Goodbye guilt…or at least some of it

Goodbye guilt…or at least some of it

The last couple of weeks I have been feeling angry, lonely and unsupported. I feel this way every now and then – it is a byproduct of being a single working mum of two boys especially where one has a serious health condition. As a result I know I get snappy, grumpy and tears and sometimes there is just nothing to hold back the emotions.

But I am getting better at recognising I feel that way and that I am may be overreacting (although I can’t always stop it)

So last week I attended a ditch the mummy guilt webinar by Cass Dunn which was really good, and very appropriate. It felt like she had been listening in on some of my conversations and thoughts. Lately I have been much better at self care – exercising at home as it is too hard to get out, eating better, spending more time with the kids (new things every day as per last post). But the webinar made me think about the fact that I need to do more to show my boys that sometimes I need to put me first and that it is ok.

So how am I going with ditching the guilt? I am trying to question my decisions less, I am trying to get my boys to help out more, and I am trying to focus solely on the boys when I am with them and not feeling guilty when I am not doing stuff with them (quality over quantity).

My big win though happened a couple of days ago. I have been separated for just over three years and as he works varied shifts and days in his job I have always been very flexible with when he sees the boys. And as his shifts often change I change plans so the boys can be with him or come home to me when he has to go to work. This time when he cancelled a weekend he was supposed to have the boys I advised I had plans that I could not change as I have organised a night out with friends I haven’t seen for over a year. This means the boys have to go to my exs mums for the weekend which they will not be happy about. I felt the guilt start to creep in but stopped it. I deserve a night out and, while they may not enjoy their weekend, they will get a better mum as a result. And maybe as a side benefit they will realise a few of the things I do to make their weekends better.

So it is still a work in progress but one baby step at a time I am going to reduce the mummy guilt and I hope it is better for all three of us.

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Something new every day

Something new every day

Last week my boys were at their dads for the week as it was the second week of the school holidays. The house was quiet, the dog was restless and the million jobs I had planned to just didn’t quite get there as I worked too many hours. However not having to do dinner and bedtime routine every night meant that I had more thinking time as well. And one thing I thought about was how easily our life has fallen into a rut. Routine is necessary in my house – single working mum of two children with one having a serious health condition that means constant hospital visits. And sometimes it easier to take easy options than push for changes and listen to complaining and meltdowns. But something had to change – boundaries and comfort zones need to be stretched a little. Changing things in a house that thrives on routine can be like putting a puzzle together. Trying different pieces and connections until something fits.

So when the boys came home I told them every day we were going to do one thing that we either had never done before or had not done for a long time. Sometimes it would be big, other times small but it would be every day. It could be to do with what we eat, watch, play or where we go. I was worried about how they would take it but should of known their first suggestions would be a trip to Queensland (where we had gone two and a half years ago) and to America where they have never been. So the first few days will be my choice.

So we are now three days in to our something new every day and it is going really well. We are connecting more, trying new things and they are feeling really positive about it. And what have we done?

Day one. We made pita bread chips to have with dip. Started simple but they loved them, ate them straight away and want to do it again

Day two. Started watching a kids series none of us had seen before on Netflix which was based on the movie Turbo. We all sat and watched it together, my eldest put down his IPod and we had some laughs (they wanted to watch another episode today)

Day three. Played a new card game I had bought called Mars Needs Heroes. It was easy to play and lots of fun so we ended up playing two games of it.

I am certainly not expecting every day to go this well, especially when I start trying different foods. But at the moment they are loving the idea and I am loving stretching our boundaries and finding some bright moments in each day.

Mindful baking

Mindful baking

Baking has always been a go to for me for stress relief, for relaxation and for a feeling of accomplishment. When I am truly caught up in my baking it is the moment that I am most mindful, totally in the moment. I love the process, I love the outcome and I love the happy faces when enjoying what I have made. I love having homemade food there ready for my friends and family and I love knowing exactly what has gone into the food.

Recently I have been baking a lot less due to lack of time and lack of motivation. But I am trying to turn things around and for me baking is part of my self care. So last weekend I put some music on and “got my bake on”. My kitchen bench (which is quite large) was filling with baked goods and the house smelt great. For anyone who has seen the Netflix series Good Girls it resembled Beth’s bench in many episodes – full of cooling racks and containers.

I made pumpkin soup, ham and cheese mini quiches, cheese and zucchini muffins and hedgehog slice. My boys had been with their dad and came home to a lot of food. I felt accomplished, relaxed and prepared for the week.

My youngest has recently taken to baking with me which I love. They both do kitchen at school but now he wants to do things at home as well. So far we have done ANZAC biscuits, chocolate chip biscuits and this week, while he has been on school holidays we made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. He loves it too and it is a great bonding, non screen activity for us. Next he wants to try a cheesecake – not sure why that has popped into his head.

So I love my mindful baking and I love sharing it with my kids. Now I just have to make sure I do it more often and remember that it is not just preparing food for me – it is taking a breath and being in the moment.

Yell out if I can do anything…

Yell out if I can do anything…

How often have you said that to someone? I think most of us would have said this many times. And when we say it we mean it. But what does it mean to the person you are saying it to?

For those who follow my blog you may have noticed that I have disappeared for about four months. My eldest son, who has some very serious health issues, has had a couple of surgeries on his leg over this time and as a result has been in a wheelchair and had many medical appointments. On top of this we had adjustments and processes to go through every day at home. It has been a drain physically and mentally for us and most days it has been doing what we need to do to get through that day. With the knowledge there is still one more surgery as well as rehab etc some days the best you can do is the minimum that needs to be done that day.

To be able to handle all of this, and drop him to and from school each day (bus was out of the question) I have been working from home since mid March and outing a have been a lot more restricted. Even things he can do physically have been difficult because of his mental health. So it has been quite isolating on some days and when I write my three points of gratitude each night some days are much harder than others.

So back to my original point – I have heard those words so many times in the last four months. And I know everyone is coming from the right place, just as I am every time I have said it. And I know for a lot of those people if I rang them with a request they are there. However given what I have gone through, and what is still ahead, my approach in these situations will change in the future.

On most days at the moment if you ask me what you can do my answer is either “Nothing” or “I am not sure”. This is not me being a martyr or thinking everything is perfect/I’m on top of everything. It is that when you are in a whirl of physical and mental health issues and are living day to day you often don’t know what needs to be done next or what to prioritise.

So here is what I will try and do differently from now on when I am speaking to someone doing it tough.

  1. Be specific about what I am offering – “how about I come and mind the kids for an hour so you can go for a walk/shop on your own/have a nap”
  2. Think of something the person won’t have time to do that can make a huge difference – “I knew you wouldn’t have time to organise a plate for the morning tea at school because you have been at the hospital so I have made some biscuits for you to take”
  3. Check in occasionally and not wait for them to reach out – a quick text to know you are in their thoughts can make a difference to how a day goes
  4. If they live close enough turn up with a coffee or go and out the kettle on and make them a cuppa – sometimes you want to hear about other people’s lives as well as have a chance to download/vent a little.

These are just my thoughts and I certainly appreciate everyone in my life who has said yell out if we can do anything. I just know that some days I don’t want to think about the next step/priority/thing I have missed and just want someone to say “I’m here and I have done this”

Running in my underwear

Running in my underwear

Last Sunday I ran through St Kilda in my underwear.

Possibly I should add more details to this story!

Running through St Kilda in my underwear was for the Cupids Undie Run which is a fundraiser for the Children’s Tumour Foundation of Australia. This foundation supports families impacted by Neurofibromatosis (NF). This is the disorder my eldest son has – he has NF2 which is the rarer form.

The fundraiser raises much needed funds for treatment, family support and research.

Many people have asked if I was embarrassed to run in my undies or said how brave I was. What they don’t understand is that as a parent you feel helpless when you can’t help or fix what is wrong with your child. So the thing I can do is help with funds. And if embarrassing myself for a short time helps raise funds then I am in. This is the second year I have done this and I will continue every year until a cure is found.

Bring on the embarrassment – I am going bigger and better every year. Because I would do anything to take away the stress and pain my beautiful boy suffers.

Not quite new year resolutions

Not quite new year resolutions

I have never believed strongly in making New Years resolutions.

Don’t get me wrong I believe strongly in improving myself and in being positive. I also love the idea of new year fresh start. But it always feels that New Years resolutions set you up for failure. You start with good intentions and then as life gets in the way it starts to feel like you are failing.

However I was listening to a talk on health and well being a few days ago and they were discussing resolutions and the benefit of making decisions on self improvement (not too specific) and to do it a little after New Years. The thought behind that is doing it once the pressure and business of Christmas and New Years has settled down and life has become a little more normal.

So after a week back at work I started to think about what I want for this year. Keeping in mind not being too specific or setting myself up for failure here are my resolutions for a better me that I will try and focus on.

  1. Stop waiting for things I have no control over. My life (and my boys lives) cannot be out on hold waiting for the unknown. What will happen will happen but we have to try and live for now.
  2. Work on my health and wellbeing. With a very tough year ahead for my son medically, and as a result my whole family unit, I need to be taking care of myself in preparation for what’s coming. Nothing too specific here but this includes more exercise, better food, more sleep and going back to my psychologist (note no numbers here on amount of exercise, weight loss etc)
  3. Try something new every week – this can be big or small – and is about putting myself out there more as well as showing the boys it is good to try new things. Next weeks new thing is donating blood which is something I have thought about for a while, other weeks it could be a new recipe.

And while I was going to add more I am stopping there before I set myself up for failure. The beautiful thing about non new year resolutions is they can be edited or added to at any time. So maybe I’ll review this time next month and adjust, or when my son starts his surgeries. And quite possibly, as I have deliberately kept them open to interpretation – they will still be just right.

Happy new year everyone – may 2019 be the year that you make some resolutions that are just right for you.

Book Review: Simon Sidebottom 2, Too Cool For School

Book Review: Simon Sidebottom 2, Too Cool For School

Nearly six months ago I wrote a book review about “A funny thing happened to Simon Sidebottom“.  My son still lists this as one of his favourite books – although he did draw the line as dressing up as the character for book week.

So I was very pleased when the second book came out and was eager to get it for him.  The second in the series is called “A funny thing happened to Simon Sidebottom 2, Too Cool For School“.  Yes – it is quite a long title.

Now to give a quick update my eldest son is nine, loves technology, science and screens, and most of the time will refuse to do much outside of these topics.  While he used to enjoy reading it is now a battle where I buy multitudes of books and he may read one of them (thankfully my youngest son, aged 7, loves to read).

About two weeks ago I walked up to him with the new book while he was laying on the couch playing his iPod.  To my surprise he put it down straight away and opened the book.  This alone is a massive win and a credit to the author, P. Crumble, of how good the first book in the series was.

As per the first book this one once again is a Choose your own adventure style book with quirky font, funny images, gross jokes and crazy nicknames.  The first thing I heard from him was laughter followed by an explanation that the principal, Mr Smart-Fells, gets called Mr Fart Smells and the teacher, Miss Graff, gets called Miss Giraffe.  This is the perfect sort of humour for my boys who spend a ridiculous amount of time discussing bodily functions and smells, as well as crazy songs and names for everything.

The second massive win, and credit to the author and illustrator, is that my son then proceeded to take the book with him to his brothers karate lesson where he normally stares at his iPod for the hour.  He then proceeded to read the book for the first 30 minutes.  I think I nearly fell over from shock – he chose the book over the iPod.

Now I can’t tell you much about the content as the only things I have gotten out of my son so far were the funny names of the staff at the school, that Simon still calls his sister Snot Face and “it is really good” (his exact words when I asked what I should write in my review).  However if you have children around my kids age who are obsessed with this type of humour then I highly recommend it.  If it can get my son away from screens for nearly an hour straight in one go then it is a big thumbs up for me.

I look forward to any other books released by this author.