As per my last post the last couple of years (and especially the last 12 months) have been the start of a new normal for me
I am used to my new normal and the routine required. I have some things I do everyday for my self care and sanity – meditation and gratitude journal and usually exercise. But since my surgery I have been unable to exercise except for some light walking. The absence of exercise along with eating worse than normal while on holidays has really thrown out my sleeping and I turn my motivation, mood and energy levels.
So this weekend (including Friday as I don’t work!) I decided to start trying to find my way back to me.
First I took time to have a long slow breakfast after taking the boys to school which is good for relaxing and self care.
I got back to painting my back room which has been an on and off project over the year and finished this over the weekend. Improving my house and completing projects I had started it is good for my motivation
I had time to myself while the boys were with there dad for dinners I wanted and a Netflix binge fest. More self care and relaxing.
I went shopping for birthday presents and camp requirements for my eldest and bought myself three items of clothing
1 x jumpsuit I had been eyeing off for a while and want for an event coming up
1 x pair of pants that are similar to some I already have and wear constantly
1 x top that I bought because I loved the colour, it was pretty and it made me feel good
I went for a walk with the dog, did some of the physio exercises and started some upper body exercises so that it didn’t impact my leg. My body was a bit sore for it but it was a good sore.
Painted my toenails, because I can finally reach them again just in time for the good weather that is starting and that means strapped shoes.
Planned out my vege garden and planted seeds with my eldest. Home grown vegetables are great and anything that grabs my sons interest and isn’t a screen is a huge win.
Meal planned, shopped and baked cupcakes for snacks this week and lasagna for two nights dinners to make my week a little easier.
This is the point where I should point out the boys were with their dad for most of the weekend. There is no way I could have been this productive otherwise.
And the big thing for this weekend my usual Sunday 4pm slump (you know the one where you realise that the weekend is over and work is the next day) didn’t hit until 6.30. I take that as a massive step forward.
This year my family has had four surgeries, one to fix my youngests teeth, two leg surgeries to correct my eldest sons deformity and one to remove a very large lump from my leg. And later in the year we will find out the timeline for the third leg surgery for my eldest.
So life this year has a little bit crazy, with each surgery there has been recovery, physio appointments and it is all being juggled amongst our everyday life.
Most people who check up on us comment on our crazy life/crappy year/how do we cope etc. However while we have had our ups and downs in general I feel we are managing well. Which made me start to think…is that because this is just the new normal?
At different stages of life I think your “normal” alters. There are things that you never think you would do that just become part of every day life. Think of major milestones in your life and each of them probably altered your normal – first love, moving out of home, getting married, having children there are so many of them. For me I add separating from my husband and getting my sons diagnosis.
And while my new normal is busy, crazy and often exhausting it is also what makes me who I am today. I am stronger, more determined, understand my core values better, and prioritise what is best for my family.
So while I would change some of the reasons why this is my new normal I also try to appreciate the good points of it.
And look forward to the next new normal – who knows what that will bring. Hopefully a little less crazy and a little more me time!!
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.
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.
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.
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 outings 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.
- 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”
- 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”
- 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
- If they live close enough turn up with a coffee or go and put 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”
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.