Ten Tips On How To Take Care Of Yourself!

I’ve been wondering what to talk about with the gorgeous Danny Smith on his drive time show to Radio Verulam for a couple of days.

Should it be my improvement with Fibromyalgia, should it be that the minute the sun comes out we panic about bikini’s or should it be more relationship stuff?

But then I realised it’s all about something simple.

Something so simple that we are rubbish at it.

TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES.

Having Fibromyalgia has been my teacher in how to take care of myself.  So I’m not that bright either – it took a chronic pain condition to sort me out – doh!

So if you were going to start now, what would you need to do to take care of yourself better?

All of these things are possible, whatever your situation, age, or how busy you are.

(Click here to listen again for ONE WEEK only – monday 5.30-6pm).

1) Go outside

Mumwithenergy

It makes everyone feel better.  Walk, power walk, or run.  Whatever it is.  Go.  Out.  Nature has a way of healing us and making us feel better.  Even when it’s cold and wet (it doesn’t bother children after all).

We have a rule in my house – if the sun is out go outside, everything else gets delayed just incase the sun doesn’t last.  So homework, computer games, everything waits.

And if the sun isn’t shining, still go out, but take Vitamin D3!

2) Get moving

Did you know that we are meant to do 10,000 steps per day?  If you are starting on a health kick, this is a great place to start.

From there get your core strong and  to protect your back and improve your flexibility, so do Pilates, Yoga or Tai chi.  Remember, when you are 90, it’s going to be about your ability to balance as you walk, not wether you can run 10km.

There’s no excuse to not do it – stop doing so much of something else instead.

3) Music is food for the soul

Dance, giggle, listen to music.  Let it carry you away for a moment.

Go to zumba or a dance class; it doesn’t matter if you are rubbish.

Music is the best thing for bringing body, mind and soul together.

4) 30 mins rest

I know we are all busy and running around.  But 30 minutes with your feet up, not moving, relaxing once a week or when you are exhausted makes a BIG difference.

I’m NOT talking about vegetating in front of a TV program you will have forgotten in an hour.  Instead listen to music or read a book.  You could even try meditation even if you haven’t before?  Just be quiet for a bit.  Let your senses rest.

I love having a bath once a week on a sunday.  I do it first thing, so it just means I’m down a bit later in the morning, so it’s not a massive imposition on the big hairy northern one.

5) Keep your energy reserves

Healthy Eating For Families

A car won’t work without water, neither will your body.

It needs petrol, so do you.    Eat breakfast, even if it is just a banana.  For lunch and dinner eat a balanced meal with protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates.

Sometimes the batteries need a boost.  If you have a problem, try going to your local health food shop and see what supplements they suggest.

6) Pamper

Everyone needs a little pamper, wether you do it yourself or at a beauty salon.

It’s the act of showing your body that you are willing to spend some time on it once a week that counts.

I’m not talking about being a slave to the mirror.  Just about remembering that we are all beautiful and deserve to be taken care of.

7) Sleep

Actually sleep probably should be first, as without it, everything is much more difficult.  I’m constantly surprised about the people I talk to who are knackered, but who go to bed at midnight every night.

Go to bed the same time each night.  Get up the same time.  If you are tired, go to bed earlier.

Don’t drink caffeine, coke or eat chocolate after 4pm if you find it difficult to sleep.  (click here for my top 15 tips for parents and the rest of my sleep tips)

8) Your time is valuable

Protect your time.  It is valuable.  Learn to say NO more often.

Doing a good days work is healthy, but it’s not about working ‘harder’, it’s about using your intuition and finding ways to work ‘smarter’.

Think about the top 3 most important goals for you personally and for your work.  Now strip out all the time wasted on the stuff that you don’t have to do and that don’t achieve those goals.

9) Laugh

The Dalai Lama says the purpose to life is to be happy.  Watch happy films, listen to happy music.

Surround yourself with loving people who will listen to your woes and then make you laugh.

It’s not about partying hard.  It’s about having fun.  It’s light hearted, and will make you feel better.

10) Eat cake

I have a room at my Spa where women can bring their friends, have a pamper and then eat cake on vintage plates.  I LOVE cake.

Cake is a treat.  It’s a little bit naughty.  But very nice!

I take my daughter out once a week for ‘Willow Wednesday’ and we get a magazine and eat cake in a coffee shop.  It brings us together, snuggled up, reading about ponies and princesses.

 

If you want people to take care of you, you need to show them that you are worth taking care of by taking care of yourself!

It helps your loved ones too, because when you are healthier and happier, so are they.  So do it for them too!

What do you think to my top 10 – what would you have added instead, or not included?

 

 

Sugar and Sweeteners are they bad for you? What’s the alternative?

This week’s chat with the lovely Danny Smith on his drive time show over at Radio Verulam was about nutrition and a few things that people might not know about SUGAR and SWEETENERS.

The problem is they are HIDDEN in lots of things that we eat and people don’t know.

Plus there are BIG health problems attached to them.

But don’t worry, you know me, I’m not into extremes, so I do have some ideas for alternatives.

If you fancy listening to us, then it’s about 15 minutes including music.  Otherwise, I’ve written it up below with some extra information I found afterwards:

 

 

Sweeteners?

Did you know that sweeteners are bad for you?

They are full of chemicals, that build up in your body and do it no good whatsoever.  There are tonnes of people talking in much more technical terms about this on the internet, so I’m not going to go into lots of biology about it, but basically they are toxins that build up in your body.

They are ironically NOT good for long term balanced weight as the body gets confused by eating something sweet that then has no calories.  Plus as you get more and more of these in the body, they will make weight loss more difficult as the body can’t work as well.

So DO NOT drink diet drinks.  Never ever ever.  Go for full sugar if you have to have a fizzy drink, or find something else or a different alcoholic drink that needs a different mixer.  Water is of course a great alternative!  I also talk about being careful of how much caffeine you drink later on in the day.

Watch out for low fat or low sugar foods.  In fact ANYTHING that LOOKS HEALTHY is probably packed with sweeteners and therefore bad for you!

Watch out for SQUASH because it often has sneaky sweeteners in it.  Instead look for a good fruit juice from concentrate (water it down if you like) or a squash with sugar.

So if you need sweetness I would actually advise sugar, just less of it so that it doesn’t affect your weight, insulin levels or health!

 

Sugar?

Problem is that sugar isn’t too good for you either.

Too much of it (like too much fat) affects the glyceamic index and insulin levels in the body that can aggravate or cause illnesses like Polycystic ovarian syndrome, IBS and Diabetes.

But most of all it is TERRIBLE for the immune system.  Us mums already have the bio weapons of mass destruction bringing every bug known to mankind back from school, and waking us up at night.  We don’t need something else that will literally inflame the insides of our bodies.

So if you need sugar use brown sugar, because that is marginally better for you than the white stuff and CUT out daily sugary treats, instead having a weekly one.

Now earlier on I said don’t drink diet drinks, so what about the others?  Well, be warned, often the healthy ones are packed with sugar especially those ‘water with a hint of something’ drinks that make you feel so self-righteous!

Plus if like Danny you like a can of coke you are looking at about the equivalent of 10 teaspoonfuls of sugar, which is 40g of sugar.  That is A LOT OF SUGAR. Added to that is the caffeine. So if you have any problems with your weight, sleep, emotional/mental health definitely don’t drink any after 4pm and consider finding something else that you like but which is a lot lower.

The NHS recommend the following: 70g for men and 50g for women depending on your height.  That means that 1 can of coke leaves you with very little leeway to have ANYTHING else in the day.  E.g. There could be another 4-5gs in one slice of bread, so if you have a sandwich you are done for the day and can’t add ketchup to your evening meal!

Remember that it is hidden in all sorts of things; always check the INGREDIENTS list.  I was over at Nanny Bets house the other day, helping her look through her cupboards.  The healthy cereal she had picked had added sugar.  The porridge was the ground up easy to put in a microwave stuff with none of the benefits of real porridge.

If you check the labels, the NHS recommends that:

  • more than 15g of total sugars per 100g is high
  • 5g of total sugars or less per 100g is low

 

Alternatives?

I am not saying give up sweet!  Phew, you say!

If you have an immune system disease like me, then I would say that ALL sugar and ALL sweeteners have to go from your diet.

If you tend to be very up and down emotionally or are dealing with depression, then I would warn you to make sure that you always include something that is low in the Glyceamic Index when you have something that is high sugar or high fat, as it will only make things worse.

For the rest of you, it’s about cutting it down the sugar, cake and biscuits instead.

Here are some natural alternatives:

Honey – high GI, but natural and Manuka honey can be great for the immunity

Maple Syrup – comes from trees, rather than our traditional golden syrup, again high GI but natural

Stevia – is a natural sweetener, but I’m not keen because it doesn’t have ANY calories and I think that it will confuse the body

Xylitol – is the one I’m using at the moment for my 3 cups of tea a day.

There are definitely others: always worth a check at your local health food shop and by googling to see if anything new has arrived on the scene.

 

Quitting Sweetness Altogether?

You will find a LOT of stuff on the internet about how sugar, fructose, glucose, sucrose, carbohydrates and anything sweet, starchy or down right yummy is bad for you.

I totally DISAGREE!  What would life be like without a little sweetness?  Why on earth were bees created if not to bring a little pleasure into our lives?

Long term I’m convinced that those low carbohydrate diets are positively unhealthy and damage the body.

Check out this book called ‘I didn’t Quit Sugar‘, it gives some really good advice, lots of technical information and they are about to bring out a recipe book too.

 

So what do you think about sugars and sweeteners?

Have you ever tried to those low carb diets?

Have I given you enough of a kick to try cutting back on your sugar and adding a few other alternatives?

Ten Top Cheap Games To Keep Young Kids Occupied Cheaply When You Are Tired

We love our kids, but it’s not always easy to have the amount of energy needed to keep them occupied, especially during holidays or when we are sick!

So here are some tips on what to try when you are shattered, but you don’t want to turn on Cbeebies yet and you don’t want to spend a fortune on a toy that won’t keep them occupied that long anyway.  They work for my 7year old boy and my 2year old daughter, so they’ve got plenty of usability in them.  They maybe a little cheeky, but think of them more as good negotiation skills and having watched lots of ‘Outnumbered’.

I’ve also focussed on the ‘simple things in life‘ kind of idea, before falling back on the TV, computer or iPad.  But I am NOT a saint, and I do totally use those modern ‘baby sitters’ when I have to (probably on a daily basis) and am not ashamed to admit it, it’s just that I save them for later in the day.

 

My key rules are:

As cheap as possible, making as little mess as possible and taking as little of my energy up as possible.

Which rules out lots of crafting things, or buying toys or board games.

1) Bubbles – an old favourite, although only in the garden if they want to have a go too

2) Sand in a sand table or bowl – followed by No (6).

3) Chalk on the patio – washed away by all the rain we are so ‘lucky’ to get in the UK.

4) Balloons – fun blowing them up and letting them go, or fun batting them around

5) Balls – especially games rolling balls to each other, or into a pretend goal

6) Bath – I’ve spent hours in the bath with my kids

7) Hide and seek – does take some energy, but I limit it to one floor of the house only

8) Water – in a bowl or playtable can keep them occupied for ages.

9) Obstacle course – Time them running round the garden doing exercises at specific points like jumps, star jumps, crawling under tables, twirling round.  Get them to break their own records and get really shattered!

10) Reading books – I might have to talk, but at least I’m sitting down!

 

You might also like my top tips on what to do to get your energy back fast when you are exhausted.

I’d love to know what your top tips would be to a tired mum on how to occupy their kids cheaply when they are shattered?
Let’s share all the ideas and help each other out!
Mum putting herself first

Should Mums put themselves first a Lot, a Little, or somewhere in between?

 

Chance for a cuppaHow important is it for us Mums to maintain a self of our identity after having kids do you think?

How much should we be doing purely for ourselves every day or every week?

Lots, a Little, or somewhere in between?

I had a ‘discussion’ with a mate about it (thank goodness she is a good mate and doesn’t mind it when things get a bit heated).  We very much disagreed on the answer.

She was all for Mums really keeping a sense of them self as a separate identity and doing things for themselves.  She really disliked the idea that I encourage Mums to look after themselves because it’s good for the children and the family.  My argument that once they got used to it, they would then do it for themselves wasn’t good enough she reckoned, because they weren’t doing it explicitly.

I said that that in reality it depends on the age of the kids, because as our hormones settle and the kids get older, we naturally start to separate more and ‘remember’ who we were.

I reckon that you can tell the Mums at the school gate who no longer have babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers, because they noticeably look after themselves more.

Plus, I worry that a Mum desperate to keep hold of ‘who she was’ can develop problems with connecting with her children, because it’s frankly not possible.

 

We aren’t the same after children.  

We aren’t totally different either.

 

You know how I love to encourage Mums to ‘sparkle‘!  But I’m realistic.  I just think it’s important that they don’t forget to keep ‘sparkling’ and do a little bit, but the amount of sparkling kind of depends on the age of our kids, our finances and our circumstances i.e. how much support we have to give us time to look after ourselves.

There’s a huge time factor to it; little ones take more time, big ones take as much input, but less time I reckon?
Mum putting herself firstI have created a totally unscientific chart to highlight the difference (notice the quality of drawing – I haven’t skimped a thing on it, apart from money and skill!).

 

So when we’ve just had a baby its a massive achievement to have a shower every day in the first few months.

Then it’s about going out for a walk and maybe meeting up with other Mums.

Some Mums will be back at work pretty quick, which can be a good bit of ‘time out’ and a chance to start to make ourselves look more presentable, but it’s a lot to fit in ‘me time’ too.

I’m not keen on worrying about weight loss for at least 9 months, or more likely 1-2yrs, but eventually we tend to have a look at what our bodies are doing.

Mind you, I’m finding having two kids much harder, so that is a factor too.

Reality is that ‘we can’t have it all’, in my opinion.

 

How much are you doing EACH WEEK to look after yourself?  Nothing?  30 mins? 1hr?  15 minutes a day?

Are you naturally a ‘yummy mummy‘ so you have it in your mindset to take care of yourself?

Are you making the most of the support you have for baby sitting or getting the chores done?

What do you reckon is the VERY LEAST that you could be doing for yourself every week?

MumsandMe

 

There’s a fab new linky on the Mums and Me site, which I bet you’ll love to read or blog about each week with ideas for having a bit of ‘Me time’.  Go and check it out, apart from the fact that they have great taste (they quote me!), I think it’s a lovely simple idea.

Fifteen Top Tips For Getting Better Sleep For Busy Mums And Dads


Sleep, one of the most crucial things for our well being, but so often not that easy to come by!

 

I’ve not ‘slept through the night’ for 6yrs; i.e. since I first had kids.

But to be honest I wasn’t the best sleeper before that either.  The big hairy northern one is a snorer; the waxy ear plugs from Boots help, but they weren’t ever a total result.  Plus there have been times that I would take hours to get to sleep.

So I’ve made it my business to get better at sleeping and dealing with lack of energy and here are my sleep tips for tired Mums …

Your Sleep

1) Sleep apps and Hypnotherapy

I found the most amazing hypnotherapy sleep app by Andrew Johnson for my iPhone which is also available for androids and to be downloaded.  I normally hate the plinking plonking muzac and fake voice, but this guy has a sexy scottish voice and it works brilliantly.  Plus it has the effect of improving your sleep.  Even if interrupted and woken up.  He also has one for children.

When I was 26 I gave up smoking and the hypnotherapist sorted out my slowness in getting to sleep for free.  It lasted for at least 5 yrs I reckon, but did eventually wear off.

2) Hot milk

It’s really old fashioned, but I do like a glass of milk or hot milk or ovaltine/horlicks sometimes before bed.  Especially if I ate with the kids, as otherwise I’ll get hungry through the night.  It might be a placebo, but heh, it works for me!

3) Bach Flower Sleep Remedy

The biggest problem is often getting back to sleep after being woken up and then beginning to panic.  This remedy works brilliantly for me, much better than any other herbal remedies and you can get it in Boots or health food shops.

4) Getting ready for bed with the kids

I’ve often found that washing my face wakes me up, and I need a couple of hours in my PJ’s in order to feel sleepy.  So for the past few years I have gotten ready for bed with the kids.  Yep there are the occasional embarrassing moments when a neighbour pops round for something and looks at me weirdly, but it works, you just have to wear those ‘lounge pant’ type of PJ’s!

5) Exercise

Not extreme maybe if I’m exhausted and not just before bedtime; more the type that helps you sleep well and gets your body moving like Walking, swimming or dancing.  Fresh air is notoriously good for helping you sleep.  Check out all my other exercise tips here.

6) Cool head

It’s been proved that you need a warm body and cool head in order to get to sleep, so it’s quite nice to have the window open a little.  I also hate having hot feet, so I’ll run them under the tap to cool them down if they do their weird heating up thing.

7) Using up excess mental capacity

Sometimes my brain hasn’t worked enough; after all cleaning isn’t very exciting to me.  So I find something interesting, but not too interesting to use up the excess like books on my iPhone, or Solitaire.  I’m a huge fan of all the pretty pictures on Pinterest to get me sleepy.  Baby TV on Sky is also incredibly soporific!

If I’m worrying about something I’ll get a piece of paper and write down all the rubbish from my head and then count my blessings for what I do have.

I don’t actually attempt to go to sleep until my eyelids are dropping.

8) A good pillow and mattress

I must be getting old to be talking about this; but yes I am just in the process of buying a ‘good’ mattress and recently bought a new pillow.  Apparently when you are lying down on your side, your spine should be in a straight line and mine wasn’t; it was sort of tipped at the spine, hence I hurt in the morning.

Be careful that you are not allergic to your bedding e.g. feathers in the pillows.

9) No Caffiene or Chocolate

I don’t drink much anyway, so I have to avoid caffeine from about 5pm, plus I found that some alcohol and medicines have it in them as well.  You can always tell if you lie down and your heart keeps pumping really fast, that you have eaten or drunk something that has affected your metabolism (or someone just screamed BOO at you!).

This also means no chocolate (especially dark) or really sweet stuff for me in the evening sadly, because I just won’t be able to sleep.

10) Carbs for dinner but not too much

Carbohydrates are great for dinner to make you sleepy; so potatoes, rice, and pasta.  But don’t eat too much, because that affects your sleep too.

11) Too exhausted

Check out all my other tips to get more energy, because sometimes I’m so tired that I can’t sleep, and then I have to sort the other things out first.

12) Make sure your room is tidy and relaxing

Gentle colours, tidy room, lovely smells and no computers of TV are more likely to get you to sleep.

13) Have a routine and stick to it

If you are a rubbish sleeper, then you really need to get yourself into a routine of going to bed by 10 or earlier and waking up at the same time everyday.  It will really help.  Plus some of us have a naturally sleepy time that we ignore because it’s too early, but if it works, then you can always get up earlier.

14) Get a black out blind or curtains

To help you in the morning make sure that your curtains or black out blind block out all the sunlight.

15) Ear plugs

I’m amazed by how many people living with snorers don’t wear earplugs!  I’m not talking about the useless foam ones, or the horrid plastic ones that make your ears sweat and itch.  There are great way ones available from Boots (and I bet other places) which work really well.  They also make a sort of ‘white noise’ sound in your ears which helps sleep.  Don’t worry though, I ALWAYS hear the kids somehow; it’s just one of those things.

 

Baby’s Sleep

I’m no expert in children or babies and their sleep, but these 3 basic things I do know:

1) Sleeping through the night

Ignore the term ‘Sleeping through the night’, it’s rubbish and used to judge Mums.  Plus it’s a myth as it actually means 5hrs, not 8hrs.  Many mums lie about it, and even if their kids slept through, I can promise you that there will be a problem at some point.  I aim for 3hrs on a trot, because that gets me through two good REM cycles, so being woken at that point and then going back to sleep doesn’t cause me a problem.

2) Co-sleeping

I am a fan of safely co-sleeping.  Well really I’m a fan of dong what works for Mummy and baby/child and it’s often a great solution.  It means I don’t have to get up and down all night long, which would have the worse effect of it taking ages for me to go back to sleep.  Don’t worry about your sex-life, just think out of the box and pick a different room.  Plus don’t worry about ‘bad-habits’; there are plenty of books out there giving advice on how to get them into their own beds at some point and I’m sure they will be out by the time they are 16.

3) Sleep Training

However, if you’re a working mum and for some reason this just wouldn’t work for you, then yes you will have to try some sort of sleep training.  Make sure you check out a good site with clear ideas on how long you can reasonably expect your baby to be sleeping first though e.g. Babycenter.  Elizabeth Pantley and Dr William Sears offer gentler solutions which you might want to try before going for the tougher ones.  Yes, I do believe that there can be consequences to it, in fact I suspect that my inability to sleep came from that sort of training as a baby (I didn’t learn to sleep, I just learnt to shut up).  However, those consequences are not as bad as you throwing the baby out of the window in severe sleep deprivation, so you’ve got to be practical about it.

 

If you have any tips to share that helped you out of a sticky sleep patch I’d love to hear.

Even better, if you try one of my tips and it works, please do come back and share it!

Don’t underestimate the power of sleep deprivation; remember it is used as torture.

Remember to check out my other tips for getting more energy as well, or healthy eating (even if you are a rubbish cook like me!).

(p.s. no one paid me anything to mention their products in this post)

 

 

Exhausted Mums

Does it help to know I struggle too?

Exhausted MumsDoes it help you when you are shattered to know that there are days or big periods of time when I struggle too?

Does that make you feel better about it, and normalise it?

Or does it make it seem hopeless?

Practially speaking, the only reason I can write the tips I write, and the whole inspiration behind my book ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You and Enjoying Being A Mum‘ was the fact that I have experienced the struggles that Mums have.

But I’m not sure that you want to know that I still have bad days? Or that sometimes I literally have to make myself read my own stuff to sort myself out?  Or that this means that there is no ‘permanent fix’ out there?  Is it more helpful to see a constantly positive image like Annabel Karmel gives?

 

So I’m having a ‘bad period’ at the moment.

Looking at the list below, it’s nothing major, it’s more the quantity.  If I write down everything that has happened it makes total sense that I’m knackered, shattered, overwhelmed, and not sure which way to turn.

 

1) Constant side of back, shoulder and jaw pain – improving, but had it for a couple of months, and haven’t been as often to the Osteopath as I needed to go because family life ‘got in the way’ (that old excuse).  So can’t run and get the escape I used to get and it’s affecting what little sleep I get.

2) Unreliable childcare – the lovely Nanny bets was ill, so the big northern one offered to cover my client sessions, then he couldn’t do it either.  I’ve literally stopped booking client sessions until I can be sure of my availability, and I’m frustrated by not having had enough time to publish V2 of my book with a paperback version and get on with my new book.

3) Unreliable cleaner – it was only a couple of hours a week, but it meant that I had 2hrs that I could play with Little Dimples or not do 1/4 of the weekend doing chores.  Don’t know what it is about me and cleaners, but I must have been through nearly 10 in the last 7yrs.

4) The journey to find a nursery – I must have been to every single one locally now, confusingly ranging from £14-£37 per morning.  I was hoping for a cheap option in order to reduce the worry about paying for nursery, but ended up in tears just before the Jubillee after a rubbish settle; they didn’t introduce themselves to Little Dimples and only spoke to her for 5mins.  When I asked how come they thought she would stay with them next time they just looked bemused.  I’ve found a great one, but it’s in the expensive list and I still have the settles to do.

5) I’ve missed my mum; I’ve pretty much sorted my grief i.e. I remember her without pain, but it’s the best times and worst times that I miss having a Mum most.  I’ve also not been chatting to my mates enough on the phone because I used to phone them on the way back from the school run.  Last week I found my Mums favourite cousin had died; he was 88 and I saw him last year and knew I probably wouldn’t see him again; but I’m still very sad about it.

6) Of course I’ve been worried about Curly Headed Boy changing from private to state school, and there have been times when the nerves and excitement meant he’s had a few massive meltdowns.  Little Dimples has not adapted to the new school run at all and I regularly have a screaming child on one of the trips.

7) I got a stomach bug, which left me exhausted and feeling nauseous just before the half-term.

8) I’m finding it weird adjusting to the northern one being a contractor as it means not taking a monthly salary and I worry that we’ll over spend.  Ironically he doesn’t appreciate the fact that I don’t want to spend too much, so it’s not a popular thing to be worried about at home.

9) I just don’t seem to have the time to get all the work, family and to do’s done and it feels like walking through thick mud trying to get anything done.  For example, we’re trying to work out what we need for our first camping trip, but the time it takes is ages (I’m making some Pinterest boards so that if you guys need help I can make it quicker for you).  We’re worried that we picked the wrong tent and went to see another one at the weekend, but the horror of the ugliness of them all literally had me in tears ….. yep that’s the other problem, I’m like a walking waterworks at the moment.  Plus I’m behind on all my health stuff – I need to see a dentist, reckon I need glasses and the old smear test reminder came through the other day.  Just looking at my diary to see where I can fit them in is stressful.

10) Little Dimples dislocated her elbow poor little mite which meant that there’s been very little sleep for a week

 

Oh and I forgot to say that a squirrel bit me! Evil squirrel!

 

So it’s nothing major really.  I’m just whining really, because there’s been good things or are good things to look forward to as well –

1) I have a small group of really great mates, and felt loads better after speaking to one of them last night.

2) I was really chuffed to be nominated as a finalist in the BiBs and the MADs 

3) I’ve been really lucky with treats for me and the kids from my blog, from a wooden trike, to visit to whipsnade, and outfit from Joe Browns for Britmums, an invite to both the Penn Festival and Just So Festival and a weeks holiday in Siblu france.

4) The big hairy northern one’s contract seems to be going well at the moment and there are possibilities that it will be much longer than thought.

5) I really enjoyed being interviewed by Danny Smith over at Radio Verulam and have got an exciting new project coming up with them in the next couple of months.

6) Curly Headed Boy has just taken up Tap and Street Dance, so there will be lots more time for me to get some writing done on my book before the summer holidays.  Plus, although it’s taking a while to settle in with the kids he’s loving the school and it’s making a big difference for him (more about that soon).

7) The nursery I’ve eventually found for Little Dimples looks really good and will take her straight through to school, with great gardens and lots of space.

8) I’ve loved the Jubilee parties, it was all great fun and felt very community orientated.

9) I’ve got a new pillow which has really helped and a new mattress arriving tomorrow.

10) I’m really looking forward to the discussion den I’m helping with about online negativity next week at Britmums live.  Getting together with a pile of bloggers is bound to pick me up.

 

I’ve done all the tips that I wrote up on how to get energy quickly and then got hit by little dimples getting hurt.  So I’ve also cried, as that’s good for us too.  I probably just need some sleep and some sunshine.

It’s just going to be a matter of writing a list following my Dump/Delegate/Do/Delay motto and slowly working my way through all the things and accepting that I can’t click my fingers and make it better tomorrow.

But I’m going to make sure it’s better in time for the summer holidays so that I can have a lovely few weeks with the kids – that gives me 5 weeks to get through the list.

 

 

Exhaustion Tips: My Top Tips For Getting Your Energy Back Fast

I’ve written a lot about how to get more energy and deal with exhaustion.  But I thought it might be an idea to write my favourite top 10 tips for dragging myself back from the brink in double quick time.  I’d recommend bookmarking it for ‘times of trouble’ or just before the holiday season when you need a quick perk up in order to survive the holidays and enjoy them.

 

I did wonder whether the fact that I have to do this means that I’m doing something wrong?  Then I decided it’s all just a fact of life when you have two young kids, not much sleep and are trying to work from home.  Anyway, I don’t have enough energy to feel guilty about not having enough energy; that crazy circle will just keep going on and on and on.

 

So in order of priority (and I don’t do them all, it just depends on why I’m tired as to which one I do).

 

1) Floradix – this is a liquid iron and mineral supplement, great for tired Mums, especially if you are breastfeeding

2) Epsom salts bath – get a big bag from a health food shop for about £5 and put 2 cups in the bath.  Then soak for 20mins.  It still works if the kids are in with you, it just isn’t as restful!

3) Blueberries – magic little blue balls, no idea how they do it, but they work a treat

4) Music – the perfect fast pick me up when I have something I’ve got to do

5) One step at a time – when I’m shattered and it’s the end/beginning of the day I just start with one thing first and take it slowly one step at a time.  I aim to get the priorities sorted i.e. food cooked, cleared up, kids clean and in bed and ignore everything else.  It’s a bit like the blue fish Dory on ‘Finding memo’ who says “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”

6) Walk – If I can get 20 mins to go for a walk outside on my own it really helps me.  I suppose it might be because I’m half tree hugger, but I’m pretty sure it works for everyone.

7) Massage/reflexology – I find reflexology is amazing when I’m at the end of my tether and very reasonable with a local Mum

8) Hour to myself to go out – oh the bliss to go out, ALONE, to pootle and not have anyone need me for 60 minutes.

9) Write down the rubbish out of my head – If I’m also worried/stressed I get a notebook and write all the rubbish out of my head.

10) Count my blessings – Then I try to look at what I have got and can be grateful for, which really helps

So there they are, my top emergency tips for Mums who need energy ASAP.
Do you have any to share?
Need some more?  Check out the rest of my tips on getting more energy, or eating more healthily.  I’ve got a post coming up about sleep deprivation in the next couple of weeks as well.
(No one paid me for the mentions by the way)
Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Lost Myself and Can’t Find My Feet

Agony Aunt for MumsThe Problem

I received an email from a Mum a week or so ago that reminded me so much of what many of us feel at times in our lives:

I feel like I’ve lost myself and really can’t do anything, be a good mum, work or even decorate our house which we moved in last year. I don’t really think I’m depressed, but just can’t find my feet. 

 

I got a little more information from her, and here are the cliff notes, which I bet many of you can relate to as well:

  • 2.5yr old daughter who is not a good sleeper and goes to nursery two days per week
  • started her own consultancy business that her husband joined, but stopped working when had daughter and now feels unneeded in the business, although does some admin for it.  Can’t think of what to start instead and doesn’t have the confidence in herself as feels she is out of date now.
  • about a stone heavier than before having baby, size 14, doesn’t drink enough enough water, doesn’t priorities exercise each week
  • does wear makeup, but doesn’t spend much on self
  • organising building work on house
  • no nearby family support, a few friends
  • closeness is lacking with husband and intimacy is limited

 

Such a classic situation don’t you think bless her heart?

 

My Answer

Don’t feel bad lovely, this is such a normal way to feel and place to be, it doesn’t mean you have done something wrong or aren’t a good mother.  For a start having children changes our priorities and values, which can be very discombobulating.  It means that things that were once important to us aren’t anymore, so we have a bit of an identity crisis. We also lose power in our relationships because we often feel like we are contributing less.  Plus we have to do a pile of stuff that is just plain boring and doesn’t light our fires.  Then we add to that whole mess by not taking care of ourselves, and so the spiral continues down and down.

I like to work within our limitations, rather than rage against them.  So the idea is to find you ways of improving how you feel whilst you are still the major caretaker of your daughter, as things naturally shift when they start school.

 

There are several issues here, and this is the priority that I would look at them in:

1) Health and Fitness

2) Beginning to research ideas for work that can blossom when your daughter goes to school

3) Spend more time with husband

4) Sort out intimacy

 

The reason I’ve put them in that order is because if you gain confidence in yourself, the relationship will improve, if not disappear altogether.  The key is to start with yourself, even if all/some of the problems seem to be ‘out there’.  The key to when we are feeling so low is to give ourselves a fighting chance by strengthening the body; it’s amazing how that can help with how we feel emotionally and mentally.

When you says you are not ‘depressed’; hmmm who knows where the thin line between being down and being depressed really is.  I would warn you that you are close to that line.  I’m going to assume that you are well enough to be able to sort it out yourself when given clear action steps to follow.  HOWEVER, if this doesn’t work, please come back to me and I’ll give you a way of motivating yourself.  If that doesn’t work then I’ll know what to do, so don’t worry; it just means we need to tackle a few confidence issues directly.

 

Action Steps

 

1) Supplements

You are that tired that I think you might need some supplements.  Pop to a health food shop with a shop assistant who knows lots about it.  Also read my posts about getting more energy and supplements.

 

My favourite immediate energy boosters are:

  • Blueberries – magic little creatures!
  • 2xcup Epsom salts in bath – buy a BIG bag from health food shop when you are there.
  • Floradix – magic in a bottle
  • Omega 3,6 & 9 – otherwise my brain doesn’t work

 

2) Hydration

Your body can’t take in all those lovely vitamins and minerals unless you drink enough liquid.  It’s like trying to run a car without oil.  So you need to reduce the coffee by 1 or 2 cups, and not drink after late afternoon and drink more water.  Check out my post about why hydration is so important.

My top tips for adding water into your day is:

  • Drink water when you and your daughter brush your teeth – that’s three extra glasses.
  • Have a bottle of water in the car for when you go on the nursery run or to the shops.
  • Have a specific time of day mid-morning where you have a glass of water.

 

3) Nutrition

It doesn’t sound like you need to lose weight, but I reckon your eating isn’t helping the situation.  There is lots more information in my section called ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘, but here are the most important points:

  • Eat 5 fruit and vegetables a day (one with breakfast, one for snack mid morning and mid afternoon, then one or two with dinner and/or lunch)
  • Use a good fruit juice not from concentrate (counts as 1x5aday)
  • Eat different colours of fruit and vegetables
  • Eat something for breakfast however small
  • Eat a balanced meal with Protein AND Carbs AND half a plate of vegetables/salad (or fruit for dessert)
  • Cut back on the sugar – it’s a big downer (I’d say the same for alcohol if you were drinking much)

 

4) Exercise

A certain amount of exercise will get you healthier, a bit more will get you fit.  I know that you are running around with your daughter, but that won’t give you the endorphins or fun that exercise can give you.

  • On the days when she is at nursery your FIRST priority is to go to the gym or somewhere and do a fun class like dance/zumba or something that will calm your worries like yoga.  No cleaning or admin for the company until this is done!
  • EVERY day go outside for a 15 minute walk – even with your daughter

 

5) Ideas To Blossom

You aren’t ready to ‘find something to do’ yet.  So let’s get realistic and let’s get you researching ideas as your confidence improves.

  • Get yourself a notebook and write in it every idea you’ve ever had on what you could do.  DO NOT discount any ideas, even if you think you are unqualified now or you think they are pipe dreams.  Then keep adding ideas.
  • For each idea write the Pro’s and Con’s down.  There should be the SAME number of Pro’s as Con’s.  If not, you need to think a bit more about that idea to find more.
  • Also write what qualifications, skills or experience you have that might help and the additional training or experience needed that you don’t have.
  • Get into the habit of counting 3 blessings every night, even on a bad day there might have been a lovely rainbow, or good cup of coffee or hug from your daughter.  You can write them down if you like.
  • Get some of the rubbish out of your head and onto paper 1-5 times per week by writing all your worries and stresses down.  3 pages minimum.  Do it at least once per week.
  • I’m really not keen on you doing the ‘admin’ for your company, considering you started it initially and a virtual assistant is £20ph.  I see the logic in your doing it, but I don’t think that it’s good for your psychology.  We’ll chat more about this next time!

 

Then

Come back and let me know how you are doing regularly (you can comment on this blog anonymously).  Once you are feeling stronger in yourself, we are going to look at subtly shifting the power in your relationship with a clever trick that I know and getting you more sparkly.  Then we can look at your relationship itself – I have a few blog posts scheduled that you are going to like, so make sure that you have subscribed to my blog by email as well!

You might want in a week or two to buy my book ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You And Enjoying Being A Mum‘.  I’m in the middle of writing version 2 (with just a few minor changes and tweaks) which will also be out in paperback.  Once that comes out I’m raising the price from 89p!  (Remember you can read a kindle book without a kindle).

What do you think?

I’d love to know what you think, whether you are the originator of the question or not?

Have you felt like this too?  Can you let her know that it’s normal and only temporary, especially if she starts to take care of herself more as I suggested?

Or do you disagree and think she should go straight for sorting out her work and relationship?

Got a problem of your own?  Submit it to my problem corner.

An Alternative to New Years Resolutions: Your Top 3 Life Priorities


I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions, I think it’s a time for a detox, clear out and rest.

Goals can just add to the weight of things we don’t achieve as Mums.

What I use are ‘Life Priorities’

 

Life Priorities help you to organise your time, energy and money spends for the year ahead and only focus on what is important to you.

 

Imagine a year where you can finish it feeling satisfied that you covered all the most important bases (not everything, just the important stuff); it’s a good feeling!


To do it ..

  1. Get an hour to yourself (if possible, otherwise do it on the fly)
  2. Get a piece of paper and put on some music that relaxes or inspires you
  3. Think about everything that happened recently or in the last year that you can feel really grateful for  (this means the ideas come from the heart, not the logic of the mind or emotion of the gut).
  4. Now think about looking back at the end of your life
  5. What do you most want to be sure you have achieved?  What would you be gutted not to have?
  6. Pick 3.

I know three isn’t many, and that you will actually have lots of other priorities, and you are welcome to write down the others as well.  But what I do want you to just pick 3.  You’ll want to refine and polish them as time goes by, so don’t worry about making them perfect.

YOU CAN”T GET THIS WRONG!

Just Change It Later On If You Realise that other things are more important.

Mine are:

  1. That my kids feel loved from top to bottom by me and love me in return
  2. My books become ‘THE pick me up books for all Mums’
  3. That I stay strong in myself physically and emotionally

There are reasons behind all of these, and reasons why they take the top rankings, and they are in no way a judgement on the fact that I know already that yours will be different.

For example, for some parents the top priority is to provide every academic opportunity towards a secure future career for their children, or to ensure they make a great marriage, or to make sure they have amazing experiences, or to nurture them.  Some Mums might not have a potential career option, or not at the moment, or not feel it’s in the top 3.  Some might not have their health anywhere near the top 3 (I would really recommend that you consider how much it will help your kids if it is at least in your top 5 though).  Others might have providing financially, or spiritually as the top priority.  Maybe yours is maintaining your relationship (note to the hairy one: the reason our relationship is No4 is because me being strong has always been an important aspect to the success of our relationship).

Why bother?  Because we all get tired, overwhelmed, stressed, overloaded, exhausted, knackered, unfocussed and end up fire fighting and headless chicken running around at some point.

If every morning you remind yourself what your top 3 priorities are, you will be able to make sure that AT LEAST those are done, and then the rest.  Plus loads of things you’ll just not bother to do, saving you time, energy and money.

Plus you can manage your weekly To Do’s and make sure that you at least make time for these three.

What it means is that:

  • I make time to hug my kids, because otherwise I get unhappy.
  • I exercise 3 times a week, and eat pretty healthily.
  • When work opportunities come up and I’m busy, I pick the ones that help me to spread my books

In my book, I talk more about how to pick your top priorities and find out more about you as a person and what you love to do, or have or who you love to spend time with, so if you’d like to find out more, remember you can read a kindle book without a kindle.

Fancy finding your Top 3 Life Priorities?  Pop your top 3 priorities below when you’ve done it or come over to my Pinterest board and add them there..  If you blog about it you are very welcome to add a link in a comment to any blog posts you write about it, so that other Mums can get ideas for how it helps or what affect it has on you.

Here’s a summary for you as a picture, I can’t wait to hear what you pick!

Exhaustion Tips: Alcohol

We moved into our town house when I just had a couple of months before Curly Headed Boy was born.  It’s a crescent with 14 houses, and half are full of young families whose babies started to appear 6 weeks after Curly Headed Boy was born.  So it was also pretty sociable, because we were all limited by our babies, so we often just got together.

However, there were a few differences between me and the others, and I eventually had to realise that there was no way in hell that I could ‘keep up’ with them.  It’s partially because I’m older, don’t drink much normally, my babies haven’t enjoyed sleeping much, I chose to co-sleep and because I don’t have a good relationship with alcohol (maybe too much at one point in my youth).  If I actually drank to the point of getting drunk, it would mean probably two weeks of feeling rough, and I decided I just couldn’t afford it.

Saying that, I’m a big fan of Mums getting together and drinking a glass of wine rather than coffee, because my observations of coffee mornings is that they are full of people with gritted teeth saying slightly manically ‘Of course, I’m fine’; whereas after a glass or two the story would be very different.

Life has moved on, and us crescent Mums hardly ever manage to get together, now it’s probably once every 6 months in an evening instead of the afternoon, and they have to be a little understanding of Little Dimples being along with me as she feeds lots in the evening.  So this week when I did have the chance to get together with Curly Headed Boy’s best-friend and his Mum, I admit to having a couple of glasses of bubbles; bubbles tend to cause me less of a hangover than plain wine, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!  It was chaos as always, two boys and a baby covered head to toe in sand by the end who had to be both showered and thrown in the bath!  That night I got a rubbish night’s sleep from Little Dimples; she’s had a summer cold, plus eye teeth coming through; argggh, so I woke up with a washing machine stomach and feeling pretty rubbish.

In the morning I sent a tweet saying ‘The great thing about playdates with neighbours is the wine, the bad thing is the next day after too much wine (I’m a wimp!)’, and I got pulled up by a concerned Mum who felt that I should wait until the evening incase there was an emergency.  Now the problem with a tweet is that it never gives the full story, so now I’ve explained, that a) I’m a wimp and get a hangover even if not drunk b) it’s safer for me to drink during the day than evening due to co-sleeping.  But I suppose the question is, should I drink at all?  Plus, should I be more careful of my tweets giving the wrong impression?

No, I agree with the Mum actually, if I was perfect and it was a perfect world I wouldn’t drink ever until Little Dimples is out of my bed and I can drink at night.  This would be my 6th year totally teetotal though.  I don’t drink much, in fact I’m talking months without alcohol easily.  I suppose ironically I would handle my drink better if I drank more often.  But my parents were alcoholics, so although I think it’s Ok for other people to drink every night, I don’t think it is OK for me to drink at night.

So my solution is: when I drink to stick to bubbles and not mix, have a can of Purdeys available the next day plus a ham sandwich and packet of crisps, a good cuppa and a bar of chocolate.  I will mainly stick to drinking in the afternoon, and not the evening for the time being, although Little Dimples is probably way big enough to smack me one if I rolled on her.  This I admit is risky, not massively so, but there is a risk that I wasn’t 100% and there was an emergency.  However, I’m sometimes so tired that I’m also not 100% then either.  In fact I can guarantee that all us parents take risks, just different ones.

The ‘wrong impression’ concept is worrying, I’m sure that will come up more and more in the years to come.  However, my message will always be about ‘everything in moderation’, so in many ways I was being consistent.  What I’m really pleased about was that the Mum felt that she could question me.  She didn’t do it aggressively at all, and I hope it shows that people think I’m approachable.  So if you ever want to question what I say, feel free to do so.  I’ll explain myself and consider what you said, I just can’t promise to change, that’s all!

In general, my advice would be to avoid Alcohol as much as possible if you are exhausted because it will make matters worse, as you will feel rubbish the next day and not get a good quality of sleep.  But if you need companionship and need to see a mate with a glass of wine, then just make sure to eat as well, drink a soft drink at the same time, and buy a sports/health drink the next day to help you out.  Be warned though, your decision making might be affected and if you go beyond a couple of glasses you are going to really regret it.  Plus you will need to be especially careful if you are co-sleeping, breast-feeding or pregnant.  It’s about balance.  Remember, it’s only a limit for a short time, so you will be able to drink to your hearts content if you so wish very soon!

Luckily for me, I’m fine today, and the washing machine stomach disappeared after the cuppa and chocolate yesterday.  Or maybe I forgot all about it in the chaos that is soft-play parties for 5 year olds, who knows!