Dear Firstborn

Dear Firstborn

First there was you. There was only you. You plus two first time parents. We had all the gear and no idea!

We filled our house with every piece of furniture, gadget, gismo and toy, essentials and utensils that we thought you might need.

We had books, what to expect at every stage. We had Facebook news feed full of proud parents documenting every detail and milestone, some of which made us wonder and worry which milestones you should be hitting at each stage. We had Internet Google to look up every cough, sniffle and symptom. We had constant advice some not even asked for.

We soon realised that what was most important was that we had you. A little miracle healthy and alive, cute and cuddly. We had a support network of other first time parents. We had wise antenatal teachers who became our friends and part of our lives, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge calm and perspective. We had family there to help when needed. We had God to watch over us all in the wee hours, times of day that I had previously always slept through.

What mattered then and still now was the love we had and have for each other, the instincts we learned to trust without running to the Internet, the friends we relied on, learned from and whose company we benefitted from, our faith and family wisdom.

Dear Firstborn you taught us so much. You taught us about the miracle of new life, of fresh starts and new beginnings, of taking it slow and enjoying the simple things, the fact that the same amount of joy can be found in playing with rocks and sand as well as soft play and bouncy castles. That every day is an adventure and an opportunity to rediscover what life can be, what our general busyness and screen time has made us forget, how liberating fresh air and laughter can be, laughter that is spontaneous and a real belly laugh that makes tears stream down our faces. Someone once told me that as a parent there would be times that I would cry but I would also laugh as I had never done before. As a parent we often see ourselves as the teacher but Dear Firstborn you have been a teacher to us in so many ways and continue to do so.

It’s hard to admit that I now struggle to remember you as a newborn, the years pass so quickly and we never knew when it would be the very last time we carried you to bed, the very last time we spoon fed you, the very last time you fell asleep on our shoulder. Since we never know when our last times are of doing something I hope this encourages us as a family to really appreciate every single moment.

Today there is no longer only you. We tried long and hard to bless you with a sibling and our greatest joy was to be able to give you that gift.

We are so grateful for you. We are so blessed by you. Your smile is so beautiful, you are so funny, very kind and sensitive, your imagination is inspirational.

We have enjoyed watching you grow and we look forward to many more years together. We have always loved you and we always will, nothing you do can make us love you more or love you less.

Enjoy your birthday you deserve the very best xxx

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Longevity

My dear old dad turned 80 this week. I was reminded of longevity and also of how often my parents seem to have more energy and better health than my husband and I at double our age. We put this down to the fact they don’t have two young children to run after daily! That’s what we say to make ourselves feel better anyway…

One thing my parents always have is a positive attitude to life, a ‘can do’ attitude, a ‘leave it in God’s hands’ attitude, a ‘don’t stress’ attitude, it is safe to say this certainly helps with longevity!

In 80 years you can see lots of things come and go, people come and go, what is a drama one week moves on to something else the next week, you encounter many different people, many different attitudes, you’ve heard every excuse and seen every emotion.

Life is one big school, one big learning experience, we come across wonderful people who are inspirational and show great kindness and we come across people who do quite the opposite. Letting things go and not being easily offended is much much easier said than done but much less stressful too!

My parents have a wealth of experience and advice from 80 years in this learning school of life.

In some communities families of all ages live together and help each other, post natal depression is often low to non existent in these cultures, where in this large family dynamic there is always someone older and wiser to help the new mother.

I always grew up in a church community regularly surrounded by people of all ages. Around the ages of 11-19 I would visit family in Canada in a retirement village with my parents, I would spend two weeks surrounded by the elderly, I was struck by how funny and mischievous they could be and there was always some gossip going on within the home! I also loved when we would visit the home of someone elderly there was always a black and white or sepia large framed photo of their wedding and several photos of them with their once young children. Their lives were dotted around the walls and shelves which looked a lifetime away from how they looked now. A great reminder that they were young and attractive, busy young parents once, friends I would have socialised with, people whose wisdom I would have benefited from, a reminder that I would still benefit from their wisdom now and shouldn’t count them out because of their age.

I saw a post on Facebook showing elderly people with their walking frames looking in a mirror, the image greeting them was of a young soldier or a young nurse. A great reminder to respect the elderly.

I would encourage you to spend time with someone elderly, someone older and wiser, show them respect, learn from them, realise that one day you would appreciate someone half your age giving you the time of day and asking for your advice and input.

On Rememberance Day we are grateful for those who gave their lives. Great respect is shown for those wonderful elderly soldiers we see on the TV wearing their row of medals.

Studies show that the elderly greatly benefit from visits from preschoolers and vice versa. Our different ages compliment and benefit each other.

So here’s to longevity. Let us enjoy our lives. Yes they are full of ups and downs, stresses and illnesses, unanswered questions, with sprinkles of pure joy thrown in along the way. Let us connect with those older than us and be a source of wisdom for those younger than us.

Thank you mum and dad for your ongoing inspiration to us x

Resolution

Resolution – a firm decision to do or not to do something.

I guess most people feel that resolutions are motivational. At the start of a brand new year resolutions are popular. Giving up chocolate always feels like an apt one if by January you are fed up to the back teeth of the countless boxes of chocolates anyway. Some resolutions feel a little out of reach, some feel attainable. You could almost list resolutions into three categories – 1. Possibly 2. Unlikely but worth a try 3. No way

Sometimes with mum resolutions we can set the bar too high for ourselves or compare ourselves hopelessly to others. I feel so inadequate when I look at those who manage to keep a PERFECTLY tidy home, homeschool, craft, journal, reduce screen time, you name it they do it and appear to do so with calm ease. Yet I must realise and remember that no one has it all together all of the time regardless of how things seem, and they don’t have to announce their struggles just to make me feel better either.

The key is to be content with who you are. It isn’t an easy key to find though! And even if we find this key we can quickly lose it again. When you’re not content with who you are that leads to comparison, comparing yourself to others.

I recently watched a DVD course about joy by Candace Payne (whose Chewbacca video went viral). Candace Payne said that
comparison is the biggest detour to really experiencing joy. Shut down debilitating self criticism even when there’s something to it.

When I look at my life as a mother and what resolutions I want to implement, I do recognise the importance of things I see others doing, but need to be realistic what works for us too.

One thing I’ve tried and failed at time and time again is trying not to check my phone or tap away on the screen in front of my children, trying to be 100% present every single moment I’m with them. I see the importance of this but aren’t going to beat myself up for not always sticking to it. I first realised this was noticed by them when my then three year old daughter kept saying “hang on a minute where’s my phone?” pulling out a plastic phone and nose to the buttons tapping away furiously on it! I realised in that moment I needed to make changes. Being more aware and more present with my children, making more eye contact than screen contact is a resolution for me.

I have realised that even though there are numerous things to tidy around me, when the children remember their childhood they won’t remember if everything was always in its place or not, they will remember squealing in delight running around the house while I chase them which is their favourite game, indoor tag is usually requested just before bed! So I intentionally stop tidying after tea and sit on the floor with them playing with toys or playing chase. Reading stories together is a favourite too, my two year old loves pulling books from the shelf and choosing a story. Again this doesn’t always happen but is another resolution for me.

Even though we alternate playdates with activities most mornings, I have resolved that it is not damaging my child if some mornings we go food shopping or play indoors while I fold the washing and put things away, after all this is learning real life, and real life is a varied mix of fun, play and work.

So my resolutions are to be more present, to play more, to worry less, to not punish myself for ‘failing’ by comparing myself to others. To resolve to enjoy the moments as they are fleeting and screen time can wait! I want my children to feel they are my priority and that that I’m here to listen or play chase.

Don’t get bogged down by resolutions, don’t even feel you have to make them, take each day as it comes and as well as being kind to others don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
“Let us not lose heart and grow weary”

New Year

How do you feel on the dawning of a New Year?

Do you think back over the past 12 months?

Do you categorise the past year into highs and lows? Achievements and failures?

Do you think about the year ahead?

Do you wonder what is in store for you in the coming year or do you just think ahead to the plans that you have made?

Do you ever look at where you are today realising that this wasn’t the original plan? Or wondering how on earth you got to this point and having no clue what next year will bring?
Or do you just focus on the New Year’s Eve party thinking New Year is a case of ‘just another day’ or ‘same old same old’?

However you view it the years still roll in and roll out for everyone. Even though we are all experiencing the same year and still have the same amount of hours as each other, we all experience the same year and the same hours in very different ways.

There are experiences that you had this year that others didn’t have, there are some feelings you felt that others have felt too.

There are joys you had at the same time as another person had loss, those same people had joys at the same time that you cried.

Often we don’t see how those around us are travelling. There are times when our paths cross and our worlds collide. We share a moment with someone who we realise knows exactly how we feel, and has walked in our shoes, or we can come across a friend or stranger in a difficult situation and have a choice to offer support or walk away.

If you were able to give yourself some advice on New Years Eve what would it be?

If I could tell myself anything on this upcoming New Years Eve it would be this – and please take it on board if it resonates with you too –

Whatever happens with you in the year to come don’t ever feel worried about the unknown, take comfort in the fact that if you encounter any sadness there will be someone who understands and someone to support you. If you’re having a good time and have reason to celebrate there will be someone to go out and celebrate with you. Wherever the year takes you and whatever emotional ride you are on there is no need to navigate it alone. Please also be aware of those around you, the quiet mum who you see weekly at playgroup who just sits and plays with her child, you can learn to sense if someone wants to talk or not but either way you can never go wrong with a smile. Take time for you, a bubble bath, a walk, ten deep breaths, some stretches, a lot of fresh air, something that bring you joy. Make sure you consciously try to meet up with that friend that makes you laugh. Be available to those who need you, be aware that there is always someone who really does needs you. Make eye contact more often that you make screen contact or at least try to.
Don’t get bogged down with goals, aspirations and resolutions but don’t shy away from them either.
Consider the bigger questions of life that you might not want to think about. Ask questions of that friend who has the answers.
And please don’t obsess over anything, it does more harm than good. Note down your gratitudes. Spend more time playing and hugging than you do complaining. Realise that you don’t have to plaster a fake smile on your face for the benefit of others but discover the depth of deep joy and calm which isn’t based on circumstances.

What are your New Years traditions? Do you do New Years resolutions? I always liked to write down or talk about the past year. To be honest these days I struggle to remember details of the past month let alone the past year! But it is good to reflect on what I can remember. I also like to write down my hopes and prayers for the year ahead, looking back on those a year later and seeing what was answered is therapeutic too. I remember for two years on my hopes and prayers list was a baby, when we finally had our rainbow baby it did me good to look back at that list a year later and be flooded with gratitude and emotion, remembering that intense feeling of burden, desperation, obsession and longing and how that feeling melted away the minute I held him, but that is an example for today and a story for another time.

However you feel when you stand on the threshold of a brand new year and whatever has happened in your past, I hope you never lose that sense of hope and anticipation for what lies ahead. Hug those close to you a little tighter and don’t be hard on yourself, you’re actually a pretty great person and anyone would be fortunate to know you and if I’m the only person who has told you that today it was my privilege.

Happy New Year to you xx

Our Christmas Traditions

We love the build up to Christmas! Because both our children have birthdays either side of Christmas, the present buying and party planning has to start by September to book halls and spread out the cost of gifts. By the end of November it feels like everyone else has ‘caught up’ and now rather than it feeling like ‘just me’ is thinking about Christmas now everyone is.

We have done different things over the years in place of typical chocolate advent calenders or alongside them. One year we used a little wooden cabinet that had 24 tiny drawers and a wooden winter scene on top, we could put our own choice of treat in each drawer for the children. We also had a felt wall hanging advent calendar where there were 24 little fabric sacks attached to the hanging in which we could put treats, one year we put an object into each bag which linked to a daily bible story that led up to the nativity story. Another year we wrapped 24 books under the tree to read each evening.

As a daily fun alternative to the usual chocolate advent calendar last year and our plan for this year is a special handmade wooden Elf door. The door opens and inside is a card holder, we personalise little cards to put into the card holder daily so every morning there is a fun task or Christmas activity or outing to do. There also is an Elf that we bought with the door, every morning we hunt for the Elf to see where he is hiding today and what has he been up to!! Some days he is playing hide and seek, other days he is reading to the other toys, one time he was head first in a packet of pom bears and only his feet were visable! This daily activity is lots of fun but requires organisation and is a test to your mum memory! Many times I have been in bed then remembered I haven’t moved the Elf or updated the door card! One morning my daughter opened the door confused as she was sure the activity planned was the same as the day before……. Mum innocently whistles in the background….

Because we live on a tiny island we don’t have any big stores or the same Christmas activities and entertainment as in the UK. We have a garden centre that sets up a small ice rink each year so we visit that in the run up to Christmas. Another garden centre puts out a beautiful light display that you can drive through then get out of the car and look around the lit up santa’s, bells, moving trains and nativity scene, this is a lovely early evening activity before bed time, all bundled up in our scarves, gloves and ear muffs, we then pop a donation into a large milk urn so they can carry on putting this display on for the public.

We also wear our Christmas jumpers and visit one grotto, I’m not a fan of the queues so one is enough. We look at local Christmas displays around the grotto which often have singing reindeer too.

Taking part in the annual shoebox appeal is so important to us. This is when we cover with Christmas paper and fill a shoebox with toys and hygiene items for less fortunate children across the globe. This is such a good exercise for my children to think about others during a season that is full of toy adverts and wish lists for santa.

There are some years we send Christmas cards, other years we don’t. These cards are homemade or made at school or with a family artwork pic on the front.

We have a Christmas eve box. I dress up as an Elf and ring the door bell to deliver the box which my daughter enjoys. The box is filled with a dvd, Christmas pyjamas, Christmas game, Christmas story, hot chocolate and cookies and carrot to leave out by the fireplace. We have SO much fun with the santa and reindeer story but have never taught it as fact. Our favourite Christmas book is called Just Nicholas which tells us about a man called Nicholas who lived many years ago and helped those less fortunate by leaving gifts in secret and how the world has been inspired by this kindness. We learn about the nativity story too and made our own nativity set with a box, toilet rolls, fabric and a glue gun!

Christmas stories come out of the loft and are added to our easy access sling book case in December.

We have a tree that we keep in the attic and reuse each year, this goes up the beginning of December. The children enjoy adding cuddly toys to sit in the branches. The children decorate the house with home made paper chains.

School nativity plays and Christmas Fayres are another tradition and much enjoyed.

Carol services are another wonderful time to sing Christmas hymns about the baby Jesus and enjoy the twinkly lights, candles and after service mince pies.

Considering we live in a tiny island there are lots of things to see and do in the lead up to Christmas day. Being on an island wrapping up warm and visiting one of our many gorgeous beaches and hunting for sea glass is a great year long activity and something a little different in the run up to Christmas.

On Christmas day we attend church in the morning then head to my parents house with my in laws also. My mum has always had someone at the table who doesn’t have anywhere else to go for Christmas and this has become an important tradition and has become a very normal part of family life for us and our children and a great example for us to carry on in future years too. We all cook something and bring it so that my mum isn’t burdened to provide the whole meal, added together this makes a sumptuous feast that everyone has contributed to. We usually take stuffing, roast parsnips and potatoes and yorkshire puddings. After lunch we open gifts then return home with tired, happy and excited children. Every guest leaves with a plateful of leftovers. We particularly enjoy turkey and stuffing sandwiches on homemade bread with pigs in blankets on the side for lunch the next day (I am getting hungry writing this).

Boxing day is a relaxing day at home where we give the majority of our gifts as Christmas day we are out of the house most of the day.

We thoroughly enjoy the run up to Christmas and hope you do too.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year x

The Empty Thankful Jar

Hand in hand with parenting comes the expectation that we MUST be grateful. We ARE grateful, but even blessings can be stressful sometimes.

In some situations we feel it would be frowned upon to moan. I have had parents of 5th time trying IVF babies and parents of long awaited adopted children tell me that once they had their children and were in the throws of parenting it didn’t really feel like they could moan about being kept up all night or the disruptive behaviour and tantrums, it was almost like the people hearing this offload were thinking “this is what you wanted, you should be grateful!”

I think regardless of how our babies came into existence we should all get a non judgmental free pass to have a moan. We all need to offload at times and when we do we need a sympathetic listener, and maybe a cookie, a really big chocolate one… Certainly not judgement. Often though we can think we are being judged when in fact it may be us that is judging ourselves. So we need to give ourselves permission to realise it is okay to to need to vent sometimes, it is okay to feel driven to tears sometimes. If at any time though if you feel constantly overwhelmed and bleak about the future please do seek immediate professional help.

Having moments where we aren’t skipping around reciting our blessings doesn’t make us less of a parent. The truth is we ARE grateful, I think sometimes we just momentarily forget.

Gratitude is a great skill to practice. I attended a course called ‘breaking free’ at the start of the year. This course gave you a safe place to sometimes share, sometimes cry, sometimes vent as well as offering practical coping strategies for every day parenting. Even mundane tasks like washing dishes, or tiring tasks like rocking the baby, desperately wishing they would sleep were opportunities to stop and be aware of the warm water on your hands, the feel of the bubbles, your breath entering and exiting your body, the weight of your baby in your arms, the sound of their breathing, their gorgeous smell, becoming very aware of that moment that you’re in and breathing through it rather than stressing and wishing it away.

I came across a great idea a few years ago. The idea was to start a thankful jar. Throughout the year you write down notes of things you are grateful for, as and when you think of them and add them to the jar. The idea is that you read through them in the New Year or just before.

I thought this was a fantastic idea. I had a large jar to use so I wrote ‘Be Thankful’ on the front with chalk, designed a ‘Gratitude’ top to the lid, bought colourful sheets of paper and a cool pair of scissors that cut in wavy patterns. We were good to go!

Last year we regularly thought of gratitudes to add. I pre cut little wavy squares in different colours so it was quick to grab and write a gratitude. My eldest daughter was enjoying writing some herself. The exercise itself was so beneficial as after a while unprompted she would think of something to go in the thankful jar or she would ask me what I was grateful for that day. As December approached our jar looked barely half full and I realised in retrospect that a smaller jar might have been better! Nevertheless we managed to fill it with lots of gratitudes, most were activities like trips to the park and beach and meals out as a family or funny memorable moments.

Just before New Year 2018 we read through our many gratitudes and made a note of each of our favourite memories from 2017.

As 2018 started we entered straight into a run of illness which isn’t unusual for the time of year. We were unable to make my daughters birthday party for the first time ever due to sickness. A close family member then entered straight into a season of being bed bound and having a debilitating condition lasting most of the year. The months passed quickly, I felt the burden of extra work and times of stress felt even more stressful than usual.

The thankful jar which once regularly collected colourful notes, now sat there empty collecting nothing but dust.

I was still aware of being grateful. If anything I was even more aware of my blessings. I felt that I had less time and inclination to be cutting out and writing gratitude notes.

As I looked at my empty jar throughout the year I felt a pang of guilt, this was one more project I had started and not finished, one more item on the checklist that needed doing, one more thing that I could be using as a good example and an inspiration to my family. One more task I was failing at. Instagram and Pinterest were awash with decluttering ideas, home cooked meals and perfect photos. Facebook was full of happy smiling families and fun evening parties. Apart from the shared standard quotes on anxiety and other issues no one was actually saying how much they were struggling let alone photographing it, certainly no one had taken a photo of their empty grateful jar! The phrase came to mind “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” so even if it took a lot of work to arrange enough cover for me to just leave the house, let alone track down a friend available at the same time to meet for a drink, I realised this was important to do. Whether we are a mum in the office or a stay at home mum we all need a break and shouldn’t feel bad for admitting that.

I stopped comparing myself to anyone on social media. I started enjoying my spur of the moment one to one trips to playgroup or food shopping with my toddler, as much as my planned meet a friend playdates. I embarked on living a ‘let go’ life one day at a time. There is always one thing to be grateful for. Realising that even when I’m stressed I’m still grateful, when I’m cross I’m still grateful, when I’m happy I’m still grateful, even when I forget that I’m grateful I’m still grateful!

I think often we are grateful, we just forget in a moment of things not going our way that we are. Thanksgiving is a good prompter for people to remember their gratitudes, seeing it advertised can prompt us to be mindful of our own thanksgiving even if we don’t celebrate it as an event in our country.

So as we fast pace to December and year end my jar might be empty but my heart is full. Gratitude is something more than the process of remembering to document it, more than having something that shows everyone how grateful I am, something much deeper than the gushing post or smiling photo that I update social media with. My gratitude is in the heart, sometimes no one else can see it but I know it’s there.

The ongoing process is to let people know I’m grateful for them and to think of one gratitude a day. Even if that one grateful thought a day never makes it onto a status update or into a jar, even if it remains between me and me, the thought itself is enough to create a positive ripple effect that can only be positive and good for my wellbeing as well as for the wellbeing of those around me.

The Lonely Mum

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She made an effort.  She got the kids dressed and fed.  She even dressed herself which was no small feat, considering the walls felt like they were closing in on her this morning.  If she had been able to she would have stayed in bed.  But the kids were lively and restless, she knew they needed to get out even if she didn’t feel like it, they needed company even if she didn’t want it.  So she made an effort.

She thought she would try that toddler group around the corner.  She pushed open the door and tentatively peeked inside.  Playgroup was in full swing, kids screaming with delight tearing around the room, toys flying left to right, parents and carers deep in conversation, sat on a line of chairs encircling this chaos.

Her son took off straight away loudly tearing around the room with a headless doll in one hand and a plastic saw in the other.  She flinched as she saw a group of mums look at her child, she could almost hear them thinking “Who is this loud crazy child?” The mums and carers looked at her briefly then looked away and carried on talking.

She swallowed hard as she looked desperately for an empty chair, while dragging her second child along the floor who was wrapped around her leg, stuck to her like a limpet.  She glanced up and felt a few more stares.  She felt a little bit like those strangers in the old western movies who walk into a bar, she almost expected a mum to come up to her with a western drawl and say “Yer not from around these parts are ye?” but at least that would mean someone would actually be talking to her.  She turned her attention to her daughter/limpet and tried to encourage her to pick up some nearby dolls. She glanced up again and then she saw it, a lady was looking at her and smiled!  In the midst of backs of head or quick glances a smile is like a lighthouse shining in the dark, standing out like a beacon.  “How old is she?” the lady kindly asked.  She replied and entered into a very short polite dialogue but a dialogue nevertheless.  Between that and the snacks/songs and home time there were a couple more smiles and the owner of the playgroup who had been previously talking to someone else came over to introduce herself.  All these things made a huge difference between her feeling even more alone than when she was at home, and feeling like this was somewhere she could come again.

You may not have experienced the example above.  Maybe you have.  I can certainly say you have been in the same room as someone who has experienced the above at some point.   Don’t underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word.  It doesn’t have to be much.  We can all think of a time when a kind smile lifted us but may not always be aware when we need to be the one aware of who needs a smile from us today.

Amazingly it is absolutely possible to feel alone in a crowd.  To feel isolated in a lively buzzing building filled with noise chatting and laughter.  Connection is more than just being in the same room as other mums and children.  Sometimes you can arrive and leave feeling just the same as if you had never left your sofa.

Other times loneliness comes from not hearing from other mums in the week.  Feeling like if you never made the effort to contact people you would never hear from them.  Surprisingly though very many people feel like this, it’s not just you, and the people you never hear from they often feel the same way.  More often than not you are the one required to take that first step hard as it may be. How refreshing it is when someone takes that first step for you, and that can be as simple as a smile.

We have many things in place to help you if you are feeling like this.  To provide a safe space to socialise, where those in charge are trained to be observant and discerning and signpost you to different organisations if you need help.  There are also groups that are set up for PND counselling and countless others.  Wherever you live as you read this article please do search for similar organisations local to you.  Many also have found support within a church that they are comfortable in.

Nurturing birth and beyond and local NCT groups are active and passionate about empowering mothers and being a friend and providing invaluable information, networking and support.  Pregnancy yoga classes and mother and baby yoga are built on the foundations of peer support in mind, passionately making sure mums don’t feel left out.

Home Start provides a proactive home visiting programme for families under stress to offer practical support, help and friendship.  This in turn will reduce the family isolation and encourage the building of social networks and many more.  Home Start also run playgroups. Dragonflies meets every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  There is also a dads group, story time and lots more.  Please see their website or Facebook page for updates and more information.

Bright Beginnings at the edge of Delancey Park and The Kindred Centre at Les Genats offer a welcoming Community Centre where there are varied activities during the week. Their highly trained staff are on hand to help or offer support or signpost you to other helpful organisations.  Please see Facebook pages or websites for more information.

Breaking free is a course run by Health and Social Services Department for mums suffering with post natal depression.  This eight week course gives support and coping strategies as well as sessions where you can explore relaxation techniques too.  Please ask your Health Visitor or Doctor if you would like a referral.

The incredible years programme aims to prevent and reduce behavioural and emotional problems in young children whilst supporting and educating parents.  You can contact your Health Visitor or Doctor for more information.

The above support and more are available locally.  Don’t be afraid to ask.

We all suffer loneliness at times.  Being a mum can be very isolating it can also be very rewarding.  Let us be aware of those around us who may be needing support, even just a smile is something we can all do.

If you are feeling lonely to the point of feeling regularly low please do take steps to attend one of these friendly playgroups who are geared up to helping mums in this situation. Do ask your Doctor or Health Visitor for a referral where you can learn coping strategies for day to day life, and benefit from the care and support you will also receive.

Fuller Nutrition & Halo eats

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Is there a way in this toxic environment of wifi, air conditioning and all things dehydrating to remain afloat when it comes to our health and wellbeing?

Can something as simple as incorporating 2-3 litres of water into our day (no more than 1 litre in an hour please) help us begin the road to hydration and discovering a healthier you?

Can what we think really have an impact on our health?

Is what we eat really only one important part of the whole picture?

Are we destined to be at the mercy of everything handed down to us in our genes? Or can we navigate our own path based on decisions we make from this moment forwards?

All these questions and more were answered today at a wonderful lunch and learn led by Naturopathic Nutritionist Sophie Fuller of Fuller Nutrition.  Please contact Sophie for a consultation to discuss your journey and needs (link below).

This wonderfully informative and enlightening talk was followed by a sumptuous feast that was dairy/gluten free and vegan.  Wonderfully healing natural foods combined into a heavenly taste that caused every cell in your body to sing!  There was a satisfaction and lightness in the body afterwards rather than a heaviness or bloating.  This deliriously healthy food was provided by Astrid of Halo eats (link below).  All of her recipes are also refined sugar free.  Astrid includes seasonal produce where possible into her cooking and a lot of the ingredients used today were organic.

There is so much wisdom and understanding for us to learn.  To become more in tune with our bodies.  To become everything we are meant to be in life.  To enjoy everyday life again.  Amazingly it all starts with one glass of water.  Be aware of your hydration and the key it holds to ultimately unlock your potential.

https://www.fullernutrition.com

http://www.haloeats.com

 

The sick note

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I woke up knowing it was going to be a long day! Every time I tried to swallow I got terrible pain in the back of my throat, my head and limbs felt heavy. Further inspection via the mobile phone torch confirmed what I thought….tonsillitis..gross. Getting unwell at the best of times is never convenient, getting unwell when you are the primary carer of young children requires some organisation!

My mother- in- law kindly agreed to come to my house while I dragged myself to the Dr. I wanted to confirm my diagnosis and see if medicine was needed. You feel fully justified in visiting the Dr when they peer into your throat and seem mildly horrified at their findings! “Oh my goodness!” the Dr exclaimed “that’s nasty!” The Dr reached for the sick note book, got the pen poised, then came the question, “Do you work or are you a stay at home mum?” I always find that question really hard to answer! If I say, “No I don’t work” that feels untrue as I do work. I work really hard. My working hours never actually stop… but I don’t have an employer in a company giving me wages, my employers are shorter than me and offer no contracts and certainly no sick leave. So in this instance I just croaked, “I’m a stay at home mum”. The sick note went back on the shelf! I felt like yelling (although my throat was too sore to talk, let alone yell) “No! don’t put it back! I need it! Everyone else gets signed off to recover, why not me? Isn’t there a sick note book for stay at home mums? You know, one that provides a nanny, a cook, a cleaner, or just some child care would be fine, even for an hour?” But no I didn’t say any of that. I just grimaced/smiled as the Dr kindly looked at me and said, “You’re very unwell, try to rest” then she laughed (I guess she couldn’t help herself) as she added gently “well as much as you can rest with two young children!”

Clutching my antibiotics prescription I stumbled out into the Pharmacy thinking, “thanks for nothing!” with images playing through my mind of other people with sick notes lying on the sofa watching daytime TV until they fell asleep and continuing so until they felt better.

Once home I managed to arrange someone to watch the children long enough so I could lie down for an hour. Climbing under those sheets in the middle of the day in a quiet house felt almost luxurious.

Sickness is never convenient!  As a working mum who has a child at nursery, you have just sat down at your desk and the phone rings, your child has a slight fever and needs to be picked up, you scrabble around to see if mum in law or anyone can help, finally realising that you are going to have to leave the mountain of work on your desk and return home to more mountains of work but this time with a sick child to look after too.

In our society we can be reluctant to admit how much screen time our child has since there are always studies to show that too much time can affect their speech or development or something, that in itself reminds me of a child who was an obvious paw patrol fan, there is a line that says “Chase in on the case!” this child was excitedly running around the shop shouting “Chase is off his face!” evidently nothing wrong with his speech there! The line may have been slightly misquoted but who knows, perhaps the kid was onto something!  Anyway, TV is one of those pastimes that we don’t see many Instagram photographic posts of our kids doing!  Baking cakes and painting pictures yes, but zoned out to the teletubbies? Not so much.  But when it’s a really wet day and they had an active day outside the day before do we feel more justified?  Or in this example of being sent home sick and told to rest with no one to look after the kids?  That’s when we really feel justified to invite the Cbeebies babysitting service into our home, they even read a bedtime story for crying out loud!  Shame they can’t also feed the kids and put them to bed but you can’t have it all!

So, ‘the sick note’ or lack of it in my case! Caused me to think of all this. Ultimately we do what we can!  We take the rough with the smooth, always preferring the smooth of course!  We paint a picture, bake a cake, run in the park with our kids, we also eat shop bought chocolate biscuits, popcorn and watch TV with our kids.  We are gentle and patient, we shout when things get too much.  It all starts with loving your kids, if we are doing that we are doing well!  Don’t beat yourself up if your life isn’t always resembling an Instagram picture perfect snapshot.  Enjoy!  Take time to breathe! There may not be a sick note for everything but there are friends, toddler groups and cake!  Take what you can, learn as you go, we all are.

xxx

A Mother’s Worth

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Society is pretty obsessed with how much a celebrity is worth.  You can easily google any celebrity and it will come up with their ‘net worth’. Simon Cowell for example is according to google worth more than £300 million.  That fact will impress most people more than if he was worth £1000!

We can’t help but be impressed by someone’s money or career.  During a school reunion the Doctor or Lawyer will have no qualms being asked the question “So, what did YOU do after school?” or “What do you do for a living?” If we are a mother or a housewife and don’t possess any qualifications as such do we apologise for this?  Or do we feel it doesn’t count for anything?  Do we answer the ‘what do you do?’ question with “I’m just a stay at home mum” ?  Do we feel our worth is less than the high powered mum who is also qualified as a lawyer, wears designer clothes, has a boat and hires a full time nanny?  Do we feel we need to be ‘something’ first and a mother second?  Do we feel being a mother isn’t enough?  What is a mother’s worth?

Of course we are right to admire those with high powered careers, we realise it wasn’t easy for them to get there, we realise their training cost lots of money, their exam scores had to be high to get where they are and they had to work really hard.  Do we healthily admire them while still being completely confident in our own role and unapologetic for it?  Or do we admire others then look down at ourselves and feel like a failure?  If someone said they were an astronaut that could be met with “Wow that’s amazing! What an achievement.” If someone says they’re a mother does anyone ever look at them with glowing admiration, draw in their breath sharply and say “Wow that’s amazing, well done you!”  Different careers are definitely regarded differently by society, in the same way roles we have as woman can be either be admired or looked down upon.  Often the ones that admire mothers the most are those precious women who have always desperately wanted to be a mother themselves, to them a mother’s worth is absolutely priceless and they would give their all to be able to tell people proudly “I’m a mother!”

Similarly stay at home mothers can be regarded by some as ‘ladies of leisure’!  Other working mums can feel slightly envious of the times these mothers are spending with their children while they are sat at a desk.  On the flip side some stay at home mothers may feel that they are on the go constantly with their children without a break, that their role isn’t necessarily respected or supported and wish they had more money.  I recently spoke to a mum who returned to part time work after maternity leave, she felt torn and desperately wanted to stay home with her child yet also loved her career. She felt that if the need for her wages wasn’t absolutely necessary for survival though she would seriously consider leaving her career.  This example isn’t the case for everyone though.  Some mothers don’t feel their role is supported or fully respected even by their spouse and this too can lower their opinion of their own worth.

In all areas of our life we compare ourselves constantly to other women, so we certainly also compare our worth with others too.  Even though in the midst of a turbulent storm when your crying screaming baby is seemingly inconsolable, and even though you actually realise that the ONLY person in the entire planet who can reduce that roaring crying tempest to a serene millpond is YOU, that you are literally the ONLY person that can calm that baby, the only one that baby wants, the only one who will completely comfort that baby and by holding them make them feel whole again.  Somehow the magnitude of that fact, the sheer jaw dropping wonder of it still escapes you  and you still  somehow consider yourself ‘just a mum’ you still question your worth, you still feel inferior to the ‘big shot conquering it all career woman’ in front of you.

The truth is I could tell you until I’m blue in the face that your worth far surpasses any measuring device.  I could tell you that seeing as no one has your fingerprint which proves you are unique, you are perfectly positioned to be a positive influence in your world.  That to your child the sun rises and sets in you.  That you not only have a purpose but there was a time when new life with a unique fingerprint, vibrant personality, fresh new mind body and soul grew into being inside you!

Lovely mum reading this right now, I could tell you ALL these truths and so much more.  I could buy you cake and be a listening ear but all this will still mean absolutely nothing to you if you cannot accept your worth as a mother.

I realise that you know how many women spend hundreds and thousands on treatment to be within a fighting chance to be in your shoes, to experience a pregnancy.  I know you know that and I know that acceptance of your worth runs far deeper than that realisation.

If you do anything today please say out loud, “I am a mother.  That in itself is extraordinary and miraculous.  Yes it happens to many daily but to many it never ever does.  This happened to ME.  I’m so grateful.  I’m capable.  I am braver than I think and I am stronger than I know.  I am worth so much more than I realise, not only to my child/children and family but to every single person that crosses my path past present and future. I can do this”

So what is a mother’s worth?  It cannot be measured and it is far greater than I ever realised it to be or ever gave it credit for.  The world is better off with you in it.  As a respected female writer once said, “Your presence is a present to the world.  You are unique and one of a kind!  Do not EVER forget, for even one day, just how very special you are.”

 

xxx