An alternative Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day everyone, or Mothering Sunday if you’re the traditional type! I hope you’ve all managed to get a lie in (what that means with the clocks going forward I don’t actually know), some version of breakfast in bed and have been presented with multiple homemade cards and presents. 

This year I’m definitely getting a lie in as I don’t actually have Charlotte for most of the day. 

I heard the shocked gasps then but it’s ok, I  promise.

My ex and I have Charlotte alternate weekends (with me doing the bits in the middle too) and this year Mother’s Day fell on ‘his’ weekend.  I didn’t realise until quite late on in the proceedings and wondered if I should attempt to barter to keep her for myself or shorten his weekend with her so I could see her. But then I thought… 

What does Mother’s Day mean for me? 

…and thinking about it, for me as a mum it doesn’t mean very much right now.

The first Mother’s Day after I split with my ex I had three cards from friends and family and multiple presents and flowers. It was nice as I wasn’t expecting anything, especially as my ex and I were not in good terms, but the past two Mother’s Day’s have just been a bit, well, depressing. 

Mother’s Day isn’t just about Mother and Child bonding. It’s meant to be a full family experience and I remember it so fondly from when I was younger. The Father is meant to take the child(ren) out to carefully curate the best present/card combo. The breakfast is made with help from the Father so no fires ensue or coffee isn’t spilt down the stairs. The Sunday Lunch is a full family affair whether out or in but, for better or worse, that’s not how it works in our little family of two. 

Crazy curly haired lady!

But I realised that, where we are now, I don’t need presents or a soppy Hallmark cards from Charlotte. I definitely don’t want presents brought begrudgingly by my ex. It melts my heart when she brings me a drawing home from school with a lady with crazy hair in the middle surrounded by hearts and flowers and says ‘I made this for you mummy’, but I am lucky that they happen every week for me, not just on one day of the year. 

I don’t need a lie in because I generally get one every other weekend and, believe me, I usually make the most of it. I know I have got it good compared to a lot of mum’s in that respect so I take full advantage! 

Last years attempt at breakfast in bed – the wine wasnt part of it, promise!

I don’t need breakfast in bed. She’s five. That would be a disaster and I’d have to go downstairs to find out what the crash was and supervise at some point therefore defeating the point entirely.

Our day trip to London last summer
I do, however, need quality time with my daughter. Like playing a new card game with her that her grandma taught her, and listening to her cackle when she’s on a winning streak. Like having tickle fights on lazy Sunday mornings. Like going on road trips to see something a bit different or Film Night Fridays with pizza and a movie. Like cuddling up in bed every evening and reading books. Just the two of us. 

And I realised that I am ridiculously lucky that I get that most days of the year, not just the one. 

So Charlotte can have her Daddy weekend because she needs and wants quality time with him too, and we’ll just pick up where we left off when she gets back. 

NB: I also know I definitely have two homemade cards hiding in various conspicuous places, so all is not lost.

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Back to basics for us.

Another long hiatus from me I’m afraid. I don’t know how other bloggers do daily posts…weekly seems difficult enough for me! But then maybe their not juggling all the other things too. Work is full on, home is full on and I’m now taking on the challenge of being a completely gluten free household too as, after the biopsy, we had confirmation that Charlotte does indeed have Coeliac Disease. Just what we needed!   

  
So I’m now trying to work out what this means and how it will affect our lives…so far I’ve come to the conclusion that it will affect it a lot! 
I have to admit I have become a lazy cook. We go out for food quite often and we eat ‘easy’ foods. I’m not happy with this scenario as I used to love cooking and trying new things but time has not been on our side and I’ve recently been picking the easiest options. After a trip to Bill’s Restaurant and Starbucks I’ve realised this can not be the way forward. The options available for a four year old Coelic are non existent and this in turn means a hungry child and a stressed out mum! So I’m going to have to go back to basics, meal planning and cooking from scratch. Great! When the hell in going to fit all this in I’m not sure yet! 

  
My high pressure project had a very brief quiet moment last week and I had time to take stock and realise that Charlotte has actually been quite poorly and getting worse over the past few months. Cue ‘worst mum in the world feeling’. She’s tired all the time, she’s waking during the night again, she’s grumpy and so am I and she is catching every bug going. I have also slowly been gaining more and more weight because of this unhealthy lifestyle we’ve slipped into so we need the change but I’m petrified. There’s so much to take in and implement and it seems so overwhelming. So rather that deal with it right now we’re running away on holiday in the hope we’ll both be rejuvenated enough so get cracking on the change when we get back. 

  
So now I have to focus on washing and ironing in order to pack and work out what the hell i’m going to wear by a swimming pool so I don’t look and feel like a beached whale. 
Anyone got a tarpaulin I could borrow?? 

Time for bed – part two.

Ten weeks ago I posted ‘Time for bed‘. I have just re-read it and cried. It was the post that made my friends text me to check I was ok. It was the post that made me realise just how badly Charlotte’s lack of sleep was affecting my whole life. It was the post (and the discussions afterward) that made me follow a few sleep consultants on Facebook.

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It was also the post I shared with Jennie Harrison when one of her Facebook updates sounded like she had been in the room with me that evening whilst I was trying to get Charlotte to sleep. She said she could help me and after reading her website I already felt a little sense of relief…someone had been through this stuff as well. Is wasn’t just me. Others had issues with getting their child to sleep too. Jennie pointed me in the direction of her Ultimate Toddler Sleep Programme and it sounded like exactly what Charlotte and I needed.

I had no idea what to expect with our first module ‘Calm Mum, Calm Toddler’ but from then on it all started to slot into place. I was definitely not calm when dealing with bedtime then and, although it seemed impossible I started to get there. I took some time for myself – whether I thought I had any available or not. I started doing my yoga again. I started to look at how my life was organised (or wasn’t!) and I started to change little things. Only little things to me or anyone else but those little things had a massive impact on how I could then cope with bedtime and life in general.

The Ultimate Toddler Sleep Programme has helped Charlotte go from not sleeping until 10.30-11pm most nights with a battle every single night, to generally being asleep by 7.30pm having completed a mutually calm bedtime. She used to wake when I went to bed if not before, and want to stay up and she would usually wake again at least once through the night for water or similar. Now, using techniques Jennie has taught us she usually sleeps through. She used to scream if I even suggested sleeping in her own bed, she now tells me that she is going to sleep in her bed and I am going to sleep in mine. Sometimes she stays there, sometimes she doesn’t but it’s a work in progress and I know we will get there. Hopefully the new Frozen duvet cover will I give her a bit more of an incentive!

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Throughout our time on the programme there has been no crying it out, no instructions on how you must do things but there has been an overwhelming amount of support available. We have had few late nights and a few nights that have gone awry but, because I know why it’s happened, I can keep calm and counteract that reason as soon as possible and get back on track. We have also worked on her nap transition (from one to none – eeek!) and how she copes with nursery. All of the above means I have a happier, more lovely daughter who is just gushing with affection and I feel the same way. I am still working full time and Charlotte is still at nursery full time but rather than me dreading picking her up because of the mood she’ll be in, we both enjoy our time together much more and there is so much less shouting.

I would say I’m an optimistic person but I think over time I’d lost some of my positivity. Something I used to pride myself on. Working with Jennie and having an amazing group of ladies in the Facebook group for the programme has given me that back. So many great things have happened since I started my eight week programme, it can’t all be a coincidence. Yes I think I deserved some good things to happen, but maybe I was the one who was blocking it, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

One of the things all the amazing mums in the group have said was that we wish we knew about Jennie sooner. We’d all been battling sleep deprivation for years not just months. Which is why I was so excited to hear that Jennie is just starting a new Blissful Baby Sleep programme. I think I know what I’ll be getting for any of my friends who are pregnant!!

Jennie has a Sleep Deprived Mums Club which I have signed up to, so I don’t feel too bereft after finishing the programme. Here you can get access to so many of the amazing resources I have had. She is also hosting a FREE sleep class next week so sign up now! You won’t regret it.

Beautiful sleep.

Despite my grumblings over the dreaded Valentines Day I actually had a great week last week. I even got my M&S meal deal! (Well no one said you had to eat it with a boy did they?)

This week I have had a burst of energy and motivation. I have sorted out a meal plan and shopped for all the ingredients so no excuses. I have cleared another bit of my flat. I have started up my yoga again and found a great 30 day challenge on YouTube which is 30 minutes a day – just about do-able. I have done oodles of ironing. I have been on a successful date. I have found a job I want to apply for and actually have a chance of getting. I have had a catch up with two friends which were well and truly overdue and I even got to spend a childfree afternoon with my BFF wandering around Cheltenham. I even managed to have a successful clothes shopping trip whilst spending only £3 of my own money (thank goodness for vouchers!)

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I think I have The Ultimate Toddler Sleep Programme and Jennie Harrison to thank for some of this as I officially started the programme last week. The title of the first module was ‘Calm mum, Calm toddler’ and our daily homework was to take 20 minutes to do something for ourselves. Now that is the kind of homework I like!!br/>
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I failed miserably for the first two nights as Charlotte was determined to make it as difficult as possible to get her to sleep but day three was miraculous… After listening to the MP3 and watching the video Jennie sent us explaining why it was so important that we, ourselves, are calm whilst putting our little ones to bed I took a few deep breaths before launching into bedtime. I calmly got her ready, keeping my voice low and breathing steady and, although still in my bed, she was fast asleep by 7.30pm. I was amazed! She stayed asleep until 7.30am.

I had an ENTIRE evening to myself and an ENTIRE night of sleep!

The next night was 8pm-8am. Since then we have had a couple of ups and downs but we have seven more weeks to work on this so not expecting instantaneous miracles. Myself and the other mums on the programme also get to celebrate and commiserate with one another as we have our own private Facebook group. Having that support, as well as Jennie’s, has been really great so far and hearing everyone else’s stories also makes you realise that you are most definitely not alone in the sleep struggle.

This week is back to full time work and a new module to work on but two full nights sleep has made the mountain seem much easier to climb. Here’s to less eye-bags and more motivation!!!

If you want to hear more about my daily dramas or see the little valentines present I made myself, please come and like my Facebook page and follow me on twitter!<

Seven days of heaven

I’ve had some time off work this past week and it has been amazing!

IMG_2446.PNG Some of it has been lazy, some of it has been productive but it has mostly been calm and has definitely restored a feeling of Wellbeing that has been severely lacking for some time.

Charlotte went off to sleep easily a few times despite officially starting our sleep programme tomorrow, but this gave me the opportunity to have an evening or two to myself and my mum kindly looked after her one evening so I could go on a date (yes, number 13 and I am yet to make a decision as to whether there will be any more). Granted she had a mega tantrum on my way out so I definitely wasn’t looking my best and felt somewhat rattled leaving the house but I actually went out!

I even used one of my evenings to do the most almighty stack of ironing whilst watching Les Miserables. Rock and Roll I know, but I have been meaning to do both for a very long time. I think I must be one of the only people who finds ironing a bit therapeutic and after belting out ‘On My Own’ with poor Epinine and having a little blub as she died in Marius’s arms (sorry, spoiler!) I felt more and more restored.

I managed to read a book. I can’t remember the last time I actually finished one! I went shopping with my mum – usually a very stressful scenario – but this time all went smoothly with no tantrums from either party. I finally organised all those craft bits that three year olds seem to accumulate into separate boxes and realised I own the worlds supply of wax crayons and sticker books. I have seen friends I haven’t seen in ages and I’ve even had a great weekend seeing friends and spending quality time with Charlotte.

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Only problem is…I have to go back tomorrow…

Bugger.

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Sweet dreams?

IMG_2410.JPGI have realised that the past three years and four months have – pretty much – been dictated by Charlotte’s sleep or lack there of. That seems absolutely crazy doesn’t it? There have been a few reprieves where I thought I’d/we’d cracked it but as soon as my body and mind got used to a full nights sleep something would rock the boat. Sometimes I’ve had no idea what this something was but it has been a intensely frustrating and sleepy time.

It’s amazing how much lack of sleep affects you. (I guess it’s not really considering some countries use it as a form of torture.) I get irritated quickly. I get angry quickly. I panic easily and I just can’t seem to lead a normal life where things get done on time or completed at all. The NHS even states that…

Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.”

Perfect! It is a horrible state to live in and I think I’ve only recently realised just how sleep deprived I am.

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After my post a couple of weeks ago I’d nearly come to the conclusion that I would have to bring in external help. A counsellor? A sleep consultant? A cranial osteopath? I wasn’t sure what would work and whether there was any chance of me being able to afford it. After some research I realised that there the answer was probably not and I would just have to work on it myself as best I could.

Until…I followed Jennie Harrison – the Sleep Deprived Mum’s Coach Facebook page. Her posts hit home instantly as they were mainly about toddlers and when I clicked through to her website it sounded like she’d been watching my bedtime battles for a good couple of years! She had been through it all and had apparently worked out why toddlers resist sleep and how to counteract the reasons for them doing so whilst also managing to help calm mum down too. After messaging her and finding out a bit more (no crying it out, no ‘sleep training’ per se) I signed up and my eight week programme starts today.

I am looking forward to getting stuck in and to hopefully become a more coherent, patient mummy and person in general as we work on the reasons behind Charlotte’s sleep issues. I just filled in her questionnaire and I think she’s got a big job on her hands with us. I think I ticked all the boxes she gave us!

When did your sleep difficulties start? – From birth – check!
Did you have a difficult birth – check! Have you or do you suffer with PND, stress and anxiety – check!

We shall see how it goes but I am optimistic and willing to try anything. Wish us all luck and I’ll keep you posted!

Sticks like glue

IMG_2177.JPGI am currently in bed. I know what you’re thinking…hurrah, Charlotte’s sleeping and mummy gets some rest. Well that’s not ENTIRELY the case. The reason I am in bed is because Charlotte has turned into a limpet. My extra appendage which, if removed, will sob, cry, smack, wail and try to reattach itself immediately, so that the life blood which is my skin does not feel the cool air for too long.

A bit dramatic you may think but she wants to be touching me ALL THE TIME at the minute and there have been times when it actually makes my skin crawl.

When we wake up we have cuddles, I love this time. A sleepy conversation about what we’ll be doing that day and watching her puffy, sleep filled face snuggled into my chest is just beautiful. But then it’s time to get dressed. It is like trying to dress an octopus who is desperately trying to get all it’s suckers on you at once and you can’t put trousers on if they’re sitting on you. You can’t put a top on if one hand is in her mouth sucking her thumb (her version if a comforter) and the other is trying to search for some skin to clutch. Trying to get dressed yourself is equally as impossible. Trying to put on tights whilst a child clings to your leg for instance…impossible.

Then breakfast. If possible she wants to eat on my lap. If I try and clear up or make breakfast for myself I am beckoned to sit next to her and any independent eating will cease until I am by her side.

She wants to be carried down the stairs (something I cannot do as my back has been through enough the past three years) so then I have a tantruming child all the way down my communal hall stairs and out into the car park. What the hell my neighbours think I do not know.

Every morning.

I have tried giving her independence by asking her to choose her clothes, helping her dress herself, letting her pour her own milk into the Rice Krispies but apparently only mama will do.

The reason I am tucked up in bed at such an early time is because, at the moment, me being in with her is the only way she will go to sleep. She must be touching as much surface area of me as possible – even once asleep so will lie up close and personal with me and reattach if I try and scoot a couple of inches away. Just to add to the overcrowding the dog, never one to miss out on anything, will come and lie so that she can take our warmth. I have tried moving – she has woken up. I have tried retreating to the other side of the bed but she rolls over until she finds me.

I am so grateful that she loves me so much she wants to be with me all day but I need to make my child more independent and able to stand on her two feet but if you’ve ever tried to remove a limpet from a rock on the beach you know how bloody difficult it is! Crowbar anyone?

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Just five minutes more…

Despite having had a few days off work I am currently chugging coffee back like its going out fashion and applying extra concealer over the dark bags forming rapidly underneath my eyes. The reason, or one of them, is that my daughter has decided to drop her nap. Yes, yes it means she obviously doesn’t need it all the time as she has chosen this and it does mean that the bedtime routine hasn’t been quite so fraught and full of tantrums but has no one stopped to think about how this will affect me?

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I am knackered! I make out that the couple of hours in which she naps is used to zoom around the house, do the washing, tidy up, maybe a bit of ironing and batch cooking all meals for the week but usually it ends up with me vegging with a well deserved coffee and cake, checking my Facebook! If I am feeling very lazy I will actually have a nap with her, which, at the end of yet another crazy week of work, nursery, pick ups, drop offs, food shopping and dog walks is sometimes desperately needed. So how on earth will I cope without this now? Well so far not great. I’m insisting she has some quiet time so I can have some too! How selfish am I?? But look, I’m being slightly more productive this time round…I’m writing a blog! The washing up can be done another time hey?

The important first post…

Well, I’m writing a blog, whether you like it or not. Should be interesting!

Why now? Mainly because I’ve had this page ready to go for more than a year but have never had the time to get it up and running, but now, for my sanity, I have decided to make time. Time for me! It may sound selfish but a little me time goes a loooong way I’ve found.

My daughter is 2 years and 9 months and finally I can just about rely on her to go to bed at a normal time and maybe (if I’m lucky!) actually sleep through, in her own bed! The bed to myself is a luxury for someone who co-slept out of necessity from the early days, then found that I had a cute little bed partner again after my husband and I separated. The company was nice at the start but now…me time is definitely needed! Yes, she normally rocks in at 5am with her pillow and blanket demanding cuddles but there are worse ways to spend the last couple of hours in bed! (There are better ones too obviously!)

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So anyway, who knows where this blog will lead us. I am a 30 year old single (separated at the moment) mummy who, I’m sure, has lots of tough times ahead but also, hopefully, has lots of fun times too! I’m really hoping the latter outweighs the former and there’ll be lots of laughs along the way!

Happy reading and looking forward to meeting all my readers and learning from your experiences etc.

Signing off now, back soon!