Free Me Time

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Here in the UK we have just gained an hour. A whole hour of time, but what does that really mean? Well the children still get up at the same time their body clock always tells them to except it’s an hour earlier. We have a whole extra hour in which to entertain the children, joy! The evenings get darker earlier, and when I mean earlier I mean from 2pm in the afternoon on a dull grey day can seem like dusk. And in the height of winter in December it’s dark by 3.30pm. That’s a whole 4 hours to kill in the dark with children whilst waiting for bedtime. Because if you fool them into think it’s bedtime and go to bed early then you’re guaranteed that they will wake all the more earlier and defeat the object of them having an early night as it always equals an early morning!

I don’t think I get seasonal affective disorder, but I am certainly affected by the clock change and the early dark nights. I think it didn’t exactly make my journey into motherhood easy as I had my daughter in the October so really felt those darker afternoons. I remember thinking what to do at those times of the afternoon, I would head to the shopping mall or a local 24/7 supermarket which had a cafe and while away the time in a lit busy environment. I didn’t learn from this, as I then, two years later had my second daughter at the same time of year. This time I didn’t go out as much, as logistically I found it too difficult.

So today I got to thinking, if someone gave you a child free hour what would you do with it?
Would you run round the house tidying up? Would you run yourself a bath? Have a manicure? sort out that cupboard? Sleep? Read? Have a hot cup of tea? Go food shopping? Go clothes shopping… For yourself?! I’ve had those rare occasions when I’ve been given that time from my husband, or a friend who has said go and do something for yourself. The elation I felt was totally joyful, wow I’m on my own without the children what should I do? Then confusion, what can I fit into that time? I’m thinking about it too much I’m wasting time. Quick do something! I found that I couldn’t think what to do and wanting to make the most of that time wanted to cram everything in from the above list into that 60minutes. Therefore feeling guilty that I didn’t make the most of that hour.

I have so much that I want to do for myself, tidy up areas of my house which make me feel unhappy and guilty I’ve not done it sooner; the toy cupboard, the wardrobe etc. I want that pamper time for me to indulge myself; manicure, washing and drying my hair. Sleep is a definite priority and depending on my mood or sleep deprivation or stress levels that often comes first.

I have that time , now that the children are growing up and at school, I have a precious 5 hours between drop off and pick up to do things for myself. That includes working and being me. And yet still I try and cram it full and feel guilty I’ve not ticked everything off my imaginary list. It has to be imaginary because if it was actually real and taped to my fridge then that would be even worse that it being in my head. Technically it’s still the same though, sitting there calling to me, telling me I’ve not done enough. Sometimes my logical mind will tell me that “I am enough, I have done one of those things therefore I have done enough”. Other times it will make me feel that I am inadequate and totally lower my mood.

It is not new to me or my personality or character that I am like this, my postnatal depression and anxiety haven’t made me like this. I have always been like this. I have always done too much, filled my diary and life with lots of things, never seeming to have enough time to just sit and do nothing. I have never known what it is like to not have anything to do. When I was younger I couldn’t fathom how people could not have the focus I had. But thinking about it was I filling my time and head with things to do so I didn’t give myself the time to think, otherwise I might have dwelled on experiences I would rather have not thought about.

The only thing pnd and anxiety have done is to highlight my own feelings of inadequacy more and make me feel unnecessary guilt. In time I know that I will overcome those feelings and embrace that “me time” more.

So, what did I do with my free hour of time this morning… I played solitaire on my iPad, in bed, because I could!

Happy Birthday dear Mummy

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It’s not my actual birthday but in a way I think it is exactly how the title of this blog says “Happy Birthday Mummy”. It is exactly seven years since I became a mummy and seven years since me and my husband became parents for the first time. I often reflect on my time as a mummy and find it particularly poignant at this time of year as this is birthday week for both my children. Yes we had them within 2 years and a week apart. This despite the jokes of “only doing it once every two years” to fall pregnant at the same time of year! Having them close in age and birthdays at the same time of year has had its positives as well as its hindrances. Yay for the double party, over in one sitting, boo for the stress that it brings. I like to do things big and see nothing of organising a joint party for 40 children. Not unlike the one we are having this weekend. I vow every year that I’m not going to do it, and then find myself booking a hall in July!

That said it has taken me a while to not have my blips of postnatal depression and since I’ve recovered from my pnd I have had small blips of depression around this time of year. Particularly when, with my first daughter, it brings back memories of her induced birth and subsequent operation she had to mend a blockage in her small intestine at 36 hrs old. This is something that I haven’t even found the strength or the right words to blog about yet. But as you can imagine a very traumatic time for all of us as a new family.

Although I think about my journey through postnatal depression as having really started when my babies were 2 months old. I think with hindsight the signs began to creep in as the nights drew in and got darker earlier. It is understandable that when it came to my daughters first birthday that I was in the full throes of postnatal depression, having only acknowledged it by the time she was 4 months old. I was also having triggered memories of the traumatic experience we had. The fact that I spent most of the time wandering to neonatal and the maternity ward and not spending the time holding my baby girl. Or sitting by her bedside whilst she was wired up to machines and tubes for the first 6 days of her life. Seeing her smiling, laughing, crawling and walking and hitting all her milestones within the year I always saw as bitter sweet. I found it hard to relate to others who hadn’t experienced the worry we had been through whilst feeling guilty that I wouldn’t want to wish that experience on anyone.

Fast forward and I had my second daughter one week before my first daughters second birthday. Again feelings of guilt. I got to hold her without her being whisked away. I got to stay in the ward and have the official photographs which I didn’t get with my first. I got to change her first nappy. I got to establish breast feeding without it being sucked out of the nasal gastric tube to check how much she had taken. I got to go home and be there to receive the flowers, gifts and cards which arrived daily through our letterbox. All those things came with that bitter sweet guilt of not having that the first time around. My first daughter got to celebrate her second birthday with her new baby sister.

Fast forward again and this year they are celebrating their 5th and 7th birthdays! It seems cliche to say “where did that time go?” But seriously although it feels like a lifetime ago I really do feel that I am stepping forth blinking into the light.

I have overdone it again with the party planning this year but think that I always will do, despite me telling my friends to remind me of all the stress I out myself under with the organising. I see it as a celebration of heir birthdays as well as me becoming a mummy.

On that note I will raise a glass of bubbly and bask in the glow that I’m celebrating 7 years of parenting.

Right now I’m off to pack 40 party bags……

Listening

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I had been dressing after having a shower, when my daughter came in. She noticed that I had red insect bite type marks on my body. However they’re not insect bites but heat lump type stress hives. I know this from doctor Google of course. But having eliminated a change in washing powder, deodorant, insects and food allergies. Plus given the fact that we are in birthday month for my girls along with an increase in my paid work and busy homelife. My husband tends to have his conference season start in September and October so he is also away a lot. This unexplained rash/ itchy lumps can only be put down to stress. Already I know it but it’s on that roller coaster of craziness which is all of my own doing. I say it every year that I won’t do it to myself. And every year I find myself thinking about their birthday party in June, booking a hall and then the roller coaster wheels slowly work into action. Usually culminating in me being an emotional wreck usually the end of the month of October.

So the bathroom conversation with my 6 year old went like this;

Mummy do you still have your soreness?

Yes I think it’s because mummy is doing too much

I think you should have a long break but not too long

What should I do on my break?

Sleep
Yes that sounds good, what else?
Eat dinner in bed, and lunch and breakfast
That sounds good too what else which doesn’t involve bed or eating in bed?

Go outside but not for work
And play games

I think I should start listening to body and my daughter more, and do all of the above.

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