I’m blessed but I’m also stressed.

Our Little Miss is almost 17 months now. She can take lots of steps (I think 8 steps is the most we’ve seen so far) independently but seems to be choosing not to walk at this point. I remember with my Big Lad that he still wasn’t walking at 18 months and I remember crying on a not-so-sympathetic Health Visitor’s shoulder, seriously wondering whether he would EVER walk. I’m quietly confident this time round that she will in fact learn to walk. I’m just sitting tight and letting her do it in her own sweet time.

So, it’s not her development that is getting me stressed out. It is her health. I know she didn’t have the best of starts to life (see post here) and to this day I still feel guilt about that, but Doctors are saying that her consistently poor health has nothing to do with her neonatal drug dependance. She is just constantly poorly. When I say ‘it’s been one thing after another’, I genuinely mean it’s been one thing after another. She had a very bad case of Bronchilitis at 8 weeks old and since then she seems to have been constantly poorly. It could be a virus one week, a chest infection two weeks later, hand, foot and mouth two weeks after that, infected eczema the week after – you get the gist. The Paediatrician puts her recurring chest issues down to the Bronchilitis and says it could be a long time for the coughing and wheezing to resolve. As for the rest, there really isn’t any sort of explanation at the moment. I don’t mind admitting though that it is starting to get me down.

Little Miss is a blessing. Both my beautiful children are. In every which way, they are a blessing. Little Miss has had a rough time of it though. She brings us so much joy and she is such a happy-go-lucky little girl with a (usually) placid nature and she always offers a smile. The fact that she is usually so happy ordinarily, makes it hard when she is poorly and withdrawn, quiet and lethargic. She usually has so much energy and character.

I am so grateful that she is healthy. During my pregnancy my husband and I had to face the grim reality that she may not have been born healthy. I know what that fear felt like and when she was born squawking and wriggling about like any other healthy newborn, it felt like all our prayers had been answered. I know that there are so many gravely ill children around the world and I am in no way comparing a few viral infections to families facing those sort of challenges. I know we are lucky; we are so incredibly blessed. But seeing her under the weather constantly is difficult. Seeing her frown more than that ‘light-up-the-world’ smile, hurts. The constant laundry marathon of vomited on sheets and blankets is tiring. The disturbed sleep night after night is exhausting. The ‘she’s too poorly to go to nursery but I need to work, what am I going to do?’ panic is stressful. The fact that one of her first words was ‘Doctor’ was a little bit sad.

When she’s poorly there is nothing I want more than to curl up with her on the sofa and have a duvet day, and you’d think that, working for myself, I would have every opportunity to do so. And I do, occasionally. But, if I don’t work, and the business doesn’t make money, we don’t get paid. So there is more to it than being my own boss and taking time off when I need it.

Last week was a particularly bad week. Little Miss vomited (projectile too, to add insult to injury) in her cot every single night for five nights in a row. During the days there was no sickness but she was in and out, being her usual cheery self one minute and the next be clingy, lethargic and unsettled. Her eating stopped, which is usually the most obvious and first sign that she’s under the weather. It was really hard because she seemed poorly, and not herself, but there was no obvious sign of something being wrong. There was no spots or rashes, temperatures, pulling on her ears or persistent coughing, just her generally presenting as not being right.

On the Friday morning when we got her up and changed her, her nappy was dry. We put it down to her not taking as much milk and water as usual and the vomiting. We thought she may have been dehydrated. We encouraged her to drink plenty water and took her to nursery. When we went to collect her, her Key Worker did the whole collaring us at the door thing before we entered the room with the worried face. My heart sunk. She reassured us that it was probably nothing but Little Miss had slept for two hours in the middle of the morning (we were usually lucky to squeeze a half an hour nap in the middle of the day) and had been dry in the three nappy changes they had done. I was instantly worried; I knew that dry nappies wasn’t a good sign.

We considered taking her to the Doctors straight away but she had perked right up and was singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ at the top of her voice from the back of the car all the way home, dancing away to the music and seeming on top form. We decided that if we hadn’t had a wet nappy before bed time that we would take her to the Emergency Doctors. We let her stay up a bit later (meanwhile we encouraged her to drink lots of water at every opportunity) and by the time we came to change her, she had finally done a wee. I was relived. It didn’t stop me googling all the bloody symptoms all night long though, getting myself more and more worked up. I agreed with my hubby that if she was no better the following morning we would take her to see a Doctor.

She had a bit of an unsettled night and despite having two lots of milk, once before bed and once upon waking in the morning, when it came to changing her, her nappy was dry. That was when I started to really worry. We let her sit around in her nappy whilst we quickly got ready and she suddenly started screaming, it was a really high pitched scream; she looked in pain. She started pulling at her nappy as if she was sore. We just quickly got her into a sleep suit and took her straight to our specialist Paediatrics A&E hospital.

We are extremely lucky to have a fabulous Hospital with a specialist Children’s A&E unit with specialist Nurses and Doctors who are so natural, warm and welcoming with children. We waited ten minutes max before we were triaged by two Nurses, one of whom we had met a couple of times before. She was so lovely and a familiar face was reassuring. They did her observations and because she had been vomiting as part of this episode of poor health, we were told we wouldn’t be able to wait in the usual waiting area with other patients due to the outbreak of the Norovirus and infection control. We were placed in our own side room which actually worked out for the best as we had our own cot, our own TV and our own space.

image1

Little Miss was seen by a Doctor within half an hour, he advised that he thought she was presenting as having a virus but that he was concerned about the dry nappies. He was approachable and open and excellent in the way he established rapport with both us and Little Miss. He requested the infamous urine sample. Their policy is to request a ‘clean sample’ which meant catching her urine in a plastic cup – i.e. a mission impossible. Anyone got Tom Cruise on speed dial? No? No bother,  I’ve got this. It sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?! Nah-Ah.  I remember when she was admitted as an 8 week old baby we had to do that and I remember thinking ‘Oh my God, this is impossible!’ but little did I know that that was actual a piece of cake compared to repeating the task but this time with a very energetic, mobile, stubbornly independent baby-come-toddler. It didn’t help that Little Miss was over tired from missing her nap. We tried to encourage her to drink loads but try as we did, there was no sign of this urine.

I rocked her to sleep and she had a short nap in the cot. I stupidly thought she may wee in her sleep. I definitely wasn’t right. The Doctor kept coming by the room asking if we had managed to get the sample yet, so did the nurses. There wasn’t a fifteen minute period that went by where we didn’t see one of them checking in on us. When Little Miss woke up she was really grumpy and unsettled. It was obvious that something was making her extremely uncomfortable. She wanted a cuddle, then she didn’t want a cuddle, she wanted to watch Cbeebies on the TV, then she wanted it off, she wanted her drink but then she didn’t want her drink – nothing was of any comfort to her.

This went on for a good few hours before she started screaming in pain and as I comforted her, my hubby spied that long awaited trickle and caught it in the cup (almost perfectly but there were a few unwelcome splashes here and there on my leggings and the like). I could see her relief as soon as it was over. She instantly perked up, her whole face just brightened. She smiled and giggled again and was far more settled. The Doctor took the sample away and almost immediately returned to us and said they had found cells in her sample that were indicative of a urine infection but that it would need to be sent to the lab and it takes 3 days for the cultures to grow (or something like that, all the medical scientific stuff goes right over my head. If it aint fixed by a bit of Calpol and a squirt of olbas oil, I don’t have a clue!). The Doctor discussed the situation with us; he said that we could wait until the test results were back before starting antibiotic treatment to avoid the possibility of her taking treatment unnecessarily but he also said that if it does turn out to be a kidney infection or similar, waiting three days could cause damage to her kidneys. We took the decision to have her start the antibiotics straight away. The Doctor was so lovely, reassuring me that I wasn’t being a pedantic mother making a bad decision. He placed the decision firmly in our hands, having given us all the information we needed and said he would support us either way. It didn’t take long for us to decide; risking the health of her kidneys would never be an option for us.

image4

While we waited for the prescription and discharge notes to be completed, Little Miss seemed to get a second wind and started enjoying the attention she was getting on the ward. My Husband discovered the play room and although she wasn’t allowed in there due to infection control, he found a toy pushchair and a little ride-on car and brought it in to our room for her to play on. That was it! She was off! Riding around the corridors like she owned the place, a big grin from ear to ear and definitely, definitely not looking poorly! Isn’t it incredible how children can go from one extreme to another within minutes?!

She got given a sticker, lots of high fives, waves and attention so I definitely don’t think the experience was traumatic for her! That is the benefit of having such a specialist children’s unit at our hospital. With my eldest I remember sitting in the same A&E as adults with various injuries or dispositions of varying degrees of seriousness and waiting for five, six hours sometimes in a waiting area not equipped to entertain children in any way whatsoever. It never put me at ease, that place. It felt traumatic just to sit in the waiting area. It certainly was never a place I relished taking my child to. Not that I want to ever have a need to take either of them to hospital, but, if it has to happen, we are so lucky that we have such a specialist unit on our doorstep for them.

image2-2

I know the NHS gets bad press but I cannot fault the care we have received, both on Saturday, and over the years. We really are so lucky to know that, should one of our children gets hurt or ill or injured, we have a place to take them, staffed with a team that we have faith in and trust. That is something not to take for granted. Ever.

image3

Saturday was a reminder of how blessed we are. I’m sure, in that hospital, there were children gravely ill. We were one of the lucky ones that eventually got to go home. Yes, it’s stressful when they get poorly. Tell me one element of parenting that isn’t! So, I may be stressed to the point of finding one too many grey hairs than I would care to admit at the ripe old age of 37, but I am so, so, so blessed.

This Old Dog is Learning Something New!

Who knew that, at the ripe old age of (almost) 37, I would discover a new passion AND learn something totally new. This old dog is learning new tricks and LOVING IT along the way.

It’s one thing learning new skills at work, like how to use a new software application, or a new procedure,  or learning new skills at home, like how to make a bottle of red disappear in record timing (just joking) (or am I?!) but it’s another thing entirely to discover something totally out there that is exciting, intriguing and interesting all in one.

I totally accept that what I’m learning isn’t for everyone. It’s a regular talking point (or arguing point, more like) in our office, and at home actually because my hubby thinks it’s absolute poppycock but I’m slowly reaching an age where I am less and less bothered about what other people think, and focusing on what I think of it instead.

I’ve always been quite spiritual in the sense that I believed in the after life, I’ve had regular readings from both psychics and spiritualists over the years and have had a few experiences in my home that I believe are the work of spirits. Like most people, up until fairly recently, I fully believed that to be able to communicate with spirits, angels and so on you had to have a gift; it wasn’t something that couldn’t be taught. You were either born with it or without it.

My interest in this peaked when I had a reading around a year ago. My Little Miss was a few months old. My Medium told me that she had the gift. She asked if people gravitated towards her when we were out, and she was right, they did. Whenever we are out and about, complete strangers would come and talk to her. I put this down to her being a baby (I mean, doesn’t everyone love babies?!) but my Medium told me that it wasn’t that. She explained that people were drawn to her because of her light, because of her sense of spirituality. She told me that my Little Miss had spirit guides and explained who they were. She warned me that Little Miss would continue to have this gift as she grows older and she advised me to train her to manage the gift, to know when to use it, to know how to protect herself and told me how to protect her energy from the potential negative energies from others around her. It felt like a huge responsibility. I knew nothing about this world –it was a whole new world that I had dabbled in and out a few times over the years but I certainly was not accustomed to this sort of thing. The Medium told me that she had had the gift from being a baby but that she was born in to a pagan family who embraced witch craft and helped her to understand how to use these special ‘tools’ she had been gifted with. She spoke of the significance of her father in training her how to open herself up to receive messages, but more importantly, how to close herself down to them too. I was like a rabbit in the headlights.

My hubby laughed when I told him. He certainly didn’t share my view that we needed to consider how we could best support Little Miss growing up if she did indeed have this ‘gift’. He told me to put the kettle on and the conversation was over. He just can’t even begin to consider that this world exists. And that is totally Okay, I know many people who have this belief – either as a result of religious views or simply because they can’t get their head around it and they believe in the logical, the proven.

The more I started to pay attention to my Little Miss, the more I started to notice that possibly she was able to see spirits. I was told by two separate mediums that there was a little girl spirit in our home that likes to dance at the bottom of our bed. Apparently this little girl is a playmate for our Little Miss. I do sometimes see her attention focus on something we can’t see and we have had a few happenings where the toys downstairs will suddenly start playing in the middle of the night, despite being switched off before bed. I think even my Hubby was a bit scared of what was going on that night (not that he’d ever admit it, of course).

I learned that my Medium was launching a weekly class aimed at introducing various spiritual practices. I decided that this was my opportunity to learn more about this world and I asked my mum to come along with me. To say we loved our first class would be the biggest understatement of the year – it was mesmirising. Every week we learn something new, focusing on new practices or therapies. They aren’t always spirit based, for example, we have had workshops on hypnosis and reiki. I am a huge fan of reiki healing anyway and have used it on a number of occasions but it was really special to hear about the theory behind the practice that has brought me so much comfort in the past.

One of the first things we learnt to do was to use a pendulum. The pendulum works with energies and spirits to indicate a yes or no answer. It was incredible to watch the Medium work with the pendulum, she would say ‘Is my name…’ and make up a name and the pendulum would tell her no, she would ask the same question for her actual name and the pendulum would start swinging in the opposite direction to denote a ‘yes’ answer. When the Medium handed out some of her spare pendulums to give us all a try I thought never in this world would we be able to learn this skill. Surely this is a gift, not a taught skill. We spent a while connecting with the crystal pendulums on our own, charging it up in our hands. We then worked with the pendulum and it was nothing short of amazing how absolutely clear it was that the pendulum was working with us to give us the answers to our questions. We asked it questions that we knew the answers to, to test its ‘powers’ and it got it right every time. We them had fun asking it questions about the future. Unfortunately it told us we weren’t going to win the lottery. I hate to say it, but I think it might be right there too (although, obviously, I’d be open to it being wrong on that question…).The excitement I felt at learning something completely new was something I can’t honestly say that I’ve felt in a long time. I got a real buzz from it. You don’t expect to stumble across something new at my age; especially not something that genuinely excites you. We went from the pendulum to working with angel cards. When the Medium set us up in groups to work with angel cards, I really was cynical that I could learn this. I had seen the Medium use the same cards during my one to one readings. She would always ask me to pull three cards out of the deck, one to symbolise my past, present and future. Then she would stare at each card for a while and interpret a message from each one. They were always so incredibly accurate, I was always bowled over by how apt each of the messages were.

So when the Medium told us that we would be working with the angels to deliver messages in the same way, I thought there was no way that I was going to be able to even try and do what she does with me in my readings. She sat with us in our small group and helped us to read cards for each other. It is difficult to put in to words the process we used as it wasn’t a logical one, or one that is easy to explain in writing. We tapped the cards to connect with the cards, and then we would hold the chosen card and simply stare at it. Some cards just had images on, some had writing on, some had a single word on, or a combination of any of those. We were told to take in the card, hold it in our hands and just say what we see, whatever message comes to us. It was incredible to see how the messages varied from person to person despite the cards being similar. I was so nervous about reading for another group member but when I looked at the card and absorbed what was on the card, a message did filter in to my brain. I can’t really explain it. The shapes and images on the card suddenly started to look like images relating to the message. A bit like when we look up at the clouds and we see faces or shapes. They are clouds, but if you look hard enough, you see other signs and images. I didn’t give a particularly long message but I was supported by the Medium who told me that if the card gives you nothing more, you don’t push it, you just leave it there.

We have since done a lot more work on angel cards and I am truly loving learning something new that can potentially be used to support myself and others through their day to day life. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly goes down well with me. We have done other things such as ‘Psychic Circles’ where spirits have been invited in to communicate with us. That was a weird one. But equally interesting. We have done crystal meditations and crystal healings too. Every week we learn something new. It’s really exciting, and I love that I get to spend some one on one time with my mum learning something new that we are both interested in together.

I have affectionately termed our class ‘Weirdo Class’, as a nod to acknowledging that some people will think we have lost our minds and gone absolutely cream crackers. However we are loving it, and isn’t that all that matters?!

I might be looking for some guinea pigs soon! I would love to do some practice readings on willing participants! Practice makes perfect afterall!

2017: The Year in Reflection

I know I’m a bit previous with this but Little Miss is poorly at the moment so is sleeping even less than normal (who knew that was even possible?!) and if I become any more sleep deprived over the next couple of days I would worry that I would, very genuinely, not be able to string a sentence together, never mind making that sentence meaningful or semi-interesting.

Plus there’s naff all on the telly and I need to keep my mind (and belly) off the chocolate and wine that is taunting me from the fridge.

I think most people in the UK would agree that 2017 was a bit of a bastard. My hubby has notifications set up on his phone to bleep when there is breaking news. There was a time during 2017 where my heart literally sunk every time his phone beeped because every single time it did, it was to report something hateful, sad, violent or worrying.  The only time I noticed it bleeping with good news was on the announcement of Prince Harry’s engagement. I’m sure there were other bits of good news here and there but very generally it was a shitter of a year generally. I’ve spent far too many hours this year sat in front of Sky News with a knot and churning in my stomach as news stories unfolded live. I’ve read of too many deaths. I’ve heard of so much injustice. I’ve seen too much hate.

I’m not minimising any of the tragic incidents that have happened during 2017. There were some utterly horrendous events that were truly senseless in every respect. Those reckless events stole life. Changed lives. For many, those events altered the way we live our every day lives, and the thought patterns that we have in certain places or at certain times. Whether we were there witnessing it in front of our very eyes, or watching from the protection of a TV screen, those events have taken enough from us. They’ve taken innocent lives. They’ve taken our peace of mind. They’ve taken our right to feel safe. They’ve taken enough from us already; no way are they going to take the year.

To re-balance things I asked the lovely folk of Twitter what their highlight of the year was. The responses were heart warming. There wasn’t one response that was not family or home based. There were a lot of births of beautiful new babies, where 2017 marked the significant start of new life. For those mums, dads and the babies themselves, 2017 will forever mean the start of something so precious. That certainly helped tipped the balance back in the right direction. There were marriages; weddings that united soul mates in matrimony and the start of an incredible new life together. The year 2017 will forever be recorded on their Marriage Certificate as a year to go down in their own history. Then there were other lovely highlights like moving to a dream home in the country, the start of a new job that paid more, overcoming mental health struggles and so much more. For all of these lovely people, 2017 was more than a year of doom. They showed up and insisted on 2017 giving them something positive in the wake of such sadness and hate. For these wonderful people, 2017 will forever go down in their personal or family history for a good reason. Reading all these lovely tweets certainly helped me to focus on the positives that 2017 brought us.

On a personal level, 2017 brought me one gift in particular. This gift totally opened my eyes. It made me view things differently; in a different light or from a different angle almost. It made me process thoughts and emotions in a way I hadn’t really done before. Want to know what 2017 brought me? It brought me realisation.

This time last year one of my closest friends was enjoying the festivities with her wider family; her parents, her sister and all the grandchildren. They celebrated Christmas and New Year like every other year, paying tribute to the family traditions on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Not once did they ever consider that it would be their last Christmas as a whole family. Only 8 months later my friend’s father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and despite his courageous fight and infinite strength, he sadly died only a matter of months afterwards. This year, my friend celebrated Christmas without her father, her mother without her husband and her children celebrated without their grandfather.

2017 saw my Step Father have his own collision with his health. Following diagnosis and prior to further tests, there was a point where we too as a family were faced with the possibility of his life being significantly shortened due to a terminal illness. We were extremely fortunate that following further tests, the consultant reassured us that it wasn’t terminal. It was a diagnosis that would possibly change his life slightly, but he was alive and staying alive and for us, that was all that mattered. For those few terrifying weeks, it was like staring down a barrel of a shot gun (not that I have ever actually done that, obviously). It felt like every fibre of our being was tensed in anticipation of the shot: the bad news, the prognosis. It was exhausting. We couldn’t relax, not even for a second.  We discussed action plans with my Mum, she looked at her finances and discussed how she would cope alone. For a moment, although brief, we had to picture our lives without the man who had gone from being our step father to our Dad. It looked dark and it looked empty.

2017 took my biological father. Actually, I’m going to change that. 2017 didn’t take him. He decided to take himself, a result of sustained drug and alcohol misuse over a period of tens and tens of years. I wasn’t in contact with him so I didn’t and don’t feel his absence. As harsh as it sounds, he was never the father he needed to be for my sister and I. Not as children, and certainly not as adults. He was given second chances, third chances, fifty-fifth chances over the years and each time he would let us down. In the end, we voted with our feet and decided that we were no longer willing to accept being treat like that. I hadn’t seen him for a number of years before he died. I surprised myself in that I reacted to the news of his death with some grief, albeit limited. I was angry at myself for feeling grief. I couldn’t understand why I would be grieving for a man who did nothing but let his children down. It wasn’t too long before I realised that I was grieving for the father that he wasn’t. Not for the father he was. His death meant that I would never hear an apology from him; I would never hear him begging for forgiveness; nor would I ever hear him asking for another chance and promising to make a go of being a proper father this time. Now the chances of this happening were pretty much zero. In all the recent years I was estranged from my father he never apologised or begged for forgiveness. His style was more akin to the ‘I’ve done nothing to apologise for’ denial. But his death made that final. His death meant that he would never be the father I needed him to be. Even if had lived to 104 I know, in reality, he would never have been the father I needed him to be. It would just never have happened. But his death meant that there wasn’t even that possibility.

Perhaps harder was the timing of it all. My father and my friend’s Father died within weeks of each other. As I listened to my friend’s final moments with her Dad, and how they begged for even just one more hour together, I felt dirty. I felt dirty because my father had abused his life. He had been blessed with a life full of possibilities. He was from a middle class family, his mother a Teacher and his father a Mayor and politician. He could have been anything he wanted to be. Instead, he chose death. I say ‘choose’ because only he decided to walk down the road of drink and drugs. Nobody pulled him down that path, nobody enticed him down there; he wasn’t born in to it or pressured in to going down that path. He knowingly went in that direction and it was only ever going to lead one way. I know there will be many people who will disagree with me, and that’s totally Ok, I’m not saying that my take on the whole thing is gospel and truth but it is my truth and that’s the only truth I can give.

There was my friend’s Father, who had never smoked, never abused drugs, had the odd beer occasionally and had built an entire family filled with love, truly making a difference with his life; and there was mine – someone who had carelessly squandered his life away with every single drink he took. It didn’t feel fair. I was embarrassed and ashamed that my father would have such a lack of understanding of how valuable life was when so many would have given anything and everything for just one more minute here on Earth with their loved ones. I didn’t share my Father’s view on life and I certainly didn’t approve of the way he squandered it away but I still felt a sense of it being linked to me, a sense of it being my fault, a sense of me needing to acknowledge it, because of the bare fact that I was his daughter. His genetics make me part of who I am.

Not once do we ever think, as we sit down around the dinner table about to tuck in to our Christmas dinner every December, and cheers our drinks for the 104th time (because the kids love doing it with their little beakers! – or is that just our family?!), that a year down the road, our lives could be so changed that we might never re-live this moment with all those we love again. Or at least, I never had done.  I had never just closed me eyes and breathed in the fact that we were all together. I had never just stopped a moment and allowed the gratitude to wash all over me, realising how utterly blessed I was to be living in that moment.

2017 has brought me the realisation that nobody on this earth is guaranteed a tomorrow. I actually raised this with my family on Christmas day as I really felt like I needed to just tell them all, as one big group, how much that moment, and the whole day, had meant to me because we’d spent it together. Some of my family totally got it whilst others felt it was a little morbid. That’s not how I see this gift at all. I see that 2017 has brought me a gift that not everyone gets the benefit of experiencing. Not everyone experiences something in their lives that brings home that cold reality, that harsh realisation.

If nobody is promised a tomorrow, then we have to make the best of every single ‘today’. That doesn’t mean we have to write a bucket list and start abseiling down bridges or jumping out of planes; it is more about just being aware. Being aware of the moments that are everything; being aware of how blessed we are to share moments with our loved ones. It is about gratitude. It’s about never taking things or people for granted. It’s about taking in those special moments and breathing every inch of them in, savouring them in our memories for ever. It’s about not wasting time or energy – or life – arguing over who forgot to put the milk back in the fridge, who didn’t replace the toilet roll when it ran out, or who spilled chicken korma over the sofa. It’s about leaving this earth, whenever that may be (let’s hope it’s gazillions of years away yet)  with not a single regret. It’s about doing what you want to do (only if it’s legal like…), telling people how you feel, loving without reservation or hesitation, really living your life in every sense of the word: it’s about making the most of every single day of your life – and the lives of the people you love.

Before this realisation, I’ve always been one for using the new year as a fresh start. Whether that be for a diet, healthier living, about achieving more at work or whatever – I’ve always seen it as a point in the year to reflect on the year gone by and I have to admit that I can’t remember the last time I said ’This year has been amazing! Bring on another one like it!’ In fact, I’m not sure I ever have looked back on a year positively. I do remember, however, all the times I’ve said ‘I can’t wait for this year to be over with’ or ‘Good riddance to 20XX!’ for, in hindsight, seemingly insignificant reasons. I am now able to look upon the closing of this year and the coming of the new year in a completely different way thanks to the realisation that 2017 has brought me.

I have now realised that it doesn’t matter what does or doesn’t happen in a year. As long as I am transitioning out of one year and in to another with all of my loved ones around me then there is no ‘bad year’ or reason to bid it ‘good riddance’, because I am blessed. As long as I have all the people I love with me as I embark on the journey out of this year and in to the next, nothing else matters. It really doesn’t.

For that reason, I’m not even sure if I even want to do the ‘new year’ thing. This time I’m not celebrating the departure of a bad year and the arrival of the blank canvas of the new one and all the possibilities it might bring. Instead, I want to celebrate every single day just how lucky and how incredibly blessed and grateful I am to have the people I love around me.

I hope you transition in to the new year with all the people you treasure the most around you.

 

 

 

 

 

A week in the life of #ThisMum

In the first of a series of posts from a diverse groups of Mums from around the world, I am very privileged to introduce you to the fabulous Cath from The Anxious Mama blog. I’m sure we have all experienced those days where nothing seems to go your way and life throws at you something that you weren’t expecting. Poor Cath had a week like that last week so she has kindly written a post about the challenges she faced last week and how she balanced the needs of her child, husband and work.

#THISMUM – by the Anxious Mama. 

Hello lovely readers and welcome.

My name is Cath. I live in Cornwall with my Husband Ryan, our nearly 2-year-old son Harry and our beloved black rescue cat Wilson. I’m the writer of the Anxiety, Motherhood and Lifestyle Blog – ‘Breathe’, a blog that talks openly about my struggles, not only as a Mum but with anxiety too. I try not to keep my blog too ‘doomy and gloomy’, though. I prefer to turn my experiences into something positive, so I also share my very own coping strategies too, alongside other light-hearted stories that hopefully most parents can relate to.

Please find my blog here: https://theanxiousmama.blog/

I am absolutely delighted to be writing a post for the #THISMUM series, where I’ll be taking you on a journey through my week in the life of a Mum. This fantastic idea was created by Mamma B, the author of ’The Baby and Boardroom’ blog, to encourage Mums around the World to share their different stories and daily routines – and I can guarantee not one of our stories will be the same! This is a great opportunity to showcase both our differences and similarities as Mothers, but to also gain an insight into our lives as individuals too, including our various passions, interests and jobs.

Mamma B is an inspiring, working Mum who runs a joint recruitment business with her Husband. She writes an honest account of what it’s like to balance a busy work life, alongside an equally busy home-life with her teenage son and one-year-old daughter.

Make sure you follow her blog here: https://babyandtheboardroom.com/

Here is my very own take of ‘a week in the life of a Mum’…

Ok, to be totally honest, no day or night is the same in the Saltern household. So, it’s pretty much a ‘let’s just take it as it comes’ routine. That may sound a little blasé on the routine front, but you’ll understand what I mean as I continue to explain. Here is a small background on our family-life…

My Husband is a postman and works 40 hours, 5 days a week. It’s a physical and tiring job but he enjoys it. Prior to the days of Harry, Ry was a Deputy Manager for a company who cared for adults with autism. He had a huge passion for his work, but the hours were extremely long and tiring…14-hour shifts aren’t fun for anyone! So, he changed his job shortly after Harry was born. The job change has not only been great for Ry, but Harry and I have benefitted hugely too! We are lucky to spend every evening together as a family, allowing us free time to play and enjoy our evening meals together. Ry and I also work as a team to tackle the bath & bedtime routine, which usually involves lots of singing, plenty of book reading and some very silly games.

My work life, on the other hand, is a little complicated as I work for two different companies and also for myself. One place of work is a private Hospital where I have worked for a number of years. I am currently a member of their bank staff which is great as it can be really flexible around Harry.

The second job is for a local country store, which is only a quick 10-minute drive from home. I have worked here since Harry was 9 months old as a member of their online team, and I am fortunate enough to be able to work for them both at home and in-store.

Once Harry has gone to bed, I tend to use my evenings and any other free-time to focus on my freelance work and any writing for my personal blog. My Freelance work usually involves writing blogs for companies who may need their products and services explaining more clearly. I have only just started this up within the last year but already have regular clients each month and I absolutely love it.

So although I have three jobs in total, each job is extremely flexible and easy to work around my own lifestyle, allowing myself plenty of time to enjoy being ‘Mum’ too. I feel really blessed to be in such a positive position but it’s only recently fallen into place this way.

Shortly after having Harry, I suffered terribly from anxiety, alongside various issues with my health too. I have a condition where different joints in my body flare up due to infections and any other stresses to my body. I breastfed on demand too, which was such an incredible experience – but it felt like I was literally having the life sucked out of me. It was a really tough time; therefore it took a while to develop a good routine with Harry. For about 17 months, his sleeping habits were torturous. There was no pattern and each night differed. Some nights he’d wake every 90 mins and others he’d be wide awake from 12am-2/3am. I honestly thought I’d never sleep again! But, things have improved massively. The sleeping can still vary each night but it’s so much better than it was. It’s such a relief to know we’ve overcome those hurdles and that we are finally living what we see as a ‘normal’ family life.

The ‘kind of’ routine…

Wednesday’s are now my Hospital working day, which is lovely for Harry as he gets to spend this set day each week with my Mum. I then tend to work my other shifts around Ryan’s schedule, which is whenever he has a day off in the week. However, his shifts differ and he doesn’t usually get his rota until the week before the next working week (I know, it’s a little complicated, right?) Therefore, I usually don’t know what other day/’s I’ll be working until I know Ryan’s schedule. Hence the blasé weekly routine…

I do however try to keep Thursdays free because I like to take Harry to a local stay and play group in the morning. I also try my hardest to avoid working Sundays because that’s our only ‘family day’. Although sometimes this day has to be sacrificed when extra funds are required!

On my other days off with Harry, we are usually either visiting family, meeting up with friends for play dates or heading out for lovely, long walks. It’s not all fun and games though, as I usually have to balance those days out with a few dreaded household chores too…Oh, the joy!

When it all went wrong:

Now that I’ve given you a basic idea of what a normal week is like in the Saltern household, I thought it was only right to share with you a recent traumatic experience of when a weekly routine completely goes to pot. In this next chapter, I describe what it was like trying to balance Mum-life, Work-life and Wife-Life – all at the same time whilst dealing with my own struggles, too. It was just one of those weeks where everything happens all at once and one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. So here goes…

Monday:

Monday wasn’t a great start to the week if I’m totally honest. We’d had a terrible night’s sleep due to a certain little sleep thief. Plus, I was in a lot of pain due to an infection in my toe from an ingrown toe-nail (the bane of my life) and as a result, my joints decided to flare up.

I’d been to the Dr’s the previous week before where I was prescribed a new type of anti-inflammatory for my joints, and a course of antibiotics for my toe…but the healing progress was slow and I was really struggling with the pain. Therefore, our Monday morning consisted of PJs, cuddles, cheerio’s and Fireman Sam. Unfortunately, Ry had to leave for work fairly early though, so he was feeling pretty exhausted – bless him.

Whilst Harry napped over lunch-time, I managed to catch up on some much-needed washing and cleaning, whilst also getting up to date on any TV shows I’d missed. My iPad pretty much follows me around from room to room when I’m on a housework mission; meaning I can catch up on shows like ‘Made in Chelsea’ guilty free…please don’t judge ok?

Once the little man was up and had eaten his lunch, I decided to take him to my parents for a change of scenery. We spent some time with my Mum and took Pip, their gorgeous dog out for a lovely walk along the river. I love lazy days at home but I always feel guilty when Harry is inside for too long, so I always make it my aim to ensure he gets at least some kind of fresh air throughout the day. It took my mind off my own personal complaints too!

We then arrived back home to a very exhausted Daddy and the rest of the evening involved reading books, playing with toys, eating dinner, watching In The Night Garden and then the usual bath/bed routine. Once Harry was in bed, I then spent the rest of the evening getting ready for my training day at the Hospital the following day. Meanwhile, Ryan relaxed in his little ‘man corner’, whilst playing FIFA and catching up on FaceTime with one of his best pals. Then it was up to bed, lights out and time for some much-needed sleep!

Tuesday:

More like Traumatic Tuesday…

Tuesday morning was a very early start for us all. Harry was wide awake from 5am, which is quite the norm nowadays. However, unfortunately for Ry, he’d been awake most of the night with a terrible sore throat and was feeling pretty rotten.

I got ready for work as normal and as the morning progressed, I noticed Ry was going downhill more and more. I took a quick look at his throat before I left and noticed how large and inflamed his right tonsil was, so I knew he desperately needed to see a Dr. Therefore, during my park & ride bus journey to work, I decided to phone Mum to see if she could help at all. She was more than happy to have Harry whilst Ry went to the Drs. So, I left it in her hands and I went to work as normal…

It was only my second day back at the Hospital since Harry was born but it was going really well. I was really enjoying settling back in and catching up with some familiar faces. During my tea-break, however, I was in the cafeteria drinking my cup of tea when one of the chefs popped their head around the door and asked me if I was Cath. ‘Yes’, I said with a suspicious look. ‘Your Mum’s on the phone’, she replied…

That’s when my heart sank, ‘something’s not right’, I thought!

I put the phone to my ear. ‘Hello’.

‘Harrys had a little fall, Cath. I’m so sorry. I sent Ry home to rest after he’d visited the Dr’s because he’s really unwell and I told him I’d look after Harry for a bit. Shortly after Ry left, Harry tripped. He slipped on a book and flew straight into the corner of the TV cabinet. He’s hit his head. He’s ok but it’s been bleeding quite a bit and we just want to get him checked over. I’ve had to call Ry back and we’re now on our way to minor injuries. Ry’s got tonsillitis and has been given some antibiotics by the Dr. He’s currently driving but he’s feeling really unwell’.

My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I tried my best to reassure my Mum as she sounded so distressed on the phone. I told her to stop apologising though, as incidents like this can happen at any time and in any place. It was nobody’s fault.

I gathered myself together and explained to my both my manager and colleagues what had happened. Fortunately, they were very understanding and agreed with my decision that I needed to go.

I quickly left work and darted straight for the park and ride bus-stop, where I was instantly met by a bus…thank goodness. The journey felt like a lifetime but once we finally reached the park and ride car park, I flew off the bus and ran straight towards my car where I then started my drive to the Minor Injuries Department.

On arrival, I was greeted by a rather poorly looking Ryan outside. He looked terrible. His eyes were puffy, his skin was pale, he was shivering and could barely walk. As we swapped car keys, he told me he was going to sit in the car for a little while, but he would only drive home if he felt up to it. I was worried to leave him because in all the 11 years we’ve been together, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so ill.

I quickly walked into the Hospital, where I found Mum walking with Harry up and down the corridor. Poor Harry was sporting an impressive gash on his forehead, whilst also covered in quite a lot of his own blood. Although, thankfully he was in good spirits. He reached out and gave me a large cuddle and shortly after that, we were called in to see the Nurse.

The Nurse was so lovely. She was very kind and extremely patient with Harry, but equally very supportive towards me. She glued Harry’s head quickly and gave me some excellent aftercare advice regarding his wound. I explained to her about Ry’s condition too, so she told me to go and get him from the car as she would like to see him. But when Mum went to look for him, the car had gone and he’d obviously driven home. I was so worried!

Luckily he got home fine and spent the rest of the day in bed. Harry and I also lay low for the rest of the day, whilst also regularly checking up on Daddy. It was a long and tiring day for us all.

‘Surely tomorrow will be a better day’, I thought…

 

Wednesday: 

Poor Ryan literally spent the whole of Wednesday in bed with a nasty fever and a terrible sore throat. He actually didn’t move all day apart from the times when he needed to empty his bladder, or when he needed a drink. He could barely talk and didn’t eat one thing all day either. He pretty much just slept or stared at the ceiling for the entire duration of the day.

Harry and I, however, had to try and continue the day as normal as we were running very low on our kitchen cupboard and fridge essentials. Therefore we went to Tesco in the morning to do a food shop and we also bought some supplies home for Daddy to try and make him feel better.

Later that morning, Harry and I met up with my Mum and took Pip for another river walk. I was desperate to get us both some much-needed fresh air, but it also allowed Ry some peace and quiet to recover at home. I hated leaving him but I regularly did my best to check up on him and make sure he was ok throughout the day.

Fortunately, Ry’s Mum offered to come and help us in the afternoon as I needed to get to the Hospital for an appointment regarding my toe. My appointment went ok but I do need to have an operation quite soon, which will require an initial few days of foot elevation, and a few weeks off work to recover. This is going to be quite difficult to organise and will require some careful planning….

By the time I’d gotten home, it was pretty late and still no sign of Ry – he was still in bed resting. Thankfully Ry’s Mum had fed Harry his dinner, so I just quickly grabbed something for myself and then I began the commencement of Harry’s evening routine.

Once Harry was in bed, I checked on Ry, tidied up downstairs and then finally relaxed on the sofa with a cup of tea. I then spent the rest of the evening focusing on my freelance blog work, whilst also demolishing a whole large bar of galaxy chocolate (it was very much needed!) Then it was time for bed myself…

Thursday:

You’d think things would be improving by now, wouldn’t you?

Surely?

….So, Thursday was a very similar day to Wednesday really. Ry’s condition was very much the same, if not worse and he’d barely slept due to agonising throat pain and constant feverish episodes throughout the night.

The morning consisted of a few household chores, keeping Harry amused and regular checks on Ry. Although by lunchtime I’d had enough of seeing Ry so poorly, so I booked him an emergency appointment at the GP’s for the afternoon. Thankfully Mum offered to have Harry again whilst I took Ry to the Drs, so I gathered his bits and dropped him over to my Mums.

However, shortly after arriving at my parent’s house, Harry excitedly ran up to Pip the dog who was currently lying on the sofa. As Harry approached Pip, Pip lifted his paw to protect himself and within seconds his paw caught what was Harry’s ‘neatly glued head’. Suddenly Harry started screaming. Yep, you guessed it…the wound had reopened and blood had started to pour out.

‘Are you actually kidding me?’ I called out.

An overwhelming feeling suddenly came over me and tears started to roll down my cheeks. What do I do now? I thought. Suddenly I felt incredibly torn between my little boy and my Husband. I knew Harry needed to get to the Hospital, but I also knew Ryan needed to make his appointment which was due in the next 40 minutes. I decided to ring Ry’s Mum for help and explained I needed someone to take Ry to his appointment as I was just about to leave with my Mum to take Harry to minor injuries. Both of Ry’s parents literally hopped straight into their car and headed straight for Ry, thank goodness!

The Hospital staff were great once again and very efficient with their service. Harry’s wound didn’t require any glue this time but did need a little clean-up and some steri-strips. After his treatment, we headed straight home and went back to Ry who’d been given some more antibiotics to try. The Dr had told him that if he was no better by lunchtime tomorrow, he needed to come back and be seen.

It was gone 5pm by the time we’d got home, so it was then time for dinner, followed by our usual bed/bath routine, a quick chill and then bed-time for us all.

Friday:

Poor Ry wasn’t feeling any better. He couldn’t talk and his throat was causing him an awful lot of pain, he really was struggling. I had another look at his throat and noticed that it was looking much worse, so it was important he was seen again by the Dr.

Mum very kindly offered to come and sit with Harry whilst I took Ry back to the Drs. The GP was surprised that the antibiotics weren’t working and that his condition was getting worse, so she phoned our local hospital for advice. The ENT specialist said he’d like to see Ry, so we were told to come in and head straight to A&E.

We very quickly nipped home to update my Mum, and to pack an overnight bag for Ry. Ry’s Mum very kindly came straight over and offered to take Ry to the Hospital herself. Once again I felt very torn between my boys, as I felt I should be at the Hospital with my Husband. However, Ry told me he was fine and he’d rather that I was at home with Harry.

As the afternoon drew on, Ry was admitted onto a ward and given an IV drip, steroids and some more antibiotics. My Mum offered to come and sit with Harry in the evening whilst my Dad dropped me off to visit Ry in Hospital. Poor Ry was lying in his bed looking absolutely exhausted, whilst also rocking’ the colour grey. It was so sad to see him lying there so poorly, but the steroids and the IV drip had already started to make him feel a little brighter.

I stayed with him until the end of visiting time and then got a lift home with my Dad. Once I was home I continued with Harry’s bath and bed routine, and then luckily managed to get him settled fairly quickly.

It wasn’t until Harry fell asleep that I suddenly started to feel a little lonely. It had been such a hard week. I was exhausted and I was so worried about Ry. I needed to talk to someone so I spoke to a few of our friends; my best friend Millie and our other best friends Chris and Carla. After having a good chat (and also a good cry) I then felt so much better. I was then able to finally relax for the rest of the evening and get a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday, Ry thankfully came out of Hospital. He still wasn’t feeling his usual self and had a long way to recover, but he looked more like ‘Ryan’, again. The rest of the weekend involved a lot of rest for us all. It had been such a dreadful, long week that we just needed a few chilled days at home to try and recuperate. 

Things are getting there now. Harry’s head has healed nicely and Ry is certainly on the mend. My toe infection has settled and my joint pain seems to be easing. Our past week has mainly consisted of catching up with work, as we both lost a lot of work during that awful week.

I honestly don’t know how I would have coped that week without the help of our family and friends. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a supportive network around us.

Unfortunately, everyone will experience a bad week at some point in their life…this was just ours. However, sometimes you just need to put your positive pants on, take a deep breath and count your lucky stars that it was ‘just a bad week’. I sometimes have to remind myself that there are millions of people around the World experiencing far worse than what I’ve just been through. So, yes – you’re allowed to cry, you’re allowed to say ‘poor me’ and you’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself, but just remember ‘it was just a bad week, not a bad life and whilst it may be tough…so are you!’ 

 

 

World Mental Health Day: Let’s talk about it.

When I was 18 (which, frankly feels like a whole lifetime ago) I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression, sometimes referred to as major depression or major depressive disorder. I rarely think about that period of my life for obvious reasons – it’s a time I don’t care to remember but as today is World Mental Health Day, I found myself reflecting on my experience of depression and took time out to give consideration to those who are experiencing the same.

 

Almost twenty years ago, there was a huge stigma surrounding mental health. People didn’t talk openly about mental health and this only further compounded the situation I was in. I believe that my poor mental health was triggered when I made the very premature (and rather silly) decision to leave home at 17 and move in with my boy friend at the time. I found myself trapped in an abusive relationship; he had manipulated me in to giving up college, moving further away from my family and friends and I was incredibly isolated. Talking openly about mental health just wasn’t the done thing then. The only person I talked openly with was my Community Psychiatric Nurse and GP. I was isolated and I experienced crippling loneliness, stuck within the confines of the four same walls day in and day out.

 

It affected me in many different ways – and probably in more ways than I can even remember – but I certainly remember becoming so bad that there was no Monday to Sunday and there was no day or night: I simply existed. From one hour to the next. I didn’t have a routine. I didn’t get up at 7am and go to bed at 10pm. I simply slept as much as I possibly could because being awake was just too painful. Every day became the same because I had nowhere to go, nobody was expecting me anywhere and I had absolutely no purpose and no reason to get up and go out. I didn’t even have a reason to shower let alone get dressed.

 

I distinctly remember one night in particular. I had argued with my boyfriend and I had overheard him speaking to one of his ex girlfriends who had suddenly come back on scene. I had such a low opinion of myself that I could not see a world where he would choose to remain with me over her. I’m not even sure why I even wanted him. He was pretty damn awful. The truth is, he didn’t make me happy. In fact, he made me distinctly unhappy. But as isolated as I was, I felt I had nowhere else to go. My Mum was supportive and would’ve welcomed me home within an instant but having left home at 17, I felt like returning home would be like admitting I was wrong. And I thought I knew it all at 17 so admitting I was wrong seemed almost worse than staying with a man who contributed towards making me mentally ill.

 

That night I remember standing at the front door of the maisonette I was living in. It was dark and it was cold. I can remember the shape of my breath as I sharply inhaled and exhaled the bitterly cold night air. I felt like the world around me was spinning and whilst it spun around me at such a speed, I was unable to process my thoughts. I couldn’t make sense of how I was feeling; I just knew I felt bad. Really bad. Worse than ever before. I had become so upset that I was hysterical. I tried techniques my CPN had advised me to use when I felt situations were getting out of control, such as breathing exercises, but it was almost as if it was far too gone for those sorts of things to work. My heart pounded so hard I thought it was going to thump through my chest and my whole body was violently trembling. I had lost my grasp on the world. I couldn’t think. I just wanted it all to end. I could not see a world in which I would get better. I could not see a world in which I would be loved. I could not see a world in which I would not be lonely. With each and every thought I took one more unsteady step towards the railing on the balcony.

 

I remember looking down at the ground and trying to make some sort of vague calculation as to how likely I was to die if I threw myself off. I didn’t want to just hurt myself. I didn’t want to wake up in hospital injured but alive. I wanted to die. I did not want to be there. There was nothing about my life that gave me any hope for a better future. I hated my present and my awful present made me think I had nothing but an awful future ahead of me. It feels wrong to speak of suicide so flippantly now, but back then I saw suicide as my ‘get out of jail free’ card. I would reassure myself that if things got too bad, I’d always have suicide. To think that that idea gave me comfort back then makes me feel sick to my stomach.

 

Luckily for me, a complete stranger was passing and instantly recognised the struggle I was having. They talked me down. They calmed me down.

 

Fast forward just two years later and I had got out of that relationship. I had moved back home. I had got a job and built up a network of new friends and, most importantly, I had met my soul mate who is now my husband. When I say that the life I am living now was completely unimaginable to me when I was in the depths of depression would be an understatement. I had absolutely no hope that my life would change, that I would regain control over my own life, that I would be happy again. And yet I was wrong.

 

If I could give two pieces of advice to anyone going through a similar experience with their mental health, the first would be to breathe through the bad moments, the ones where you feel crippling pain, fear or anxiety. I always say to anyone going through a bad time to ‘do whatever gets you through the day’. If that means sleeping, sleep. If it means listening to music, put some tunes on. If it is writing, then get scribbling – you do whatever you need to do to get through those crippling moments. The second would be to always view your present as temporary. I lost myself in my depression the day I convinced myself that this was to be my life. There was no getting out of this alive. Never ever forget that what you are experiencing is a moment. It is one moment in time. It is not forever. This time will pass. It will get better. Breathe through it. Do whatever you need to do to get through it. Things will get better.

 

To think that I may have jumped that night and may have ended my life over the life I was living at the hands of an abusive man, who quite frankly wasn’t even worth crying over, makes me shudder. The thought that I may have deprived myself of the opportunity to meet my husband and fall in love, bring my two beautiful children in to the world, make precious memories with my family and friends and lead a life that brings me such happiness and satisfaction, makes me feel physically sick to the stomach. I love my life now.

 

Just keep breathing. Do whatever you need to do to get through it. This is temporary. It is not forever.

How many minutes a day do you dedicate to yourself?

What does ‘me time’ look like when you are a mum?

Being a mum of a boy who was hurtling through his teens saw me regain a huge amount of time that I could dedicate to myself so when I fell pregnant (incidentally I hate that saying – who ‘falls’ pregnant? Like, woops, I tripped over your foot. Bam! I’m expecting!’) I knew that going back to nappies, night feeds and colic was going to have an impact on the amount of time I found for myself.

In fact, for the first few months of my daughter’s life, ‘me time’ wasn’t even on the radar. At no point did I have time for me; at no point did I make time for me. But actually, at no point did I even register that I was having no time for me. That was the scary bit. Once my husband was back at work after paternity leave, there were many days where I didn’t even find the time to get changed out of my PJs or take a shower. He’d come home from work around 5pm and find me in exactly the same way he left me eight hours previous – hair not brushed, not showered, not changed. I would think ‘how do people do this? How do people have a baby and still manage to shower, get dressed, have a hot cup of coffee, chat to friends?’ I felt like I was failing at life.

Of course the reality was that whilst I was sat there in a zombie like state, my baby girl had been bathed, massaged and dressed immaculately. She had milk in her belly, clean nappies on, she’d been cuddled, winded, rocked, shushed, read to, sang to and played with – she had had my undivided attention all day long (and all night long most of the time too!) so I’d clearly had the time to do all those things; I had simply chosen to dedicate that time to my baby rather than myself. I thought that made me a good mum.

I think she was around the five month mark when I started to feel more than just the ‘I’m tired from the sleepless nights’ type of tiredness. Little Miss was having a rough time with reoccurring chest infections so sleep was at an all time low and I was constantly in a state of panic, checking her temperature, watching her breathe for any signs of struggle. I was not only physically exhausted but exhausted in every meaning of the word. I felt drained. I remember sitting in her nursery for hours, holding her upright on my chest so that she could get some sleep without coughing. I sat there for as long as I possibly could, ensuring she was in a deep sleep, before trying to put her back down in her cot again. I crept up to the cot and gently laid her down, as if she was fine glass. I held my breath and said a prayer internally that she would remain asleep so I could get to bed.

And she did. Until I laid my head on my pillow and closed my eyes and then the coughing started, and then the crying resumed. I sat up and felt so emotionally fragile. I cried. I was so desperately in need of some sleep. But not only that, I was desperately in need of time for me. I felt drained, physically, emotionally and in all other ways. This was more than just tiredness; I felt like I had lost myself almost.

I felt guilty for thinking about ‘me’ when I was so blessed to have a beautiful baby daughter that needed me but in five months I hadn’t left her side once. I hadn’t met a friend for coffee as adults, I hadn’t spent any child free time with my husband, I hadn’t so much as had half an hour to read a trashy magazine or a book. This wasn’t for the lack of offers either, whilst we don’t have a massive family network, we have family members that had offered to look after her, but I had not wanted to leave her. I don’t know whether this was because she had had such a traumatic start to life or whether I’d have felt the same regardless, I don’t know. I had waited so long for my beautiful baby girl, spending time away from her just hadn’t occurred to me.

It was only during a chat with my Reiki Healer about how rubbish I was feeling that I fully realised that I had really done myself an injustice in not ensuring that I had time for me. She asked me ‘what do you do for you?’ and I couldn’t answer. I had a small baby, I thought. I don’t have time for me. She asked me to identify one thing I had done out of sheer enjoyment just for me in the last week and I couldn’t answer it. I hadn’t read, I hadn’t written, I hadn’t sat in the garden and enjoyed the peace and quiet, I hadn’t met a friend – nothing. She told me (in friendly but no uncertain terms) that it was absolutely essential that I find time for me in every single day. I almost laughed. Time for me? Every single day?! That was going to be impossible. She maintained that it was essential for my wellbeing though. She told me to start by reserving one ten minute period for me every single day. It was acknowledged that we all need more than ten minutes of ‘me time’ a day but we needed to be realistic here or it just was never going to work.

I thought about what I could do in ten minutes. I could (probably) drink a small coffee (whilst hot maybe!), I could read for ten minutes, I could meditate or listen to some music, I could pamper myself or you know what? I could just lie down in a dark room and drink in the peace. Ten minutes isn’t long but when you have deprived yourself of any time for you for several months, you’ll take it with open arms and you’ll run with it. Fast.

I scheduled these ten minute periods. I mentally popped them in the diary for when my husband got in from work and could take over on baby duty, or for when I got Little Miss down for one of her naps. Instead of opting to get the bottles cleaned and sterilised or hoovering or being in a rush to do something practical like changing the beds, I took that time and thought ‘this is for me.’

Happiness is created through our enjoyment of things. I enjoyed my baby so much but there needed to be an acknowledgement that I had a right to enjoy something for me too. The Reiki Healer was right, once I started to dedicate time for me, doing something I enjoy, even if for just ten minutes, I felt happier. I felt more balanced. I felt stronger. This had a hugely positive impact on my ability to be an upbeat all-singing-and-dancing mum too.

Those ten minutes each day may not be much but they are a nod to the fact that us mums are people in our own right. We shouldn’t need to accept that every minute of our day should be dedicated to doing things for others. It’s Ok for us to be selfish some times and say ‘this is what I’m doing for me,’ not for the husband, for the dog, for the kids, the mother-in-law or the neighbour down the road – for us. For me. In fact, that isn’t selfish at all. It’s doing what is right for us. What is healthy for us.

When that Reiki Healer asked me what I did for me, I was confused. The fact that I found that question so confusing is exactly what was so very wrong. In my head somewhere, I subconsciously believed that as mums, our whole lives should be dedicated to our little people. And for all we love our little people and for all they make our world go round, it is not good for our health, our state of mind or emotional wellbeing to neglect ourselves in the process.

Ask yourself the question, what have you done for you today? If you can’t answer it, I hear you. You are probably just as exhausted as I was. You may be thinking it’s not possible to have ‘me time’ and be a mummy but please, give it a try. Reserve ten minutes out of your day tomorrow and find something to do that you enjoy, do something that makes you happy. See the difference it makes to how you feel.

I know that having time for me makes me a better mum. I’m more patient, I’m more energised, more balanced and I’m happier.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Have you found the right balance?