Is it time to rest?

Today is 29th February and social media is telling us we have an extra day. I wonder what most mums have done with that day. My guess is that most will not have taken it as a day of rest. I imagine mums across the world doing their usual mix of juggling a whole heap of stuff – parenting, work, friends, partners, caring, commuting, running a business and housework.

I am on happy pills to treat depression. They keep me on a cheerful and happy keel. I am thankful for them.

One of the most important things they do is to ensure I rest when I need to. My body simply slips into a nap when it needs one. It might last 20 minutes or 2 hours.

I have an unproven theory that half the reason so many mums struggle with mental health issues is that they are frankly knackered. It makes absolute sense to me that sleep deprivation built up over the years of waking babies, poorly toddlers and gaming teens is bound to take a toll of the poor mums. Add in that in so many families mums still take on the bulk of the housework possibly combined with volunteering, caring for elderly relatives, being self-employed or keeping a job down and it is clear most of us need a day of rest.

People who know me say I am difficult when I am tired. So when I am on my happy pills, I get enforced rest and everyone is a winner.

So I cherish my magic moments which mean I sleep and am restored to my best.

3 Little Buttons

Olverum bath oil helped to improve my day.

olverum

I was feeling a little under the weather and lethargic. The cold temperatures are getting me down a bit as this Winter seems to be going on and on. Where is Spring?

This afternoon I decided I would cheer myself up with a restorative bath. I am a big fan of baths. Over the years of parenting, I have got into the habit of not taking those long ones of yesteryear with a book in hand and candles to help me relax

In fact, I visited my brother and had a bath and he could not believe how quickly I got out of it. I am just used to one of the children needing or wanting something from me so I find it challenging to switch off and indulge.

I headed upstairs today and ran a bath adding Olverum Bath Oil
a highly concentrated, therapeutic bath oil which contains 10 pure essential oils, carefully blended to work synergistically. It claims to naturally relieve stress and help you achieve a great nights’ sleep. I certainly managed an afternoon nap after my bath so I am a fan

Olverum also claims to be a great way to ease aching or sore muscles so may well be coming into play after our forest walks.

The first thing I noticed was that I was not going to get a bubble bath. Then I reminded myself that this is a blend of oils so I should not expect bubbles. I used to use aromatherapy oils a lot, It was lovely to immediately smell a gorgeous aromatic scent. I can see how it would help you a lot if you had a cold or flu. What I loved was that the scent did not wear off as I continued with my bath. I also noticed that my skin seemed extra smooth during and after the bath.

This time-honoured formulation of Olverum Bath Oil has remained largely unchanged for 83 years. Now beautifully re-packaged, yet still retaining the same formulation loved for eight decades by its’ passionate devotees, Olverum recently launched under new British ownership.

Family Fever

New blog hops will be hosted by this blog as I fancy jazzing things up a bit, finding new blogs to read and remembering to visit my favourite old-time bloggers.

I have a lot of ideas and have decided to go with this weekly selection of blog hops.

1. Blogging to Jogging – a weekly blog hop about healthy living including weight loss journeys, exercise and fitness posts and healthy eating recipes. Will open for business every MONDAY.

2. Births/Deaths/Marriages/Birthdays and Anniversaries – the life events that really matter most of all. Will open for business on TUESDAY on a revolving basis so one week it will be births, the next deaths (tributes to our lost loved ones) and so on.

3. It’s all about me! I want folks to link up posts that are about themselves as individuals away from parenting duties – hobbies, work, fashion and beauty or anything that shows what an amazingly ordinary/extraordinary person you are. Open for business on WEDNESDAY

4. Thematic Thursday – I will set a theme and ask folks who have blogged or want to blog on that theme to link up. Open for business on THURSDAY.

5. Mummy Me Time – a blog hop to encourage mums to carve out time for themselves and to tell us what they did with that time. Opens for business on FRIDAY

6. All Change – a blog hop where mums can say how things could be made better for mums and families. In the hope that policy-makes at all levels will sit up and take notice. Opens for business on SATURDAY

7. Showcase Sunday – a free for all where you can link up ONE post old or new that matters to you.

Hope to see some of you joining in and know it will help my blog organisation so win-win.

Are you a confident parent? When did that feeling kick in?

confident mum

Taking a new baby home is a milestone in itself. I remember the lovely outfit I had bought for my son whilst pregnant being way too big when it came to the time to put him in his car seat for the first time. Car seats can be a challenge too for sure! I am the first to admit I was not the most confident new mum having not spent any time around babies before. My husband who had children from previous relationships seemed to know how to do things so much better than I did. The first nappy change my son experienced was by my GP as it was all too much for me to take in. I quickly worked out I was a clueless rather than a confident parent.

I was very quick to handover daily childcare to my parents so that I could return to work. That worked really well for all involved although I did sometimes miss moments that matter.

I read up about every parenting book on the market and slowly learned to distinguish between different sorts of cry. There is a great joy in being able to second guess why your baby is distressed. Like most things in life, you get better with practice.

I also made great use of online networks like Mumsnet where you could share openly and learn from others with more experienced and confident parents.

I guess my most important tip for new parents is to seek support and to recognise that doing so is a sign of great strength. None of us can know everything. Not all of us have the best support networks. It is OK to be unsure and if you are asking questions, you are showing that you are parent who cares.

The team at Nurofen for Children say, “it’s no surprise that in our survey almost nine in ten first time mums reflect on having a baby as a life changing experience as they rework their normal routines to take care of their little one. During their baby’s first year, mums say they felt the biggest impacts on their relationships work life and friendships[1]. Our research shows that on average, it takes a first time mum six months to feel confident as a parent[1], and for almost half (47%), the health of their child is one of their biggest parenting worries[2]”.

This is important – let’s realise that if we struggle we are not alone!

As time went on I loved that I knew my baby put his arms back when he was ready to sleep, got red cheeks when teething and only wanted a cuddle when he was poorly.

Take a look at Nurofen for Children’top 10 tips for becoming a confident parent.

They say that 38% rely on the advice and experience of their own mothers, and one in five turn to other parents for guidance. My Mum brought up babies in the Fifties so some of her advice was a little dated. I was terrible at reaching out to mums in the real world but did seek support online as 12% of survey respondents did. You can be that much more anonymous online and feel less judged.

19% mentioned taking the advice of a GP. I found my GP lovely but unhelpful when I sought help and he did not pick up that I was experiencing depression. 9% of respondents mentioned a pharmacist as a source of support and it never entered my head really to reach out to a pharmacist although I know my husband did.

My oldest child is now a teenager and I recently outlined my ideas on how not only to be a confident parent but also a happy mum because I think children need to us both confident and happy.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to blog about a specified subject or review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have been entered into a prize draw to win a £100 voucher as a token of thanks for this post. Find out more about Mumsnet Bloggers here. And to see the other posts about this topic, see the linky here.

Please note that this post is not intended to contain any medical advice. Always contact your own doctor or health professional if you have any concerns about your child’s health.

(i) Survey of 2,000 parents with a baby under 6 years old, commissioned by Nurofen for Children (May 2014)
(ii) Survey of 2,000 mums by One Poll, commissioned by Nurofen for Children (October 2013)

What is life after depression like?

Life after depression

I am becoming increasingly aware and joyful at how differently I find things now the black clouds of depression have disappeared.

1. I don’t mind the house not being clinically perfect. I don’t have the housework skills to make this happen or perhaps I do but not when a husband, children and animals are around. It does not matter. However, it did and it hurt me so much that I could not meet the standards either of myself or others. I always did housework every day but could only see what was not right. Now I focus on what I have done well.

2. I don’t feel pressured to find a 9-5 job to justify my existence in the world. I have found a role that suits me and am proactively building on that at a rate that is comfortable for me. For so long, I spent hours trawling job sites trying to find something that would fit in practically with the particular needs of my family and then beating myself up emotionally when I did not find it or ranting at the unfairness of society. Neither of these made me happy.

3. I am standing up for myself in all my relationships. Instead of sulking or being aggressive, I am stating quite clearly what I will and won’t accept and also looking for areas of negotiation which has to be a healthy thing. My husband said the other day that he no longer comes in worrying what mood I will be in and how to handle me. We are talking more openly and honestly and laughing a lot again.

4. Instead of hating the school run, I now home educate and am learning to play with that experience rather than stressing it. I can do it for goodness sake. I can’t really remember why I thought I would mess it up. I am highly educated, have had lots of life experiences, have a real love of learning – if I pass on just some of that to my children and encourage their passions, how lucky they are!

5. I have worked out that I don’t need a totally in my life best friend. I just need to feel that there are people I could go to in a crisis and also people who are good either in the real or virtual world for good times even if that is just a cheery hello from someone in a shop or cafe.

6. It is OK to be me and to celebrate that. I have nothing to apologise for and am a rich woman. It took me a very long time to realise that. Looking back, it is clear that I was carrying trauma from the circumstances of my first year in the world and rejections thereafter. All this has contributed to making me the sensitive and caring person that I am so it was all fabulous in the end. I had such dark days and years but I value the good ones so much now.

7. I am strong enough to keep toxic people at a distance whilst managing not to be cruel too. Toxic people tend to have their own very real issues. I am also courageous enough to allow people from my past back in knowing I have nothing to be ashaemed of.

8. I feel young again and enjoy playing with my lifestyle and fashions just like I did back in my late teens and early twenties. I am walking taller and sometimes in the kinky boots! My new jumper has “Ooh la la!” emblazoned on it which says a lot about my new sense of self-worth.

9. Christmas and birthdays are not giving me any cause for concern. We will have a good time. We don’t need to spend a fortune and we don’t need to run round in some vain attempt to make everybody else happy. We will do it our way because we have a right to and prefer it that way.

10. Overall there is a sense of balance that I love. I do housework, I paddle canoes that matter to me, I work, I reach out, I go shopping and bargain-hunting, I am part of the local community, I inspire my children and we laugh a lot, I make time to read and to walk in the fresh air often several times a day.

Roll back 10 years …

1. Living in darkness metaphorically and literally with curtains firmly closed.

2. Not coping with parenting or housework. Making big mistakes and hating myself for them.

3. Worrying when people judged me.

4. Working in jobs that were not practical as a young mum and then wondering why I was not managing to do it all successfully.

5. Not telling anyone what I needed or that I was struggling.
Not seeking help from a GP.

6. Being obsessive. Being angry. Sometimes a degree of self-harm.

7. Convinced that only one bloke could ever want or fancy me and therefore holding on too tight and being desperately insecure. I still have work to do in this area but I know think I am as good as any woman which helps immensely.

8. Sleeping on the school run rather than home-educating which is what I actually wanted to do and with a lack of strong support system in place and a husband commuting 100s of miles per day would have been the sensible option.

9. Feeling utterly isolated and abandoned.

10. Not celebrating my very real and unique qualities and skills.

11. Listening too much to the toxic ones. Not listening enough to those kind voices out there. If they knew me really, they would hate me. If they saw me, they would be repulsed by me. All in my own mind!

12. Hiding in baggy and dark clothes often in sizes too big for me. Trying to be invisible. Getting in the way.

13. Trying to deliver the perfect Christmas for everyone not just my immediate loved ones. Never managing to gain approval and then being miserable at not being the perfect person. Spending too much to make up for all my other sins.

14. Striving and failing to be the person that I now see relishing life.

It can be done and I hope this reaches someone who is giving up hope and that they seek help.

Help for me included counting my blessings however tiny they seemed helped loads by taking part in Reasons to be Cheerful set up by Mich and now hosted by Becky and Jo.

Someone finally realising something was wrong with me.

Building up online friendships and feeling valued again

Then going to the GP and saying “Excuse me, but I think I have had depression for about a decade”. For me, Prozac rocks!

If you have overcome depression, I would love to know how life is for you now and what you think can help others most.

Cuddle Fairy