Keeping little people happy…..

I can hear you sniggering as you read the title to this blog post, who actually has the answer of how to keep little ones happy! Any of you who know me and read my blog on a regular basis know that I really don’t have the answer to this question and spend much of my time with my head in my hands or shoving a chocolate bar in my mouth!

Well recently I have noticed that the boys have both been paying much more attention to what I get up to. A huge part of my life is blogging, taking photographs for Instagram and being creative as a way to bring wellbeing and mindfulness. One of the things I have encouraged is for the boys to choose a notepad each that they can draw and write in whenever they fancy and express their creative sides too. They have become very interested in what pencils they use, colours and which ones go together well and thinking about they joy they get from making things.

So when I was asked to become a Brand Rep for Mila and Pheebs who create fantastic craft and stationary boxes for children I jumped at the chance. This month Nate and Leo received a lovely box full of fun activities all with a Farm theme. There were treats to please any craft and stationary lover boy or girl and the box was so full that neither of them moaned about having to share so you can imagine I was really impressed!

This months box contained a hand puppet kit which needed to be sewn, a pack of decorations to make a sheep on the front of a greetings card (perfect for mothers day!) Some blank cards and envelopes for the card making, foil farmyard stickers, foam stickers, a gorgeous pencil with eraser topper, a cute Iwako cow eraser (which I may have snaffled for myself!) Some farm animal shaped crayons, a cockerel paperclip, colouring sheets, a maze, a notepad and a wordsearch.

The absolute delight the boys had opening the box was so lovely to see and they both made cards straight away for their Nana using the crayons, stickers and sheep decorations! We filmed the ‘unboxing’ and I think you will agree how fab these boxes are! The good thing about the box is that the boys are doing the activities over a period of time so it’s not just a ten minute thing. Mila and Pheebs have bought happiness and encouragement to the boys and their burgeoning craft and stationary addictions!

As a brand rep for this amazing company I can offer my blog readers a 10% discount on subscriptions made at milaandpheebs.com when you enter the discount code ‘tiredfromwhitstable’. At £10 a box they are great value so to get an extra 10% off that is too good to miss.

I as you know welcome anything which makes life with two very lively boys simpler and more fun without making me a stressed and tired mess. This has been one of the things this month which I can say definitely ticks all the right boxes for me!

If you would like to watch the video of the boys and the content of this months box you can do so here. I will also add it to my Facebook page for any of you that follow me there.

I hope you are having a fantastic week so far and that Pancake day brings you all the pancake delights you desire (anyone else bought the biggest put of Nutella you can buy?!)

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A Simple Weekend…..

I had such a phenomenal response to my last post about my depression and anxiety and how I am at the point of seeking additional help and I wanted to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you that took the time to message, email and talk to me about what I wrote. It really is so tough and sadly its something that I have to live with as do the people around me.

Lots of the people who have contacted me to let me know I am not alone have been local and I wonder if there is more we can be doing to support each other? It’s something I’m doing a lot of thinking about and any ideas would be most welcome. I will continue to document my journey and also some ways of looking at your wellbeing whether that be physical or mental. Please don’t ever think you are alone, there are so many of us from all walks of life. Keep your heads up and your hearts strong!

So I now move on to the weekend, because of the hardcore and mentally draining week we decided to plan nothing other than the absolute essentials and keep life simple. On Saturday the aim of the game literally was to just get the boys new shoes. We had also planned as a treat to go to Kaspa’s In Canterbury (the restaurant that only serves desserts!) We were brave and parked in the Park and Ride just outside of town and the boys were most excited at the prospect of travelling on a double decker bus.

We had to sit upstairs at the back and Leo spent the whole of the fifteen minute bus ride on a packed bus asking questions at the top of his voice about diseases and germs. I was bombarded with gems like, ‘Do fleas live in poo? Do flies eat poo? Do flies spread diseases? What would happen if I licked a fly? Are there venomous snakes in England? Can venom cause diseases? What is anti-venom? I could continue but you get the drift. Luckily our fellow bus dwellers found the whole thing quite amusing and one couple marvelled at Leo’s extensive thirst for knowledge in the world of germs.

We then went to the shoe shop, it is a two minute walk from the bus station but both boys managed to run off, nearly knock shoppers over and run out in front of the one taxi that was driving along the High Street. When we opened the door to the very lovely children’s shoe shop there was a very loud bell that chimed repeatedly as we walked in. I could see the spark of mischief in the boys eyes as soon as they saw the bell but decided to hope for the best as we waited to get their feet measured.

Four pairs of shoes and £140 later the boys had begun to get bored so started opening and closing the door to the shop as we queued to pay. Leo wearing his brand new Sketchers trainers with flashing lights so bright I felt like I was at a disco. Nate in his super grown up trainer boots looking much cooler than both me and Karl. There wasn’t one person in the shop who wasn’t on edge at the constant ring of the bloody bell attached to the door. The trouble was every time I tried to stop them I grabbed the door so made even more noise. It was like torture!

We then went to Kaspas and after queueing for thirty minutes in which I had to use phrases such as, ‘Nate, don’t lick the counter’ and ‘Leo mind that mans waffles!’ were given a table right underneath a large flat screen tv showing Despicable Me. Perfect we thought, the boys will be happy, full of yummy puddings and entertained by the film. Alas the position of the screen meant that they kept trying to crane their necks in a certain way to watch the film and ended up leaving Karl and I with the impossible choice of either being physically pushed out of our chairs or having to have the boys sit on the outside where they had the opportunity to run off and cause chaos. I ate a very yummy chocolate and peanut butter waffle even though I had Nate’s elbows repeatedly poking me.

After this we had a large scale tantrum from Leo which lasted almost an hour as his pocket money would only stretch to one Lego Mini Figure and not the twelve he pulled off the shelf. Cue trying to get large five year old up escalators in posh department store while screaming ‘I WANT THE LEGO!’ ‘GET OFF ME FART BRAIN’ and my personal favourite ‘LEAVE ME ALONE NAPPY BABY!’

Today I cooked a roast and while I did so the boys played football out in the garden while Karl did manly outside jobs (not my domain!) We are very lucky to live where our garden backs onto a farm so we have a low fence and a beautiful view of farmers fields and cows. Of course we also have the issue that the boys footballs fly over the fence easily and at a frustrating frequency. Luckily you can access the field from a footpath along the road so Karl went to get the balls back. He did this three times before giving up and leaving the balls in the field. On the last time he hadn’t actually got back from chucking them back over the fence before Nate and Leo had managed to kick them back into the field.

The boys came in just as I was peeling the carrots and being small boys who never do as you expect both decided to eat as much carrot as they could. They would never do this if I asked of course! So it went that I peeled a carrot only for a small boy to wander past and take said carrot. This happened eight times before I had to start hiding the peeled carrots for fear there would be none left for dinner.

Once dinner was done and the boys bathed we were on the home straight and nearing bed time. We were laughing, feeling giddy to have almost got through a whole ‘simple’ weekend and soon to be able to sit down and watch a film. Then Alf the cat came in from the garden with half his nose hanging off after getting into some sort of fight with another cat. So to end our evening we spent £200 at the emergency vets only to be told he will have to go to our vet for a small operation tomorrow (loosely translated as another £200).

I dread to think what will happen the next time we have a weekend where we actually have plans to do something! Have a fantastic week you lovely people.

 

Mental Health and Me…..

This post is going to come with a disclaimer…… you might find it tough to read or get extremely bored. Please read on if you are happy with that!

Since I was twenty I have had a very interesting relationship with my mental health. So much so that it has at various points throughout the years since (I’m now thirty three) been something that I have been unable to ignore, that I’ve been able to work around or in general we have worked quite harmoniously together however it has always been something that has been a big part of me.

I have always felt envious of people who never seem to struggle with negative aspects of their mental health, who are able to get that balance right and not to be pulled down by their overwhelming emotions. I salute those people and commend anyone who is able to deal with their own wellbeing in a positive and efficient manner. Of course it will be no big shocker to you that I am not one of those people. I am in fact the polar opposite of this and have been made acutely aware of this again recently.

For anyone who has ever suffered with depression and anxiety issues you will know that there are good times and bad. There are times when doing anything other than laying under a blanket and pretending that the world outside the front door doesn’t exist is impossible and other times when you feel you could climb a mountain and do a pretty good ‘Sound of Music’ rendition when you get to the top. There are also times in between in which you cope relatively well and are aware of any triggers to your issues and can deal with them accordingly.

I bounce around between these and every couple of years or so end up at a real low and some of you may have noticed here I am now! I’ve been grumpy, miserable, made bad decisions, upset people and generally been a pain in the arse to anyone that knows me (except Alf the Cat, thank the lord for him!) I now find myself in one of those phases where I could literally shut the whole world out and really wouldn’t mind doing so.

Of course we can’t do this, when it was just Karl and I this wasn’t an option and now I have the boys they need me to be the best mum I can be (yes I know, middling at best!) so the only option is to deal with it. Sounds so simple doesn’t it, pick up the pieces, move on, grin and bear it, keep calm and carry on (insert a million more inspirational quotes!) But how do you actually do that?!

Well I took the first step and referred myself back for counselling. Something I haven’t done for two years when in the middle of my last down phase I decided it would be a fantastic idea to stop eating. This consisted of a phone call to one of the suggested local practitioners and answering some questions trying to ascertain how urgent my need for help was and how long I could wait. The nearest available appointment for an initial telephone conversation was in a months time. I of course took the appointment and as I jotted this down in my diary tears streamed down my face. Its such a horrible thing to feel like you have made no progress at all and you are back to square one.

I acknowledge of course that this isn’t square one, in fact I’m not sure the squares even have numbers. They are just slightly different colours to the ones I have been on in the past and I need to work my way out of each and every shade. I cannot do this on my own hence my asking for help. I hope that this time I will be able to enter into a new, brighter period in my life where I can acknowledge that its okay to need help and to ask for it when you need it.

It is massively hard just being a grown up in our world and the amount of pressure on each and every individual is vast. When you add work, home, family life, parenting, friendships, money, politics, education, confidence, self esteem and just managing to all of this I think it is understandable why so many of us can at times struggle with our mental health. Women are particularly bad at allowing themselves to feel things for worrying that they will look weak, lose respect of others or be judged negatively because of their actions.

I wonder how many other mums like me today walked into the school to pick up their children feeling inadequate, like they aren’t good enough and embarrassed to hold their head high. I feel like that more often than not at the moment and it can be debilitating. I know deep down of course that people probably aren’t thinking all the negative things about me that I am and that they are just going on with their day and probably struggling with or through something themselves.

I wonder if you would notice should a friend or family member be displaying these behaviours, would you be worried? Would you question their welfare and see that they were not quite themselves? I imagine many of us wouldn’t as we get so wrapped up in our own lives that it’s easy to see past what appear to be tiny things. I ask you to have a look around you, if you think someone is low say hi, crack a joke, ask them how they are. You never know that might be the only time that person smiles that day. If that person is like me running after a small child up the High Street the best thing you can do is offer cake (its one of the few instant mood elevators in my book!)

I enter this new phase with uncertainty, I am determined to pull myself out of this current lull but I’m not quite sure how to do it yet and how long it will take. All I ask of you is patience, love and understanding and I promise I will give the same back.

When someone who struggles with depression is at their lowest they can often be tough to love, it’s hard work with little or no reward. I assure you though this is the time that a person who is suffering needs the most love and understanding from you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. It has been hard to write and believe me I would love to just be writing about the number of parenting faux pas I’ve made this week (27,000 and counting) how I managed to spend fifteen minutes trying to put my jeans on backwards, how I poured milk in the kettle and the worlds worst bit of parallel parking you have ever seen witnessed by open mouthed members of the public who almost laughed and pointed but I needed to let you all know that I’m not okay and for now that’s fine.

I as you know love a quote and am a huge fan of Sex and the City, one of Carrie Bradshaw’s most profound moments was this…. ‘ As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost and when that happens I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda buckle up and just keep going’.


 

 

Poorly Fisk’s and how to deal with them…

A couple of weeks ago the lovely people at Vicks sent me a parcel of bits that would come in handy when the boys or Karl and I got ill. The package included some gorgeous finger puppets to cheer the boys up, a bedtime book, some of the phenomenal Vicks First Defence nasal spray and some videos including magic tricks to make us smile when ill.

Then as if by magic we were struck down with the lurgy that has been going round the boys school. You know the kind, bunged up noses, sore throat, coughing high temperature and dizziness. The trouble was Karl and I were struck down and the children have so far had only a very minor version!

I didn’t think for one minute that the package of things would be used by the boys to cheer us up but that’s what happened! Nate and Leo have treated me to puppet shows, songs from their favourite films and little notes and pictures to cheer me up. To help with their sniffly red noses we have done the classic trick that I learned from my mother and every morning put Vicks Vapour Rub on their little feet and then lovingly tucked them into slipper socks.

We keep a family sized woolly blanket on the edge of our sofa and we have all been tucked underneath it watching movies from Trolls to Zootopia. Our hands wrapped around cups of hot tea and lemsip with hot water bottles for the boys and all wearing chunky, warm pyjamas.

I also swear by using lavender when you are poorly by popping a few drops of the essential oil onto a tissue and putting it inside your pillow case. Even though this week I’ve struggled to smell anything at all I’ve always ben comforted knowing it’s their and when I can smell the scent it really helps me to sleep. The boys love the smell too and always seem to relax when I use it.

I think my main tips are very simply, comfort and relaxation as best as you can when you or your little ones are poorly. Lots of love and TLC (oh and the occasional puppet show!)

This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign. 

The fable of the woman who thought she could manage her children in Tesco….

So this afternoon I made the classic mistake of thinking that I could just ‘pop’ into Tesco with the boys in tow. All I needed was milk and honey, surely as a woman in her thirties who has a mortgage, car finance, a job and many other responsibilities I could manage this?

So I marched in like I had it in hand, Leo had the trolley, yes for only two items but it kept both his hands busy! Nate had the scan as you shop scanner and I bet I almost looked cocky. I even stopped to pick some tulips out for myself, the nerve of me! 

I should mention that Nate also had a large wooden stick, like an extra long chop stick that he had coloured in at school and insisted on bringing in with him. This will all become relevant later on in the tale! 

So we managed the honey and I misjudged and found myself too close to the toy aisle. Leo had a glowing report at the school door today so I didn’t mind a little treat and he and Nate both chose themselves a little something. It was then Leo declared he was so desperate for the toilet that he would wet himself. Cue sprint along the shop, trolley and all to get to the toilets, me having to leave the trolley outside with a staff member who obviously thought I was about to steal the honey and toys and then all three of us went to the ladies.

Leo spent ages and sang whilst in the cubicle and lots of old ladies looked at me like I had two heads as they couldn’t hear themselves talk over Leo’s rendition of ‘he’s got the whole world in his hands’.

So then it was back to the shopping, Nate decided he wished to change his toy so the boys both headed back for the toy aisle. They bent down to look at something on the bottom shelf while I glanced over at the pretty princess toys I never get chance to buy and then heard ‘MY EYE! HE’S POKED ME IN THE EYE’! Sure enough Nate had accidentally managed to poke Leo in the eye with the long, colourful wooden stick and Leo was holding his eye like it was about to fall off.

Clever mummy decided the best way to distract them was the ‘free fruit for children’ stand so we went and grabbed an apple when all we needed to do was grab milk and go. In what seemed like two seconds later both boys had finished and wanted me to hold the cores. The trouble was I was at that point pushing a trolley, holding a scanner, a hand bag and the long wooden stick. I decided there would be a bin by the checkouts so gestured to Nate in that general direction.

He of course went the opposite way and found himself by the self service tills where he did locate a small waste paper bin for his apple core. Leo then put his in a hole in the side of one of the counters which I then with much embarrassment realised was the place the staff put security tags in when they took them off items that had been sold.

We finally headed for the milk when Leo declared that he needed olives. Being a child who loves olives we have plenty at home and I really didn’t want to be queuing to buy the extra expensive ones from the deli like he wanted me to. A massive lay on the floor tantrum ensued just by the fish counter and the staff entrance to the back of the shop. Basically the M25 of the supermarket. He was screaming mostly in a way no one could make out other than the occasional ‘stuffed olives’! 

We finally got the milk and made for the till, I paid, I could feel myself hyperventilating and the eyes of the other people burning into the back of my head as the boys twirled the trolley round shouting ‘ye ha’!

In the car as I pulled out of Tesco Nate started to speak and said, ‘I love….’ I thought, bless him, he is an absolute monster but he does love me. He ended the sentence with ‘party rings’. 

The next time any of you may see me walking with my children towards any kind of business, eating place, in fact public place at all please push me in the other direction and remind me of today! 

Love is a wonderful thing

This is one of those posts that you will read and think, ‘ooh, someone’s tired’ and you would be right. I am exhausted, I am always exhausted and I’m getting tired of it.

This week has been pretty awful, probably one of the worst I have had in some time. Now I know that there are people in the world who don’t have food, shelter or people to look after them. There are people suffering from awful illnesses and those whose homes are being torn from them. There are those affected by some very questionable political decisions and others who are in debt or battling addictions. I’m not comparing myself to any of these people and I am grateful everyday for the wonderful blessings I have in my life.

This week we said goodbye to Polly, our beautiful British Blue cat, she was thirteen and she had been a part of our family since she was a kitten. She was around before children, before we were married and way before life became stressful! A couple of weeks ago she was struggling to move around and after a trip to the vet was diagnosed with severe arthritis. We decided to use medication as recommended by the vet to make her as pain free as possible and to see how we got on. 

Sadly her condition deteriorated rapidly over the last week and yesterday we took her to the vet. I think both Karl and I knew in our hearts that this was likely to be the end of her time with us but it didn’t seem real until the very kind vet from Animed in Whitstable went through our options with us. We could try a different pain killer which had to be administered differently and wouldn’t guarantee any better quality to Polly’s life or we could release her from her suffering. We chose the latter. 

It was so unbelievably sad, I sobbed into Karl’s chest like a small child when the vet took Polly to put the drip into her little leg. We were both with her at the end and took her home to bury her. Again I know what some of you will be thinking, it was a cat, a pet and yes you are right but she was our cat, our pet and the first of our pets we have ever had to make such a decision for. They take such a place in our hearts and hold it for so long. She really was a part of our family.

I’ve been signed off work for a bit longer so I can get over the extreme exhaustion. The consultant recommended trying to start lightly exercising and building up my stamina to combat the tiredness. I have to admit that my ever expanding stomach and bottom need this! A wise friend suggested that actually some of the tiredness could be down to being so low. It’s really hard when you are not living life like you usually do and aren’t really sure of what to do with yourself.

In no time I’m sure I will be moaning at being back at work and so busy I don’t know where to start but I’m not a stay at home mum, nor am I a good patient with any kind of patience so in general I’m currently a bloody nightmare. 

For any of you who have listened to my tales of woe this week either in person, over the phone, on social media or on any other way, I thank you. You have no idea how much you help. 

Next week will be a better one I have no doubt and I will be writing about daft things the boys have done, silly anecdotes about our week and how much karl is driving me mad with his new favourite place to leave his shoes.

We all have good days and bad days, we can’t all be happy and smiley all the time. We can however remember that in a world full of humans we are one of the many who might be feeling the same way we are right now and that must give some comfort and we know we can get through it. Especially with a little help from others.

‘Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today’

Night all xx