Bedtime routines

Bedtime routines

For young kids bedtime routines are so important. Bath, milk, book, cuddles, nursery rhymes and songs…..every parent works out their own version of what works and then tries to stick to it every night. The routine provides comfort and lets the body and mind know it is time to wind down, relax and go to sleep.

Then you grow up and all your ideas about sleep and bedtime change.

In my twenties I had started working full time. The focus was on trying to get enough sleep during the week to get through the work day. Then weekends were multiple late nights out with friends, and sleeping late.

Then in my thirties I had my children. The focus shifts to their sleep requirements, while you struggle through on what you can get. And you start to understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. My first child was a great sleeper, my second child the opposite and I was often heading to work on only a couple of hours sleep

Now I am in my forties. My attitude to sleep has changed again and I have gone back to realising how important those bedtime routines are. This time however it is for me, not for my kids. My routine changes slightly but in general:

  • pjs on early,
  • no eating after 8.00pm,
  • small screens ( phone, ipad) down an hour(ish) before bed,
  • Non screen based activity (eg. knitting) and herbal tea while watching tv,
  • Read one or two chapters of book in bed,
  • Lights out and meditate.

It is what works for me, although I am flexible and obviously don’t stick to it when out or with friends.

With an injured leg I have not been following my routines as I currently go to bed at the same time as my kids. I watch tv in bed to force me to put my leg up and stop moving. And while I am sleeping ok I have definitely noticed the difference.

My leg has also prevented me from doing my morning workouts and walks at lunchtime which also helps with sleeping and my mental health.

My lesson learnt – sleep is very important and bedtime routines help with the quality. That is why parents swear by their routines for children.

What are you bedtime routine tips? Any I haven’t thought of that you recommend I give a try

Crutches again

Crutches again

Three years ago, almost to the day, I posted on this blog about my eldest son and the perils of a kid on crutches. Three years later, almost to the day it is me on crutches.

I have a new appreciation for what my son has gone through. I have only been doing this for 24 hours and I am over it. He has had to suffer through it multiple times for long stretches. However, he has me to run around for him, pick up after him and provide whatever support he needs.

As a single mum I am used to being the only adult in the house, to being strong even when I don’t feel like it or am sick. But what happens when I am on crutches and have to elevate my leg constantly? When I don’t know at this stage how long this will be for?

My kids are trying to help. My eldest checks in constantly and understands the struggles of crutches. My youngest is great at helping but usually only when I ask. They have been getting their own food, carrying things for me and giving me lots of cuddles.

Then after work I went out in the kitchen and there was stuff everywhere. Making the food apparently doesn’t mean cleaning up. To their credit some dishes had made it to the dishwasher and when I mentioned the rubbish and leftover food they cleaned it up.

So tonight I’m tired after a day of crutches, working and my one outing to the chemist for pain relief. The boys are at their dads for a night and I have washed all the dishes. And although I wished many times today I had a me to help out, I got through the day. Who knows how many more there are but we will get through and maybe the boys can learn some new skills.

World chocolate day

World chocolate day

“I could give up chocolate but I’m not a quitter”

July 7 is International Chocolate Day.

I am a chocolate lover – once I open chocolate it is hard to stop. I love all types of chocolate but these days I tend to eat more dark chocolate than any other type.

However I didn’t know until today that there was a world chocolate day. It got me thinking, who decides all of these days and how does it spread across the world. It seems there is a day for everything now.

After a little investigation I have found that it is July 7 as, according to legend ,that was the day in 1550 when chocolate was first brought to Europe from Central America. I haven’t been able to find who determined we should have a world chocolate day but it was first celebrated in 2009.

And in answer to the big question – did I eat chocolate today to celebrate? Of course I did, some dark chocolate earlier in the day and Kit Kat when catching up with friends after dinner.

I hope you managed to celebrate and eat some of your favourite chocolate today too. Life is far too short to deny yourself a bit of chocolate every now and then.

Back to basics

Back to basics

It has been nearly a year and a half since I have written a post on my blog. And what a year and a half it has been.

COVID has turned the world, and everyone’s lives,upside down. In Australia we are lucky, the pandemic has not hit to the scale of most other countries. But there has still been an impact – watching number of cases and deaths, hotspots, lockdowns, homeschooling and loss of jobs.

I was a lucky one – I kept my job the whole time, nobody in my immediate family or friends got sick, but the emotional toll and stress of it all, of being busier than ever at work while also homeschooling, of changes to parenting plans, of uncertainty and trying to comfort my kids while being stressed took an impact on me. Early last year I hit a low point and unlike other times made sure I reached out for help.

So I have spent the last year and a half working on my health and well being, as well as supporting my kids through their own struggles which have included surgery and recovery for my eldest. The time has been spent going back to basics which for me means exercise, sleep, what I eat, meditation and connections with people. Throw in a great psychologist and time with my kids. It has been time spent working out who I am, how I want my life to be, and what values are important to me. It has been a time to show my children that this is a safe space to discuss whatever they need, and where they can raise concerns and issues without judgement.

I also allow my kids to see that I have good days and bad, that sometimes I cry, that sometimes I’m mad, that I know how to apologise and that I always know there are things to be grateful for. And everyday they know I love them and am here for them.

Because let’s be honest, something good that can come from all of this is working out what is important. And to me that is my families health, wellbeing and strength together.

Hope you are all well, getting back to basics and reaching out for help when you need it. There are things to be grateful for everyday – sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find them.

Do you know your triggers?

Do you know your triggers?

Everyone has triggers. Things that seem insignificant to most people but make you react in a way that you know may be irrational.

I was reminded of this last night when watching I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Perez Hilton acted irrationally/over the top when he thought someone was disrespectful to another camp mate. He admitted later people he thought were disrespecting his family are a huge trigger for him.

I watch my son who has been through multiple surgeries and procedures. Anything medical is a trigger for him now – even going to the dentist or GP. Today we had an appointment for something minor at the GP and he ended up in tears and distraught about a needle there is a small chance he will need in a week.

I have a few triggers that I am aware of and others catch me by surprise. I have been triggered by things that remind me of the downfall of my marriage, where I am frustrated by medical ambiguity and long waits in hospital waiting rooms.

Two weeks ago I read an article that was written by my ex. It was to help get support and fundraising for the charity that helps with my sons condition. So it was for a great cause and for all the right reasons. However the language he used was apparently a massive trigger for me and sent me into a downward spiral of anxiety that lasted for two days. I found some new ways to settle my anxiety a little (jigsaws work well as my brain and hands are occupied and concentrating on something else). A couple of days later I was feeling more settled but I was shocked at how it had impacted me. And while I am rational about it right now I know that I will probably be triggered by this again.

It is an interesting thought though – what do you know is a trigger for you? Or have you not discovered yours yet?

Quality family time

Quality family time

At the moment it is School holidays in Australia and at this time of year my sons dad has about seven weeks off work. That means that the boys spend over half the week with him each week. So often there is pressure to fit a lot into the three days we have together including catching up with people, doing activities and making memories.

During the week I had been making plans for what we were going to do on the weekend but the weather did not play along. So we had a lazy weekend instead. Which turned into a great weekend.

Friday consisted of a lazy pyjama day doing our own things and relaxing. This was followed by a yummy homemade dinner together and our standard Friday night movie night. And to finish off the boys decided to have a sleepover in one room (king single beds mean they can fit in together (along with the dog).

Saturday was my day to get things done around home while the boys played with the kids across the road. Followed up by leftovers from the night before and a games night that consisted of four board and card games, snacks and lots of laughter.

Sunday we went out for brunch which sounds very sophisticated but is less so when y go with an 8 and 10 year old. Followed up with shopping for school supplies and more games when we got home before the boys went back to their dads.

The big winner for the weekend was the bedtime stories I made up on the spot each night. They were a huge hit and they want them to continue – better get things king over this week of some new topics as my brain isn’t always so creative by that time of night.

So the weekend that I thought might turn out not so great ended up being just what we needed and a great one for making memories.

Starting with intention

Starting with intention

Happy new year everyone.

This year I am taking the advice of another and have started by taking some time to reflect on the year gone by and set my intentions for the year ahead. This is very different to setting resolutions which is something I have never been big on as I think it sets you up for feeling like a failure when you slip up.

I am very big on being grateful for what I have and have written about this before. Every night I take the time to record three things I am grateful for – even on a rough day I manage to find three things (sometimes it does include things like take away food after a hard day). I also encourage my kids to think of the best thing from their day over dinner to try and show you can always find good moments even in the toughest days. And from January 1st I have started journaling about one of my three gratitude points as it is said that reliving the point provides the benefits of when you experienced it the first time – reducing stress and helping you feel calmer. This is perfect before bed and something I have planned to do for a while however wasn’t in the right headspace the last few months.

So getting back to how I have started my year. The first part is to reflect on the year gone by. What happened, what am I grateful for and what did I learn.

Then I set my intentions for the year ahead. What do I want to do, what do I want to reduce and what am I grateful for at this time of my life. And unlike resolutions there is no failure and giving up if I don’t achieve. It is more about setting the direction I would like my year to go and things I would like for us to try and achieve/do together as a family.

I found it a really positive and clarifying experience and have shared my answers with my boys. I did also give them the same sheets to the boys and discovered something. Everything they could remember for the last year happened in the last few weeks other than one major event. Which I guess is why it is important to talk about our days a the time while it is fresh in their mind.

Wishing you all an amazing new year/decade that is full of moments you are grateful for.

Real me time

Real me time

Today I used a voucher I had been given in July and had a massage and a facial. This truly was me time. My phone was turned to silent and was in my bag which was not near me. Therefore I could not be contacted and had nothing else that needed to be done for the hour and a half I was there. This is very rare in my life and I would say this is true for the majority of parents out there.

I have written before about my strong connection to music – how I attach it to memories and how it can adjust my mood. So when I walked into the treatment room and lay down they had top 40 music playing quite loudly. This worried me slightly as it certainly wasn’t setting the scene. However as I had been there numerous times I knew this wasn’t standard. Just prior to staring the massage the music changed to calming instrumental music and I felt myself instantly calm.

This was also a great opportunity to practice my mindfulness and engage my senses.

  • Smells – each lotion or oil she used had a different intoxicating and calming fragrance.
  • Sounds – the sound of the water running or being squeezed out of cloths, the jars being opened and lotions squeezed out of bottles.
  • Touch – the feeling of her hands giving the massage and facial, the soft blanket placed over me in comparison to the slightly rougher towels.

Unlike other times I did not drift off to sleep but I was truly relaxed and in the moment. And when I left it felt amazing as the relaxed feeling continued well after leaving and going home.

So I truly recommend this for anyone who is stressed or wanting to practice their mindfulness. As always I walked out vowing to do this more often. However unlike other times i will try and give this some priority or at least give some more priority to my self care. Self care comes in many forms…..and this was a great one.

TV a hit for dinner inspiration…

TV a hit for dinner inspiration…

And it wasn’t even a cooking show!

My boys do not typically watch shows that I would say help with parenting. There is an occasional baking/cooking show for my youngest. And for a little while my eldest loved a show that had children managing the family budget for the week. However in general their choices are not known for their great parenting moments or realistic storylines.

So imagine my surprise when a storyline from the TV series “Talking Tom and friends” helped me with getting my kids to eat dinner. For those who haven’t seen Talking Tom it is an animated series about Tom (a cat) and his friends (mainly other animals) who develop mobile apps and investors and get up to a lot of mischief. Doesn’t sound that helpful really.

In our house we are on a quest to do more to look after our environment, reduce waste and help others. For me this also has a second benefit as reduced waste means less money just being thrown away.

So back to how the TV show helped me. One episode the boys were watching was about “Garage Feast Day”. Garage Feast Day is celebration of friendship and of not wasting groceries explains the characters. It is about taking all the food that is about to expire and making a feast for all of your friends to enjoy (some of their concoctions were quite disgusting).

My freezer has been crammed full to the point were it is scary to open it as something may fall on you. When I checked much of it was boxes, packets or bags with little food left. So I decided to seize my opportunity last night and cooked up all the bits and pieces – a few meatballs, mini meat patties, chicken nuggets, frozen chips and placed them in the middle of the table on a plate. Added vegetables to each plate (the non negotiable part of the meal) and announced to the boys that tonight’s dinner was inspired by Talking Tom. And to my surprise it was a hit – they loved helping themselves and that their were choices. Then we had dessert which was the odd icy poles left from different boxes.

In fact it worked so well that we did a repeat for lunch today. Left over roast chicken and salads, some Cocktail Frankfurts and spring rolls that were in the freezer. And again it was a hit.

I then baked some muffins using up some lemons I had in the fridge so I have some snacks prepared for this week. It is such a great feeling to use up all the little bits and pieces and have them eaten not going into the bin. Plus I didn’t waste money on food I didn’t need and the freezer is now half empty. I take this as a huge win.

Guess I am going to have to go shopping soon though…..the cupboard are looking a little bare!

Friendships

Friendships

I have a small eclectic group of friends that have been gathered from different times throughout my life – family, school, work, marriage, becoming a parent. And I truly believe some friends are around for the long term and others come in and out of your life. Many people you meet during school or work are friends for the purpose and time and when you move on and no longer have that in common the friendship has run its course.

It is always so much harder for adults, or even older children, to make friends than young children. My youngest used to have a new best friend every time he went to the playground when he was little. And when we moved into our current house he made friends with the boys across the road on day one and they are still going strong two years later.

But how do you know, as an adult, when some friendships have run their course? Especially if you are the one who normally reaches out, makes contact, organises get togethers. When circumstances change in your lives – work schedules, children’s activities, kids with health issues – how do you know if it is life getting in the way or the change of the type of friendship?

In many of my friendships I naturally take on the role of organiser, have for many years. But over the last couple of years I have seen a change in a couple of friendships where I feel like maybe it is just me trying to hold on to what was so important in the past. As I reach out less due to circumstances, I also get frustrated at them not reaching out more. But is that fair given the role I have taken in the past? I also worry that maybe they just don’t want to hear about the issues that have consumed my life over that time anymore. and while I am in a better place these days and more accepting of what my new normal is, it is still my new normal and therefore the main topic of many conversations.

So how do you know? And do you just confront them and talk about it or ride the waves and see where they lead? I am not sure I have the answer to that yet and possibly it is different with each friend. My oldest friend (nearly 30 years since we met) and I can be honest and bring it up, with others I am just not so sure.

One thing I do know is that it is not see easy to make new friends as you get older. maybe tomorrow I should go to a coffee shop, start talking to someone and announce that she is my new friend…..it works for five year olds!!