This weekend was an emotional one…

Having our own business and working on it full time has never made this ‘work life’ balance thing easy, particularly with our Little Miss and Big Lad. The Big Lad may be old enough and capable of seeing to himself most the time but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be there to do it for him. That’s what Mums are for, right?

Work has been crazy these last few weeks. We were offered a potential business opportunity that could possibly be life changing for our future. That has brought with it more work, pressure and stress than we have ever known. It’s been like being back at university again, pulling all nighters to meet deadlines. We’ve worked more, slept less, stressed more and relaxed less, and all of this is not exactly conducive to family life.  I am justifying this because if we manage to pull this opportunity off, it will change our lives and our kids are, of course, part of that.

Whether it’s been snapping at the Big Lad for not tidying his room (when I’ve already asked him 1037 times) or opting for episodes of ‘The Wiggles’ on Netflix as a means of entertaining the Little Miss instead of the usual interactive play, messy play and story reading we usually do together, I’ve not been the best Mum in recent weeks. More time has been focused on work and less time on the kids and whilst I can justify why we are doing it until I am blue in the face, it doesn’t feel very good. It feels bloody awful, in fact.

Despite having a whole boat load of work to do over the bank holiday weekend, we ditched it in favour of some family time. That sort of time is good for the soul. And our souls could do with some goodness. Whilst out at a farm, the 4 of us, we got to talking about the Big Lad’s plans for after he leaves school. Whilst university feels miles away, he’s already doing his GCSEs and it scares the shit out of me how quickly time is flying by.  University has always been part of the grand plan for the Big Lad. I didn’t take the conventional route to university and ended up doing my degree long distance whilst working full time and raising my baby boy (many moons ago!); it was tough going. Like really tough. I don’t believe that a degree is essential to get where you want to be in life, but he has a clear idea of where his future lies (which is more than I can say for me at his age – I think I still believed I was going to be a Radio DJ at that point….) and in order to break in to that sort of career, he does need a degree.

My Big Lad is quiet and sensitive, thoughtful and loving. He still holds my hand when we are out and about ( and I absolutely cherish those moments. Every single one of them.) and becoming a big brother has seen him flourish in to a mature, caring, kind and compassionate young man. He’s a home bird. He loves to hang out at home, he loves family days (he prefers the xbox but he definitely does like the occasional family day!) and he likes to stay close. When letters come out from school about skiing trips to France or trips to New York (I know! New York! New bloody York! Beats the glamorous outdoor pursuits residential weekend in the Lake District (in the torrential rain, no doubt…)that we were offered at school!) and we ask him if he wants to go, he answers instantly with a firm and clear ‘No thanks’ (or maybe minus the ‘thanks’ bit if he’s being particularly teenage angsty…). He isn’t interested in trips away, he’s quite happy remaining at home, in a familiar place with familiar people.

We’ve talked about university before. We have four fantastic universities within a 30-40 minute drive away so moving away to a university further away has never even been something we have contemplated in a conversation. Until Saturday. There we were, casually strolling around the worst smelling farm my nostrils have ever experienced, and the words ‘I think I’d quite like to move away when I go to university’ left his mouth. They left his mouth so carelessly. But with every new syllable my heart dropped further and further in to my stomach. I laughed it off. I used the, you know, ‘I’m smiling and I’m sort of laughing but on the inside I’m literally dying. Dying I tell you!’ laugh. I started off casual, with the, you know, old ‘Who’s going to make you a sunday dinner on a Sunday?’ ‘Who’s going to wash your clothes?’ ‘Who’s going to make sure there’s food in your cupboards?’ but when he answered (a little too promptly for my liking) ‘A local carvery, a local launderette and Tesco’ I needed to ramp it up a little. The conversation gradually built up and up until  I was metaphorically clinging on to the backs of his trousers screaming whilst sobbing ‘Pleeeeease don’t leeeavvve meeeee.’

It shouldn’t have hurt as much as it did. But I think because I know I’ve been the shittest mother ever to walk the planet these past few weeks, I instantly laid the blame at my door. He wants to leave home because I’ve not been home enough. He wants to leave because I’ve been nagging him about his room. He’s leaving because he’s sick of me questioning him on whether he’s brushed his teeth, changed his boxers and used deodorant every morning. He’s leaving, well, because he’d rather live alone than live with his Mum. The guilt. Oh the guilt. It washed over me like a wave. Actually, sod that, it washed over me like a fecking Tsunami.

I couldn’t even count on my husband for moral support. He made a comment like ‘Good for you, son. Get yourself out there’ or something of that nature. I couldn’t hear the exact words for the deafening sound of my heart breaking. I know what you’re probably thinking right now, you’re thinking I’m being dramatic, aren’t you? Well, there is nothing more dramatic than your son telling you that he actually wants to leave home at an undetermined point in the future. That’s just not okay with me. Jokes aside, I’m not ready to let go of his coat tails just yet. And a couple of years isn’t going to make me feel any better, I am certain. I’m being selfish. I know I’m being selfish because what if him leaving home is the making of him? What if this is his chance to make his mark on the world? And I want all that for him. I want his life to be limitless. I want him to have it all. Because he deserves it so much. But I just want him to come back to me afterwards. I love him so much.

This one conversation sent my hormones haywire for the rest of the weekend. The following day we set out on a day trip just the hubby, Little Miss and I (despite my best attempts at persuasion, the Big Lad decided that the Xbox had more appeal on this occasion) and we were travelling in the car when I glanced back at Little Miss. I glanced at her like I glance at her a million times a day, every time we are in the car together, only this time something got me. She was asleep, her little head resting against the side of the car seat. Her eyes closed tight with her long, day eyelashes so still. Her tiny, puffy little hand laid gently on top of the other. Her little feet swaying with the motion of the car. She looked so beautiful. So fragile. I felt something. Like the biggest pounding to my stomach. It was the realisation that in no time at all, she would be having the very same conversation with me too. Because I can’t even begin to emphasis how quick those years have flown over. Time is so precious when you are raising children. You can’t get time back. Every day we spend is a day that we lose. Every moment we share with our children is gone in an instant. I have never been surer of the need to cherish every single moment with my two children. Even the moments where you’re frazzled, drained of all energy and surrounded by poo and vomit. Because these moments are time limited. We will spend a lifetime afterwards trying to recall the every detail of these precious moments as we create a lifetime of memories in our minds.

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That realisation flooded me with emotion and I instantly began to cry. I think some of those tears was about the fact that I feel like my time with the Big Lad is running out and the guilt of wasting some of the time during his childhood being wrapped up in work; and some of them were about me becoming overwhelmed with the fact that I have another childhood to enjoy, treasure and cherish with the Little Miss. I wished I hadn’t bothered spending so much time on precision eye liner because within seconds I looked like someone out of Kiss. Thanks goodness it was sunny enough for me to realistically justify wearing sunglasses, avoiding the ‘I’m wearing sunglasses in the dark like a Z-Lister’ look.

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They may be 15 years and 18 months old but I want to protect them until my dying day. I want to see to their needs every single day of their lives. I want to protect them from heart break. I want to protect them from disappointment, upset, feeling sick, scared – the lot. I know that they have to get big and grown up one day. I’m not daft, I know they can’t stay with me forever (although that won’t stop me trying to come up with reasons why they should….) but I don’t want to think about that right now. I’m not ready to think about that right now. This weekend has served as a reminder that being Mum to my two children is a privilege. It’s a privilege that not all people get. Whilst life will invariably place a strain on me being Mum of the Year from time to time, I want to be the best Mum I possibly can be because when I wave them both off to enter in to the big wide world on their own (when they’re like aged 62 or something….) I want to know that I did the best I can and made the most of every single precious moment of their childhood. I don’t want to think ‘I wish I put my mobile phone down more’ or ‘I wish I put the laptop away on an evening and spent it with the kids instead’ or ‘I wish I’d taken more time as a family’ because I can only imagine how difficult it would be to live with those thoughts. As mums we feel guilt as a default emotion; most of the time it is misplaced and it is certainly a pointless emotion as no good can come of it. I don’t want to feel guilt. I just want to know, in my own mind, that I’ve done the very best I can. Because, then, I can live with that.

 

I think I’m finding myself again

I’m sure many of you will understand me when I say I think I’ve lost myself for a little while. I’ve never been one to think or feel that in becoming a mum I lost myself, because I definitely don’t feel like that is the reason for it. I’ve been a mum for fifteen years so although we have a baby (more a toddler these days but I’m not ready to part with the term ‘baby’ just yet..) being a mum isn’t new to me. After ten years of trying to conceive our little lady, becoming a mum again was something I had dreamed about over and over and over again. My arms yearned to hold a baby; my heart yearned to be a mum again. When Little Miss came along she completed our family and with her she’s brought such joy. Both of them have.

 

So why do I feel like I’ve lost myself? I suppose I hadn’t really realised I had, to be honest. As a working mum, I throw myself in to the same routine every day, getting ourselves up and ready, getting the Big Lad off to school, getting the Little Miss off to nursery, getting to work, dealing with whatever work throws at me, then home with the kids and the bedtime routine ensues. By the time they have both settled down I am fighting with all my might to keep my eyes open.

 

As much as I love work and as much as I am passionate about my business and excited by where we are taking the business, I got myself in a rut, doing the same routine day after day with no time reserved on any day for doing anything specifically for ‘me’.

 

Last year I went through a period of going swimming a few times a week, only for half an hour each time, but it offered me some time just to focus on nothing other than myself. I was feeling much better on a physical level and it did me good to get out and do something outside of our usual routine. Then the winter came and I got lazy. I opted to curl up on the sofa in my pyjamas rather than head out for a swim. And now I’m out of habit of doing it and there just never seems any time for it anyway.

 

It wasn’t until my Mum and I went to a Psychic event and one of the Psychics picked up immediately on the fact that I had been feeling down and not feeling myself that I even recognized that I hadn’t been myself. It was like, in one statement from the Psychic, I suddenly realised that I had been feeling pretty low and not myself. I guess as mums we push our own emotions to the side and we rarely have the time or inclination to process them and really consider why we feel what we feel.

 

The revelation made me really thoughtful. I realised that I had stopped doing even the smallest of things that used to bring me pleasure as an individual. Not as a mum, not as a wife, not as a business owner – but as me. I realised that I hadn’t read a book in a very very long time. As an ex English Teacher, I’ve read hundreds of books and thoroughly enjoyed many of them. So why had I stopped reading? Maybe because I didn’t have time. Maybe because I didn’t make time for it.

 

The one thing that really lights fire in my belly is writing. I have always written creatively and nothing gives me greater satisfaction. Yes, I’ve written the occasional blog post but I haven’t explored the daily ideas I think about for future pieces of writing and I can’t understand why; there has been nothing stopping me doing a bit of writing after the kids go to bed each night. The only person stopping myself from doing it is me. I can’t even begin to understand why I would stop doing something that gives me such satisfaction and enjoyment.

 

Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have really made an effort to pursue time on a daily basis dedicated to what I want to do, dedicated to what will bring me enjoyment for me. I have started writing creatively again and it genuinely excites me. I have bought some new books and have started reading again. I might only manage ten minutes of reading a night before my eyes decide to close themselves out of sheer tiredness but that doesn’t matter – at least I am going to bed each night knowing that I have had some time out of that daily routine all about everybody else, to focus on me and what makes me happy.

 

As a woman I think we naturally tend to put others before ourselves. We’ll happily do whatever it takes to make our children happy, make our husband happy, or our parents, sister; the postman or the candlestick maker; we are generally far more comfortable devoting time to making others happy rather than spending time on ourselves.

 

I have had a realisation that in order for me to the best Mum I can be, I need that time for me. Having that time for me means that on an emotional level I am so much more happier and we shouldn’t underestimate the impact this has on our parenting.

 

Being a mum, or taking on any other roles, doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves. I hadn’t even realised that I had got lost in the routine and monotony of the every day. I’m sure it won’t be the last time it happens. I think even just by acknowledging the fact that as people, as human beings, we deserve time for our interests, our ambitions, our hobbies, our enjoyment; is a huge step in the right direction.

 

I know how full on it can be as a Mum. I’ve done the nights where Little Miss has resisted sleep until the small hours and then you’ve got to get yourself straight to bed so that you’re able to be even the slightest big functional in the morning. I’m not daft enough to believe that there will always be time to focus on ourselves every day but we should definitely take ownership of that time where it is possible. Grab the five minutes here, the ten minutes there and spend it wisely. Spend it on something that ignites your soul. Something that excites you. Something just for you. Because, ultimately, we deserve it. It’s working for me. I’m so much better for it too.

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 Day in the Life of #ThisMum: Jen from Life-Milk Blog

Hi folks, I hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend and enjoying the lead up to the festivities. I can’t actually believe we are so close to Christmas! This time next week and the main event is in touching distance! We braved town yesterday to get a couple of last minute bits (if I spend any more money on this Christmas please feel free to hit me round the chops with a wet spanner…) and before going I was dreading it. Who is stupid enough to go in to the city centre, a week before Christmas, with a one year old (who, by the way, isn’t much of a fan of shopping) whilst feeling very hormonal? Me. That’s who. I thought it would be hell on earth. Mainly, because it’s bad enough to be in a wheelchair in a busy place (constantly apologising for catching people’s ankles on the wheels or constantly pleading with people to actually see me and let me past, you know, that sort of thing) but being in a wheelchair with a baby sitting on your knee a week before Christmas sounded like a pretty bad plan to me. But we had to go, I’d left it too late to order the stuff online – ‘my bad’ (isn’t that what the young’ens say these days?!). Anyway, we went and what started as a ‘we’ll dash in, get what we need and dash out’ trip ended in us staying there all day. It was actually really lovely. Yes, it was busy – it was heaving in fact. But it was heaving with lovely people generally. We got stopped by a couple of people in the street who were handing out christmas cards and chocolates to the passers by – there was a slightly religious theme to the card but what a lovely gesture. My Little Miss is going through a phase of saying ‘Hiya’ to EVERY single person that she sees – regardless of whether they look friendly or not. Lots of people stopped to say hi back, squeezing her little hands, or patting her on the head. Even the ones in a hurry said hello back and smiled as they hurried past us. There were buskers in the street singing festive songs (and one very heavy rock singer who wasn’t quite so festive but, you know, not everyone wants to sing Wham or Mariah Carey at Christmas time) and shop staff dressed up as jolly elves greeting the children that entered the shops. It was lovely; it was a nice time to be a human. And we got everything we needed so I am now officially DONE! Hallelujah! I still have to wrap it all like but hey, details details…..

I have been so excited about sharing today’s #ThisMum post with you all. It is by Jen from the Life-Milk blog and she has very kindly allowed us in to her life for a day as part of this series. I tweeted many times to invite lots of fabulous mums to join in and participate in the #ThisMum series and, to my knowledge, Jen was the only single parent to respond. I’m so pleased that we have been able to feature a single mum. I come from a single parent family; my mum was a single mum after my Dad left when my sister and I were little. I know from first hand experience that being a single parent can be challenging. I say ‘can be challenging’ because I don’t want to make any rash generalisations because every family is different but i know on a personal level that there were times when being a single mum was really hard on my Mum. After reading Jen’s post I instantly found her inspirational. Her love and dedication to her daughter comes across loud and clear and the relationship between Jen and 9 year old Kourtney sounds really really special. I won’t spoil it for you by giving away any further spoilers and I’ll let you read it for yourself. You are going to love this one just as much as I did, I know it!

Hello Everyone,

My name is Jen and I am a 28-year-old single mother to my gorgeous 9-year-old daughter, Kourtney. I currently work part-time for a local authority in corporate services as a Marketing Business Development Executive. My usual day is quite full on as I juggle it all alone and although it can get very overwhelming at times, I am definitely used to it.

My alarm clock is Kourtney… I rarely set an alarm as I can guarantee that she will wake me up before it goes off! I would say that my usual day starts any time between 6 and 6.30am, with Kourtney delving into my bed for cuddles. We have an extremely tight bond as it has just been me and her for the last five years. We lay there for about 10-15 minutes, just chatting about anything and giving each other squeezes. Sometimes it is nice and other times annoying as I could do with the extra minutes sleep… ha-ha.

Once we have finally left my bed, we will brush our teeth and wash our face in the bathroom sink. As Kourtney is nine, she is at the age where she will wash and dress herself. Whilst she showers, I will go to the kitchen and make my first hot drink of the day, this can vary from coffee to green tea… depends whether I am on a detox or extremely tired. I try to sit at my dining table for at least 5 minutes with my hot drink, to gather my thoughts and enjoy the peace, I get whilst Kourtney is getting ready. After that, I am literally gulping my tea/coffee at any chance I can get before, we have to leave out. I always make Kourtney a glass of water and leave it on the side for her as she is usually quite thirsty, when she first wakes up.

Depending on the time we have got up, at around 7.15/30am, I have my shower whilst Kourtney is now getting dressed. Kourtney likes to listen to a times table song when she is getting ready, which has a really annoying excited tune that’s far to elaborate for these zombie hours. However, I embrace it as best as I can, because I know it is beneficial.

Once I am out of the shower, I immediately get dressed and do my hair and makeup. By this time Kourtney should be ready (she operates slower than a snail,) and then I will do her hair unless she already has it in a style in from our hairdresser. Breakfast is next and I have usually prepared it from the night before… this ranges from pancakes to toasties – my daughter isn’t really a cereal kind of child. I try my hardest to not skip breakfast but I would be lying, if I said it didn’t happen from time to time. When we have finished breakfast, I collect the lunches from the fridge as I always make them the night before as well. We pack our bags, get our shoes and coat on… and were ready to leave!

This September, Kourtney started a new school which is forty minutes away and we travel by car. Kourtney always reads to me for ten minutes of the journey, apart from weekends. We discuss what she has read before turning on BBC Radio2 for the remainder of our car journey. We always arrive at Kourtney’s school about 5-10 minutes before the school bell rings as I hate rushing and can’t deal with feeling hot and flustered. School starts at 8.45am, however Kourtney’s teacher will let them in class from 8.35am – this is handy for me as it gives me extra travel time to get to work.

Once I have kissed Kourtney ‘goodbye’ and seen her off, I get back into my car and make my way to work. I went part-time as of October, this year and so my working hours are 9.30am to 2.30pm every day. If traffic is on my side, I can get to work in thirty minutes from Kourtney’s school BUT, if it wants to be a sod then it can take forty five minutes to get in. My best friend always calls me at 8.50am, as we have both dropped our kids by then and we have a catch up and gossip until one of us reaches work. I park my car, ten minutes away from work as it is free parking (YASS) and I do love walking anyway.

 

Although I am not in my chosen career, I do enjoy what I do plus it is my time to be my 28 year-old self without a child in tow. As I mentioned before, I am a Marketing Business Development Executive and my role involves running campaigns and maintaining a relationship with our clients across the United Kingdom, through various platforms. I consider myself to have a very good work ethic and as I am the only one in my role, I have a daily hefty workload to manage. I have both a photo of Kourtney and a drawing, which she made for me on my desk. It is my daily reminder for me, to never give up and to always work as I want to be the best role model for my princess.

My day goes super-fast now I am working part-time, I usually have at least two meetings day and 50 odd emails that I aim to respond to within the same day of receiving it. I do have the option to work from home but I only do it, if I need to i.e. Kourtney is sick or it is the school holiday. I write a to-do list at the start of the week which usually increases as the week commences; however I do aim to complete everything by Friday or I will end up switching on my laptop on the weekend and doing work.

 

I leave the office between 2.30 and 2.40pm and head straight to Kourtney’s school. I absolutely adore being able to do the normal school as previously she attended after school club and collection was at 6pm. Most days we head straight home as I like to keep Kourtney in routine as much as possible, apart from Wednesdays as she has gymnastics after school. When we arrive home at 4pm, I immediately empty and wash Kourtney’s pack lunch box, whilst Kourtney unpacks her school bag and changes out of her uniform. Hold on… actually I remove my bra as soon as I get in – I despise them!!!

Once we have sorted ourselves out, I prepare a healthy snack for Kourtney which will range from fruits to oatmeal bites. We have a catch up about our days and then we either crack on with home learning or free play dependent on the day. As Kourtney attends Saturday school and I am preparing her for an independent or grammar school for her secondary education, it is very important that we do home learning 3-4 times a week. We do home learning or free play for one hour and then it is dinner time. Obviously, my days don’t run as smooth as I would always like it to but hey… that’s life!

 

The time is usually about 6/6.30pm when we have finished dinner and I always wash up straight away to avoid a huge pile up whilst Kourtney gets into the shower. I will also make our breakfast and lunches at time so any hot food has a chance to cool before they go in the fridge. Once I have finished giving the kitchen a quick whizz, we are settle on the sofa to read for ten minutes and do our peak & pit – a concept I introduced to describe the highlight and downfall of our day. We have a discussion on what we have read and then myself of Kourtney, records our comments in her reading record. This will usually take thirty minutes in total and the time will be roughly between 7 and 7.30pm. Kourtney goes to bed at 8pm and will tidy her room and get all her things by the door ready for the next day.

 

Once I have kissed Kourtney ‘goodnight’ and seen her off to bed… IT IS OFFICIALLY ME TIME!!! Although, I would say it is 50/50 of me getting to enjoy the things I like doing. Sometimes, I can kick back and watch a movie with a glass of wine or chinwag on the phone to a friend; but other times I am either doing work on my laptop or cleaning somewhere in my gaff (no rest for the wicked.) I always have a bath before bed as I like to feel fresh and relaxed as possible before I go to sleep. Once I am fresh as a daisy, I delve into bed about 10/10.30pm and aim to be asleep, at the latest 11pm, ready to do it all again the next day.

 

Links:

Email: LifeMilk@mail.com

Blog: Life-Milk.com

Insta: LifeMilk_

Twitter: LifeMilk2016

Told you you’d love it! Thank you so, so, SO much for guest blogging for me, Jen. I have really loved working with you. I’m going to steal Jen’s ‘Peak and Pit’ concept – what a fabulous way to get children engaging in conversation over the dinner table! Hopefully using Jen’s fab idea I’ll get more than a very grumpy ‘I dunno’ answer to every question I ask my teenager about his day! Massive thanks to Jen for sharing her life with us for a day; before you do anything else give Jen’s blog a visit, you will LOVE it! You can find it here

I’ll be back on Tuesday with yet another fabulous mummy and the #ThisMum series will wrap up a week today with another fantastic post to close the series. It’s been an amazing project to work on and I have met so many fabulous, inspirational mums as a result.

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum: Amy

Ola! It’s that time again folks! This time it’s the turn of Amy from ‘The Rolling Baby’ blog. Amy has a beautiful baby girl and is giving us an insight to an average day in her life. She’s currently on maternity leave so it was really lovely to read about how she and her little one spend the days together. I loved that every week they have dedicated time to spend with the baby’s grandparents – they aren’t small for long and sharing the precious first months and years with family is really special – for both them and the baby! My mum lives a good fifty minute or so drive away from me so still relatively local but she doesn’t live close enough for me to just pop in unannounced. She gets so much joy out of spending time with both my children and they absolutely love seeing her. Even my Big Lad, who turns 15 in January, will continually ask to stay over at Grandma’s or to go and see her. He gets absolutely spoilt by her – there’ll be popcorn, sweets, ice cream on the go – the lot! But I love that they have such a close relationship. I know not everybody has grandparents so I feel very blessed to still have two of my grandparents around and that my children have grown up with two grandfathers and a grandmother. Not everybody has that luxury these days and it’s something I won’t ever take for granted. 

Without any further a-do, let’s open the door on a day in Amy’s life!

Little one usually wakes up somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30am. My other half will usually change her nappy while I get her milk ready, then I’ll feed her while he gets ready for work and takes our dog for a walk.

An hour to an hour and a half after first waking up and after daddy’s gone to work, little one will have her first nap of the day. During this time, I grab the laptop and a cup of tea and will blog, catch up on what I’ve missed on Twitter and join a linky (or two!) I usually put either Emmerdale or Coronation Street on in the background too, but have to quickly turn the volume down when the theme music comes on otherwise it wakes up baby.

When little one wakes up, I’ll prepare a breakfast of porridge for us both. Then, we’ll head back upstairs and get ready. Being on maternity leave means we have real lazy mornings and by the time we’ve dressed and ready for the day it’s usually late morning.

From there I’ll do a few chores such as the washing and putting the drying up away from the previous evening’s dinner. We often then go for a walk around the block. It’s not far but it gets us out of the house and some fresh air into our lungs for half an hour or so and the dog loves it! I’ve got a shopping bag clip which I use to attach his lead to the stroller so I don’t have to worry about him running away.

Two days a week we spend the afternoon at my mums. We have lunch there, a catch up, a bit of play and little one generally falls asleep while cuddling her nanna. I usually use this time to do a bit of shopping on my phone – it’s mostly Christmas shopping at the moment, but I also throw things in my online Asda trolley too. When my dad gets back from work, he has around half an hour with little one before we head home to see daddy, have dinner and get to bed.

On the days we don’t go to my mum’s, we mostly potter around the house. Sometimes we’ll go out to the shops – we love a little wander around B&M and it usually sends little one to sleep. I also try to squeeze in an exercise DVD as I’m trying to get fit and lose my baby weight. We play fetch with the dog a lot as little one loves laying on her tummy on the floor so she’s face to face with him and it really makes her laugh.

My other half gets home around 6pm and I try to have dinner ready for then, although it is baby permitting! We’ll eat, give little one a bath and get her ready for bed. She then has her milk before I lay her in her cot and read her a story. From here anything can happen! We encourage her to stay in her cot for as long as possible, but at the moment we’re going through a ‘I’m not sleeping until at least 10pm‘ stage, so when she starts kicking and screaming we usually end up taking her out and rocking her to soothe her.

If we’re lucky we’ll then squeeze in a bit of TV before heading to bed, ready to do it all again the following day!

Ahh, thank you so much Amy for being involved and for guest blogging for me. I have to thank Amy also for being such an all-round-lovely-person too – whenever I take to Twitter to blow off some (digital) steam or I grumble on about not getting any sleep or about the time I’ve spent picking boogas out of my Little Miss’ nose, Amy is always there with something lovely to say. She is so supportive and it is appreciated loads. 

Reading about Amy’s days on maternity leave brought back fond memories of mine. It feels like it was years ago but it was only this time last year. One thing that Amy manages in her day that I didn’t most days was to get dressed and get out! I’m no mathematician but I think it would be pretty bang on to guesstimate that I spent at least 75% of my maternity leave in my Pyjamas, with no make up on and my hair pulled (very roughly) in to the ultimate of mum-buns. The days were never very organised or routine but we bumbled through it, the two of us, enjoying the time together. In the early days I would stress about the state of the house, the never-ending pile of washing and ironing, the lack of time to prepare meals in advance (looking back I’m not entirely sure what I WAS doing mind, she slept for the best part of 3 months!) and the list went on. The best piece of advice I was given was from a friend who told me ‘With a baby you have to lower your standards for everything else, then lower them again’ and I totally got that. Having a newborn baby – any baby – changes everything – your pre-baby routine, your energy levels, your priorities – the lot. It is impossible sometimes to keep all the plates spinning just as fast and efficiently as you did before. I gave myself a bit of a tough time at first over not managing to be the ultimate house wife whilst on maternity leave but my friend was right. As long as the baby is warm, fed, loved and the house is relatively clean (you’ll note I didn’t say ‘tidy’ – my house was never tidy for a number of months!!!) that is what matters. The moment I stopped giving myself a hard time over the absence of any ‘Super Mum’ qualities I started to focus on, and enjoy, the time I had with my Little Miss and now I’m looking back on it, I’m so glad that I did that because it does go over so quick and you can never get that time back again.  It sounds like Amy is a lot more organised than me and that they have a great routine going, it sounds like Amy and her Little One have wonderful days, and that’s what it’s all about.

You can keep up to date with Amy and what she’s up to via her blog therollingbaby.co.uk You will love it so make sure you give it a visit! The #ThisMum series continues on Sunday evening with an amazing guest post written by Jen from the Life-Milk blog. I’m really excited about sharing it with you because for one it is utterly brilliant and secondly, we are yet to feature a single mum and Jen very kindly let’s us take a look at an average day in her life as a single mum to a beautiful nine year old daughter. It’s definitely a post you don’t want to miss so keep your eyes peeled for it on Sunday! Until then my lovelies, have a fabulous week!

Another day in the life of #ThisMum

Tonight’s #ThisMum guest post comes from the gorgeous Rebecca from her blog, My Girls and Me. Rebecca has two beautiful girls, one aged 8 and one aged 4. She’s given us a sneak peek at her life as a mum, and you are going to love it. Don’t forget, you can check out her blog by clicking here

 

Hi! My name is Becca & I am a mummy to Rosie-Belle who is 4 and Miyah who is 8 months. Here is what I do, daily!  

I start my mornings by waking up at around 5 o’clock with my OH Michael. He gets up for work around this time, and I get up to say goodbye to him. Sometimes I will get up and stay up with him, other days I would fall back asleep! (More than I would like ha-ha!) If I wake up, I usually potter round the house doing some tidying and getting this ready for when the girls are up. I might have a cuppa and watch one or two soaps.  

The girls get up around 6:30am, I give Rosie a few minutes to get herself up and I take Miyah downstairs and put her in her high chair ready for breakfast. Rosie will come down and start making her own breakfast! (When did she get so big?) Miyah and Rosie have their breakfast and Rosie gets dressed for school. While Rosie is getting dressed, I change Miyah’s bum and get her in clean clothes for the day and give her a bottle if she wants one, sometimes she doesn’t so I let her play! 

Around 8 o clock is when my mum turns up for the school run and I quickly chuck Rosie’s hair up and we are off. The school run takes about an hour if I don’t stop on the way home. When I’m home, I put Miyah on the floor with her toys and I pack away breakfast stuff and set the dishwasher and washing machine on. Since we have recently just moved in so there is a lot of stuff I potter round and do. For example sorting out where stuff needs to go because I’m not happy with the original place lol! 

Around 10:30 Miyah wants a nap. Now Miyah doesn’t usually nap in the day time, she just gets very stressed and closes her eyes for 10 minutes before she is awake again. If she does nap, it could last up to 4 hours. Strange child. In this time, you will more than likely see me tidying, (I know, what more could I possibly do? *my house is a mess*) reading or maybe doing a little work. Answering emails, tweeting etc.  Around 12 o clock i give Miyah dinner, she has probably had about 100 snacks in that time. She will have a jar, a fruit pot and yoghurt and maybe a bottle. I grab myself something and we then play until it’s time to go and pick Rosie up.  

Miyah has just learnt to crawl proper so most of our playing is me crawling on the floor with her looking like a loony, If anyone saw they would be worried haha!  

When we get back from the school run, we get in and unwind from the walk home, and Rosie has a drink and a snack while doing some homework. Miyah if on a good day has fallen asleep in the pram and will sleep for all of about 20 minutes in the house. I start prepping dinner (I have planned what we will have every day of the week of i know what we are doing) and then we chill. This usually means telly on, i check my messages and wait for Michael to get home.  

When Michael is home, we sit down and eat, talk about our days and by the time this is usually all done and i have tidied after dinner it’s about 6 so we watch Simpsons and put the girls to bed. We have a routine for baths and stuff but that’s boring stuff lol. Once the girls are asleep i will potter round picking up toys and doing the rest of the housework before i sit down. This time usually includes watching telly or blog work.  

Well, that’s my day. Pretty boring stuff, but to me it’s my life! There’s always something thrown in everyday to make it a little exciting!  

Thank you Rebecca, your day is far from boring! It has been an absolute pleasure working with you on this! Thank you so much for being a Guest Blogger for the #ThisMum series.

A Day in the Life of #ThisMum

Following on from the fabulous Mums we have already had sharing with us a day in their lives, I am delighted to introduce Rachel from the Nippersnips blog. Rachel is a full time working mum with a gorgeous 3 year old boy and I am super grateful that she opened up a day in her life to us all. Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s blog over at www.nippersnips.com

A day in the life of #Thismum

I’m a full time working mum with a 3 year old boy and a husband. I am besotted with my little one as most mothers are – he is my world.

My 3 year old boy has recently started school nursery. This has brought a little change in all our lives and routine.  He seems to have grown up so much. The school uniform really makes him look older!

A typical day means getting up between 6.30-7am.  This is fantastic considering he used to get up between 5-6am (zombie times).   I have my cuppa tea, (without which I can’t function) and my boy has hot milk and banana.  He is absolutely obsessed by both hot milk and bananas! To him they make the world go round.   I think it must be part of his little routine.  If we ever run out he is devastated.  He has his cereal and then I get ready for work.

I work close to home but this wasn’t always the case.  The best thing I did after I went back to work was changing my job and reducing the commute. I knew putting my boy to bed each night was worth more than anything.

I get to take and pick my boy up from school/after-school-club a few times a week and these are my favourite days. He loves school which makes me so happy and helps to lessen the mum guilt I feel for working full time. I still really struggle with mum guilt but love working too.  It’s a hard balance to reach. I am blessed I work 9-5. This is a huge help.

When we get home I make his tea and chat about his day. Mostly he says “I don’t know” to my questions – which makes me laugh! He doesn’t know what he’s done, who he’s played with or what he’s had to eat.  So I’m none the wiser after our little talks! Despite this we have lots of fun, cuddles and giggles. Recently he’s been pretty grumpy too but he’s just tired after school.

After tea he has a bath and I love to watch him play. He’s now making up stories and characters with his bath toys.  It’s such a pleasure to observe and he hates getting out of the bath.

He normally objects to going to bed and asks for “2 minutes” ha ha. But I’m lucky he actually loves his little routine of Pj’s , story and sleep.  I do have to “settle “him as he calls it.  This is me stroking his hair and saying “night night”. Then amazingly he goes to sleep around 7.30 and I watch him through our monitor.  It wasn’t always this easy. I’ve had many a sleepless and rough night, believe me – I have endured the worst sleep deprivation.  Recently he is so zonked out and is sleeping so well, I just pinch myself. What a difference this makes to our family.  He must be using his brain power at school!

I’m so proud he’s mine and count my blessings every day that he’s such a good boy.

Rachel, Nippersnips

A HUGE thank you to Rachel from Nippersnips for this wonderful post. Reading that she’s come through the sleep deprivation and now has her lovely boy sleeping really well gives me hope that I won’t forever resemble a Zombie and that my child may, one day, decide to sleep! Thank you so much, Rachel. 

Don’t forget to visit Rachel’s blog! www.nippersnips.com

I am absolutely loving the #ThisMum series and reading what ‘being a mum’ looks like for so many different mums. None of this would be possible without the wonderful mums who have agreed to guest blog for this series so a massive thanks goes out to every mum who has posted already and is in the wings ready for the post to go live. I’ve got several mums lined up for spots well in to the month of December with lots more waiting to be scheduled so I am so excited that we can continue the series and gain an insight to the real diversity across a larger group of Mums.

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!’ 

 

 

A Day in the life of #ThisMum

A Day in the life of #ThisMum

Contrary to the popular belief that mums sit drinking coffee and watch Jezza Kyle all day, I believe that us mums are pretty special beings. Whilst we have one massive thing in common, there is such huge variation and diversity in the way we choose to raise our children, our family set up at home, our working situation, our culture and our way of life. I don’t want to get all poetic about it but it is in these differences where beauty lies. We are all Mums, and I’m sure we all view this as being our most important role in life, but we are also people in our own right, with different ambitions, dreams, priorities, responsibilities, hobbies and interests. To celebrate the beautiful differences between us that make every mum unique, I have launched a series called #ThisMum where guest bloggers share a day in their life.

I have already got some truly fantastic and inspiring Mums lined up to share a day in their life with us; I am so excited to read all about a day in their shoes. If you would like to contribute, I’d love you to get in touch with me via babyandboardroom@gmail.com

 A Day in the life of Me #ThisMum

My day usually starts between 6am and 7am when Little Miss decides to wake up for the day. If I’ve had a particularly rough night with her, my husband will get up with her and send me back to bed for an hour. She’s definitely not a fan of sleep and after fourteen years of being out of the baby game, it’s been a bit of a shock to the system! I take morphine to help control the pain I get from a chronic disease and it can make me feel a little spaced out if I haven’t had enough sleep so I try to get an extra hour of sleep if I can so that I can be more functional throughout the rest of the day.

Once up, it’s a case of all systems go to get my Big Lad fed and off out to school. Once he is on his way, I like to spend some time with Little Miss. I had to put her in to nursery and return to work quite early after maternity leave so I do like to steal at least an hour with her on a morning before dropping her off at nursery. I’m really enjoying the age she’s at now; she’s just turned one and she’s learning new words, new skills and new quirks every single day. At the moment she is totally obsessed with dolls or ‘babies’ as she knows them! She likes to kiss them and she makes an ‘Ahhh’ noise when she cuddles them. She’s very cute! This level of cuteness does not make it any easier to leave her and go to work!

As I work with my husband, we all leave in one car. We drop Little Miss off at nursery and head to the office. We own a recruitment agency and our office is in a business centre not far from where we live. Although we both work for the same business, my husband and I have very different roles. A lot of friends have asked how we manage to work together; I know it’s not an arrangement that would appeal to everybody but it really does work for us. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid work stuff spilling in to our personal life, but this is rare and on the whole we work very well together. The way in which I see it is that my business is my livelihood and my children’s future; I would far rather entrust my husband with that business, someone with whom I share trust and understanding, than a complete stranger.

I spend most of the day working with candidates who have applied for vacancies I am working on behalf of my clients. This involves assessing candidates suitability, assessing them against the job spec and getting a feel for whether they would be a ‘good fit’ for the role with my client. I really enjoy my job. I feel very privileged that I get to work for myself and that I never ever feel work dread in any way. I have had jobs in the past that I haven’t enjoyed and the impact that had on my life was huge. Equally, the fact that I enjoy my work has a hugely positive impact on my life. I don’t dread the alarm going off on a morning (unless the bambino has had me up half the night singing Twinkle Twinkle on repeat for six hours straight, of course!) and I never feel the need to complain about going to work. If truth be known, I am the sort of person that needs work. For all I love spending time with my children, I am acutely aware of my need to pursue something for me and that something is work. Work helps me feel a sense of self worth and it helps me to feel fulfilled. I remember during my maternity leave, I would have days where I wouldn’t even make it out of my pyjamas (quite frequently in all honesty) and when my husband returned from work having done a day’s work I felt like I had achieved nothing with my time and there was a part of me that felt very unfulfilled. I would hate for anyone to interpret that as me taking my baby for granted or me saying that being a mum doesn’t fulfill me, because I don’t and it does. I will never ever forget how blessed we are to have two children, we fought for ten years for our Little Miss and she was a true miracle, so I will never ever forget how blessed we are to have her, but speaking frankly, I’m just one of those people that feels work plays a huge role in how I view myself, my self esteem, my self worth and my satisfaction and , above all, I enjoy it. I enjoy the days in the office where the phones never stop ringing and we have to work at a crazy ass pace to get everything done I time; I get a real buzz from that. And on the tough days, the days where stress is a huge factor, I remind myself that I am very lucky to have the privilege of building something that will hopefully be of value to our children in the future.

I do miss the children when I’m at work. I surround myself with their photographs, their cards and drawings (and nice stationery too!) on my desk and if ever I have a wobble and get an attack of the killer mum guilt, I look at my beautiful kiddiwinkles on those photos and remind myself that I do it all for them.

At around 4.30pm my husband and I shut down the computers and go to collect our Little Miss from Nursery. Our Nursery give us a little ‘run down’ of her day including the meals she’s eaten (or not eaten!!), the naps she’s had, the nappies and the amount of milk she’s had. They are really comprehensive which makes me feel like I’ve got a better sense of the kind of day she has had. There is no better feeling than opening the door of the Baby room to see her sitting there, all smiley and happy, reaching out her arms to me to pick her up. We then head for home where our teenage son is usually home from school already.

Our Little Miss and Big Lad have the most beautiful relationship and when we get home, the baby is always keen for cuddles from her Big Brother. The older she is getting, the more she is enjoying a bit of gentle rough and tumble play, tickling and rolling about with him, I love to watch them having fun with each other because when I was pregnant I worried so much about such a huge age gap that I thought a relationship so close as the one they have was highly unlikely.

We give Little Miss a bit of a snack as she has a light tea at nursery. She has a real thing for humus at the moment and would literally bathe in the stuff (she has, in actual fact, bathed in the stuff. Our bath has seen more chickpeas recently than it has water) all day every day if she could. She started out by dipping breadsticks in it and recently she’s just abandoned the bread sticks and is sticking her full on hand in it and lapping it up. She’s definitely not a ‘I like to be clean’ baby but who wants one of those anyway?!

We tend to get the baby bathed and down to bed before we have tea the three of us. I expect this will change when Little Miss starts staying up a bit later and then we can all eat together but at the moment it’s a real struggle to keep her awake until 6.30pm and she will not wait around for anyone! I always like to feed her a bottle before bed, in the nursery with the lights down. Sometimes we sing (Not ‘we’ at all – it’s more a case of ‘I’ and I do it very badly!) or sometimes I just like to rock her back and forth, cuddling her in close and breath it all in. Her first year has flown over so quick and as a working mum, I try to take every opportunity to just be present in the moment, make that moment special and take it all in. I think with my first I took those moments absolutely for granted. I suppose being much younger, I didn’t realise just how blessed I was and I did take all those moments for granted – something that I pondered, and regretted bitterly, during our battle with infertility when trying for our second child.

Once Little Miss is asleep I go downstairs and usually by this point the hubby has started to cook dinner. I spend some time with my Big Lad, sometimes supporting him with homework, sometimes listening to the kind of day he’s had, or sometimes we sit and watch TV together. This may be only last around half an hour but that time with him as one on one is so precious to me. Once the meal is cooked, we eat dinner together and then we tend to chill out. We sometimes have pressing work to do that won’t wait until the following morning and on these occasions, we have to get the laptops out after dinner and continue working but this only happens a couple of times a week. The rest of the time we enjoy watching all sorts of TV, sometimes as a three, sometimes just my hubby and I if the Big Lad is doing his own thing.

By about 9pm usually I am either curled up on the sofa already well and truly in the land of nod or I’m struggling with pain. I take more morphine on an evening before bed so I take that and usually end up in a very sleepy state with my hubby nudging me, telling me to stop drooling on him or something equally as undignified and tells me to get myself to bed. I am terrible for climbing into bed and then ‘just checking’ my phone for any emails or social media notifications. There’s been occasions where I have gone to ‘just check’ my phone momentarily and the next moment I look up and I’ve lost an entire hour to scrolling down Twitter or Facebook. I always get so cross with myself for sacrificing an hour of valuable sleep for pointless scrolling yet find myself doing exactly the same thing again the following night! I promised myself months ago I would leave my mobile phone downstairs in order to try and improve me quality (and quantity!) of sleep. Some promise that was, I didn’t manage it even once!

My day usually ends with the heavenly feeling you get when you swing your legs into bed, bury deep down in to the quilted duvet and slowly close your eyes, anticipating a purely beautiful night’s sleep. Then the baby monitor crackles. Then there’s crying. Then the eyes open and the legs are swung back out of bed and the ‘bedtime with a baby marathon’ begins!