How to Handle Mum Guilt

This post is proudly brought to you by Heather from http://parent-pop.com/. She has a great blog that you should go check out! I also did a guest post for her about learning activities for children with Autism and ADHD. Click here to give it a read!

How to Handle Mum Guilt

I think if you are a parent, you will probably be familiar with this feeling. The horrendous pull in the pit of your stomach telling you that you are doing a terrible job at some aspect of your parenting – commonly referred to as mum guilt.

Now I am not saying that this is solely a mother’s problem and dads do not get this guilt too – maybe they do. But I do think there is a good reason it is known as ‘mum guilt’ and not ‘parent guilt’ or ‘dad guilt’. There is often a huge amount of pressure which falls on a mother’s shoulders – work, childcare, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and organising, to name but a few of our potential responsibilities. On top of that, society often tells us that we should be the emotionally supportive and nurturing rock to our children, whilst making sure they get a good education, taking them to clubs and make sure they have hobbies, and making sure they are fit and healthy. And while we juggle the various roles motherhood throws at us, we often feel we are supposed to be slim, glamourous, and attractive.

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Oh, and I should probably mention that at the same time we should be a good partner to our significant other too.

Whilst maintaining our own friendships.

And caring for the pets.

In fact, when you really think about it… are you even surprised you have mum guilt with this much on your plate?!

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As much as I hate to admit it to myself, I am prone to being a worrier and a perfectionist, and believe me when I say that this does not do me any favours when it comes to feeling mum guilt. Here are just a few of the things I have found myself worrying about in the last few months (during lock down) as a parent:

What I have fed my children

I care very deeply about the health of my children, and goodness knows this is the root cause of some of my guilt here. I care whether they’ve had enough fruit and vegetables, whilst worrying that they’re rotting their teeth by eating too much fruit. I care that they’ve had too much sugar in one go, whilst worrying that I’m too strict on the amount of treats I allow them to have. I care that they’ve eaten pizza more times in the past month than I want to admit (quick, easy and no complaining), but I also worry that I’m setting them a bad example by not cooking a gourmet meal each evening.

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My children’s bedtimes

With lockdown, our routines have gone a little haywire to say the least. My boys have gone to bed a little later, and gotten up a little later, as have I. However, this leads me to worry whether they’ve had enough sleep (or even too much?), whether I am encouraging them to be lazy by not making them get up at their usual time, and whether they will tell their friends the shamefully late times I have let them stay up watching movies with me.

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The amount of screen time my kids are getting

When you’re home all the hours under the sun because you’re not allowed out, is it even possible not to let your kids have more screen time than usual? I feel guilty every time I let them put on the gaming consoles because I need to work from home, and for letting them watch a little too much TV when they first wake up. I feel guilty when my kids ask me what they can do to earn more screen time, and I feel guilty when my children tell me how much more screen time their friends get than they do.

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The lack of exercise they have had recently

Some days, I don’t even think the kids stepped outside of the house. Normally, they are incredibly active, but lockdown has turned us into a family of happy hermits, and we have all found peace with our more relaxed pace of life. But I still find myself thinking I should be getting them to do more, and equally as guilty when I encourage them to do exercise when they are feeling relaxed.

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My children’s education

I am a teacher, and yet this still worries me. Am I getting my children to do enough learning? Or too much? Am I being too hard on them? Or too soft?

This is just a handful of my mum guilt worries, but I think you get the picture.

How do I handle mum guilt?

As you can see, there are so many areas of my parenting that have been affected by mum guilt, and that is over a relatively short space of time. I don’t necessarily think all mum guilt is bad, and sometimes I find it motivates and inspires me to be a better parent. But I also understand that if I let each and every little bit of worry and guilt take hold of me, I would drive myself crazy. With this in mind, I strive for a happy medium of the two: just enough guilt that I don’t become complacent in my parenting abilities, but not enough that I want to hide in a dark cupboard and cry about how crap I am as a mother.

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To get to this happy medium, here are a few things I have had to reflect on and accept on my parenting journey:

  • I am not a perfect parent – and nobody else is either. As I previously mentioned, I am a perfectionist with very high standards for myself, so this is something it took me a while to come to terms with. But once I embraced the idea that I am a good enough parent, and I don’t have to be the best parent, I felt a lot less guilty when I wasn’t putting 110% into my kids 110% of the time.
  • I should not compare myself to other parents. No good ever came from comparing yourself or your kids with other people. I have to accept that I am who I am, and I do what I do, and there’s very little I can do to change that. I have realised that other people do not always show you their true selves, or polish their images to portray what they think people want to see – and this is especially true when you consider social media. I feel a lot better when I focus on my own family and what makes us happy, rather than what might make other people happy.
  • I am too hard on myself sometimes. I have given myself too much pressure in the past, and focussed too heavily on the negatives about myself than the positives. Once I realised this, I was able to begin to start celebrating my strengths more, and let go of the things that I’m less happy with but cannot change about myself.
  • I must accept the things I cannot control. There are some things which make me feel guilty that I can do nothing about. So, what is the point in worrying about them? I have accepted that bad things will happen sometimes, and that is life unfortunately. I cannot protect my children from things that make them feel upset or humiliated, but I can be there to support them and help them learn valuable life lessons from challenging events.
  • I do not need to care what other people think. I feel sad that I wasted many years of my life wrapped up in what other people thought about me and trying to avoid their judgements. The same can be said for parenting, and I can think of times where I have changed my actions or conversation as I worried that I would be perceived negatively as a parent. But nowadays, I have taught myself to challenge this negative though – who really cares what other people think as long as my family and I are happy? And I am a lot happier for it.
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Remembering to consider these things on my personal journey helps me to stay focussed on what is truly important when it comes to my parenting. The worries and guilt are still present in me, but I can now evaluate my thoughts and feelings better and understand whether they need a reaction or not.

If you are experiencing mum guilt, I would encourage you to reflect on your individual parenting strengths, as well as those areas for development. I am certain that you will notice that for the most part, you are a great mum with your children’s best interests at heart. Everyone has things they could probably do improve a little, but that’s all part of the parenting journey – and I believe it is called a journey because every parent is travelling down that long and bumpy road called parenthood. Our children won’t remember the time that you didn’t make a healthy meal or let the house get messy, but they will remember all the love and care they received from you while they were growing up.

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I have decided that mum guilt is nature’s way of reminding you that you care – celebrate it, be proud of it, but remember not to let it get too heavy for you to carry on your own.

Love, Heather x

If you liked this you should check out more of Heather’s stuff at http://parent-pop.com/

You may also like: Mum-tivation
#MakingOverMotherhood
Olivia’s 1st Birthday

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#MakingOverMotherhood

Next week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. Bit of a mouthful but nevertheless very important!

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t know anything about mental health issues after birth. I just thought, you have the baby and that’s it! You just have to cope. Anyway, how could you ever feel sad, down, depressed, angry, lost or just nothing while looking after your gorgeous baby? Oh, how I laugh now. I definitely had my fair share of all the above every now and again (and Lord knows sleep deprivation can do scary things to you) but I was lucky to not feel like this all of the time.

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So, when I saw that it is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week next week, I wanted to do something. A quick Google and I stumbled upon #MakingOverMotherhood. A social media challenge to raise awareness of Maternal Mental Health disorders and struggles. Everyday, for 5 days, post something that shows what motherhood is really like. The good, the bad and the ugly. It can be something light-hearted that might make someone chuckle or something serious and revealing. It’s up to you. The idea is to end the stigma of mental health issues for mothers.

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As Mothers, it’s very easy to feel like EVERYONE relies on you and therefore you don’t have time for yourself. You don’t have time to be weak because you’re so busy being strong for everyone else. You can’t be seen to be struggling because you might be seen as a bad Mum, a Mum who can’t cope, a lazy Mum, an incompetent Mum. You might not even notice you’re struggling because you don’t have time to take a step back and see that you are. Well, take that step. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do. And if you notice you are, reach out. There is no shame. I truly believe that everybody struggles with something and I guarantee, you won’t be alone and you won’t be the only Mum who thinks the way you do.

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It’s so vital to get help when you need it because (as the old saying goes) you can’t pour from an empty cup. Basically, you can’t take care of others, without taking care of yourself too. Now, I don’t mean going to get your nails done every week or making sure your hair is perfect (unless that helps you feel better). I’m saying practise self care on the regular, be selfish when you need to be, reach out for help even if you think you aren’t desperate for it. Don’t feel guilty (and trust me, I am no stranger to Mum guilt) because fundamentally, you’re doing it for your kids.  You’re taking care of you so they can have the best Mother possible. A happy Mum, a calm Mum (most of the time, I mean, whistles, right?), a Mum who isn’t constantly emotionally and physically exhausted, a Mum they deserve.

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Now, I’m not saying every time you have an outburst and scream at your child about playing the baby shark song for 1098th time that day that you need to call the doctor. There are many ways you can reach out for help.
Obviously, during these times, it’s a little different. I can’t reach out to my Mum to watch Olivia for a few hours while I get some work done or just lay down in a dark room for a while. However:

  • Talk to your partner (if you have one). I cannot imagine how I would do this whole motherhood thing, without Steven by my side. I’m so lucky because he is such a good Dad and so supportive. So I know, if I ever need to, I can talk to him about my stress and if he’s home to help, I can ask him to give me a couple of hours. He will happily take Olivia and Cody (because sometimes, he causes me more stress than my human child) out for an hour long walk and give me the house to myself. I cannot tell you how blissful that is. Even if I just need to rant or cry or a cuddle or time he will give it to me. THAT is invaluable!
  • Reach out to family. I know not everyone is on par with their family but maybe you can meet some mummy friends and they can be your family. I am fortunate that my Mum absolutely adores my little girl and would do anything for her (or me). I honestly love having her one town away and I know that if I needed her, she would be here at the drop of a hat (she has done many times before). In the early days of my new adventure into motherhood, she took a week off work to come over everyday and help me with Olivia. Nothing major. She would watch Olivia while I had a shower (absolute heaven), bring me lunch everyday (I love her) and sit with me while we watched TV and chatted (priceless). She didn’t know it but all of these things meant the world to me. Especially when she made me cups of coffee, I could have cried!
  • Mummy friends. I couldn’t cope without my mummy friend, Lisa. It is so worthwhile to have that someone who gets it. Before lock down, we would grab a take away coffee and go for a walk with the babies every week and just talk. Talk about our struggles, our stresses and what crazy stuff the babies have got up to that week and it was so therapeutic. We would then laugh together at how messy our lives have become but how beautiful it all is too. I would come home and feel refreshed (not to mention caffeinated, which always helps) and like maybe I am a good Mum because I’m not alone in this, because someone else is thinking the exact same things as me!
  • Reach out to professionals. Reach out to your GP, midwife or Health Visitor. That’s what they’re there for! They are the superheroes equipped with all the resources and connections to get you the help you need!
  • Baby Buddy App is an NHS accredited app which offers evidence-based information and self-care tools to help parents during pregnancy and early stages of parenting. Best bit is it is absolutely FREE! Download in the app store or click here for more information.
  • If you are in need of immediate help or support call 999, go to A&E or call Samaritans 116 123 (free to call and it doesn’t show up on your phone bill)

Whatever you think you’re going through, whatever you think you’re struggling with, I can guarantee there’s a Mum out there going through the exact same thing. So do the right thing, reach out and talk. If not for you, for your kids.

For a pick-me-up read my Mum-tivation post!

Lock Down Help!
Lock Down Daily Routine For Toddlers
At Home Activities For Toddlers
Best Bedside Books
My Netflix List
Movies Made For Comfort

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Instagram: @charlotterose293


 

Movies Made For Comfort

During this time, I want to help keep people’s spirits up as much as possible. Since we’re all stuck inside with more time on our hands, it’s easy to get wrapped up in this COVID-19 chaos, doom and gloom. We could all use a little mental escape and what better way than curling up on the sofa with a hot cuppa and a good movie. The type of movie that doesn’t require thought. The type of movie that transports you to a simpler time. Something that makes you smile, laugh a little and brings a little bit of light in the darkness.

I was born in the late 90s so most films I find comforting are from the 00s. They just take me back to a simpler time of watching movies on the sofa during rainy days or cinema trips with my Mum. Back when my world was a little smaller. So here are my top 10 comforting films.

1. Legally Blonde

I know, I know, super girly but this film was a constant favourite of mine as a child. Not only is the soundtrack upbeat and fun but the message is empowering. You can do anything you work hard at, despite what people say or think about you. If you keep going through all the struggles and backlash of other people, it will pay off even if no one is on your side. It’s also a good reminder to help people along your way. Elle Woods has lapses in confidence and sense of direction in her life but ,throughout it all, she is kind. She is nice to people who are continually cruel and helps anyone. I think we could all use this reminder right now.

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2. Cheaper By The Dozen

This is another one of my ‘regularly viewed’ from my childhood. I know Steve Martin can be a crowd divider but I just can’t help but love this movie. This also has an awesome soundtrack (can you tell I’m a sucker for musical montages?) and is upbeat and easy to watch. A family of 12 kids and their parents go on holiday together. What could go wrong? It’s filled with typical PG physical comedy (and some adorable kids) it will definitely give your mind a break.

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3. Bridesmaids

A CLASSIC! This film holds so many memories for me. I remember watching it in the cinema with Mum for the first time. We shared many a cinema date just us two and they were so special to me. We’d go while other kids were at school so the cinema was practically empty. It was those times it felt like we were the only people in the whole world. On our drives home we would reminisce about our favourite moments and laugh together all over again. 
I also remember watching this film after my first (and last) night out clubbing. My friends and I collapsed on my sofa and put this movie on. We kicked off our heels, got under blankets and giggled together. I’d take that over clubbing any day!

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4. Practical Magic

Another one of mine and my Mum’s favourites. I can’t remember the first time I watched this but I remember being about 7 or 8 and trying to get my spoon to stir in my cup or trying to get flower petals to fly in the wind. Maybe it was this movie that made me so wary of men? It definitely made me suspicious of a beetle’s squeak. It has everything I love wrapped up in one movie: witches, love stories, revenge, sisterhood and family. This is not just a Halloween movie. 

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5. Hocus Pocus

Staying on the witch theme. This movie is one I normally save for Halloween season but desperate times call for desperate measures. It is an absolute classic and I think I know this movie word for word. It’s one for the whole family and really puts me in a cosy mood. And, yes you guessed it, it has a musical number that I recreated in my bedroom when I was 8. As a kid, I wanted to be Sarah. The funny one, the one who wore purple and the one who all the boys liked, lol! Not sure that happened for me. Sorry 8 year old me!

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6. Christmas With The Coopers

From one holiday to the next. Yes! A Christmas film. Even though it’s spring, I see no harm in recreating the ambience of Christmas. Christmas just seems to be a happier time for me, a cosy time and I can’t help but feel safe in a way. I know that’s not the case for some but it’s a time I really treasure. This film in particular is humbling and beautiful. Not to mention it has an incredibly cute dog. It’s just one happy reminder to love your family, even if they drive you mental or aren’t perfect themselves. So if you’re in quarantine with your family and need a little convincing to love them, this is the movie for you.
P.S in other countries this movie is called ‘Love the Coopers’

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7. The Mask

My friends and I used to watch this round my house all the time. Jim Carrey is a true talent. This was the first movie I saw that combined live filming with animation. I think  this was my first Jim Carrey movie too and it sparked my love for his work. Like all good movies, it has an excellent dog in it too! Oh, and a musical dance number or two!

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8. Bad Moms

This is a perfect time for every Mother in isolation with their kids to watch this. This movie always reminds me that it is okay to not be the perfect parent. The most important things you can give to your kids are love and happy memories. Spend time with them, listen to them, teach them things they will need in life like how to apologise or take care of their mental health. Show them how to unwind, be a good person and just be kids. This movie also highlights the different types of Mothers out there and that it’s okay if you don’t iron your kids underwear like Becky down the road or have 15 million colour coded worksheets. If you’re a good person, you’re a good Mum.

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9. Wine Country

This is more of a recent discovery of mine. It’s about a group of friends going on a weekend break together for one of them is turning 50. They go on a girls trip and tour vineyards but it gets a little messy. They show getting older as something to look forward to and true friendship as something to treasure. I can only hope that my life looks a little like this when I turn 50.

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So there we go, they are the top 9 films I find comforting. I hope they give you some comfort too. Now, please remember this is personal opinion. You may not agree but please feel free to share some of your favourite and comforting movies!

Stay safe. Be kind.

 

 

Keyboard Warrior or Keyboard Worrier?

This week was the first time I rage quit Facebook. I actually got so angry at people on Facebook that I closed the whole app and wanted to completely abandon it. Now, people on Facebook can be annoying and small-minded and, yes, I’ve rolled my eyes and left the app but never felt rage from it. It takes a lot for me to get angry at people. I either can see it from their point of view or dismiss them for being stupid not letting it bother me but this week was completely different.

I saw people getting angry with strangers for taking their toddlers out for walks, for trying to enjoy the sunshine while staying safe and trying to do small things to keep their heads in this chaotic time. Accusing each other of being ‘stupid’, ‘selfish’ and ‘killing 100s of people’ just by stepping out their front door.

Yes, I agree with the government that we should only be going out for essential reasons. Exercise and mental health are essentials. Just being outside for 30 minutes a day has been proven to massively improve mental health. As long as you’re smart about it, it’s okay. Wash your hands, distance yourself from others and try not to touch things if you can help it and stay home completely if you have symptoms or in a high risk category.

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God bless NHS workers but, how are we helping them if we tell people information that isn’t correct or we don’t know? I’ve seen people spreading information like “Corona Virus is airborne” and “breathing in air from your hair dryer protects you” which is all wrong! I’ve seen people defend these claims like their life depends on it.

During these times, people’s businesses, families and lives are being torn apart. People are struggling financially, losing family or isolating from family, some people are stuck inside alone. However this virus is affecting people, one thing that will definitely affect all of us is our mental health. As someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression for 7 years, I am fortunate in that I can detect signs of my mental health getting worse and I have learnt methods to cope with this but some people can’t.

Now, we’re being told that we should only contact our GP if absolutely necessary. Due to the stigma of mental health people will think “I’m not ill-ill. I don’t have symptoms of Corona Virus or anything serious. The doctors are probably too busy”. If you feel this way, please, please, PLEASE, reach out anyway. You won’t be the only one. You’re mental health is just as important as your physical health.

With all this in mind, I urge you to consider what you’re putting online. Are you being a keyboard warrior or a keyboard worrier? During this time we should really be pulling together and lifting each other up. This is one of the most devastating events of this generation and it is affecting everyone. I’m also urging you to only listen to advice from health professionals and rely on the NHS website, WHO (World Health Organisation) website and Government website for the latest information. NOT Social Media.

Use it for good. Post things you think will lift people’s mood or things that you think might be helpful to people during this time. Passive aggressive statuses saying things like “People are such morons!!! *angry face*” aren’t helping anyone. I understand people use social media as an outlet to complain and vent but I cannot tell you the amount of people I have muted because of content like that. I don’t need to be exposed to negativity like that. I may love them, I may consider them a dear friend of mine but my mental health comes first. I know seeing that post is going to make me feel down and then seeing another one and then seeing people complain about bulk buying and calling each other idiots and I’m going to feel worse and worse and worse.
This is the last thing we all need.

So #BeKind and (to quote High School Musical) we’re all in this together.
This is a rubbish situation so don’t make it worse, make it brighter!

Lock Down Daily Routine For Toddlers

Here in the UK, we have been told that, as of this week, we are on lock down. This means we are to stay in our homes as much as possible and only leave for essential reasons. The introvert in me wants to celebrate but the mother in me dreads this time. How do people cope with their kids at home all day, every day. I can’t be the only one that is filled with the anxiety of the thought. Maybe this is the time we’ll be sympathetic to people who commit family massacres. Well, have no fear! I’m here too share our daily routine to make things a little more bearable during these hard times.

I always find routines (especially with children) make the day go faster, more fun and far more peaceful. Children thrive in a routine as they know what to expect to happen when (and let’s be honest, we could all use that in the uncertainty that we’re all living in now). It also ensure you can fit everything you want to into the day and be productive. I always find that being productive really helps my anxiety as my mind is distracted and it’s something small I can control during a situation that is totally out of my control.

So, here is our daily routine. My daughter is nearly 18 months old (just for reference). I hope this is helpful to you mummas right now, feel free to tweak the schedule any which way you like.

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If you don’t have a dog, you can use this time for a walk around your neighbourhood or outside play in your garden. Either way, I think it’s really important our little ones get some fresh air.

Also, you may think that is a lot of time for ‘Free Play’ but we break up this time with: singing songs, reading stories, imaginative play and I let my daughter do her own thing while I watch her and drink my morning coffee.

I hope this was helpful to you! For ideas for “Planned Activity” you can read my blog post At Home Activities For Toddlers. You could also check out Easy Easter Brownies as something else to do with your slightly older children.

Stay safe and watch this space for more content during this tough time. Stay strong mummas, click this link if you need some Mum-tivation!

Thank you for reading!


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Instagram: @charlotterose293
Twitter: @Cook293

You Can’t Bubble Bath and Candle Your Way To Self Love

After the devistating news of Caroline Flack hit the media this week, my social media has been bombarded with #BeKind and Self love content. I would like to clarify I 100% support the #BeKind movement however a lot of content advising people about self love is unhelpful.
As I scroll through my feeds, I see beautifully illustrated posters informing people how to achieve self love like: have a bubble bath, light your favourite candle, make a cup of tea, meditate, drink water and get some sleep. While this is all very good advice for SELF CARE, this will not help you achieve SELF LOVE.

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Self love is accepting yourself for who you are. No exceptions. It’s the art of being kind to yourself. I say an art because it’s more of a skill than you think. Everyone has that voice in their head telling them “You’re not good enough” or “Why are you so pathetic?” or even “You don’t deserve to be happy” and some voices might be louder than others. Self love is recognising that voice and turning your thoughts around. It’s harder than you think because we have such a nasty habbit of being cruel to ourselves. We would never say these things to someone in real life (I hope) or if we heard someone saying this to somebody else we would think it was incredibly cruel, so why do we talk to ourselves in this way?

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As someone who struggles with these voices (some days are louder than others), I am trying my hardest to turn them around. I’ve noticed they come more frequently since becoming a mother. I think this is because being a good Mum is so incredibly important to me. I constantly think, as long as I’m a good Mum, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if I’m struggling, it doesn’t matter if I haven’t had 10 seconds to myself and it doesn’t matter if people judge me for being a stay-at-home Mum (and boy do they!). This means, as soon as Olivia has an ‘off’ day or is grumpy, I instantly hear those voices. “You’re a rubbish Mum”, “You can’t do anything right”, “You’re her Mum and you can’t even make her happy”. This is when I have to stop my train of thought, notice I’m being harsh on myself and turn it around. “You’re not a rubbish Mum, she’s clean and healthy. You’re doing fine”, “There are kids much worse off than she is”, “She’s just having a grumpy moment, it’s nothing you’ve done”.

It’s hard to reverse bad habits as anyone who has tried to quit smoking, cut out sugar or stop biting your nails, knows. It’s even harder to reverse bad mental habits. Especially when you don’t even notice them happening.

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A lot of these voices can be prompted from Social Media. Seeing perfectly sculpted and airbrushed models and comparing your body or seeing that person’s ‘perfect’ life and comparing yours, can make you feel fat and ugly or like your life is a mess or not good enough. One woman you should follow to break up your ‘perfect’ feed and inject it with realness and self love is Chessie King! She promotes a lot of body confidence, healthy habbits, self love and anti-bullying. She is such an inspiration on how to keep smiling through this messy life and enjoy it! She is planning her wedding at the moment so I’m loving watching her process on how to enjoy wedding planning rather than getting stressed. Not to mention she recently became a Doula too. She’s just incredible.
So definitely follow @chessiekingg on Instagram!

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Chessie King @chessiekingg on Instagram

 

So please remember to #BeKind to others but also remember it’s equally important to #BeKind to yourself!

Images taken from Pinterest.

The Blue Month

First of all, Happy New Year! I can’t believe we’re in the year 2020 already. Unfortunately, with the new year comes the worst month. January, yuk.

January is just the longest month but also the most miserable. Not only do you have to suffer the financial backlash of Christmas and wait even longer until the next pay day but there is so much social pressure to better yourself, make big changes to your life and announce them to the world. Why? There’s a huge fad to start diets with the new year but I honestly think that this is the worst time of year to do it. It’s still winter! Biologically, our bodies are still craving comfort food and foods with higher calorific value. Only a few generations ago, we had to consume more food to survive the winter and since it was in short supply we had to find food with higher fat content.

Do you also find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the mornings? Its thought that our ancestors slept longer in the winter in order to burn less calories as food supply was low. Instead of getting up at the crack of dawn to work in the fields and burn more calories, they would sleep longer and conserve energy.

I, personally, feel the lowest in January (and usually February) mostly due to coming down from the hype of Christmas. Now, the days are still short, the home looks bare and no one is celebrating. People don’t go out together because they’re trying to make it through until payday, people aren’t drinking or eating ‘naughty’ foods and people bully themselves about what they need to ‘resolute’.

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Every year I find myself in a grey day slump for 2 months. Last year, I was too busy to notice with a new baby. This year, I prepared. For Christmas, I asked for lots and lots of books. I thought I would read my way through the slump and therefore my mind would be on vacation for the majority of it. I think I will do this every year. Not only did my mind have the opportunity to transport somewhere else, but even when I wasn’t reading, my mind thought of its vacation spot. While changing Olivia’s nappy, my mind wondered to ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies’ instead of how miserable the weather is. Before I fall asleep my head thought of ‘The Proposal’ rather than my never ending to do list.

It’s not just the reading. It’s transforming it into a form of self care. I light a candle, I cuddle up to Cody with a blanket, take a few deep breaths and immerse myself in the moment. It’s a great way to be present and switch off.

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I also started journaling. At first, I was using it as a way of dumping my thoughts, worries and hopes but after reading ‘The Witch’s Book of Self Care’ by , I tried other methods of journaling for self care. It took my mind off my worries and made me focus on the things I love and am grateful for.

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One of the books I started reading was ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig. In this beautifully outlined book, Haig talks about his own personal struggles, the trial and errors he went through to solve them and why society may be feeling this way. Tucked between this are beautiful quotes and pieces of texts on the matter that I found very resonating. The chapters are short and for that reason I like this book as a bedtime read. You don’t have to force yourself to persevere 5 more pages until the end of the chapter as your eyes get heavier.

 

Olivia’s 1st Birthday

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So, my baby turned one year old this week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d feel the way I did. I thought I would be excited to throw my little girl her first ever birthday party and have a great time with friends and family, creating a memory that would last a life time. I did not see it this way.

Instead, the week leading up to her birthday, filled me with dread, heart ache and reminiscence. I couldn’t believe that a year ago I was holding this precious, tiny baby that was all mine and depended on me for everything. Now, she crawls around the house at speed, wants to feed herself and doesn’t need me to rock her to sleep at night. I felt like time was already slipping through my fingers and I wanted it to slow down. I got quite down about it, to the point where I didn’t want to throw her a party but the fear of regret forced me to power through.

I teared up in the middle of HobbyCraft buying decorations, I cried putting up pictures of her monthly milestones and the night before, I laid in bed thinking back to my labour I was in a year ago. The first time I saw her face.  I sobbed like a baby. I felt ridiculous. “She’s only 1! It’s only the first year of many. I have 17 more! Oh… I only have 17 more. This last one went so quick and let’s face it, she’s not going to want me to throw her birthday parties when she’s a teenager so maybe I only have 12 at most?” is what I thought to myself. It was that moment I realised, I’m not going to have many chances to throw her birthday parties so I need to grab every opportunity and go all out!

We had a party at our house and only invited family (as that is all we could fit in our house). I would have loved to invite all our friends too and have Olivia surrounded by as many people that love her as possible but we struggled for room as it was. I decorated the whole of the downstairs, the day before. As well as baked cupcakes and a separate cake for Olivia to destroy. I even made a fondant duck, as we have a bit of an obsession at the moment, in hopes it would encourage her to destroy the cake. I spent 4 hours cooking and preparing party food and organising how to display it (I’m a bit OCD when it comes to parties).

So, the big day arrived. I felt fine. Steven got Olivia out of bed in the morning and we all sat in our bed talking about the day ahead and then he hands me a card. I assumed it was for Olivia but he said it was for me. Puzzled, I opened it and on the front was a picture of all of us and the words ‘Happy Birth Day’. Upon opening the card, I couldn’t stop the floods of tears as I read the words ‘Thank you for being such a good Mum’. Any Mum out there knows, there’s nothing more rewarding than someone telling you, you’re a good Mum or that you’re doing a good job because that’s all you hope for and you don’t really know if you’re doing a good enough job for your little ones. So there you go, my plan to hold it all together was thrown out of the window before 9am.

Afterwards, we took Olivia downstairs to show her the present from us. The night before, Steven and I had spent the evening building an IKEA play kitchen so she could play with it the morning of her birthday. It filled us with joy to see she immediately was smiling and trying to open the doors and move the tap.

The party started after Olivia’s nap and afternoon bottle. Soon, the house was filled with family and a serious amount of presents for Olivia. She was very spoilt. I loved seeing people’s faces when they saw Olivia. She just lights up a room and makes everyone smile. Everyone wanted to hold her and speak to her and as a Mum you can only hope that she continues to be surrounded by such love.

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After opening presents, we stripped her down to her vest and sat her on the dining table. We sang happy birthday (which she hated as she is not a fan of group singing) and let her go to town on her birthday cake. I’m so glad I decided to do this because the pictures are ones I will treasure forever. She was in her element (she’s more like her mother than I thought) grabbing chunks of cake and eating them, making a mess and just enjoying herself.

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One of the many lessons I’ve learnt this past year of being a Mum is how to sacrifice your own feelings to make your children happy. I know this was only a small thing, a birthday party, but it’s made me more comfortable to do the best for her and create as many happy memories for her as possible, even if it breaks my heart. In the end, seeing her happy will mend it again.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart xxx

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Thank you for reading!

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.

5 Reasons You Need To Get Outdoors This Season

Everyone who knows me knows that Autumn is my favourite time of year for many reasons. It gets a little chillier, the leaves are beautiful colours and you can get all wrapped up in your comfies and cosies to go for a walk. Nothing brings me more joy than wearing snuggly jumpers, brown boots, winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves and going outside. Not to mention, watching Cody run through the multicoloured leaves on the floor brings such a sweet smile to my face.

I understand that this time of year isn’t for everyone, but it is still important to get outside this season. There are so many benefits!

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#1 IT’S GOOD FOR THE MIND

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It’s been proven that walking outside can improve your mental health. Even just taking a walk around your local area can force you to be mindful. Taking time to admire and appreciate your surroundings can keep you present and in the moment. As you walk, listen to your breathing or your rhythmic steps to help you relax from your stresses and clear your head. If you can, organise a walk with friends or family and take time to appreciate them in your life. Which brings me onto my next point.

#2 FAMILY TIME OPPORTUNITY

Taking a walk with the ones you love is a good way to make memories. On a walk it is harder for family members to be distracted by mobile phones, laptops or the TV, encouraging more quality conversation amongst one another. It’s also really beneficial for children to be outside in the fresh air (not to mention help get rid of some of that excess energy). Kids love to explore so taking a walk in the woods or your local nature reserve will also engage their brains. Even if it’s raining. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to put on their waterproofs and wellies and go splashing in puddles and then coming inside to dry off with a nice hot chocolate or soup. That’s guaranteed to make memories.

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As a Mum with a young daughter, meeting with other mums (to vent and share experiences) is so valuable. One of the best ways to do this is to wrap your babies up and go for a walk. Maybe even grab a coffee to walk round with (Mums always appreciate a caffeine intake whenever possible). As a dog owner, nothing makes my day that bit easier than a tired pooch. Cody especially gets tired out when he has had the chance to run around with other dogs (like his girlfriend, Darla) because it’s not just the exercise that wears them out, it is also the social interaction (I guess they’re more like humans than we think). Speaking of sleeping…

#3 YOU’LL SLEEP BETTER

Being out in the daylight, soaking up that vitamin D, even if it is minimal this time of year (I mean, this is England) is a huge health benefit. The exposure to daylight helps our body clock and our struggle with daylight savings time. We find it easier to adjust to the darker evenings if we spend more time outside. Vitamin D fights day time fatigue and can battle that sluggish winter feeling. So if you’re feeling the affect of the winter blues, get outside!

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#4 IT BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY

Not only does vitamin D fight off that sluggish daytime feeling, but going for a walk can really blow away those mental cobwebs. Exercise gets your blood pumping and muscles working which can start your momentum for the whole day. Once your body and mind have been kickstarted you will feel more alert and may even feel more inspired. Even going for a 20 minute walk during your lunch break can stop you hitting a wall in the afternoon and losing your energy.

#5 ENJOY THE BEAUTY BEFORE WINTER SETS IN

This is probably my favourite reason. Mostly because of all the photo opportunities (I’m kind of obsessed with photos) but also the chance to marvel at all the things that make me love this season. The different coloured leaves falling from the trees like confetti, hunting for conkers and seeing the last glimpses of wildlife before they hibernate for the winter. Autumn is a beautiful reminder that even in darker times, there is beauty.

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Here are some pictures from our most recent autumnal walk.

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Thank you for reading. It really means so much!

I am the creator and owner of all pictures in this blog post.