Triggers

A few weeks ago I listened to the first episode of Fearne Cotton’s podcast, Happy Place. It was an interview with parents-to-be Tom Daley and his husband. They were so excited, so happy, so keen to share stories of shopping for their yet, unborn baby and nursery makeovers and I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed with all the joy and it wasn’t until Fearne said something like (and I can’t go back and listen to the exact words but I promise these are pretty close) How was the scan? Because every single parent is so excited and thrilled when it comes to scans. 

I snapped off my speaker and sat with my feelings for a bit, baffled as to why I’d found it such an annoying listen and suddenly it became so clear why I had been feeling so uncomfortable. It had absolutely nothing to do with the interviewer or interviewees, all of whom I really like. The problem was they were not describing anything I recognised. I struggled with my mental health when I was pregnant and even all these years later, this excited, joyful discussion was so triggering for me.

Instead to being able to just shrug and appreciate someone else’s very different experience, I felt once again that I had failed in some way. I hadn’t felt the way I should when I went to scans, when I carried my children and guilt, shame and jealousy flooded my emotions. I cried some tears for what I felt I’d missed out on, for the first time in years and the relief of acknowledging the trigger and my own feelings was huge. I realised I wasn’t just a grumpy, bitter old cow, who’s first thought had been “What a stupid thing for her to say”.

I am someone who had a different experience and that’s OK. It was about me not them, not you, not anyone else.

It was really quite a shock. I don’t think of that time often, almost never. I once wrote that a miscarriage was like a freckle. It would fade in and out with the sun and no-one else would even notice it, but I would know it was there and most of the time I think that was me being lyrical and over dramatic, but I think I was probably right. My experience of miscarriage and ante-natal depression will stay with me and that’s OK too.

For a much more positive post about Maternal Mental Health week I joined in with my friend Amy and her #whatidgiveanewmum hashtag and I said I would give acceptance. I was really thinking of accepting what your baby needs and making that work, but actually acceptance of ourselves is so important too. Acceptance of our journey to motherhood and the feelings that this still might bring years later is one of the bravest things we can do for ourselves.

This is my experience, it stays with me. It was easier than some experienced, it was harder than others, but none of that is relevant really. It was my experience and it deserves acknowledging sometimes. I am grateful to that podcast, because it made me pause and spend some time sitting with uncomfortable emotions and then let them pass…..until next time.

For anyone who has found this post because they’re having a rough time or for anyone who is new around here, the links in the post will take you to some of my posts that will fill you in on the background. img_6644

Advertisements

It’s not you, it’s me

When I say ‘you’ I don’t actually mean you dear, loyal reader, I mean my phone. That little tablet that sits in my pocket or is always in reach. That eats up the hours, without me even noticing. It’s time for a change.

I’ve been feeling  that my devotion to that little screen has switched from something that enhances and adds to my life, to something that doesn’t really give me pleasure. So, I decided it might be time to do something about it and I got my hands on the latest book about our digital obsession “How to break up with your phone”

Before I go any further, I want to make a few things clear. I am never going to be someone who thinks that social media, the internet and my smartphone are the devil and the phrase ‘digital detox’ make me feel the same way as ‘date night’ and ‘gifted’. In fact I wrote a post a couple of years ago about the horrible judgemental ‘National Unplugging Day‘. I don’t need someone else painting an inaccurate picture of a child hanging off a parents leg, literally begging for  attention. I stand by everything I said in that post. We can’t possibly know how someone’s day has gone or why they are looking at their phone and the internet has been an absolute lifeline for me while at home with small children. You’ll find no judgement from me about how much you or anyone else is using their phone. This technology is all so new and has moved so fast. As a society, we are still feeling our way to how we should be using it, without it harming us and that’s all going to take time.

This is purely about me and not just how much time I spend looking at my phone, but  what I am doing on it. I’m starting to feel like it’s a box of doughnuts. Something I love but that I gorge on and end up feeling a bit sick. No longer is it something I do because I enjoy it, it’s become, and I am just going to plunge in and say it, an addiction that I no longer get pleasure from.

I want to be more mindful of what I am doing. I love looking at Timehop and seeing all the lovely photos and blog posts from years gone by, except now I realise that next year there won’t be anything from this year to look back on. I used to post a photo nearly everyday on Instagram and blog maybe once or twice a week. Now it’s a photo a week on Instagram and as you know, you’re lucky if you get a post on here each month. I miss it. And yet, the time I spend on the internet is as high as ever.

So, I’m breaking up with my phone. Although really that’s not entirely accurate and the title of the book isn’t either. It’s really about having a more balanced, mindful relationship with this stuff and I’m excited about that.

I’ve already started noticing patterns of behaviour. The two times I mindlessly scroll through my phone the most, flitting from one article to another, one social media feed to another is when I am putting off doing boring, house related jobs, so often when I come back into the house from being out and just after the kids have gone to bed, when I just feel a bit burnt out and possibly not sure what I want to do with what’s left of the evening.

The first of these seems harmless in a way. I’m only putting off boring tasks, but those tasks still have to be done and actually an organised and tidy life is important to me, however boring I might find getting it. Also by procrastinating on the boring stuff I must be eating into my own leisure time somewhere and without wishing to sound like a judgmental no screen parenting crusader, if I got all that boring stuff done, I could spend more time playing with my kid, who is off to school in a few short months.

The second example is just plain stupid. I bemoan my short evenings. I want more knitting time, more blogging time, more reading time. I would like to learn to sew clothes and improve my french and do more yoga and instead I stare and scroll for far too long, when I could be doing things I really enjoy so much more.

The programme for breaking up with your phone takes you on a number of small steps to really make you think about why you are picking it up and to be in control of how long for, but it is very clear that this is each individuals journey. I have already hit one sticking point. Week 1 suggest deleting all social media apps and only checking it through your internet browser. This is fine for someone who just looks at social media and doesn’t really post, but one of my aims is to scroll less, but post more and my current favourite, Instagram Stories can’t be done on the browser. So, I need to find a way to have this app on my phone, without it eating all my time. At the moment it is off, so I can have a little break and ponder how I do this.

How do we manage to keep the connections and content we love in our lives, while making sure we have balance? Hopefully, I am about to find out.

The Rollercoaster

People who don’t like talking about women and they biology, look away now!

My period is due. I know this, not only because my cycle diary app tells me so, but because my bones jangle with uncertainty and anxiety that has been building for a week. The older I become, the more wild this rollarcoaster ride, that is my hormones, gets

Just as with so many other things to do with women’s bodies and biology, we just don’t talk about it. I am 43 years old and until last year I had never heard of the peri-menopause, but even without the age issue, our monthly cycle and the huge impact it can have on our lives is a hushed secret, something we must simply style out and hope no-one notices.

The only mention we ever seem to make of it is a self-depricating comment, usually in reference to how awful it must be for those around us to cope with our irrationally foul moods and I am done with that, because this is a real thing and it has a real impact on so many womens lives. It’s not just a GIF with a woman losing her shit, or me and many other women on Insta-stories joking about being ‘hormonal’ with a roll of the eye and a cheeky comment about the Hulk.

It’s real. It’s suddenly feeling you can’t cope, it is feeling that you are failing at everything. It’s not wanting to do anything out of your comfort zone. It’s questioning whether any of your friends really like you and overthinking every interaction you have. And then suddenly, it’s gone again and everything is calm, but you know it will be back.

Imagine for a moment that someone you work with had an on-going problem with their back or some other part of their body. they would mention it. We would be sympathetic. Work would be accommodating. Occasionally, if it was particularly bad they may take a day off. It would be slightly frustrating, but you would probably be understanding of their pain. Imagine if the bad back was replaced with PMS. It’s hard to, right? It’s impossible to imagine because it just never happens. Imagine too, how different soceity’s attitude to periods and the monthly cycle that goes with it, would be if men were the ones who had to experience it. I suspect we would hear much more about it and you can damn well guarantee that sanitary products wouldn’t be classed as a luxury item.

I started paying more attention to my cycle after I’d finished breastfeeding. For nearly 10 years I had either been trying to get pregnant, dealing with the hormonal aftermath of a failed pregnancy, being pregnant or breastfeeding and it wasn’t until all that had finished that I noticed my cycle felt very different ten years on. The blues and even the pain were actually split into two separate times of the month. Once when I was ovulating and again when I was menstruating. (how ironic that when I no longer needed to pinpoint ovulation, I could tell when it was, just by the excruciating pain on one side of my body!) I downloaded a cycle tracker and most of the time it is absolutely spot on, in terms of mood and energy levels.

Having an understanding of our own cycles is really empowering to a point, but what that doesn’t do is make it any more acceptable to say anything about it. I for one, feel hushed, that we mustn’t admit that some days these hormones of ours make us feel like a different person, because that would be a sign of weakness. A sign that being a woman makes us less than a man and certainly more emotional than a man. It’s great to be able to tell yourself that these feelings aren’t really real, but even then, it doesn’t stop them feeling completely real.

As usual in our modern, medicalised society the first thought is to take drugs to balance this all out and I’m not necessarily against this, however, often the side effects are just as bad as the symptoms and perhaps if we could start being more open about our own realities, we would find ways to ease the ride.

We may not have the medical silver bullet and maybe we shouldn’t even be looking for it, but what we definitely be doing is speaking our truth, being honest with ourselves, our friends, our families and especially our daughters. As uncomfortable as it might be, it’s worth it.

emilyandmore loves…..{the hormonal edition}

One of the things I missed most about blogging was being able to share all the things that I am consuming and just had to tell you about. I’ve decided to lump them all in together, so sometimes you’ll get a book, sometimes a bunch of podcasts or even a spotify playlist. This month I’ve been loving all sorts of new things and here are some that you might enjoy too…..

IMG_3346

….watching

For years Mckdad has been telling me to watch Suits. I always nodded politely and said I would, but not now and didn’t think it would be for me. I was so wrong. Aside from the ridiculously tight skirts and dresses that the women wear and the high heels, that are so high they make my feet hurt just to look at them, it is the perfect autumn binge. Sharp, funny and if you don’t fall in love with Harvey Specter just a little bit, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. (and yes I’m talking to my male readers there too). Seven binge worthy seasons are waiting for you on Netflix. Get to it!

….listening

Oh, how would I get through the housework without podcasts? I wouldn’t is the answer. Some come and go, such as The High/Low PodcastI wanted to love it, I really did, but in the end I found the hosts too privileged, too London-centric and if I’m honest, just too young for me. It just didn’t resonate with me. However, I have found the perfect alternative. Fortunately  from the BBC is two of my absolute favourite women on radio, Fi Glover and Jane Garvey (of Woman’s Hour). What started as a podcast about cool stuff they’d heard on the radio, which was obviously another big tick from me, quickly descended into two middle-aged women talking about ‘stuff’. Laughing together, being witty and intelligent and just making me feel like I was having a cuppa with a couple of friends. Now, in Season 2, they’ve added a broadcasting guest each week, starting with the wonderful Shaun Keavney. This podcast is funny and delightful and I listen to it as soon as it’s available. This is my find of the summer.

….app downlowding

Apps have changed our lives and sometimes you find one that makes such a difference, you just have to share. Hormone Horoscope was recommended to me by a Twitter friend, when we were discussing how it is always a shock to us how much our mood is affected by our monthly hormone cycle. After all this time, you would think that I would know that a loss of confidence or a low mood always occurs at the same time in my cycle, usually around ovulation and just before my period, and yet, it is still a constant surprise to me. Hormone Horoscope gives a really detailed explanation as to what is going on with those pesky hormones, both on the good days and the bad days. As ever, knowledge is power and understanding more makes the waves of emotions far more easy to deal with.

….reading

I recently read Graham Norton’s debut novel, Holding and I really enjoyed it. It’s one of those books that is really more about the characters and how they are written than the plot, although I found the plot intriguing too. I just loved the way he drew all his characters, even the minor ones and I just felt I was in this small Irish town and was watching the action in front of me. I found it funny, sad and whimsical and I completely forgot that it was written by someone famous. I think if you can forget the author of a book, as you read, that’s an excellent compliment.

I hope you enjoy this bunch of recommendations. I won’t say monthly batch, because I’m going to stop putting limits on my blog. You might get some more next week, you might have to wait a month. I hope you give some of these a look. Imagine my grabbing your arm over coffee, or in the school playground and telling you that you absolutely must try this, you would love it!

 

Hello, hello

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Hello old friend. It’s been a while, huh? That little blogging break became rather long. My absence wasn’t anything dramatic, just a lack of inspiration and a lack of time. I’ve filled my evenings with lots of knitting, lots of Netflix and too much mindless scrolling. Oh, and becoming completely addicted to Instagram Stories. If you ever wonder where I am, you can probably see me there, talking to the camera and fiddling with my hair while doing so. The summer, of course, is always busy. Routines go out of the window and just when I think I will have more time, I have less.

But, then September arrives and suddenly my thoughts turn to being organised and getting back to the things that make me happy and whilst the odd thought came to me to give up the blog forever, I never seem to be able to and I miss sharing in this space. Fear of judgement set in. I want to share everything here, but there’s always that feeling that I will offend or bore my lovely readers. I heard Brene Brown say, in an interview with Oprah that the bravest thing you can do is share your story and I love that blogging means we can share our stories, however small we may feel those stories may be.

As far as blogging goes, I have made a promise to myself to share whatever I want here. The longer one blogs, the more people in our real life read our thoughts and that can be difficult. It feels too real and I fear that those who see me everyday will read too much into what I share. That they will worry if a post is negative or that I will show a side of myself that isn’ t always on show, but I have chosen to ignore these fears. I want to be free to write whatever is on my mind and the only person stopping me doing that is me. I have missed posts about the children’s birthdays, rants about things I care about and sharing with you the best things I’ve read, listened to and watched. I hope you’ll come back and visit occasionally. I know we all post on social media, but I for one, still love a blog. It’s not dead yet, is it?

The children are all back at school and pre-school and it feels as though Summer is way behind us. All the other seasons seem to creep, but I always feel that Autumn is like a switch being flicked, as soon as the bank holiday is done. Even on sunny days, there is a sudden chill in the air. I woke up on Bank Holiday Monday in a tent, still full in summer mode and yet my mind immediately flicked to budgeting better, writing more, de-cluttering the house and taking care of myself better. The looming new term and the sudden change of season always feel like a new start is needed. It’s amazing how the years of new school years imprint on our minds for the whole of our lives. Autumn seems to be a favourite season for many people and I am looking forward to lighting some candles and snuggling down under blankets, but I can’t help feeling sad that Autumn will soon slide into winter and the darkness isn’t something I look forward to. I love the light and the sun and the winter seems to go on too long.

I’ll leave you with a few photographic highlights of our summer. It went in a blur, as it always does. Our first foreign holiday for six years, lots of camping, juggling work and keeping three kids occupied for six weeks. It was fun and it was over too fast, but a part of me is looking forward to the routine that September brings.

Photo 29-07-2017, 11 46 46Photo 28-08-2017, 09 36 31Processed with VSCO with a5 presetPhoto 04-08-2017, 11 33 43Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

It’s great to be back. I’d love to know if anyone’s still out there, so please do say hi, anywhere you find me on the internet and I’m nearly always on the internet!

 

 

Me and Mine {March 2017}

I especially love Mini Mck on this one. That kid really doesn’t know how cool he is.

Oh, my poor neglected blog! I feel I am having to blow the dust of it and wade through cobwebs just to get here. I hope you’re up for a bit of a ramble today, because that’s usually what comes after a bloggy break. 

I’m not sure why my writing inspiration seems to have left me. It starts with a busy week and then a lack of ideas, then I find I am too distracted with other things, mostly a knitting project if I’m honest. It’s very easy for a craft project to become like a boxset sometimes, I find I can do little else. Then, after the blogging habit has left me for a while, I find myself becoming disenchanted with the whole thing, wondering if I have anything I really want to say, or anything that people really want to hear and engage with and the final stage is where I start to compare myself to everything that is going on around me and not in a good way. 

As with many things, writing a blog is a habit that I perhaps just need to pick up again. A little every day to keep the muscles working I guess. I haven’t quite found the right time for it. I have been making a real effort this year for us to live in a cleaner, tidier space and I find that Lady Mck’s shorter nap time is taken up by boring chores and lunch. I’ve also been trying to go to bed earlier and that shortens my evening somewhat. I’ve taken to often getting up before 6am, purely to start my day with a little peace and quiet, but this means I want to go to sleep earlier. I’m envious of people who don’t need much sleep. I feel as if I’m the only one who really needs eight hours, or maybe everyone else is simply walking around being very tired. I imagine everyone else putting their kids to bed, doing a little blogging or work, watching TV with their partner and still reading and winding down before bed. I barely have time for an hour of TV and a few pages of my book! 

March was bookended by a birthday for my youngest and Mother’s Day. It felt as if it went by just as quickly as short little February. In the middle Mckdad had a weekend away for a school residential trip. These have been a feature nearly every year and so I’ve got used to them with small children, whilst also dreading them. This year felt so different. So much easier than previous years. I real indication that they are all growing up. It helps that my eldest can now put my youngest to bed and it was so sweet that he happily did so on the Saturday night and that she happily let him. He read her stories, tucked her in, had a cuddle on the bed and sang her songs and then they said their good nights and he came upstairs for his own bedtime story. The big difference when you’re flying solo, I find is how ‘on my game’ I have to be. Organised, always thinking ahead, tidying up as I go, because I know I’ll only have to do it later. That’s the tiring bit and it always makes me tip my hat to those that parent alone al the time. 

I’m really not a fan of winter and the darkness that comes with it, so it’s been such a tonic to have some nicer weather and lighter evenings. I’ve started being much more routines about which evenings the kids can watch TV. We are finding that Nano, in particular responds much better to a routines and so Tuesdays and Thursdays are now no TV days. I’ve been letting them play on the school field and then when we finally do return home, they carry on in the garden. It really makes life so much easier to not be cooped up inside.  Lady Mck got her, much longer for, scooter for her birthday, pink of course and she wants to be on it all the time.  She’s pretty nifty on it too!


Lady Mck’s birthday was a school day, so not much opportunity to take photos of us all together, so Mother’s Day was the perfect excuse to get my family to do what I wanted and my only Mother’s Day request was to go out and take some shots. We were treated to a beautiful sunny day and a clock change, which meant everywhere was quiet. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. We are so lucky to live where we do. We can travel a little and be at the coast or in the middle of a forest or farmland in a sort amount of time, but this month I wanted to capture our more urban setting.  Norwich is such a great place to live and there are loads of great places to take photos, included a car park surrounded by gravity walls. It’s not in the middle of the city and so is quiet enough on a Sunday Morning for us to have it almost to ourselves. 



As ever, not all of the family stuck with the plan, at all times, but with the promise of a trip to the nearby playground and the added bonus of an abandoned shopping trolley, we managed to get some really good photos. I really do love them.  (a photo shoot in a city car park isn’t really complete without a shopping trolley!) 

So, that’s our March. It’s been lovely to be back here and I promise not to leave it so long next time.

 This post is linked up with the Me and Mine project – hosted by Dear Beautiful, Bump to Baby, Capture By Lucy, Let’s Talk Mommy, Mummy Daddy Me, Our Life As We See It and Tigerlilly Quinn – where you take a photograph a month of your family all together.

emilyandmore reads….and more {January}

A strange thing has happened over the last year. My brain has shifted and once again made space for things. I feel as though my baby brain has lasted for eight years and as my littlest shifted from baby to toddler I suddenly found that I have the urge to read and watch films that are more than fluff, to immerse myself in challenging listening, reading and watching and to learn new skills or pick up old ones. That is perhaps a blog post in itself, a theme of which I am sure I will return. 

For now I wanted to start recording what I am actually reading, partly because I found myself  not being able to remember a book I read last year and had LOVED. Some of my favourite bloggers already write about what they are reading. Try Laura, Sarah and Hayley for some great reading ideas. I also thought that because I just don’t have time to re-read the stuff I love, but want to tell you about them, I am going to choose ‘One from the shelf’ as well as my current reads. 

My first book in January was Marian Keyes The Mystery of Mercy Close. I haven’t read Marian Keyes for years, so have lots of catching up to do. She is so funny and gets the detail of life perfectly captured. Just for the record I hate the term ‘Chick Lit’ and just won’t be using it here. It suggests a book is somehow less than that written for men. If a book has romance, humour and is about human relationships, it doesn’t mean it is any less well written, just because there may be some pink on the cover. This book is a perfect example of this. It was much darker than I expected, covering depression and suicide, but in no way was it a difficult read. It stayed with me after I’d finished it. Gallows humour at it’s best 

My second book in January and I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to have finished two books in one month, was Rainbow Rowell  Attachments. I first read Rainbow Rowell last year with Fangirl, which by the way was the book I loved, so when I saw this in the library I snatched it up. It took me a while to settle into this book, much of it is written as a series of emails, but as I got through the book it really started to get under my skin. Lots of things resonated with me and I loved that, for me, the main character was Lincoln, a man and I loved following his journey. Utterly romantic in a Brief Encounter/Sleepless in Seattle way. By the end I couldn’t put it down. 

‘One from the shelf’ this month is Persausion by Jane Austen. I am a complete Austen fan and find her books totally re-readable. This one is perhaps less well known and has sneaked up on me as a bit of a favourite. Anne Elliot is my favourite Austen heroine, being less full of her than Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Wodehouse. I would always urge anyone who hasn’t read Austen to give her a try. Her books are so readable and the humour in them is lovely. 

Incidentally, I thought I’d include other culture recommendations in this post and my latest find on Netflix is another Austen classic Amongst all the new ‘must see’ binge watch box sets, you will find the BBC adaption of Emma, another Jane Austen classic. This one has Jonny Lee Miller as the hero and it was all the press around T2 Trainspotting that made me remember it. It is the perfect thing for a February evening when you have a nasty cold, as I have had this week. 

Do you have any book recommendations for me? At two a month, I’m going to need a ‘to read’ list. What’s been staying with you recently?

Happy New Year

Hello friends! I hope you’ve had a lovely festive time, however you choose to celebrate and for those of you that don’t love Christmas, I hope at least you’ve had some restful days in this in between, nothing happening week. 

I wanted to just pop in and share our plans for New Year. I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Always so busy and expensive to go out and since having children I struggle to make it to midnight, preferring instead to enjoy the early morning on January 1st, which frankly I’m going to get anyway, with three early rising small children in the house. The last time we had a grown up celebration was when we all de-camped to friends for a few days and I was pregnant with Lady Mck. I think the fact that I knew there would be no hangover and the shared parenting duties that you get when you team up with other adults, made the late night more bearable. Plus, some friends are worth the tiredness. 

However, the last couple of years we have started to build our own, child-friendly New Year Celebration and this year the children remembered and asked for it. We will collect Fish & Chips and eat by candlelight. Dan and I will open something bubbly, the kids will have lemonade from plastic champagne flutes and conversation will no doubt turn to all the things that have happened to our family this year. (Which I will totally harvest for a blogpost in the next few days!) I know that there will be plenty of opportunity for seeing in the New Year in the future, when we are less tired, but for now letting go of the pressure to stay up late and finding our own way of celebrating has been so liberating. 


So, whatever you are doing tonight, I wish you a very happy evening and hope you all have a fabulous 2017. I want to thank you for popping in to read my words this year, it really does mean so much that you give me some of your precious time. I know I am not the most reliable blogger and I hope to be more so next year. Have a good one!

A festive pause

Hello friends! How are you all? Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you opened the After Eights and the Baileys yet? Or if you’re in our house, the Aldi equivalent, because, frankly you can’t beat an Aldi rip off, especially at Christmas. This pre-Christmas is frantic, no? Keeping the magic of Christmas alive is hard, but good work. I hope your lists are getting crossed and you are managing some rest in between the madness. 

If you follow my Instagram feed, you will know that I love living in my city and this year Norwich has really excelled itself with it’s festive lights. Moving pictures projected onto the side of the castle, the usual, but lovely clusters of lights in the trees and perhaps most impressive the Tunnel of Light. It’s just crying out to be photographed, but the hoards of people, not so much. 

I mentioned on my quickly snapped photo that I posted, that I was tempted to get up while it was dark and quiet to take photos, but that I probably wouldn’t. Encouraged by Kat, who knows her Instagram stuff, I started to wonder why I was reluctant to get up for an early photo shoot. I’m awake anyway, thanks to my children and I realised the main reason was worrying what people would think and that’s not a good enough reason. I also realised that Instagram or not, I wanted to see it with no people in it.

So, I persuaded Mini Mck to join me and we left the house just after six. I love the city when it’s deserted and we had a lovely time, both taking photos and running through the tunnel, with only the odd delivery van or early morning worker for company. 

This time of year is so busy, so many lists and things to be done by a certain time. It’s important to take a pause every now and again. The boys carol concert at the Catherdral is one of those moments for me and baking mince pies and sausage rolls in our warm and cosy kitchen is another. I never realised that leaving the house in the dark with my boy and my camera would be another, but it was. The cold morning air, the quiet city and the twinkly lights were the perfect start to the day. 






I want to take this opportunity to with you all a healthy and happy festive season, whatever you may be doing. I hope you all get some rest and lots of lovely time with those you love. I am sure that  Father Christmas will treat you well. I know you’ve all been good this year…..

Mum Burnout

I am staring at the cursor, blinking in the top left of the screen. A blank page to fill. When is it right to share the real, not so pretty stuff on a blog? Is it ever right? For me, it is when not sharing feels inauthentic. You don’t come here for a picture perfect life, you come for a real portrayal of life and I imagine, of motherhood, in particular. I have other posts I could finish off and publish and they will come, but when I find something is stopping me, I know it’s time to write whatever my fingers type. 

Do you ever feel that this should all be so much easier? That you should be doing it all better and enjoying it more? When does it get easier? I thought once the baby days were done it would become more manageable, but at the moment I am finding it harder, I think, than even those sleep-deprived hazy days. Perhaps it’s the expectation that it should be easier that makes it harder. When you have babies, just getting out of the house on time and with everyone in the right clothes is a cause for celebration and a good day tick earned. Maybe it’s that juggling the needs of a 7,5 and 2 year old is actually just as challenging, as juggling those of a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a newborn, if not harder. Perhaps it’s just the lack of balance for such a long time. The seven years of making snacks, mopping up spills, arguing about clean teeth and coats and what’s for dinner. Perhaps it’s tidying the kitchen everyday, folding endless loads of washing or trying to stop your car becoming a toy cupboard/rubbish bin and failing. I suspect it’s all of that, plus, and perhaps this is most important, giving so much of yourself, everyday and not even knowing if you’re doing it right. Overthinking it all or getting to grips with it all, only to have it all change on you, in the blink of an eye. 

Over the past few weeks (months?) I’ve noticed how short-tempered I am. Running on my emotions too much, in a house of small people, who are designed to live on their emotions too. And then a couple of weeks ago, it hit me. I looked in the mirror after the kids had gone to bed and thought “ I look knackered. When will I ever not look knackered?!” Mostly, I get plenty of sleep, aside from the odd disturbance for a child’s nightmare or a wet bed, we sleep all night and I realised it’s not really that kind of tiredness. It’s weariness. It’s burn out. On the same evening this blog was shared to facebook and it stopped me in my tracks. It was like she was speaking to me and the relief that this is how it is was overwhelming. 
A google search later and of course, Mum burnout is a thing that everyone else seems to know about. I just thought I was failing at it all. I’m not, I’m just burnt out. The extra to-dos of the festive season have taken it up a notch and my complete lack of enthusiasm for it all, in stark contrast to last year, show that things are a little off. It occurred to me today that I have felt more festive when pregnant or with a tiny baby or in the middle of a very long and expensive loft conversion. This year, it all just feels like a huge drag. I am hoping that the introduction of mulled booze and mince pies will rectify this, but they won’t if I don’t write some cards and wrap some presents too. 
So, what next? Well, I’m a bit of ‘this is how it is. Suck it up and get on with it’ type of person and I stand by that. It is what it is. My children are still quite young and take a lot of hard work and it’s not even that I am wishing it were over. Strangely, the last few months have had lots of moments that make me want to freeze time. They are all at such awesome ages and I can see their brains exploding, in very different ways, but all seem to be in a time of huge growth and I love it. 

However, I know that just sucking it up and ploughing on won’t be enough on it’s own. Even if I do find that by just acknowledging how I feel is often enough to help. Do you find that? I am a big proponent of ‘feeling what we feel’ and just sitting with it for a while. 
How do you prevent or recover from ‘Mum Burnout’? I’m thinking working on that elusive balance. A little more taking it easy on myself. A little less heaping on the guilt and pressure. Lots of early nights and things that make me happy, that ‘fill my cup’ How about you?