Happy Birthday To Me!!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Its been so long since I posted on my blog and I’ve really missed writing. I have started drafting this post so many times, but going to back to work has left me time poor. Despite using my own tips I am still trying to get the balance, but I am hoping I soon will.

Today is momentous occasion for me, not because of the Royal Wedding  tomorrow, but today I am blessed to turn 38 years old. Rewinding to 20 years back I was in college turning 18 and with such youth and innocence, I cannot even begin to remember what I envisioned for myself all those years ago.

I feel that every birthday should be celebrated fully: a representation of the year that passed and of what is to come. There are a number of people who I have met along my life journey who not made it to 38 so were unable to have some of the life experiences that I have. My mum once said to appreciate life walk around a graveyard and you will see so many lives that were never lived. I am so grateful for every milestone that I have been able to enjoy.

On reflection, this is the advice I would have given to my 18-year-old self.

  • Always seek out new opportunities and chances to make new friends and meet new people – I have always been an introvert and have had to really push myself to make new friends. Despite pushing myself to try new experiences, it is only in my later years that I have embraced the power of networks.

 

  • Enjoy life but remember to save and invest – Life is short so should be enjoyed but you also need funds for the future. It’s important to grow these funds and one of the means to do this is through investing. Whether this be property or stocks and shares.  Never be afraid to take a calculated risk.

 

  • Always heed your parents advice – Everything they say comes from their life experiences and because they love you more than life itself. Okay, I barely listened to anything they said as I’m argumentative and very stubborn. Despite having no regrets in life, my choices have not always been great. Even though I learned from all these lessons my life would have been easier if I have heeded just a bit of advice from my parents.
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November 1980

Have you got any advice that you would give your 18-year-old self?

What about now is there things you have learnt which you think would help you in the future?

If so, please comment below and if you liked this post share x

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Time To Get Back In The Race!

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So less than two weeks today, I unofficially finish my maternity leave and returned to work. Officially,  I went back to work at the beginning of March and have been using my annual leave to extend my break. When I take my first steps into the office and sit at a desk,  I would have been away from work for 14 months Yikes!! This is my second round of maternity leave,  so I’m no stranger on returning to the office after an extended break, but this does not stop panic from setting in!

Not only has my maternity leave enabled me to bond with my new addition,  it has provided me with the opportunity to deepen my relationship with my toddler, by allowing me to spend quality time with him as a stay at home mum. Despite this,  there are elements of being a working mother that I do miss, like having a hot cup of tea; going to the bathroom on my own; internet shopping on my commute or actually having the time to read a book of magazine on the bus. If I had the chance to stay at home full time, would I???  To be honest I’m not sure. My mother stayed at home to look after me until I went to infant school. They survived on my father’s salary and as an adult I have never thought that I missed out on anything.  She often tells me things were tight, but my mum is frugal and even though Ebay had not yet been invented,  jumble sales were about. I do remember being at a sale and being given my bag of change to go to the toy room and spend, which is what I did – Barbies, Sindys and board games were always in plentiful supply.

The socioeconomic environment is slightly different from the 1980s when I was small and I have not got the benefit of salary of a partner as support, so its definitely back to the grind. I do know that I love my children; I have lots of fun with them going to various places and groups but I do sometimes feel guilty for going to work (even though I try not too) and leaving them in nursery. This is probably why when I’m not working I try to give them my full attention. I am not perfect but just a mama bear trying to do her best.

As I return to work I thought I would share a few points that helped me when I went back after my first pregnancy.   I will be using these when I go back to work in less than two weeks.

  • Meal Plan – Its awful to come home from work tired and hungry. You complete bedtime with the children and then have to figure out what your going to eat!! Meal planning is your best friend here. Sometimes I will be really organised and as part of my plan have a meal in the slow cooker, other times its a quick chickpea curry with naan. Whatever is on the plan I know I will have all the ingredients and can plan around my schedule, I can even take the leftovers to work so my lunch is now covered and I can utilise my lunch time to have some me time,  rather than fighting the crowds to buy food.

 

  • Sort your child care and have a back up – Have a plan for who is going to look after your children when you return to work at least six months before your due to start. When I started visiting nurseries for Ri,  he was eight months old and many of the parents I met on open evenings were still pregnant with the child that they wanted to attend. I was lucky to be able to secure him a place at the nursery I wanted,  but I should have been more organised. In addition,  it’s important to have a back up plan as children are always catching viruses, colds, illnesses and if you do not have enough annual leave, family, etc.. who is going to be able to help. Its far less stressful to have a plan in place just in case,  as even though many employers are understanding they have no loyalty to us or our families.

 

  • Treat yourself – If your anything like me whilst I have been trying to lose my  postpartum weight I have been in capsule wardrobe. I have been so excited to fit back into my old clothes and most of them I still like. Even so I have treated myself to a couple pairs of new work shoes, a new bag and a few new dresses. If your a parent its so easy to shop for your children and neglect yourself. But its so important to treat yourself good and take care of your self so that you feel good and your children model this behaviour whilst acknowledging their worth. So I know when I walk into that office in two weeks I may not have have clue what I am doing anymore but I will look the part.

 

  • Stagger your return – If possible,  do not return to work and then start working five days a week straight away. You have been away for while and you need to be kind to yourself and give yourself a chance to find your rhythm. If it is feasible,  try using your annual leave to work reduce days for a few weeks so that you can get used to your new schedule. For myself,  I will be doing three days a week for a month to get back into the swing. I did this after Ru and it really helped me get back into movements of work, especially the drop off and commute.

 

  • Organise the night before – Do as much as you can the night before. I can assure you that the mornings will no longer be your friend. I’m the sort of person who thinks I’ll do it in the morning as it will only take five minutes,  but when you have a toddler and baby to get ready too, minutes runaway into hours. Pack nursery and work bags, prepare lunches and dinners, put out the clothes that you will be wearing and the make up you will be using the next day, and leave shoes and hats all by the door. I always write a checklist and tack it to the back of the front door, so its the last thing I see before I exit and will know I have everything or have done everything I need to do. Pre-children if I forgot something when I got to the bus stop, it was not mission impossible to run back and retrieve it.

 

  • Utilise Your Lunchtime/ commute – Now that your back at work, your time is even more precious. The days of Netflix and feed are over. In a working day you could be away from your child(ren) at least nine hours per day and in my case I do condensed hours so even more. When you do get home its dinner, bath, tidying, preparation for the next day before you even get to rest. If your lunching on your own,  rather than wasting time on Facebook use it. Go for a run or walk, read a book, buy a birthday present, use it to make the rest of your life easier but have time for yourself. The same can be said for your commute, I love listening to audio books at the moment. I can close my eyes and chill,  while a train takes me to my destination.

 

  • Shop online – This is something you can do with you lunchtime or on your commute. As I’m an Aldi lover, so I am unable to do my food shopping online but do buy alot of other things such as clothes, shoes, birthday presents etc… My kids get bored shopping, so I try to avoid dragging them around the shops unless I am buying their shoes.  I like to use our precious time together to enjoy ourselves and do activities such as going to the park and visiting friends.

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What do you think of my list? Have you got any suggestions of things that would make it easier for me returning to work? If so please comment below.

As usual if you liked this post please share, spread and follow x

 

Happy 1st Birthday, Ri!

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Happy 1st Birthday, Ri!! Love you loads, Mummy x

So Ri turned one, two weeks ago and his birthday party/ naming ceremony left me so exhausted that I just could not muster the energy to write a post. I am extremely happy with the memories that the party has created but I am also pleased that it is over. I spent so long seeking inspiration, planning and organising the event, then the delivery was over so quickly.

As Ri has now turned one, I have an opportunity to reflect on spending the last year with him. He is an amazing child who is extremely contented and knows how to light up a room. When Ri is about you cannot but smile as he is so infectious that he has that effect on you. This period of thought has inspired me to consider words of wisdom that I would like to share with both Ri and Ru as they grow. As a mother who wants to raise men that are respectable, empathetic individuals; who do not bottle up their emotions and function well in society I have listed five words of wisdom that I want to remind my boys every year.

  • Be You – Whoever that may be. I want you to never feel like, you have to alter, compromise or change yourself to fit in. You are amazing as you are and need to remember this. At times life may try to put you into a box or give you a label that does not match. Do not ever feel that you have to conform to those standards, instead remain true to you and your values.

 

  •  Every day is a new beginning – Try not to think about the mistakes or failures of yesterday. As the day ends and the sun rises, each day provides a new chance at success and achievement. Enjoy the journey that each day brings and see any challenges as lessons to learn. Do not dwell on yesterday, take notes and use these as improvement for your next opportunity.

 

  • I am so proud of you – I am your biggest cheerleader and only want you to succeed in life. I may not always understand and appreciate the choices that you make in your life, but I will accept them. Your life is your opportunity to leave a legacy on this earth. No matter what you choose to do, as long as you stay true to yourself – I will always be proud of you.

 

  • I love you unconditionally – I love you unconditionally, no matter were your life takes you my love will always follow. This does not mean if you make poor choices that I will not reprimand you, but it does mean that this love may at times be tough. Sometimes my love will not be in the form of a cuddle or words of warmth. Instead it might be myself making a tough choice and you receiving words of truth that you do not want to hear. Despite this whatever the future brings, know that I do, will and always love you!

 

  • Don’t put up a wall – Always tell the people who you love in your life that you do so. Never bottle up your emotions, instead express how you feel. Never feel that you cannot talk to me about whatever you may be experiencing or trying to deal with. I may not have the answers, but together I am sure we can come up with a solution. Life is a blessing and time is short – spend it with those you love and never hold back as tomorrow is not certain. Your main efforts and time should always be spent enjoying time with the people you care about, not posing on social media trying to get more likes from unknown people who do not care about you. Use social media sparingly and remember what you see on there is never a true reflection of life. Talk to people, not through an app or phone but actually sit down, meet and speak to people. Stay truly connected without the use of a device.

 

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Ru, aged 2 nearly 3 and Ri, aged 7 days old

Can you think of any other words of wisdom I should be sharing with my boys? If so, please comment below.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you could spread it by sharing. Thank you x

 

 

 

 

 

My body is amazing!

Disclaimer: I am not a body expert, nutritionist, personal trainer or doctor. The following words are just my thoughts and should not be used as medical guidance.

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Two days ago, I sat on my bed in the dark breastfeeding my soon to be one year old son Ri, before his bedtime. I started thinking that although I would be returning to work soon, I am still not sure if I will fit into my work clothes in time. My back still has rolls of fat, my belly is full of stretch marks and extremely loose and let’s not mention the bags under my eyes. I could not help comparing how I was by the time Ru was this age. I had lost the baby weight and was rocking my own clothes, not still in my postnatal capsule wardrobe. Its been such a struggle after Ri my second child, gravity is still trying to claim my body rather than let it pop back. Then it dawned on me – my second child! My body is actually amazing and needs to be celebrated not shamed and talked in a hateful manner. Its not just myself that needs to be reminded of this, but all women – mamas or not!  We have sexy remarkable bodies no matter what age, race, size we are!

So why do I think my body is amazing? Let me break it down

  • My body has provided nutriments, shelter and protection for two human beings for a total of 18 months. It stretched itself to house these individuals and then again so they could enter the world. (Those who have been through childbirth know a watermelon through a golf ball is no easy feet).
  • After producing these individuals, my body provided me with the ability to be able to give them warmth (skin to skin contact) and to nourish them by being able to produce milk and breastfeed. Then despite the tenderness, tears and sore nipples my body took the pain to enable me to continue breastfeeding.
  • My body never fails me when I have to wake up for the 5th time of the night, have only had 3 hours sleep and despite the bags under my eyes I can still function like a person who has slept continuously for 8 hours. I meant I can still operate machinery – the car, toaster, stroller.
  • My body has the ability to shape itself if I have the determination, commitment and time. Six months after the birth of Ru I had joined slimming world and restarted my personal training sessions. Losing just over three stone.

After Ri’s birth I have had less weight to lose but following the advice of  some older second time mothers,’ I started training after three months as I was told it may be harder but decided against Slimming World as I felt I did not need to support to nourish my body.

I have found that on this journey of raising children, its important that they see their mums, sisters, dads portraying positive body images. The media bombards kids with unrealistic images placing unattainable standards. The use of social media has ensured that 24/7 these images are streamed around us. In order to raise resilient children, we have to ensure that those closest to them love themselves so that they have realistic standards and will be happy with what they have and know how to work it.

This does not mean not taking care of ourselves but loving every stretch mark, wrinkle and bit of jelly belly/ cellulite.

I am time poor when it comes to fitness, so to maximise my minutes and stay focused I have invested in a personal trainer, Tony. I know once a week for 90 minutes that I can bitch and moan but I will focus on getting/ staying fit and healthy despite my arthritic knee, whilst pushing my body to it limit. Some people invest in new shoes, others in handbags – knowing the person I am (I just cannot push myself in the gym) I invest in my making my time count by being productive and supporting my long term health.

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Me training that core – outside temperature 1 degree

I’m not fond of the training sessions that Tony plans but I feel amazing afterwards. I never get bored as each session is so varied and despite the fact that I only train once a week I have still managed to get fitter and have nearly lost all my baby weight. One session I could be sprinting, using battle ropes and boxing. Another session could I could be carrying a sandbag, running 3km and using kettle bells. I whine, moan and sometimes scream in pain but I get the job done and feel so proud when I have finished.

At the moment my trainer has set me a challenge, its called the fruity press up challenge. There are various levels all named after fruit – I am a banana on his chart and totally committed. I am currently on the final week or my six week challenge. I started by doing 65 push ups a week for 5 days; then 70; 75 and will now finish 80. Do I feel stronger – yes! Do I feel fitter- yes! Will I do it again – mmmmm not sure! But I will complete it and be proud that my body did it, as really its all mental. Our bodies are capable of infinite possibilities but its our mindset that control our levels of commitment and willpower. Sometimes progress will be slow, you can train alongside someone and you do exactly the same things but they get muscle definition in a week and for you its a month. We are all different and what works for A does not for B.

Remember there are three different body types:

Ectomorph – naturally skinny, hard to gain weight – Kate Moss

Mesomorph – Naturally lean, build muscle easily – Sylvester Stallone, Angela Bassett

Endomorph – Curvy and round, look a cake and they wear it – Danny Devito, Oprah Winfrey

What body type are you?

Whatever your body type is just remember its amazing, just breathing is a remarkable feat. Lets make a pact and not say things about our bodies which we would not want to overhear from others. Instead lets just say – I love me ❤

What do you love about your body? What sort of things do you do to stay nourished and healthy? Please comment below and if you liked this post – share it x

 

Why I did not set goals this year!

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So it’s now February; by now all those New Year goals that were set are just a distant memory!  Real life has taken over, all these plans have been deferred, so the list grows.

This year, 2018, I have decided to do something different and instead of setting goals, I have made a family bucket list. If you’re unfamiliar with a Bucket List, it was devised as a means for people to list all they wanted to do before they ‘kicked the bucket’.

Life is so short and precious and sometimes we can get caught up in the ground end. Each day should be celebrated rather than waiting for a special occasion. You want to go to the spa – go! You want to buy that new dress – buy it (after you have checked that you are getting it for the best price, that you actually need it and can afford it). I did not say waste your money. To enjoy and experience life, for the most part does not have to cost money – go to a park, visit a friend, go on an imagination trail.

In addition, writing a bucket list provides me with the space to create the life I want for my family, rather than letting life create itself for us. It allows me to discover the experiences I want to share with my boys and my village. Writing it down makes it tangible and placing it on my blog makes me accountable, which will push me even more to make sure I achieve my list.

I find that my bucket list helps me focus, as there are many competing priorities in life, so sometimes we need to refocus. It reminds me to devote time to working towards achieving these aims and objectives. Also, let’s not forget it’s quite a lot of fun carrying out the items on the list and this makes them exciting to look forward to in the year ahead!

So what’s my main tip for drawing up your own bucket list – direction. Think about  what do you want achieve this year? What experiences do you want for yourself and your family? What memories do you want to make?

Mummy, Ru and Ri bucket list is as follows:

  1. Go to a family festival
  2. Visit CBEEBIES Land
  3. Take the boys on a family holiday
  4. Have a girly break
  5. Go to a spa break
  6. Visit Mersea Island and rent a beach hut
  7. Eat at Bob Bob Ricard
  8. Eat at Duck and Waffle
  9. Visit Centreparcs
  10. Go to a country park and have a scavenger hunt and picnic
  11. Visit the London Aquarium
  12. Visit the postal museum
  13. Undertake the 365 saving challenge aka 1p saving
  14. Enroll on a course and learn something new
  15. Listen to audio books
  16. Do a course to learn about investing
  17. Start, manage and maintain a share club
  18. Take the boys on a day trip to the beach
  19. Take Ru ice skating
  20. Experience Reggae Brunch
  21. Take part in the Colour Run
  22. Practise gratitude for at least 21 days
  23. Undertake a 3 day detox
  24. Go to afternoon tea
  25. Take the boys camping
  26. Launch my blog and update regularly

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What have you done to help you plan for the year? Have you got a bucket list or something similar? Please comment below and if you like this blog, share it!

 

10 Things I Have Learnt Since Becoming A Single Parent

pexels-photo-532389Happy Belated New Year, everyone! This is my first blog post, but it is something that I have wanted to launch for many years. My life has changed immensely over the past six months and I feel that sharing some of the lessons that I have learnt may help others. Therefore, I thought I would share 10 things that I have learnt since becoming a single mother.

In September 2017, I became a single mother to a six month old baby and a three-year-old toddler, both boys.  Did I ever imagine this is how my life would turn out, Hell no! I always envisioned getting married first (which I did not), a big family house (I own a small starter home) and then children.

Adjustment , acceptance and alcohol are the words that came to mind as I look back. It has been difficult to find information regarding the things that were available to me as a single mother on maternity leave after losing my co-parent and part of my household income. I hope this list can provide a bit of support to anyone else who may be experiencing similar circumstances or that it will just be an interesting read for someone searching the world wide web for something to do.

1.   Do not feel guilty

I felt a lot of this at various stages after the breakdown of my relationship. Feeling that that I had reduced the chances of my children growing up successfully, as our household no longer consisted of a mother and a father. Feeling that the breakdown in our relationship was my fault. It took a long time for me to accept that my children would be fine as long as I remained consistent and stable. I also had to keep reminding myself that I have no control over the choices that others make – only of how I react to the circumstances created by those choices.

2. Find your village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It was my village that helped me deal with my guilt and enabled me to be a present mother through praise and reassurance. My village consists of family members and friends that I have met during my life journey. I know I can tell them anything and there will be no judgment, they will just be there. They are my cheerleaders, my bodyguards, my cuddle bears, my babysitters, my getaway and my rescuers.

3. Take time for you (and again don’t feel guilty)

After the breakdown of my relationship I was absolutely drained. All those days of crying, lack of sleep coupled with the needs of a six month-old baby and entertaining a three year old had taken their toll. When the break up first occurred my boys were not spending weekends with their Dad, therefore I was looking after the children 24/7 on my own whilst trying to manage emotionally. I knew I needed to refuel. So called on a friend to watch the boys so that I could take an undisturbed bath (your village again). It was just what I needed and it helped immensely. It’s important to take care of yourself, otherwise what state will you be in to care for others. Its important to remember that you’re primary carer for the children and need to be in a good place spiritually, emotionally and physically.

4. Do not be afraid to ask for help (relates to above)

I was exhausted, I could hear myself constantly snapping at my toddler, and I knew I needed time for myself so had to ask for help. My request was well received again for my village. In addition, I also undertook a parenting course called Parentgym at my local children centre. As I would now be undertaking the journey with my boys 80% on my own, I wanted to ensure I had the tools to be the best parent I could be. It was an amazing six weeks journey with a bunch of incredible women, learning techniques that have been life-changing for my parenting style.

5. Re-frame the situation

I listened (still do) to a lot of positive talks, podcast and motivational speakers and it all came down to mindset. Initially, when the relationship ended, all I did was question the breakdown of my relationship and wondered if the emotional pain I was feeling mean t I was making the right decision.  But once I re-framed the situation, I saw an opportunity and an accepted challenge, with endless doors. “What can I do to learn from this situation or what can I do to make this situation better?” were my key thoughts going forward.

6. Use MoneySavingExpert to check benefit entitlements

Having never been able to claim anything in the past, I needed to see what kinds of support were available to my household whilst I was on maternity. It was a nightmare trying to find what I could be entitled to and it took months for my claims to be processed. But, searching carefully, I found there is financial support that can at least alleviate the pressure.

7. Stay civil with your ex-partner (if you can)

In most situations there must have been love once, as you would not have created your children. Try to use this mindset as the basis of your relationship with your child’s father and stay civil for the sake of your children. In addition,  it is important to never bad talk your ex-partner in front of your children. This will avoid bad feelings sprouting up in the children and stopping the children feeling like they were the cause of the break-up.

8. Allow yourself to feel

It’s OK to feel disappointment, anger, or any other emotion about how the relationship turned out. Just be sure not to wallow in that place, preventing you from being the best mother you can be.

9. Have fun with your children

We can learn a lot from our children about being playful, creative and imaginative. When you’re under stress or feeling a bit low, having fun with your children can alter your mental state immensely. So run, jump, skip and laugh with them – trust me, it will help!

10. Plan the next stage – what’s your vision?

When things have calmed down and you‘re feeling more like yourself, think about what you want for your life. What is your vision for the next 12 months and what small steps can you take to get there? Whatever your circumstances as a single parent, it does not have to define your parenting style or your future. Take 15 minutes to visualise what you want and mentally refer back to that picture when the going gets tough. I have a vision board that I look at each morning with gratitude. Whilst reviewing my board I am thankful for all the life experiences that have led me to these moments; all I have received and all that I will receive. Claim the life you want, it’s yours!!

So what are your tips for adjusting to becoming a single parent? I would love for you to comment below.

Also, if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share.