#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

To see more pictures like this one the regular, follow me!
Instagram: @charlotterose293


 

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GRL PWR

Hello Readers,

This Sunday is International Women’s Day and I thought I would express my appreciation for some of the women in my life and share some of my role models.

What is International Women’s Day? It is a global day celebrating the economic, social, political and cultural successes of women. What’s the point of it? The International Women’s Day website have launched a campaign called #EachforEqual to encourage us to collectively create change for a gender equal world. What can I do? The campaign runs all year long not just on International Women’s Day and you can help spread awareness. Post a picture of you with your arms out in an ‘equal’ shape and share your #EachforEqual pledges and messages.
Visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/ for more information.

I am a feminist. I know, I know, that’s a scary word. You probably get an image of an angry woman with hairy armpits, protesting for women’s rights and hating men. This is not true. A feminist is anyone who supports equality of the sexes. So really, we should all be feminists regardless of gender, race or religion. It’s not about women wanting to conquer men because they are the superior sex. It’s about equality for all. The best visual representation I have seen of ‘double standards’ is in the music video for ‘The Man’ by Taylor Swift.

This brings me onto my first role model, Taylor Swift. Most of you reading this will probably be thinking “Really? A pop star?” and yes, she is a ‘pop star’ but through her art she raises awareness. In her most recent music video, ‘The Man’, she portrays many gender inequalities. Swift herself is ‘the man’ and we can see ‘Tyler’ getting praised for: doing the bare minimum of parenting, manspreading on public transport, urinating on ‘women’s work’ on a brick wall, throwing a hissy fit when he loses at tennis and doing the ‘walk of celebration’ after sex as opposed to the ‘walk of shame’ women experience. It was really eye-opening to see the parallels but also it felt reassuring and that, finally, someone gets it! She raises awareness through her music while also being an amazing girl boss herself. She fights for the right to own her music and create things that are completely hers, which is something I can only aspire to do. Not to mention, I love her music and think she’s absolutely gorgeous in everything she does (totally girl crushing).

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Role Model #2 is Zoe Sugg. I know “first a pop star now a YouTuber, ugh, grow up”. No. I have watched her videos for 8 years (wow!) and just admire what she has made for herself. She started with a blog, then did YouTube videos and now runs her own brand, has written fiction and non fiction books, released multiple beauty and life style ranges, worked with companies I can only dream of and even went on celebrity bake off! Through it all, she has the best smiley, positive attitude and kind-hearted approach to things. I just find her creativity inspirational and makes me want to continue doing things that I love. She also (like me) struggles with anxiety so I love the fact she’s so honest with her audience about anxiety and can still pick herself up and have a good mood. She encourages me to do the same.

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Role Model #3 is Melissa McCarthy. I have watched films with Melissa McCarthy in ever since I went to see Bridesmaids in the cinema with my Mum. I swear this woman has a direct line to my funny bone. Through her comedic roles, my Mum and I bonded in my teenage years and I will never forget watching Bridesmaids and Spy with her. Especially the moment my Mum (who is quite an introvert) forgot where she was and shouted “THERE’S A MOUSE ON HER TITS!” in the middle of a full cinema. I’m not even joking when I say, I nearly wet myself laughing. Not only are her movie roles genius but I love hearing her talk about her home life. The way I have heard her talk about her two daughters and two dogs on Ellen has me in stitches and I just love her outlook on life, even the everyday things. I like to remind myself to look at things through ‘McCarthy eyes’ sometimes and see the funny side of things.

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Role Model #4 is a personal one. It’s my Aunty Sandra. Since becoming a Mum myself, she has become a sort of ‘baby guru’ to me. My Aunty Sandra has had 4 children and since having her first, she has been a stay at home Mum and a great one at that. I guess she’s a role model of mine because she is always on the go and always doing things for others. Everywhere she goes, she’s a Mum (in a good way). I recently went to lunch with her and in the restaurant she was asking the waitress how she was, getting her life story and offering advice and someone to cuddle. When I was struggling being a first time Mum, she came to see me and helped me with my mood and struggles with breastfeeding. She was always at the other end of the phone when I was having a meltdown with Olivia (even while she’s getting her hair done). Every time I see her, she reassures me that I’m a good Mum and I’m doing the right thing which means the world because as a Mum you never know if you’re doing what’s best for your little ones. She also never lets me forget that this time with Olivia goes so quick and reminds me to soak up every moment. She’s just constantly putting her kids first and I seriously don’t know how she juggles everything and holds it altogether. I can only hope I can pull off motherhood like she does!

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Now that I’ve snotted everywhere, I hope you all take part in the #EachforEqual campaign or even just reach out to a loved one this Sunday and let them know you appreciate them.


Thanks for reading!

Some pictures were taken from Google Images.

Follow me on:
Instagram: @charlotterose293
Twitter: @Cook2903

2019 Christmas Decor

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, again! I could not be more excited. I’ve always loved Christmas since I was a kid. It’s not the same excitement, obviously, because as you grow up, Christmas Day is just not as good. Let’s face it. However, I am still excited for the lead up to Christmas. I love watching the same Christmas movies year after year, writing cards to people and, of course, the food.

I kick off the festive season with a tradition-filled December 1st. On the first day of December we decorate the house, walk into town to see the spectacular Christmas lights and visit the church’s Christmas tree festival. More than likely, we will also grab a Pecoro pizza on the way home. This year was no different.

We started the day by blasting Bublé on the TV while unpacking the mass of decorations. This year was particularly fun because not only do we have Cody to ‘help’ but Olivia has reached that age now where she can also ‘help’. She wasn’t as intrigued by the decorations as I’d hoped but rather she wanted to use the boxes as a climbing frame.

I always really love getting the decorations down from the loft and rooting through the boxes, looking at decorations of Christmas past and seeing what excuses I can come up with to buy new ones. It’s a sickness. I also have way too many garlands, lights and baubles. I mean, is there such a thing? So you can find them throughout my house.

I have baubles going up my stairs, in a glass dish and my special Swarovski ones on a special Swarovski stand. There’s something so pleasing about a bauble. Aesthetically pleasing, elegant and magical.

My garlands stretch from windows to hallways to the kitchen hob. And lights? Well, they’re on the tree, above the TV, in the kitchen, up the stairs and around our bed frame. Is it even Christmas if you can’t light your whole house using just Christmas lights?

After the hours of decorating (and redecorating until everything looks right to me) we get all wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves and walk into town. There’s one particular house, which is famous in our local community, that do a huge Christmas lights display to raise money for the air ambulance. It is a must-do as they are the best lights around.

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A more recent tradition is to go to a local church to look around their Christmas tree festival. Every year the church is filled with different and creatively decorated Christmas trees. They are all decorated by local businesses, schools and charities. Each one has a different theme and I really look forward to it because I thrive off of other people’s creativity.

There was even a tree with a few familiar faces. The Shuttleworth tree featured my handsome fiance, a few members of his family and the late Fred Harris. Topped with the Shuttleworth bear.

As we stroll home in the dark, we always happen to pass Pecoro, our local Italian restaurant. They do the best pizzas and the tiramisu is to die for! Steve and I always struggle to pass it without getting something. So this time, we got the Monti pizza to take home with us. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. Olivia was asleep in bed, we had warm pizza with a glass of wine and watched the last series of Gavin and Stacey in preparation for the Christmas Special! Who else is excited for it?!


And so, the tree is on, the halls are decked and the dog is asleep under a festive blanket. Christmas has begun! Have you decked your halls?

 

 

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

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.

Super Easy Slow Cooker Chilli

Super Easy Slow Cooker Chilli

It’s that time of year, again! There’s a chill in the air, the nights are getting darker and winter is creeping in. What better way to warm yourself up in the evening than with some good old fashioned comfort food. This slow cooker recipe is so easy and has under 15 minutes of prep time, making this the perfect mid-week meal.

The only prep needed to do is brown the mince with some chopped onion and then bung all the ingredients into the slow cooker and leave it to do its magic. In this recipe, I’m using beef mince made from my auntie’s cows. She raises Dexter cows (which aren’t just delicious but amazingly cute) and I was lucky enough that she filled my freezer with beef. I simply defrosted the mince in the fridge the day before and browned it the morning I was going to use it. After the slow cooker has done its thing, boil up some rice and bish bash bosh that’s dinner sorted!

Top tip: If you want to save even more time (or you’re lazy like me) use frozen, already chopped, onion.

Top tip #2: Spray your slow cooker with oil (I use Fry Light) before adding the beef.

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Ingredients

  • 450g-500g responsibly sourced, free range, minced beef
  •  1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp mild chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 190ml hot beef stock (I use OXO)
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tinned red kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

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Method

  1.  Brown beef mince in a frying pan and season with salt and pepper. Half way through cooking add chopped onion.
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  2.  Once fully cooked, add to slow cooker (do not turn on yet). Add chilli powder, smoked paprika, tomato purée, beef stock, chopped tomatoes, drained red kidney beans and Worcestershire sauce to the beef.
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  3. Mix together and turn on slow cooker to low. Cook for 6 hours stirring occasionally. Taste as it cooks and alter spices to personal preference.
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  4. Serve with rice and (optional) grated cheese on top.
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This recipe is so versatile and you can make it personal to you and your family’s taste. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. If you’d like me to do more recipes, give this post some love and click the like button.

Sending good vibes!

Mum-tivation

I think as parents we all have those days that are harder than others and sometimes those days can feel like weeks or turn into weeks and its hard to remember a time where things were good and sometimes it’s hard to have hope that they’ll be good again. You try to tell yourself that this storm will pass but when you’re stuck in the rain it’s hard to think of anything else. You think “I’m a mum (or dad) I should know what to do” or “I should be able to figure out how to calm my distressed child” or “why can’t I figure out what my child needs”. And I hate to use the F word but you feel like a failure. Right?
If this is you, take comfort in the fact every parent has been where you are right now. It’s okay to feel that way. You’re not doing anything wrong. If you have made sure your child is: safe, healthy, fed, dry, clean, warm, burped, cuddled, loved and comfortable then you have done your job to the max. Sometimes kids are demons (yes I am including newborns). Sometimes they’re going through development changes that we just don’t understand or are having a cranky day or are just being sh*ts. That doesn’t mean it’s your fault or you’re not doing enough. Being a Mum for me has been the most mentally challenging thing. One day you could be having the best day. Long naps, healthy meals, trips to the park, all the chores done and the next it could be no naps, refusing to eat, never leaving the house and living in a pig sty. But the bad times make you appreciate the good. So if you need to cry because your tiny human won’t stop crying, go ahead! If you need to put them to bed early so you can have a glass of wine and cry into that, do it! If you need to hide chocolates in the tampon box in the bathroom so you can secretly eat while your family think your pooping… is that one just me?
I thought I would share some ‘mum’ quotes that help me when I feel like this. Maybe they can help you too.

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Feel free to return to this page anytime you need that boost or send it to someone to remind them they’re doing a good job. I think mums need to help build each other up more and not mum shame one another. #mindyourownmotherhood
Go and tell that Mumma that she is doing an amazing job!

I found all these quotes on Pinterest.