How I’ve been getting pregnancy so… ‘wrong’

I am 6 months into having our third baby – a third baby girl – God help my hubby.

And the last few days I’ve been a mess, emotionally and physically. Not for the first time of course, in fact I’ve been all over the place for the last 6 months, but just suddenly, it’s felt like the shit has seriously hit the fan…

Yesterday I cried 4 times. It came the day after several comments about the size of my tummy (which as always is pretty large). I had also woken in the morning with some severe pelvic pain and later that evening I managed to wee all over myself (and the floor) despite being sat on the toilet?! I initially wondered if my waters had broken 3 months too soon as never before have I made such a mess after having actually making it to the loo. Still baffled. But either way the joys of pregnancy really got lost on me these last couple of days.

Pregnancy isn’t easy, I know there are some people out there who love being pregnant. Friends of mine have absolutely glowed. But I do not enjoy it, what’s more I have come to realise that I make it harder on myself by making several mistakes. Perhaps you are preggers and making similar ones, perhaps you might read this and find some comfort, I am certainly hoping to get some by writing it.

Mistake number 1: Listening to people’s comments and taking them on as truth

During my first pregnancy I can’t tell you how many times I was asked if I was having twins, each time I would smile politely while shaking my head and blushing. And once again, the comments have started. One well-meaning lady told me she wasn’t as big as me when she went into labour, an interesting fact but one which I ignored as information and heard as “you’re fat… and getting this wrong”. She didn’t mean this at all, lots of women get big bellies and lots of women love the fact that they get so big. So keep the comments coming, don’t stop for fear of offending me. I have a choice to love my body and the miracle it’s going through or see it as something hideous. From today I choose beauty; truth.

Mistake number 2:  Asking for help way too late

I’ve been suffering with pelvic pain from pretty early on and I waited weeks before booking to see my midwife. By which point, it felt like my insides were going to fall out. She advised me to get physio, sit on a carrier bag in the car and to rest. I still didn’t do any of those things. I waited again until I was in tears from the pain before I made a phone call for physio (going today, woohoo!) I waited until I could barely walk after doing the housework before asking (telling) my hubby that he would now have to take over. Being in pain is another normal consequence of being pregnant and it does not make me/us weak. Asking for help before things get too difficult means that I can conserve the energy for the things that really matter: baking with my 5 year old, playing trains with my 2 year old, walking with my hubby. From today, I will take offers of help – damn it I’ll even ask – and then my family get the best of what I have, not the last.

Mistake number 3: Trying not to cry

I wouldn’t describe myself as an ice queen exactly but I do struggle to show my vulnerability, my emotions, and yet from the first few weeks of pregnancy I couldn’t stop crying. The mistake I’ve made is trying not to. I’ve been seeing emotion as weakness and something that people would feel uncomfortable with. But keeping it all in, only makes me more irritated, more shut down and more distant from people: my friends. Crying 4 times yesterday felt great! So good that I’ve already cried again today. Emotions during pregnancy are once again normal! And not to be ashamed of, so no more holding back for me. I would rather show emotion, than keep myself distant and alone. Hello tears… So many tears…

Mistake number 4: Trying to be perfect

I’ve written a few posts about not trying to be perfect and here I’ve been, falling into the trap of trying to have it all together and have a perfect pregnancy – pah! Who does that?! Is there even such as thing as ‘getting pregnancy right’? No. We have very little control of what’s happening inside our bodies so why would I try and control any aspect of it all. Here’s the truth: Whilst pregnant, I am not gonna be a loving wife and mum; I’m shattered and a mess. AND THAT’S OK. I’m going through something huge that us mum’s do not seem to admit to. But it really is a big responsibility, a huge strain on our body and a heavy burden on our emotions. We cannot do what we are used to doing, we cannot be the person people have grown used to us being. We are pregnant, we are at times bat-shit crazy, and we are a miracle. Let’s not forget it, let’s stop placing any expectations on ourselves, and please let’s not feel bad about it. Ever.

Making mistakes is so normal for me, talking about them helps me like nothing else. It helps me to see the truth and it helps me to connect with other people. And these things are not just related to pregnancy. As soon as we are parents we often listen to other people’s judgments, ask for help too late, bottle up emotions and try to be perfect. Let’s get real mama’s, let’s be real.

I’m off for a biscuit… Here’s a picture of me and ‘beautiful’ bump

I don’t care what ‘type’ of mum you are, here’s why

I recently read an article that listed 10 types of mums. I’m sure the blog was intended to be funny but – to me – it came across as horribly judgmental and confirmed what I am often afraid of; that I am being watched and worse: labeled. By some mums anyway.

But then I came to my senses. I closed the blog and opened my laptop. And here I am.

Here is why I don’t give a crap about what ‘type’ of mum any of us are.

Because THERE ARE NO TYPES OF MUM’S! Duh… We are each unique, we bring unique experiences, values and childhood’s. We each had different parents who we are either striving to be like, or trying desperately not to be. Stereotyping mum’s is insensitive, a little weird and needs to stop. As mum’s we need to build one another up, not look to knock down. Respect our own and one another’s ways.

So, I urge us to completely ignore blogs which judge other parent’s. And this goes for offline too. If someone is talking about somebody else’s parenting technique, change the subject. If you feel other’s are discussing your method’s then choose other company. Like Gandhi, we have to be the change we want to see in the world, and I want to see more love.

Let’s stop judging one another. Let’s be kind and supportive. Let’s remember our own mistakes.

And if you read a stupid blog which labels you the “perfect” or “annoyingly fun mum” then please right it off as nonsense and remember this: that nobody has a right to label you. That you are a mother (or father) to at least one person who was chosen to be yours because you are the best person for the job. That anyone judging you, I guarantee has been heavily judged themselves and so too needs your support.

But mainly that you are good enough.

I’ve met a lot of mum’s and we all have the same thing in common: we love our kids the best we can and we are raising them the only way we know how: our way.

We are not designed to be the same so please don’t look at our differences. Look at what we can learn from each other, but more importantly: how we can love and support one another on this incredible (and shit scary) journey of motherhood.

I’m off now to be a fun, sleep deprived, anxious, irritable, slightly passive, sometimes strict mum. In other words, me. Go be you, and enjoy it. You deserve it.

How minimalism has changed my life

My journey toward owning less stuff started when I read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, which I started reading after a holiday where we had no toys but LOADS of fun. I wanted to somehow create the harmony we accomplished by the sea, at home. I do love a challenge (I’m naive).

Back in December, once I had finished the book, I binned several black bags of the kids toys and I noticed several benefits which you can read about here. And I decided to keep going. I continued to read about simplicity and minimalism, I watched videos and subscribed to blogs. And slowly I began to bin more stuff (when I say bin, I gave almost all to charity, friends and then recycled the rest).

Over the next 2 months, I gave away about 50% of my wardrobe, I binned the odd socks and scabby knickers. I gave away the kids clothes that they didn’t wear or had excess of. I donated books which sat on my shelves ‘making me look clever’ and ‘classic’ DVD’s, which I haven’t watched in years. I went through the kitchen and boxed up a load of ‘spare’ plates, cups and glasses (I’m not sure when I ever thought I would invite 19 people over for a cup of tea). I sorted through the lunchbox cupboard and recycled all those without lids which left me with 2! The list goes on.

And then last month I joined two friends who had started a 30 day Minimalist game: on day 1 we gave away 1 item, day two, two items until we reached 30 and I completed it just a few days ago.

I wouldn’t say “I’m a minimalist” yet, but I would say that so far the journey has changed me:

I spend less. I’ve become very conscientious about where and when I spend money. Suddenly things feel more valuable, I don’t want to bring more stuff in after working so hard on getting stuff out. This makes relying on one income a little easier.

I clean less. Anyone that knows me, will already know that I am not a good home maker, I am crap at cleaning, haven’t ironed a single piece of the children’s clothing and honestly I can’t remember the last time I polished. I told myself that mess didn’t bother me, but I knew it was a lie that I frequently told myself (and my husband). The truth is I did notice and I felt guilty, ashamed and like a failure of a parent most of the time. I didn’t tell anyone because I couldn’t see a way out and didn’t want to hear that I might have to do more than I already was. Taking care of 2 young children is hard core, keeping the house clean and tidy felt totally out of reach. Not anymore! I haven’t vacuumed in a few days, nor cleaned the bathroom and yet my house feels clean?! wtf? I should have done this YEARS ago!!!

I feel less stressed. Like I have less to do, my attention isn’t on the mess on top of the fridge, the piles of clothes and toys on the floor or the busy window sills. My attention is now on the kids, my amazing husband and me (I might actually get to blog more, yay for me!)

The kids are happier. We have more space for obstacle courses, more mind space for imaginary play and less things to argue over. At Christmas I recall them fighting over a whistle… A whistle!! And they both had one!!?! In fact until recently they would argue daily about what belonged to who. Shouts such as “that’s miiiiiiiine!” and “I had it fiiiiiirst!” would drive me to hide away in my bedroom hoping they would work it out for themselves (did I mention I’m naive?) But I haven’t heard a row like that in days! And that’s quite the miracle. Instead they get their little suitcases out and go on pretend holidays to our living room, they play mums and babies together or make a den under their duvet. The impact this has had on me (and hubby) is lush lush lush lush lush.

There are more benefits but those are definitely my favourite.

I feel excited about our future of owning less but having more.

Do you think you could do the 30 day Minimalist game? Email me if you have any questions.

I didn’t take any before and after photo’s, because for me the reason for owning less isn’t how it makes our home look but how it makes us feel xx

Let’s not lose weight this year…

For several years, getting fit or losing weight has been very near the top of my very small New Year’s resolutions list. But not this year. Don’t get me wrong I’m not going to try and gain weight or anything but if I do, so be it. What I propose is that we do what we can to be healthy (if we choose), but we don’t take a step onto our scales or take any other measurements. Let us instead make a goal this year of accepting our weight and our bodies. And let’s stop measuring our worth on how we look, it’s annoying.

So here is why I personally, will not be intentionally losing weight this year:

  1. I don’t need to lose weight to be happy (or loved).
  2. My kids don’t want a thinner mum, they want a loving mum. My eldest daughter, aged 4 actually asked me recently when she will have a big tummy like mine. Lush.
  3. My husband doesn’t want me on a diet, he wants me to enjoy my life and exactly who I am.
  4. Accepting my body will teach my girls that they can accept their beautiful bodies also

As mama’s and papa’s we need to take care of our hearts and families, not of our appearance. Not anymore.

So, screw you New Year’s diet! I didn’t actually make any New Year’s resolutions this year, however I do have a vision for 2017 and it does not involve how I look…

This year, I plan to focus on learning more about love and being an unconditional mama. I plan to simplify my life more, get rid of even more stuff and hopefully spend more time as a family because of it. I will also work on myself; my patience, my energy, and my ability to love my kids without shouting, complaining or crying. I won’t achieve this in a year, probably not in a life time but working on it is enough for me.

This year I’m going to give less of a crap. I have spent too much time and energy in the past worrying about what people think of me, my house, my kids, my husband, my choices, my parenting and my appearance. Not this year. No more.

So in 2017, let’s stop caring about our body shape and size. Instead let’s own it, embrace it and focus on things which are way more important to our happiness and the happiness of our kids. Who’s with me?

What’s your vision this year? Would love to hear from you.

#screwyoudiet

#newyearsamebody

What happened when I binned our toys…

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(Toy Binning, Phase 1)

The number of toys in our house is something I have been questioning for a while. Initially the thoughts of “we have too many toys” sat alongside my other “should” thoughts, such as “I shouldn’t let the kids watch so much TV”, “I should probably take school more seriously” and “I ought to be taking the toddler to more toddler groups”. But for once I decided to listen. I continue to ignore the rest of my ‘should’s’ for now but a recent holiday opened my eyes to a life of less toys.

During half term we visited Tenby and for the first time since our youngest could move, the kids didn’t argue! Not at all… Without the usual mountain of toys, they played classic games like Tag and Hide & Seek, they spent ages in the bath with a colander and a milk jug. They ran around the apartment, jumped on beds, made dens and played ‘mums and babies’. They had fun… without toys… and together.

So the day after I unpacked our suitcases (a week after returning home), I got some black bags and went crazy. I explained to my eldest (the only one who noticed my wide-eyed and hyper frenzy) that I have noticed that lots of toys do not make her happy, and that we were going to try life without them for a while. And then she carried on doing her colouring in. Don’t get me wrong, I had a couple of moments of “But muuuuuum, I loooooove this toy, I play with it everydaaaaay”. So I allowed them to keep a few extra’s, only to bin them during phase two last week (she still hasn’t noticed).

Let me just be honest about why we had so many toys to begin with. I allowed encouraged it because:

  • Each new toy represented time… A perceived time that I would have freed up to read, catch up on emails, clean the house etc.
  • I liked seeing them have fun with something that they enjoyed
  • British weather is so crap, we are at home long enough to justify a house full of toys
  • Me and the hubby might get to have a conversation while they play with their own little toys
  • Everyone else has lots so if I have less I will look like a bad mum and the children will want to live somewhere else

I admit I have credited toys with far too much and have been pretty delusional for the past 4 years… Since doing it though, I can honestly say it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. And guess what?! When I got rid of the toys (and the storage to remove future temptation), strange things started to happen:

  • I suddenly have more time!!! It seems the less toys they have, the longer they play! Woo-hoo! What a revelation, my youngest (now aged 2) will sit and play with a train track – my personal favourite – for 15 minutes. We didn’t really have this before, she would move on every few minutes and need support retrieving or setting up something new. I get 15 minutes now where she will play with a toy pretty independently, which frees up time for me if I need it.
  • We have more fun. We had literally hours of laughter playing catch, football, and piggy in the middle with a single red balloon. I don’t even remember where we got it or how it didn’t end up in one of my black bags but the day it deflated was a sad day indeed.
  • We go out more. Fortunately, this autumn has been particularly mild but I don’t think the deepest and darkest of winters will keep us home now. The kids LOVE being outside, whatever the weather. And so do I. We go for walks and catch leaves, we visit the quiet – and wet – parks, we go look at boats and ducks. And another amazing perk of doing this? Our youngest is sleeping better! We’ve had 5 nights through in a row – until 7am! Literally unheard of here.
  • The kids play nicer together. We still need to intervene 100 times a day but it’s far less because there is less to argue about. They do more role play which causes less arguments, increases their levels of patience and teaches them better social skills.
  • They are happier. I am happier. There is less mess, less distraction, more connection and more fun. If only I knew this 4 years ago 🙂

From now on, for birthdays we are asking for money so that we can have more experiences, for Christmas we are buying them practical gifts or role play gifts and attempting to make our day less about presents. I am so excited by it all. Children really don’t need very many toys, they need connection, and they need love. And that’s it. I’m done surrounding them (and me) with things they do not need. Are you brave enough to minimalise your kids toys? Let me know if you do, I would love to see some photo’s and hear about how it’s changed things for you.
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(Disclaimer: I haven’t binned all of their toys. We have 3 buckets full left, which are staying… For now. Almost all of the toys went to charity shops. I also took some advice from this article on the Becoming Minimalist blog).

Frickin’ Hormones!

pmsOne of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about the things that don’t always get talked about it. Not talking about some of the guilt, shame and general shit stuff can be pretty lonely. And if there’s ever a time I feel lonely it’s when I’m suffering with PMS. According to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome, common symptoms of PMS are: moodswings, depression, tiredness, fatigue or lethargy, anxiety, feeling out of control, irritability, aggression, anger, sleep disorder and food cravings. I suffer with all of these along with ‘wanting to punch hubby in the face’ and ‘kids drive me even crazier than usual’.

For me, my symptoms start about a week before my period is due and get considerably worse about 3 days before, I almost always cry  as it approaches. Last month I cried when I overcooked some eggs, like not a trickle of tears… A full on slam the door, storm upstairs put my head on my pillow and cry hysterically whilst shouting into it what an idiot I am. Sometimes I cry because the children don’t like me, or because I’m fat and ugly. Either way it’s all completely valid at the time and disappears the minute I get my period. As soon as my period arrives, there’s a wave of relief, a feeling of a dark cloud being lifted and my ‘normal’ personality returning.

Since being a mum my symptoms of PMS have remained ever strong, only now I have two more reasons to find ways of coping with Frickin’ Hormones. Here is how I will attempt to deal with PMS this week:

  1. Ask for help!

I do not ask for help enough, even when I was poorly with the flu last week, I really struggled to ask for help. I think I can do everything by myself, I compare myself to women in other countries and circumstances and convince myself that unless I can do it all, I’m weak and stupid. No! When I can’t be completely loving to the girls, I MUST ask for help. It is my job to love them not do absolutely everything regardless of physical and mental health. Asking for help shows strength, if a woman asked me for help with her children because she was suffering with her monthly cycle I would think her a legend.

2. Rest.

I’ve been suffering with PMS since I was about 14 so I know by now I’m going to feel tired. Resting has often felt naughty to me because I hate my own laziness. But resting isn’t being lazy, it’s being responsible. As much as I can this week, I will rest.

3. Eat well.

This week I will want to eat: chocolate, sweets, biscuits, popcorn and double deckers. My good friend is a nutritionist and when I asked for her advice she told me to avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. So, although it will take a lot of my strength, I am determined to avoid (most) sugar and will stick to my herbal tea’s.

4. Not feel guilty.

When I’m evil (due on) I use it as yet another excuse to feel like the world’s worst mum. I get on my own back for failing as a woman instead of simply saying: “I’m due on, I should be back to my old self on Friday. Until then, speak to Daddy”

5. Tell your partner

As much as I am certain it’s glaringly obvious that I am hormonal, apparently my husband can still mistake my hormones for thinking he has done something wrong. True, it may be difficult for him to anything right this week, but it’s important our partners know that our current misery is not their fault, just like it is not ours. I am going to stop presuming that my husband knows I am amidst the cloud of PMS but tell him, explain I’m gonna be moody and will have nothing to give him emotionally until (hopefully) Friday. In doing this I manage his expectations, feel absoutley no pressure to be loving to him and can ask for help more easily (see step 1).

I love being a woman, I love that I am raising girls. Periods are a pain (literally) but without them we would not be able to produce and birth our amazing little people. They are not something to feel guilty or bad about. They are something to serve as a  reminder of who we are and the miracles we birth. They can be an opportunity to connect with other women, to rest, to lean into others and to learn about our bodies. According to NAPS there is no known cure for Premenstrual Syndrome, but we really can do small bits to help ourselves and each other. And if nothing works, don’t feel guilty. Accept that your body is doing it’s job, even though it doesn’t always feel like it. Accept that you are amazing, even when you are feeling evil. You’re a beautiful mama, whether hormonal or not.

Right, I’m off. It’s time to drink a herbal tea, punch a wall and not feel guilty.

#periodtalk #nomoretaboos #pms  #letssticktogether

Have a little… patience

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I will admit I’m not the worlds most patient mum. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to answer calmly and kindly to the exact same question 8 times. It get’s pretty boring saying the same sentences (which are ignored) day in, day out. You know, sentences like: “gentle” “hurry, let’s go!” “Stop that please” “no you can’t have ice-cream”.

Toddlers in particular do test our patience don’t they? They always need a wee 4 minutes into a journey even though they were absolutely adamant they didn’t need one when you left. They spend every (lovingly made) meal telling you what they don’t like. They hug baby siblings while laying on top of them or with their arms around their throat… Every time. They blatantly ignore you when you ask them a question. They say hurtful things and tell you that they like daddy best. They don’t want to leave the house but when it’s time to go home they never want to go home. They draw on walls. They want you to play with them from the minute they get up in the morning to the minute you bribe them into bed. Or is that just my day?

It’s hard… Soooo hard.

But I’m trying to be better. We all are right? And for me, if there’s one thing I want more of it’s patience. I’m certain the toddler can sense my impatience. I see the slight change in her face when I breathe an unnecessarily loud sigh or stick my bottom teeth out. I can feel her energy when I’ve raised my voice to get my own way and I know she gets confused when I leave the room as an alternative to flinging something across it.

When I do any of these things she feels unloved. I do not doubt it.

So, how do I plan to find more patience with those who test it daily?

By remembering my kids are not intentionally being annoying. They are children and behaving just as they should. They were not born with the sole aim of driving me crazy. A shocker I know. At least I don’t think they were anyway…
Scrapping all expectations will completely revolutionise my levels of patience. I have expectations of what time we should leave the house – and get home. I have expectations of what mood they will be in, what mood I will be in. I have expectations of what I – or we – will achieve in a day, what games we will play, how much house stuff I might get done (seriously, what a dreamer). It’s these expectations and many more which lead to my feeling impatient and irritated towards my kids. So from now on I will try to make only one expectation in a single day: to wake up, which is kind of vital to all those around me, but really the only thing I need to do. Anything else is a bonus.
Making myself a priority is something I still don’t do enough. When we spend a lot of time with our babies and toddlers I’m sure there’s some scientific evidence to support the fact that our brains go to mush. Being a horse, dog, shop-keeper, frog, queen, daddy, book reader, lunch cooker and referee every day can get a little repetitive. We love what we do but we also spend a lot of time feeling like we should love what we do. Instead of just saying: “I need a break”. Instead of taking some time away from the home and our families and doing something completely ‘selfish’ and fun.
Spending time with people who love me is invaluable when it comes to my levels of patience. When I’m happy outside of my family, when I’ve been around people who can really accept me, I feel like I have all the time and patience in the world. Let’s be honest when we are feeling impatient, tutting, sighing or rolling our eyes, we are already feeling pretty miserable. It wasn’t because of our kids, it was hormones, tiredness or just plain emptiness which comes out in irritation and impatience. We need to get what we need in order to feel happy and in turn feel less impatient.
Telling the truth comes up in virtually all of my blogs. It’s why I started this blog in the first place and if there’s one thing I’m not a fan of it’s denial. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. So I’ve pledged that when I’m impatient with the kids I’m going to stop feeling guilty the minute they are in bed and talk about my impatience that day to the hubby. Only then will I see the truth in my impatience, only then will I break free of any guilt and move on to a more patient tomorrow.
I will do better tomorrow is a philosophy which has really got me through the last 4 years. Some days I have the patience of a saint, but most days I really don’t. Let’s not feel guilty about how we were today, let’s just try and do better tomorrow. Wipe the slate clean, give ourselves a break and get off our own case.
As mums we have a tendency to look at how impatient we are but we aren’t really. We get up every day and take care of the people who test and push us. Having children gives us the opportunity to really develop our patience, it grows quite naturally without us even realising. We are already patient, even if at times it doesn’t feel like we are.
This is one of the longest blog posts I’ve written… If you’ve made it to the end, then you see you really are patient. Go you.

Being a perfect mum is over-rated

`Not perfectLet’s face it, we all want to do a good job as parents, but we’re never going to be perfect. And that’s OK. In fact I think as mum’s we owe it to our children to NOT be perfect. Imagine living up to somebody who’s divinely perfect – depressing! No, we need to show our children that we are flawed and at times that we are sorry. But never, ever perfect.

I propose we aim for being ‘enough’. We each have different circumstances and characters which keep us from parenting perfection. We may have to return to work when the baby still needs us, we may suffer from stress, anxiety, Post-natal depression, we may simply need a break more often than they would like. And we can suffer all those things and still be enough.

In fact here is why I’m not going for perfect:

If we ourselves are ‘perfect’ then it teaches are kids that they too need to be perfect. It teaches them that perfection is important. It really isn’t. Love is important. And perfectionism isn’t love, it’s tiring and it’s foolish. Love isn’t always perfect, it grows and part of that growth comes from our mistakes, therefore love is in fact imperfect.

Getting things wrong can be fun. Recently I faced one of my bigger fears: I got lost on the Motorway (Argh!!). My husband had no phone and the 3 people I phoned could not decipher where I was based on my panic-stricken shouts. The baby was crying and shouting the entire time and the toddler was begging me to look at her painted face whilst choosing to ignore repeatedly that “I CAN’T LOOK AT YOUR FACE WHEN I’M DRIVING ON THE MOTORWAY!” When I eventually spoke to my husband it turns out that miraculously I had got myself onto the right motorway and was on route to Bristol. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked my Toddler for staying calm in my panic. Toddler, now munching on biscuits doesn’t even look at me when she replies: “I wasn’t scared, I just showed you the way” and the baby is now laughing her head off at nothing. This wasn’t a perfect journey but I learned that kids barely notice when we make a mistake. And sometimes, just sometimes it  can end with laughter.

I find that for my sanity it is important to bond with other mums. I also find that the best way of doing this is by talking about our imperfections, not about how well we are doing. I find comfort in brutally honest conversations, and I find Real Friends when I can bare my imperfections and they are met with an “amen”.

Trying to do things perfectly is kind of arrogant (sorry), because if I’m perfect then are the rest of the parenting population wrong? No. Let’s accept that we are all different, beautifully and imperfectly different. When we try to be perfect, we are focused totally on ourselves, because kids really don’t care if we get everything spot on. They want to know that they are loved and what better way to love our kids than to tell them when we screwed up and say sorry.

Let’s not love our kids by trying to be perfect, let’s love our kids while making mistakes, being honest and having fun.

Because being perfect is over-rated (I assume so anyway).

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Tips for surviving sleep deprivation… Just about

FullSizeRender (11)Unfortunately, I am not one of those mums who can cope if they’ve been woken up in the night. My youngest daughter (now 18 months and definitely old enough to be sleeping through the night) wakes up around 3-4 times a week for about 2 hours. And she is soooo loud. My eldest daughter never did this, therefore my husband and I have been in a state of shock for the last 18 months and this is how we cope. I’m sure there will be no revelation here, but perhaps you’ll find relief knowing that somebody else is coping badly when tired:

1. Never compare
I realise I’m lucky that my baby doesn’t wake every night, I’m lucky that she’s only awake once. I of course have friends (and a sister) who is woken every night and do not seem to suffer the way I do. But comparison is death!! Seriously, if you find it hard, you find it hard. Be honest about it. DO NOT COMPARE yourself to other mum’s who might be more sleep deprived than you. You are you, and that’s cool.

2. Ignore your thoughts for at least 24 hours or until you’ve had a decent sleep
Hands up who speaks nicely to themselves when they’re tired? Nobody? That’s right. Here is an insight into my inner voice when I’ve been woken the previous night: “you’re useless, get off your phone, get off the sofa. You’re so lazy, you’re a crap mum” WTF?! Seriously, who needs enemies when you have thoughts like these? So do your best to switch it off, ignore it, speak it out loud so you can hear how crazy it is. Repeat these words as often as you can: “I am a good mum, today I’m just tired”

3. Ask for help
Ah yes, that thing we all love to do. It’s hard but it is loving. How loving are you when you’re hanging? How patient are you? GO TO BED. Ask somebody, a friend, family member, nice neighbour, fellow mum, to watch your child while you sleep and don’t feel embarrassed by it. I get this might not be possible everyday but it will be possible on the days you need it the most… You know the ones, where you’re losing the will to live. Ask for help and sleep, rest, anything that will make you feel alive again, and then get back to loving your kids.

4. It’s not his fault
Maybe I’m alone here but if I’m really tired, I tend to blame the hubby. There are times I even tell him I feel like I want to punch him in the face. Let’s all try and remember, yes they planted the seed, yes they may not get up as often, yes they get to escape to work the next day but THIS IS NOT HIS FAULT. He will be tired too. I would suggest complete honesty. Tell him that you’re tired and having not nice thoughts, that you’ll not be a great wife today. Then tell yourself repeatedly: “this is not his fault.

5. Do what you can to survive
If me or the girls are tired, I get out of the house. Fresh air and space is my remedy. But occasionally I fear falling asleep at the wheel, or it might be pouring with rain. On those days I do what I can to survive. I turn to Bing, Charlie and Lola, The Paw Patrol. They are my remedy, my hero’s. And then I don’t do a thing, except maybe close my eyes on the sofa so that I can pluck up the energy to do something in the afternoon. You won’t scar your kids if you all spend a day in front of the TV now and again. You just do what you can to survive.

6. Remember tomorrow
I have gotten through almost 4 years of motherhood with this short sentence: “Tomorrow’s another day”. That’s right if today’s gone to pot, tomorrow is a brand new day. Wipe the slate clean, start fresh and if you have another sleep deprived night. Go to the previous steps and remember… Tomorrow’s another day.

We know it’s not going to be like this forever and although that doesn’t get us to sleep, it ought to erase any guilt for how we behave or feel today. When we are tired we are not ourselves. And that’s OK. We are definitely not alone.

Sleep well people and if you can’t or don’t sleep well, then make sure you don’t compare, you ignore your inner voice, you ask for help, you do what you can to survive and remember that tomorrow is another day x

How a trip to the (Calais) Jungle changed me

I realise this isn’t a typical post for me. It’s not about my screwing up, my parenting anxiety or my kids. But I have to write this before I write another mummy post. I’ve tried but they won’t come out, not until this does. I hope you’ll bear with me and read along anyway.

CampMy trip to the jungle was last minute. It was fairly unplanned. I’ll be honest, I was bricking it. I was so afraid of what the conditions were going to be like and how it would affect me mentally. I was afraid of whether I would be enough, if I had enough to offer the refugees and the other volunteers. I was afraid of leaving my kids, even though they were with my husband. I almost didn’t go, my tummy was so full of butterflies I felt sick. But I did go and although it’s not the kind of experience I would say I enjoyed, what I would say is that it opened my eyes to human suffering, human dignity and a new kind of love. The experience changed me.

On our first morning of volunteering, my friend Katy and I were in the warehouse sorting the toiletries into bags, a really nice introduction to the experience. The warehouse was run solely by volunteers who are amazing, some of them have been there for months and others like me, there for a couple of days. There’s no judgement, people do what they can. There’s no major structure, at one point we ran out of toilet roll so went to Lidl and filled our trolley with the stuff knowing that although it wouldn’t last a day in camp, it was something. We did what we could.

warehouse

I’ve never appreciated bog roll until now.

Around Midday, the warehouse manager asked us if we could help unload a van filled with clothes at Dunkirk. I hadn’t even known there was another camp, let alone one which was in much worse conditions than that of the Jungle.

Arriving in Dunkirk and my short time there will be unforgettable. The conditions were dire and yet the Dunkirk inhabitants welcomed us with “hello”, “welcome” and genuine smiles. They asked us for specific items that we did not have. We were there to simply unload a van and were told not to give anything to anyone or else it would be “carnage”. I just shook my head to requests for gas, shoes and batteries. I apologised but it felt meaningless. Moving boxes felt insignificant even though I have seen how important it is.

I found it difficult to leave Dunkirk, it’s where most of the women and children are. I met a girl aged 3, the same age as my eldest. She was arguing with her mum as she didn’t want to go and queue up for clothes, she wanted to play “over there”. Over there was nothing. Just a clearing, just mud. This morning my 3 year old almost had a tantrum because she wanted to get dressed in a living room full of builders who are fixing a new boiler for us. The 3 year old in Dunkirk, didn’t have a house, didn’t have the luxury of a choice of rooms in which to get dressed, didn’t have a boiler or heating.

When we finally left Dunkirk I was drained. I couldn’t shake the images of elderly women and young children, imagining their journey to get there and how they were now living. And of course the cold. I was so cold and each night I got to return to a warm room and a bed with a pillow. Luxury’s these people hadn’t experienced for weeks, some of them months.

I’m so grateful now for my house. My boiler has been broken for a month and yet I have a roof, electricity, a hot shower.

Jungle mumThe next day we went to ‘The Jungle’ in Calais to help distribute leaflets for the medical team. At first we just gave them out to people we passed whilst smiling, but before long we built up the confidence to knock on doors of caravans or shout at entrances to tents. Over here people who knock on your door are an inconvenience but in Calais we were warmly welcomed. One lady and her brother insisted we sit down in their caravan and shared with us some chocolate and a packet of crisps. Without even asking us she started her gas hob (an extremely scarce commodity) to make us a cup of tea. She showed us pictures of her 4 year old son and her husband who she said got arrested in Germany. She had blisters on her feet from walking for 3 days straight (probably carrying her 4 year old).

I didn’t ask people why they came, because I do not need to know. Who in their right mind would cross an ocean and walk for days with a child unless their life was in danger at home? What would I do to protect my family? Well I would cross an ocean and walk for days, I would live in a tent for months and pray for support and a new home.

To see what people are willing to do in order to protect their family makes me appreciate what I do not have to do to protect mine. 

When I came home from France I was shaken, I was emotional and I had changed. How?

Now I have an appreciation for where and how I live. I can really see that my children don’t need constant entertainment and stimulating toys, they just need my time. I feel stronger than I was before I left because I opened my eyes and ears to a situation which is hard to know about.

I don’t want to be deaf or blind to what’s happening in the world, no matter how tough it is to hear and see, because just knoShoeswing this stuff is helping them. Having real knowledge (not just what is written in the media) of the people living in these situations invoke emotions which cause people to take action like I did. Reading this blog is something.

 

I don’t know what the solution to this crisis is but I do know we can each do something small. Sign a petition or two, read and share some blogs, talk about it, donate some food, clothes or money. Small things on a big scale really can make a difference.

I am raising money with my friend Abbey to buy sleeping bags and blankets to take over next weekend, read more about that here. But honestly, this isn’t why I wrote this piece. I wrote this because I had to share some of what it’s really like in Calais and Dunkirk. Because although it would be easy to close our eyes to what’s happening, it isn’t right to. Let’s keep our eyes wide open, let’s support them by hearing their stories and sharing some of their emotion, that’s something we can all do.

Either way, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this rather long blog. Cheers.

warehouse2