The Truth about Staying Home

The Truth about Staying Home

Well hello there. Yes, it’s been a long time. Yes, I know you know that I haven’t had anything better to do so I don’t have an excuse…well I’m here now aren’t I?

It’s been a long and tumultuous few months. I could bore you with going through all the highs and lows in detail but I will burden you with that another time. For now here are some highlights: crying in the middle of a muddy ditch with my toddler daughter, crying because I miss Southend Road Tesco’s, crying because I ran out of snacks, crying because I didn’t get my own way. You get the general picture. There have been some good times too. Lockdown failed to ruin my daughter’s 2nd birthday, despite being at home we haven’t gained much weight and I am not clinically insane yet. Lockdown has also given me time to discover new things- good and bad.

In this post I will run you through some of the cool and not so cool things I have discovered during lockdown. DISCLAIMER ALERT* this is a blog post written in lockdown- limit your expectations and don’t expect too much excitement.

1. The Hinch Army

In all fairness, I have known and been following Mrs Hinch and her Hinching trend and its many Facebook groups for a long time now, but lockdown really enhanced the effort I put into all of this. With more time at home unfortunately comes more time to stare at your crumby carpets and dusty skirting boards. The need to clean incessantly during lockdown hit me HARD and I have definitely saved my landlord no money at all through all my dodgy DIY home improvements. I have all the cult classics such as the Pink Stuff and Elbow Grease and more funky stuff like laminate wax crayons and grout marker pens. My daughter has also made friends with the hoovers which is a bit jarring.

2. Overseas Zumba influencers

Again, Zumba is not a new interest of mine but lockdown has turned my ‘workout’ attention to an exclusively male, Filipino dance crew who seem to have the clout of BTS and the wardrobe of every TikToker ever. I have been following their YouTube workouts religiously, dancing to all the latest Reggaeton hits only to find out the English translation and end up crying in the shower that very evening. But on a serious note, I owe any fitness I have to them. It can all be a bit cringe but their enthusiasm for dance is something I haven’t yet witnessed in this part of the globe. I’m not sure what they’d make of a heavily pregnant woman desperately trying to keep up with their clean-cut dance moves however.

3. Perfect parenting pros

So another thing I discovered in depth was the big wide world abyss that is professional parenting. Owing to my daughter’s sudden onset of explosive tantrums, I decided to take to Jo Frost’s ‘toddler rules’ series. In all fairness, I cannot fault Jo for her methods, though I found that introducing them into our life wasn’t as clinical as they make it out to be on Supernanny. For example, what to do when your daughter finds the ‘naughty spot’ hilarious and a great place to be.I also followed a handful of influencers- who seem to live in an almost Olympia like world in which immaculately clean homes and children peacefully co exist, and baby weight is a farce. The most invaluable thing I probably embarked on was a Level 4 Child Psychology course which helped me not only to understand my daughter better, but also why I went for teaching in the first place. It’s great to see some of the apparent glitz and glam that accompanies Instagram parenting, and black and white methods but understanding how a child’s brain works has really been fascinating.

4. Not going out turns you into an psycho

I’m going to apologise, because this could just be me. But for a long time the ‘Stay at home’ message hit home too hard for me and I decided to forgo going outside altogether. This inevitable decreased any risks to do with the virus, but I’m honestly not sure that it was even worth it. At one point I struggled to open the windows and anything that came into the flat had to be heavily disinfected to an inch of its life. All of this had me obsessing over accidentally touching ‘outside’ things in case the disinfectant didn’t touch any part that I was touching. All of this came crashing down at a scheduled Antenatal appointment in which I was suddenly prodded by health professionals after 2 months of no contact.

So yeah, that was me in a not-so-small nutshell. I guess I also rediscovered that pregnancy sucks and that being heavily pregnant with a toddler who loves to kick can be sometimes problematic. But another time.

Selfishness: the pandemic that’s swept the world

Selfishness: the pandemic that’s swept the world

How your reaction to Covid-19 and your shopping behaviour says something about you as a person

When the Coronavirus became talked about in the Media, I remember the first thing people were saying was, “it’s in China, don’t worry”. Whilst at that point, the disease was limited to the far East, I struggled to understand some people’s lack of compassion. For some, the numbers of cases/deaths were nothing more than statistics in the paper, totally forgetting that this was many people’s reality.

In times like these, I really believe that people’s true colours begin to reveal themselves- it is easy to see the true nature of a person in these sort of situations. I get that we all have a base survivalist instinct, but when did that morph into selfishness and a complete lack of empathy for others?

Its only the old and the sick who are worst affected

This unfortunately has become a common phrase amongst many on various social media platforms. I honestly wish that I was making this all up for dramatic effect, but sadly I have seen this ‘saying’ used complete with the cherry on the top- “only” the old… it kind of reminds me of the phrase Stalin used when he explained that ‘only’ 5 million Russians died in the war…(hint: Stalin wasn’t a great guy).

Since when have we started to reduce the MANY people with underlying health conditions and the elderly to nothing more than a casualty waiting to happen. Everyone knows at least 3 or more people with basic health conditions. I could probably name at least ten. Alot of people, good and bad have health conditions- so we just leave them to it??!! Come on guys.

Ontop of that, the most of us either still have or have had grandparents in our lives- since when were the elderly ‘destined’ to go in this way. And guess what, believe it or not all of us will some day BECOME elderly….whaaaat. sorry to drop that bomb shell on you all, but how would you feel if no one cared about your well-being just because you were ‘old’. I hate to drop another one on you, but if you don’t care about the elderly then you are a bad person.

I’m going to stockpile everything I can in the supermarket.

Yep. We all know a few and have seen some self righteous selfies glorifying their exploits. In this outbreak, doing something like that will earn you the same status as a trophy hunter, I’m afraid. If you’re going to make a fortress of toilet paper, don’t take a selfie of it. Better yet, give some of it to people around you who can’t afford to stockpile food and are perhaps less able to clash around the supermarket and carelessly take everything off the shelves.

Stockpiling is not only selfish, it incites panic, and causes more people who otherwise wouldn’t have done so to… you guessed it, stockpile. When I went to the local supermarket, everything with any sort of anti bacterial property had been ‘erased’ from the shelves as if it had never even existed. Toilet paper, Baby formula, nappies, tinned goods, cleaning products, pasta… GONE. All that was left were the boxes which were in a huge disarray on the shelf. It looked as if someone had let a bunch of rhinos go to town in a store lock-in.

What made it worse, is most of the people I saw attacking the shelves were not rhinos, at risk groups or the elderly. They were fit and healthy looking young to middle age women. If this had been allowed to happen in wartime Britain, thousands would have starved to death. Those same people who adhered to the rations system in the ’40s’ are the same people now that we have to look after. Don’t be a hoarder.

I’m ill but I’m going to go out and go about my daily business as usual

We’ve all done it. But having the sniffles is a world away from spreading your flu-like symptoms everywhere. Until now, we had forgotten that people die at that hands of flu. It is no joke. I have heard stories of people walking into their GP after having travelled to at-risk areas, people not washing their hands, people ignoring self isolation. It’s a shame to say that some of us are so eager to ‘get what we can’ that we are happy to infect anyone an everyone we come into contact with, however vulnerable. Don’t. Be. That. Person.

If you’re reading this, maybe think about how some of your actions influence others. You going to work sick could result in someone getting seriously ill. You stockpiling could lead to a new mum panicking that she can’t feed her baby because there is no formula left. Just be a decent person and think about others around you too.

Is pregnancy overrated?

Is pregnancy overrated?

It’s a mediocre Thursday morning. I feel hungover- without the alcohol and good time. I get my daughter dressed into a fresh set of pyjamas and let her get on with her day.

As I go to dress myself I instinctively realise how much weight I’ve gained. I see a beer belly- not even a bump, and my arms look like someone has inflated them with a pump. Not a pretty sight. The irony of this is, is that I’ve been sticking to my exercise regime and eating rather healthily. Sure, I might be having a few more spaghetti strings than I would, but nothing too exciting. Still, I cannot ignore those new eager love handles.

I put my sense of injustice on hold and try to turn off the little Joe Wicks inside my head telling me to get some more exercise in. If it was just that, then maybe it would be one thing but in pregnancy it rarely is just the one thing. The truth was, I’d been suffering with heart palpitations from an arrythmia for weeks. This wasn’t dangerous but anything could set it off and it was scary. I’d do a single squat and my heart rate would be through the roof, the smallest amount of stress would have the same affect and I was almost blacking out when I stood up sometimes. I was told to ‘avoid stress’ which is impossible with a toddler and a looming pandemic and to lie down when I feel it coming on. This is all well and good, but I just don’t have the time for acting like a Victorian woman in the era of hysteria, who has her corset on too tightly. Life has to go on.

Maybe it was caused by the new angry persona I seemed to be modelling. Within 5 months I’d gone from being a reasonable and rational human being to the most highly strung person in the universe. Anything could set me off: rude people, nice people, rain, sun, bad news, good news. Waking up in the morning was enough for the mini Stormzy appear from inside of my head to the tune of Big for your boots . When it wasn’t anger, it was tears. Lots and lots of them. Suddenly, when I was the world’s most angry human, I was Mother Theresa. I would cry for anyone- I could feel anyone’s pain. I could also just cry pointlessly over sounds and shapes.

Some people love the feeling of being pregnant- like I loved my first one. You can feel empowered and beautiful, but you can also feel vulnerable, deflated and just rubbish. This time was definitely pay back for how I got away with it so easily last time. Someone somewhere definitely had a cruel sense of humour.

Being already a mum to an under two means that it’s alot harder to look after yourself in the way that you would with your first- pamper time is all a thing of the past. This was also a good thing, because this time I wasn’t so fussed about accidentally tasting a bit of unpasteurised cheese on my sandwich or about the temperature of my shower. But it’s impossible to have a mid day nap with a toddler.

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

You’ve put your career on hold for a 24/7 parenting haul, but the full-timers just don’t get it. Instead of understanding you get judgement and opinions stuck to you: “but what do you do all day?”, “It’s good some can afford to stay at home with their children”. Yes Karen, thanks for your unwanted opinion.

It’s fair to say we all have an opinion on something, and it would be even more accurate to say that mums are some of the best ‘judgers’ judges. I’m guilty of it- I’ll put my hands up to that, but I recognise that everyone’s situations are different.Since using ‘Mum’ tinder, I’ve realised just how much your occupation can draw battlelines between you and other mums. Sometimes there’s resentment, anger, jealousy, disgust and also admiration, but always judgement.

Here are some common judgements about stay at home mums, and how you can verbally slay these bitter mother fudgers.

1.”So you’re a housewife”

A wonderful woman said this to me recently. The vision of me with rollers in my hair, wearing a cutesy little apron and treating the day effectively as one big preparation for my partner coming home made me reel. She looked at me like some dusty old artefact from the 1950s. No. My role is to look after my children, not the house. Let’s be clear, if my children weren’t here I’d be in work. Housework isn’t my job, running after my children is.

The slay: agree and tell her you’re a kept woman. Your husband pays for spa days every week and for you to get your hair and nails done. Watch her face screw up in jealousy.

2.”I’ve worked all my life”

Yes Karen, you were born working. That’s right, I sit on my bum all day watching Dickinson’s Real Deal drinking Pina coladas. I don’t at all run about after my daughter all day wearing sportswear and drinking the strongest and most disgusting instant coffee I can find. Doing the childcare yourself is working. Some people get paid to do it but instead you do it for free.

The slay: Tell her if she was better at her job she wouldn’t have to work all her life. Only joking. Or am I…

3.” It’s good you can afford to be a stay at home mum”

Yeah, because paying approximately Β£1400 a month on childcare is an affordable option for most: not. I cried when I realised the price of childcare, and for alot of people the cost of it wipes out what they’d be earning. So whats the point? Working has become a luxury for alot of mums.

The slay: go with it and tell her how you won’t have to ever work because you inherited a small fortune. Even though it’s a bald-faced lie.

4. “Don’t you have a relative who can look after you child ?”

Okay, firstly: it’s none of their business. Secondly, not everyone has that luxury. As well as the divide between working mums and those who don’t, there seems to be a big divide between those who have relatives who can do the childcare for free, and those who don’t. It seems unfair and shouldn’t be taken for granted. But that’s life… And luck.

The slay: just tell them that everyone in your entire family is willing to drop their careers at the drop of a hat to do your childcare. Again, a lie but it will infuriate them knowing that you’ve chosen this path for yourself and your child.

The bottom line:

People will always have an opinion- tale as old as time. I’ve always been brought up to believe that not spending enough time with your child is worse than too much. When I worked in schools, the most damaged kids I met were those whose parents were hardly there for them. Enough said.

Breaking The Spell πŸ¦„

Breaking The Spell πŸ¦„

Its a crashingly average Wednesday afternoon. It is raining- yes. It is also hot- but that unsexy kind that creeps up on you when you’re wearing 3/4 length sleeves. My mood: irritated.

It’s one of those days- I am destined to have a collision with spider man; she is currently bouncing across my new sofa with no care for my new cushions. It’s going to be a long day, I will probably spill a few tears but I will for sure be going to bed with a jarring headache.

But despite the constant clanging of toys against furniture, and the racket coming from kid’s television, I am completely at peace with myself. No, I haven’t lost my mind just yet. Its just that I’m now free from the shackles of caring what other people think about me.

It’s such a clichΓ© thing to say, except this isn’t ripped straight from some ‘life hack’ podcast. Caring what other people think when you have a toddler absolutely sucks- you are always going to be doing the ‘wrong thing’ in others’ eyes. You’re either a soft touch or you’re a control freak. You really can go from Jo Frost to Britney Spears circa 2008 (sorry Britney) real quick.

Sometimes you have to shut the windows when the draught gets in to your ridiculously small london home- and that’s exactly what you have to do with other people’s thoughts and opinions: crush them in-between the double glazing panels just shut them out.

In a very British way, I have always aimed to do the ‘right thing’. Since having a child, I have realised this is the most exhausting thing to achieve. People always have negative things to say. When I was pregnant, I was constantly wracked with anxieties because people were always bursting with ‘warning’ messages. It got me nowhere.

Remember: There are always going to people doing better than us, and those who are doing WAY, way worse. We are all just pretty average tiny fish in a big, big sea.

We Need To Talk πŸ›Έ

We Need To Talk πŸ›Έ

Having a decent holiday is a good respite from a full-time job. But what happens when your full-time job is an all-demanding 24/7 set up. But this job doesn’t demand time on your phone or emails, just your forever undivided attention.

If your toddler is anything like mine then they nap for all of half an hour in any given day. So what? You might think. But a rookie stay at home parent will tell you that naps are like gold dust. Oh No Hun, they are gold dust. They might be fair and few, but you grab hold of that napping opportunity with both hands as soon as you see those eyes dancing around the room.

Toddler naps are your friend. Your best friend in fact. They can help you get through the rest of the day without turning to stronger substances. You won’t have to worry what the neighbours will think with this one. But beware- naps are like Tinkerbell- catch them while you can!

Your toddler’s nap schedule is a more NHS friendly way of saying “my bloody time for ME “. They are your only natural break. Technically so is your toddler’s bedtime- but whoever says that they consider their sleep time a ‘break’ from work needs psychological help, fast.

There comes a time when suddenly your child’s naps are simply not enough anymore. Picture this: Your eyes are red, your hair looks like it’s caught some sort of infection- unbeknownst to science- and you have made a shrine of nappies because you have changed your kid’s nappy five consecutive times. FIVE! Your partner walks in and you are crawling out of your well like Samara from ‘The Ring’ and fill his shoes and laptop cables with water.

When this happens, you need a DAY OFF- yes, just like you would in a 9 to 5. So go stand on the rooftop and scream this from the bottom of your lungs- or alternatively ask your partner to look after their child for a day/weekend.

The trouble is so many of us feel guilty about needing the time off. After all, it’s your child you’re needing a break from. Doing the full time childcare is a job- a job that some get paid for but you don’t. It’s not natural to be glued to your child for weeks/months on end. Mentally, yes. But when your toddler is hanging off the end of your skirt in a bid for twinkle twinkle for the 57th time, it can get a bit much.

I love my toddler more than anything in the entire world, like most normal, competent parents. But we are humans. All this time I have felt guilty but also shackled with anxiety about needing my own space. But I’m learning that if I’m tired, cranky and on the brink of insanity that my daughter isn’t going to get the best out of me. I want her to see the fun mum who runs around with her, not a Taylor Swift impersonator from ‘Blank Space’.

Time to have a day off!

D is for Depression

D is for Depression

We all go through times in our lives when depression pitches up at our doorstep. It can be nowhere in sight for a while and then suddenly it’s back like a crappy villain from a mid 20th century movie. But depression doesn’t always allow you the cliche happy ending.

I am no stranger to depression. There have been times in my life that it has completely and utterly taken over. Here, I’m talking about the unsexy kind of depression. The one that isn’t wearing Raybans and having a cigarette out of a loft window in Paris. This depression is a parasite, and it lives in your head.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been left alone by it completely, in the first year of my daughter being born- a luxury that I didn’t think I could afford.

But it eventually caught up with me. It started as a niggling feeling- like an itch. Why was I so damn irritable? I wanted to work. So I became a Gmail warrior; a princess of pro-activity, productivity and podcasts. But then the goalposts would change, the itch became unscratchable and I longed for something different.

The problem obviously was never my daughter. I loved my time with her. Sure, I had realised that doing full-time childcare was definitely no walk in the park. But what did I want? I just didn’t know- that was the problem. I thought activities would help, but the baby groups were lonely places. Most of the people there seemed to be born friends. I loved meeting up with friends- but what about the long days of headaches and nothingness?

The worst thing that I did was not only to compare myself to other people- but to their social media posts. I knew this was ridiculous and not an accurate depiction of ANYONE’S lives… But I did it anyway. I bought into it all- why did I always lose my patience so quickly? Why couldn’t I have a proper job and be a perfect mother? Why wasn’t I a size 8 yet? Why couldn’t I do yoga in the mornings and eat nothing but chia seeds?

I felt lost- yes. But worst of all, I had been in denial for months. So worried about being branded with a scarlet ‘B’ for bad mum, I didn’t want to admit it even to myself. I was so taken up with ‘defying’ my old foe that I was inadvertently letting it win. It is only now that I am prepared to admit it to myself that things can get better. That’s the great thing- things can now only get better. Sure, I might have bad days but at least I’m prepared to acknowledge it that it isn’t all hunky dory.

I hope this post can inspire others to take the time to think about their feelings; there is nothing wrong with being depressed. Using it as a crutch to lean upon and utilising it as an excuse for everything is. Feelings are never criminal.

First Word Problems πŸŒŽ

First Word Problems πŸŒŽ

You’ve waited a long time. But it’s not what you think it’s going to be..

.It’s been no secret that I have been anticipating the arrival of the first word for a while now. As a first timer, I had no idea what to expect. However, after hearing other babies of the same age piping up, I knew it was on the cards.

I’d been talking to Arielle since birth, but I really upped the ante at 1 when the chance of a word really was lingering on the horizon. I saw potential in any object within reaching distance: cup, shoes, ball… And then the not so cutesy things- remote, table, filofax, council tax… Only joking. But I wasn’t going to rule anything out.

In the park, I’d point to the trees and shout “tree” to spark a response. In Tesco’s I would shout out the names of a variety of objects- putting me in the vulnerable position of looking like a complete and utter weirdo. And I did. Everywhere we went I did this, and all that happened was that I looked like a crazy. Responseless and disillusioned I suspended my efforts. There was no point in trying to force the issue.

It’s an incredibly hot Monday night and after putting Arielle down to sleep, the silence coming from the room means the coast is clear- let the Love Island final commence. After a few minutes, I can hear what can only be described as a stampede of elephants coming from her room. I walk in to Arielle doing laps around her cot. After 20 minutes of deluding myself that she will settle down, I cave in and she joins us for the final. She suddenly runs over the her knitted bear in the corner and says “beh”. Coincidence, I thought. But then she continues to do it a couple more times, each time becoming clearer until we get to…”bear”.

I couldn’t believe it… This is it! Her first word. But why bear? I had no clue. As any mother would be, I was just glad it wasn’t a profanity that got let slip. But bear was quite low down on the list of exposed-to words.

Next thing, bears popped up everywhere. Bears in books, bears in the living room…bears in my coffee. Even if it wasn’t a physical bear, it would still be “beh”. Great, I thought. This is going to be fun…

Memoirs of A Slug

Memoirs of A Slug

I’ve shared my fitness story quite a few times on my blog so I shall not bore you for another second with testimony. But needless to say I have spent weeks and months figuring out how to get myself back in shape since having Arielle.

Every mum as old as time will tell you and it’s pitifully obvious that you can’t just push out a baby and be fit as a fiddle the next day. Unless you’re Kate Middleton, or Kylie Jenner, apparently. Your body has been DESTROYED by an imposter who has eaten up all your nutrients. You are so anaemic that Edward Cullen is proud. Your body is also Area 51. Unidentifiable, but not in the long term.

To try and ‘tackle’ the ‘problem’ I first went to the gym and am now doing various workouts from home. slowly but surely, the weight started to drop off pound by stubborn pound. I never ‘bounced back’ and I’m still the biggest I’ve ever been if I’m honest. Ontop of my regular workouts, I’ve been doing daily press ups and sit ups. I even recovered the old Zumba workouts I used to do on the Wii fit. Thank you, YouTube.

I thought all was well and assumed that because I’d been following reputable fitness channels with reputable workouts that my body was piecing together after delivery day. The jigsaw was not complete; I started to suffer with lower back pain that was sometimes nothing more than a minor nuisance but also worthy of time out at others.

One physio session and 4 NHS sheets of exercises later, I have been told that I am effectively back at square one. Yes I have lost some weight but despite all the strength training I’d been doing, my back had somehow managed to slip away into the ether and escaped conditioning. In basic terms, I had NO BACK MUSCLES. I had somehow managed to neglect them for months. I was a whelk with strong arms and legs.

I suppose the point I’m now trying to make is to not to trust these workouts/fitness channels/influencers too readily. I had followed them religiously and thought that I had been exercising my back muscles significantly. I knew how important it is to work on your back after pregnancy but failed to heed my own advice.

The workouts I was doing kept banging on about the importance of not only working your “show” muscles but also the ones we can’t see ( ie your back) but how did I go from “show” muscles to “no” muscles?!

I now have an arson of more NHS print exercises for me to do, but that is nothing compared the embarrassment that I felt at the appointment when I was told I might as well be an invertabrate.

Here’s to three weeks of printouts…

You Can’t Sit With Us

You Can’t Sit With Us

Picture this: you walk into the canteen and you see the tiny tight-knit clans of people who are all sat in their groups as if clinging to eachother for dear life. There are the goths in one corner, the jocks in the other and the plastics in the centre. You are the Cady Heron but not of North Shore High School – the local baby & toddler group that runs every Tuesday. And now everyone is staring at you.

I’ve always been warned that baby groups can be cliquey and suffice to say that that was one of the BIG reasons why I’d been putting off attending one until my daughter was one. Whoops. But it was only when I went to one did I really experience just how cliquey they can be. You sit down and then all of a sudden mums seem to come out of the woodwork and make a bee line for eachother as if they were born friends (not only their babies). Someone might make the odd comment on the cuteness of your daughter and then resort back to their conversation about how their husband left the Dyson in the wrong place. (Now who’s the b*tchy one).

I never realised how terrifying it is. Baby groups can really feel like a jungle and it can be really brutal. David Attenborough will be only a stone’s throw away mocking you as you skitter away into the corner. You’ll be an un-cute 25-year old Bambi. You might not be dead but will indeed be dying on the inside. Ouch.

In all seriousness, baby groups can be pretty intimidating and what should be remembered is that most of these people individually are nice people. It’s just when they’re altogether that you stand no chance. They might not say “you can’t sit with us” but all social cues might be pointing in that direction.

The best thing you can do, I genuinely believe is to occupy space. I don’t mean in an ‘anonymous’ sort of way but just move beyond it and sit there like that ‘done with life’ type who’s in other corner and for God sake don’t let them make you walk away. You are there for you and your baby. You will find someone like minded eventually.