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.
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.
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!
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!!
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”