Monday, 20 February 2017

Half Term Blues

Half terms have become somewhat notorious in our house.  You can guarantee that either in the few days before or as half term hits, one of both of the girls will be poorly.  

February half term was no exception. Of course.  The last Friday of school, E's teacher contacted me to say that she had a few spots but they didn't think it was anything too serious and weren't overly worried.  By the time I collected her, she had a few more and was complaining of generally feeling unwell which continued through to the next day. Saturday night was spent crying and whimpering through the night and by Sunday she was very poorly.  With patches of spots, mostly on her arms and legs, she was complaining of a sore neck, backache and a headache.  She spent most of the day laying on the sofa or on me, either snoozing on and off or whimpering again. The rash got no worse or better but after alternating between paracetamol and ibuprofen with no effect we decided to phone the out of hours doctors for some advice. We were able to get her seen fairly quickly because they were worried about the possibility of meningitis but thankfully, after an examination, that was quickly ruled out. In the end, it was put down to a nasty viral infection that should clear up on its own.  

Needless to say, it took a good few days for the virus - and spots - to clear, meaning that we had to cancel the plans we had made. It happens every half term, I'm surprised anyone attempts to make plans with us in all honesty! E has gone back to school today and T to nursery and I feel somewhat guilty that we haven't been able to get out and do more over the week.

On the plus side, we used our time stuck in the house wisely and started potty training T and, finger's crossed, we seem to have cracked it pretty quickly. There have been a few accidents but those were down to her being engrossed in playing and me not being on the ball so all in all, we're really pleased.

Its been a while (August last year - crikey!) but I'm linking up with:

Living Arrows

Reconnecting With Your Children

* Contributed Post

Once the kids start going to school we lose a little bit of control. That isn’t always a bad thing. Our children need to develop their own personalities and have a degree of independence. So whilst it may be hard on you, don’t fight it.  You have spent so long teaching them to fly, now it’s time to encourage them.

Of course, it can be hard to keep an eye on things if they are constantly at school, with friends or on social media so you may need to swoop in every now and then just to check things are all OK.  But how do you do that without looking like you are trying to take control?  Giving them freedom is one of the top things you should do for your children.  

A lot of their time is spent in school and as they are surrounded by their friends it is a good way to get to know their personality away from the home.  Whilst this won’t work for some children, you could consider occasionally volunteering.  Classroom assistants or lunchtime supervisors are always needed, just don’t be lingering behind their friends or getting involved in what they are doing.  Helping other children but casting a delicate eye on how they represent you in school may help you understand who they are growing into and you may find you are really impressed.  

Every year children will have a trip.  Whether it is a local venue or something huge like a school trip abroad, they will often look to parents to help.  So why not get involved?  Not only will you get a chance to meet their teachers and build a decent relationship, you will also be able to see how your son or daughter acts around their mates.  Talk about it to your child before you make any commitments though.  You may push your children away if they think you are checking up on them.

Outside of school you need to tap into their interests and make the most of those where you can.
If they're really into football they'll love it if you take them to watch their favourite team play.  Let a friend come too for some extra brownie points and try not to nag too much.  Get into the surroundings and let your hair down a little.

Finding new passions together will also bring you closer.  If you have never been horse riding then grab up the kids and give it ago, you’ll find loads of opportunities to laugh and for your children to make you proud.  You could try and get into something a bit more extreme like climbing or even abseiling .  There are lots of centres around the country who offer a taste of all kinds of extreme sports.  You may both be out of your comfort zone but this will give you the chance to work as a team.  Sometimes children need to feel they are on an equal playing field to you and this can give them a chance to really show of their abilities.  Let them. Encourage it and enjoy it!

* Contributed Post

Thursday, 9 February 2017

My word for 2017

I don't know about you, but I don't like to make New Year's resolutions. I like the idea of starting the year with fresh intent for what I want to achieve but for whatever reason, resolutions just don't work for me.  This year, I've taken a somewhat different, for me, approach by choosing a word for the year. Although this is new to me, the concept has been around for a while and from stumbling across #OneWord365, I'm not the only one taking this approach.  

I thought for some time what I wanted my word to be and what it was I was hoping to achieve this year and a few floated about before I made my decision:

Relax - Certainly something I need to learn. Sometimes I find it hard to just let go and even when I think I am relaxing, my shoulders and muscles are tight with tension. 

Appreciate - I think we can all be guilty of not being entirely appreciative of what we have and take our lives for granted. I genuinely try to remind myself just how lucky I am on a daily basis but think more work could be done. 

Minimise - I still have a ton of things to unpack from moving.  Granted, a vast chunk of this is to go in my work/craft room once it is built and read, which won't be for some time, but there is still plenty of other things. If I've not needed them since moving, I obviously don't need them and should probably get rid of them.

Ambition I currently work as the social media manager for my family's businesses but something that I have been toying with over the past few months is pushing myself forward into freelance work, in addition.  Is it something I really want to do, can I fit everything in, how will I present it to potential clients are all questions that have been whirling around in my head.  

After much thought, the word I decided to go with is: 


Looking back, 2016 was a defining year for me.  It was a year of feeling constantly under the weather or ill, with bouts of stomach issues and horrendous periods and it was the year that I finally got diagnosed with PCOS and IBS. After so many years of going back and forth from the doctors with those issues it really was a relief to know what I was dealing with. That said, I've been struggling to deal with them both and I wanted 2017 to be the year that I concentrated on getting myself feeling better. I've been feeling low and tired, sluggish and bloated, cramping and aching and its taken its toll on me with a lack of motivation and generally feeling low being a persistent companion.  As part of this, of course I would like to lose some weight but for now, I'm focusing on feeling better physically and emotionally.

There are two things I've done to start this in motion.  The first was to complete a food and drink scan, which has shown my intolerances and lead me to start changing my diet.

The second is a journal and an indexed notebook, which I'm yet too start.  The journal, however, whilst nothing too fancy, 1 month in, I'm finding it invaluable.  

I knew what I was looking for in the journal, it had to be A5 size, spiral bound and day to a page as my writing's pretty big and messy.  Each day is set out in the same format, I've been adding motivational quotes here and there, whilst using stickers makes it easy for me to identify the different sections:

Food and drink - writing down exactly what I have had to eat and drink.
How I'm feeling - any symptoms, my mood
Monthly cycle - Tracking it as best I can
Gratitude - Things I'm feeling grateful for that day (more on that below!)
Steps, distance and active minutes - data taken from my Fitbit, whilst it works (I have shared my experience with Fitbit here

Years ago, I would keep a journal, of sorts. Remembering to update it as and when but it would often fall by the wayside. This time round, I'm really pleased that I've managed to make it part of my daily routine to write in it. Of course, the main motivation for keeping the journal is to track food and any reactions I might have to them, as well as tracking my monthly cycle.  

I decided to add a gratitude section to it because I've read that focusing on the positive things in life helps to lift the mood and to attract further positive things in to one's life.  So, whether its the fact I've had a hot drink in peace or the children have played nicely, if I'm grateful for it, it goes in.  

So. Health. Emotional health, physical health. I'm feeling positive that 2017 will be another significant year but this time for all the right ones.

What are your thoughts on choosing a word for the year? Do you think it can help to focus your mind or is it nonsense? Have you chosen a word for the year? 


Monday, 6 February 2017

Snuggling Up With The Children To Get Away From Stress

* Contributed Post

Family life can be really, really hard sometimes, no matter the size of your group of loved ones. Trying to manage a household and manage the kids, all after a long and stressful day at work can eventually take its toll. We all need to find time to relax and that goes for everyone living under your roof. Everyone needs to find the time to settle down and enjoy life and we are all guilty of taking the joy that life grants us, well, for granted.

A really important aspect of parenting is actually letting yourself and the family in your change to live and enjoy their lives to the full. Time is never going to stop ticking along, and the world is going to pass us by at a tremendously fast pace and we could all do well by trying to find the time to enjoy a small portion of that day.

Stress is an awful thing to combat, and although we may not be able to change our situation to reduce it, we can certainly find ways to cope and adapt which can help reduce what we are feeling. Stress doesn't discriminate and can be felt by everyone, from babies in the womb through to the elderly.

Today's Parent took a look at stay-at-home parents and the stress they endure, it's a bit of a read, but very important:

"There was a time, not too long ago, when my house was tidy, I took vacations, exercised daily and read novels. I wore pants that zipped up comfortably and fashionable shoes that were uncomfortable. I never yelled at my kids, checked my shirts for unidentifiable stains or checked my purse for weird smells. There was a time when my biggest stresses involved deciding where to go for lunch or whether I had lipstick on my teeth. That was four-and-a-half years ago, when I still worked full-time—before I gave it all up to become a stay-at-home mum. A study conducted in 2012 by University of Akron researchers Adrianne Frech and Sarah Damaske discovered that full-time working mothers reported better physical and mental health than part-time working mothers, confirming that my lower stress levels while in the workforce weren’t imaginary. To reach this conclusion, Damaske measured the levels of the stress hormone in study participants, taking saliva samples throughout the day from 122 employed men and women. When participants were at home, their cortisol levels spiked, biologically proving that being at home with children was more stressful than working in an office environment."

Yikes. So even when a situation is changed, stress can still catch up. That's why it is so very important to chill out as a family. Cuddle up, because we've still got a few more weeks of the freezing cold left and destress as a family!

First off, get the tools of the trade sorted out. You're going to need blankets across the board whether they are throws for the sofa or the childrens duvet covers stolen from their little beds upstairs. Of course, you're going to need some decent sitting arrangements for the snuggle session that will chill you all out, so make sure you've got a nice comfy sofa you can all snuggle around.

Now, you're all tucked up together - what can you do?

The best option - and possibly the easiest - is a move night. You can pick, or allow your kids to pick, a few films to watch when you're having your movie night. If they haven't picked the film, why not give them the responsibility of choosing the yummy snacks? There are so many films to choose from that are suitable for all ages, you've got an enormous back catalogue of amazing films and of course, you can enjoy the latest Hollywood blockbuster releases all from the comfort of your own home.

If your kids are into gaming, there are some fun party games everyone can play. The Minecraft story game is an interactive game that the family can play that is suitable for the kids. Gaming is expensive, but if it's something your kids really want to do, it's worth saving for a gaming console to enjoy.

It's not just about letting other people's imaginations entertain us on those cold nights either, why don't you see what you and the kids can dream up? Writing is a classic pastime, so give everyone an hour and a pen and see what stories you can come up and spend the night reading to each other. You could theme it and do scary stories on one day and then tales about the princess the next! Writing has an amazing hobby on the flipside as well - reading. Reading stories to each other is a great way to switch off from the world and the telly. There are no end to the stories you can read to one another and there are some amazing books out there for the whole family to enjoy - from JK Rowling's Harry Potter to Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events. Getting your kids into reading doesn't have to be the job of their teacher and it can be fun too.

No wonder the Danes love their Hygge - the atmosphere of being with the people you love and the feel of home. That safe and warm feeling that shields us from the world outside. It's about creating an atmosphere of care and love in the home by finding the time to get together and enjoy the downtime at the end of the day by cuddling up and getting warm.

* Contributed Post
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