Thursday, 21 July 2016

I'm Too Lazy To Be a Mum!




I’m not being funny, but I seriously think I am too lazy to be a mum. I don’t think I ever expected it to be so…. relentless. Like, it is literally non-stop, high alert from the minute your eyes ping open til the minute they are allowed to droop back down into blissful rest. Why didn’t someone WARN me? I didn’t sign up for this!

I signed up for a few early mornings, sure! I knew the first few MONTHS might be a bit tiring….what with all that feeding through the night rubbish but then they sleep through and it’s totally fine, right? Oh yeah there might be a few nights when they’re ill….but like, how ill can a kid be? And if they’re ill….that means they sleep MORE right?

But actually it’s a bit harder than that. It’s LOADS harder. SO firstly they don’t sleep. Well, not in the way you THINK they should. Looking back at my first child, sleeping and feeding in 3 hour cycles…. I used to think I was unlucky because he wasn’t sleeping through at 6 weeks! But he kept that routine for months and I got big chunks of sleep around the 2 night feeds. Sometimes not even waking for the day until gone 9am! NINE AM!!!! Can you imagine?!

And guess what? I WAS blessed (hashtag blessed!!!) with a second baby who DID sleep through from 6 weeks…… but she screamed from 6-10pm every night without fail. For months and months. And if she was ill, she wouldn’t sleep at all. Match sticks for our eye lids and Valium were on bulk order at that time….

But less naive parents know that kids will take a while to settle into a decent sleep pattern. Possibly a good few years in. I honestly thought that at least by 2 we’d be done with the crap sleep. Early mornings, yes. Crap sleep…really? Imagine my horror upon discovering that even at 6 they can be awake almost every night! Night terrors! Hooray!!!!!

Right so that’s sleep. But even if you expect sleep to be crap for endless years…..did you expect to be not only a washing slave, but a housemaid, cook, transport system, entertainment provider, banker, nurse, and firm but fair disciplinarian? I mean, I guess on some level I had some abstract notion that I would be some or all of these things at some point, maybe…. But the reality….woah! Every flipping second…… even if you are the scummiest mum on the planet and you do no washing or cleaning or like the bare minimum to not die or be naked, all the other flipping things!

Doing food 3 times a day every day AND thinking about their nutritional needs (while guiltily piling their plates with oven chips and frozen peas)!

Thinking of somewhere to take them for the morning/afternoon so they don’t spend the WHOLE day in front of the TV. Or even more impressive….on the very rare occasion you capitulate: you get the craft stuff out and end up putting it away again 5 mins after they started playing with it cos they instantly got bored…..

Trying to prise them apart with your pants half way up your legs cos they decided to start killing each other just as you dared to sneak off for a wee….

Fetching drinks and snacks ALL THE TIME. Usually when you’ve just sat down for a slug of cold coffee/tea and a Facebook scroll. I have to say….this is the bit that gets me the most. You’ve been fannying about all day taking them places, picking them up, clothing, feeding, cleaning, SOMETIMES entertaining them….you just want FIVE MINUTES and boooooom, there it is: “Mummy!!!! Can I have drink?” *weep*

I just want some time to lie around and do nothing again! Remember those weekends when you had huge swathes of glorious nothingness that you could fill up? I’d like a smidgen of that! I’m just too laaazzy for this shit!

I’ll let you into a little secret. I sometimes do it though. I sometimes take the day off work so that while my kids are at school/child-minder….I can go back to bed for a snooze, have a lazy hot coffee’d breakfast and then do whatever the hell I like. And I don’t feel guilty about it either. I think its super important that if you are feeling wrung out by the physical full-on-ness of having kids then you need a recuperation day too! I don’t do it often because despite all my moaning here, I do very much enjoy my kids company and I love hanging out as a family.

But sometimes lazy Mummies need some lazy time to do nothing too.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The 90s Tag for #Vlogstars

Hello lovely people! I have done my first actual themed vlog. I have answered a series of questions about my best bits of the 90s. I've joined up with  Aby from You Baby Me Mummy & Amy from Mr and Mrs T Plus Three and their linky #Vlogstars. 

You can join in too! The questions are below.... if you don't want to vlog it though, bung the answers on my Facebook post so I can be nosy! 

Be warned this is a long vlog. I am sorry I find it SO hard to self edit! There is lots of visual stimulus though so hopefully it's not a total bore off. Enjoy! 




1. Favourite Disney film?

2. NSYNC or Backstreet Boys?

3. Favourite music artist?

4. Favourite candy/sweet?

5. Weirdest fashion trend?

6. Favourite game console & game?

7. What would you watch after school/college?

8. Favourite book?

9. Favourite clothing store?

10. Your best 90s memory?


Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

Thursday, 14 July 2016

I'm Pleased About Theresa May. There I said it.

I am ashamed about this but I am actually pleased that Theresa May is our new Prime Minister.

I am ashamed not because I ashamed of agreeing with her political views BECAUSE OF COURSE I DON'T! And I am sure there are plenty more people in this country who are totally horrified at her placement as head of our political field. But no. That aside. I am pleased because she is a woman. It’s been 26 years since we had a female Prime Minister. And before that, for the entire 300 years of the existence parliament there were NO female Prime Ministers. No women making some of the most important decisions of our lifetime or even history. All men.

Now we are starting to re-dress the balance. Hooray! I am excited by this. The problem is, the reason I am ashamed is because it absolutely shouldn’t even be a “thing”. NO ONE should be talking about it. I certainly shouldn’t be excited by it. It should just be another day in politics with the focus firmly on the fate of our country in the aftermath of the Brexit cluster-fuck.

I am ashamed because I of all people should not be bringing attention to her gender but unfortunately society is still at a place where it DOES matter. It IS still a big deal. Because it’s been 26 years since our last female Prime Minister. And female politicians still only occupy a third of the overall majority...perhaps not even, yet our population is half female.

And in typical tabloid style her penchant for snazzy shoes is a THING. WHY ARE WE INTERESTED IN HER SHOES? How many pictures of David Cameron’s shoes are there? I just did a quick google search and the top story was this one from the Evening Standard: 30 most memorable looks from the new PM…. WTF? Was there a fashion feature when the pig poker got into office? I don’t think so. And actually the pig poking story could be used as an argument that whoever is in office will be hounded and ridiculed for something to do with their personal life. Yes of course, but for women it is ALWAYS their looks.

Cherry Blair was annihilated in the press because of her “enthusiastic” smile and because she dared to open 10 Downing St in her nightie…. All of this centring on appearance does one thing...it keeps women in their place. It’s there to undermine us on every level. To remind us that however well we do in life, our worth will only ever be judged by our looks.

That’s why it matters that the new PM is a woman. Because she’s a woman who’s still being judged on her looks. Until we can have a fair distribution of women in political office, as head of international corporations, at every level, then it’s still a thing that she’s got in.
Don’t get me started on her white privilege though…. 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

There Was One In The Bed....

Do you share a bed? Do you share a bed with your partner or child or pet? As adults it’s quite normal to share a bed with someone or something isn’t it? I do. I share a bed with one of my three cats. Sometimes another one will sleep on my feet too. But I don’t share with anyone else. NO ONE. No humans. And to be honest, it’s only because I love my puss so much that I feel too guilty to tell her to cock off. She sleeps right by my pillow.

But I do not share a bed with my husband OR my kids. Ever. Nope. No sireeeeeee!

I used to be good at sharing a bed. But then I used to be good at sleeping. And I guess I was drunk a lot more in those days. As a teen you can sleep through anything can’t you? And sharing a bed with all and sundry was almost a prerequisite. Most of the time you’d fall unconscious, fully clothed and stinking after over-indulging on some substance or other (or was that just me?). And in fact this sleeping anywhere, through anything, carried on well into my student years. I think it’s the only way I coped with camping at Glastonbury the few times I went back in the ol’ days. Because I sure as shit don’t do “camping” these days.

As a kid I could never a share a bed. I’d be forced to share sometimes on weekends away with my snuffly, kicky, open-eyed-sleeping, annoying younger brother for example. I would be DISTRAUGHT if I was ever forced to endure staring at his zombified face for all the night hours! Thankfully this wasn’t a frequent occurrence.

But once you enter the big bad world of adulthood your grip on sleep becomes harder to retain. Whether it’s the increased responsibility of paying your own way, the early mornings from actually working at an actual job, or desperately fighting off the wafts of existential guilt by not wanting to “waste the day” on weekends. Add kids into the mix and you can kiss goodbye to feeling anything other than perma-pooped for the next 10-15 years. Sleep becomes such a precious commodity that sometimes you’d consider selling your youngest just for an extra 10 mins snooze in the morning (or….again, just me?!).

And so, as an adult, with young kids, a job, responsibilities …..Why on EARTH would you want to SHARE your bed?! To limit your space, to guilt you into rigidity, to steal covers from you, to oppress your need to breathe noisily through your nasal passages (ok, I mean snore) …..Why?!

OK so when my bubs were tiny-tiny I would sometimes doze off next to them after a feed but never for very long. Once they got to the wriggly stage they were put back in the cot….allowed back exclusively for cuddles, soothing or daytime. Even now if one of them has had a bad dream and they want to sleep in my bed, I’ll cuddle them until they fall asleep and then gently take them back to their own bed.

But my husband? No way. Oh yes, there IS that old thing….that “baby making” thing people do. My husband and I do that. We like doing that. And cuddles and kisses. We do that. And we like doing that too. But afterwards, we go to sleep in our separate beds which are side by side in our bedroom. And we can starfish and flail and get up for 20 thousand wees (ok I know that IS just me…) without the other one having a single dent in their REM cycle. It’s brilliant!

I know there are some crazies out there who love to cuddle up all night, love the warm feel of a hairy limb draped over one of their own less hairy limbs. But that’s not for us. And don’t get me wrong….we are very affectionate. That’s something I actually demand of everyone I ever meet. I flipping love a cwtch, me! We have cuddles and chats about the day every single night before bed. But then we sidle off to our own beds and get the best nights’ sleep we can.

I know people think we’re a bit odd. And I am quite sure that some may think it’s a sign of a relationship that’s doomed. But it’ll be our 10th anniversary next year. It works for us. And I am completely confident that not sharing a bed has contributed to us maintaining a happy, loving relationship.

So now, tell me….are you tempted to split that bed in two?










Thursday, 2 June 2016

Gratitude

The other day, on the way to school Gus and I had to have a conversation about gratitude. Obviously after I had explained to him what the word actually meant. Because it seems that however much he is given, he still always wants more. He gets a biscuit, he wants another one, he gets to stay up for an extra 10 minutes...he wants another five etc. This is all perfectly normal boundary pushing….yes, yes but then it never stops!

Our bank holiday in ungratefulness:

Sat – All day beach trip with homemade picnic, but shop-bought ice cream. Day ended in tears because we hadn’t done gluing and sticking. (Which we haven’t done in over a year….)

Sun – Bowling party with friends, afternoon playing in his Nana’s sunny garden. Meltdown after dinner because he didn’t get anything from the sweet cupboard (which is not a prerequisite by the way!). FYI after he’d been at the party…the party he had consumed cake and a party bag full of sweets at, he’d had a bubble-gum ice cream (btw bleugh). But apparently he STILL felt entitled to a “treat” from the sweet cupboard.

Mon – Park in morning / afternoon trip to local National Trust gardens with his best mate, where they had an ice lolly and ran around like hyper loonies for hours. His bezzie was with us for a total of 5 hours of happy lunacy (give or take a few mini strops). When being informed about the impending departure of said friend it became Apocalypse Now chez Helicopter.

Our house, Monday night

His life is *SO* unfair.

How the heck have I created such a spoilt monster?! I can’t believe it! I NEVER thought I’d end up with such a consumerist maniac for a son…but I have and it can’t be anyone else’s fault. The big, ugly finger o’blame is pointing RIGHT at my ugly mug. How though? He’s always been taught to say please and thank you. I try and hammer the manners into him for fear of public embarrassment more than anything else….no one likes the rude kid! I know there’s more to it than that…namely not buying them things ALL THE TIME…. And I confess we used to take the lazy parents route of buying him something little to keep him quiet in the supermarket when stealing grapes lost its charm. So that laid some pretty shaky foundations.

But then, what if it’s me? What if it’s my outlook? Is my entitled attitude what’s created the problem? Here are some examples of my own recent ungratefulness:

1) Shopping in town…with birthday vouchers, given after having an ace 40th birthday party attended by some of the best people in my life. I could buy anything I liked….literally anything I wanted (money permitting)…. BUT. Instead I kept looking at all of the holiday and beach wear and feeling sick with jealousy because I knew we wouldn’t be having a beach holiday in the sun in the foreseeable future. I genuinely felt tearful for one hot minute. But the irony of that is just awful! I had vouchers to spend on whatever I liked FOR MYSELF AND NOT EVEN MY KIDS! And I still wanted something else!

2) We’re in the process of buying our first house. We are in this privileged position because my parents are helping us out with a deposit. We don’t have a whole lot so we are struggling to stay in the catchment area for the school Gus is in. I have been feeling super sad about the fact that we have to move out of the catchment area and that the house we buy will probably be in a worse state than the current one we rent (which isn’t, by any stretch, a palace). But hang on a flipping minute… we will be owning our own house! We are getting on the property ladder! We didn’t think we would ever own our own house. And there are millions of people who don’t and won’t. Whaaaat? I need to check my bad self right THERE!

I have to admit…. Even though it’s awful…. I have spent my whole life dreaming of bigger, better things and feeling a bit sick when I realised I won’t have many of them. That makes me feel SO ashamed. It’s not only ridiculous given how charmed my life has been but it’s also damaging to peace of mind. If you are constantly craving things you don’t have, you can only end up extremely unhappy.

But as I’ve mentioned previously I now listen to meditation apps every night (when I am not gorging on ASMR vids) and one of the reoccurring themes is gratitude. It’s a big part of the teachings of Buddhism and I have to say, it’s hands down my favourite part of the meditation. It makes your life better! When you sit and list 10-20 little (or big) things that you are grateful about that day….however crappy that day has been, you will ALWAYS feel better afterwards.


OK so some of you may have zoned out when I mentioned Buddhism…. You’re not interested in that hippy crap! But I promise if you can think of (let’s start small) 5-10 things in this moment that you are grateful for today then you WILL feel a little bit better about your life. The more you do it, the happier you get.

So now I have implemented a gratitude exercise at the end of the day. Gus has to list 5 things that he’s grateful for in the day. I need to curb his need for ALL THE THINGS right now before he turns into Verruca Salt. I don't want him to grow into a big, disappointed, greedy monster! 

And on that note I've had a thought. Perhaps that insincere, over-used, clumsy phrase beloved by the rich and famous "#blessed" COULD be a nod to this need to acknowledge our privileged lives?

Or….or…. it could just be a REALLY FLIPPING ANNOYING & GLIB HASHTAG…..


I’ll let you decide… (Just gonna leave this gif here…) 




Tuesday, 10 May 2016

ASMR is killing my Anxiety / Insomnia! Woohoo!

What in the heck is ASMR? Have you heard of it? It has completely changed my life! OK that sounds super dramatic but it’s definitely changed my sleep and that, in turn, has changed my life. Because I am less tired. So my life is mildly better, but you know that IS a change, technically speaking. 

But what IS it though?  

The pseudo-scientific name itself is an acronym. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. A phrase coined by Jennifer Allen, who came up with this term after years of discussions in internet forums (because, of course) with fellow experiencers of the "tingles". The best way to describe the feeling is a warm, comforting, tingly sensation...like hairs on your neck standing up or prickles in your hair line.... as a response to seeing but, more often than not, HEARING certain sounds. It's an extremely pleasurable experience.... like a mild euphoria

Another way to describe it is, when you were younger, did you enjoy your parent / friends brushing your hair, or stroking your arm? Wait....now come on.... that's not what I mean. Right so before we go any further, because I sense some alarm bells....this isn't in any way a SEXUAL pleasure. Well, not for me anyway. And arguably not for the most part in the ASMR community...although ...this IS the internet and of COURSE you're gonna find some pervs willing to whip their pants off for a fumble at the drop of a hat. But as a rule, the ASMR community (yes, there is one!) feel quite strongly about the fact that it is a non-sexual pleasure based response. 

The reality though is that it’s a bit of a “made-up” phenomenon. Only in that, there’s yet to be much proper scientific research to investigate why CERTAIN people respond in a CERTAIN way to things known as ASMR triggers. I am affected by some triggers, in a strong way but some people aren't. And I am guessing they are the biggest sceptics. The tingles I experience are ones you tend to feel in your head or a prickly, warm sensation in your skin and DEFINITELY not in your rudey parts! But some people are still sceptical about this too. (E.g. this pheromone-drenched 
scoundrel). 

How did I even happen upon this phenomenon? Originally I'd seen something fleeting in my Facebook feed. I hadn't given it much thought and then I saw a tweet from fellow tingle-aholic Clara:



I was instantly hooked. She sent me a link to her fav/least annoying ASMR video maker, Heather Feather (there's a million gatrillion on YouTube...you have to pick what/who you respond to the best) and I've been addicted every night ever since. She also likes tapping....I can't get with tapping. But it's a fairly subjective experience ....glued together by commonly liked scenarios. My favourites are "personal attention" videos. So someone pretending to give me a facial. (Again, steady on at the back!)  This is something I absolutely love in real life so the idea that I'm having one every night is so, so lovely. I've included a video of my number ASMR maker below.... I find her voice hypnotic and I love that she brushes the screen so the sounds in your ears are like those you'd experience at the time. 
I'll link to another fav with a very triggering video for me at the end of this post and I defy you not to slip into a coma of relaxation afterwards. 


 

There are of course, arguments (especially from those who don't /can't experience the tingles) that this is utter time-wasting nonsense. Well of course, if you get nothing from it, then jog on. But for me and fellow peeps who experience the heebie-jeebies (aka anxiety/panic) this is one of the most soothing ways I've found to ease it. I felt super anxious the other night and within minutes I was calm....just because my mind was completely focused on the relaxing sounds I was listening to. I feel like it works a in a similar way to mindfulness. It keeps you present, in that moment, not thinking about past or future but there and experiencing how you feel right then. This is grade A awesomeness for me. I've never had such a quick/immediate way to deal with the collywobbles. 

But not only that, I am infamous on my social media accounts for moaning about insomnia. Well my nightly addiction to these videos has really helped. I get to sleep much more quickly because I am just so relaxed by the time I switch off. It's been even more beneficial to me than all the sleep / mediation apps I've used in the past. And it means I can't wait to go to bed most nights...often going an hour early just so I can lie there and "tingle". That's not like me at ALL! I'd normally give my right arm before giving in to bedtime!

So had you heard of ASMR? Do you get triggered or do you think it's nonsense? If you are already a pro, let me know your fav vids (links welcome here, Twitter or Facebook). My one and only concern is, chasing the intensity of the tingle! In a similar way to a junkie looking for a bigger hit, I can spend hours starting videos and not "feeling it" and searching through hundreds more just to hit my tingle bone.... can anyone else relate to this? I'll leave you with another tingler for you and await the deluge of response! 






Monday, 14 March 2016

Anorexia is NOT Narcissism.


On Sunday this weekend, The Telegraph published an interview with Joan Bakewell in which she pondered if Anorexia Nervosa, endemic amongst young girls today, was purely narcissistic. It was an ill informed statement at best but I think quite representative of what a lot of the older generation think of their younger counterparts. And it’s dangerous.

She has since apologised, retracted and explained that she didn’t know her comments would be published. I still feel that even with an apology, her thought process needs some addressing.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start. Anorexia is NOT narcissistic. A narcissicist is a very specific personality trait and nothing to do with having a mental illness. A severe mental illness, which IS what Anorexia is. And it has a high death toll. It has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.  

It’s not about appearance, it’s about control. Controlling what goes in your mouth very often as result of not being able to control events around you. And this not eating, or eating in a disordered way is a symptom of a much deeper psychological issue. It’s almost like asking a self harmer if they cut their arms to match their outfits!

Although it may appear rife amongst models, young actresses and pop stars there are reasons why they might be more susceptible to mental illness that goes beyond a vain obsession with their looks. People in the public eye are often emotionally vulnerable, under constant scrutiny and pressure from the industry and peers to look their best. It seems to me that the main reason anyone suffers anorexia in these circumstances is a clamouring to regain control. Anorexics very rarely look in the mirror with their bones jutting out at awkward angles and think “I look fantastic!”.

In fact for anyone with disordered eating, appearance is low down on the priority list. For example, a lot of bulimic people are overweight or even obese. I should know, I was bulimic for years and my weight fluctuated wildly. And I can say with some certainty that my bulimia started in a time of extreme emotional turmoil and had very little to do with how I looked. For me it was way of punishing myself for my own greed and hatred of myself at a time when I felt desperately alone. The thought that someone could accuse me of vanity leaves an even more sour taste in my mouth than the bile I was regularly retching up.

What really astonished me about the article in question was the Bakewell’s point about Syrian refugees: 

"No one has anorexia in societies where there is not enough food. They do not have anorexia in the camps in Syria”

What a low blow. How could she ever think that it’s ok to compare someone suffering from a mental illness to people suffering from famine? Just have a cake! There are people starving in Africa/Asia/our own country....!

Not only extremely reductive of a deadly mental illness but also untrue. We are lucky in the west to have access to psychiatric practices. That support to even diagnose illness (let alone address) is very often just not available, especially in war torn countries. So there could be far more unreported incidents of Anorexia but studies of mental health in the non-western world are far less abundant. Thankfully these days that IS changing.  

However, even if:

Western culture in particular contributes to the development of eating disorders, including the specific form or diagnosis of a disorder, the expression of distress, and a sufferer’s concept of abnormality, …(it) is not a necessary cause” 

(quoted from Jennifer Hatfield’s study on the implications of non western Anorexia.) That is to say that a person’s Anorexia has not been caused by her/his up-bringing in western culture even if that culture has perhaps exacerbated it.

Bakewell said: anorexia was “called hunger when we were young” 

Making ill informed, derogatory remarks about how society is these days really gets my goat (as mentioned previously here). Yes there is no denying that society does seem to be heaping on the pressure for appearance and wanting to look your best but the “not in my day” argument just doesn’t wash. There is plenty of historical evidence of the existence of anorexia before the 20th/21st century. And that in itself goes toward dispelling the vanity myth championed by Ms Bakewell when she states that she is:

alarmed by anorexia among young people, which arises presumably because they are preoccupied with being beautiful and healthy and thin.”

We have to be really careful about how we treat the younger generation. No one should be treated with belittling derision about their “silly obsession with appearance”. People in their late teens, early 20s are among the most vulnerable of all but also arguably the most important. They are the ones who will shape our future and they are the ones who will ultimately be responsible for progression in our society. We should show them more respect and not reduce their experiences, (especially not in the media) to silly nonsense.  

My conclusion is this, if you have an opinion, make sure you do some flipping research before you spout your “truth” to the world.

Word.  

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