicious!
Before I go to bed I… Check on mini-me, make sure she hasn’t be smothered by the cat, unless she’s in my bed in which case I push her from the middle of the bed to the corner and try to make a space for myself. Then I get in, read a little of whatever book I’m currently reading (now that I’ve finished watching Sons of Anarchy, for the last few months it has been my Air!) check my phone, set my multiple alarms and am asleep within minutes. Unless I’ve worked past midnight in which case I crawl into bed wherever there’s a space for me and pray that morning comes slowly.
You can find my stationary at @QyuuDesigns on Instagram.