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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
I have had a week off work this week to spend the second week of the school holidays with my boys.
For the first time in a long time, and much to the boys delight, I have totally avoided work. No phone calls or checking of emails. In fact, as we went away to Phillip Island for four days, we had very little screen time (other than movie nights) and lots of time for making memories. Mini golf and mazes, magic shows, chocolate factories, animals – Phillip Island has so many great family activities. At the end of the four days after much fun, laughter and time for connecting with each other it felt wonderful to hear the boys say how they would miss the holiday and how much fun they had.
Today, being the first day back home, I was doing housework and getting myself organised when I noticed my youngest just sitting in the driveway looking around. I called out to see if he was ok and he ran over and said “come look at the clouds Mummy”. This turned into nearly an hour of sitting on the driveway with him and his brother talking about what pictures we saw in the clouds, looking for planes and endless games of eye spy.
Sometimes making memories can be from grand gestures, holidays and amazing activities. Often though, it is from the simple things that fill us with happiness and laughter. It is so easy to forget how important giving time to our children is – and how simple it can be to make a memory.