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

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?

 

 

 

 

 

How to tell your children about your pet dogs death and decide when to do it


This time last week we said good-bye to our adorable, but daft 14 year old springer spaniel ‘Merlin’ (on the right).  It had taken me weeks to get to the point where I rang the vet.  Friends and family had been gently suggesting it was time for a couple of months.  But I couldn’t do it until last monday.

I’d known it would be time in September literally since the beginning of the year.  Partially, because we had two other dogs die this year who no longer lived with us, and partially because I can be a little witchy when so inclined!  My gorgeous shaggy Jim died first (left).  We had rehomed him in Potters Barr (nearby) when Curly Headed Boy started to toddle, because although he wouldn’t have bitten my son, we would have bitten Merlin who was clumsy and his eyesight was poor.  You could tell he was worried about it, let alone us.  We got to see him before he died and he got to meet Little Dimples briefly, so there was some comfort in that.  His new owner had allowed him to live on until he literally couldn’t walk at all and there was very little of him left in personality.  Maybe it was a little too long for such a characterful dog, but she was a lovely soft lady and he would have been very difficult to part with.  A couple of months later Danny died (middle), at a ripe old age of 18 in a working kennels surrounded by his girlfriends.  It’s a long story how come he ended up there, but we were basically paying for him to work for the last 8yrs of his life (suckers!!).  He never got to meet Little Dimples, but it was a comfort to know he died in his sleep.

Merlin went down hill quickly after Jim’s death, gradually losing the ability to use his back legs, and then beginning to mess in the house because he couldn’t get through the dog flap quickly enough.  But he was still eating and still so loyal that he would still wag his tail.  But when he stopped whining to come upstairs in an evening, I knew he was giving up.  We had that lovely weather at the beginning of half-term and took him out onto the green with the kids, and he got totally pampered.  You can see from the picture how much he adored Little Dimples; letting her take him for a walk, when he could hardly drag his back legs along at all.  But as the half-term week progressed he got quieter, and I knew that it was no longer fair for the Big hairy northern one to be cleaning up the kitchen every morning and that it would be near on impossible when I was on my own in the house with Little Dimples.


I think I felt guilty, because our cat Harry had lived 2.5yrs after being given 2weeks to live, and it was obvious when we had to give up because he was covering the house in blood.  Little Katy died within a couple of months of him, and didn’t make me make the decision for her, bless her.  But with Merlin I was feeling guilty because of the practicality of having an incontinent dog and a toddler in the house.  But spending that week with the family helped me to get my priorities straight.

So how did I go about explaining it to Curly Headed Boy and Little Dimples?

Well 2yrs ago when Harry and Katy died I used the Mog cat series and the book ‘Goodbye Mog’ by Judith Kerr.  It happens to fit perfectly with my philosophy on life and death, and it really helped Curly Headed Boy who would have been around 4yrs old.  (If you have favourite books, please do share them below to help out other readers).

This time I was going to have to be explicit and explain that we were putting Merlin to sleep, and not that he was dieing at his own timing.  So I’d been mentioning it for a few weeks, and Curly Headed Boy had been aware for a few months that Merlin was going to die.  Eventually I went into an explanation of the fact that the dog gets a bit of anaesthetic to make sure that the injection doesn’t hurt, and then an injection to help them go to sleep and not wake up.  I’d toyed with the idea of doing it during half-term, but I just didn’t want to taint our memories with his death, so I decided to go for the next monday when my son was back at school.

Ironically, Curly Headed Boy was sick on the day, and when the vet arrived he made the last minute decision to stay in the room.  This was a BIG gamble, because as the muscles relax in a dog being put to sleep, they can sound like they are breathing hard.  But gorgeous old Merlin was never going to scare my son; so as I Reiki-ed (a type of healing) him, Max played with a toy in a chair, and quickly he went to sleep without a sound.

For this I have a huge debt of gratitude to Merlin as Curly Headed Boy has always been aware of death, with both of my parents having passed on (my Dad died when I was 20 and my Mum when I was pregnant with him).  But he has now seen a very gentle version of death, and it appears to have really set his mind at rest.  He didn’t cry, instead he pragmatically sat with me pointing out (as I cried) all the lovely things about Merlin, how old he was, and how much easier it will be to have just the one dog.  This is of course the great thing about animals as they do introduce children to death so that it doesn’t come as such a shock.

Meanwhile what to do about Little Dimples who is 21 months?  She might be just 21 months (warning, parent proudness to follow), but she pretty much understands everything, and with a mixture of words and baby sign language, can say anything.  She’d been sleeping, but woke just as the vet was putting the blanket over the head of Merlin.  (Oh by the way, I strongly recommend paying the extra for a Vet to come to your house).  So I picked her up and showed her Merlin sleeping, put the blanket back over, and took her to the door to say ‘good bye’.  A few days later she was asking about our other dog, and I asked her if she remembered Merlin.  Yes she said, and signed ‘sleeping’.  So it is even possible to explain about death to a toddler.

So my advice is:

  1. Take your time
  2. Use books that match your philosophy
  3. Get the vet to visit you
  4. Decide whether your child is mature enough and not too sensitive to stay in the room
  5. Don’t shy away from telling them the truth, it’s useful for kids to understand, and we are all mortal however much we like to pretend we aren’t sometimes.
Will we get another dog?  I must admit I’d love to get something smaller, white and fluffy for little dimples, as Dudley our remaining dog is a huge big black scruffy labradoodle.  But the hairy northern one has put his foot down and I think he’s probably right.  By the way labradoodles do moult; MORE THAN ANY DOG I’ve ever had!!  But they are fabulous dogs, and despite being a spaniel lover, I would recommend a labradoodle’s nature for a family dog any time as they are much less hard work once you’ve done the initial training.
As someone once said to me ‘Out of great destruction, comes great creation’, so I’m going to leave a space in our lives to see what turns up.
Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: My daughters don’t want to see or talk to me

This weeks question corner is very difficult and sad to answer. In a blog post I can’t give a complete and total answer, but I can give guidance on where to start.

Background


A few weeks ago I was approached by a mum who was wanting to ask the American courts to see and talk to her teenage daughters more often. They did not live close to her and were living with their uncle and aunt. It was a complex situation and because it went slightly beyond the remit/ability of a question corner and I wanted to make sure that she was really up for change (I often get approached by people who are desperate, but stuck and how ever much you assistance you offer, they are so stuck in being victims, they won’t do anything, they just want someone to come and wave a magic wand. It’s not wrong to be like that, but I don’t haves time to write a blog post in those cases). So I asked her to do some coaching exercises first, but although she may have started, she didn’t complete them.

Yesterday she wrote that she had heard from one of her daughters that they no longer want to see or talk to her.

Answer

First let me say that you must be feeling terrible. However, I’m here to help, not sympathise, so here we go.

For your daughters to say this they must be pissed off and hurt. That can change. However, you MUST focus on the long game, and basically as hard as it is suck it up and deal with it over the short term. I warn you now, if you push now and for the next couple of years, you will do yourself and your relationship with your daughter’s harm . Whereas do it right and you can regain a relationship with your daughters in the future.

In my past we called my mum the wicked witch of the west, and there was a time when I felt terribly betrayed by her, and just the thought of seeing her gave me a migraine. We had 10 very difficult years, but after me doing some serious work on it, we did get close again, and I know she died feeling loved. So I have personal experience of the other side of the story, and can definitely offer you hope. But I know plenty of people who don’t get back with their parents, so don’t take it for granted, you will have to do some work on it as you can’t count on them sorting themselves out as I did.

Guilt doesn’t help anything. However, I do think that it is important to take responsibility for our part in situations. So ask yourself honestly, and ask the people around you. Why are the girls so hurt? Do they trust you? If not why not? Is there a reason why you might have to prove yourself to them? How much are you willing to do to prove your love for them? How much or who are you willing to give up? How much of your own baggage and emotional crap are you willing to face and deal with?

 

So what to do?

  1. Politely and shortly let them know that you will do as they request. But that you do need something in return; maybe that they or their uncle/aunt give you fortnightly updates on how they are.
  2. Potentially say something like ‘I understand that for you to not want to see me I must have hurt you terribly, so for now I will do as you ask, and I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you’.
  3. Do NOT add a defense or explanation of why you did whatever it is they didn’t like e.g. ‘but … Blah, blah, there is a reasonable explanation blah blah’.
  4. Make sure you don’t give up your legal rights.
  5. Still make sure that you send cards for any birthdays etc coming up soon.
  6. It is likely that they are getting biased, if well meaning advise from other people. Don’t worry about this and keep your focus on the long game.
  7. Remember that they are teenagers. Basically their brains aren’t wired up right at the moment, and even a slightly difficult situation is massive for them. Be realistic in what you can expect in terms of wiseness and understanding from them at their current age.
  8. Do NOT get into the blame game and start trying to show them that other people in the situation have also done things ‘wrong’.
  9. Focus on sorting yourself out simply first by following the ideas in my book (luckily this mum is a beta tester for my new book which currently has a working title of ‘six weeks to a sparkling you’). So that’s what you are going to do for the next 6 weeks. When you get chapter 6 you will get another years worth of stuff to do!
  10. I will give your twin sister the beta copy of my book too, so that she can help you focus.
  11. After the 6 weeks, start looking honestly at how this situation got created.
  12. Create a plan of action of how you can show that you are a mentally and emotionally healthy mum, who has dealt with her baggage, and empowered herself. So that your daughters don’t have to listen to words, but can see factual proof of changes and that they can now trust having you close to them again.

Keep in touch xx

I might be an ‘orphan’ but I’m so lucky with the adoptive mothers who appear for me

When I was pregnant with Curly headed boy I became an ‘orphan’.  Sounds daft to think of it like that at 36 years old; but 6yrs, 16yrs, 26yrs, 36yrs or more and having no parents does feel like being an ‘orphan’.  When you are an ‘orphan’ and therefore have no parents, what crosses your mind is that the two people who were meant to love you whatever you do are no longer there.  It’s actually a flawed thought because my parents weren’t actually that perfect and my relationship with them needed considerable work (that’s an understatement).  But when you lose them  big fantasies about what life with them in it would be like and lots of deeply held beliefs you never even really knew existed pop up; so you are suddenly an ‘orphan’.

Mum saw me pregnant, which is a huge blessing, but suddenly died a couple of days later, so she never saw my son or my daughter.  It was tough being pregnant and grieving, and it no doubt shaped my quite gentle parenting of Curly Headed Boy and choices of some attachment parenting options.  But ironically it was harder being pregnant with Little Dimples a few years after Mum died, when I really felt how much I was still saddened by losing my Mum and Dad (dad died when I was 20).

Luckily for me I know how to work on grief so that it doesn’t continue to cause the pain and suffering in my life, but I do still have to look at it from time to time when I see something else that I feel I’m missing;  Like a grandmother for my children (on my side, the hairy northern one is lucky enough to have both his parents), or someone to care for me, or someone to guide me, or someone who loves me just as I am warts and all.  One of the exercises that I help grieving people with is to show them that what they are missing, is still there, it just doesn’t look the same as it used to.  It’s a tough exercise sometimes for sure, but imagine how much better they feel when they are no longer feeling like they ‘miss something’, and just think about how much closer to their loved ones they will feel when they are not distressed any more (you can feel close to someone, even if they have passed on).

I’ve been thinking about Mum over the last couple of days as the anniversary of her death is August the 9th, and northern hairy hubby is away working in america, so I’ve had time to think.  Today I was struck with how incredibly luckily I am to have so many people step into the shoes of my Mum and Dad.

I have the little Irish Granny that I found in Tescos looking after my kids, in the way that a grandmother does.  They are being fed all the food that I would never do, being taken to parks, and playing with old furniture together in a way that they just don’t do at home; today they looked like a proper brother and sister being naughty with their grandmother.  (Of course this often means the next day I have crazed kids who need to be reminded of the house rules and come down from a sugar high).

At the same time I had someone Curly Headed Boy has called ‘Sparkly Lady’ help me with the focus of my work and my life (I might be a coach who can sort my own life out, but the best coaches go to someone else as well to keep them in line every now and again).  This woman is full of love for me, and over the past year has been a shoulder to cry on and a gentle director to keep me going in the right direction.  Without her you guys wouldn’t be about to get my new book ‘Six Weeks To A Sparkling You’.  Ironically, she can mother so many because she doesn’t have children of her own, which makes her the ultimate mother, but because she is helping me with my dreams and business, there is a big dash of my Dad in her as well (Dad was a very imaginative person when it came to business).

Then I am faced with the indomitable amazonian american adoptive mum who is trained in the same therapy as myself.  This woman loves me just as I am, and I feel safe talking to her, because she can see my crap, but still adore me.  She inspires me as a mother does, and gives me that sense of having a mentor to look up to, not in a ‘they are better than me’ kind of way, but in a ‘what fabulous footsteps to follow or walk beside’ kind of way.

My mum tended to focus on being a ‘friend’ to me rather than a Mum, and I also have some great friends now a days.  At the moment there are too many to mention, so thank you to them all, but a special mention goes out to the ones who very much fill my Mums shoes: There is SB who comes laden with blueberries and healthy snacks to re-energise me, and SM who is packed with listens to me whenever I call.  Then TL who shares a bottle of bubbly with me every now and again, and JB who is full of pragmatic advice.

I am truly a lucky Mum and daughter to have these women in my life.  So if you have a Mum, give her a call or a hug today.  But if you don’t have a mum, think about what is missing and then have a look around you at all the people who are filling the gap.  They are there, and it feels lovely to see them.  It’s not about forgetting them, they will actually feel closer to you the less that you ‘miss’ them or grieve for them.

Give your kids a hug too, and for this weekend try to not worry about everything that you have got to do.  Because when you are gone, they will have forgotten all those To Do’s, they will be missing the ‘you’ that is a parent, that loves, guides, nourishes and cherishes them.

Beginnings and Endings: Sad Goodbyes, Home Updates and Happy Times

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet folks, but I have a BIG announcement for next week, so be patient, I hope you are going to love it!

Last week was half term and it was a weird week with big ups and downs.  For the first time in ages I didn’t work hardly at all, just a little email and a few tweets, which brought me back full of energy and new ideas.

It should definitely be touted as the best weight loss solution available, as I lost a Qtr of a stone!  Can’t wait for Easter, because if I avoid the eggs I should lose the remaining half stone.  (This isn’t baby no 2 weight, and to be honest it’s not baby no 1 weight, it’s more ‘working from home and having a baby’ weight which means I’m normally umbilically attached to my computer rather than down the gym!).  I so look forward to the holidays with the kids and no more school runs.  For people who don’t do them, it wont make sense how exhausting they are, but OMG I’m as desperate for the holidays as Curly Headed Boy when they come around.  However, looking after 2 kids on your own for a week is also pretty exhausting, especially as Little Dimples is teething like hell and sleep is a distant memory for me at the moment.

It started off really sadly as well with us having to say good bye to my gorgeous Jim.  Jim was a fluffy cuddly teddy bear dog, who was MY dog (rather than ‘our’ dog).  He was the most gorgeous, vain, daft, and lovely dog ever.  But when Curly Headed Boy was a toddler, I made the difficult decision to rehome him a few miles away .  Jim would never have bitten my boy, but he would bite our other silly dog Merlin who is very clumsy; and his eye sight was getting bad so you could see that he was getting worried he would one day make a mistake.  Around the same time there were several children badly bitten by family dogs, and I decided it wasn’t fair on anyone.  It’s an incredibly difficult decision to make, and although he was close we didn’t get to see him as much as I had hoped.  I suppose it’s a bit of an intrusion for the old owner to pop back in every now and again.  So last week was the first week that Jim met Little Dimples, and time for us to say good bye.  I tried to be ever so brave, but I was tired too, and did have a jolly good cry when we got home.  Curly Headed Boy was very kind, and popped me on a sofa with a blanket and scooby do (I could probably have done without scooby!).  I hope Jim is sitting next to me lieing on my feet again, and knows how much I loved him.

The rest of the week was very chilled, we didn’t do anything major or exciting, just fun things like making clay hand prints of the kids, or taking the dogs for a walk, or going swimming, they were happy times and although nothing major stands out, what I do remember is lots of cuddles and love.

We had a quick flirtation with the idea of moving house.  We live in a town house, which means that my bedroom is on the same floor as the lounge.  I co-sleep with Little Dimples, and because it is a weirdly HUGE room, Curly Headed Boy sleeps in the same room  in his own bed (The big northern hubby gets to sleep in his little pad of humming computers and general untidyness upstairs as we decided that sharing the exhaustion wasn’t practical).  This has been a life-saver when Curly Headed Boy was having loads of nightmares, as having to wander up the stairs for him and handle the baby who hates to sleep would be a nightmare for me.  But since all the tweeks I’ve made to help him with school, the nightmares have mostly gone and it is definitely time for him to move to his own room (I’m going to summarise everything I did for him next week).  We thought we’d check out the houses for sale in our area but there are two problems.  Firstly, OMG how trashed can a house be, I just don’t have the energy to take on a new house that has been that trashed by four kids.  There were missing ceilings, writing on the walls, holes in the floor, and an unenterable garden; all for a massive price tag.  The alternative was the house belonging to two old folks, that might as well have been trashed for the changes we would have had to make.  So a bit down and depressed we came home, and then had a big idea.  I’m going to give up my lovely bedroom and gorgeous bathroom that we put in when Little Dimples was in my tummy, and move upstairs.  Curly headed boy will take the Hairy Ones room along the corridor, and I will create myself a little pink palace in the spare room.  The bathroom is a bit of a tight fit, but maybe with some redesign it’ll work.  However much dust this makes, at least there will be no solicitors, removal vans and a much smaller bill than the stamp duty would be.  So we are staying and very excited about all our plans.

It’s been a very strange few weeks with loads of beginnings and endings.  Maybe something is in the air?  Has it been weird for you too?

By the way, my webinar was really popular, but being busy Mums a few people missed it and asked me to leave it up for another week.  So it will still be there this weekend and I will take down the recording on monday.  Don’t forget when you register that you will also get a free online course as well.

Help, Am I Deluded?

I’ve met my fair share of coach/therapist/healer types who were extremely deluded about either their grandiose plans, their skills or their market actually wanting them. There have also been a fair amount if people with a great deal less training and experience than me, who were a load better at marketing and therefore a hell of a lot more financially successful. So the question is, am I deluded too, or is it just a matter of my marketing skills needing a polish?

The thing is, I’ve spent nearly 11yrs in this business in one form or another, and although I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s enriched my life with less stress, 2 miracle kids, a lasting relationship and a feeling of contentment, it hasn’t done so financially. I’ve got to ‘that time’, it’s ‘make or break’. I’ve decided to focus on mums as it is a subject close to my heart. I’ve got a fab new way of doing my coaching online, which makes it more accessible and affordable for mums. Lastly, I’ve signed up for a ‘bootcamp’ to help me launch my new product. But is it doomed to failure, because no one wants it or me?

Let’s back track a bit. When I became a mum, I realised that the training I had received was brilliant, and saved me many hours of angst. But it was also inappropriate for a mums time and resource limitations, so I created the mummy whisperer program. I saw all these mums talking/blogging about losing their identity, having problems with conflict or lack of communication in their families, and getting stressed out because they thought they/their kids/partners/life should be different. My thought process was that they ‘needed’ all these things I could do to help them be more contented with their lives and grow strong families. But, do mums really want it? That is, it might sound nice, and a few might sign up, but are there enough who REALLY want it? And would they want me? And would they pay enough to make them appreciate it and give me a fair level of earnings?

Apparently, I am meant to focus on a smaller niche than just mums, one where I have experience, credibility and contacts. The idea is if I focus on a niche, my message will be clearer and will get more mums signing up. So that has made me decide to focus on mums with kids starting nursery or school. Not new mums of babies, because my longer term plan is to provide them with a book, and not mums of teens because I don’t have teenagers yet. But if there is a market, the next question I’m facing is wether I need to cut it down even smaller to: working mums, work from home mums, or stay at home mums. Now I reckon that my program would help them all, especially as they all face guilt and work/life/rest/play balance in some way shape or form. But I can also see several potential problems, especially that working mums don’t have enough time left over to make their lives easier, and SAHM’s wouldn’t want to spend the money on themselves. By creating a program that can be worked through online, I was hoping that mums could fit it into their lives more easily, and by giving a payment option over 3 months with a 14 day free trial it would make it more affordable. But that might not be enough, or is that where marketing comes in?

There is an even bigger problem as well! What I’m offering is a way for a mum to be more sure of themselves and listen to their own natural instinct and knowledge of their family, instead of a one-size fits all parenting technique. But do mums want an answer tailored to their own family, which leaves them in the driving seat, or would they prefer to be told what to do according to a set of rules, even if it’s pretty much impossible to create? If there are mums who like the idea of what I offer, does that mean that they are already going that way and so don’t need my help?

In the past I have specialised in mental health issues, relationship problems and small business owners. Perhaps a mum facing the loss of her marriage, mental health or business would be more likely to ask for help. But if that is the case, then I’m going to have to take more time off work, because I don’t currently have the time to support these more extreme demands; I was planning on tackling them later.

What do you reckon? I’d really appreciate any feedback (be gentle please!; so I’m going to offer a copy of my book ‘getting the hang of gratitude’ to one of the people who leave a comment (I’ll use some random fair way of selecting!).

Fear of Losing Your Little Ones

 

Now the problem with Fear of Loss, is that it gets in the way, and can make you needy, hence pushing what you are desperate to keep, away from you.
There is a scientific law, that you can’t create or destroy anything it just changes form (for example, try it with water, which can become steam or ice, but not disappear totally).  And this is the one to bear in mind when fearing the loss of something or someone, because what you are thinking is that there was nothing like it in your life before.  But in fact there was.  Just in one or more different packages.
You can apply this concept to anything: Loss of Job, Money/Object, Qualifications/knowledge, Loved One, Recognition, Health, Way of Life.  I looked at the fear of losing my little boy, after he had an accident and ended up in A&E on our first evening in America.  He was OK, but I was freaked!  
I’ll talk you through how I approached it:
Step 1 – Is to list the things, or characteristics of the person/thing that you believe came into your life when this person or thing appeared.  List as many as you like and then fine-tune them down to a short-list.
My main one for my little boy was being my ‘Being Guide’, which might sound a bit esoteric, but I meant was that it would feel as though a part of my soul had gone if he wasn’t there, which was the bit that guided me to ‘be’ who I was deep down.  Have you seen film of the ‘Golden Compass’?  It was the scene when the young heroine Lyra was about to have her Demon (sort of like a soul companion) cut away from her by a machine, that had me in masses of tearful hysterics, that sort of explained how I imagined it would feel.
Step 2 – Is to look at who or what was there beforehand.  It might be in a very different area of life, so this takes an open mind and the ability to think out of the box, e.g. Spiritual, Mental/Learning, Work, Financial, Physical, Social, Family/Relationships.
Max obviously primarily affected my family life and work life. But when looking back I found many guides, primarily in Physical (e.g. fitness), Spiritual and Mental.
Step 3 – Is to look at what were the upsides, benefits or advantages to the way it was beforehand?
For me that would have been fitness, weight, being a size 10, learning from my many teachers, earning money.
Step 4 – Is to look at what the downsides, costs or disadvantages where to the way it is now with the person/thing that you are scared of losing.
This isn’t about not appreciating this thing or person that you love.  Just about seeing them more clearly, so that you are less desperate to keep hold of them, after all, everything has an up & downside, it’s just that we can be blinded to the downsides sometimes!  By this stage it was getting easier for me and the downsides where things like lack of sleep, difficulty to work and all the worries that came along with the package called ‘Max’.
Finally – keep asking the questions until you feel that you no longer fear losing them, even though you appreciate them still.
For me afterwards, it felt as though a silk veil had been lifted between us and I could suddenly hold him closer than ever before.  I would have said that we had a close and good relationship beforehand, but looking back I do remember feeling as though I couldn’t hold him close enough or express my love for him enough.  In fact he appeared to pick up on the shift as well and now regularly demands a tummy-to-tummy cuddle, almost as a reflection of the fact that there isn’t anything keeping me from him any more.  I’ve even been able to teach him the idea simply, if he is missing someone or something, and he is just 3yrs old!

Being scared of losing your children or loved ones, is totally reasonable, and I’m not suggesting that it’s possible to totally remove it, especially as a certain degree of fear is what keeps our eyes open for potential dangers for our children.  However, there is ‘healthy fear’ and a fear that gets in the way of your relationship, driving them away and running your brain and your life.

The problem with Fear of Loss of anything, is that it gets in the way, and can make you needy, hence pushing what you are desperate to keep, away from you.

There is a scientific law, that you can’t create or destroy anything it just changes form (for example, try it with water, which can become steam or ice, but not disappear totally).  And this is the one to bear in mind when fearing the loss of something or someone, because what you are thinking is that there was nothing like it in your life before.  But in fact there was.  Just in one or more different packages.

You can apply this concept to anything: Loss of Job, Money/Object, Qualifications/knowledge, Loved One, Recognition, Health, Way of Life.  I looked at the fear of losing my little boy, after he had an accident and ended up in A&E on our first evening in America.  He was OK, but I was freaked!  The reason I am talking you through this process, is because I didn’t think that I had a big fear of losing my little one, but even so, the results from working through this process were amazing and brought us even closer together.

I’ll talk you through how I approached it:

Step 1 – Is to list the things, or characteristics of the person/thing that you believe came into your life when this person or thing appeared.  List as many as you like and then fine-tune them down to a short-list.

My main one for my little boy was being my ‘Being Guide’, which might sound a bit esoteric, but I meant was that it would feel as though a part of my soul had gone if he wasn’t there, which was the bit that guided me to ‘be’ who I was deep down.  Have you seen film of the ‘Golden Compass’?  It was the scene when the young heroine Lyra was about to have her Demon (sort of like a soul companion) cut away from her by a machine, that had me in masses of tearful hysterics, that sort of explained how I imagined it would feel.

Step 2 – Is to look at who or what was there beforehand.  It might be in a very different area of life, so this takes an open mind and the ability to think out of the box, e.g. Spiritual, Mental/Learning, Work, Financial, Physical, Social, Family/Relationships.

Max obviously primarily affected my family life and work life. But when looking back I found many guides, primarily in Physical (e.g. fitness), Spiritual and Mental.

Step 3 – Is to look at what were the upsides, benefits or advantages to the way it was beforehand?

For me that would have been fitness, weight, being a size 10, learning from my many teachers, earning money.

Step 4 – Is to look at what the downsides, costs or disadvantages where to the way it is now with the person/thing that you are scared of losing.

This isn’t about not appreciating this the child that you love.  Just about seeing them more clearly, so that you are less desperate to keep hold of them, after all, everything has an up & downside, it’s just that we can be blinded to the downsides sometimes!  By this stage it was getting easier for me and the downsides where things like lack of sleep, difficulty to work and all the worries that came along with the package called ‘Max’.

Finally – keep asking the questions until you feel that you no longer fear losing them, even though you appreciate them still.

For me afterwards, it felt as though a silk veil had been lifted between us and I could suddenly hold him closer than ever before.  I would have said that we had a close and good relationship beforehand, but looking back I do remember feeling as though I couldn’t hold him close enough or express my love for him enough.  In fact he appeared to pick up on the shift as well and now regularly demands a tummy-to-tummy cuddle, almost as a reflection of the fact that there isn’t anything keeping me from him any more.  I’ve even been able to teach him the idea simply, if he is missing someone or something, and he is just 3yrs old!

Now, as a Mum, I don’t expect to totally tackle the fears we have of losing our children, whereas I have done so for other things that I care less about for example, money, or jobs or other people.  So I will probably repeat this exercise regularly, whenever I feel any sense of distance between us, or an inability to express how much I love him.