My 2018 in Review

It’s important to review the year, and go into a new one with intention, so welcome to the review of my 2018! Get your coffee ready, it’s a long one!!

Word of The Year

At the beginning, I set a ‘Word of the Year’, to set an intention. The word that I chose was ‘gratitude’, I felt that I needed to appreciate all that I have, before working towards a wealthier, happier future. This seemed to ‘trigger’ a few people, not in a good way, so I toned it down a lot. Looking back, it would have been better (for me at least) to stick to it. There is a lot to be thankful for, and for me, the benefits of acknowledging that fact are: less worry and stress, resilience, a positive outlook, being open to opportunities, and self development. How do you feel about setting a ‘Word of the Year’? Fluffy nonsense or practical intentions?

I will select another ‘word of the year’ for 2019, but I will still practice gratitude and I encourage you to do the same.

Do you have a process you use to find a word? I followed Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool last year, it worked well for me.

If you’d like to check it out, you can download a copy of this Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool here: http://yourwordoftheyear.com/share


The start of 2018 saw me working in a job that I loved and felt passionate about. Library BearPromoting the Swindon library service, starting Code Clubs, adventures of the Library Bear, delivering story times – sometimes to over a hundred people! After that secondment came to an end, the job I returned to just did not fire me up in the same way and I knew that I had to make a decision. I was sad to leave the library service, having enjoyed 8 years and made many wonderful friends. It was time, though, to follow my dream, become my own boss and work with children. From September, I had a couple of opportunities to help me on my journey. I started doing science parties for Sublime Science and after school clubs for STEMKids and have loved every minute. I also started 1:1 tutoring which is just awesome, and found the courage to set up and deliver my own coding club and STEM club as well as set up this website.

Handmadebyjanxlogo3In the new year, I intend to grow the HandMade by Janx business further, and create an online course. The intention is to inspire children, help them grow into and love coding, science, technology and maths.

And help us parents!

Cutting commitments

During the year it has become necessary to cut back on some commitments. One such commitment is Relax Kids, a franchise project dear to my heart. It became less of a business and more like a labour of love. And unsustainable in the way that I was working with it. I still feel passionate about helping our young people overcome anxieties and avoid mental health issues, so I may come back to RK in the future.

Also, having loved working with the Beanstalk charity, I had to admit it was taking me away from my business. As was being a GirlGuiding Brownie leader. I assure you, the future holds other opportunities to give back in a way that uses my talents better.

How do you feel about volunteering and charity work? Helping others has been a proven technique for feeling happier. It is worth looking into, if you’ve not considered it before.

Storytime Bonding YouTube

So this year also saw the beginnings of a YouTube channel with a good friend from the National Literacy Trust, Anish Harrison. We called it ‘Storytime Bonding’, setting it up with the intention of encouraging parents and carers to read with their children. The benefits of reading are well documented, and sharing books, stories, and rhymes with babies, and as they grow into children, gives those children the best start in life – not just for reading, but language, understanding, social interactions… and much, much more.

My favourite video for the channel has to be the one with the gorgeous Grace… click here to see it.

To increase the content and popularity of the channel will be one of my goals in 2019. What advice would you give to new parents? Do your children have any favourite books? We had many, such as ‘The Teeny Weeny Tadpole’, ‘The Smelly Sprout’ and ‘The Monkey Puzzle’ and rhymes like ‘Five Little Ducks’ and ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5’. We sang so much that Abbie often sang by herself …

This was when she was 2 years old! Love her!


So what about my home and family life in 2018? Well… my amazing step-daughter made a very difficult decision to end her long-term relationship and move back home. I’m so proud of her for being so grown-up about it. It has taken some adjustment – I mean, you know how already stuffed our house is! Neil had to move out of the spare room that he’d made into his man-cave, Jack inherited his chair (now used for gaming!) and Abbie inherited his desk (now used for sneaky slime making and drawing). And I had to squeeze myself back into my hobby room – I had spread out using the dining room as an office!! It hasn’t been easy since I’ve now accumulated a lot of science equipment for the clubs and parties! My massive yarn, fabric and painting stash has not diminished…!

Tweenagers (twins, tweens, not quite teenagers)

Besides all that, Jack & Abbie turned 10, and started year 6 – the final year of primary school.


Abbie loved going to the Isle of Wight on a school residential, and going to the Big Gig with Guides. They’ve really become tweenagers, Abbie often in her room watching YouTube and Jack in the dining room playing Fortnite. As often happens when life is busy, spending time with friends takes a back seat, and yet we have enjoyed sleepovers (mostly Abbie!), trampolining, and coffee mornings with good friends throughout the year. This will definitely be part of the plan for the coming year – coffee mornings, sleepovers, date nights. Do you plan date nights and regular social events? Friendships and support are so important, aren’t they? and not just for ourselves.

At home, the garden got tidied up – we had a patio put in and the rest of the grass gravelled. Abbie had a room refresh. We enjoyed our holiday on the Isle of Wight. Neil had a stag trip away in Spain and then we attended the lovely wedding, an awesome day and night with friends, dancing, without the kids! Woo hoo! Neil also turned 50! for which we had a night away in a posh hotel, just the two of us. I enjoyed taking family selfies, for a social media challenge, using my birthday prezzie to myself – a selfie stick! – although Jack is not so keen! Tourist type days out included visiting the cat cafe ‘You & Meow’ in Bristol, Gromit Unleashed in Bristol, the Natural History Museum (and my awesome neice) in London, and the Story Museum in Oxford. Did you do many tourist-y type things this year?

Personal Growth

From a personal perspective, I’ve come a long way this year. It took a lot of courage to leave the relative ‘safety’ of the library. For this, I’m grateful for Neil’s support, he would rather I had a stable job and income (is there such a thing?). It has been empowering setting up my own business (get me – calling myself an ‘entrepreneur’!), pushing out of my comfort zone to make the clubs my own and finding the best way forward for the 1:1s. I have work to do and big plans for 2019 and beyond, clearing up my debt being one of the most important for moving forward. Reading, improving my mindset, completing courses and being coached are all part of my journey. As will be improving my health. For a while, it was lovely to give myself permission to have a morning routine – getting up early, reading, meditating, even doing some HIIT training, yoga and a few runs using the Couch to 5K app! Sadly, it didn’t become a habit, easy to find excuses despite the benefits being quick to appear. 2019 will be a busy year so it will require investment into my health and self improvement. Are you one of those people to make New Years resolutions? Which ones did you achieve this year? Any plans for this year? Would you like to join me running?



It’s been a huge part of my life since I was a child. Since more recently devouring ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson and ‘The Happiness Advantage’ by Shawn Achor, I mainly read self improvement or personal development books. Some of the books I’ve read this year have included ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod, ‘5 Second Rule’ by Mel Robbins, ‘You Are a Bad Ass’ by Jen Sincero, and ‘Blogs Change Lives’ by Aby Moore. I’m still reading ‘Get Rich Lucky Bitch’ by Denise Duffield Thomas and ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Prof Steve Peters. They’ve all had a big impact on me in their own ways. The positive outlook gets bad press sometimes, of course it’s not all rosy in the garden, but I find that it is easier, with a positive attitude, to keep my stress levels low and to keep moving forward and see opportunities.

I am now loving listening to Podcasts, my all time favourite is by Brendon Burchard ‘The Brendon Show’ – it just feels like he understands me! I also tune in to ‘Elite Business Academy’, ‘The Huddle’, ‘The Marie Forleo Podcast’, and ‘Do It Scared’. These voices fire me up and certainly helps make shopping, cooking and even cleaning enjoyable! Have you tried it?


Arts and crafts, creativity and making things have always been a feature in my life, this last year has been no different! At the beginning of the year, I enrolled in a couple of art courses – painting and art journaling. I dabbled with the idea of doing Vision Board workshops as I could really do with attending one myself! Maybe I should just invite you and a few other friends round to see how it goes.

I’m so very proud of the mural I painted on Haydonleigh Primary Schools new library bus, having absolutely loved the process despite the cold!! I would love to do more murals if you need one?!


A scrapbook was born out of documenting the Swindon Library Bears adventures. Yarn projects have included knitting some dog jumpers, Nazir doll (from Robin Hood), and crocheted 2 pairs of dragon scale gloves. And a dinosaur, sheep, llama, Supertato story sack and a cat emerged from socks! The one link between these projects? They were for other people! These days I find it so easy to complete something if I can imagine the person receiving it and how much they will love it. Visualisations are supposed to be a powerful incentive, so a goal is to regularly visualise myself achieving great things! Voodoo? Maybe… maybe not. Have you tried it?


What I could have done better:

  • Routine & consistency
  • Planning
  • More family time and experiences

What went well:

  • Word of the Year
  • Self-Employment – Coding Clubs, STEM club
  • Investing in courses and coaching


So what is in store for 2019? Have you made any plans? Are you one of those families that starts planning their summer holiday? We don’t usually, but as the kids are getting older, maybe we will this year. A trip to the Isle of Wight to spend time with Nanny will always be a part of breaks from school and work.

There is much to be worried about, the world is facing an environmental crisis and here in the UK, Brexit is a big concern. Requiring big changes from all of us. I admit that my understanding is limited on these issues, so I feel that I can only make small decisions like reducing plastic waste as much as possible.

I wish you all the best health, wealth and happiness for 2019 and beyond. Whatever is in store for me, I intend to embrace it with a grateful attitude. And work towards bringing you a review telling of more success this time next year!


3 thoughts on “My 2018 in Review

  1. Jan, what a busy year it’s been for you! And what you achieved is amazing! Seems like what you set your mind onto, you just go for it – wish I was like that sometimes and not overthink things.
    Wish you all the best in New Year! It will be a great one x

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