Persephone: Parent

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Happy Mother’s Day

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Elvis brought home 2 sunflowers and a Stickman Family Tree from nursery. Aww, I feel so loved! Now to not let these sunflowers get eaten by slugs. Unlike last year… #badmum

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Operation…Yucky!

The lurgy has hit the household and I, once again, feel like I’m dying. It’s just a cold, maybe a mild flu (achey, hot sweats, cough, dizzy/feint spells), but I am always over the top dramatic. Lucky the lurgy hit after my day away at a convention in London. Technically it hit whilst I was away. Yep, the first time that Daddy had both children on his own all day long and they both slept, taking it in turns so he only ever really had one to deal with. Typical! It did result in me getting a message once I was on my way home –

Can you get a taxi from the station rather than walk? We have vomit.

Oh, dear. Elvis then slept all day Monday, too. Ahh, Monday, the day that was supposed to be our last day together for Robin and I. Elvis hijacked it. Tuesday, which was supposed to be the first of 9 super productive spring cleaning days ended up being me watching TV with Elvis (who was hyper and no longer sick, but we didn’t know that at half 7) whilst Robin had her first morning at nursery. Wednesday, which was supposed to be second super decluttering day became a 90% on it day as I started to feel the affects of the bug, but both kids were at the nursery and I got most of my to do list done.

So, today, Thursday, supposed to be day 3 of 9 of cleaning, decluttering, jogging, shopping, being me and being amazing… I slept in until 9am (Daddy did the whole breakfast and get to nursery on his own. He’s amazing), had a bath, ate cereal, watched The 100, bought cookies and cereal. Moved a box. Ate cookies. Tried to nap. Had lunch and lemsip. That was at 12 just before I headed off to pick up both kids. I started to feel better with that lemsip. I think I just needed that amazing rest. This illness has given me such a short fuse. Robin seems to have skipped it. Although this evening she kept crying for incredibly random reasons. She hit me in the face and I jokingly said “Ouch, be careful, no, that hurt.” No sternness in my voice at all, and with a smile. She burst into tears! Elvis has spent the week having what I guess people might call normal toddler temper tantrums, but they’ve been whiny.

“I don’t want to get up!” Whiny meltdown. “I want cinnamon squares.” Whiny meltdown. “I’m tired.” Whiny meltdown. “I don’t want to go bed.” Whiny meltdown. “I don’t want to watch TV.” Whiny meltdown. “I’m tired.”

Seriously, go the fuck to bed because I have an awful headache and want you to just stop fucking whining!

This week I have been far worse than shouty parent. I have been screaming parent. I have wanted to swear at my son. Because swearing tells the other person you mean business, right? I have come so close to wanting to hit him. Just. To. Shut. Him. Up. All because I was tired, drained and exhausted and my head hurt so much. But I went to bed for over 12 hours and spent Thursday morning doing absolutely nothing and I feel better. I feel no guilt because I wasn’t being lazy, I was being protective.

Yeah, I still haven’t done my first jog of 2016 (I had planned to jog on days 1 and 3), I still have a lot of things to do on my to do list, but my junk room is already looking more spacious, I still have clothes shopping to do for work (supposed to do on day 2), but I still have 6 days left.

Unless Robin gets ill. Let’s not go there.

Robin, who has taken to nursery like a pro. She’s even happy wearing her shoes now! Everyone keeps commenting on how good of a baby she is (yes, I kind of hate how a baby is judged by how well they sleep and what their temperament is like, but it is partly true, Robin goes to sleep easily, she is so laid back and easy going, she literally leans back on you and giggles looking up, if you aren’t there she simply bangs her head on the floor and laughs!) I guess in a nursery situation “good” babies are simply because they make the workers’ life a bit easier. Robin started crying in the garden, so she was taken up for a nap and was asleep in a minute. Because she rarely cries. She’s also not overly fussed to see me when I turn up. She’s incredibly content.

Oh, and despite his mood, Elvis came home from nursery this week with two sunflowers that he’d planted and a lovely Mother’s Day card with a tree handprint and pink finger print leaves (it’s Stickman’s family tree, apparently).

Before the lurgy hit, I had an amazing weekend. I did my weekly weigh in (forgot to post, but reached my first target! Whoop!), then I spent the day at the arcades and climbing castles with the family. Went on a date night with hubby and after a lovely meal, snuck in a cinema trip and watched Deadpool (weird, not quite my taste, but hilarious). Sunday I spent in London and met 5 actors from TV and film. I finally met Greg Grunberg and Miltos Yerelomou! I’ve waited years! I’m not sure I’ll do a weigh in this week as I still feel a bit rough and, quite frankly, I have a good reason for slacking. It’s not being lazy or indulgent, it’s trying to recover and resting. I guess I’ll count myself lucky that this thing hit once both were in nursery even if it only gave me a few hours a day rest!

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CBT Session Five – “Sorry, Not Sorry” #PND

Session 4 left me trying really hard to think about how I was thinking. To notice a hot thought and recognise that the thought was starting off a cycle (going into the 5 areas), and to then interrogate that thought to see if it was true, if my reactions were valid. It is an amazing process. In theory.

It’s not so easy in the moment, but I guess that’s the point. It’s about noticing whenever you notice, hours after the fact if needs be and then interrogating the events. With time, you’ll get quicker at it. I have used it and it has helped. Unfortunately, I’m a talker so when I get a Hot Thought which causes me to fly off the handle with my husband, it doesn’t feel right to me to figure out what happened and simply say sorry. To me, I need to explain to him why it happened, what I was thinking and feeling. Well, that’s like doing the 5 areas just out loud. I guess it might be helpful for him to see where I’m coming from, but might not be super helpful to me moving forward as I need to be able to write down what happens.

This is why the daily mood/activity sheet is so helpful.

Session 5, however, held some answers to a problem that, I guess runs deep within me. And this blog.

Assertiveness.

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Good Food Habits

I think I have quite a bad relationship with food. Well, good if you consider the fact that I love food and could eat all the time. I quite frequently eat until I’m past full. Since the New Year and my Operation: Yummy Mummy, I have slowly started changing my relationship with food. I put my food into my fitbit food diary so kind of calorie count – my aim is to restrict take aways, unhealthy snacks, not limit or alter my usual meals.

I’ve been doing better. But I still have bad days. As part of my PND/PNA therapy we learnt to use an activity diary to try and track when our moods drop to try and find a cause. Well, yesterday I felt low and I know it was because I ate badly. So I considered what I ate and when and have come up with the following changes:

  • Freeze flapjack so I don’t have a whole batch sitting in my fridge. I kept eating it in case it spoils!
  • Don’t cook extra for myself when cooking a quick meal for either child. Just because I know I’ll want some sweet potato fries. No, just no. Also applies, don’t eat their leftovers no matter how badly I want a fish finger!
  • When having leftovers for a meal, spoon it out of the tub onto a plate/bowl. Last night I ate all the pasta (except for whatever I kept randomly spooning onto Robin’s tray) as it was in the tuperware tub. I ate too much as it was leftovers and more than 1 portion. It’s too difficult to see in the tub.
  • Alter food input on weekends where I am nowhere near as active. Today, I’m trapped in the house with both kids. My activity levels are way down yet I’m still overeating. Or maybe eating my normal amounts but less active. Not good.

Realising these bad habits and finding solutions is one thing, actually sticking to them is another. I just ate multiple jelly babies and two pieces of flapjack as I was bored whilst both children slowly finished their meal¬†ūüėĮ

Somehow I need to find some willpower and motivation, simply being just 0.7kg from my goal (potentially 2 weeks away) is not enough of a motivation apparently. But then, how am I supposed to not feel low when I’m stuck in the house with both children, Elvis being a bit ill and super tired and cranky. I didn’t even dare risk going to the shops today. How do I entertain myself on those types of days?

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CBT: Session Four – I Can Read Your Mind #PND

The fourth therapy session was the first one after a huge break over Christmas. During this gap, not only had Robin started sleeping through the night and dropping her morning feed (only two feeds a day left), but she had started going to bed really easily (quick feed and then done) so I’d started reintroducing things to my life and, unlike previous attempts, had begun to enjoy them. I guess it was part of the depression, the constant thought of “what’s the point?” What was the point in trying to do aerobics or go jogging at bedtime, she’d still be screaming? Why bother getting up early to do it, I’m too tired anyway? I don’t want to read a book, I want to veg out on the sofa and watch TV, get bored and eat junk food. Everything had seemed so hard, so hard to motivate myself to do and so hard to wrangle the family to allow me to. But that had started to change over the Christmas period, with a cinema outing and date with my mum, going out for drinks with a friend – no children in sight, taking the time to exercise, trying to get my diet in order and using calm, quiet times to read my book so that I finally got interested in it. I’d never seen that as part of the depression, but it was.

In the fourth session, we learnt about negative automatic thoughts (yep, I know them very well) and what type of thinking you do. I’m a black and white generaliser who can read minds and plays more on the negative than the positive.

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It Gets Better – A 20 Month Age Gap, A Year On

One of my greatest anxieties, other than getting children to nap, has been being alone with both of mine. Where other people can never get out of the door on time with their children, I have always been able to get one and then both of them, including me and Hubby up, dressed, washed, fed and out, by whatever time I need to. I guess that I kind of don’t understand those that can’t, those that have anxiety or panic over trying to get somewhere on time, but then I freak out at the prospect of being alone with mine. Or at least I did.

Even just a month or so before Christmas, the thought of Hubby going to spend all day long at the football filled me with dread. Or Elvis being ill and needing to stay home from nursery. God, no. I just couldn’t bear the thought. I’m not even sure fully what it was about being alone with them. Maybe how to keep them both entertained. How to feed him and myself solids with a baby who didn’t eat. Who do I leave screaming to deal with the other?

It got easier as Robin got better and more independent with napping. I started using the TV less to babysit Elvis when Robin needed things. Then when she finally started eating and crawling it got even easier. She developed a routine that fit with him and his nursery run. The only times that I’m really alone with them is a Friday after swimming and then weekdays for a short while before and after his nap. He started dropping his afternoon nap as early as October and I don’t remember freaking out about it.

He did have two days off sick in November and then Hubby was planning on going to the football, I would have been alone with them both for 4 whole days. I was scared of that.

Today, Elvis awoke at 1am with an awful cough. Then he woke again at 5. It sounded really wheezy. At 6 I brought him in to bed with me and told Hubby that we weren’t getting up. He wasn’t going to nursery. I didn’t even need to think it over or try and get over any anxiety, I knew I could do it and didn’t feel any anxiety. Because, yep, whatever you want to think of me at other times during this past year I have gladly sent him in when he was a bit ill, because I couldn’t deal with him and her. I was so anxious, so scared, that I sent him off a bit ill. Others might frown upon that, but I just couldn’t do it. I was too scared. I won’t say that the therapy has helped with that particular issue (Robin growing up has), but it would have helped amazingly.

I can cope with a 20 month age gap. I am coping with that age gap. At the moment. I’m pretty sure I’m over the hardest, the highest hurdle and I have all of the tools from therapy to help me should any future hurdles involve anxiety.

On that note, I have been blogging about my 6 therapy sessions (first, second and third) and I do think that maybe my PND is more PNA and it is far more manageable. I got a letter on the weekend discharging me from their services and it said that at the start I had a level of 13 on the depression scale, 11 on the anxiety and I ended with a 3 on depression, 4 on anxiety. I think the anxiety should have maybe started higher as there are a lot of instances that I didn’t realise I had anxiety. But then I realised a lot doing the course. Such a lot.

I guess, what I’m saying for anyone with a 20 month age gap, whatever might worry you, whether it’s minor or life controlling, it gets better. You might need help from friends, family or professional people, but I’ve made it to over a year in and today I am happily sitting at home as Storm Imogen blows down my fences with a bit of an ill boy on the sofa and a potential teething girl attempting to nap and I’m not stressing, I’m not worrying, I’m not panicking. I’m not reaching for the junk food to eat my feelings.

I’m living.

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Yummy Mummy: Three More Bags for Charity

Well, I was really hoping that I could announce I was back to pre-second-pregnancy weight already in this post, but apparently I have lost no weight.

None. At. All.

And I’ve had a really good week, so I am a bit miffed, however I am trying to keep in mind that when my size 16 jeans became too loose a few weeks ago, I started wearing my 14s which where a bit too tight. Now, they fit much better. Okay, that could be that they’re stretched a bit, but I’d like to think it’s because I’ve shrunk a bit. Until I weighed myself, I felt on top of the world so I’m going to ignore the lack of weight loss. Plus, it wasn’t a weight gain!

As for the decluttering, well, there are currently three huge charity bags waiting by the front door for us to take out later on today. Plus another bag filled with glasses, cups, ornaments and another bag with even more glass in it. I’ve been quite ruthless. I went through all of my cups and decided that my husband and I could each keep 3, then there are 4 spares (a nice set that match our kitchen), the rest have gone. It includes cups I was using to hold pens and other things in my wardrobe (that is how much of a hoarder I am), cups that I got in my first ever full time job, a cup that I bought with one of my best friends who is still one of my best friends. But I don’t need 4 cups. I don’t even need 3, but 2 are my favourites and the 3rd was bought “by my son” and says Mummy on it. I might be being ruthless, but I’m not heartless.

I put a dress in the charity bags that is brand new, still has the labels on, which cost me ¬£50 and I really wanted to wear to afternoon tea at the Ritz. But it didn’t fit. I kept it in case it ever fit. It won’t ever fit. I can’t cling on to these things.

I went through my dressing table drawers three times. On the third time I ditched the nail varnish from my graduation ball. I only know one person that I went to that ball with. It wasn’t a highlight. I don’t remember much about the night in total, so why keep the nail varnish except some twisted notion of nostalgia?

The way that I decluttered my room was chuck everything I wanted to get rid of on my nursing chair (which also needs to go!) and then I bagged it up a few weeks later. That way, I did get to view it all one last time to make sure. A few items I realised were not good enough for charity and instead went into the bin. I took ONE thing back out. It is a little handbag with a wrist strap, which I think will be good for when I take up jogging again in the better weather. It is big enough for my phone and keys, but also small enough to fit in my hands. Everything else stayed in the bags. I’m pretty sure that my bedroom is almost done. Elvis’ is fine. Robin’s needs some work.

Here’s what my decluttering list looks like:

  • DVDs
  • Under my bed – clothes, bags
  • Under Robin’s bed
  • Top of our wardrobes
  • Over the Bed unit and the jewellery collection
  • Bedside drawer and bedroom shelves
  • Kitchen crockery and above the cooker cupboard
  • Glassware
  • Under the Stairs
  • Top of stairs nook
  • Cookbooks
  • Photo Albums
  • Books – fiction, non fiction¬†I’m going to be ruthless, and only the keep the fiction books that are part of a collection or I haven’t read yet. I might even check out all of my Start Trek books in the loft!
  • Bathroom drawers and cupboards
  • My bedroom corner
  • Top of the kitchen units
  • Clothes hangars
  • Back room – filing cabinets, shelving unit, shelves, mantle, window, craft boxes¬†I can’t even get in to this room properly at the moment due to baby stuff to sell. Oh, well.
  • Loft¬†Goodness knows what’s up there!
  • Side shed¬†this needs sorting if we want to clear the conservatory for more practical use in the summer
  • Conservatory¬†some of the stuff needs to go in the loft and I deemed that too much hassle! Especially when the loft needs sorting!

What else is new in Operation Yummy Mummy? I’ve been arranging playdates with neighbours that have children the same age as Elvis. One of our neighbours’ daughters goes to nursery with him, but in the year above and they seem to like each other. I also potentially have a mum date tonight. Unless a child gets ill or something. I’m sorting out the last of my nursing tops for the Little Pickles market which is in 2 weeks and yesterday, a courier came and picked up 5 boxes of DVDs, games and consoles for Music Magpie. We’re just finishing off a second Music Magpie order and I need to list a few items on ebay in a minute.

Oh, and I just emailed a company with regards to hiring them for Elvis’ third birthday!

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Robin Upset Me

My son is 32 months old and is just beginning to understand his emotions. I blame nursery. Haha. He now often uses being tired as an excuse for not doing things, but he is going through something at the moment. Like I said, he’s 32 months old. He’s just dropped his afternoon nap and he’s really exploded in his abilities. He’s more outgoing. He has a memory. He referred to someone as his friend. We keep talking to him about how things are about to change with Robin starting nursery and that our swimming lessons might be changing. I think he might be going through more upheaval than he did twelve months ago when he suddenly received a newborn baby sister!

Robin has started walking (yay!) and the day that she was doing lots of walking with her pram walker (which she now ignores just days later as she can toddle as far and fast alone), Elvis went and hid between two toy shelving units. I asked him why. “Because I’m sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“Robin upset me.”

And my heart broke.

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CBT: Session Three – Oh, There I am! #PND

As I walked into the third session, I was still feeling so so down from the session before and then my failed attempt to socialise, that I wondered what the point was. But I wasn’t about to lose my place on the course and I really loved the creche aspect! Honestly, possibly not the best reason, but I’m not going to lie – it was not hope and optimism that made me go on the third week. Haha! The third session was all about rumination (I tick all the boxes, so, yep, I ruminate. A lot) and introduced SMART Goals.

Well, somewhere in the week afterwards, I began to see some light.

I think it happened when I set my SMART Goal in front of everyone in the therapy session. Because that meant I had to stick to it. Right?

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Growing Up and Moving On

Elvis has been having swimming lessons since he was about 10 weeks old, and he moved up into his current toddler class about a month after he turned two. Not even 6 months ago actually and they’ve started talking about him moving up into one of the preschool classes already. This terrifies me.

For one thing, he is only just 2 and a half, he doesn’t have the best attention span and he’ll be in the water. People die in the water.

But then, I do think he’s almost ready. In just the last few weeks he has advanced so much. He seems to have really come out of his shell in general, but just today, he was asked to float on his back as we sang Twinkle, Twinkle and he just assumed the position. Lovely spread legs and outstretched arms. My son hates leaning back in the pool! Oh, and when they were asked to dunk themselves, he did. He hates dunking in the songs, but does enjoy trying to submerge everything but his face. I think he might almost be ready for the group. Especially when I think about the others that are currently in his class – they are too little to be able to dunk themselves. I guess he might be in that tricky position where he is more advanced than most in his group, not quite as advanced as the next group.

Three of his little friends have moved up, but two of them are 3 already and one is only about 2 months away from her birthday.

Is it better to be a big fish in his little pond, where he can do everything he’s asked, or be the little fish, the youngest and possibly the least capable? But how else is he going to learn, he needs to be pushed.

I really am in two minds. I want him to move if he’s ready. But I don’t him to move up.

Water is dangerous. It’s a new instructor so I’d be entrusting my son’s life with someone I don’t really know.

On the other hand, in a few weeks Robin starts nursery (that’s a whole other growing up matter!) and has to move her swimming lessons to the same day as Elvis. He currently swims at 10am, she’d be at 0930. That means I need someone else to undress him and then dress her, with me staying in the pool for a whole hour. If Elvis moved to the preschool¬†class, he would be at 11am (and I don’t have to go in the pool for preschool¬†classes) so I think I could take Robin, leaving Elvis at home with Nanny, come home, put her down for her nap and then take him, staying dry and watching from the sidelines. This would make it easier for me, my mum and both of them really. It would enable me to do the whole thing with Robin, just like I did with Elvis rather than handing her over soaking wet for someone else to dress her, but…

Aside from the danger aspect (which is worrying me), it takes away our time, the 30 minutes of swimming together, watching him advance each week right in front of my eyes. I worry so much that he learns everything he does at nursery, but swimming is where I teach him, where I see him. He just comes home and knows more letters, knows how to count, but I taught him to climb in and out of the pool. I taught him to swim a length on a woggle. It’s my 15 minutes alone getting dressed/undressed with him and having random chats without as much of a time pressure as before nursery or as many distractions as at bedtime. I love that time with him and I don’t want to give it up.

What could I even replace it with?

But I will have to give it up at some time. Either in 4 months when he fits the age criteria for the preschool class, or in 1 month when it suits the busy teachers, my family or when he may actually be ready to join his friends. I guess it isn’t about him growing up, it’s just the by product of him growing up. I feel like I’ll be losing something and I don’t know how to change that. It’s the only quality, one-on-one time that I ever have with him and I’ll be giving it up yet still having it with her.

Oh, hello, there, Mummy Guilt! Welcome home.

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