How would you score on a parenting quiz?

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Ever done one of those social media quizzes? Apparently I’m a unicorn, extrovert with anxiety, who grew up in the ’80’s. Is one of the top 5% of the population who can truly say they are a 100% fan of the sound of music and dirty dancing and didn’t watch all the ’80’s coming of age movies because I was too busy dancing to Wham and Madonna!

I was thinking what if we had a parenting quiz, would we all get 100%? Congrats You are a rocking mama, well done you’re doing okay with this parenting malarkey, keep going you’re doing just fine, or lastly drinking wine and eating chocolate in the bathroom? Congrats you’re 150% rocking parenting!!

What would the questions be?

Your baby just burped up a bit of sick on them and you, do you
a) give the baby and you a complete change of clothes
b) change just the stained clothes
c) give the clothes a wipe and carry on
d) change the baby but figure out you’ve it a couple of days wear in those jeggings?!

There are so many parenting bloggers out there who capture perfectly the humour which is essential when you’re a parent.
Links some of my favourites are below.

http://theunmumsymum.blogspot.co.uk
http://peterandjaneblog.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.the-baby-bible.com/

http://hurrahforgin.com

Humour and the ability to laugh at what can be excruciatingly embarrassing situations is definitely required the moment you set foot on the road to parenting.

From the ridiculous advice in a contraception book that after the deed is done or the seed is sown so to speak, the female should raise her legs above her head to ensure that the little swimmers are swimming in the right direction. I mean what???!! But yes I did do this!

Predictions of the baby’s gender that you are given by well meaning strangers. For a time when I knew what we were having I did enjoy the secret of knowing whilst they scrutinised my bump and gave me their unasked for prediction.

The “poonami” moments when the breaking of wind by your darling girl not only makes heads turn but you start to feel the seepage of the explosion through into your clothes. Everyone tells you you need a change bag full of the entire baby’s wardrobe but never to put a spare top in there for you. So whilst you have a newly changed sweetsmelling baby you can still smell the poo as you’re now wearing it. If you don’t laugh during this moment you will surely cry.

The toddler tantrum moments when your child seems to think that by lying on the supermarket floor you will give in to their demands for the essential Thomas the tank engine magazine. Which essentially comprises of pages and pages of pictures and words which they cannot read yet as they are only 2 but they have been lured by the “free gift” on the front which consists of some form of plastic tat in the shape of a train. Therefore your magazine with the “free gift” should really be referred to as the plastic tat with the “free magazine” that costs £3.99. So no it is not free and nor is it of any use. The said plastic tat toy will be held until the next bribe moment comes along and then discarded and forgotten about until the very moment that they are going to bed whereby this plastic tat will become the deal breaker of getting into bed. Found in the nick of time your toddler will go to sleep happy in the knowledge that they will have their toy close to them. Needless to say it will fall out of their bed only for your bare feet to find at 3am when they have awoken screaming for you. Ouch.

Now the moment comes when you have to relinquish your hold on your little one and hand over the reins to the education establishment.
Nursery  or childminders are magic fairies who will know in depth about you and your family because your chatty toddler would have told them about you farting in bed, singing in the shower or you letting them eat food off the floor that has been dropped. What gems they are all told when we are out of earshot. However we first have to go through the heart wrenching experience of dropping them off. The worry, the emotional torment of needing to be somewhere else whilst someone else is paid to look after your little one. The guilt you are made to feel just by the reaction of them going into someone else’s care is enough to pull those heartstrings. But again humour raises its head; my daughters would come out with all these beautiful hairstyles that the nursery staff had created yet would not let me near them with a brush. The clinging to me and crying at the door to the nursery room and the guilt of leaving them yet when you pick them up they are too busy with their little friends to give you even a cursory glance and say “I’m hungry mummy”. They might even have the cheek to even cry when leaving their nursery staff before being handed back to you. Smile sweetly whilst inside you are jealous as hell.
Only to do it all again the next morning.

Seeing your child soak up like a sponge their phonics and learning to read letters fills your heart. But when they are adamant that a ‘e’ sound is a ‘i’ and the word pest becomes pist is being shouted at the top of their voice then you have to laugh. Not to mention the new word this week by her elder sister is Homophone, and the mispronunciations that has had, not to mention Re-cock-nis [recognise].

Sometime I question my life choices and other times I can share and laugh in the humorous side to parenting. There are so many I write them down on my phone only to delete them by accident. The good ones are always remembered as they will be talked about to grandparents and friends when you share the parenting funnies. It’s not always fun, smiles and laughter but when I do take a look back I can see the funny side, even if I didn’t feel it was at the time. There’s always the guilt, I herd once thy if you don’t feel guilty at some point as. Print then you are not doing it right. I would suggest I feel guilty 70% of the time pretty much on a daily basis so there you have it. I have 100% passed the parenting test!

Your hand in mine

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When we are walking hand in hand
And your hand doesn’t feel so tiny anymore
I think to myself I want a moment longer
To see you crawling on the floor

For us to share a little more of the time we have together
Before it’s too late and you don’t want to hold my hand ever

I feel those moments in time are as lost as I felt,
Then with a newborn, a toddler, a child
Not captured on film enough, just left to be a memory
Of one which I wasn’t happy beyond that smile

To wander down the street with the sole purpose of fun
And now we rush from place to place
That time seems to have gone
And it’s now different struggles we face.

Is it gone or just forgotten that we can still have that again,
Time Together we can cherish those few moments that are still the same.
We can make new memories and just enjoy and be
In the moment that important we can replay that game.

It’s takes a simple game of spot this or that
To realise that these are those moments that I can have back
Nothing to stop us creating that special time together
I just need to remember that they don’t last forever.

Charlotte Antoniou 2017

Remembering the positive moments

 

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There’s nothing quite like patting yourself on the back when you e achieved something.
Well for me it’s the little moments,….
Travelling with the children semi-solo. In the middle of December when the girls had broken up from school we embarked on an impromptu adventure abroad. Hubby had some business to attend to so we combined a few days to make a little family holiday. Along with the usual Christmas build up my anxiety was at an all time high. This trip added extra stress as I knew I was to be sitting with the girls for the entire duration of the flight whilst my husband was in another part of the plane. They were really good, ate a little of the inflight meal, and watched copious amounts of TV and no arguments, generally good they even attempted to sleep on the overnight flight. That said we slept for about a couple of hours. Whilst my youngest is always smiley and happy my eldest is exactly like me if she hasn’t had enough food or sleep and that is like a grumpy bear. So we landed and the grumpy bear awoke. We had to endure a long wait on the plane before we disembarked to a bus to take us to the terminal. The grumpy bear got grumpier…my patience was at its thinnest as hubby had disembarked earlier and was nowhere to be seen. So I managed to get the 2 sleepy girls on the bus with our hand luggage and through passport control whilst maintaining that “daddy is on the other side just getting our bags”. Praying that he really was doing just that despite my anxiety trying to convince me that he was elsewhere in the airport waiting for me and we had missed each other.
I was pretty chuffed with myself that I had managed that stressful situation with calmness and confidence.

Christmas; always an anxious inducing time (see previous post). This year felt a little different. I knew I had managed to get everything on the children’s “Santa list” so was feeling confident about a smooth Christmas morning. It was lovely. I could relax and feel happy that everyone was enjoying their presents. I knew we were seeing family for lunch and felt no anxiousness about going, which is another first.
Even after we returned home and were sat together once the girls had gone to bed, I felt relief and stress free. I can honestly say that this was the first Christmas since becoming a mummy that I enjoyed the day.

Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) is traditionally in the UK a national holiday and when the shop sales are on. My husband works for the National Health Service and so we decided that so we could be together over new year he would work this week. Now the girls are older then it is slightly keep them occupied. We bedded down in the house getting cosy in our pyjamas and they could watch to and play with their Christmas gifts. It was such a sunny day that I decided to take them out for a walk. I had a couple of things planned such as taking some magnifine glasses so they could hunt for things in the wood and the eldest was enjoying taking nature photos with her new camera, I had plenty of picnic food too. We had a great walk, there were lots of families doing the same and instead of feeling sad and sorry for myself that we weren’t doing it together as a family I felt happy that I was feeling anxious free an actually enjoying the time with the girls. Knowing that they get a bit bored on the return to the car and having passed several people who barely gave eye contact then I challenged us all to say “merry Christmas” to everyone we passed. It certainly passed the time quickly and spread the Christmas cheer too.
Another first for me. Yay

So to all you mamas out there who are finding it hard like me then remember the little moments and pat yourselves on the back too.

Xx

Random acts of kindness

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Last Friday was the end to a rather hectic week of school nativities, Santa’s grotto and the school cake sale. We were going straight from the school run in the afternoon to the girls end of term ballet show. I had forgotten that they might need some food so popped into the local garage to grab some sandwiches. Whilst waiting to get on the forecourt parking I was stuck behind an ambulance waiting to fill up with petrol. It was a neonatal special care ambulance. Seeing it reminded me how lucky we were to have used this form of transport to transfer our first daughter hours after her birth from hospital to Great Ormond Street Hospital. I decided there and then to pick up something extra so that I could give it to the drivers. To me they are the angels who looked after us with such care when we were going through such a traumatic time.

I told the girls about the special ambulance and they wanted to choose their special gift to the drivers.
So armed with the girls sandwiches and snacks stood in line I bought the biscuits and turned to the ambulance driver who was waiting in line to pay and said “these are for you” I pointed to my eldest stood clutching her snack and told him the she was transferred in an ambulance 7yrs ago so we are very grateful and wished him happy Christmas. He was surprised and I can’t deny I felt emotional and had a little feel good factor going on. I went on my way to bundle the girls back in the car so we could get to the show on time, I then saw the driver show his colleague and we waved. He then came over to the car and said to us that there wasn’t anyone in the ambulance at this time and would we want to come and have a look. The girls were excited, I was a little hesitant we went to the ambulance and the girls clambered in. As soon as I went in the emotion hit me. The drivers were explaining all the bits and buttons to the girls who were wide eyed. All I could see was the incubator that my baby had been in. I couldn’t stop the tears. The girls were confused “why are you crying mummy?” The drivers played it down saying they are happy tears because mummy is glad you’re better. 7yrs on, those moments make me catch my breath. I don’t think I will ever forget those first defining moments of becoming a mummy and experiencing something that I would never want any mother to experience; a baby in neonatal care.

I’m glad that I didn’t stop my emotions from doing our random act of kindness but perhaps that’s why I’ve had a strange feeling of “meh” this weekend which I haven’t been able to put my finger on.

Christmas cheer?

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Christmas-time with postnatal depression.

Christmas for me marks my postnatal depression journey quite clearly. I am such a fan of the festive season, yet for the past 7 years have been battling with postnatal depression (which I am now recovered) and also with anxiety. (And still struggle with)

I really love Christmas and the planning and preparation. I love the traditions that I have kept from childhood and created with my family too. Stockings for everyone. Hubby is now on board with this and usually does quite well. Choosing our real Christmas tree, Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for Christmas Day breakfast, Elves visiting and causing mischief and encouraging kindness during December and visiting Santa of course. I love getting the house all cosy and festive. I admit I will always love it to look like the features in the John Lewis adverts or Country Living magazine but hey I can keep it real and know that it’s not about the matching crockery and perfection on the table. It’s not Christmas if there isn’t mismatched China on the table and the tallest guest sat on the smallest stool!.

Having a 7 yr old and a 5 year old girl, this Christmas I will have learnt that I can only give my best. I shouldn’t use up all my energy in the build up to Christmas Day leaving me exhausted on the one day that should be lovely. Should it really be that though? That this one day that should be lovely? I pose that question to my own statement and wonder if even by saying that I’m putting that pressure on myself subconsciously.

All too often we know the increased pressure and how it builds up. You over hear conversations as you pass people in the street or coffee shop: “….all set for Christmas?” You can’t escape the marketing ploys of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 50% Sale etc almost panicking you into buying something you don’t want or don’t need only to feel guilty of you do or feel guilty of you don’t. It sucks you in. And makes me anxious. I feel it bubbling up inside, questioning; have I bought everything, it’s not enough, I should buy more etc etc.

The over jolly Christmas music blaring out of the shops music systems, on the radio, on the TV adverts. It’s Christmas and there is now escape from it. I love Christmas and all that it brings but I would rather do it at my own pace, there is always going to be the presents for our children they know Santa has a lot of presents to give to all the other children and so far during the last few years of requests they have been fairly modest gifts. A singing Santa Claus from the local Hardware shop went down a treat and has been the best present and the one always remembered too.

For me I have to curb my train of thought as I can go overboard in my planning. Feel guilty for not providing or doing what is expected of me when it is only me that expects it and no one else. This is where I have to stop and get back to the basics. Family, laughter and love are what I want on Christmas Day. Wherever we are and what ever we do that is the most important.

I certainly know that I’ve learnt this the hard way; that last year I spent most of Christmas Day in tears. I had done all the build up, got more and more manic about providing all I could for everyone despite me crunching that credit card and hoping that in January it wouldn’t be noticed by my husband. I Volunteered at every school fundraiser and got more and more and more Christmassy to the detriment of my mental health, I was exhausted. The final straw that broke me was that on Christmas morning the children woke up excited to see what Santa had left them….and my daughter having asked for the impossible “Elsa powers” i.e the ability to freeze people like the character in the Disney Frozen film. This was one present Santa couldn’t deliver, and yet hearing my daughter genuinely gutted that Santa hadn’t left her Elsa powers totally floored me. The tears couldn’t be held back, I felt a total failure. I wanted to curl up in bed and practically did that leaving my husband to have breakfast with the children and watch Christmas films with them. I remember skyping my mum so that she could watch her grandchildren open their presents and really not wanting to be in the same room, trying to hide the fact that I had tears running down my face. I forced myself to go to a family festive dinner but before I did I decided to make the best decision for me and that was to go back on my antidepressants. Popping that little pill on Christmas Day after being off them for a year was such a huge step but one I knew was the best one. That action alone made me feel like I was taking ownership of this awful awful feeling.

So this year, I’m determined for it to be different. Christmas Day is just another day. We will eat whatever we want, and not feel pressured to do anything. These are the things I want to remember and remind myself;

You are not the sole provider of Christmas cheer
You do not have to make everyone happy
You do not have to buy everything and be everywhere to have an enjoyable Christmas
You deserve to be happy.

And most of all the best present your children can have is you.

Merry Christmas everyone

Charlotte x
If you do feel the need to talk to someone this Christmas please call the Samaritans
116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI) or if you are in the USA 1 (800)273 TALK
Australia 135 247

An open letter to Adele

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Hello Adele

I’m writing to you because you’ve stepped into the light. I don’t mean the celebrity spotlight or the here’s my new album media limelight. But the light at the end of the tunnel of postnatal depression. You’ve taken that huge decision in your recovery journey to be open about how becoming a mum made you feel.

I remember the first time I told my close friends, I couldn’t even tell them face to face, I did it by email. I can remember the feeling I felt after writing it all down. “This is why I’ve been avoiding you lately… I’ve been to see the doctor and I have postnatal depression.” Their responses were amazing, and I feel totally blessed to have such a fantastic network of supporters and friends and family.

Once I told people I saw on a regular basis I felt instant relief. I felt I could be honest and be myself. I also would not feel I had to explain myself either. Having postnatal depression is not all about sitting in a corner feeling down, it can be just getting through your day, sometimes with a smile on your face sometimes not. If you do smile and seem outwardly happy then that’s ok too. Pnd can be different things to different people, there are good days and awful days. There are moments when you feel great and Instagram that cute picture of your baby sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine and the next minute feeling like you’ve jumped from a skyscraper and are lying splat on the floor. That was my feelings anyway.

Admitting to yourself that you don’t feel how you think you should do after having a baby is the first step in your recovery, the next is telling someone else, seeing your health care professional and finding outside support, talking to others and sharing your story. Finally being open and honest and passing on the kindness you have received from others to new mamas going through the same thing you did is a huge step in becoming a well mummy.

Using your fame as a platform for this is immense. I’m not sure you even realise how much it has meant to other mums to hear and read about your motherhood journey. Yesterday my social media news feed was pinging with retweets, shares, bloggers and perinatal mental health campaigners and friends all sharing your words and theirs telling other mummies that it’s important to talk. And it really is.

My #pndfamily is so important to me. They are speaking up about the importance of perinatal mental health because they know what it is like to experience that awful feeling of knowing we should be enjoying being a mummy but aren’t. As a result of this they have been inspired to set up their own support groups, Twitter chats, campaigns, local charities and generally being amazing advocates. It’s is finally getting talked about more openly yet many mamas and dads too don’t feel confident to speak up about their own struggles through parenthood.

So thank you Adele. Thank you for being so honest and telling the world.

You can read the full article here.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/10/adele-cover-story

 

Look to your heart

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My public and private mummy face is totally different. I’m sure yours is too. I often find I parent better when I am in front of friends. Somehow I emit this calm persona when I’m with others, to the point that they even comment that I’m so calm. Even though I might be fighting those feelings of frustration or trying not to listen to the “you’re such a bad mum, everyone is looking at you and humming that too” script that goes round in my head.

When I was on maternity leave (7yrs ago) and at home more, we had a neighbour who had 3 young children, I saw her to say hello to but generally only ever saw her coming in or out of her house to get the children in or out of the car. A lot of the time she would be shouting at one or all three of the children. I nicknamed her “shouty mum”. I couldn’t understand why as soon as she was in public that she would be raising her tone of voice and crating such a negative atmosphere……

However since having children I can totally relate to how my neighbour was reacting. I have often found myself getting out of the house still cross at the girls and the getting ready for school routine. Then I feel terribly guilty for my reaction and hate the fact that I am sending the girls off to school upset because I’ve shouted at them.

I came across this short article by Dirt and Boogers

How to Stop Yelling At Your Kids – One Simple Tip

One, she admits that she yells at her kids, for which I admire that admission greatly and two, she had found a way that enables her to take a breath in that moment of pre-shouting that means she can take stock and focus on calming herself down. Leaving hearts all over the house means she can see them, stop reacting and breath.

I’ve got another week of half term left, perhaps I should try this idea……