You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain

I used to be a people pleaser, scared to upset anyone and afraid of confrontation. I was a yes person, always spreading myself so thinly that I was virtually see through.

Then I had children but still I continued in the same way.

There is one of those sayings that gets frequently shared around social media “we expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work”. Never has there been a more relevant saying for the way I was living my life. But frequent followers of the blog or Instagram will know that it massively backfired on me and I ended up having a breakdown and suffering huge panic attacks.

So, 15 months ago I left my career and took a family friendly job at the council which allowed me to take my kids to school and leave at 2.30 to pick them up again. The aim was to allow me to still work but also have the time and energy to be the parent I wanted to be. Perfect it seemed, but there was one teeny tiny problem. It turned out that taking my career away from me was equivalent to removing my left arm. I was still a functioning person but I had lost an important part of myself.

I had found myself in an altogether different but equallydifficult situation. I wanted to work because it was important to my self-esteem.But the career I had, and ultimately wanted back, didn’t work around my family.My husband’s job allows me to work part time and term time but doesn’t allowfor any support with regular child care throughout the week. He can’t commit totaking the children to school regularly or being available for any kind of pickup. Child care wise we have two options – me or after school club. The kind ofjob I wanted didn’t allow for school pick-ups in the middle of the day. The sector(charity and third) that I wanted to work in didn’t pay enough to justify wraparound care costs for 2 children. So, the only option seemed to be stayingwhere I was at the council and sacrificing my job satisfaction and my happinessfor now.

I kept telling myself that it wouldn’t be forever as I lookedat and discarded hundreds of job adverts that simply didn’t work for my familysituation. The children would get older and more independent and then I wouldhave more flexibility and freedom I told myself whilst I mentally worked outhow many more years it would be until my now 4-year-old would be able to takehimself to and from school. It won’t be too long and they won’t need me as muchI would say which in itself was both a devastating thought and also the onlything that was keeping me sane. But I didn’t want to wish my children’s livesaway because I was so miserable at work so I continued manically trawling the jobsites trying every combination of words in the search engine that might producethe perfect solution to my battle between career and family.

And then, lo and behold, I happened across not one but twojobs that seemed to offer the solution. I hastily sent in my applications andkept everything crossed. I was asked to interview for both jobs. I was asked tointerview for both jobs on the same day!! And what a day it was, both interviewswere very taxing and exhausting but both interviews energised me and started togive me hope and a sense of purpose.

Without wanting to blow my own trumpet too much, I was eventuallyoffered both jobs as well. It wasn’t going to be possible to take both and bothhad compromises that I hadn’t bargained for. Neither role could offer me whatmy current job did in terms of family flexibility but both allowed me back into the realms of my previous career and gave me hope that I didn’t have to giveit all up for the next 10 years.

Old me would have accepted either of the jobs as they were offered and tried to shoe horn my life and family around that job. The likely outcome being resentment and compromise reminiscent of my pre-breakdown life and we all know how that ended. But I am not old me anymore, I am a new me. A previously broken, still slightly damaged but ultimately stronger new me. I have insight, I have perspective and I have a better grasp on my priorities. New me has also discovered #flex appeal and the epic work done by @motherpukka and @papapukka. I have followed for a while as they have talked about flexible and family friendly working. I have seen people share their experiences of making requests for better working hours and although I didn’t realise it at the time, I had been subliminally absorbing it all and storing it in my brain for future use.

So, I asked the first job to allow me to start work later soI wouldn’t need to put my children in breakfast club three times a week as wellas after school club until 6. They declined because it didn’t work for the restof the team. So I had to decide was that a compromise worth making just so I couldleave my current job which was making me miserable? Turns out it was, along witha couple of other negative points so I said NO. Me!! The people pleaser, theone who never says no to anyone (apart from my kids) for fear of upsettingthem, me who hates compromise (and talking on the telephone) actually phonedthem up and said no thank you. I possibly felt more empowered than I ever hadbefore just because I had been strong enough to decline a job.

Then there was the second job. This was a difficult one, the job I had applied for was not term time (which was my main priority) but was 50% day time hours and 50% evening hours so the childcare in the holidays would have been a lot easier to manage. But this one threw me a gigantic curveball. This had been the most exciting and energising of the two interviews. I came out of there walking on air believing that I was on the cusp of exactly what I was looking for but also knowing that it had possibly the biggest of all compromises – not term time. They offered me a job, in fact they offered me far more job than I had applied for and indeed an opportunity of a life time. They were asking me how much I could do for them, they would give me whatever hours I wanted and complete flexibility about how those hours were worked. But the term time!! The lack of term time!! I knew I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t take on a huge role and have to deal with the school holiday spreadsheets and the stress again. So I made it very clear, I told them I couldn’t take any more than I had applied for because I didn’t want the school holiday juggle. I was completely honest and transparent about how much I wanted the job but that I couldn’t compromise on that area, I wouldn’t compromise on that area for the sake of my family.

You may not realise it at the time but the difficult path you are on may be leading you to somewhere much better.

That could have backfired on me terribly, but I was prepared for that. I have dealt with far more difficult things than walking away from another job and I was empowered from already doing it once that week even though I also knew that meant staying where I was. But they did what every organisation worth anything should do, they saw that what I was able to offer them was too valuable to lose so they offered me the hours I wanted on a term time only basis. Boom, there it was – the answer to everything. I have now been offered a job that allows me to take my children to school, pick them up, work from home, work flexibly and have the school holidays at home with my kids whilst doing a role that excites me and that will give me the sense of purpose, I have been lacking for the last 15 months. In return they will get the very best of me – my enthusiasm, my experience and my dedication.

Its been a rocky old road that I have been travelling but it turns out that it was exactly what I needed. Sometimes when you are in the depths of despair it can feel impossible and it can feel unfair but maybe it was what you needed to get you to somewhere better and brighter. After all you can’t have the rainbow without having the rain!

Advertisements

Is it FOMO, JOMO or just missing out?

There has been this saying bandied around for a while “FOMO” which when I googled it turned out be “Fear Of Missing Out”. This got me thinking, do I ever actually experience this feeling anymore? And in all honesty I think the answer is no. I have definitely become a home body – not that I ever was a massive party animal. But as time has gone along I have found myself just wanting to stay at home, declining invitations or spending night outs thinking about when I can go home. Not all the time I hasten to add but being out out fills me with a considerable amount of anxiety – real physical, palpable anxiety. 

Anyone who has experienced the physical side of anxiety will tell you that it’s an extremely unpleasant feeling and not something you would actively go out of your way to reproduce. Much like banging your head against a wall or shutting your hand in a door. It hurts the first time so you wouldn’t then repeatedly do it again if you could help it.

I am pleased to report that there is now “JOMO” “Joy Of Missing Out” which definitely sits more comfortably with me. But the problem is this idea of Missing Out. For every 10 opportunities I am offered, 9 of them won’t be that big a deal to miss but there is always 1 thing that I will want to do, 1 thing I won’t want to miss. So then I am in a quandary about whether to suck it up and experience the pain or to miss out on something great. 

I don’t want to live like this forever so I push myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible. I believe that in doing this I will start to learn that things aren’t as bad as my mind would have me believe. It’s also essential in preventing me from becoming a hermit!!

Take this very moment for instance, I am currently sat alone on a train travelling to London for the weekend. I have plans to spend the weekend with a group of ladies, only two of which I know, one of which is a family member. We are off to see the Strictly live show tomorrow afternoon and as a dedicated strictly fan and for a variety of other reasons, I couldn’t turn it down. 

But as I sit here on this train, living what many would see as a mother’s dream -(a whole weekend of adult time, no arguing kids, no demands, no bedtimes, pure luxury) I am a huge mess of emotions inside. Hopefully on the outside I look perfectly normal and none of my fellow passenger will notice. But my insides are being churned up by anxiety.

I have walked away from everything that keeps me safe. I am going to somewhere far from home without my family, without my husband even without my dog and not for work purposes. All things that give me an identity and act as my safety blanket. At this very moment I am just me – not a mum, not a wife, not an employee, not a dog owner and to me that is utterly terrifying!! It’s only when they are stripped away that I realise how much I depend on those safety nets to keep me going.

Everyone’s instant reaction when you tell them what you are doing is to rave about how lucky I am to be getting away, to be experiencing something so great and to be having a break from my family and routine. I am not an ungrateful person in anyway and I do realise how privileged I am but that doesn’t unfortunately take away how difficult I find this. That family, that routine, that purpose is literally what keeps me going and whilst it is exhausting in itself and I do often want a break, being away from them is a bit like losing my lifeline. So I smile and nod along when people say it, but inside that’s not really how I feel.

My rational head knows that I need to do this, I need to break away from those safety nets for a short amount of time. My rational head knows that this feeling of discomfort is important. Consequently, I have put on my game face, I have forced myself to do this even though I have wanted to back out so many times. I have suppressed my anxious feelings and I will push forward, and I will do everything in my power to enjoy myself because otherwise this has all been for nothing. But the irrational and anxiety riddled part of my head is waiting to pounce on me at the very moment my facade drops.

It’s going to be a tiring old time and I may well go in to hiding when I get home. Don’t underestimate the physical and mental exertion required to live in a constant anxious state. I may not attend the next 9 things I am offered, but hopefully every time I push my limits it will actually increase my capacity and it may only be 8/10 things I turn down. Maybe that won’t be the case , but I won’t know unless I try and try is all I can do. I am coming to terms with that and that in itself is growth.

If you need me after tomorrow, this is where I will be.

Poor visibility ahead – best put your fog lights on!

An honest update on how January 2019 has panned out. I had such high hopes at the start of the month but it has not quite gone to plan.

My head is in a total mess at the moment. I’ll be honest that I am not in the great place I was hoping for at the start of January when I wrote my previous post (The start of a new year – A time for reflection or just another day?)

As the month has gone on, I have felt this fog descending and I have fallen head first in to a huge funk!! Life has become disheartening, frustrating and it feels like I am wading through treacle.  Every day I wake up hoping that I might feel better, the fog will have lifted and each day will feel a bit easier. But so far that hasn’t really been the case. I do try most mornings to be more positive, but invariably by the end of the day I have been ground back down. It almost feels like I have no control, I want to stop this feeling, I want to come out of the funk but I just don’t seem to be able to do it at the moment.  But it’s not making me a very nice person, I am not behaving the way I want, I’m not parenting the way I want and overall our family life is suffering. I need this to stop and I need it to stop now – but I don’t know where to start!!

I have some idea what is fuelling the funk but no idea how to work a way forward. The things that are triggering this feeling do not seem to be easily fixed. I don’t know what I want in all honesty, and anything I do want has constraints and limitations wrapped around it. But deep down there is a bubbling pot of aspiration, longing and desire. There are things I want to do and they do give me energy. But it feels like that is buried under hard layers that it can’t penetrate. Its like there is a bustling buzzing energy laden down by a wet blanket of misery, indecisiveness and lethargy. A need and desire to do something but no clue what to do or where to start!! The constant internal conflict between want to be productive, not knowing what to produce and despair over failure to produce anything.

I am suffering from a lack of drive due to a lack of direction. I need to find myself a life sat nav, put in the destination post code and see which route comes up as the quickest. If only such a thing existed!!

If only there was a sat nav that could help us navigate life, getting us to our destination as quickly and painlessly as possible.



But until such time as that dream technology is designed, I shall have to navigate through the old fashioned way – some kind of map and blind faith.

At this point I will add the disclaimer that I am fully aware there are people in the world with far greater problems than this. But this is my problem and it is within the scope of my life and currently impacting on it more than I would like. So whilst it would pale in significance to others fights, it is relevant to me and my struggle.  

I feel huge amounts of resentment building up inside of me, I am fighting this constant battle between wanting to do more with my life but being stuck in a job that I don’t enjoy that takes up my time that I could be using towards something more stimulating and exciting. But needing to stay in that job to earn money because stimulating and exciting won’t pay me a monthly amount from the get go. So in turn I feel resentful of the children, because when I am not at work I am with them. They also take up my time that I could be using elsewhere and they also don’t earn me anything. But I don’t want to feel resentful, I want to enjoy my time with them and not feel pressure to do other stuff – not just life goals but all the other regular life stuff like cleaning and cooking. Stuff I could be doing if I didn’t have to dedicate my time to the unstimulating, joy draining job whilst they are at school. That leaves my Fridays, which are job and child free but which I mentally cram a million things in to and achieve, at best 5 of them. Leaving me feeling frustrated. So I look at how many of those other things could be done outside of my Friday therefore reducing my to do list. So I try to shoehorn them in to my family life or work life and then feel resentful of the job or the family stopping me from achieving anything on that list.

I am in a toxic cycle, and I haven’t a clue how to get off. Do I leave my job? Well I already did that once and it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be! what if I get another one but that isn’t any good either? I don’t want to be a serial job leaver. What if the problem isn’t the job? What if the problem is me? What if I am incapable of being happy? How do I solve that problem?

Do I stop wanting to do all the other stuff? So I just focus on work and my family? After all when the family is grown up then I can pick things back up? Truth is that would be the easiest option, give up my goals and aspirations for now because I am being pulled too many ways again. But selfishly I don’t think that is enough for me, I feel like I have so much more to give than I am. I don’t know what exactly and I definitely don’t know how but I think to give that up would crush my soul. It could do more damage than good. After all I am still a person, not just a mum and not just an employee, and I can’t let that go!

I am lucky to have a supporting husband, who would help me and support me to make changes. After all he did once before, but we both thought these changes would make things better and they have in so many ways. The childcare stress has significantly reduced. I like that I don’t have to worry about covering the school holidays. But there are limitations to the support that he can offer. His job is very demanding, we rely on it for financial survival. My salary in comparison is a drop in the ocean, although it would be noticeably missed. His job has zero flexibility in terms of helping out with childcare Monday – Friday 9-5. He is around sometimes but that is sporadic, unexpected and unreliable. Any changes I made would have to factor in the care of two children. Whether it be me or wrap around care. But wrap around care for two kids on a smallish salary seems frivolous. Jobs with more responsibility that will offer more stimulation seem to need to be done over more hours and I could end up back in a non-family friendly environment desperately paddling to keep up with everyone else and being stressed as a result. Jobs that fit round my children that I could walk in to now don’t seem to offer me what I need for me.

I’m not sure what the answer is at the moment, I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t know how to make these feelings go away so that on a day to day basis I can feel happier and healthier. I would love to go back to my counsellor to thrash this out, but counselling whilst worth its weight in gold does not come cheap. So for now I am going to have to continue to plod along as I am, taking steps to try and improve things where I can. I feel lucky to have the insight that I do, that I can see what the problem is and I can recognise the symptoms that there is something wrong. I may not have the tools yet to tap in and solve the problem, but from the outside looking in I know there is something going on. Two years ago, when I felt this way I just carried on plodding and pretending it was all ok. I genuinely believed that these feelings were part and parcel of my life and I just needed to get on with it. I now know that not to be the case so I can tangibly see the progress I have made. That in itself is hugely reassuring and if I can make that kind of progress from my darkest times, then I am sure I can climb out of this pit of misery and sort myself out.

I am just going to have to do it slowly and methodically, giving myself the time and compassion required to work this through. There won’t be a quick fix, I don’t have my life sat nav yet. I just need to keep reminding myself that this too will pass. I’m all about the big picture thinking, and I will get to the big picture eventually by whatever means necessary. The path travelled may not be the straightest or the most direct, but it will be worthwhile and filled with life lessons along the way. I’m sure of it.

But in the meantime, I may go and patent the life sat nav, who knows that could be my answer to everything!!

My anxious mind, the battle is real.

Some insight in to the mind of an anxious mind

I realise I spend a lot of time talking about my experiences of having anxiety, my recovery attempts and my setbacks. But they are mainly just headlines, it’s difficult to give real insight in to what those headlines actually mean.

So, in line with the blog name, I am publishing my actual ramblings to give some insight in to what living with anxiety really means to me. This is hand on heart genuinely what was going through my mind in the 30 minutes that the repair man was at my house. I am choosing to view it in a humorous way as it does seem utterly ridiculous, but it could easily be seen as totally crazy. But this is truly what my mind does in seemingly normal situations. Enjoy…

First some context: Imagine the scene, it a Friday morning and I have a fridge repair man in my house. It was a planned visit in terms of knowing he was coming today but no idea what time that would be. When he arrives, I am in the middle of cooking soup, straightening up the house and listening to a “90’s acoustic” playlist on spotify.

Anxious mind: oh god I should have cleaned the fridge out (as the guy hands me a fridge shelf with a dirty mark on it). That’s it, he’s going to think I am some kind of rancid undomesticated useless waste of space. Why didn’t I clean the fridge? I’m an idiot.

Rational mind: you are being ridiculous, it was one dirty mark and I doubt he even noticed. He will have seen far worse. Besides the rest of the house seems clean and tidy as long as he doesn’t look too close 😛

Anxious mind makes this better by cleaning the shelf in front of him, to prove that I do know how to do it!!

Anxious mind: (as the guy takes stuff off the top of the fridge) sh*t sh*t sh*t I definitely haven’t cleaned up there and now he is going to know we make dust and put me forward for how clean is your house (that’s not even still going but I do remember very vividly how disgusting some houses were). He wont understand why there is a cushion up there (it’s the cats bed – she sleeps up there to keep safe from the dog)!! He’ll think I am completely weird. And why did I decide to cook lentils now!! he probably thinks it stinks, he will think I stink!!

Rational mind: everyone has stuff stashed away in places and everyone probably has dust on the top of their fridge and he probably is wondering why you have a cushion up there but I doubt he’s that bothered. As for the lentils, it smells fine. It smells like vegetables cooking and he can see the saucepan and knows its not you.

Anxious mind:  Oh no why did I think it was a good idea to leave the music on, he probably thinks I am complete dork!! I want to turn it off, but I cant turn it off without it being obvious what I’m doing. What is this song? Oh god oh god? I am going to skip, wait I can’t do that because then he will know I am actually listening to it, I am going to skip, no don’t, I am I am (skips the song) WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!? He must think I am such an idiot. I wonder what music he likes? Do you think he has even heard the music? He might like the music! ARGH!!!

Photo courtesy of cynthiaeday.com

Rational mind: he probably hasn’t even noticed the music, it probably isn’t bothering him and you are unlikely to ever see him again so stop panicking!!

  THE PHONE RINGS AND INTERRUPTS THE MUSIC

Anxious mind: phew

Rational mind: phew

                                                                ANSWERS PHONE

Anxious mind: Oh no, now he can hear my conversation. What if he thinks I just sit around all day doing nothing but talking on the phone and obviously not cleaning. I haven’t been at work any of the times he has seen me, he must think I am really lazy. He’s probably thinking all sorts about me now!! What must he be thinking?!?! I need this to be over!! I am going crazy!

Rational mind: you are being crazy!! Of course, you haven’t been at work when he has come otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to come!! He is unlikely to have even noticed anything about the house, he is literally just here to fix the fridge. He is not from social services, he is not filming a secret documentary about slovenly mothers. He is here to fix the fridge!!! You are being crazy!

  THE GUY FINISHES THE FRIDGE AND LEAVES

Anxious mind: Thank god that’s over

Rational mind: Thank god that’s over

So, there you go, a small snippet of the crazy that is my mind. Looking at it on the page now, I can easily see why I end up exhausted after a situation like that and why I have to be more careful now about how much I try to cram in to my life. Those occurrences are more frequent than I would like to admit to and can happen at any time in any place. I am lucky in that more often than not I have the rational mind running alongside the anxious mind to counter its thought patterns. But when I am struggling it is because the rational mind is not there or it can not break through. It is at that point that the panic gets its power and literally attacks. The panic then feeds the anxious mind whilst suppressing the rational mind. The fight to rebalance then becomes that much tougher.

Photo courtesy of pinterest

Anxiety is a constant battle that we are fighting. The battle to keep the panic away and balance the anxious with the rational. I haven’t yet mastered how to fuel the rational to suppress the anxious. But I am always working towards it.

So anyway, that was an insight to my mind. A light hearted but definitely honest account of my battle. And on the plus side I think I can legitimately maintain my title – ramblings of an anxious mumma!

The start of a new year – time for reflection or just another day?

So, the bells have rung, the fireworks have gone off, the champagne has been drunk and we have changed from 2018 to 2019. As usual the world didn’t end, there were no technological epidemics at the point of midnight and the questionable political decisions of 2018 have not vanished in a puff of smoke.

Fundamentally nothing has changed!

Yet we all often fall in to the trap of feeling compelled to make changes or expecting things to be different just because we now have to end our dates with /19 and not /18.

I have fallen foul of this myself year on year, but encouraged by the many postings of Instagram I made the decision to approach this new year a bit differently.

The overall message from Instagram was that I actually didn’t need to change, there was nothing wrong with me and that was a message that started to resonate. I have real issues with myself, valuing who I am and treating myself with compassion. This has been heightened by an unfortunate incident before Christmas which I won’t go in to but did set me back a fair way.

So, the idea that I didn’t need to start thinking about all the bits of me I hated and wanted to change and instead could keep focussed on marrying who I am with who I want to be was enlightening.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that we shouldn’t acknowledge the turn of the year. I know it is basically just another day and in reality it doesn’t feel any different but it’s as good a day as any to start thinking about what you want going forward. There has to be a day one for kick starting a new approach so I think why not the first day of the year.

So this year instead of making a list of all the things I want to change about me, of which there are endless, I am instead going to focus on the things that I was doing last year and enjoyed. Things that have perhaps slipped from my attention or haven’t been prioritised as they should. Things that I value and that benefit me physically or mentally.

This list will be pretty fluid and I plan to add to it or amend it as the months go on, no one can know what the future holds so I think it is only right that there is no rigid plan.

So here are a few of the things I am planning to continue in 2019:

  • I would like to get back in to running and improve my fitness levels. Three years ago I managed to run a half marathon and whilst I didn’t really enjoy the race itself I did feel enormous satisfaction that I was able to run that distance. I had worked hard to get myself prepared for such an event and I would love to be back to that level again as I felt such a sense of accomplishment. But it is not easy starting again and finding the mental strength to push through the pain. I also need to prioritise running more and make some time for it.
  • I am going to continue with my “read more scroll less” pledge started last year when I gave up facebook and my personal Instagram account in order to make more time to read. I managed 24 books last year which was one short of my 25 target but that still mega for me as I think I averaged about 3 books a year over the previous 5 years. That’s also not including the 4 textbooks I read for my 2 exams which slowed down the reading for pleasure mission. Those textbooks definitely weren’t pleasure!
  • I am going to make a greater effort to write my blog and work really hard on getting some structure and order to my writing. I have so many ideas but I need to make the time to work on them. Otherwise, let’s be honest I am just wasting my time.
  • I am going to be more mindful of what triggers my anxiety because what 2018 taught me was that it wasn’t enough to just leave my job and expect to get better. There has been an ongoing battle with anxiety and I need to continue to work on how to make things a bit easier. I still don’t know if I will overcome anxiety, it feels very far away from achievable at the moment but I know I can take steps to make it easier to deal with and 2019 will be about fine tuning those steps.

And that is that, I think 4 things to continue is more than enough for me. I can’t cope at the best of times with being overwhelmed so there is no reason to actively do it to myself. These are all things that I have been doing in 2018 and would like to continue and improve upon. Not resolutions, not unattainable goals to fail to achieve. Just some structured thinking about what I value in my life. And obviously it goes without saying that I will continue to look after my family etc etc and I will probably on occasion still strive to be a size 6 but small steps and all.

Happy 2019 folks, may it be the best possible year it can be for all!!

Is three really the magic number or just a crowd?

courtesy of bounty.com
beautiful baby feet make my heart skip a beat

This is a question I have been pondering for a while, and if you haven’t guessed what I am referring to – it’s the almighty decision about whether to have a third child or not?

For a long time I was adamantly sticking to two children because, as is so often pointed out to me (in case I hadn’t noticed), I have one of each and now I can stop! Which is true, but having children for me was never about having a daughter or a son in particular so I was never fussed anyway.

To context this, I have a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. They are two wonderful children who are my purpose in life, my inspiration and the greatest thing I have ever done (that and marrying their father). So why wouldn’t I want to do that again? Well..

By the time my youngest child finishes uni I will be about to turn 50, presupposing he a) goes to Uni, b) takes a conventional three-year course and c) doesn’t take a gap year!! But the point being that by the time I am turning 50 my children will not be children anymore and I will have the opportunity to fulfil the dreams and ambitions that are being stunted at the moment because my children are young and need me so much more. All whilst I’m still young enough to enjoy it.

Have another child now and I am adding at least another 5.5 years to that which still makes me young, but suddenly the sacrifices/benefits of having children relatively young are lost because I then had another baby in my thirties.

Thing is, I can see having another baby fitting in to my life. I want another baby – I want to be pregnant again, have scans, feel the baby kick – hell I even want to go through labour again. I want to meet my child for the first time ever, I want to give my son the chance to become a big brother. All those wonderful magical amazing experiences that come from having a baby.

But I am not sure if I want the third child?!? Madness really, because to have another baby means to have another child. But I don’t see a third child fitting in and the dynamics would change significantly. My son idolises my daughter, she in turn protects him and teaches him. They fight like cats and dogs as well but ultimately, they love each other and their bond is wonderful. Put a third child in there and someone is getting left out surely!! The age range would span nearly 9 years and I just don’t know how well that would work.

Also, I can tell you the times I definitely DON’T want a third child – Christmas, holidays and school shoe shopping time!! There is a definite financial implication to having another baby not least because I sold all my baby stuff to stop this very thing from happening.

Image courtesy of someecards.com
There are some days when I am adamant this is a bad idea.

I think this urge is also driven a bit from social media. I follow a number of people on Instagram who have recently had their third child and they have inspired me with advice around hypnobirthing, the fourth trimester and pulling up the drawbridge. I think part of my longing is to do with having a more idealistic birth and taking all the things I have learnt since my last baby and putting them in to practice with a new baby. With both of my children, I have regrets about either their birth or first year, all related to circumstances and nothing to do with them. But I do feel a bit like I want to do it again and do it so much better to repair the damage and to end on a high.

But actually, I am possibly mistaking wanting another baby for actually wanting to go back in time and do it all again but knowing what I know now. I would give anything to go back to being a first-time mum and there would be so so so much I would tell that me about what to do, what not to do and how to make the most of everything.

But another child won’t heal those wounds and wipe away those regrets, instead I need to make my peace with them somehow.

What is very true is that I am not the person I was back then in many ways, some positive and some negative. I now live with an anxiety disorder that I didn’t have nearly 8 years ago when I was first pregnant. I struggle with the stress in our lives now with just two children, chuck in a demanding baby and sleepless nights and I may lose the plot altogether. Besides, is it fair to the children to increase the stress in the house and stretch my resources even more thinly. They have been so amazing whilst I have been ill and I’m sure that at times it has impacted negatively on them despite my best intentions. So really do I not owe it to them to just continue to work on being in a place of calm and stability?

So many reasons not to do it, my head says it’s a definite no but my heart can’t quite decide. So perhaps ill just sit here looking at cute baby pictures and ponder some more until I’m too old anyway!! Besides my husband definitely doesn’t want a third so that does cause somewhat of a problem!?!?

It’s About Time I got some perspective

One of the positive effects of having a dog is the time gifted to you when out walking on your own. I personally use this time quite often to catch up on podcasts. The newest addition to my podcast library being @dollyalderton Love Stories and most recently I have listened to her fabulous discussion with Emma Freud about the greatest love stories of her life. In case you didn’t know, Emma Freud has been part of many film masterpieces including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and the perhaps lesser known film About Time alongside Richard Curtis.

About Time (2013)

After listening to this particular episode, and being a lifelong devotee of the Richard Curtis film empire, I was eager to watch a film I had never so much as heard about before. This probably speaks more about me than them, but About Time is not one of the more famous of their films I would argue.

Anyway, that aside I settled down on Friday evening after convincing my reluctant husband that he really did want to watch a romantic movie and not something with more action and gore. He wasn’t so sure but I am a very convincing individual and I got my own way.

Well thank goodness I did, because this film is truly wonderful, inspiring and potentially life changing. If you haven’t watched it, and I strongly suggest that you do, I will provide a brief synopsis. The film centres around Tim (played by Domhnall Gleeson) and the relationships within his life and the impact that his ability to travel back in time plays on those relationships. I am sure there are more eloquent synopses out there but that gives you the gist.

Where this film excels itself over Curtis’ other offerings, and as I have already said I am a huge Richard Curtis fan so that is not a criticism, is that it’s main focus is not just the romantic relationships. But instead it focusses on the everyday relationships, the mundane and ordinary but truly amazing life changing relationships that we hopefully all will encounter at some point.

One of the most touching and inspiring relationships is that between Tim and his father (played by Bill Nighy). It is not big and showy filled with proclamations of love but instead it is deep, subtle and profound. A shared love and respect hinged on simply the time they spent together doing normal stuff.

The relationship between father and son is awe inspiring.

The family itself is aspirational and it is one of the main lessons that we have both said we will take from the film. The importance of having a strong family unit and quality time spent together. Family members who would do anything for each other and who’s bond is infinite and immense without being showy.

The time travel part is not something I would usually warm to, I am not renowned for being a fan of the sci-fi genre. But luckily this doesn’t follow the traditional suit and is actually a beautiful and necessary addition.

Not only is it the crux of the relationship between Tim and his father but it is the area that offers the most insight and the greatest lesson I have taken from the film. Tim and his father are able to travel back to times within their own lives and make changes to the way they do things and correct any mistakes. Although extremely useful for both, Tim actually offers some enlightening words towards the end that make you consider whether the ability to right wrongs is actually as appealing as you might think. He shares the insight after making the decision not to travel back anymore, about the importance of living life everyday as if you had travelled back to change it. The reality is that we can’t travel back in time so instead we must endeavour to not make the mistakes in life before we even could.

In real life this isn’t always going to be possible and actually some of the greatest life lessons can come from the mistakes we make along the way. But currently the ideas of mindfulness and living in the moment are the hot topics and this film added an alternative dimension to those theories. Live in the moment and try to make sure that moment is the one you would live if you had the ability to keep travelling back and change it.

So, we pledged to try and live with that mantra in mind. Yesterday we bundled in to the car and headed off for a fun afternoon of ice skating. We revelled in the quality family time spent together doing something new and fun. The children said it was the best day of their lives (don’t get too excited, this gets bandied around on a fairly regular basis), we laughed and laughed. It could have been a scene from a Christmas movie, definitely a comedy when I fell on my backside. It didn’t however come without the usual side helping of challenge, the kids most amazing day did not continue when mummy wanted to look around the garden centre afterwards. There was a liberal helping of miserable faces and mutterings of “its not fair” for good helping.

Living their best lives on the ice for the first time.

But let’s face it, we can’t realistically live like in the movies, no matter how mundane and real they are trying to be. But I am still going to take the lessons I can from this and adapt it to fit around my reality.

Families are difficult, they are tricky, filled with politics and complications no matter how strong the love. But it is my intention to make my family unit the strongest it can possibly be, to forge lasting relationships with my children that will form the backbone of their future relationships and that will be the beacon in their lives. The place of strength and stability that they can return to whilst they weather the inevitable storms that come from growing up. I will provide them with the opportunity to make lasting memories and I will overwhelm them with love. I will be there for them at all times with unwavering support and I will do everything within my power to give them a movie worthy family experience.

Life is difficult, it is tiring, challenging and filled with potential pot holes. Raising children is  both the most amazing experience and equally the hardest of challenges. Balancing that with work and real life is tough and the reality is that we won’t be able to live the movie life. For me, this is all combined with the challenges I face as I learn to live with and battle through anxiety and poor mental health.

But sometimes you need something that will pull you out of the rut that you have inevitably found yourself in. Make you realise that you might be talking the talk but are you actually walking the walk? It’s easy to harp on about self-care, mindfulness, seizing the moment etc but sometimes they are just words and actually if you looked closely you aren’t following those ideals to the extent that you think you are.

Meet my new best friend Mr Penguin.

This film was a bit of a wake up call for both me and my husband. We have both taken valuable lessons from it and I hope that we will be able to cling on to those things as time goes by and we get swept back in to the whirlwind of life. There is every possibility that you might watch the same thing and feel none of the things that we have, in fact if you read some of the reviews online there are some interesting and contradictory responses to the same film. But hopefully there is something out there that will capture your heart to the same extent.

I pledge here, in black and white, to make more effort to live my life as if I had travelled back in time to change it. But maybe with less ice skating, fun as it was you needed a small mortgage to fund just one hour.

Feel free to share any profound and life changing, films, books or podcasts that have had an impact on you to the same extent. I would love to hear them xx