family, mums, parenting, Uncategorized

NEW YEAR NEW CHANCES

This morning life came back to reality with a bump… 6.30am the alarm went off and downstairs I went with a toddler in my arms then made some coffee and toast for my husband and off he went to the first day of work for 2018.

Taking my coffee and heading to the sofa I flicked though Facebook, looking at people’s New Year snaps of clinking champagne glasses, beautiful homes and embraces so warm that it makes me question how two people I didn’t even know each other now appear to be BFFs. It then occurs to me I am bloody jealous of other people’s joy, and that is not a nice side of me. Social media is the worst for looking at other people’s lives and then comparing it to your life, at times it makes you grateful but if I am honest most of the time it makes me feel like I haven’t achieved enough and I’d even go as far as saying it makes me feel like I have failed.

I haven’t failed, I am married (to my second husband) and I have 3 daughters (from 2 past relationships), 4 step children and I live in a beautiful home in Essex. These are all great big ticks in life boxes but if I am truly honest I haven’t yet found myself. I don’t have a career or any idea of what I want to do/be/become. I have spent the past 12 years being a mummy and now Frankie is starting school this year it’s time for me to “find myself” and maybe just maybe become more than ‘just a Mum’. (Although I know that nothing will ever come close to being ‘just a mum’).

So as I have sat here and looked through people’s posed photos of happiness that have strangely made me question my life, I have made a decision that change has to happen. The truth is that I probably think/say this every year but the first step was to write it down (first blog done ✔️), and with the written word it now has to happen, right? Well no, but it’s a touch more likely.

So my initial plan is as follows

  • Write a blog (writing is something I have always loved and hopefully is cathartic)
  • Promote myself in a positive way, initially by promoting my blog (this is terrifying to me)
  • Read more about spiritual enlightenment (along with writing I am hoping to help my awful sleep and busy head)
  • Start something new (a business, a job, this blog)

And so with this blog I want to write about the highs and lows of being a mother, also the trials of trying to keep looking alright although year by year it’s getting tougher and finally follow my journey of finding myself in some way (see even saying it I am wishy washy). Here’s to an amazing 2018 and to being stronger, happier and healthier.<<<<<<
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And Then There Were None

Is your child starting school in September? Are there nerves on your part? Here I discuss my feelings and how they are not as straight forward as just seeing my baby taking the next step.

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In 6 months time my youngest baby will be starting school and I am not entirely sure how I feel about it. Having been through this process twice before I know what to do and I know the process involved, the dilemma of whether its too early to get the uniform in July (they may grow a whole metre over the summer holidays!!!), the mad trip to Clarkes to get a generic pair of shoes that you have to prize from your child’s feet so the patent stays intact come their first day and the dreaded visit from their teacher to your home where all of sudden you come over all Kirsty Allsopp, baking bread, buying soft furnishing and lighting candles (and then blowing them out pronto as you don’t want said to teacher to think you would ever have a flame within a 100 yards of your precious 4 years old, bad mummy).

 

No, I am okay with the starting school prep and so I was unsure what this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach was all about.

 

Frankie is definitely ready for school (and that’s not always the case, especially as she is a June baby, but with 2 older sisters she wants to move upwards). I have no doubt she will be a child that clings to me at the door but eventually it will get easier, she is definitely my cheekiest child, partly due to encouragement from her siblings but her preschool tell me she is one of the quieter ones so hopefully school will bring the balance of cheeky and quiet to a level. She is ready learn, she wants to write and read but with all the kids it’s hard to give her enough time but she copies her sisters and knows letters and small sums (I think this is genius but I am sure its not!!), she has also taught herself to get dressed in preparation for PE (its bloody handy for me too in the mornings!). I mean this all screams of a child counting down the days to September, yet I am not counting them down, I am wanting them to slow right down so I can savour having a little person at home a bit longer.

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I know now that there is a double edge to this sword that is reception class. Not only am I going to be passing my final child over to the institution that is education (which is not a negative, just that it’s hard to swallow that she is no longer “mine”) but, and this is not as easy to admit, I also have to work out what the hell I am doing?

 

Up until now I am a full time mum, I have 3 daughters, 4 step children, 2 dogs and a husband… but in september though I will still have those things, I will also have 6 hours free (apart from a house to clean, washing of the masses, cooking, shopping, dogs etc), but to the outside world those hours are free (Monday to Friday). So basically if we cut  the crap here, I need a job, I need to do something, I need an income. Of course with that will bring the changes to our household, potential breakfast and after school clubs (bloody expensive), the fact the housework, cooking, cleaning the toilets etc will have to be split between myself and my husband (will it work?) and that I may not be there for the school runs nor have as much time with the girls full stop. It’s impossible (almost) to find a job that fits in with school hours, but, the positives would be that I am contributing financially and feel equal in the household which is not something I have felt, well I did when I was a single mum (and I am sure many of you understand where I am coming from with this). What fills me with dread is that I don’t know what I can do, nor who the hell would want me! I have been a mum for so long I feel useless as a fully fledged adult, I will have to get used to being Jo and not Mum (how very odd).

 

So with this I realise that while my 3 year old (4 in June) is making all the necessary and natural changes and progression into school life, I need to take note of her actions and apply myself too, I have 6 months to sort this shit out. It’s an exciting stage for our family and I need to grow some balls and get on with it, if Frankie can do it, I can do it too.

 

The next journey for Frankie and myself is a positive one, and though daunting on a maternal and personal level, there are so many joys to come. In myself it’s the start of letting myself grow and the restraints of small children becoming looser, and for Frankie the joys of the first nativity, learning to read and I can’t even imagine her little twig legs at sports day (but if she is like me then competitiveness will be ugly). I know lots of you out there will be feeling something similar (or at least I hope you do) and whether it’s your first, second or fifth child to have their very first day in september, good luck and take your tissues.

 

I will write a follow up blog to this with the outcome, it may not be pretty or it may be bloody glorious, who knows???

 

Thanks for reading

 

Jo

 

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anorexia, blogging, body image, children, depression, diet, family, food, health, help, meatfree, mental health, motherhood, mum blogger, mums, parenting, self love, Uncategorized, vegan, writing

When it comes to body image, how can I be a good role model?

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After having my first daughter I developed an eating disorder, I suppose it would come under anorexia as I really struggled to eat and felt like even the smallest amount of food would make me fat, I would skip meals by telling people I was going out for dinner later (and so wouldn’t eat lunch) and then do the opposite later on in the day, some days I wouldn’t eat, on days I would eat I would then make myself sick. I looked awful, really really awful. My skin was bad, my body was all out of proportion and my hair was thinning. I weighed 7 and a half stone, I had a BMI of 16.4 (that’s seriously underweight and should be between 18.5 and 25). It impacted into every part of my life and it would cause me panic when it came to anything food related for example family events, weekends away and birthdays. It was a very low point in my life.

Fast forward to now (11 years later) I weigh 9 and half stone and have a BMI of 20.6. I try and keep myself around this weight although last year I was a stone heavier, I only lost the weight again (very slowly) so my clothes would fit better as I can’t afford to buy a whole new wardrobe. I understand that I will always have a strange relationship with food and that I can slip into a negative place from time to time, but I have come a long way since those darker days, but what I must make sure is that I do not project this bad relationship with food and body image onto my children, but just how does someone who has had (and will in a small way always have) an eating disorder do that? How does any parent do that? We all have hang ups don’t we?

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I have used my experience as a mum to three girls (one of whom is at a very delicate age of nearly 12), plus I have done a fair amount of research. Here are my ideas how we project a positive body image onto our children.

  • Listen – When my child comes to me, I listen, no matter how silly or small the problem is I give them time. Obviously there are times where you have ask them to wait till you are free, but they do get my ear eventually and I do listen. When I am faced with problems about the body, or things that have been said about their image at school I sympathise, it doesn’t matter if what has been said is ridiculous, if it has hurt your child then its serious to them and to you. I let my girls know about situations in my life where I have faced similar scenarios as by letting them into my life I feel they let me into theirs a bit more. Yes we need to be strong for our kids but they also need to know we are human too.

  • Skills, talents and achievements – As we know there is so much more to us in this life than just how we look, but as a child/ teenager there will be stages where it doesn’t feel like that. As well a listening we need to make sure that our children know that their skills and achievements are acknowledged. Many of these skills (especially academically) will stay with them forever, where as the way we look will change drastically (looking back at photos of me aged 12 is actually hysterical and only my Mum would be able to tell that it was me). We are all special and unique, we are all good at things and we should all be proud of ourselves, this doesn’t come naturally and we must help our children realise their potential. So pay your children compliments, about the way they look AND what they are good at.

  • Self Love – This is the hardest one for me, and I cant preach that I am remotely good at it, but I do know its important. We must try and show outward body confidence, easier said than done, I know, but while researching for this and contemplating writing this bit of advice (as I feel hypocritical) it got me thinking that we all must try to be more confident for the sake of our children, and I think the more we do, the more we will believe it. Remember, our children think we are the most beautiful women in the world, lets not burst their bubble!

  • Self affirmations – A while ago, my best friend Jennie said to my girls that they must believe in themselves and love themselves, she told them to write self affirmations and say them to themselves every morning. Well, they sniggered at her. Later that week I made them do it, and though they don’t read them everyday, they decorated them and we have kept them, so when we have a down day we can get them out and read them. I kept them relative to their age, very simple to more meaningful, but not too complex. I have photographed mine and an example of a child’s. Give it a go, it helped me at least.
  • Dads – My girls are lucky enough to have a Dad and a Step Dad. A man’s perspective on women and themselves is incredibly important. The way that your husband or partner talks to you and them about appearance (men and women) is as integral as you as Mum. The same goes with the way they feel about their own appearance.

  • Food  – An essential part of life is eating and if you are like me, then sometimes it can be an issue. The way I see it is that you should show your children how to be healthy (by making healthy food choices and cooking homemade food) and also by having some treats. Let them see you eat a slab of cake once in a while, or a big burger and fries. Never eat in secret, this is a something I have real knowledge of and is very harming to children, there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to eating. I know some of us women like people to think that we live off lettuce leaves and air, but when we get home will be eating ham or another quick fridge find straight out the pack. Well I am telling you, we shouldn’t do this, for ourselves and our kids. Food is great, and is a social enjoyable thing, family meals are so important too, sitting toegther and enjoying food will give your children a healthy relationship with it.
  • Modern technology –  This is THE BIG ONE. The world has changed/ evolved and nearly all kids have use of the internet and eventually social media. I read a horrendous statistic today in an article called ‘uncomfortable in your skin report’ that young girls who use social media are bombarded by up to 5000 digitally enhanced images every week, what on earth will that be doing to the way they feel they should look. I don’t believe that we can stop this, yes we can educate our children to follow appropriate people but if you have a daughter like mine I think I am asking the impossible. She loves the Kardashians and that’s that. I think as parents in this day and age we have to adjust our mindset and work with this being part of our children’s lives, we have to teach them that it’s not real and I think we can show them some amazing people who are far better role models, so that they may follow them alongside the digitally enhanced loves of their lives. I have found a few amazing instagram/ web sites that are fantastic for every one to help with body image, firstly the beautiful Megan Jayne Crabbe (bodyposipanda) and Taryn Brumfitt (body image movement) both pages are rammed full of fantastic content. I have also attached a link to Taryns trailerHere  for her amazing Embrace documentary, give it a watch and if you want to you watch the full film on Netflix, I recommend it for all you Mums and Dads out there and then decide if you want to show your children, they advise on the website that it is for age 10/11+ but as that’s at the parents discretion.

I hope this has helped and as always I have found it invigorating to write. I hate to imagine my children being unhappy with their perfect bodies but I think we have to accept at times it will happen (I know I have already faced a fair few problems with the kids), it’s about us dealing with them and supporting our children in their journey.

Thanks for reading

Jo

blogging, children, depression, family, food, health, help, meatfree, mental health, motherhood, mum blogger, mums, parenting, Uncategorized, vegan, writing

Tots100

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A week ago I was honoured to find out that I had been chosen as a “new blog on the block” by Tots100 (clickHere) and I wanted to write about how happy and honoured I am, I also wanted to summarise how my first month of blogging has been.

I only started blogging in January and so in little over a month I feel like I have a slightly different (better) outlook to life. I now look at certain situations as potential, to write a good blog for myself or for Bad Mum Magazine, which I am also now an author for (another achievment). This means that instead of crying I actually laugh at situations a fair amount more, even today as I fell over in mud on my dog walk I documented it and posted it on my Instagram, because lets be honest its bloody funny.

The main focus of my blog so far has been my mental health and the highs and lows of it. I have opened up more than I have ever done and the response has been fantastic, even friends who I am close to have now shared parts of their lives that they had previoulsy kept to themselves, I feel humbled. What has been a highlight of my month and made me want to go further with my exploration of speaking about mental health is that Clasp Charity (a wonderful suicide prevention charity) are going to include me on their website as one of their inspiration people for talking about mental illness, and link people to my blog (I am not sure about the word inspirational but if it helps just one person reading my blogs then I have done more than I thought possible when starting this).

I am excited to see where this blog takes me next and one thing I do want to shine some light on is mental health in children so if anyone has experience of this, or could offer any insight please get in touch. I have recently became a brand rep for Warrior Tees UK, which is run by an amazing woman called Sam, who very much wants to show the younger generation that mental illness is okay and that we need more funding for it here in the UK. I want to delve a little deeper into the current situation with the NHS and after hearing a few heartbreaking stories in the past few weeks, it would appear that lack of funding is taking its toll (on all parts of the NHS, but I want to focus on adolescent mental health), so as I said please get in touch.

To finish, here is a little montage of the past month in pics

Thanks for reading

Jo

blogging, children, depression, family, health, help, mental health, motherhood, mum blogger, mums, parenting, Uncategorized, writing

Today the fog came down

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My name’s Jo and I have depression. It’s not a badge I wear often but it is something that I live with, it’s something that so many of us live with and what us people (who live with it) will know is that some days are a great deal harder than the others, what those of you who don’t have depression won’t know is that the hard days can feel impossible and it’s like a grey fog descending onto your world, a thick fog that almost makes it hard to move let alone see clearly.

Today is one of those days and I have never written about how a bad day feels like so I thought, with my journey of writing and self improvement, it could be a cathartic exercise.

I actually felt the fog come down yesterday evening, it came on all of a sudden. I am very tired (I have previously said that lack of sleep is my number one trigger to the dark place) and I am  coming out of having the flu, so my body isn’t really playing ball physically. I had worked all day, done the school runs, done the clubs, been to the shop, made two lots of dinner (for the youngsters and then us adults), hung up the washing, then did bedtime,  and that’s where my line was drawn, I had had enough. If it had been up to my head I would have just gone to bed and probably should have done, I felt achy and my lingering cough was annoying me. I sat on the sofa and even the dogs’ sleepy breathing was getting to me. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault to my mood being this way it was simply my depression reminding me that she is still there.

There is no logic (apart from sleep deprivation) to the ups and downs of my depression, I am on a good run at the moment and am really trying to improve my mental well being by making positive steps in my life. This blog I have started is doing really well and I am really enjoying it, I am using my brain when I write and I find I am reading so many more articles that a broadening my learning.

If I just look at where I am with my week I should feel I am doing really well, I have just survived the kid weekend and the house stayed relatively tidy (as I had a big push on Sunday to get jobs done and not get myself into a panic), I have been to my little job (which over the past month just hasn’t happened due to illness of myself and kids) and the husband and I are going away next week for our anniversary which is going to be amazing. Life should be looking peachy, yet as I am well aware of this means nothing when it comes to the fog.

I woke this morning immediately knowing it had not left (not helped by Frankie waking 3 times in the middle of the night) but I set off with my routine and my normal techniques to keep the mood at bay. I make a nice coffee, I get the girls to school and I wrote my list of jobs (my daily list is my way of keeping on top of things but also reminding myself of what I have done and achieved). It does help and as I tick those jobs off, safe in the knowledge the kids are happy at school my mood sometimes begins to budge, but I can’t shake this off today. I note bad days because if I go over a week of it I will maybe book in with the doc,  but generally this doesn’t happen. The sun is even shining which normally helps me hugely (I don’t know if I actually suffer from SADS but a grey sky really hinders my outlook).

I am trying so hard to be positive but I still want to give up a little and cry. On days like today it is the children that get me through because deep down I want to curl away from the world, I want to shut the door and shut everything out. I can’t, because I am a Mum, but today the school run was a struggle, keeping eye contact was hard and even being interested in my daughters day I find myself zoning in and out, but I did it.

So as I sit and write this I realise that it has in fact helped me. Just noting the good and realising that I did too much yesterday puts my head in perspective, I am human and not indestructible, it was understandable that I got to my limit. I must look after myself, because going a million miles an hour and not stopping to eat and rest will put anyone in a bad mood. This evening my friend is coming for tea with her kids, it will force me stop and I have prepared everything so that we have food ready and even a bottle of wine if we fancy a little glass.

I just need to remind myself that life is good, it’s Wednesday already,  and come the end of the week I will have a little break from the kids and I will enjoy my days with my husband and our anniversary (and hopefully a few cocktails!). I am also going to work hard the next few days to be ready with blogs to post up next week so that I dont panic when I am away. I will even get my nails painted as a treat. 

I am so lucky and need to just stop and breath a bit more. None of this will stop me having depression, but my aim for the future is to have a little more control over it and instead of letting it rule me completely, I would like to own it even if just slightly.

I am almost through today and hope that tomorrow feels lighter. lts about taking one day at a time. 

If anyone has any good daily tricks and tips to break through a temporary mood please let me know, I am on a journey of self improvement and in no way do I know it all. I think if we can help each other we will all feel good for it.

Jo xx

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Ashamed of my depression

When you are pregnant, whether it’s your first, third or fifth time, you have nerves and anxiety. It’s totally normal, first time round you panic you don’t know how to do anything, second time round you worry as it was so bloody hard with just one, and so the story goes on. It’s these natural fears that make us better parents, they keep our children safe and eventually they subside in our minds and we realise that, though no one is perfect, we are actually doing “okay” at this parenting malarkey.

My fears and anxiety didn’t stop, in fact they got worse, it started with Anya not being able to feed, and good god did I try. In hospital they said it would happen when she was hungry but days passed and her weight dropped so she was given a bottle. Then at home the breastfeeding nurse came out to try again and I remember her whipping my boobs out (right in front of my brother I may add) and putting all sorts of shields on my nipples, nothing worked. I felt like I had fallen at the first hurdle.

The feeling of failure continued, and as like so many other mums I was sinking into depression, I just didn’t realise it then or I just didn’t WANT to realise it. I would look at other mothers who seemed so natural and perfect (ha, as if any mother feels perfect), and there I was with a newborn feeding from a bottle, crying from colic (which I am sure was due to the bottle) and me, a mother who didn’t have a clue. I was a mess, on the inside. People would tell me how wonderful I was doing, praise me on Anya, but it didn’t matter, this was all about my self doubt.

My biggest mistake was not seeking help, I know why I didn’t though, when you are depressed and you feel worthless one of the hardest things to do is admit that there is a problem. I already felt like a failure to my child and so by admitting that this beautiful creature wasn’t giving me the joy and happiness she deserved, it felt like it would be another failing of mine. I couldn’t even be happy when I had been given the gift of happiness.

Silly thing about all of this was that I have a history of depression, in myself and through my family. I had been severely depressed as a teenager and really have no idea why at the age of 22 years old, having my first baby the doctors didn’t see this on my records, and maybe followed it up (not that I am blaming anyone else). My previous depression had been triggered by stressful events and issues in my childhood, but living with depression (as I now know i do), doesn’t just arise after such events and can come about at even the most wonderful times. Having a baby is a wonderful joyous thing, but the mix of your hormones going bezerk and the stupidly small amount of sleep (lack of sleep being my number one trigger to send me into depression), it’s no wonder so many of us suffer postnatally.

I carried on doing my best and it wasn’t until my daughter was over 18 months old that I eventually got help, my life changed going into the doctors that day, by now I was struggling with food too and what started off as a diet to get rid of the baby weight had become something I could control (losing weight felt like the ONLY thing I was good at). The doctor took me seriously and immediately put me on antidepressants and also referred me to a psychiatrist who in turn spent many sessions working through the past year, much of my childhood and my new eating disorder. Whats quite astounding was through these sessions with him and in a group I felt so proud of myself, so the fear I had before about the stigma attached to mental illness and how I would be failing my girl by admitting my depression were so unjust and untrue. Sorting myself out, I realised, was just as important as looking after my daughter and gave me the greatest feeling of achievement.

I continued taking antidepressants until I fell pregnant with my second child 4 years later, I came off the medication gradually and under doctors supervision. At the labour of my second child, medication was on hand if I felt that i needed to start it straight away (this was the advice of my doctor). After a fairly unusual labour, I insisted on a long spell of skin to skin time, and my new baby girl shuffled down and latched on, I felt calm and at ease, the feeling of her suckling was the most wonderful thing that as a mother I will never forget (I think i knew at this point that it was going to be different this time)..

Adapting to being a mum of two was far easier than being a first time mum, and though it wasn’t that I loved my second born more,  I still had all the normal nerves and worries that come with a tiny baby, it was simply that this time the chemical imbalance wasn’t present. There is no rhyme nor reason why depression creeps up on us, postnatally or at anytime during our life it can happen.

Months into being a mum again I realised how different it was this time round and how much I had gone through previously, I was fiercely depressed after my first baby and though I never neglected my daughter it was a really rough ride. I wish I had sought help earlier but it hasn’t hindered my bond with my eldest, if anything it has made it stronger. She got me through one of the toughest times of my life and has grown up into the most amazing young woman, she got herself a place at grammar school and has a huge amount of self drive.

There were definitely moments when I felt she would have been better off without me, which makes me cry even to this day, but we got through it and as you can tell she is obviously a thriving very nearly 12 year old.

All of this was over 10 years ago and now the world is a different place. Year on year our acceptance towards mental health grows (don’t get me wrong, we have a long way to go) and the internet being the way it is has opened so many doors to support networks. I just want all mums to know that going and getting help, or reaching out to someone/anyone can make all the difference. No one will judge and people WILL help, my door (or inbox) is always open and I am happy to talk with anyone. Like I said, looking after ourselves is imperative in the welfare of our children, be proud of wanting to make yourself better.

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I gave birth alone and on the toilet

                “Oh dear what can the matter be, Tabitha Scout was born in the lavatory”

Time and time again I chat with different friends and acquaintances about labour (we women just can’t get enough of it), everyone has a tale to tell, a sly poo here, a urination that you passed as your waters there or being in the ‘heels together let the legs fall apart’ position and a relative coming in the room (that happened to me!).

Now I am going to tell you a story about the birth of one of my daughters, it’s quite funny and is definitely going to feature in speeches at all major events of my daughters life (18th, 21st, wedding etc).

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I was 36 weeks pregnant (previous child born at 37 weeks so not unexpected), and was having contractions on/off for about 5 days and saw the midwife at a routine appointment who said I was 3cm dilated (I have since learnt that once you have had a child you can ALWAYS be 3cm dilated, I haven’t checked). Eventually I talked my way into hospital about 7 days into contractions (these are not wham bang thank you ma’am type contractions more like low lying type pains, but regular and for days), the pain was getting worse and as I was 3cm dilated they counted that as labour. It was all going pretty slowly and 7 hours later I was still 3cm dilated (and probably still am), contractions were regular and I was on that thing with those bands around your tummy which if you tense/ fart the chart reading goes bonkers! They were discussing when to induce me and at what point they go to a Caesarian. I wasn’t happy and fed up watching Homes Under The Hammer, so something needed to happen. They did another internal and my waters broke, hurrah!!! Now we’re talking. Alas no, after that my contractions completely stopped, nothing, 7 bloody days and now nothing.

Induction began very quickly subsequently and slowly the contractions crept up on me, getting closer and closer together. I felt I was coping very well, until, bugger me they hurt, they really really hurt. Before you knew it I am begging for an epidural (something that I had sworn I never wanted and something the midwives remind me wasn’t in my long forgotten “birth plan” while I was virtually dying in pain – I don’t exaggerate ever), bad news was 3 very lucky mums to be were already numbed by the beautiful epidural (I am assuming its beautiful, I haven’t actually had one) and with only one anaesthetist on duty I had to wait till one of these ladies gave birth. Well, as you can imagine I was beside myself, having given in to the fact I needed such pain relief, the fact that I now couldn’t have it because others did made me more jealous than I have ever been in my life, and the rage it created in me was insane, I am surprised I didn’t have a hernia.

Trying to calm and reassure me the (poor) midwife did a downstairs examination (yeah cos that’s just a delightful calming experience) and to my annoyance was informed I was STILL 3cm dilated.

By now I was not a very nice person to be around and had had enough of it all. Just ten minutes later though I informed everyone I needed to push, there were 2 midwives in the room who patronisingly smiled at me and said “no you don’t darling, you are 3cm dilated, just relax and breath”… FFFFUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK… I then told them over and over I needed to push, and over and over they looked at each other, smiled and basically told me to “shut the fuck up”. Well if I didn’t need to push then I must need to poo (this was their suggestion but I did agree), so I get them to get me up (I have a drip because of being induced, and those bands around my belly) and off I go down the corridor as we didnt have an ensuite due to this being an old maternity hospital half way through it‘s move to a brand new unit (literally cardboard boxes instead of a bed), I find a toilet, get in and lock the door.

Well, I didn’t need a poo and I DID need to push.

So in the toilet, on my own, I gave birth. I wasn’t horrendous pain wise, it WAS horrendous sight wise. She came out fine, push push push, done… but good god the mess, I pulled that red chord (the one that hangs in the Costa toilets with the triangle toggle) with conviction and before I knew it the door is unlocked and there is a fair few midwives all holding towels!!!!

They quickly get to work in a way I will never forget, it was absolutely incredible. I remember one saying “you’ve had a girl, a beautiful girl”, I replied “I just can’t believe I have had the baby in a toilet”. I was (now i have fully thought about it) in a state of shock.

I was taken back to my room with umbilical attached I think?!? It’s all very blurred, and then I was pampered to within an inch of my life (as pampered as you can be having just pushed a baby out of your small parts). Even the few stitches I needed were done by the head honcho, and I was run a lovely bath and given a very lovely private room for the night, tasty dinner was served and the only thing missing really was a mini bar.

Baby and I were given a clean bill of health and the next morning we were home. This is life and this is birth but as mums we cope, lovely thing is for a few precious moments it was just myself and my girl in this world, it was scary too but it’s kind of special and funny, just like her. We don’t know how much our different births differentiate us from others, but this birth was special to me and so is she.

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children, family, help, motherhood, mums, parenting, Uncategorized, writing

Comparison Parenting

As women we are terrible for comparing ourselves to others, add to that becoming a mother and we become so much worse. We then compare ourselves, our parenting and (shock horror) our children.

It starts off when you become a first time mum talking to other mums because you want to get advice and bounce off each other, but as soon as you start to hit milestones (lifting head, rolling over, sitting up) then it is honestly impossible not to compare our own little babies with someone elses little bundle who somehow seems more advanced.
I remember going to a weigh in session with my eldest, I was sat next to another Mummy who was exhausted because her 9 month old kept running up the stairs when her back was turned. My jaw must have dropped, because my daughter would just sit and hadn’t ever come close to crawling, she hated tummy time and though strong on her legs, she just didn’t want to move. There was more chance her fluffy rabbit would run up the stairs.
I left the clinic and I found myself trying to justify it. It was probably because Anya was a little early or because she was a girl (not my normal feminist slant on life but I was desperate for an explanation) or, god forbid, was it because she wouldn’t breast feed????
Three months later, Anya was walking and those thoughts were a distant memory. (Also I have since had a 9 month old walker and it is in fact exhausting).

Sometimes my mind would go on a bender due to bragging mums (or proud mums may be a better way to define them), I remember an aquaintance once telling me her daughter had done a 35 piece jigsaw that morning (the kids were about 18 months old), I looked down at Tabitha (daughter number 2) as she was wrongly stabbing a wooden Melissa and Doug cockerel piece into the tractor hole of her farm puzzle and felt like I had failed her completely. Now looking back I realise that the mother who told me this probably wasn’t speaking the entire truth and if she was, well done for her little one because I am telling you Tabsy would have more likely eaten the 35 piece puzzle.

The comparing and worries don’t stop and when they start school it brings up a whole new pot of potential comparisons to make, the playground is the perfect place for proud parents to speak about their childs achievements, leaving mothers like me crumbling with self doubt. Whether it be which reading level your child is on, what part they got in the nativity or how many school awards they have had in assembly it just makes you compare (not always negativly, I must add). I feel very sorry for my eldest daughter, she is at secondary school now so had to have the full 7 years of my neurotic primary school sizing up.
Looking at all these differences I never blame/blamed my children, I blamed myself, I put it down to my bad genes or lack of my time with them. What’s abundantly clear to me now is that all this time I spent panicking about my failings were a complete waste, and if I am being truthful probably detrimental to my girls.

Kids are different and that is a fact. I have three daughters so it would be quite easy to compare them, but weirdly I don’t. I wouldn’t even consider it as they are completely different to each other and all have their own strengths and weaknesses, yet I constantly compared my daughters to random children.
I believe it is a natural thing to do but it needs to be something we should be aware of, not something that affects us. Yes, make note of what other children around you are doing as it can highlight you to real developmental and health problems (my youngest still walks on tiptoes and now is being referred to see a surgeon, I realised she should have grown out of it by seeing other kids her age walking flat footed, this is a positive comparison). What I have stopped doing is comparing abilities and seeing the difference as a problem but also to stop seeing it as result, yes be proud of our children accomplishments but be proud of them in their own right not because it is they are better than another.

My girls are my girls and they will reach these government implicated milestones when they are ready, they will also tick the schools boxes of academia when their brain allows but in the mean time they will flourish on everything else around them. My eldest daughter is academic, but not “sporty”, this may change or it may not (who cares), my second daughter will flip herself around the lounge in her leotard and has a flair for art, but she won’t sit on her own and read for love nor money. Lastly there is my third daughter who is 3, so I think that’s enough for her to get on with, isn’t it?

Love your kids, support them and help them fulfil their dreams, but from someone who knows, don’t keep them in a box of expectations because one of the most fabulous things about being a mum is knowing that your children have a glass ceiling to their potential and watching them on their journeys is magical, I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.

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family, food, health, meatfree, mums, parenting, Uncategorized, vegan

Not quite Veganuary

I am in awe of all of my friends who are vegans and I can see how positive it is physically, environmentally and in many ways spiritually. Problem with me is I truly love steak and I like it rare and bloody (i’m currently day dreaming of a Hawksmoor porterhouse with Bernaise sauce and creamed spinach), yet with the blink of an eye I am yet again envious of my vegan friends and all their vegetables.

It’s with these paradoxical thoughts that 12 months ago (almost to the day) the Johnson household started “meat free Mondays”… we knew we couldn’t be vegans (unless I was willing to be a two time divorcee by the end of March), nor could we even manage veganuary but Meat free Monday we have stuck too and a year later I can’t see it stopping. Though only once a week, even that small change has benefited our health (which equates to more wine on Friday, right?) and done a little bit for the environment too, plus, I personally really love it and have added more vegetarian and vegan meals into my diet (it’s not had the same affect on my husband but he doesn’t hate Mondays dinner).

It would be fair to say that we have had a few fails, one evening I tried to make a certain Mr Oliver’s best ever bean burgers, my eldest daughter and I devoured ours with words like “who needs meat” and “let’s have these every Monday”… I looked up to my husband who’s face was like a hamster storing his food, he was in fact storing his best ever bean burger because he couldn’t actually swallow it. After removing said mouthful into a bit of kitchen roll he didn’t eat another bit and requested that he never had to again. I haven’t made them since.

A year later and I have come up with our top 5 meat free Monday offerings and I thought I would share them. They are easy and delicious (my 11 year old eats them all too, so family safe) and none of them should bust the bank. It’s a small change and nowhere near being vegan but it’s a healthy step and opened my eyes to different options, why don’t you give it a go?

Tofu Thai curry

Ingredients
1 pack of Cauldron organic marinated tofu pieces
1 pack baby sweet corn
1 pack mange tout
1 pack tender stem broccoli
1 red onion
Veg stock pot
Garlic clove
2 tsp Red or green Thai curry paste (mae ploy)
1 can coconut milk
Coconut oil
Fish sauce

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Fry onion in a pan till soft and add garlic

Add in veg (cut the broccoli a little smaller and half the corn lengthways)

When it’s a softening add in the tofu and the stock pot

Add the Thai paste and mix in till all the vegetables are cooked, then add the milk and cook until hot through and then take off the heat.

Add a small splash of fish sauce and serve with rice.

(Sometimes I add extra tofu (if on offer) and whatever veg is on offer/ reduced also if you don’t mind and only have chicken stock then add that, I also like throwing in some cherry tomatoes at the end too)

 

Roast veggie Tart

1 sheet puff pastry
1/2 Aubergine
Courgette
Red pepper
8 Sundried tomatoes
Red onion
1/2 jar pasta sauce (or red pesto, but anything you have left over in the fridge will do)
130g goats cheese
Oregano

Caramalised onion marmalade

(Side salad of your choice)

Preheat oven to 180

Chop all veg up and put in an oven dish, season and pour some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes, add oregano

Put in the oven for 40mins

On a large baking sheet lie the puff pastry down and score around the edge about 1cm in.

Spread the sauce over the inside of the base

When the veg is done spread that on top of the sauce

Sprinkle over the goats cheese, add a few blobs of the caramelised onions and season

Stick back in the oven for 20minutes and serve with a side salad

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Cauliflower, spinach and chickpea curry

1/2 cauliflower (cut into small steaks) (add some broccoli too if you have any)
Bag spinach
Can chickpeas
Red onion thinly sliced
Garlic
Pataks tikka masala paste
Coconut milk
Veg stock pot
Coconut oil

 

Fry the onions until soft and add the garlic

Add the cauliflower and fry so it’s browned then lower the heat and add a few splashes of water and put a lid on the pan, leave for 5 minutes.

Add 2 tblsp of curry paste and add the drained chick peas

Stir and add the stock pot, if it gets dry then add water as needed

When the cauliflower is cooked then add the coconut milk, when it is heated through turn off the heat.

Now stick the spinach on top and put the lid on it. Leave for a minute and then stir the spinach through.

Serve with rice

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Butternut squash risotto

1 small butternut squash
Thyme
1 red onion finely chopped (or white onion but the red onion gives it a caramelised taste)
90g Parmesan
300g risotto rice
1 litre vegetable stock
Butter
175ml white wine
Olive oil

Heat oven at 180

Cut butternut squash into small cubes, put on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil, season and sprinkle with thyme

Cook for 45 minutes (this can be done ahead of cooking the risotto)

Get a large frying pan and melt a big knob if butter and add the onion

When it’s softened add the rice, stir around till the rice is slightly translucent and then add the wine

Once the wine has cooked into rice add the first label of stock and a pinch of Maldon salt

Keep stirring the risotto with the heat down

When it gets dry just add more stock and keep stirring, continue this till the rice is cooked (if you run out of stock then add boiling water)

Add in the butternut squash and stir till it’s hot, turn off the heat and add the Parmesan. Season well and serve.

My gorgeous Tabitha (aged 7) loves to cook with me and though she did eventually get bored making risotto (it is a labour of love), she helped me start and i think its really important to get kids cooking early and loving food.

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Last but not least…

If you are busy and gymnastics over runs or you can’t find the brownie uniform the last recipe is the one

Jacket potato beans and cheese

Potatoes (sweet or jacket)
Baked beans
Cheese
Coleslaw
Salad

(I won’t insult you with the method)

 

If you try the recipes please let me know how you get on, I am no chef and simply a mum who tries to cook good meals, cheaply and as quick a possible.

Jo