We Need To Talk 🛸

We Need To Talk 🛸

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.

Toddler vs Football: Surviving the First Game ⚽👶

Toddler vs Football: Surviving the First Game ⚽👶

You’ve been trying to ignore the other woman for a while, but now your partner wants your toddler to get to know that other love of his life… Football.

If your partner is a fan of the footie then you know how it is. If you yourself are a fan of the game too then good on you, that’s so great. But if you’re anything like me, then you probably have an ‘arrangement’. This ‘arrangement’ consists of allowing your partner to watch some of the games he wants. Though I’ve had to go one step further than this and limit it to strictly three games a week. This is simply because if there is a group of men, a ball and a grass pitch on a screen, then my partner will sure as hell be in front of it.

There then comes the time when your partner wants to go one step further and watch a game at [one of] his football club[s]. Great, I said… Except he wants to take our Duracell bunny of a daughter.

I wasn’t about to stop him but instead I anxiously awaited what was about to happen: an afternoon of hell. With no prams allowed, Arielle would be running around the stadium and pushing to play on the pitch. She would then freak out everytime the crowd became a little excited and we would come home looking like a pair of Edina Monsoons after a night out.

When it came down to it, we grabbed the reins (so she couldn’t go AWOL), and I anxiously searched for a pair of ear defenders in the club shop… And there were none. Fab start. At kick off she was smiling and happy – she saw the crowd clap and joined in. I started to think I’d given my partner a headache for no reason. I shuddered at the thought of his head turning with that silly look on his face as he said those loathsome words, “I told you so”.

But for better or worse, it wasn’t so. Within minutes of this, a goal was scored by the home team. The crowd went wild, but Arielle lost her s***. She started howling as fans all around celebrated. I face palmed. Then I face palmed again two minutes later… And then it all got too much.

Suddenly it was half time…Funnily enough, I had no recollection of the entire first half- like some sort of black out, yet I’d had not one drop to drink. Instead, my toddler had guzzled up all of my consciousness in a kind of attention Dyson; all of my energy was sucked out of me.

By the second half, I started to look the part of an extra on Absolutely Fabulous; my hair was all over the place and the sunglasses managed to secure themselves as a permanent fixture on my face. I was a mess. Arielle seemed to have more energy then ever, and when she wasn’t trying to run away, she was upset by the inconvenience of the seating.

By the end of the game, we were both exhausted. But it wasn’t all gloom- the atmosphere was fabulous and everyone was really accomodating. Despite our mishaps. The game might have been a rollercoaster of emotion for us but we’d still somehow managed to have fun- even if I’d managed to absorb none of the actual match.

Luckily for me, my partner has decided that football and toddlers don’t mix; she’ll have to be quite a bit older for the next game. For now, I can rest assured that football will be limited to the TV screens.

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…

Crashing head-first into The Glass Door

Crashing head-first into The Glass Door

Away with the glass ceiling, trying to get a foot in the door is hard enough when there are no affordable options for childcare.

In early March I quit the Teacher Training course I was pursuing just before the start of the third term. It might’ve been perceived as a rash decision but ultimately student finance were not prepared to help with childcare and the course were unwilling to implement any changes that would make the last term tenable for a parent with an 11 month old baby. I quit because I received my itinerary and thought how the **** is being a parent of a young child meant to fit in with all this . Maybe they were right when they told me that I would have to make a ‘choice’.

I love spending all my time with my daughter but fuzzy days filled with Bing, Mr Tumble and a truck load of nappies will not last forever, and I will want to reboot my career at some point in the future. I’ve been making small steps to get a foot in the door but instead I’m smacking head first into the glass, faced with the prospect of paying at least £1300 pcm of childcare.

I thought I’d look into government schemes to help with the costs of daycare. The results were underwhelming to say the least. As someone who is starting out, it would be fair to say I would be stuck on a fairly frugal wage. Therefore ‘up to’ £2,000 pa of tax free childcare probably wouldn’t be enough to justify working. I then looked into Universal Credit and Will from Basildon (not real name) told me that because of the way my partner got paid I would end up getting help with childcare every two months – they were clear they could not assist me with the months in-between.

After ploughing through all my ‘options’ I was limited to shift work on the weekend or anti social hours. This could be little more than a means to an end and certainly wouldn’t help me get a foot on the ladder. With a government so obsessed with getting people ‘back to work’ this was surprising . I was finding myself smacking head-first into a glass door, forget the glass ceiling!

The fact of the matter is is that until childcare becomes more affordable or there are more schemes in place for women like me then many of us will end up as statistics. Stuck outside the opportunities turnstile. For now, I will continue my search with Lala and Po in tow.

Why I quit

Why I quit

For the first time I’m sitting in my living room in a strange but quiet mental place, despite the endless drone of a thousand vtech toys. I no longer have that sharp ringing in my ears, the light spots in my vision are history and I am no longer dreading the next four months of my life.

I chose to quit the last term of my PGCE. I know, that’s mad, crazy – what a waste! blah blah blah. I could have stuck it out and near killed myself with exhaustion, not been there for my daughter or my fiance but I just couldn’t do it. I have spent the last two months fighting to finish something that I have totally fallen out of love with. After the deceptive campaign that states childcare will be covered, I learnt that I’d have to fund full time childcare myself. I wasn’t allowed to go part time so my daughter would have to go from being totally in my care to nursery for five full days a week and I had to fight to get any financial help. All just to cover my basic costs. At one point I was actually told that I would have to make a choice between my daughter and the course and so I chose my daughter. I even had to get my MP involved, and I am truly grateful for his help. It doesn’t take Einstein to know that there is a massive shortage of teachers in the UK. You would think that they would want to make the prospect of training to teach attractive to students (which they do with the bursaries for secondary) but if you’re a primary student with children then you are faced with a ‘choice’. It’s a hypocritical system where you are taught of the importance of close contact with your children yet you don’t have time to practice it. If you are a believer in the theories of childhood studies like me then there is no hope for you as an ‘outstanding’ practitioner.

I decided a while back that I didn’t want to do my NQT year next year and I have been pushing it back a little further everyday since. I love teaching children but for me the spell has worn off. After a morning of calls and emails to various departments I sit here a stone lighter without the weight of the course on my shoulders and so much happier. I don’t know what the future will bring but I guess I’ll just have to go with whatever it throws at me