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.
Those who read my last post would now that after I had some surgery done my parents had come to stay to help me out for a few weeks as I was very limited in what I could do. And that my children were struggling a bit with the change of routine.
Today after three and a half weeks my parents have gone home. I have greatly appreciated the help they have provided as well as enjoying the break from being the only cook in the house. However today as I worked from home in a silent house I realised how quickly I have adapted to being the only adult in the house. To being able to set things up how I want them, run the house in the way that works for me and my boys, and not be judged for my crazy OCD like moments. My mum was shocked that all of my pegs are one colour and that my ensuite vanity is always set up with everything in exactly the same place. Surely I am not the only one with odd quirks!! Thank goodness I didn’t mention I need the TV volume to be on an even number.
I have been separated for two years next month and while it was strange at first after being married for 12 and a half years I have very quickly adapted to being on my own. We have set routines that work for the three of us, our life is crazy and busy but we all get each other. We drive each other nuts one moment, and the next minute are having a dance party in the kitchen. And most importantly have a house full of cuddles, laughter, fun and forgiveness.
So this morning when I got home from dropping the boys off at school I made a cup of tea and took ten minutes to sit in silence on my own for the first time in weeks before starting work.
And how did the boys and I spend our first night back to just the three of us? Eating bowls of pasta in the lounge room while we watched TV before reading books together in our pajamas – Perfect!!
I am a single working mother with two young boys. On the three days I travel into the city for work we leave very early in the morning and return home quite late. On the days I don’t travel to the city the boys have after school extra curricula activities. Therefore routine and structure is very important in our life to keep the wheels turning. We work well as a team and the boys know what they are expected to do. Not too much but enough to help out, support each other and keep our little family unit happy and healthy.
Some would say I am a bit controlling and a bit OCD in nature (which I probably am) but much of this stems from necessity due to the current circumstances of our life. There is a very fine line for us before it all turns to chaos.
In the past I have wondered whether the routines and structure work well for my boys, they get plenty of downtime on the weekend but not during the week. Does this allow them enough freedom and time to be themselves?
One week ago I had to go into hospital for surgery and my parents have come to stay and help with the boys and the house while I recover. With me gone for two nights while in hospital it was a big change to routine for the boys on top of them worrying if I was ok and when I was coming home. Even once home I could do very little and was quite tired and sore and for two loud boys to try and stay quiet is difficult. To add to this my Dad can be quite strict and expects things done quickly and efficiently.
Five days into all of this my youngest (six years old) pulled me aside for a “private chat”. He cuddled into me crying and told me that Grandad keeps getting mad and he is doing what he is supposed to do just not how Grandad wanted it done. I asked him if he was upset because everything was a bit different this week and not like normal. That ended up being the main issue.
So I guess my routine works….or at least helps the boys feel secure in what is going on around them.