Older Parents – something to remember

Mum & Dad & Me

So there’s been lots of chat about ‘Older parents’ recently.  An Indian couple in their 70’s became parents for the first time.  Tessa Sanderson (60) adopted twins.  Janet Jackson is pregnant at 49.  And a good friend of mine ‘older single mum’ was asked to write an article about it for Newsweek.

Technically I was ‘geriatric’ when I fell pregnant with Curly headed boy at 36 in Peterborough and but perfectly acceptable at 40 with Little Dimples in St Albans; geography does that to you apparently.

My Mother was 43 when she had me, which was very unusual 47yrs ago; I certainly didn’t have any friends with parents that age.  She would have been the same age as the Queen this year (90), and Dad would have been a few years older.  I have 3 brothers who are 20yrs older than me (same parents).

So I can see the arguments from all angles.

Dad died when I was 21 a few days before Christmas, so I never had a ‘grown up’ relationship with him.  Mum died just after my birthday, when I was pregnant with CHB, so I never had the chance to bond with her on being a Mum; I think it might have helped me to understand her more.

Losing your parents is tough.  But we are programmed to lose them at a certain time in our lives and it is a lot tougher to lose them ‘early’.  My parents were in no way perfect, in fact they were a long way off perfect.  But I would have liked them around in any case; it’s lonely without someone.

If you are an older parent, I’d like you to think about a couple of things.  In fact if you are now an ‘elderly’ parent or a hoarder, some of them are relevant to you too!

You see I’ve realised that I’m angry with my parents.  I’ve been sad, teary and stuffing myself with carbs for a few days now.  I don’t think I realised until today what the problem was though.  So I’m having a proper foot stamping strop about it in an effort to get it out!

This is what I wish I could have told them:

  • Stop smoking – it will shorten your life, and that’s not fair
  • Don’t drink lots – not enough to do damage – it shortens your life and that’s not fair
  • Exercise – is not about sport, it’s about still being able to get around when you are 70 and without it your life is cut short and that’s not fair

You get the general stroppy gyst of it?

For myself and the other ‘older parents’ out there:

Stop moaning about ‘lack of time’ – your kids won’t think that was a good excuse when you aren’t around and there is no more time to have with you.  The same counts for ‘lack of money’ – walking and press-ups don’t cost anything.  Then ‘lack of childcare’ – find a way of including them in being healthier.  Or there is the ‘I don’t know how to put myself first’ – that’s fine, don’t do it for you, do it for your kids, it’s not for you!

You can’t stop accidents from happening or illnesses.  But you can have a jolly good attempt at looking after yourself.  As long as you tried your best, that’s all your kids can ask for.  It’s not my ‘fault’ I got Lyme disease; although I suspect having children later didn’t help and I could have taken better care of myself and had a stronger immune system that fought the Lyme buggers off.  However, it is what it is and I will try my best to be as well as I can.

Kids are not a good replacement for proper medical care either.  It’s a difficult balance and I’ve not always got it right with my kids.  I actually feel that some of the potential extra responsibility that comes with an older or less well parent, can be healthy for a child.  They will learn empathy, thinking ahead, compassion, patience, gratefulness and all sorts of ‘character building stuff’.  But my parents could have afforded help, gone to hospital for proper medical care in certain circumstances or asked my brothers for help; instead I was a ‘young carer’ from about 5.  I didn’t have to do lots of cleaning, but I did lots of the care, and at one point all the cooking.  It tipped over the edge from ‘useful life skills’ to ‘too much responsibility’.  For instance, I was left with a very ill mother and had to call an ambulance for her at 5; without it she would have bled out.  I also found my father one night after he had been mugged; without it he would have died.  I spent a whole summer after GCSE’s nursing them; Mum after breaking her pelvis and my Dad after a heart attack.

Then there’s the STUFF.  Please sort your stuff out.  When decluttering, think about your kids and make sure that you’ve only left behind the stuff that will be relevant to them.  If you leave too much they won’t even be able to access it or use it to comfort themselves.

Do you know how hard it is to throw away the crap that belonged to someone who died?  Especially if you were younger when they died; you don’t know who the hell the photo is of, but there’s some weird worry that by throwing away a photo that your parents kept, that it means you didn’t care about them.  Or you are throwing away the chance that you will eventually find someone who can answer all your questions and know who the photo is of.

There are so many questions when you parents die younger; so much you forgot to ask, so much you didn’t know to ask, so much you were too bored to remember at the time.

Select your favourite things and put them together; your photos, diaries, momentoes – the things that will remind your kids of you and give an insight into you.  That’s what they need and want.  Probably about a box full, with some other bits and pieces that go elsewhere.

Decide what to do about furniture, pictures etc.  I was too young for any furniture when my grandparents died and living in too small a cottage when my mum died.  So I only have a couple of pieces.  If you’ve lost your parents, I know their stuff might not suit your house, but consider if it could be adapted or up cycled.

So what do I think about the recent news stories?  If you are too old and your body can no longer produce children, then do what Tessa did and adopt.  Maybe you can’t be as fit as her, but try!  If you happen to fall pregnant older, then that must be what’s meant to happen, but take responsibility to look after yourself.    The 70 yr old Indian parents should be ashamed of themselves, I hope that there is a large extended family.  Janet; hmm I think that family has more trouble than just her age, but at least she’ll be able to afford care.

Being ‘older’ is not bad.  It comes with lots of advantages.  But it’s important to try to counteract the disadvantages as much as you can too.

Thanks for listening, I feel a bit better now.  Still a bit sad, but not as much as before x

Do you feel unappreciated?

I’ve come across a few people feeling unappreciated recently, so I thought I’d give some tips on how to deal with it.  As poor old Danny Smith on Radio Verulam is considered one of St Albans’ hidden treasures, I thought I’d go through them on his Drive time show.

Fancy listening to our dulcet tones?  You can listen again here.

Do you feel unappreciated?  Is it at work, at home with the kids or with your friends/partner?

The good news about feeling unappreciated is that it can be dealt with pretty easily ……

 

Tip 1: Have you told anyone?

To do list
To do list

When I worked in IT for 13 years, there was a well known phenomenon, which was that the men were much better at 1to1’s than the women.  Basically the men were much better at listing everything they had done, and blowing their own trumpets.  Whereas the women were more prone to being humble and discussing their development areas.  (Yes, I totally get that this is a generalisation!).

It happens at home too – many wives complain about their husband’s needing a medal for emptying the bin once a week ;o)

Meanwhile, women tend to leave the daily chores off their to do list, and not appreciate how much they are naturally getting done each day.  Hence their husband’s come home and ask ‘what did you do all day’ and it feels to them like they did nothing.

The key and easy way to turn this situation around is to tell people.

A good friend of mine makes a long list of everything that needs doing in the day and leaves it in a prominent position in the house.  By the end of the day, it has loads of ticks on it and her husband is awe inspired by how much she has achieved.  She makes sure that it includes things like ‘feeding the children’.

I’ve found that my children had NO IDEA how much I was trying to fit in to each day.  So rather than shout at them, when I was feeling really unappreciated, I waited until I had calmed down, and then I went through the list of things that I had to do.  I found them much more appreciative of what I did from then on.

Sometimes, people don’t appreciate what we do, because we’ve never explained what would happen if we didn’t.  I’ve heard of Mums who go on strike and stop clearing up or tidying up; that’s certainly one option.  I just explained to my kids that I know that they like to play and often we don’t have long, so I like to be able to find the toys quickly in order to make the most of our time together; hence everything needs to go back to where it came from.

I know lots of writers who feel gutted that their books don’t sell or their blog doesn’t get enough readers.  But often I find it’s because they aren’t willing to ‘pimp out’ their writing; i.e. no one knows about it!

 

Tip 2:  How do you know that you aren’t appreciated?

There is someone lovely that I know, who often feels unappreciated.  The thing is that despite being wonderful, she doesn’t have all the confidence and self-esteem that she deserves; so she needs quite a lot of head patting, and sometimes life gets in the way of telling her how great she is.

It’s quite possible that whilst the thoughts in your head are telling you that ‘No one appreciates me’, that they actually do appreciate you.

Maybe they just haven’t had a chance or the time to let you know or show you yet?

Maybe you haven’t noticed or heard them when they told you how great you were; sometimes we only focus on the criticism, not the appreciation.

Maybe they don’t show you the way that you like the best, so you need to tell them to do it a different way.

The other day I was feeling glum about my blog.  But then I got an email to say I’ve been selected as one of the top 15 Fibromyalgia advice blogs world wide for 2014 and found I was in the Top 100 blogs on Amazon (yep, people pay to read my blog, when it’s free on the internet – it’s weird, but I’m not complaining!).  I basically wasn’t looking in the right place to see where I was appreciated.

So remember to:

  1. Assume you are appreciated.
  2. Look around and see if you are and where you are appreciated.
  3. You could always ask them!

 

Tip 3: Did they want your help?

Everyone is fabIronically sometimes we are right; we are not appreciated.  But not because someone took us for granted, but because they didn’t ask or want us to do what we just did.

Sometimes, we just don’t listen to other people and jump to conclusions about what they would like.

It can happen so easily ..

– The kids don’t appreciate the amazing meal we cook them, because frankly they’d prefer baked beans on toast

– The friend who we spend ages sending advice to or chatting to about their problems doesn’t show any appreciation, because she was quite enjoying the drama and never helped for resolution, she just wanted to moan.

– The partner who didn’t appreciate the expensive present we bought them, because they actually prefer a simple bouquet

– The work mate who didn’t appreciate all your hard work tidying up their area, because what they actually wanted, was for you to tidy up your own.

 

Be really careful when you spend your energy helping people, and first check that you are about to do the right thing.

 

Tip 4: Did it make you feel martyred or grumpy?

Very sadly, you could do something really important and really helpful, but because of your demeanour afterwards you will get no brownie points whatsoever.

I encountered this when I was in IT at one point.  I had the best customer service results, the best budget and always achieved my targets.  But my boss found me a pain in the neck because I needed to be patted on the head; he was the kind of guy who didn’t need any external praise at all, so he thought me high maintenance.  It might have been unfair, but it was the way he was.

Do you know someone who is grumpy all the way through doing their job/chores?  I bet it totally stops you from feeling grateful to them?  Like that stroppy child who tidy’s their room, but kicks and throws things all the way through the whole process.

What about that elderly relative who helps loads of people, but then spends the rest of their time complaining about how much they helped everyone?  They are real energy suckers aren’t they?

We are basically really demanding; we want things done PLUS we want them done nicely!

Don’t do something if you are too tired, or you don’t want to!  Let someone else step in and help out instead; share around the giving!

 

So if you want to feel appreciated make sure that:

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug
  1. Don’t waste time helping people who don’t want help.
  2. Do things that people definitely need.
  3. Assume that people are grateful for your help.
  4. Tell them what you did; but maybe wait a little while and give them the chance to appreciate it first.
  5. Don’t do it if you don’t want to.
  6. Be nice about it and don’t undo your good work by being ungracious.

 

I’d love to know if you try these tips and how they help you?

Or hear your stories of people who you find it really difficult to be grateful to?

 

 

 

 

 

Frustration and anger

Anger – what the hell is it all about?

Frustration and angerI was chatting with Curly headed boy the other day, as he’d been giving us some serious attitude for a few weeks.  He was clearly angry with me, but I couldn’t work out what on earth was the matter.

So I picked one of those evenings – you know the ones when they want to chat lots, and talked him through anger and explained what it is.

The problem with anger, is that most often it comes from us not actually knowing how we are feeling and what has triggered us.  So it often doesn’t achieve what we really need.  By understanding it a bit more, we can make sure that things change.

I thought, maybe the gorgeous Danny Smith would like to chat about it over on Radio Verulam – if you would like to hear us chat about it, then you can listen again for 1 week here (I’m at 5.30-6).

 

So why do we get angry? …

1) Righteous Anger

This is the good anger.  The one you don’t want to suppress.  The one that will protect you and make you stand up for yourself.

This is all about when you know something isn’t right, it’s not fair, or is unjust.

It’s not always the right answer to compromise and keep the peace.  Especially when we are people pleasers!

It’s also a protective anger – this is the one you would see in me if my ‘mother lion’ got triggered.  It’s the the full on, controlled, ‘don’t mess with me’ anger.

 

2) Anger with someone else

Ironically we can often be angry with someone else, but get triggered by someone who isn’t actually anything to do with it.  They do something minor and then get it in the neck because we are so angry with the other person.

Sadly the person that we are angry with are often less intimidating and easier to take our anger out on as well, so we find someone who is less threatening that the real person we are angry with.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to know why we are angry, because it’s not fair to be angry with the kids just because our boss is causing us trouble.  Or even worse in the case of a divorce, it’s not right to be angry with the kids when it’s got nasty between the parents.

 

3) Overwhelmed anger

This is when there is something else that has stressed you so much, that suddenly you flip at the slightest thing.  Stuff that would normally not bother you, that you can deal with, suddenly is too much.  It’s often nothing to do with the person who we are actually with.

This is something us Mum’s are terribly prone to doing – we get tired, overwhelmed and stressed, and then at the end of a long day find ourselves shouting at the kids and threatening them with something really over the top.

Kids are good at this too – if mine get angry, I will first check to see if they are hungry, thirsty, tired or need fresh air.  Then I look to see if they are over stressed for some reason.  The thing is that they are kids – I can’t expect them to manage their emotions, so if they are in one of these states I am much more cautious with my punishments.

Did you know that teenagers literally have all the wires (technical term!) not work in their heads properly?  They can’t recognise expressions as well as a toddler.  Hence they jump to conclusions and get grumpy at the simplest of things.  I used to find Reiki really helps them – it’s amazing how they can express themselves afterwards.  Anything where they get some relaxing downtime will help them come back to themselves.  (Plus food, drink, sunshine and sleep of course!).

The ideal here is to put our hands up and say ‘sorry’ – after all we all make mistakes and everyone gets tired and grumpy.

 

4) Not saying what we think anger

How often have you been angry with someone because they’ve done or not done something?  But did you tell them?  Or did you let it boil inside?

This encourages us to think that other people are to blame for how we are feeling.  But the question is are they?  Or is it purely our inability to deal with them?  I’m not talking about serious and obviously wrong behaviour that would trigger No1 – I’m talking about us all seeing the world slightly differently.

 

The key to this is to say something in a gentle and factual way (check out my post on teaching people how to treat you) BEFORE it becomes a problem.

This is often really difficult, because we ignore the first signs of small irritation or discomfort, and only take notice when it’s bigger.  So if you’ve waited too long, try to step aside, write down the facts and then have a chat with the person on neutral ground.

 

5) Pretending we aren’t angry

This is technically ‘not angry’, but we are angry, we just pretend we aren’t.

This is when people do those passive aggressive posts on Facebook.  Or make sarcastic digs that are meant to be ‘funny’.

It can also make us into bully’s (check out my posts on bullying – I just got picked as one of the top websites worldwide by an Anti Bullying website).

 

6) Serious anger issues

Then there are times when it’s not that simple, when the anger is too frequent and starts to control us.  When it means that we are aggressive, scary, violent, and it starts to affect our relationships.

If you have this sort of anger, then first check with your Doctor, as you might have a physical problem, that is causing it.  If it’s not physical then they should be able to get you help from someone specialised in anger issues.

It can even have physical effects:

  • Nausea
  • Increased thirst
  • Changes in thought patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Addiction

Depression or Post Traumatic Stress disorder can make us angry instead of seeming down (check out my top books for depression).

 

No emotion is ‘bad’.  The question is ‘Do you let it rule you, or do you use it where it will help you?

 

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

Top 3 Tips For Getting And Keeping Relationship

I was chatting with the gorgeous Danny Smith online about relationships the other day, so we thought we’d talk about it on his drive time radio show on Radio Verulam.

Missed us?  You can listen in here (5.30-6pm).

Now I’ve talked about relationships LOADS at times on this blog.  But I was thinking, what are the Top 3 tips for finding and keeping a relationship?  Here is what I came up with:

 

1) Love Yourself And Be Clear On What You Deserve

Cake

Oh I know it’s cliched.  But you need to know why you are wonderful.  If you don’t, how will you make sure people treat you right?

There are lots of gorgeous cakes in the bakery – but why are you the perfect treat for your next partner?

I’d like you to write down a couple of sheets of A4 with SPECIFIC reasons why you are great.  Look at what you are like physically, socially, your family, your job, your financial situation, what you know about and your spiritual beliefs.  They are all a unique combination that makes you the ONLY you.

Look around you and realise that in the real world, it’s not so easy to find someone to settle down with sometimes.  Especially to find someone just like you.

I sat down with one of my very ‘hot’ (someone else’s words!) and very clever member of my team this afternoon.  She could only come up with a few reasons why she was wonderful.  It took me only a few minutes to write 4 times the number she had written, and I know that there are more.

You need to love yourself so much that you won’t compromise.  Be OK in your own company.  Be OK on your own.

Take care of yourself.  What would you like to improve, or learn, or spend time on?  Not so that you can get a partner, but so that you can feel even better about yourself.

Be clear on what you want or need from a partner.  I’m not talking about ridiculous long lists, I’m talking about the important things like: affection, security, fun, sense of humour, loyalty.  What do you deserve?  What will make you unhappy if you compromise on it?

 

2) Be Yourself

PhoneGame playing is ridiculous, it won’t get you anywhere.  So ignore the rules about how many days after seeing someone you can text etc!

However, being too available doesn’t make you appear valuable either.  So don’t chase people desperately and behave pathetically (your friends will be able to tell you if you are over doing it).  If you are looking for a long term relationship, behave like it; i.e. don’t give up the goods too soon (I know it’s 2014, but things don’t change that much!).  Keep your dignity and remember you are valuable; expect people to treat you as though you are.

Be careful of using persona’s to get someone – you won’t be able to keep up the charade, so there is no point.

Be careful of using persona’s to push people away – you might miss out on someone lovely because you are pretending to be cool!

Basically treat someone just as you would like to be treated; honestly, spontaneously, kindly, thoughtfully and caringly.  Don’t play power games or stalk them!

 

3) Behave As Though You Are Secure

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

We all get our anxious moments, or the moments when we want to panic and push people away.  But if you become more aware of your emotions, you can learn to control them and instead behave in a secure way.

Say how you feel and speak up before you get angry and throw a fit.  This stops you from being a high maintenance drama queen who threatens things in the heat of the moment.

Stand up for yourself and be clear on behaviour that is inappropriate.  If you keep quiet when someone does something you don’t like, it might be a one off.  But what if they take it as a sign that they can mistreat you?  If they are a decent human being they will be mortified that they hurt you.

I’ve recently read a book by Dr Amir Levine called ‘Attached’, which I really recommend.  It describes 3 relationship styles: Anxious (clingy, texts lots), Avoidant (mixed messages, pushes people away when they get close) and Secure (expects the best, and is happy expressing how they feel).  I really recommend anyone about to start a relationship reads it, so that they can recognise the different styles and anyone struggling a little in a relationship reads it for tips on how to deal with different styles!

I wrote some tips on this post on how to express ourselves more clearly, and explain our feelings rather than cause a full blown argument.  I also wrote my top 10 favourite books for when we are overwhelmed or stressed, which might help you to become more secure.

 

So what do you think to my tips?  I ignored the obvious one ‘wear deodorant’!  But I assumed that you guys probably knew that?

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – Inappropriate relationships No2

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I’ve had a long email from a wife asking for some more help having read my previous post about ‘Inappropriate Relationships’.

My answer is basically ‘Yes’ that woman is a wrong un, but I thought I’d include the whole email with my comments all the way through in red to help guys understand the general nuance when dealing with situations like this:

Email 1

I came across your website when looking for information on cross sex relationships as my partner of 25 years has recently struck up a friendship with a female co-worker, he has known her for couple of years but has only just recently got to know her better and she has also recently confided in him with a lot of her emotional problems. When the friendship first became known to me I wasn’t sure what to think as I did not know this girl he has befriended but he told me that she was confiding in him about her marital troubles and was telling him personal things that she did not share with her own husband.  He also told me that she confided in him at work about her life and problems initially also and that they had the occasional work lunch out of the office, although my partner tells me he does this occasionally with other work colleagues too.

OK so generally it would be crazy to say that our guys can’t have female friends, plus there is some sense about talking to a guy about marital problems for their different perspective.  But there is a limit to it – so it’s about the quantity of the asking for help that starts to fall into problematic waters here.  

Lunch out – hmm I would say that as a one off that’s OK, but frequently it would be odd to go out with only ONE person for lunch regularly if they were of the opposite sex.

The biggest NO NO is that she is confiding in him and NOT her own husband.  Without meaning it your husband is therefore worsening the problems with the husband.  She should have been talking to her OWN husband.

My partner has said that he has best advised her on her marital problems as best he could but has learnt that he can only say so much and now says that they are past those issues and have more of a normal friendship now that doesn’t involve so much talking about her problems.  In the meantime though, they both text message each other regularly and have struck up a friendship separately from me because they go running together after work, where they go for a casual run and chat and then a further chat and drink after before he comes home to me.  A few weeks ago, I did meet this girl and her husband and we all went out for a meal together and since then have also been on another night out but my partner arranges to do ‘runs’ with her and then includes me or me and her husband for the rest of the evening to do something all together.

Running I get, but going for a drink with a woman – again is something I wouldn’t be comfortable with.  If he wants to go for a drink with her, I would wonder wether it would be an idea for you to ‘pop down’ to meet them.  Show her that you are aware that he is of value – just a very gentle ‘female territory marking’ situation.

I like the fact that you have all been out as a foursome though – but that isn’t any kind of ‘protection’ from trouble.

Re the text messages, if it is every day, and first thing in the morning or evening, then it definitely isn’t quite right.

I just wanted to obtain some advice on whether I should be worried or not about this relationship that has formed between this co-worker or not, because initially I felt this woman was vulnerable because of her marital problems and the fact she has confided in my partner.  He was also trying to make her feel better by the way he spoke to her in text messages and I felt it should be her husband talking to her like that and not my partner.  I have told my partner that I feel uneasy by some of the words he was using and he has said he will be more careful about that.  I did read up about emotional cheating also though and did feel and wonder if that was what she was doing by befriending my partner in this way.  To give you some ages, I am 42 years old, my partner is 48 and the married co-worker is 29.

Hmmm that’s a big age gap. 

I have felt like the text messaging has become way too invasive, she and him would text every couple of days and felt like he was always checking his phone for messages.  He would tell me this is how you maintain friendships though and she was just a texty type friend.  I have since asked him to share what the messages contain so I do read them now and although they are just chit chatty messages a lot of the time I don’t fully understand why she has to text him quite so much and often late in to the evenings, in the mornings and have found it annoying when I’m out with my partner for a meal and he is there texting back to her all the time.

OH NO PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN HERE!  I don’t care who is texting him, he doesn’t reply when he is out for a meal with you! 

When I confront him about this, he says it is not harming our relationship though and she is simply a friend.  In my head I have been worried that by letting him have one on one time alone with her though, that this could develop into something more.  I used to see him come back from doing his runs with her and he seemed to be on some sort of emotional high, he would then text her and says what a great time he had enjoyed with her.  I felt hurt when he said this, even though he says she is just a friend.  When I ask him about the risks of having such a close personal female friend, he says that he is in control of his feelings though and knows what he wants (that he would never ‘go there with anybody else because he is happy and secure with me’,) and that although he thinks she is an attractive woman, he would never let anything happen and says he doesn’t get any vibes off her whatsoever that she has any romantic interest in him either.  He is therefore telling me that I should have faith and trust in him and that it wouldn’t be fair of me not to let him have a female friend because of what happens to a lot of other people who do become romantically involved through similar friendships.  I have said to him I would be fine to go out in group situations, but that I don’t like it when they arrange to perhaps have lunch together at her house and I still don’t really like the fact that she asks him to go for these runs with her and he seems to have all these happy fun times with her.

The whole ‘you should trust me thing’ – that’s messing with your head, so suggest he doesn’t say that one again.  Tell him instead that it just means that you are not taking him for granted, and that it is healthy for you to be aware of the fact that he is an attractive man.

Lunch at her HOUSE – no no no!

He is not understanding the female rules of territory – this woman is crossing them big time!  Explain to him that she is dodgy – no woman would think that it was OK to do this.

Am I being unreasonable and paranoid for no good reason.  My partner is a good man and I do trust him, but I still feel uneasy about this for reasons I can’t explain, my partner just thinks I’m being jealous of their friendship!!

That’s fine – a bit of jealousy is wise.  Just own up to it and don’t try to pretend that you are not.

Thanks for any help…

Other info as requested on your site about me:-

I am 42, reasonably fit, gym 2 or 3 times a week, my partner is fit too although losing lots of weight through his gym work and running…

I don’t work but my partner works full time, we don’t have any kids, just our house-bunnies!!

This concerns me a little, as it leaves you very reliant on him.

Have been in relationship for 25 years, sex life has been difficult as I’ve had some issues and got an awful condition called ‘vulvodynia’ a few years ago which has been a battle to get over, I believe I am doing well at the moment but not completely cured yet.

Ahh I can understand you being a little insecure due to this.  I would concentrate on yourself and getting healthier.

We are  ok financially, neither of us excessively drink, we do drink lots of water, sleeping patterns usually fine and both healthy except for the above condition for myself and my partner has medical condition called ‘Colitis’.

He needs to be careful with the weight loss and the Colitis – that’s a tricky illness.

Email 2

Firstly, my partner is still very much friends with this female co-worker, but last week he told me she confided in him again and told him she had been having an affair quite recently.  Apparently, she had been talking about the male in question previously and kind of sub-consciously told my partner that this is what she had done but without saying the actual words.  She went and told him he was absolutely correct in his thinking and that she had in fact had this affair with another man (who is married also and with kids).

SEE!!! Sorry I didn’t reply before your second email – SERIOUSLY – she is a VERY Selfish woman if she has messed around with a married man with kids.  I think that she is a bit of a victim.

I was horrified to hear this and told him what I think about her, ie, that people like this are out to potentially destroy other peoples marriages and although he agrees how awful it is, he seems to be able to put all this negative aspects of her aside and still says he likes her and wants to be her friend.

Fair enough, but hope he now sees that there are reasons for you to not trust HER and that there should be clearer boundaries on where and when they meet.

She actually came round to our house last week also as my partner still does ‘weekly’ running sessions with her (one-on-one time) and in the morning on the day she was coming round, I discovered a note my partner had put in our bathroom cupboard for her.  The note read ‘ How well do I know Thee’….  I felt my blood boiling up and the note annoyed me so much to think he had put this in a cupboard in our bathroom for her to find.  He knew she would be using our shower later after they had done their run.  I rang him up at work to explain the note and he said it was a jokey note to make her laugh as she had previously said how she apparently goes nosing round other peoples cupboards, so, the thought it would be funny.  I felt so mad with my partner, not only for writing what he did but for then also saying he wanted to make her laugh or whatever as it’s like he wants to have this private joke thing going on.

The note is funny, it’s the use of the word ‘Thee’ that is worrying.  I do think that he is overly fond of her.

He is on a work course this week and parks his car at her house and walks to the course with her in the morning, he said yesterday she confided in him again and wanted to talk about her problems.  I have a big problem with this as it just sounds like she is pouring her emotions into him all the time.  A while ago, my partner said that bit was over and they were more just friends again, but this is clearly not the case because of what she has just told him and how she keeps confiding in him.

Hmm she is relying on him a lot – where are her female friends?  Why doesn’t she have any?

On top of all this, she invited him to stay over at her house this Thursday as both her and my partner are attending a Works Christmas Party and they are getting taxi back from the place to hers.  Her husband is apparently there too, but I also hate the idea of them both having fun, drinking etc and then going back in a taxi to her place as I do not trust her and not sure I even like her that much as a person now anyway… She also gets repeatedly drunk and told my partner she was hungover this weekend also after attending a party on Saturday night.

Alcohol is a real problem.  I know of people who managed to be unfaithful in the same house as their partners.  He needs to come home honey. 

I’m not sure I see her situation improving as my partner tells me she is still in contact with this married man she had an affair with (although she thinks he won’t leave his marriage and kids) and she’s not happy with her husband and apparently threatened to leave him at the start of this year.

To be honest, I’m not sure there is much to like about her and I don’t like her hanging around with my partner, but he still declares he likes her and because of their shared running bond still wants to continue their friendship.  He says he is being even more guarded with her because of what happened but I just feel uneasy about it all.

 

OK so to summarise …

Tell him that she is really crossing lines that women know not to cross.  It is very worrying that she doesn’t have girl friends to rely on, and she has shown herself as lacking a value on marriage.

So if he wants to remain friends with her fair enough.  But he needs to make it MUCH clearer that there is no chance of the friendship changing by being clearer in his ACTIONS.  So no meetings for lunch alone or drinks – that is unsuitable.  Reduce the texting and make sure that it isn’t interrupting your conversations.

What could you two do in the evenings that might curtail his time with her?  It sounds like he wants to be needed and looked up to.  How could you fulfil that need in him?  Could you guys do more together?  What exercise could you enjoy together?  

Also, I wonder wether you are sitting at home for him a bit too much?  What do you do for your fulfilment?  I would like you to concentrate on you a bit more – show him how valuable you are, and that he wants to come home to YOU.  Be a bit less available for him honey – he is taking you for granted a bit.

Also stand up for yourself a bit more.  It’s OK for him to say that he feels a bit unhappy about you questioning him.  But he is not allowed to make you question how you feel – that is a no no – he is making you question your sanity and that is NOT allowed.  In fact he owes you a bit of an apology now that she has shown herself to be untrustworthy.

I really hope that this helps?

Please can you update us in a little while to tell us how you are doing?

 

 

A scary monster!

Facing Fear And Not Letting It Ruin You

Last month I talked about 5 tips for working out what to do with your life and making a big change with Radio Verulam.

This month I wanted to talk about what gets in the way: FEAR.

A few weeks ago someone asked me ‘Aren’t you scared about opening up your new Salon and Spa‘ – well I was fine until that point!  It put me into a bit of a tailspin for a couple of days I can tell you.  Since then I’ve seen a lot of people wreck or nearly wreck opportunities/jobs/relationships because of fear.

You can listen again to Danny Smith’s show <here>

The most important rule is NEVER MAKE A DECISION BASED IN FEAR – it’s bound to go wrong.  You need to get the fear under control before you make the decision.

 

Why Do Something About Your Fear

 

A scary monster!
A scary monster!

 

Obviously fear isn’t all bad, it releases adrenalin in our bodies and helps us to run away from baddies.  Plus it can be really fun; hence the kids love Halloween.

But it also has a huge amount of downsides:

Fear Of Decisions:

Worry about making the wrong decision paralyses us into doing nothing, when there could be something that we could do to resolve the problem. Problems don’t go away if you ignore them!
Or maybe there are so many options that we just feel too confuddled and bemused; I certainly had that when faced with all the choices of nails we could offer at the salon.
Or of not making an immediate decision/reaction, which makes us run around fire fighting like headless chickens, when a few moments of calm thought would have a better solution.

Fear Of The Unknown:

Fear of difference creates death and war, when thinking about it would help us realise that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean that we will ‘catch it’ or that they are judging us.  So many times mums who gave their babies formula react the minute I say that I breastfed, before they even know if I’m judgemental about it or not; it’s crazy.  And don’t get me on religion – argh!

Not knowing what’s going to happen is really scary, wether it’s pain, where a spider is going to go, or in my case soup (why are people drinking something that you eat is beyond me!).

Fear Of Not Being Liked:

We will always fail at this one, as only half the world can like you; but there will always be people who DO like you.  I’ve already (only 2 weeks in!) had someone be a bit mean about me due to the new salon.

Fear Of Death or Loss:

This is totally understandable, and also unavoidable.  But the problem is that this fear will push people away as well.  On our salon wall we have the saying “It’s not about the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away”.  This won’t make loss easier, but it helps so that we can enjoy what we had and the time that we still have.

 

Recognise It

Fibro fog
Picture from Craig Martin Illustrations

Recognising when the fear hits is half the battle.

It’s that stressed out fear, when your head starts to make up stuff about what could happen or what is happening.  The thoughts start to run around and around and around in your head.  This is when you start thinking things like:

Everyone hates me.

I’m sure that person thinks xyz about me.

I’m going to fail.

If I don’t do xyz, then the whole world is going to fall apart.

What happens if <some awful thing> happens.

The funny thing is that often it’s not true.  Especially when it’s down to what people think about you.  But it WILL become true if you keep thinking it.  The problem with fear is that it makes people behave strangely, and then people will react to you and then it REALLY goes wrong!

For instance, one of the questions that I asked my hairdressers in their interviews was ‘Whats’ the worst haircut you’ve ever done?’.  What I wanted to know was wether they had just packed the person off out the door, or wether they had the guts to face their mistake and deal with it.  I know that that I can walk up to one of my lovely girls and ask her to just take a little more off my fringe, and that she won’t react as though I’m saying ‘that was an awful cut’, when all I’m saying is ‘could you take a little more off?’.  I just need to know that I can ask her and that she isn’t afraid.

How does it make you feel?  Do you start to feel anxious and get palpitations?  The fear of the panic is often worse than anything else isn’t it?

Think about all those times when you’ve been ruled by fear and write down all the ways to recognise it in yourself, so that you can get better and better at it.

For me, I start to feel overwhelmed and stressed and things just don’t flow the way that they normally do.  I start thinking things like ‘I MUST advertise everywhere’ and wanting to make rash decisions.  There is a panic and a rush to it all.  Which is very different from the times when my thoughts flow fast, I’m in the zone and amazing things happen coincidentally/serendipitously that mean that changes happen fast and easily.

 

What to do

Look at things

1) Write down all your fears and why they are scary.

It’s never as scary when you actually face it and write it down.  Before that you are just scared and that fear is running around in your head.  Once written down it is less scary.

Plus it means that you can look at the fear and think about wether it really is as bad as you think.

Write down all your thoughts.  Then have a look at them – are they REALLY true?  Can you prove them?  Why are you scared of it?  What is the worst case scenario?

Also, you are more likely to sleep that way and then you will feel better in the morning.  Everything is better with sleep (see my tips here).

I did this for my fear with the salon.  When I thought it through the worst thing that could happen is that I could lose all my money and be a bit of a laughing stock for opening up a Salon and Spa in a recession.  There would be people who would probably be a bit gleeful about it – I’ve already met a few likely candidates for this.  But at the end of the day I would still have my family.

With your children or loved one, don’t just dismiss their fears.  Let them explain them to you and talk them through so that they feel heard.

2) BREATHE in through your nose and out through your mouth

Breathing in through your nose calms you down much more than breathing in through your mouth.  Once you calm down you can start to regain control of your body and see the options that are available to you.

Remember to eat too – everything is worse on an empty stomach!

3) Avoid things or people who make it worse

If you can’t deal with scary stories don’t read the Daily Mail.  If one of your friends freaks you out all the time, don’t see them as much.  Avoid googling things if you don’t think that you can deal with what you find; ask someone else to do it instead.

4) Plan of Action

Once you know what your fears are you can make a plan of action.  Even at if the worst possible outcome happens, there will be something that you can do.  Ask a friend to help you – one who is pragmatic, calm and practical.

5) Phobias

I really recommend therapies like EFT or Hypnotherapy if you have a phobia.  You don’t have to be limited by these fears forever, and there is often a reason for it, even if it isn’t obvious (I think my soup phobia is pretty obvious – my mother’s cooking!).
What’s your worst fear?  Do you need any tips for dealing with it?

 

 

 

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – How to ask for help when you have been self-sufficient?

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

 

I’m so glad that this regular reader of my blog has asked this question, partially because she ACTUALLY asked and partially because it’s brilliant.

How DO you ask for help, when you’ve been self-sufficient and looking after yourself for 60yrs?  

But at the same time helping others and helping your community?

Here is her full question:

I have a subject you might want to write about, it’s how to ask for and to receive help.  You are the first person I am asking for help.  My husband will go home from the hospital tomorrow.  As you know he will need my close attention for several weeks as he recovers from 7 broken ribs and a broken wrist and we need to avoid pneumonia by walking and getting him to breath as deeply as possible.  I am not working so I am available 24/7.  Still it is a lot to cook, clean, care for him around the clock and try not to worry about money.

I have a couple of communities of people that he and I are involved in, but not many close friends.  I have always been self sufficient and since I am a person who has devoted myself to my family and I recharge by being alone, I have not had to ask for help much.  I do enjoy cooperation and I do help other people when ever I can, but again I am not a really social person.

So now I will need help and I want to receive it.  I feel fear about it.  I fear being viewed as thoughtless, inconsiderate or something else undesirable because I ask for something wrong or make an assumption somehow, or put someone out and they feel uncomfortable.  I can’t be responsible for other people’s responses, but I am not perfect either and may make mistakes.

I don’t know what is okay to ask for.  Food seems okay, but there are four people in my house (my husband and I, my 32 yr old son and my 11 year old granddaughter).  Should I just suggest a pot of soup?  Not everyone knows there are four people to feed, do I have to say it or just be grateful for whatever they bring to share?  How do I handle this when they volunteer to bring food or when I want to ask for them to cook something?

What work should I do and leave for others to do while I sit with and care for my husband; mow the lawn, watering my flower pots and garden, cook, clean the bathroom, do the dishes?  I feel caring for him myself is my top work priority.  Seems icky to ask someone else to clean the bathroom.  Yes, my son will do some of the housework, but his idea of keeping house is a lot different than mine.  I am thinking of asking my son to take on keeping track of the meds and doing most of the walking with him (my husband cannot fall with his ribs broken).  My husband is walking fairly well, but we must be careful.

I get embarrassed if my house is dirty and cluttered when people come, and it is not an easy house to keep clean because it is over crowded, cluttered and needs new paint and flooring in the kitchen and bath so it looks dirty easily.  I feel the state of the house reflects on me.  How can I get myself not to feel ashamed or embarrassed?

Could you please give me some advice?  Maybe your advice could help others as well and maybe even you your self.

 

The Gift Of Asking

Presents
The right present

Lovely, lovely J, from your posts, and questions I know that you help out the community a lot.  But you have not been giving your community the gift of a chance to help you!  This is not fair to them.

Think about it this way, by helping you they get:

  1. A guilt free chance of asking you for help in future.
  2. Or asking someone else in the world of ‘what comes around goes around’.
  3. The satisfaction of knowing that they have a purpose and did something useful.
  4. The opportunity to get closer to you

 

Not Being Really Social

Phone
Call us!

Don’t be daft – you built up a friendship with me over the internet having not even met me!  We are all social, in our own ways.

I know a lovely mummy blogger who believes she is not social (in fact several will now be wondering if I’m talking about them, as there are so many!).  But she is ‘social’.  Maybe she doesn’t go out lots, but has an active community online.  Maybe she is nervous and shy, but nervous and shy people make good friends.

In fact the other day I purposely called my ‘not social’ brother, because he is just that – quiet, reflective and a listener.  I’m not sure that he actually said much, but do you know what; talking is very over-rated!

 

Being Judged For Asking

Rubbish Mummy Cook
Rubbish Cook in ‘real life’ action

People who are nervous of asking for help will probably judge you.  In fact 50% of the world will always be judging you negatively.

Focus on the ones who wont be upset about it, and who will be chuffed by it – look at me, despite being up to my eyeballs, I’m so chuffed you asked, that I have written a blog post immediately for you.

The people who would judge you are frankly pants (hmm I think pants are trousers in american – I mean knickers!).  Smack your hand every time your worry about them, because they are not worth it!

It is not something to be proud of that you are capable of doing everything!  It’s not good for you!

Yes, there are people who I feel ask too much.  It’s when they ask, and then don’t make any changes to their lives that I get tired of it.  Or when they moan, but don’t want to do anything about it.  This is not what you are doing; you have a specific reason, specific problem, and need specific help.  It’s not like you are intending on throwing him off the roof once he is better so that you can do it all again!

 

Who To Ask and What To Ask For

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul

Keep an open mind on who to ask for help.  And regularly journal how you are feeling so that you can work out what the problem actually is.

For example, asking me is a perfect way to ask for help over the internet.  Keep doing that – we might not be able to offer practical assistance, but if we can reduce your emotional burden it will all go a lot more easily.  Plus you can ask for healing and prayers, which have been proved to help massively.

YOUR SON – it’s not helping him to let him get away with not understanding what you mean about housework.  He is a grown man.  So sit down and have a think about it and write very specific lists.  When things are specific about what to do and what the end result should be, he should be able to get it.  Yes, it is ideal to work to his strengths, but don’t let him get away with that male excuse of ‘oh but I’m not really any good at it’!  If you think that he will absolutely keep your husband from falling, especially as he is stronger than you, then this is a good job for him.  However, the role of carer and the forethought required is difficult; if he doesn’t have that skill then he will have to do the practical things.

Your grand daughter – I ran a whole household (3 brothers 20yrs older than me) when I was 10yrs old and cared for my sick mum; this was too much, but do not underestimate the self-esteem and experience she can gain from doing really helpful things around the house.  She can cook, she can tidy, she can clean, and she can help your husband keep his spirits up.

Your community:  I would ask for rest bite – times when people come to watch over your husband for an hour every week so that you get some time to YOURSELF.  Otherwise you will only make matters worse by getting sick yourself!  It is also wise to find new friends at any time of life, in fact it’s something I’ve been focussing on for the last 6 months and I can tell you it’s been a wonderful boon to me.

Food – a great idea.  All you need to say is that if anyone could possible help in the next few weeks, you could really do with some soups, casseroles, stews, pies etc for ‘My family and myself’ – at that point they should realise that they are making for more than 2 people and give you a bit more.  Weren’t you involved in a local food community?  Is there a chance that there are people growing lovely vegetables and fruit that they could bring round for your son and grand daughter to cook?

 

Housework

Getting our kids to do their chores
Hoover that floor child!

Yes, you will have to reduce your requirements of what gets done and how often.  Again see the ‘pants’ comment above for anyone who would dare to judge your house whilst you are nursing your husband.

Here is a list to give you an idea:

Bathrooms – once per week.
Kitchen worktops – every day.  Rest of kitchen – once per week.
Hoovering – if you don’t have animals like mine, I bet you can just hoover half the house every other week.
Dust – seriously, dust just comes back!  It doesn’t need doing every week.
Bedrooms – definitely can get away with once a month at a pinch.

But you do have the right to space.  You do have the right to ask your son and grand-daughter to keep their stuff in their space.  For example, you could ask that the main ‘visiting’ areas are on a daily basis cleared of ‘stuff’; the hallway and kitchen perhaps?

Tackle the decluttering later – I can help you with that too!

 

Finally

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

Just so you know you are not the only one, I have written about asking for help before.  These posts might help:

Be careful the types of people you ask for help, they aren’t all ‘ideal’.

A time when I needed a mate to help brainstorm a problem and reduce my stress.

A time when I had to ask for help from in-laws and strangers

A time when I felt guilty about asking for help

 

I’m so glad and touched you asked!  Give other people that chance to help you and get close to you.  Remember:

No man is an island!  (Or woman for that matter!).

 

To my readers: do you have any tips or similar experiences that you can share with J?

 

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Is It Selfish To Want To Leave My Partner?

The Problem

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I don’t really know where to start, you asked if my unhappiness is affecting the atmosphere, well I’m sure at times it does, I know I can be lost in my own thoughts and feelings and sometimes snap at those around me unduly. 

I met my partner when I was 16, though we didn’t get together until I was 21, he was a recovering addict at the time but shortly after the death of our son about a year later he started using again. Then he stopped. Swapped for alcohol etc, had a terrible time. I’ve supported him through so many therapies, 3 failed rehab attempts to get him off the methadone, he’s walked out after afew days each time. The last time killed the last bit of love I had for him. That was dec 2011. 

See as he’s had these problems he’s not worked, so has been around a lot for the kids and has been very involved and despite everything he is an amazing, attentive and devoted dad! Which in a way makes it harder for me, a lot of dads work, have little interaction, doesn’t leave a big whole in the childs life if they’re not living together day in day out. Whereas I feel like splitting with my partner is going to be a bigger and harder blow to my kids because he’s so involved with them. 

As everything stands, I know I’ll be ripping everyone lives apart and causing such heartache just because I’M unhappy. And that feels so selfish and heartless. I come from a long long line of couples that stayed together forever. Its a very deep-rooted introject I have that you stay together no matter what. And that’s hard to shake!! 

Like I said before, if I could see my unhappiness was affecting my kids then I could be out as I’d feel Id have a justified reason. As it stands I feel like I don’t have a leg to stand on. But I’ve been unhappy for years, and feel things are getting to a point where I just cant keep it all in anymore, somethings got to give, I need ot make a decision and stick to it and get through it. But I can’t make a decision. Feel like I go round and round in circles, and it always come back to the same question ‘what type of mother puts their happiness before their childrens?’ I don’t want to be that bad selfish mother. But I don’t want to be unhappy either. 

Here’s some more information I got from her:

  • They get on well at home, but when they argue it is physical from both of them and the kids have seen it once.
  • The kids are doing well at school
  • She has Fibromyalgia and is now 29
  • He is still lieing about things, which she has found out by snooping, but hasn’t confronted him

 

My Answer: The Worm Has Turned

 

I have thought about this long and hard lovely, I’m a big fan of marriage, but not at any cost, so I’m also a big fan of divorce.  It is a very tricky situation and I totally see why you are struggling.

This is very typical of what I call ‘The worm has turned syndrome’.  Women will take so much, over and over again, that often men think they can keep behaving badly (and vice versa).  But we can switch off VERY suddenly and very TOTALLY.

You seem to think that you are being selfish, but I think that you are STILL turning a blind eye to behaviour which is not acceptable from him.

You have been with him so long that you can’t see the difference between what is ‘normal’ (i.e. no man/woman makes the perfect partner) and what is unacceptable.  My parents were alcoholics, and although he is a great Dad, it may not be as ideal as you think for them to be growing up with him.

Plus being an addict, he is probably deeply manipulative and knows exactly what buttons to press.  I don’t think it is helping him to let him keep getting away with it.

Someone can be a wonderful Dad, but terrible partner.  He can still be a wonderful Dad when he’s not seeing them every day, but he won’t be a terrible partner any more.  (I’m not underestimating that there are downsides to this as well, as the grass is never greener).

The bottom line is that your relationship is emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically abusive and bad for your health as Fibromyalgia is proved to be stress related; you will be initiating the fight/flight response in your body permanently whenever he is in the house.

I think that you should look on the fact that your kids have had a very good and close start with your husband as a good thing.  It means that  whatever happens and however he behaves in the future with his addictions, they will always have that as a good strong foundation and know the good side to him.  This will be important as they grow an adult relationship with him.

Plus is sacrificing everything that makes you who you are, an example you want your children to follow?  Or staying in a relationship which will be exasperating the illness that you have?

I always say “it takes as much work to leave a relationship as to stay“, the problem is that you are in a nowhere zone at the moment.  From what I know of you I think that you would be up for some relationship counselling or coaching?  I reckon it would be a really good idea to get an objective party in to help to explain how you feel to him.  It might not fix it (probably not, although stranger things have happened), but it will give you some support and a mediator during a difficult time.

Don’t panic about time.  Something else that I say is ‘a relationship isn’t over until it is over‘; there’s no point rushing out, because issues need to be dealt with.  No decision should be made in panic; but that doesn’t mean that a decision shouldn’t be made.

 

The steps I recommend are:

 

1) Talk with a friend and write a list of what is unacceptable in his behaviour; you need the friend to highlight to you what is not acceptable and make a list of the things that you need to change.  No you can’t promise that this will make you fall back in love with him again, but it’s worth doing, and if they are reasonable requests they will probably do him good anyway.

2) Focus on yourself, getting stronger, feeling better about yourself; that way there is no wasted time.  Work out what you are not doing because of him or where you are being held back and get it started.  Stop being held back.

3) Explain to your partner that you are very unhappy, and that it stems from that time a long time ago and that if there is any chance of lasting you guys will need help.

4) But whenever talking to him about it, make sure you DO NOT use the word YOU.  I talk about it in this post about how to turn around a disrespectful relationship.

5) Start going to relationship counselling/coaching together.  Not necessarily in order to stay together, but to make sure that your issues with each other are resolved and if you split that it is not acrimonious.  You can sell it to him as how important it is for him to be able to retain as good a relationship with the kids as he has now, which would be badly affected by the split being acrimonious.

6) If he says no to counselling or coaching, then that is a deal breaker; you are not happy with the situation and you need a third party to monitor his behaviour because of the addictive and manipulative personality.

7) If he says yes, but then there is always a reason to not be able to go; that’s a deal breaker too.

8) Hubby needs to get a job!  Even just a part-time supermarket job; just something that gets him out and about.  If there are no jobs, then he needs to volunteer somewhere.

9) Set a deadline of when you will call it a day if there is no progress; probably 1yr.

10) Make some practical plans and do some research about how to go about divorcing him.  This doesn’t mean that you aren’t putting in the effort to the relationship, just that it will stop you panicking about wasted time.

11) It will be tough, there is no doubt about it.  And it WILL be tough on him as he has been with the children day to day.  There is a daddy blogger who was a stay at home Dad who you can read to see the reality of it.  Not to stop you.  But so that you know.

12) Very gradually when the opportunity arises chat to your kids and show them examples of where it has worked when parents divorce.  After all it can be very good for them to get proper quality time with each parent separately and there are many, many success stories.

13) With the whole ancestors pressure I would like you to take each couple in turn and write down the DOWNSIDE for each of them and their families that they stayed together.  You need to see that there are pro’s and con’s to staying or going.  But the important thing is doing what your heart needs, because a person with a dead heart is no good to anyone.

14) To help you feel like your life is making progress, sit down and think about 3 things you what DEFINITELY to have achieved when you are on your death bed.  Yes, it maybe selfish, but is staying in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship really what you want one of them to be?  When you have picked your three, remind yourself of them every morning; this is a little trick I teach in my book ‘6 Steps To A Sparkling You‘ as it keeps you focussed on what you want.

15) Write down the DOWNSIDEs for your children for you to stay with your husband with the relationship as it is.  There ARE downsides, because there are downsides to everything, even chocolate.  I just want you to get a more balanced perspective on the situation.

 

Keep in touch lovely, and let us know how you do; you can always add an anonymous comment.

Plus check back in a few days as I’m sure that this story will hit the hearts of many Mums out there who will be able to add their twopennyworth to my ideas.

We’d love to hear back from you in 6-12 months time to find out how your story progresses as well.

 

Tips for dealing with Christmas

7 Top Tips on How to deal with stressful people at Christmas or special occasions

Tips for dealing with ChristmasIf you ignore the money worries, which are frankly caused by buying presents or stuff for people, then the next biggest cause for trouble at Christmas or other big family events and parties is PEOPLE!

So this months feature for Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM) was all about them and how to deal with the stress.

I love people, but Oh My do they know how to cause trouble when more than one of them gets together, in fact some of them love causing trouble!

So here are my seven top tips for avoiding arguments and break downs/ups during Christmas, family parties or any big special event.  Anything from dealing with your family, the in-laws, your other half and over excited kids.

(I’ll pop the audio at the bottom as soon as I have it).

 

Tip 1- Hold your tongue and don’t get drunk!

Go out for some fresh air

 

I’m not being a spoil sport, but drink and stress don’t go well together.  In fact neither does lots of sugar followed by a sugar low (check out my healthy eating for rubbish cooks for ideas to counteract that sugar buzz).

Take a breather, and get out for a walk.  Just 10mins walking round the block can help you have patience for a few more hours.  It’s pretty easy to come up with an excuse; say you are feeling odd, or have to deliver a card urgently, or need to buy more milk (hide the extra in the garage).

Remember to BREATHE and especially breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth in equal measures e.g. a count of 4 in and 4 out.  The nose will calm you down and it’s important to balance the in and out breaths.

 

Tip 2 – If you do too much for people they will treat you like dirt and show no gratitude

 

This is a very ironic but massive rule to learn in life.  There should always be a balance between how much you give and receive in return.  If you do too much, then the people you did it for will subconsciously feel guilty and then resent you for being a martyr and doing too much.  It pretty much always goes wrong and is one of the biggest causes for an argument.

Instead learn the art of delegation and get everyone involved in helping, even if it’s just with hoovering the lounge and setting the table or doing the clearing up.  Ask people/family to bring provisions or look after the kids with a winning ‘I know you’d love to help’ kind of smile.

Make sure you set their expectations early on, so that everyone knows what the plan is e.g. I’ve had a chat with Curly Headed Boy about the order of events on Christmas Day and that his Grand Dad has had a terrible Flu.

 

Tip 3 – if you are really sure of yourself you don’t need to convince other people you are right

What is success and failure

 

Some people are like energy suckers and love a good argument discussion they drag you into ‘debates’ which become heated and unpleasant.

Just remember this rule:  It really doesn’t matter if people disagree with you, because 50% of the world always disagrees with you.  So there is no need to try to convince them or win the debate.

If other people start up a difficult conversation, just interrupt and suggest to continue it at another time or place; after all you are in charge (if it’s not your party, maybe make a distraction instead).

 

Tip 4 – being clear about your boundaries

Often we get really upset because we have just had hours of abuse or nit-picking.  The key is to knock it into touch at the beginning and do it early enough before you are too upset.

It’s not about shouting at people or telling them what you really think.  They key is to say how you feel e.g

When xxx does/doesn’t happen
I feel xxx
If it continues/happens again thenconsequence you are willing to go through with that isn’t inflammatory>

For example:

  • When things like that are said I feel hurt, so if it goes on I’m going to go and have a little walk or watch TV.
  • When no one helps me to tidy up after lunch I feel really unappreciated and don’t feel like doing any more
  • I get stressed when the kids are running around me when I’m cooking, I need someone to play with them please, otherwise it might be dangerous.

 

Tip 5 – learn from your mistakes

Ok, so you might not manage all this, or some of this advice might be a little late.  Don’t get bitter, just make sure that next time works for you!

If you are a bit stressed the night after the event try counting your blessings before you go to sleep, as there is bound to be something from the day that went well, even if it was just how helpful someone was in the midst of the chaos.

 

Tip 6 – make a plan b

Face your fears, and work out what’s the worst that could happen and hen make a contingency plan and store it away.  This is not about worrying about something, this is about sorting out your ‘insurance’ and popping it in a drawer to be pulled out in an emergency, just like we do with cars.  Also, when faced, our fears are often never as bad as we think they will be.

Ideas could be to pull out board games to calm down hyper kids, or to have a new film up your sleeve for when everyone needs a chill.  Maybe putting on some music would help put people in the festive spirit, or going out for a walk stop people from getting too stir crazy.  A big pot of coffee might help with the family drunk, as will not having too much alcohol available for them.

(If however there is domestic violence in your house, I strongly suggest that you get advice from a professional about holiday periods.  Plus be very careful if you are planning on leaving soon, as it’s the point of separation that can be the worst).

 

Tip7 – but expect the best

Is it possible to have romance and kids?I bet you are looking at me with misbelief at this one, but seriously, miracles do happen!  So the most important tip is to focus on how you would like the event to go, rather than on what you don’t want to happen.  If you focus on people misbehaving it tends to happen, maybe because you behave in a way that prompts it psychologically.

This is particularly true of children and awkward relatives.  If we expect kids to be badly behaved we tend to get on their case really quickly, thereby over-controlling them, and making them feel suffocated.  Being nervous around a tricky relative will put them on their guard as well, thus bringing out the worst in them.  Drunken relatives, may still drink, but it’s possible that they fall asleep in the corner, rather than cause a massive problem!

 

I hope these tips help, as memories from special events can last for a lot longer than the actual event.

Feel free to add your hints and tips or success/disaster stories.

Remember there are lots of other tips on here about how people behave and how to feel more contented and Christmas.

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

Is it the Mum’s responsibility to keep the romance alive?

Is it possible to have romance and kids?I was asked to pop onto the breakfast show for Heart Wiltshire the other week by the lovely Molly (check out what I said here on her blog)

She guessed I might have strong feelings about husbands complaining that they don’t get any attention any more and that the romance has gone out of their marriage!

And I do!

It’s not that I don’t think that Dads are as important as kids.

It’s not that I don’t think that they deserve to feel loved and get attention and sex.

But I can’t bear all the theories about how the wife should make an effort to make sure he doesn’t feel left out, poor thing.  Seriously!!

In the majority of homes the Mum will be juggling a pile of stuff, and has very little left to worry about romance.  It’s not that she doesn’t want it, it’s just that she’s concentrating on what has to be done, and that is taking up all her time, energy and brain space.

The Dad is a grown up, he can look after himself, manage his emotions and do a pile of stuff the kids can’t (or he should be able to, and can certainly learn to).

And there is NOTHING MORE OFF PUTTING than a bloke adding to the pressure of being a Mum, by whining about not getting any attention or romance.

 

You are probably quite right that your wife has put the kids first.  It’s called nature; our hormones give us little choice, and even if they did, practically speaking the kids need us and you are a grown up.

The question is can you man up to the task?

 

1) Make the effort to add a bit of romance in yourself.

Can you take over dinner time, tidy the kitchen and put the kids in the bath while giving your wife an hour to relax once in a while?  Put a film on that she’ll enjoy, make some pop corn, get a bottle of wine out and cuddle up to her on the sofa.

Talk to your parents or get a baby sitter and find somewhere that she would like to go.  If the kids are too young for you to go out at night, go out for coffee or a romantic picnic.

DON’T add extra pressure by pushing her to leave the kids for longer than she wants to.  It’s meant to be fun for her remember!

 

2) Find the romance that is there and make the most of it.

Philosophically speaking nothing goes away totally, it just changes.  You just aren’t looking for the romance in the right places.

Romance is about warmth, closeness, intimacy and fun.  Try to ignore the kids and they’ll kick off.  But create family romance by including them and you can still have it.  Picnics, walks in a forest, sand castles on the beach, family film time; all of those have that lovely romantic feeling to them.

Don’t ignore the kids wanting to give you hugs when you leave or at bedtime.  Have fun with it.  Have family hugs, instead of 1to1 hugs with your wife.

Bear in mind, if the kids are her number one priority, then the way to get up to number 1.5 is to go with it, rather than against it!  (Hint: this is how you get more sex with your wife).

 

3) Be Patient

Remember that this will pass, the kids will get older and she’ll have a chance to breathe, and come back to you.  Make sure you’re worth coming back to!

Don’t fall for that ‘My wife doesn’t understand me’ way of thinking and find some other woman to have an affair with; she’s just looking at you as someone who has already proved they can commit, and will do exactly the same thing to you eventually.

Get an interest that you can be passionate about during the few years the kids are little.

Get interested in the kids!

 

What do you reckon?  Am I too harsh?

Have you managed to keep the romance alive despite the kids?  Does your other half complain?  Did you come out the other side and manage to rekindle the love or did you find it was wrecked by the stress?

BTW I’ve written lots about sex and being parents, if you liked this post, you might want to read some more.