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.
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.
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”
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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
Growing up I loved expressing myself through the arts and creativity. I started dancing when I was six and by the time I was in my mid teens I was doing five classes a week. Looking back now I wonder what my parents were thinking of agreeing to this given the time and financial commitment they made but that is another story. I played the recorder in primary school (just another way I tortured my parents). I then moved on to the flute in secondary school and have great memories of being in the school band. And in both years of my VCE four of my six subjects were based on art, graphics or dance.
Over the years since school my creative outlets have reduced due to many different circumstances. In the last couple of years when life has felt out of control and the need to control what I can has increased my creativity has taken a huge hit.
However one thing I do still feel a connection to is music. I have music playing in my house often but what is playing varies greatly based on how I am feeling. See I have always connected music to memories and emotions. It can be the lyrics, the tune or just the emotion behind it all.
There are songs that make me think of my years of dancing, songs that take me back to high school and in particular my years in the school band. There are songs that make me think of my wedding day, my marriage and the end of that relationship. And so many songs that I connect to my children.
But the feelings attached to the music can change. Songs that used to make me cry about my marriage ending no longer have that impact. Songs that I relate to younger years that make me reminisce and songs relating to my kids always make me tear up.
My Spotify playlists are so varied that I am not sure how it continues to suggest songs for me. However one thing I can guarantee is that there are always playlists for me to sing along to and there are always songs to take away the quietness of the house when the boys are at their dads.
Over time I am trying to get back to some of my other creative outlets and connections but in the meantime music will continue to be a big part of life in my house.
Today I had breakfast with a friend who I used to work with. We haven’t worked together for many years and lost touch for a little while but are back in touch now. We understand each other, get along really well and catch up every couple of months for breakfast. Seeing her today made me realise this has been a year of reconnection for me.
Technically I have back in touch with this friend for more than a year but it is the last year or so where we have regularly caught up. We are very similar and have similar views and opinions so our breakfast is full of constant chatter, laughter and understanding.
I have also written previously about reconnecting with someone from high school who I hadn’t seen for 18 years. While we have only managed one face to face catch up so far there have been many texts and a few phone chats that feel like when we talked all those years ago. Hopefully he agrees as he follows my blog!
And then a couple of weeks ago I had a fantastic night out with four ladies I worked with when I first started working at my current company 18 years ago. Two of these ladies I hadn’t seen for over ten years. As we caught up over drinks and dinner, followed by more drinks and dancing it was just like old times and not one part of the night was awkward.
All of these reconnections have been amazing and it makes me reflect on how much I have missed having these people in my life. So what makes them amazing? It is that our friendship is easy, and that I can 100% be myself with all of these people. No games, no pretending and no judgement. Whether it has been one month, one year or 18 years we are still there for each other in a friendship that goes both ways.
As an adult and a parent life gets so busy and it becomes so easy to drift apart, but when you find a true friend and support it is worth the time and effort. Even if sometimes it is just a quick check in to say “hey, how are you?”
Earlier this week it was my birthday. Not a milestone one, that was last year, and so like most years I kept it pretty low key. I don’t like a big fuss made at work and now that I am single, and my boys still young, even at home the celebrations are pretty short lived. I’m thinking back to Mother’s Day this year when the boys spoilt me until about 10am before it turned back in to “Mum I need…”
So my plan had been quiet day at work try and sneak off for one train earlier and pick up the boys and fish and chips so I didn’t have to cook. I knew the boys knew about my birthday and, even though their dad had told them it was one day earlier than it actually was, that they had gone present shopping with him. The presents were hidden in the pants drawer – a poorly kept secret given I had been told not to go there.
On the morning of my birthday I woke up early got ready for work and woke the boys. They got ready to leave and it was evident that they had forgotten. Given it was 6am and they have limited time to get ready I wasn’t going to drop hints. Then on the train my friend had also forgotten. My low key birthday was turning into a non existent one.
Then three beautiful friends turned my whole day around and made me smile, as well as wipe away a couple of sneaky tears.
My friend at work contacted me and took me out to lunch, as well as giving me a very thoughtful present. And another friend and her husband booked dinner at the local pub for our two families because they believed it was wrong for me to sit at home alone on my birthday, especially after a crappy start. This is probably where I should mention it was the friend who forgot earlier on the train!
It was a great dinner full of laughter and stories, good food and a glass of wine.
By the way my children had remembered by the time I picked them up from after school care. They had made apology cards and made a big fuss.
And my moral for the day…you don’t need a big fancy celebration for your birthday but it is important to make the day feel special. And sometimes all that takes is three beautiful friends who think you are worth the effort.