A Different Sort of Mothers Day ðŸ¥€

A Different Sort of Mothers Day ðŸ¥€

So it’s almost been a full week since we’ve been in social ‘lockdown’ and we are probably all a few pounds heavier and have a few brain cells fewer for it. I’ve exhausted myself, probably everyone else in the household, with particular attention to my poor debit card.

The hardest thing so far has not been being all couped up together, but the general change of routine. Not being able to visit my own mum, and not have the freedom to do the things we usually do in the day is devastating. It’s mad to wake up everyday and think that I’m not able to set foot into even the local Tesco to get a pint of milk, and have to stay away from people at all costs. Even my own family. The worst part is, we have no idea for how long.

The cherry on the cake is that it’s Mother’s Day today. If I could just postpone it to another time maybe six months down the line where we’re not living under house arrest then all would be fine… But I have no control over national holidays, nor am I American. In 26 years, this will be the first Mother’s Day where I will not see my mum, and if I’m honest it completely sucks. For me and the hundreds and thousands of other people that don’t want to take any chances.

It would be a lie if I said that today isn’t a reminder that I feel like a failure. I know that I am obviously doing what’s best for all of us in the long run by keeping us away from normal life and the ‘outside world’, but a 2 year old doesn’t understand that. I cannot reason with a toddler, the answers aren’t simple enough for her to comprehend. She knows we’re not going out as much or making our regular trips and I can see she is clearly frustrated. The tantrums are becoming more frequent and explosive, and I can only hope that we all get used to this way of living.

I was looking forward to spending my second trimester doing lots of things with my daughter, before the exhausting bit of pregnancy took hold. I guess now I can look forward to spending all of that under one roof with the space we live in getting smaller as I progressively swell like a huge balloon. Oh well.

This whole thing is also making it pretty difficult to prepare for a new baby. I’m constantly worrying about what might happen, or if my baby will be okay. With this being my second pregnancy, naturally I have not paid as much attention to the actual pregnancy as I did with my first. That, I have learnt is an unspoken given. With this thrown into the mix, it could be easy to completely forget that we have another one on the way. That is a sad thought. The world is a scary place right now and I have so many questions. How the HELL am I supposed to prepare for a baby when it feels like I’m stuck in a recurring nightmare…

So here I am on the evening of Mother’s Day. Somehow I am exhausted, my hands look like E.T- if he was sunburnt and I am crippled with antenatal angst and anxiety. It would be a lie to say that things aren’t 50 shades of crap right now, but I’m sure that lockdown will teach us a few things and help us to appreciate our immediate family a little more. At least I hope.

Malala, Greta, Rosa and err………me?? ♀️

Malala, Greta, Rosa and err………me?? ♀️

With International Women’s Day been and gone, I’ve been left thinking about my own role in all of this.

If I’m going to be real, it’s fairly obvious I am by no means an inspirational person- in fact, I am staggeringly average. By the age of 13, my strong point was probably answering back and wearing black 7 days a week. I certainly wasn’t putting the world to rights like Greta Thunberg. But my role is still important.

Being a parent means that I have a crucial role in shaping my daughter’s life. From the minute you give birth, that clock starts ticking and everything you do will influence your child however big or small. If I do an okay job, I have confidence that Arielle will grow up with little more than teen angst and an apathy towards her parents. If I mess up, my actions could have profound consequences on her future life. But this mustn’t be taken for granted.

A few years ago, I did what I want when I wanted to. I spent most, if not all of my money entirely on myself and going out. My biggest problems were probably who said what to who at the Student Union bar after a boozy night and the only thing that kept me up at night were the mounting essays. I was ‘young’ when I found out I was pregnant, but that didn’t mean that I could stay acting like a complete party head.

I had to effectively ‘snap out of it’ and spent 9 months preparing myself for the scary, scary world of parenting. Almost two years later, and I have an extremely healthy diva of a toddler who knows what she wants and when she wants it. I’m not in ANY way taking the credit for this, the point that I’m making is that being a role model starts starts at home. It doesn’t mean having to be First Lady or the first female astronaut. Being a good role model as a mother is gold- and figureheads are nothing in relation to this.

I am also not calling myself Mother Theresa. I am loud, sassy and was once described as a ‘Rottweiler’. I have had MANY mental health struggles and setbacks of some sort. But hey, I’m still here and I’m trying my best… And that’s good enough. I have days where CBeebies is on for waaay too long and I’m losing my shit somewhere in the background, and others where I’m completely hands on. I’m sure Jo Frost won’t be proud.

But I can safely say that I am a better person now… Simply because I had to take a good, hard look at myself when my daughter was born. Things like a negative outlook, a lack of responsibility for our actions and bitterness are all a goner. Obviously these things don’t make you a bad person but they really are toxic for children and that’s something I didn’t want for my daughter.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the drama but also monotony of everyday life and slip into habits. Sometimes you do just have to check yourself. There have been times where I’ve caught myself unnecessarily bitching about someone and have had to think… Is this what I want my daughter to learn from? Being a ‘good person’ doesn’t come naturally to me, but I sure have to make a good go of it while staying true to myself.

By aspiring to be a good role model, I hope to teach Arielle some key things about life. In a world filled with uncertainty and mounting pressures, I want my her to feel like the world is full of possibilities for her and that there is always hope. I won’t however kid her into thinking it’s a perfect place. I don’t want her to become caught up in league tables and numbers, but I equally do want her to have aspirations- however big or small. What I want above all else is for her to be comfortable in her own skin- one of my biggest achievements after many years . In whatever she wants to do, I want her to occupy her space and that is something that I hope I can instill in her.

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.

Valentine’s Day: A day like every other

Valentine’s Day: A day like every other

Picture this: you are walking into a forest clearing. The weather is gorgeous and the leaves around you are a beautiful green colour. Up ahead the sun is roughly the same size as the moon shots in love island- suddenly you hear a crack. Except it’s not a crack, it’s the sound of your partner’s disgust as reality bursts into your dream.

“Arielle has peed the bed” he says with disgust. “It’s all over my back”. Great.

Not only has my dream been shattered to pieces, but I will now have to spend the next however long running after a damp toddler and after that, disinfecting half of our possessions. It’s Friday, and not only that it’s Valentine’s Day. I could be upset that was woken with a profanity rather than roses, and that the first thing I had to do that morning was clear up piss rather than prosecco (forgetting I’m pregnant)… Neither of us would exchange cards and presents until the end of the day. But did any of this bother me? Not in the slightest.

Being a parent in itself completely clashes with all the fundamentals of ‘valentines Day’. There is nothing sexy or glamorous about co-parenting. Cleaning poo off the carpet is not at all sensational. Valentine’s Day requires the very opposite: romance and grand gestures and probably clean carpets.

It could be sad to look back and think about how different your relationship was pre-children…when there was time to focus on the both of us as a couple. After the initial elation of having a tiny baby that was ours, reality set in like a bullet to the eye and times could be tough. There were arguments, dismal discussions, banal decisions and we realised that love and our relationship takes hard work like it never did before.

In the evening, we exchanged our presents and cards and ate a fabulous M&S meal that my partner bought back for us. There were no surprise engagements or last-minute long weekends, just a toddler arranging Playmobil animals on the TV stand while we ate. Would I change a thing? No.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t really be all about romance because when you really love someone, romance can sometimes be dead. It should really be about friendship above all else and binge watching your latest TV fix into the early hours of the morning (and feeling crap the next day). Sometimes it’s more about “oh crap, we’re still here together” rather than Shakespearean sonnets and the moon and stars and all that.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels
Hey you…

Hey you…

Hey you, so it’s been a while. No, this isn’t Joe Goldberg from you. It’s me.

It’s literally been two months of me putting my fingers to the keyboard before shamefully pressing delete, over and over. It would be justifiable to say that it has been nail-bitingly hard to not take to WordPress when times have been difficult. It has all been for a good reason, however.

… I am now 14 weeks pregnant and am starting to feel the heavy cloud that is the first trimester slowly lift away. It would be generous to say that I feel ‘great’; I am certainly not glowing. My skin is pasty and sallow- I look like I’ve never seen a glass of water in my life.

I was lucky not to get crippling sickness- I have felt sick but it hasn’t been everyday and there is certainly no bones about me not being able to keep down food. I have also ruled myself out of normal life for the past few weeks because of general weakness and heart palpitations caused by ‘inappropriate’ Tachycardia. Not rare but equally not nice.

What has really shackled me for the last few months has been what can only be described as a constant ‘black cloud’ hanging over me, as well as the persistent droning of the next anxiety attack. After having children, it is so easy to forget how vulnerable and anxious you can feel in the first weeks of pregnancy. I became a sort of ‘google recluse’, relying on Google to reassure all of my worries- big and small.

The one big worry that plays on the minds the most of those expecting is the fear of miscarriage. For me, the fear quickly became irrational. I found myself going on websites that promised you reliable ‘miscarriage risk statistics’ based on your ‘risk factors’. You would enter your gestation, age, height etc and you would be ‘2%’ better off than the day before.

The big problem with this is that it’s not at all based on reality. Sadly women of all ages experience miscarriage regardless of any number that is put up onto a website from 2005. I had read so many thread on different parenting forums that seemed to stick miscarriage on the end as a consequence of everything: eating too much- miscarriage (yup, you heard it), exercise- miscarriage, eating deli meat- you guess. People claimed to have miscarried from sex and some of the stories We’re undeniably heartbreaking.

After getting sick of Google getting infecting my brain, my partner banned me from looking things up online. I was free. Don’t get me wrong, I was still teaming with anxieties but it sure took the edge off of it. I forgot about it and started worrying about eating too much cheese and overstimulating my toddler before bedtime rather than things that were out of my control.

I can’t speak for the future, but for now I have been so lucky that my scan revealed nothing but a healthy baby. For so many women though, this is not always the case and they really are in my heart. It’s painful to realise but the bottom line is that things that can go wrong in the first trimester are 99% out of our control, and it gives us an illusion of control if we try to attach causes to things like miscarriage; “you shouldn’t have gone to that body pump class”. Statistically though, most MCs are caused by chromosomal problems- something that is isn’t within the simplistic boundaries of ‘risk factors’. In trying to explain this to an extremely anxious me at 8 weeks, my midwife told me that building a baby is like trying to build a perfect car- not so easy.

I’m sure every person who is TTC, pregnant and indeed a parent can relate to this vulnerability. But it makes it all the better when you get to the other side, which most of us will.

Keeping it in Your Wallet ðŸ‘›

Keeping it in Your Wallet ðŸ‘›

So it’s that time of year already. With festive season just a little more than a stone throw away, it’s the time to start your Christmas hustle- and to destroy your bank account in the process. Most of us won’t go unscathed by the Christmas shopping dragon, but you don’t have to feel the BURN. The secret? Cheaping out. But this doesn’t just apply to the festive season- it’s actually an all-year round philosophy. It’s a way of life.

A few years back, I managed to tank my credit score to a socially unacceptable level- I overspent in practically every area and lived WAY over my means. Since then, I have made it my mission to scrimp and save. I saved thousands during university and this eventually helped pay towards my maternity leave and the costs of having a child.

Now as a mother, I really feel the burn . But it’s not just my daughter burning a hole in my pocket- it’s rising bills, prescriptions and other hidden costs that just love to jump out and shout ‘BOO’ whenever they can, even though Halloween has been and gone. Here are some ideas to keep your financials in the 100.

1. Shop around

If You’re impatient, you could land yourself with one hell of a hefty transaction leaving your bank account. I recently bought a storage cube unit (riveting, I know) from B&M and could have paid double elsewhere if I wasn’t careful.

2. Charity Shop Haul

People get very funny about this one. ‘being proud’ can be the most damaging thing; not just to your bank account but as a way of thinking. Some charity shops are better than others, you don’t have to look like Beryl in the ’70s. You just need to look carefully. Top tip: go to a charity shop in a ‘better’ area. You might find some hidden gems- especially when it comes to toys and kids’ books. Just give them a good wash.

3. Don’t be a brand brat

If you have a thing for brands then you might land yourself in a rather big, chanel- shaped ditch. Buying own brand nappies can save you a small fortune. This also applies to clothes by the way. Brands for you is an investment if you’re into that sort of thing. Dressing your small person in brands is the same as throwing money down a well. End of.

4. Save up

Want something specific? Save up. This doesn’t have to be in lump sums- we’re not rich. This is as and when. It could take a while but you will get there. Alternatively, think about ditching your daily sugar fix or your hardcore coffee habit. Micro saving is also quite cool. Get yourself a pot and put in any loose change and it can pay for all sorts of funky things.

5. Make festive/birthday list

Make a list of things you think your child could benefit from from for celebrations. This is a great way to get help with things for your child and reduce waste. Don’t be afraid to ask for clothes!

6. Get on social media

There are tonnes of groups in which people sell their things for no cost or next to nothing. Be tech-savvy , get clicking and see what you can get. This can be great for clothes, toys, household appliances and storage.

7. Think about your buggy

Would a range rover style pram be the best and most practical option? Think about heaving that huge ass thing all over transport and in the boot of the car. So many people I know have ditched their fancy pram for a lightweight affordable option on Argos. You could save yourself thousands.

8. Alternative shops

This is my favourite one. There are plenty of trendy apps/sites out there that sell near new or brand new and unworn clothes without tags. You can spend a quarter of the price someone else has paid and no one will know. You might not be dripping in finesse but you’ll look decent and have a healthy bank balance.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t let your debit card go for a slippery sleigh ride this Christmas. Being ‘proud’ can be so damaging. When things are tight financially it is important to remind yourself what’s important. Showering your kids (and you) with love is so very important- showering them with expense isn’t.