So, What If You’re Not ‘Just A Bit Tired and Stressed Out’?

 

 

Down The Rabbit Hole

Depression is a sneaky bastard. Deployed by stealth and aided and abetted by dismissal and diminution. Camouflaged by excuses and practicalities and the ability to hold it together. But, nonetheless there it is, underneath it all.

I’m depressed at the moment.

I’ve been struggling. But it was only a couple of days ago that I truly realised what was going on. And honestly, I’m still somewhat flabbergasted that it’s taken me so long to figure it out, not least because I’ve had several bouts of depression before – I mean, how could I not have known?…

Well, I’ve come to realise that this weird propensity for camouflaging mental health problems is a unique skill, which many Mums excel at. Depression can sneak up on you when you’re a Mum.

And here’s why:

 

“I’m absolutely fine”

My really good friends – the ones who have known me for years – know that I have always had international espionage level skills when it comes to appearing ok. Generally known as a bubbly, upbeat sort of a girl, I tend to give off “I’m fine” vibes even when I’m pretty broken inside.

I have no idea how I manage it, but it kicks in whenever I find myself in a social situation. I can hold it together, all smiles and one-liners, despite the gargantuan effort required to do so. What my good friends will tell you is that I simply start withdrawing from social situations when I’m feeling really low, mainly because it’s just so fucking exhausting pretending to be fine when I’m not.

But when you’re a Mum you’ve got an ever-present audience for whom you must maintain the act of fine-ness. After a while the act of being “fine” becomes the norm, and you keep on trucking, hoping things will even out over time.

 

Well she seems fine…

The other big problem with being really good at pretending you’re ok is that people will believe your hype. If you come across as capable and happy and handling everything (even if it’s in my kind of laissez-faire, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style) people will, quite reasonably, assume that you are indeed ok and not in need of any help or support.

It’s quite hard to actively come forward and say Hey, you know what, I’m not doing so well at the moment when you’re already stuck in your own headspace. Moreover, as Mums we’re so busy making sure everyone else is ok we just don’t want to make a fuss. It’s hard to speak up and admit we’re not doing so well.

 

All the Mum things

It’s fair to say that over time most Mums develop a greater level of acceptance of not feeling great. We are often physically below par courtesy of the tiredness, being ill and being run down which is often part and parcel of Motherhood, especially in the early years.

But we are also mentally and emotionally rundown too. Mums often have to deal with issues of self esteem, stress, and loss of identity. All these things feed into a general acceptance of not feeling ‘on form’. It becomes the norm, and we don’t question it until it becomes something much bigger and more insurmountable.

 

Not being self-aware

Now the penny has dropped it seems obvious that I am depressed. Just browsing through my past few posts it’s plain to see that I’ve clearly been feeling anxious and overwhelmed for a while.

There were other clues too. I’ve been struggling to write much over the past month. I feel blank. I’m tired a lot, even when I’ve had enough sleep. I’ve been tearful on and off every day for the past few weeks and I’m finding it nearly impossible to actually get up and do anything.

This feeling has been creeping up on me and I’ve been batting it away, telling myself I’m “just tired”, “just stressed”, and “just feeling a bit run down”.

Then, over the past week I’ve been having crazy mood swings. I’ve felt angry and resentful, and then sad and lonely and isolated – my mental barometer has gone haywire, no doubt due to overload and the effort of trying to tamp down and override the depression looming on the horizon.

 

Better out than in…

Ultimately it was a fairly low key event that brought things to light. A fleeting quarrel with my husband, and our overtired 5 year old having a minor tantrum. I found myself sobbing in the bathroom having retreated from the apparent too-muchness of the morning.

Upon returning to the living room, Pete – somewhat perturbed by my puffy eyed and even-more-dishevelled-than-usual appearance – asked me what was wrong. I went to answer him struggled to find the words… Mainly because I wasn’t sure.

And then later on that morning, as he drew me in for a cuddle the words spilled out of my mouth before my brain had processed their meaning.

I think I’m depressed.”

You’re probably just a bit run down… he began, but I found myself cutting him off – No. It’s not just that. I’m depressed.”

You’ve been really tired lately, and you’ve been ill… he started again.

No. I’m not just tired As it started to sink in, the words became more solid as I spoke them. I’m depressed.

And there it was. Plain as the nose on my face.

 

 

Light-bulb…

The only thing that surprised me more than my admission, was how much admitting it seemed to help.

Obviously I am not now magically cured having said it out loud, but understanding how I was feeling brought an unexpected feeling of relief.

Because I feel that now I understand what’s going on I can take action: I can put things in place. I can ask for help, and I can get the support I need to start feeling better again.

It also brought with it a real light-bulb moment, when I realised all the things I had missed, which could have helped me get to this point quicker. And it’s that light-bulb moment which spurred me on to write this post.

 

So, What If You’re Not ‘Just A Bit Tired and Stressed Out’?

Still with me? Great, well done for sticking with it – Here’s the bit where I come to the moral of the story.

If you’re feeling low, stressed, anxious, or defeated I want you to do a mental check-in with yourself.

How are you?

I mean… How are you really, honestly feeling lately?

I want you to take the time to really give your well-being the once-over. Because I think that as Mums we assume it’s ok to feel fairly shit for extended periods of time. We assume it’s the norm. But whilst long sleep deprivation, stress, and emotional turmoil can be part and parcel of this whole parenting lark, it doesn’t mean you should accept feeling perpetually low, or helpless, or empty and demotivated, for extended periods of time.

And if – when you take the time to think a bit about yourself, how you feel, and whether you’re really ok or just plodding on – you find that you’re not that ok after all, then you can start to think about why you feel the way you feel. And you can do something about it.

Talk about your feelings, think about what you need, and how you can find a better way to make the every-day problems less so. I wrote a post a while ago reviewing the best free online mental health resources for Mums, which might be a good place to start.

I promise you, having been through this whole process a few times now I can confirm – it will get better. It just might take a bit of work first.

look after yourselves Motherlovers,

Kate xx

~~~

Did you like this blog post? Give some of my other posts a squizz. It’s not all mental health stuff, most of it is funnier, and might perk you up if you’re having a shitty day. You might find this particular post useful if you’re really feeling the overwhelm in everyday life at the moment

You’ll also (probably) love my Facebook page which has lots of funny and interesting stuff on it too …A like and a follow is always much appreciated, you know ;0) And whilst you’re at it how about you swing by and join my Facebook group too? There’s lots of lovely Mums there if you fancy a chat.

I’m also on twitter quite a bit, so do say hello if that’s your bag.

Oh, and Instagram for a more visual documentation of my chaotic life, and Pinterest – for tips and hacks and things to make yours less chaotic.

If you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Take Your pick, or stalk me on all of them –  the more the merrier x

~

I’ve added this post to some of these cracking Bloggers LinkUps, check ’em out x

 

 

 

The Truth About C-Sections: Everything You Need To Know, By A 3 Time C-Section Mum

Naivety, misguided hopes, and a bit of blind optimism

Thinking back to the first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my eldest, I can remember those first ideas of what I thought pregnancy, childbirth (and life with a newborn, for that matter) would be like for me.

I’d spend the next 8 months floating around in stylish yet comfortable maternity wear, with fabulous hair and breasts of a Grecian goddess.

Then, on my due date, the contractions would start. And whilst I would bravely breathe through them for a few hours, my partner would eventually take me in to hospital where I would go straight through to the delivery suite, ease into the birthing pool and birth my baby au naturelle, whilst the ‘gentle birth music’ playlist I’d complied played out on the iPod.

 

Errr…

Clearly I was a total moron deluded.

I won’t elaborate too much on the disillusionment regarding what I thought pregnancy would be like vs what it actually was like, although you can read all about that here if it tickles your fancy.

However, overall, the biggest shock was what happened when it actually came down to the whole getting-the-baby-out-of-my-body shebang.

And as is so often the case, my first experience of labour and birth was a bit of a shitshow tbh. (Not literally I hasten to add, I didn’t get to the pushing bit, so I was spared the whole pooping whilst you produce debacle.)

I ended up having an emergency c-section after 28 hours of labour. Ultimately, three kids and three sections on, I would say my experiences have generally been positive. Nonetheless, there are a few things I would have rather known beforehand.

 

Here’s the lowdown on the truth about c-sections, based on my experiences, which you might not already know about:

1.) Induction

First off, no-one tells you in your pre-preggo days how unlikely it is that you won’t actually have your baby on your due date, or in fact, anywhere near close to it.

This could mean that you go into labour earlier than expected, bringing on shock, panic and the general chaos of unpreparedness only these Mums can really know.

It could also mean that, your baby might decide to sit tight well into week 42 (despite literally weeks of Braxton Hicks contractions indicating the contrary, in my case, which was fun) at which point your midwife will book you in for an induction to help things along a bit.

What they won’t freely offer up is the fact that induced labour is twice as likely to end up as a c-section delivery than spontaneous labour. If you’re going in for an induction, there’s pretty much a 1 in 4 chance that you’ll end up having one.

I’m not telling you this to shit you up. I’m telling you so that you can adjust your expectations accordingly. If I’d known there was a 24% chance I’d need a section first time around I might not have been so unprepared for it, and might have found it a bit less traumatic at the time.

 

2.) Emergency c-section weirdness

There is a A LOT of weird stuff that transpires when you have an emergency section. Most of which is based around the fact that this wasn’t the planned outcome.

You are basically a vessel:

Owing to the ’emergency’ factor, it will very suddenly become an exercise in how to safely remove the baby safely from your body.

During the short journey from the labour ward to the operating table it will stop being about you and start being about getting the baby out of you. There will be a lot of medical professionals talking about what they’re about to do whilst you lie on the gurney with your fouf out wondering whether they realise you can still hear them.

You will lose your last shred of dignity:

Before I hear you decry how mortifying it can be when you poop on the midwife during natural labour, let me tell you this: NOTHING can compare with lying on an operating table, heavily pregnant and naked from the tits down with a big blue sheet hiding your face, whilst a dozen doctors and nurses stand over your vagina discussing how they’ll have to shave you before they can start prepping for the op. NOTHING.

You might have to speak up a bit:

They’ll be so busy in the business of retrieving this baby they might not be very tuned in to hearing the baby’s vessel behind the blue sheet. During my emergency section I started feeling really sick due to the anaesthetic. I had to call out three times before my husband yelled “SHE’S GOING TO PUKE” loudly enough for them to hand him a sick bowl that I had to vomm into whilst immobilised from the chest down before the anaesthetist could help me. Good times.

 

3.) Planned Section Weirdness

As a consequence of my first birth, my second and third child were both also born by section, but these two were planned. The experience couldn’t be more different.

Unlike with the emergency c-section urgency, planned sections are a rather sedate affair. You rock up on the day (which in itself is a weird thing, isn’t it? Waking up and thinking “Oh yeah, I’m off to produce a human at 9.30 this morning”. Mental.)

Obvs there is no labour beforehand, so you rock up the hospital relatively fresh-faced and ready for action. When it’s time, you get into your gown and they wheel you into the OR to introduce you to the team.

Your anaesthetist immediately becomes your new best friend:

He or she talks you through what they’re going to do and will basically stay with you throughout the op. If you start feeling a bit weird or sick they can just pop a bit more of whatever drugs they’ve got to stop it and you’re good within a minute or so.

Anaesthetists are basically c-section shamans, healing all woes your side of the blue sheet. Amazing!

They might pop the radio on:

Thanks to the surgical team and Heart FM, my son was born to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, followed my MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”.

The first hour after birth is a bit weird:

After the birth they will weigh the baby and clear off most of the gunk with a towel before passing them to you. You’ll then have about 30 minutes skin to skin contact at a really weird high up angle whilst the surgical team get the placenta out, before they stitch you up.

Suddenly, here is the little human you’ve been growing inside yourself for past 39 weeks, plonked on your chest for a bit. You’re all wired up to various drips and heart monitor thingies so it’s a bit tricky to hold your baby in a natural way. After they’ve delivered the placenta they’ll send bubba off with your partner to wait for you whilst they stitch you up.

This is an ultra weird 30 minute window where it’s just you and the remaining surgical team. The baby is off in another room and you’re just waiting for them to finish off putting you back together so that you can join them.

After my youngest daughter was born I was lying there in post-birth limbo waiting for them to finish stitching me up. Still separated from two thirds of my body courtesy of the blue sheet.

I was chatting to the nurses who were clearing up all the equipment in a scene reminiscent of the last customer chatting with bar staff after time is called at the bar, finishing off their pint whilst the barman cleans glasses and sweeps the floor.

The nurses were saying “Wow, you look so fresh-faced. It’s hard to believe you’ve just had a baby.” and I found myself replying, “Well that’s because you lot have pretty much just had her for me.”

It’s all very polite and stuff, but it’s a good job it doesn’t go on for long because you just want to be with that baby they’ve just pulled out of you so you can really meet them properly.

 

4.) Post Op

After you’ve been stitched up and wheeled out you can rejoin bubba and your partner. If the medical team don’t do it for you (as was the case with my #3) get your partner to help you try to feed the baby by propping you up and handing you the baby for some skin to skin bonding time.

(You’ll still be all hooked up to stuff at first which is a giant pain in the arse, but they should get rid of most of it after an hour or so).

(Un)Comfortably Numb:

It’ll take you a few hours before you get much movement back, so you’ll keep slipping down a bit and you might not be able to get into quite the right position for a while. Make do with pillows propping you up where you need it until you can manoeuvre yourself a bit better.

Tender tum:

Obviously you’re going to be very sore for a couple of days. If it feels unmanageable speak to a ward nurse about it, they can give you morphine if you’re really struggling, although it might delay you getting discharged by a few hours if you take any on the day you’re due to leave.

Rummaging about inside your guts, the doctors will have moved everything about during the surgery, and after you’re all stitched up, chances are there will be little pockets of trapped air in your tummy which can be a bit painful. Ask a nurse for peppermint water, which they should have readily available, which disperses the air and is a total lifesaver if you’re feeling uncomfortable, without making you feel high as a kite.

Toilet Nazis:

You’ll be catheterised before your section, whichever type you have, for obvious reasons. They’ll want to take it out fairly quickly post-op to minimise the risk of infection. Once you’re free of it (and you’ve got the feeling back in your legs) you’ll have to get out of bed to go to the loo, where you’ll have to pee into a bedpan ontop of the loo so that they can check you’re peeing properly before they can send you home.

This will seem deeply unreasonable and you might hate them for making you do it.

…There is a reason for it though. As you’ve just had some fairly major surgery they want you to get up and about to stop blood clots, so, you know – they could be saving your life by making you get up to pee.

…And get your own breakfast while you’re at it.

Yep. They’ll make you get up to get your own brekkie too. For the same reason you have to get up to pee. You can recognise all the other c-section Mums on the ward because you’ll all be doing the same c-section shuffle to the breakfast cart.

 

5.) Homeward Bound

Any Mum will tell you that, whatever your birth experience, maternity wards are unavoidably hellish, mainly owing to the fact that it’s full of exhausted Mums and brand new squalling babies not yet adjusted to life on the outside.

So when they time comes that you’re ready to go home, getting the hell out of dodge is your number one concern. You can usually leave after 48 hours (24 if you choose to get ‘fast tracked’). However, when you start the whole process – getting showered, dressed, packing up all your shizzle and getting the baby ready, will probably bring home how f*cked up you really are. You’ll feel like you’re in absolute tatters.

It isn’t uncommon to have a bit of a wobble at this point.

You doubt whether you’re physically capable of getting home, let alone then having to look after this brand new tiny person you’ve made. Try not to fret, take as long as you need to get from A to B, once you’re home you’ll be flooded with relief, even if there is still a bit of trepidation in the air.

Don’t forget you’ll have a few visits from the community midwives over the next couple of weeks, and you That you can phone the Neonatal Ward or your local Health Visitor if you’re in need of advice. (You WILL be ok, I promise.)

Stitches can be bitches

My stitches popped after each of my c-sections to varying degrees, and whilst it can freak you out a bit, don’t panic. It’s pretty common and they can sort it out fairly easily.

That said, I’d always recommend having a pillow with you at all times during the first few weeks. Try and hold it against your tummy when you cough or laugh. It reduces the likelihood of them popping and it reduces the pain somehow too.

Try not to freak out the first time you see yourself naked

Yes. You will look like a hot mess, especially whilst you’ve still got bruises, swelling, stitches, dressings and butterfly strips all over your lower body. Just remember that you will feel normal(ish) again. It’s all about time, I’m afraid. Just concentrate on being comfortable and looking after yourself and bubba, and try not to stress about it.

 

6.) Parting Words

Nearly all c-section Mums I know had their cesareans out of necessity rather than by choice. It can throw up a veritable smorgasboard of negative feelings, from disappointment to inadequacy, and from depression to outright PTSD.

As someone who has run this gauntlet three times over, I would say this to any c-section Mum or Mum-to-be who is due to have their baby by section: Having a cesarean is no mean feat, recovery can feel like it takes forever, and you might feel cheated out of the birth you’d hoped for. However, you are every inch a Super Woman, whatever your birth experience.

The human body is a marvellous thing, and it’s powers of recuperation are phenomenal. Be proud of your own journey, and know that you will feel good again soon. Moreover, it will not affect your wonderful powers of motherhood.

You got this Mama. Everything’s going to be fine.

 

~~~

If you liked this blog, why not check out some of my other shizzle here, you might find this one makes you laugh if you’re new to the whole parenting thing and working out the realities of life post-baby.

Also how about you join The Mum Conundrum facebook group? It’s full of lovely down to earth Mums and I share whatever funny and interesting bits of the Internet I stumble across.. My Facebook page has lots of cool stuff on it too …A like and a follow is always welcome, you know ;0)

I’m also on twitter quite a bit, so do say hello if that’s your bag.

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Oh, and Pinterest, and Instagram … lest we forget x

~

I’ve added this post to some of these cracking Bloggers LinkUps, check ’em out x

 

 

 

Overwhelm, Sleep Deprivation, Stress, & The Fear Of Not Being Enough

I’ve Just Cottoned On That This Week Is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

Amazingly, I’ve actually realised before it was too late to contribute this time. My track record on remembering special days and events is spectacularly poor, having previously overlooked Poppy Day, Sports Relief and (on one particularly toe-curling occasion) World Book Day…

(Seriously, is there anything more dejected than the look on your child’s face when they realise that they are the only child rolling up to school in school uniform on a costume day. Ouch.)

Anywho… Now it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (I should add, the kids aren’t actually dressing up for this one. Probably a good thing… ) and having had my own struggles with mental health issues as a parent, I wanted to write something helpful based on my own experiences.

It’s hard to know where to start on the subject of mental health without descending into woe-is-me format, isn’t it?! I wrote this post last year, if you’re looking for a bit of background on the triggers for my own mental health issues.

But today, I’m rather more interested in how the general wear and tear of everyday life can impact on your mental well-being when you’re a Mum.

 

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore, Toto…

Whilst I consider myself to be fairly well these days, I am still affected by certain things which have an impact on my mental state.

I can get totally blindsided by things that happen in my daily life which are both unpredictable and entirely beyond my control, and the strain of these factors can render me a hot, blubbering mess by the end of the day.

When this happens I feel like I’m on the edge, teetering on the brink of a spell of anxiety, depression or OCD (I have at times been a veritable pick ‘n’ mix of mental health issues, so, you know, take your pick.) 

This is something that can feel quite frightening. And whilst I am generally ok in the end, I have to work hard to stop it from progressing.

What I’ve come to realise over these past few years is that the trials and tribulations of Motherhood render us all more susceptible to mental health problems, just by the very nature of taking on the role of “Mum”.

However much of a kick-ass warrior queen we feel we can be on our good days, being a mum has made us more fragile, more sensitive, and more easily bruised and battered by the tides of the day than we ever were before we became parents.

 

And Here’s Why:

Because: Kids.

Obvs.

Ok so maybe that’s a bit flippant, but ultimately the difference between your mental resilience when you’ve only really got yourself to think about, and your mental resilliance when you have small humans depending on you to manage literally every element of their lives, is how much mental and emotional ‘stuff’ is constantly on churn in the back of your mind.

Dealing with difficult life issues is stressful for everyone. But when you’re already dealing with elements of child-rearing which are both demanding and time consuming, your mental churn is already fairly well loaded.

You don’t have room to handle All The Things as well.

I have, at various points during my time as a Mum so far, used terms like ‘relentless’ and ‘exhausting’ and ‘hardcore’ when discussing how I feel when I’m struggling. 

– These aren’t words that I used very frequently in my life before kids, and I think that the use and resonance of that particular vernacular in that particular context is particularly telling.

 

So, What Are The Main Factors That Affect Our Mental Resilience?

There are certain factors which, in my experience, take a significant toll on Mum’s mental resilience. I’ve tried to keep it as broad as I can, and it’s by no means a one-size-fits-all list, but managing these 5 can vastly improve your mental well-being and reduce the risk of mental health problems developing as time goes on.

1.) Stress

Unsurprisingly stress is my number one factor. And I realise that parenting is a stressful job regardless of any other life stuff contributing to the melee. I also realise that big chunks of stress are utterly unavoidable, and I’m afraid I don’t have advice to impart about how to avoid it, although I did find this rather useful post with a few good tips for doing just that, if that’s what you’re after.

What I can tell you is how to manage it better and minimise it’s impact.

Take control of what’s stressing you out.

Firstly, don’t let it buzz around your head like an angry wasp. Talking about what’s bothering you, or even writing it down, will help you clarify the issue in your mind.

Once you’ve got a clear understanding of exactly what’s causing the stress, try to make a plan to tackle it. Taking control of a problem by actively working towards resolving it massively reduces the stress associated with it.

If it’s something you can’t fix, you need to make peace with the fact that you can’t change it, and accept that it’s beyond your control. From this point you need to mentally put it out of your mind. This can be hard, and often requires a concerted effort, but you CAN do it. It just might take time.

 

2.) Overwhelm

Those of you who read my blog on the regs will remember that I wrote a post about this very thing a few weeks ago. You know how it goes:- Over time there is a general build up of Mum stuff and life stuff. It builds and builds until it ALL. GETS. TOO. MUCH.

Overwhelm can creep up on you, and then before you know it you’re sinking in it. My advice on this is simple. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back for a moment. A few minutes of alone time can help (locking the bathroom door and faking a poop session should do it) and try and break it down into all the issues which have contributed to it.

Then, prioritise what needs doing, and tackle one thing at a time. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts here. If you tackle one part at a time you’ll deal with all the stuff in no time and feel back on top again.

 

3.) Work

Ah the joys of working Motherhood! Juggling parenting and career whilst feeling like you’re not doing terribly well at either. Great fun.

I found this cracking post all about the struggles of working parents (both funny and true) which made me chortle. But in all seriousness, I have never felt so insufficient both as a Mother and as a Professional as when I went back to work after maternity leave.

Frustratingly, this feeling of being sub-par all round is coupled with being utterly exhausted and stretched so thin that you barely have time to think.

My advice on this is threefold:-

First of all – Be kind to yourself, you are doing your best. Do not allow people to make you feel like you’re not good enough. Spinning plates like this is no mean feat, you’re a bit of a bloody WonderWoman for doing it. You know how hard you’re trying.

And if your kid’s sick and you have to leave work early to collect them from school – so what? You’re not the first parent to do this. It’s unavoidable. Smile sweetly and give the mental finger to colleagues who purse their lips in disapproval. What would they expect you to do?!? Dicks.

Secondly – Plan ahead. Having to fly around like a blue arsed fly getting yourself and small people ready and out of the house is super-stressful. Get everything ready the night before, run your mornings like a military exercise and it’ll get easier.

Lastly – Manage your time well. I found this site a while back and I LOVE this stuff. It’s been super helpful for me managing my time when I went freelance (which of course is another option if you’ve really had enough of clocking on at the office but you need to earn a wage). Find ways to make your time stretch and fit more in with less stress.

 

4.) Lack Of Sleep

Urgh. This one is a killer. My toddler still doesn’t bastard well sleep through the night, and, whilst I’m resigned to the fact that she’s just not a great sleeper (see above: Accepting what you don’t have control of!) it plays a massive part in how well I can handle what life chucks at me.

Sadly I do not have the magic formula for getting your kids to sleep, but when I am zombie-level tired I try to manage it as follows:

Reorder your tasks on your mega-knackered days.

You might have a to-do list as long as your arm, but it’s pointless trying to tackle tricky tasks when you’re braindead. Pick the simplest tasks. That way you’re getting shit done, but it’s not going to make your poor tired brain melt.

Don’t go nuts with the coffee.

Yes, yes, I know, hear me out.

In my (somewhat extensive) experience of trying to live a normal life on fuck all minimal sleep, there IS such a thing as too much coffee. Have one or two, sure, but when you’re tired you will hit harder lows when the caffeine wears off. Plus, if you’re tired and add any element of stress into the equation you’re more likely to feel panicky and anxious if you’ve gone caffeine crazy.

Get out of the house.

I know this is often the last thing you want to do when you’re exhausted, but trust me. Even a quick 20 minutes out in the fresh air will make you feel calmer and more refreshed. Trust me.

 

5.) Lack Of Support

This is a biggie. As Mums we need support in some form. You might have people around you, but do they actually know when you’re struggling? If things are really getting on top of you, and it’s making you anxious, stressed or really low, you need to reach out for help.

Don’t bottle it up, take help offered and ask for help if it’s not forthcoming. Asking for a bit of help now might save you needing to ask for a lot of help later.

If you don’t feel you know anyone who you could approach for help, there is still support out there for you. I am a HUGE advocate for online groups, there is some real genuine support online if you know where to look. Mums groups on facebook have been my salvation at times.

My faves include mega-group The Motherload (which also has a number of linked groups, including MOLO Mates, where you can find other like minded Mums in your area.) Mummy’s Gin Fund which is another lovely supportive group with local meet-up groups, and of course the rather more diminutive Mum Conundrum Facebook Group.

Wherever you are there are Mums near you who get it, will get you, and can support you when you need it. You are not alone.

 

So there you have it. My top 5 triggers and how I manage them. I hope that helps a bit.

Look after yourselves Motherlovers,

Kate xx

~~~

Did you like this blog post? Give some of my other posts a squizz, you might find this one useful if you’d like to find some good resources online for mental health support for Mums.

You’ll also (probably) love my Facebook page which has lots of funny and interesting stuff on it too …A like and a follow is always much appreciated, you know ;0)

I’m also on twitter quite a bit, so do say hello if that’s your bag.

Oh, and Instagram for a more visual documentation of my chaotic life, and Pinterest – for tips and hacks and things to make yours less chaotic.

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Take Your pick, or stalk me on all of them –  the more the merrier x

~

I’ve added this post to some of these cracking Bloggers LinkUps, check ’em out x

 

 

 

Mum Quiz! – Are you Actually Married To A Giant Overgrown Man-Child?

Hey there busy Mum!

Do you wonder how the house can be awash with strewn laundry and postal detritus mere minutes after you’ve finished clearing up, even though your children are napping / on a playdate / entirely engrossed in playing Roblox?

Have you ever pondered how the empty juice carton finds it’s way back into the fridge despite the fact that none of your kids can reach yet?

Have you ever bribed your kids with leftover Halloween or Christmas chocolate, just to discover that it has mysteriously disappeared form the top shelf of the cupboard?

Does it sometimes feel like you are in fact looking after one more child than you thought you’d birthed?

…. If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, it’s just possible that your other half may in fact be a giant overgrown man-child.

 

Take this quiz to find out if you really are married to a giant overgrown man-child!

 

1.) You and your OH are turning in for the night. As he takes off his socks, your partner:

a) Chucks them into the laundry basket on the way back from the bathroom without so much as a second thought.

b) Puts them in a scrunched up pile with the rest of this clothes, because ‘they’ve got another day left in them’ and he can re-wear them like he will his jeans tomorrow.

c) Forgets to take them off until he’s on the bed, at which point he flings them with carefree abandon into opposite corners of the room, before wrapping himself up three quarters of the duvet, farting, and snoring gently into his pillow within seconds.

d) Pops them into the laundry basket, but notices that the basket is pretty full, so he picks it up and takes it downstairs to pop a wash on overnight, knowing it will save you time in the morning.

 

2.) You have prepared a delicious meal for all the family. Once he has finished this lovingly prepared meal, does you partner:

a.) Automatically pick up his plate, scrape his leftovers into the bin, and load it into the dishwasher?

b.) Pick up his plate, but inexplicably just put it down next to the sink, where it will sit until you clear it along with the rest of the table?

c.) Mumble something about the football having already started and wander off into the lounge whilst you’re distracted by trying to unstrap your wriggling toddler from her newly pasta-encrusted highchair whilst your 5 year old demands more yoghurt?

d.) Suggest that you sit down, seeing as you’ve been on your feet cooking and dealing with the kids non-stop for the past few hours, whilst he clears the table, loads the dishwasher, and wipes down the kitchen worktops?

 

3.) The post has arrived, and with it, an Amazon package that your partner has been expecting for several days. Does he:

a.) Take it to the kitchen table, grabbing a pair of scissors to remove the packaging, which he then chucks into the bin before trying out his new toy gadget with a rapturous look in his eyes.

b.) Wander around the entire ground floor of the house, ripping off layers and scraps of packaging and leaving them strewn across various surfaces before eventually uncovering his online purchase, which he then leaves on a shelf in the hallway before wandering off to find some spare batteries / a screwdriver / take an impromptu 20 minute poop.

c.) Unwrap said package in the manner of b, but once opened he discovers that he actually ordered the wrong thing. He says he needs to return it, which actually means that he will expect you to do it for him after forgetting all about it for three weeks and then sending you a text from work weeks later telling you it has to be sent back today to make the returns deadline.

d.) Hands it to you… After all, it wasn’t for him anyway, it was a thoughtful surprise gift he bought for you on the spur of the moment. You love it! (obvs)

 

4.) It’s early evening, and your teething baby has just been changed and is crawling around in the living room with your partner. You are in the kitchen making up his night-time bottle. Whilst you are away, there is a MAJOR poonami incident. What happens next?

a.) You come back from the kitchen and the aroma hits you first. Then you notice your other half scouting around for the changing stuff. You pass it to him and he deals with it with only a bit of a grumble. You help out by nipping off to grab bubba a new babygrow. Job done.

b.) You come back from the kitchen and the aroma hits you first. Then you notice your other half has put on his headphones and is (suspiciously) unwavering in his concentration, watching a youtube video on how to build your own shed. You point out the smell, and the seeping brown marks appearing on the back of your baby’s babygrow, at which point he feigns ignorance before halfheartedly offering to change him (usually once he sees that you have already started  to do it yourself).

c.) You pass your OH on your way back into the living room, scuttling off on his way upstairs ‘to look for that thing he lost the other week’, leaving the pungent surprise for you to deal with.

d.) You pass your OH on your way back into the living room, holding the dirty nappy in one hand and poopy babygrow in the other. He’s just off to the kitchen to dispose of the nappy and handwash the babygrow before the stain sets in.

 

5.) Your kids come down with a horrible bug and have had the full works:- Snot, Sore throat and head, aches and shivers, and a high temperature. The next afternoon you start getting the same symptoms and feel like death warmed up. When your husband comes through the door after work, he:

a.) Sees that everyone is poorly, suggests ordering in pizza for dinner and offers to put the kids to bed early.

b.) Upon hearing that you have succumbed to the kids lurgy, he rubs his throat a bit and tells you he thinks he might be coming down with it too. (Standby for updates at 15 minute intervals on the progress of his deterioration. Concluding that his symptoms are, of course, inherently more severe.)

c.) Surveys the snotty horror within the family home, turns heel and pops of to the pub for ‘a quick pint’.

d.) Takes one look at your pale, clammy face and tells you to go and lie down whilst he knocks up some soup for everyone and fetches a cold flannel for your brow.

 

Results Time – How Did He Do?

Mostly A’s

Phew. Turns out your mating choices aren’t exactly misguided after all. You appear to have coupled-up with an actual fully fledged adult. He may not be perfect, but he’ll do. And you probably quite like him most of the time really, so it’s all good.

Mostly B’s

Hmmm. Are you sure you haven’t just accidentally married a student?

Mostly C’s

Oh dear. You’ve partnered up with a real life overgrown man-baby. Don’t feel embarrassed, sometimes you don’t see the signs until it’s too late. Probs best to have a large glass of wine now and look for the silver lining – at least he’s potty trained.

Probably.

Mostly D’s

Who is this wonderous unicorn-like being? No doubt he also gives impromptu foot rubs, cooks delicious low-carb meals, has a six pack, and his farts smell of Aramis. I’m not sure if you are delusional or you’ve won the husband lottery. Either way I’m a bit jealous, tbh…

A Mixture of A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s

Realistically I think most of us have other halves who are a bit of all of the above, don’t we? (although some of us are blessed with a few more D scores and a few less C’s). And it’s not so bad really. I mean, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised…

…I still wish he’d just put his sodding socks in the laundry though.

 

~~~

 

Did this post tickle you? Then have a gander at some of my other blog posts too. (Especially this one, because if you’re sick to death of doing all the Mum stuff around the house for f*ck all thanks it might just cheer you up a bit.)

You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group. I post a load of funny / interesting / useful stuff by me or from other far-flung corners of the Internet each day. You can also show me love on The Mum Conundrum Facebook Page if you fancy… a like and a follow always goes down a treat, you know.

I’m also on twitter (a lot) and Instagram (a bit) too… Ooh and I’m newly loving the whole Pinterest thing, so do pop along and give me a follow there, I’ve got all sorts of intriguing pins for you to take a peek at.

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about or review, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Happy reading Motherlovers!

 

Kate xx

I’ve added this post to some of these cracking Bloggers LinkUps, check ’em out x

Clocking Hell!… The perils and pitfalls of managing the clock change (with cheats)

British Summer Time

It’s that time of year again. British Summer Time has commenced. The clocks went forward, and a collective groan rang out across the Nation.

In my pre-Mum days, back when the only time I didn’t pee alone was during trips to pub toilets with my buddies after a particularly poor decision to do another round of jagerbombs, knowing the clocks were going forward was just a minor irritation.

I’ll bet you were the same.

The sum total of our worries was that we would have one less hour of lie-in in which to nurse our hangovers that week. (Ah… lie-ins. Remember those delightful weekly treats? How carelessly we frittered them away, not understanding their impending extinction…)

Little did we know, back then, the true arse-ache impact of the clocks changing for our future Mum selves.

 

For Clock’s Sake!

For Mothers with children of a certain age, feelings towards the clock changing will vary wildly, depending on the particular brand of bedtime awkwardness of their kids.

Some Mums will be ecstatic at the prospect of being able to bump their early-riser’s wake-up forward to a more respectable hour (possibly). Whereas for others it poses a whole new problem – getting your argumentative little shits spirited little monkeys to go to bed an entire hour early without a protracted argument.

I realised this year that since becoming a Mum I have always looked at the clocks going forward with a sort of idiotic amnesiac confidence. Every year, rather than thinking about the fact that we are all just losing an hour of our already compromised sleep time, I’m convinced I will be able to re-set my early risers to stay in bed for an extra hour in the mornings.

Every year I seem to forget that whilst it means that whilst the sprogs might be fooled into staying in bed longer for a morning or two, it usually doesn’t compensate for the fact that we seem to lose more than an hour at the other end, with each of my kids adamant that it can’t be bedtime because it’s not dark enough yet.

Even my littlest got in on the action this year:-

Yes. I know she is cute. Good job too, because she is also the ultimate micro-ninja sleep thief.

Lately she has started to sleep through the night more frequently. The upshot of which was (joy of joys) she began to wake earlier and earlier. I was averaging about 5.15am, and I was knackered to the point of blind desperation.

So when the clocks went forward I was pinning my hopes on re-setting things a bit, and possibly even seeing 6.30am in my own bed for a change. And it happened! It really did. (Allbeit only for the first night… Last night she had me going in and out of her room like the hokey cokey, although this can possibly be attributed more to the fact that she had the shits, rather than reverting back to hourly wakings again. If not, pray for me.)

Nonetheless, we did at least have one night of success for all three children.

 

Clocking great clock-change cheats

I tried to outwit the clock change (and also my older kids) this year, and certainly I think that our tactics helped a bit. Probably wont do much in the long run, but let’s not dwell…

Anywhoo… For what it’s worth, here are my clock change cheats, most of which can be applied to both the clocks going forward and back:-

 

1.) Put them to bed closer to their post clock-change bedtime (but not a whole hour)

We kept our kids up about half an hour the night before the clocks went forward, so it didn’t feel out of sync enough for them to start getting into a paddy in the morning when they’re wide awake but not allowed to get up yet…  This one works a treat in tandem with 2.

2.) Gro-clock porky-pies

Once they’re old enough to be inducted into the cult of Gro Clock, this one works like a charm.

Clocks going forward? Leave the gro-clock on it’s old time til the next day. Congratulations, you’ve bought back that lost hour in bed! Clocks going back? Change them the night before, before your kids go to bed, so they think they’re up half an hour late but actually they’re in bed half an hour early (mwah-ha-haaaa!)

3.) Blackout blinds

How does anyone manage to survive Summer without blackout blinds? If you have small children you need these. End of. They come into their own when the clocks go forward, fooling your little early birds into thinking it’s still twilight and reducing the risk of 5am horror.

4.) Threats and bribery

Again, better with the 3-8yrs age range, owing to the fact that babies and young toddlers can’t be bribed because they own you. Threatened removal of iPad time, coupled with the promise of going the park in the morning if they stay in bed til Mr Sun went down a treat in our household.

Yes, I am a horrible mother. But, you know, it’s not like I’m beating them with sticks or anything.

5.) Earplugs

Self explanatory, really. You can’t ignore a crying baby or toddler, obvs. But you can ignore the hell out of your older kids playing Transformers and Shopkins families outside your door at 5.45am. FACT.

6.) Wine

Ok so not a cheat exactly, but if all else fails…

I can’t guarantee any of this will actually work of course, but it’s worth a try eh?! (especially the wine). Aaaannd of course the plus side of British Summer Time is that you no longer have to get up at sh*t o’clock in the pitch black. At least now you can drink your tea and scroll through your phone whilst trying to blank out the Paw Patrol theme tune without feeling like it’s the dead of night.

Happy Springtime, Motherlovers,

Kate xx

**Disclaimer: Yes, I have shamelessly punned all my headings. Yes, it is a fairly lacklustre and unimaginative substitution of the word ‘clock’ for obviously rude words. Blame my puerile and childish sense of humour. I clearly can’t help myself.**

~~~

Did you like this blog post? Give some of my other shizzle a whirl too, you might find this one particularly amusing if you’re in the midst of child induced sleep deprivation.

You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group – I post lots of funny and random things from the interweb, and you can chat to other Mums / scroll through the comments / admire my memes whilst your sleep thief is keeping you up. My Facebook page has lots of funny and interesting stuff on it too …A like and a follow is always much appreciated, you know ;0)

I’m also on twitter quite a bit, so do say hello if that’s your bag.

Oh, and Instagram for a more visual documentation of my chaotic life, and Pinterest – for tips and hacks and things to make yours less chaotic.

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Take Your pick, or stalk me on all of them –  the more the merrier x

~~~

I’ve added this post to some of these cracking Bloggers LinkUps, check ’em out x

 

Overtired, Overworked and Overwhelmed ~ What do you do when it all gets too much?

Overtired, Overworked and Overwhelmed

The last couple of weeks have felt quite tough. I’m overwhelmed with the volume of work I need to get done. I have very limited childcare. My house is a dump. I have about 5 projects under way but incomplete. It seems like I have a headache all the time.

I feel like I am on the go non stop from 6am until the kids are asleep. I am trying to juggle everything and get it all done and maintain my work levels and keep everyone else happy…

…And yet it feels like however much I manage to do there is always a loose end unattended.

 

All The Things…

My son is complaining that I’ve forgotten to write a ‘Wow! moment’ for him to take into school. My husband is annoyed because I didn’t get around to mending the hole I’d offered to mend in his jumper, and he wanted to wear it.

A text from the school reminds me I’ve forgotten to return the permission slip for my daughter’s school trip next week. She’s upset with me because I didn’t get around to arranging that play-date she’s been asking me to arrange all week.

And beyond the minutiae of these minor chores lies a greater guilt.

I’m distracted. I’m not focusing on my kids when I should be because I’m desperately trying to finish off that bit of work before I start cooking dinner. I’m too tired to Netflix and chill with Pete, opting instead go to bed at 9pm.

I’m ratty and impatient. I shout when I should be calmly explaining.

I’m trying so hard, but it’s just not enough.

Everyone is getting me in half measures and feeling short-changed and resentful.

 

Will everybody just SHUT UP for a minute!

It’s Wednesday evening. My childcare arrangements had to change at the last minute, and I had to change my plans and work on a day I had arranged to see someone. Said person was decidedly frosty because I was letting her down.

I feel guilty and frustrated.

The house is a mess. There are literally 6 loads of clean washing yet to put away and I STILL have an overflowing laundry basket.

Our older two kids are overtired after school and bickering loudly, demanding that I mediate, whilst our toddler wails every time I put her down and attempt to start making dinner. Pete comes home from work hangry and fed up that dinner will be late.

Leaving the squalling children in the kitchen I go into the lounge, holding my head in my hands, on the verge of tears, to speak with Pete.

“I just want the noise to stop. I want to be somewhere quiet for a minute.” I say, lip wobbling.

He takes one look at his slightly demented looking wife and tells me to go upstairs for a bit while he sorts dinner.

 

The Tipping Point

Ordinarily the relief I’d feel whilst Pete handles the chaos would be palpable. But today it’s not.

Arriving in our calm, quiet, loft bedroom, I flop down horizontally across our bed. Staring, glassy eyed, at the trapezium of orange sunset cast on the bedroom wall through the velux window.

I try to take in the peace and comfort of the bedroom, and appreciate the sudden departure from the noise and stress downstairs. My brain feels full to the brim and yet I am strangely blank.

Pondering the causes of this cerebral white noise apathy I check in with myself.

Am I depressed?

Not really.

I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, and a bit defeated.

I’m just… done.

Behind the blankness I can still feel a tight knot of guilt and anxiety in my gut, of feeling not-good-enough, and the worry of having too much to do. It’s strangely muted but I can feel it beneath, and it wont go away.

 

Once More unto the breach, dear friends…

Once I’d had a bit of time to myself to register how I was feeling and gather my thoughts on how to process it all, I felt a bit better equipped to go downstairs for dinner.

At this point in my anecdote I’d like to paint a tableau akin to the scene in Snow White when she wakes up in the dwarves’ cottage. Some sort of scene where I float about, singing sweetly, tending to my family, with woodland animals scurrying about tidying away the toys whilst bluebirds fold my laundry.

But no.

I came downstairs to abject bedlam. The kids noise levels had gone nuclear and the kitchen looked like it had borne the brunt of the explosion. Pete, already knackered from a long day’s work, was just about keeping his temper whilst tersely doling out our standard responses to the kids refusals of dinner.

After dinner Pete put a bit of music on for the kids and went and sat down on the couch. Scowling, I start to clear the mess. There’s cooking detritus everywhere and my head is pounding. I’m annoyed that yet again he hasn’t emptied the bin when I asked, and that he cooks like a tasmanian devil.

(I was also cross with myself because I should at least have been a bit grateful that he stepped in when he saw me on the brink, but I was having trouble calibrating this at the time.)

I’m in my own head, clearing away condiments, when I realise Pete has come back to the table.

“Look!” he says gesturing to the kids.

I stop what I’m doing and look.

All three of them were dancing. All of them! Together! It was a scene of (rare) pure unadulterated joy. They were all laughing and smiling at each other…. It was really a truly lovely sight to behold.

I laughed in spite of myself and realised that all this time, caught up in the milieu of my day to day stress, I’d forgotten the point of it all…

 

The Overwhelm

You may not be my particular brand of crazy, but I’ll bet you a tenner you’ve felt this sort of overwhelm before – That point where the too-muchness of it all renders you inert, spent and helpless.

Lying on that bed I knew that in the interest of self-care something had to give. I know myself well enough to understand that if I keep putting myself under this pressure, and don’t manage my shit a bit more sensibly, I’ll start to become depressed, anxious and possibly trigger a burst of OCD.

 

…So… You’re totally overwhelmed ~ what do you do when it all gets too much?

You’re a Mum, so a lot of the normal rules don’t apply. You can’t just down tools and stop Mumming. You can’t stop. Full stop.

That said, there are still ways to help things ease a bit. Even when you don’t want to carry on but you have to.

Different folks for different strokes and all that, but here are some of the key things that I need to do for myself when battling the overwhelm:-

 

Give yourself a break

I know it’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. We are often our own harshest critics. As the stress of the last few weeks had been building I felt more and more crap about not being able to be all things to all people.

How ridiculous is that?

If you’re doing your best, that’s good enough. You can’t do any better, so why beat yourself up about it?

 

Don’t take on other people’s shit

Most of the time the people that matter to you in your life know you well enough to know that you try to treat them well and be there when they need you. Occasionally though, you might have a situation arise when someone isn’t on board when your shizzle unravels, and they take it personally when you can’t meet their needs at that time.

It’s hard not to feel like shit when this happens. But you need to bear in mind that often when people react badly to you in this situation, it’s usually because they’re feeling shit about their own stuff.

Hell, maybe they’re dealing with their own overwhelm and were hoping you could lighten the load. Maybe they had so much on their own plate they didn’t consider how much you might have on yours.

The point I’m trying to make is that when other people are pissed off with you, that’s their shit, not yours.

Stand by your decisions and don’t absorb their feelings (unless on reflection they were shit decisions, in which case go see your friend, apologise, and bring wine). Given time these things usually blow over, and you can always discuss and put things right at a later date.

 

Review your own expectations and timescales

This is a big one for me. I start off with a manageable list of things to do, and then random stuff comes up and before I know it you’ve got more to do than I can fit into the day.

It’s like life comes along and throws you a shitty stick, and you catch it because it’s a reflex reaction, but then you realise you’ve got shit on your hand, and you didn’t want the stick in the first place.

If your to-do list starts multiplying like pouring water on a Gremlin’s back, you need to review it all. Work out what needs prioritising, break it down into manageable chunks and get it done a bit at a time. Let anyone know who might be affected by the changes.

You’ll be surprised how much it lightens the load just knowing you’ve got more time for everything.

 

Tell someone how you feel

When I get stressed out I get fairly introspective about it. You might not feel like it achieves anything, but actually, talking about it helps in a number of ways:

  • Saying it out loud often helps you organise your thoughts
  • Talking to another person means you can bounce ideas off each other and can help you work out ways to tackle things
  • It helps you decompress
  • Another perspective can offer reassurance that you’re doing ok even when you don’t feel like you are.

So, talk it over with someone who’ll listen. It’s good for you, and it’ll make things feel better.

 

Take a minute to see things as they are – don’t lose sight of the good stuff

When we’re all caught up with the obligations and the pressures of motherhood we sometimes lose sight of what it’s all about. Everything seems heavy and stressful.

Sometimes what we really need is a moment when we can survey what we’ve got and see that it IS worthwhile, even when it’s just felt like a constant slog for what seems like forever.

My advice? Find your dancing-in-the-kitchen moment. It might not be obvious, or there all the time, but if you try to see it you’ll get there eventually.

Even concentrating on trying to see it might be enough to distract you from questioning your life choices and fantasising about running away to Mauritius in the dead of night.

 

… So… That’s my take on things.

Obviously I’m not an expert, but I am well seasoned in experiencing The Overwhelm. If nothing else this post can serve as a reassurance to all you stressed out Mamas up there that you’re not alone, and that what you’re feeling is both normal and manageable.

Look after yourselves Motherlovers,

Kate xx

~~~

Did this post tickle your fancy? Then you’ll (probably) love my other stuff too. Especially this one, which is all about being stuck in the ‘Mum Zone’.

While you’re in the mood, pop onto Facebook, give my page a wee like and follow, then join the fabulous Mum Conundrum Facebook Group, so you can moan and commiserate with other Mums whilst I entertain you with hilarious and fascinating things from me and many other corners of the Internet.

Once you’re done there have a peek at TwitterInstagram and Pinterest too. I’ve got all sorts of weird and wonderful (and some quite handy) things for you to read and laugh at when you’re hiding in the bathroom pretending to poop for a bit of peace and quiet.

~~~

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Children’s Parties – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

I am definitely prone to throwing a particular vibe of kid’s party.

The venue might change, but ultimately every kids birthday party I’ve ever thrown has been a fairly fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants venture. I am always in awe of Mums whose kid’s parties are pulled off with any degree of finesse or organisation.

My kids have been invited to all sorts of parties over the years. And, at least whilst they’re still relatively little, that means that muggins here has also had to forfeit many a lazy weekend afternoon eating crisps on the sofa in order to chaperone.

I am not a fan…

Here is my take on the 6 types of party your child will encounter, ranked and scored from the perspective of the attending parent:-

 

Children’s Parties – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

 

1.) The Mahoosive Mega-Party

Usually held in some kind of sports hall or leisure centre, these are usually held in enormous cavernous spaces the size of Kent, with a volume of attendees to rival to it’s population. Upon arriving with your child, he takes off at speed, throwing his shoes off whilst charging hell-for-leather towards the ball bit.

You quietly wonder how the parents have managed to afford to pull off such an event without having to remortgage or sell a kidney.

Half a mile away, at the other end of the room, you spot the rest of the parents milling around in front of a heavily laden trestle table piled high with party food. This is where you will spend the next two hours having conversations in various degrees of awkwardness and trying not to absentmindedly scoff all the hula hoops before the kids sit down to eat.

Pros:

Your child will be thoroughly engrossed in playing on the numerous facilities for the duration, thus limiting demands for snacks / whining / requests for watching Youtube on your phone.

Cons: 

The sheer scale of these parties may make your child less easy to spot, which means there is an increased likelihood of them causing a minor misdemeanour on the play matts, or getting trampled on the bouncy castle without you noticing.

Mum rating: 7/10

Watch out for:

Forgetting to check your child’s shoes, and accidentally taking them home wearing one of someone else’s trainers.

 

2.) Themed Party

These are usually somewhat smaller parties, held in homes or hired rooms at local church halls. Children are asked to come along in fancy dress. Depending on the Pinterest level of the Mum the theme will continue through party bags / napkins / cake / treats / party games.

Your kid will likely become fully immersed in the superhero / disney princess / pirates & mermaids experience and spend the next 6 weeks telling you about the fifteen different types of party theme they’re going to have for their birthday party in 8 months time.

Pros:

For at least the first half hour the kids will be sufficiently distracted by the dressing-up aspect of the event to remember to get upset at losing musical statues or Simon Says.

Cons:

You have to sort out their costume, which you will no doubt have forgotten about until the night before, and spend a slightly fraught morning rifling through your dressing up box trying to put together something that vaguely resembles an outfit that fits the theme of the day.

Mum rating: 6/10

Watch out for:

Boisterous, over excited and over-sugared boys competitively demonstrating their Hulk skills on each other when you’re not looking.

 

3.) The Traditional Kids Party At Home:

When I was a kid all the parties we had or went to were at the homes of the birthday Boy or Girl in question. Everyone dressed up in their party dress, played a few games and had a birthday tea culminating in cake, the ceremonial dishing out of party bags (cake, balloon, one or two knick-knacks) and then a swift exit.

These days, I get the distinct impression that this option is somehow seen as low-key, and there’s a sort of pressure to make the whole thing bigger, shinier, and somehow more grand. Christ knows why this is the case.

If anything it’s more of a mammoth task to entertain a hoard of running, jumping, screaming children in your own house for 2 hours without resorting to your shoutiest Mumasaurus Rex roar in order to tame them into submission.

Plus it requires order and control to manage a series of party games without being reduced to a gibbering wreck. In fact, because of these factors I’m going to divide the at-home party into two subsections as follows:-

Type A: Military Precision

Pros:

You are astonished to find that all the children (including your own) are immaculately behaved, as they are being skilfully cajoled and directed from one party game to the next.

Cons: 

You’re also likely to leave feeling slightly inferior / dumbfounded at the Mum-skill levels / embarrassed that the Mum hosting the party came to your chaotic shitshow of a party a couple of months back and will remember how rubbish you were by comparison.

Mum rating: 5/10

Watch out for:

Trying to compensate for your own social awkwardness and accidentally oversharing or making inappropriate jokes to Mums you barely know. This may result in them thinking that you are neglectful / alcoholic / a bit weird.

Type B: Raucous Chaos

Pros:

The kids are allowed to run riot and the house is awash with fizzy drinks and trodden-on crisps. You feel right at home. Plus, raucous chaos Mum offers wine.

Cons: 

Noise levels reach defcon 5. You will likely leave with a headache, and possibly a hangover.

Mum rating: 9/10

Watch out for:

Getting a bit tipsy and forgetting you’ve brought the car, which means you will now have to walk home with a totally overstimulated kid coming down off a sugar high.

 

4.) The Party That’s Also a Specific Activity / Treat:

Pretty impressive. These types of party are definitely orchestrated by a Mum who has got serious game (and possibly a platinum credit card) when it comes to party-sorting skills. These can take a wide range of forms, from Lazer Quest to Fairy Beauty Parties, and from Pony Parties to Exotic Animal Parties.

Pros:

Your children will be utterly awestruck at the fact that their friend is actually having something so snazzy and exciting as their birthday party, and will talk about it for weeks both prior and after the event. Plus, chances are this might actually be a drop-off situation, leaving you unexpectedly euphoric child-free for the afternoon.

Cons:

There is also a possibility (especially if the party is taking place at a farm or public leisure space) which means that you not only have to go, but also hang around for hours whilst your child does whatever the thing is that the party is themed around, and you wont even be able to sit at the side of the room nibbling tiny triangles of ham sandwich.

Mum rating: 10/10 or 4/10

(Depending on whether you drop them off or not.)

Watch out for: 

“But Mummy, WHY can’t I have a princess mermaid pamper party? Pleeeeease!!!…”

And Repeat, ad infinitum, until you’re ready to tear your own ears off in protest.

 

5.) The Soft Play Party

A low maintenance catch-all party solution. Just unleash the kids for 90 minutes, call them back for a birthday tea, blow out the candles and dole out the party bags. Job done.

Pros: 

The kids entertain themselves – it’s basically like a rainy day outing but with a load of their mates. With a bit of luck they sell coffee there and you know one or two of the other Mums from school pick up so you can sit and natter until it’s time to scoop them up and take them home.

Cons:

Soft Play venues are like giant petrie dishes for colds and tummy bugs. By accepting this invite you have basically enrolled your child in a game of paediatric bacterial infection bingo.

There will be consequences.

Mum rating: 6.5/10

Watch out for: 

That enormous kid guarding the top of the curly slide slyly pushing other kids down head first when he thinks his Dad’s not looking.

 

6.) The Party For Really Little Kids (0-3’s)

When I first became a Mum, and knew a lot of other new Mums, there were a fair few parties held for very small children.

Now, I may be a horrible mother, but in each case I wondered… Why the hell they would want to hold these parties for their little floor-blob of a child, who had zero concept of what was going on, and would probably spend the majority of the time climbing in and out of a box that one of their presents came in and ignoring everyone?!?

Nowadays I still think these parties were pointless, but the benefit of hindsight casts a fairly rosy glow over their attributes (See: Pros).

Pros:

These are basically parties for the parents under the guise of being kids parties aren’t they? Newly Mummed women organise them to pat themselves on the back for keeping their tiny human alive for a whole year or so.

They throw a party. Everyone can come because they can bring their own sprogs and childcare isn’t an issue. And they can offer wine (for which everyone is grateful) and hang out and chat whilst assorted tiny children roll around in discarded wrapping paper. And there’s still cake! An all round win.

Cons:

Sadly these happen less with subsequent children (let’s face it, it wouldn’t be such a doddle with a demanding 5 year old in tow, saying she was bored and moaning that the sandwiches were too bready) so there is a fairly narrow window for this particular party type.

Mum rating: 10/10

Watch Out For:

Getting a bit sozzled and forgetting that your baby / toddler will nonetheless be up with the lark at 5.15am. Welcome to the world of parenting with a hangover! And may God have mercy on your soul.

 

Party on, Motherlovers,

Kate xx

~~~

How did I do?… Did you like this post? You might like some of my other blogs too then, this one might be right up your street.

While you’re at it, if you like funny stuff and enjoy a good meme, come and join my lovely Facebook group, and I’ve also got a lovely Facebook page full of funny and interesting stuff too – so give it a follow and share the love. You can hit me up on Twitter too.

Oh, and if you want something a bit more visual you could visit my Instagram, or come see me on Pinterest for loads of hints, tips and hacks on all things Mum Life.

8 Things Mums Can Stop Giving A Sh*t About Right Now (and be FREE!!!)

**Warning: Particularly sweary post, written by one tired and very busy Mum with PMT and a bit of a cob on. Read on at your own risk…

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

A couple  of years ago, a friend of mine posted a blog post she’d found on Facebook. I clicked on it because it’s title “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” appealed to me and I thought it might make me laugh.

It was a great post, not just because it gave me all the LOLs, but also because there was a genuine message there which I have tried to carry with me ever since.

The thing is that, for me at least, with Motherhood came this unsolicited flock of f*cks to give. I had no idea where they came from, but suddenly I was at the mercy of them, perpetually flapping around my head and hovering over me, ready to shit guilt and stress on my head at a moment’s notice.

It’s crap. And I mean, really.

Total pointless crap ends up keeping me up at night when I’m stressed out. It’s tiring and frustrating and it makes me crabby and shouty at the drop of a hat.

I might have a lot to do, but when it comes to the f*cks I give, I’ve got no-one to blame but myself. Well, I’m telling you ladies – enough is enough!

As Mums, we owe it to ourselves to give it a rest.

 

Battling The Overwhelm

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been chasing my tail. My kids have been ill, my house is a mess, and I’m so far behind on my work I’m earning a pittance. Throw in a couple of random factors like arranging my 5 year old’s birthday party and World bastard Book Day, and BOOM! Totally overwhelmed.

I’ve realised that this overwhelm is rooted in the fact that, with my ever growing to-do list came the obligatory pile of pointless f*cks given about things that really don’t make a blind bit of difference in the greater scheme of things.

It’s a cyclical thing. When it gets like this, and I find myself in the throes of a self-induced micro-crisis, eventually I get a grip and re-order my priorities.

… So, without further ado. Here is my own personal list of things I’ve stopped giving a shit about. Yours might be different, but if nothing else this post can serve as inspiration to put together your own. Let’s crack on, shall we?…

 

8 Things Mums Can Stop Giving A Sh*t About Right Now

 

1.) Kids Dress-Up Days

Obviously some f*ckwit somewhere thought it’d be nice and “just a bit of fun” to have World Book Day in early f*cking March. Not only does this render Mums everywhere panic-stricken at the prospect of creating some sort of outfit at a moment’s notice, but also drastically limits what sort of outfit can be warn for fear of inducing hypothermia on the school run.

And yes, I did get the sodding letter, but I was too busy trying to get my tantruming 5 year old home from school without a riot to read it properly, and by the time I actually got everyone home it had been unceremoniously dumped in the bottom of the buggy shelf, to remain untouched until I come across it’s crumpled form at some point in the distant future.

So no. No time for giving a shit about that. And here’s how you can do the same:- Put together a dressing up box of random clothes and outfits for your kids, along with any existing costumes you might have accumulated. When WBD or Comic Relief or anything else of that ilk rolls around, dig around and put together something that vaguely fits with a book your kid has read.

If you’re stuck for inspiration, this post from Mummy’s Gin Fund should do the trick.

It doesn’t have to be amazing. It will do. And if your kids start moaning about it just suggest they sort something else out themselves, and then distract them with snacks.

 

2.) Ironing

Pfft. What is this, the 1950’s? I genuinely don’t think I’ve ironed a single item of my own clothing for years. These days Pete will usually do his own, which leaves the kid’s stuff… Which basically means their school uniform. I worry sporadically that my kids look scruffy when they go in to school. They’re often a bit crumpled, to say the least.

Well… Sod it, actually. Because regardless of how well turned out my kids are when I drop them off, they will always emerge from the school gates at 3pm looking like incarnations of Stig Of The Dump, so the whole exercise is utterly fruitless anyway. So, zero f*cks. None. De nada.

 

3.) Bitchy Mums On The School Run:

Nope.  Because f*ck them, f*ck that, and f*ck right off, frankly.

 

4.) Having a Messy House

I do hate my house being a mess. I find it hard to get anything done when there’s crap littering every surface, so I try and keep a handle on it.

However, there are times (like today) when it starts feeling like a location shoot for an episode of Hoarders. I especially hate it when it gets like this but I’ve got too many urgent things to do to spend much time clearing it up.

Well f*ck it… I refuse to give a shit about it until I can do something about it.

What’s the worst that could happen? Someone breaks into my house in the dead of night and judges me for my slovenly ways before making off with the flatscreen? Screw you, snooty burglar. I hope your freeview box explodes. No f*cks given here whatsoever.

 

5.) Home Decor

Nope. This aint Pinterest, lady. If you’re a Mum who can maintain a stylish element of home decor around your house with tiny, jammy-fingered humans marauding about the place, I salute you. I have no idea how you find the time, patience, or f*cks to give.

 

6.) Screen Time Guilt

Yes I know it’s not great for them.

Yes I do think they are less well behaved after they’ve been plugged into the matrix.

No I do not think it’s acceptable to use the iPad as a babysitter…

But someone’s got to get the dinner on, and if that’s the only way I can get 30 minutes to get it done, so be it. F*cks be gone!!

 

7.) Being Fat / Out of Shape / Unfit

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t moan about this from time to time and get all stressed about not feeling happy with the shape I’m in. But, well, worrying about it will not make me slimmer, will it?!? In fact, I’m more likely to crack open the wine on a Tuesday night if I’ve been beating myself up about stuff like this.

Ultimately I’ve got two choices. Either do something about it, or just forget about it until I’m ready. I could stress about it, or I could just give myself a break until I’m a bit less exhausted and then get exercising.

Sorry, no magic solution there, just boring old common sense. Not really worth giving a shit about in the meantime though, eh?

 

8.) Throwing Shit Kids Parties:

I’ve just run this particular gauntlet, so this is fresh in my mind (I’ve already hatched an idea for next week’s post on the topic, so watch this space and all that…) I am inherently shit at organising this sort of thing. It doesn’t matter what I choose to do I always have a last minute disaster in some form or other and end up winging it entirely.

Sometimes, comparing my kids do’s to some of the other polished and well organised parties (run by unflappably calm mothers who manage not only to look nice but also seem to actually enjoy these events) I can’t help feeling an occasional twinge of concern that my kids parties are a bit shit.

Note to self: If the kids had fun and no-one died, it was a success. No shit necessary to give.

 

Et voila!

Doesn’t that feel better already?

Thus concludes my list of things. I may have to revisit this in a month or so when things go tits up again, but in the meantime I am almost zen-like in my unruffledness.

What should you put on your Don’t-Give-A-Shit List?

 

If you liked this blog, why not check out some of my other shizzle here, you might find this one particularly handy if you’re having one of those days. You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group – it’s sure to ease your Mum Guilt. My Facebook page has lots of funny and interesting stuff on it too …A like and a follow is always welcome, you know ;0)

I’m also on twitter quite a bit, so do say hello if that’s your bag.

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Oh, and Instagram … lest we forget x

 

 

It’s All About The ‘Me’ Time… An Exclusive Special Offer on a Fabulous Relaxing Spanish Retreat

Calling All Frazzled Mums!

Imagine, if you will, a place of peace, calm and sunshine.

Imagine hearing nothing but the soft chirrup of crickets and calls of birds as you lie, relaxing in a hammock in the Spanish sun, next to an azure pool.

Imagine wakening gently each morning, without being startled into consciousness by a loud shout from the bathroom demanding you wipe a pooey bum.

Imagine days without a single request for biscuits or Cheesestrings, or demands to referee sibling squabbles, and peaceful uninterrupted nights brimming with sleep.

 

 

Imagine meals packed full of delicious food, eaten at your leisure, without a single complaint or demand for chips or Weetabix.

Imagine an entire break all about YOU, with dreamy yoga and rejuvinating pilates sessions to relax and vitalise you, massage sessions and lazy afternoons in the sun.
 

 

Imagine a 5 or 7 day break in May, designed for YOU, specifically to make YOU feel fabulous…

Wouldn’t that be AMAZING?!?

Well, thanks to the beautiful souls at Pomegranate Retreats, The Mum Conundrum can bring you and a friend one step toward a few days in paradise.

 

Pomegranate Retreats are running a limited offer, exclusive to The Mum Conundrum Facebook Group members!…

If you and a friend book together before 31st March, you can get up to *£175 off your joint booking!

You won’t find a better deal anywhere else.

So call in the childcare, shrug off that Mum guilt and book you and your bestie a mini-break. Christ knows you deserve it!

All you need to do is this:

1.) Make sure that both you and your friend are have both joined The Mum Conundrum Facebook Group.

2.) Pop over to the Pomegranate Retreats Facebook Page for all the details, and get in touch with Jenny or Fran (The lovely ladies at the helm) to book.

3.) Make sure to mention The Mum Conundrum to get your stonking discount.

4.) Book yourself a little slice of heaven – and enjoy!

(You can always show your appreciation by popping over to The Mum Conundrum Facebook Page and giving me a like and a follow too. I’m all about the love, people).

You can contact me, or check out my social media channels here too.

Places are limited, and are going fast, so book quickly to avoid disappointment. You’ve earned this, Mama! x

 

 

**Please note, this is NOT a sponsored post. It’s just an awesome deal I’ve managed to wangle for my facebook group lovelies.**

I hope you like it xx

 

 

*discount varies according to length of stay. The £175 discount featured is for the 7 day stay. For a 5 day booking the discount is £125.

10 Surprising Benefits Of Sleep Deprivation For Exhausted Mums – With Tips!

Hey, You There!

You with The Purple Eyebags!

Yes, that’s right… You!….

  • Are you plagued by seemingly endless sleepless nights?
  • Does your small child operate on a relentlessly nocturnal schedule to rival that of Nosferatu?
  • Do you wake up grumpy and inert and totally unprepared to face the work / chores / school runs of the day ahead?

Well fear not, my bleary-eyed friends. Gone are the days of awakening, confused and groggy, only to feel jealous and resentful of your sleep-blessed partners and peers.

Because it turns out the joke’s on them.

In fact, there are many bonuses for perpetually reduced sleep hours. You too can reap these rewards – Just follow these tips to enrich your lives accordingly…

(Read ’em and weep, Mums of good sleepers – In your faces!)

 

**Here are 10 surprising benefits of sleep deprivation for exhausted Mums:-

1.) Raising children can be expensive. Save money by literally never going out in the evenings because you can’t stay awake beyond 9.30pm.

2.) Too tired to be arsed with makeup or doing your hair? Ideal! Improve your skin (eyebags aside) and hair, reducing exposure to unnatural chemicals by failing to apply any products whatsoever, thus allowing both to breathe au naturelle.

3.) Improve your knowledge of contemporary popular culture by spending those wakeful night hours Googling whether that bloke you saw in that thing last night was also the same bloke that was in that other thing you saw the other week.

4.) Having problems shifting that post-baby weight? No problem. Lose weight easily by being too knackered to get up and get snacks from the kitchen. (Admittedly this does sometimes backfire if you’re also too knackered to cook proper food and consequently eat an entire packet of chocolate Hobnobs for lunch, but still…)

5.) Save yourself both time and money by reducing your laundry pile. Seeing as you’re too tired to go out, you can stay in the same joggers or jammy bottoms for several days. (There’s no point getting into ‘proper clothes’ seeing as no-one’s going to see you from your permanent position on the couch watching Cbeebies with your small child today.)

6.) Improve your skills of introspection and philosophy by spending the wee hours awake with your teething / poorly / just plain wide-awake child, pondering whether reincarnation really happens and what you must have done in a past life to have to endure such a protracted phase of sleeplessness in this one.

7.) Help the environment by being too tired to do the dishes, thus saving water and reducing the amount of detergents used in your increasingly cluttered and mouldering kitchen.

8.) Improve your (online) social life no end by thoroughly plundering your twitter and facebook feeds at three o’clock in the morning. (See end of the post for more tips on this.) Enhance your interactions and engagement by posting status updates about having no sleep, so that other online Mum friends can empathise/commiserate/feel relieved it’s not them. (This will probably be the closest you come to socialising for some time, so you might as well make the best of it.)

9.) Enjoy piquing people’s interest, having developed a new and strangely alluring element of mystery during transient interactions with others, with your devil-may-care attitude and eclectic clothing choices.

10.) Fed up with your messy house, lack of personal style, and lacklustre career? Turn that lack of get-up-and-go into a big plus by lowering your expectations. Then congratulate yourself for making it through the whole day whilst staying conscious. You Go, Girl!

 

There you have it.

A veritable wealth of life enhancing features at your fingertips. I’ll bet you don’t even miss sleep now you’ve got these puppies under your hat.

Enjoy!

 

**Disclosure: This post was written following approximately 3 hours sleep. I take absolutely no responsibility for typos, factual errors, weak concepts, or grammatical faux pas.

 

Did this post tickle your fancy? Then you’ll (probably) love my other stuff too. Especially this one.

Seeing as you’re up and online anyway (see point 8) you should pop onto Facebook, give my page a wee like and follow, then join the fabulous Mum Conundrum Facebook Group, so you can moan and commiserate with other Mums whilst I entertain you with hilarious and fascinating things from me and many other corners of the Internet.

Once you’re done there have a peek at Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest too. I’ve got all sorts of weird and wonderful things for you to read and laugh at while you while away the twilight hours.

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