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?

Back Pain

A Hidden Pain and Silent Fog: Fibromyalgia

Dangers of positive thinking
Good news, Bad news

 

I have some news.

It has good bits and not so good bits, but that’s life heh!

It explains why I’ve been a little quiet (but you may not have noticed).

It explains why I’ve been a bit flakey and unreliable (I hope you haven’t noticed).

It’s also about the next 6 months

 

 

 

 

What’s been going on?

I’ve been struggling with ‘back pain’ since January, which just seemed to get worse and worse.  I’ve tried a very experienced Osteopath and her Physiotherapist, then an Acupuncturist.

I also started looking at potential emotional stressors, as my opinion is that there is always an emotional/mental aspect to an illness, as well as a nutritional/environmental/genetic/physical reason (I’m going to someone who does a form of behavioural kinesiology that I used to be a practitioner of).

Back Pain
Photo from NHS website

But it got worse and worse, and then I realised that I had gone from just a general tired lethargy to being properly depressed, isolated, feeling hopeless and miserable, as the pain was excruciating.

So I went to the doctor.  It took me a while because of the receptionists and ridiculous booking policy.  But I got some anti-inflammatories, that helped to turn the pain levels down.

I was so frustrated with myself.  13 years ago when I had a lovely little Reiki practice, I used to be able to turn a bad back (one that needed surgery) around in under 3 months.  I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t fix myself.  Of course this didn’t help!

I was also beginning to worry that I didn’t have a bad back, because my Dad died after 6 months of a bad back from cancer.

Then I decided to try a Pilates studio who did a mixture of Pilates and Osteopathy called Osteolates, which at last seemed to make a dent in the pain.  After I had to go back to the doctor for more pills, the Pilates guy had a talk with me and told me to go back and get more help.

The doctor listened and then said ‘have you heard of Fibromyalgia?’.

And so it is a few weeks later after some tests that I now understand, not just why my back hurts, but also why my tummy has been worse and I needed the probiotics and why I’ve gone from being quite organised, to being so flakey that I can look at my diary and STILL double book something.

 

What’s Fibromalgia?

Fibro fog
Picture from Craig Martin Illustrations

It’s the nerves basically being over sensitive and feeling more pain.  They aren’t sure what causes it.

For me it is pains down both arms, hips, legs, across my shoulders, right hand side of my back, left hand side of my neck, sometimes head, right hand side of my jaw, and a feeling of something trapped behind my left hand shoulder.

It’s really bad in the morning, and I HAVE to have a warm shower to get moving.  It will ease off by mid-afternoon, but is awful in bed at night, so has disturbed my already disturbed sleep.

Others have it a loss less, and it’s more of a tingling or lack of sensation in hands and feet, which is scarily reminiscent of MS.

Some have it a lot more and can hardly work or move with it; I’m very lucky this is not me and I’m focussed on improving my symptoms, so that I don’t end up debilitated by it.  (It’s not however a degenerative or terminal illness luckily).

I also have had a return of my old IBS symptoms and worse sleep (they don’t know if sleep is the cause or bad sleep happens because of Fibromalgia).

Worst of all is the fibre-fog which had me forgetting 2 appointments with a health visitor, and Curly Headed Boy one day telling me off for being so disorganised.

At first I was a bit shell shocked as it seems a much more complicated thing to tackle than just a bad back.  I’m also not very keen on ‘labels’.  But now I’m getting my head around it, I think that Im much better off knowing, as I can now make some changes.  I’m really lucky my doctor was aware of it and open to it, because many aren’t.

 

So my plan?

Time to stop for a whileI’m backing off work big time for the next 6 months:

  • Paid blog posts are too much effort if you do them properly, they also add to the list of ‘To dos’.
  • I’m still on facebook and twitter; but I’ll be around a lot less
  • I have an existing client who I will continue to support as she doesn’t need weekly help, but I wont take any more on.
  • I won’t be publishing the second edition of my book or the paperback.
  • I won’t be finishing my new book ‘Lose Weight the healthy way without diets or bootcamps‘.
  • This also takes the pressure off finding a nursery for Little Dimples (which has been disastrous).

I’m going to play more with the kids and have tea with mates more.

I’ll keep blogging once or twice a week because I love it and doing my monthly Lifestyle feature for Radio Verulam.

The doctor has just started me on some pills to give me better sleep and help with the pain.  They are actually a mild-antidepressant when taken in bigger quantities, so I don’t think I want to stay on for too long.  But a break and a chance for my body to recover seems like a good idea.  Apparently it also confirms the diagnosis, if they work (which after one night I’m pretty sure they do).

The dentist has referred me to the hospital to see if they can help me with the jaw pain.  Apparently my teeth are wonderful, which must be down to the little water-spray gadget I got from Britmums live, as I’ve always been rubbish at flossing!

I’ve improved enough to start going to the Pilates classes at the studio (rather than 1to1’s), so I’ll stick with that to keep my spine moving and get my core stronger.  Non-pounding exercise is meant to help a lot, so I need to gradually add 3 more things per week.

I’m going to start ‘meditating‘ once a week, which is meant to be great for stress (which escalates the pain dramatically); but I’ve found a fun way, which I’ll tell you all about (it’s slightly wacky!).

I’m going to meet with a few other people who also have it to swap stories and ideas on how to tackle it.

I might look at hypnotherapy to improve my sleep as I had it once at 26 and it lasted brilliantly for 10yrs.  I know loads about sleep improvement, because I’ve had so little for so long, but it would be easier to just sleep!  We’ve also moved the beds around in the house and bought me a new bed to make it easier.

The doctor is going to put me down for some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which is meant to help loads with dealing with the pain.

I have a huge belief in the power of nutrition, so at some point I’m going to have to face a big change in the way I eat; probably once some of the other bits and pieces are in place.  I have been a big fan of the Food hospital on channel 4 and they definitely had both eating plans for improving neurological issues and also inflammation (which are the main symptoms).

I’ll keep up with the kinesiology to dig up any emotional/mental aspects, which I suspect are from a long time ago.

 

Sooooo …

I’m sorry if I’ve not always been very ‘present’ recently; it’s been because of the pain that I got bored of mentioning and the fog that has clouded me from the world.

If you need me I’m always here at the end of my blog/facebook/twitter and I love to help, so it will ‘help me to help you’ (hows about coming over for a cuppa instead?).  So never feel bad about asking.  However, I’m not going to look for people to help.

If I don’t get involved with your event, charity, project or other thingy, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s just that I’m taking some time out for me.

I was a bit embarrassed that I’ve gotten myself into such a state, but it’s daft to worry about that right?  At least some of you Mums out there will see what can happen when you keep trying to juggle all the balls, just because you’ve been able to in the past.

Luckily I never pretended I was perfect, and hopefully my blog posts about my improvement (the power of positive thinking and all that), will help other people.

If you know anyone with one of ‘those’ illnesses which are difficult to diagnose like Fibromalgia,  M.E. or CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), then you might want to point them in this direction for a while.  I’d also love to hear of any blogs that you know.

Hopefully at the end of all this I’ll be a lot stronger and ready to take over the world with my books again!

 

Update: I’ve set up a page to record all the useful information and people that I find in my fibromyalgia journey.  I’d love to hear more from fellow sufferers either here or on that page.

 

 

 

Naughty Kids

Is Having Two Kids Harder Than One?

Naughty Kids

 

Things are so much easier now!

AND SO MUCH HARDER!

 

Philosophically I get that life is just different, children change, our challenges change, things aren’t ‘harder’ or ‘easier’, they are just different.

But I’m surprised how much more difficult it is.

Billie Piper talked about it his week (warning, that’s a link to the Daily Fail).  I feel for her, but I do like knowing that ‘even celebs’ have the same problems; is that horrid of me?.

 

I LOVE seeing the kids together; I’m so glad I chose to have two, and there are times when they keep each other occupied.

There are also times when I need to step in before armageddon erupts.

It’s true that I have vaguely more clue about dealing with children now; hence it’s easier.

But of course being contrary she is so blinking different too; I even have to discipline them differently.

I don’t have as many ‘firsts’ to deal with, and know more about what to expect.

But I still have all CHB’s firsts as he gets older, plus keep my eye on the rerun with LD.

Meanwhile I have two children, so I’m very aware that there is less space for the big hairy northern one to be anything but self-reliant and self-responsible.

And I’m definitely more knackered.

 

Kids love muddy festivalsOh and don’t get me on the naughtiness.  It’s not double the naughtiness, its QUADRUPLE!

Little Dimples was BORN with a naughty look in her eye.  She encourages Curly Headed Boy to be naughtier, is naughty herself, teaches him new tricks, and then learns things that he picks up from school.  OMG!

 

I’m struggling to work as much.  It shouldn’t be any harder to work, as with CHB at school I have nearly the same amount of time.  But I’ve had a big reality check over the last month and my plans/deadlines/ideas are all going to have to wait.

 

I talk to Mums with older kids, who explain that they thought they would be able to go back to work, but actually the amount of emotional support their kids need when at school has made it virtually impossible.  So I’m expecting at some point to be less physically knackered and then have to up my mental/emotional game.

 

I take my hat off to Mums who have more than two; you don’t have enough arms for them or eyes, how the hell do you do it!  You are what I would term ‘professional Mums’.

 

Have you decided to stick to one child?  Or did you go for two like me?  Or are you one of the ‘brave’ who has a whole handful of kids?

 

Full moon is magic

I can’t sleep after sex or during the full moon – HELP!

Can't sleep during full moonSo lovely blog readers I have a problem for you to solve!

I’ve googled it, but can’t for the life of me find a solution, so I’m turning to you incredible peeps to find one for me.  Because I have a BIG problem!

You know how I wrote my top tips on getting to sleep or back to sleep for busy Mums and Dads?

They work for me all the time apart from one.  And that one time makes me a bit freaky in comparison to the rest of the world.

It’s after that ‘sexy time’.  I’m not snoozy, cozy, sleepy, dozy, snuggly or any of those lovely things.

No I’m WIDE AWAKE and full of energy and adrenalin.

Whats up with that world?

Everyone else is falling fast to sleep in a happy daze.  But oh no, not my body, no it’s totally contrary.

So I just go with it and read, blog or do admin.  But if you had a solution I’d love you forever, because I don’t get loads of sleep anyway on a ‘normal’ day.

Remember when I talked about scheduling sex?  Well this means that I literally go through my diary in my head and work out if I can afford to have a couple of hours less sleep with what I’m doing the next day.  Sex is difficult enough to fit into life with two young kids, without also worrying about it making me even more tired (hence I’m so good at writing tips on how to get more energy – arggh!)

Oh and another freaky thing.  There is NO WAY IN HELL I can have sex around a full moon; because I can’t sleep during a full moon anyway, but add sex into the equation and there will be NO sleep ALL NIGHT.

Sorry for the shouting, but OMG!  I don’t just have to be the PA to my kids and the hairy northerner, I also have to keep track of the blinking moon!

Does this officially make me a witch?  Many people have suspected as much in the past; perhaps I should go and run around the full moon naked instead?

So looking forward to your ideas.  I’ll try anything!

 

UPDATE

So I haven’t totally cracked the problem or found out why it happens, but I’ve certainly met loads of people on twitter who have the same problem.

I have had an improvement by watching the full moon more closely and making sure that I’m even more careful about what I eat and drink in the run up to it (no caffiene after 4pm, reduce sugar and chocolate).

Plus I’ve kind of embraced both problems, so I’ll have a plan for work to do just in case I can’t sleep and aim to get a little bit of sleep at least when I’ve exhausted all the extra mental energy.

Oh and definitely avoiding sex for a couple of days around the full moon (sorry husband!) as the combination is a no-no.

 

 

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: 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!

Video Wed: Exhaustion Tips: To cheer you up if it’s sleep deprivation

This week I’m combining my Video Wed with the Tips on how to deal with Exhaustion!

Sometimes we are just exhausted because we are Mums.  Sometimes it’s because of the pressures of life.  But sometimes it’s because our little blighters / gorgeous children are rubbish sleepers!

Mine are rubbish sleepers, I haven’t ‘slept through the night’ in 5yrs.  There are reasons why I haven’t done rigorous sleep training with them, but the good news is that the attitude that I took with Curly Headed Boy has paid off, because he is 99.9% of the time fantastic about bedtime and going to sleep now a days; so lets hope that oneday Little Dimples is the same.

Anyway, there is a new book called ‘Go the F*** to Sleep’ by Adam Mansbach which is hysterical; but even better is the fact that Samuel L Jackson has read it on YouTube, only a parent could read it with such emphasis!  (DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO WITH YOUR CHILDREN: bad language warning!).

Exhaustion Tips – Always start with Physical

I’m pretty much a past master at dealing with exhaustion, having not slept through the night for 5 years.  However, it’s not really as bad as it sounds and only sometimes gets as bad as I described a couple of months ago.  In my situation, it isn’t a case of changing the kids, it’s more about dealing with it, and still enjoying my life.

I know when I’m exhausted because I want to shout at people/kids or cry.  That is the sign that it’s gone too far.  The emotional side to it can get thoroughly overwhelming, so I always recommend that we focus on supporting our bodies first of all.  If the body feels as good as it can, considering the lack of sleep, then it will help us to keep our emotions more balanced as well.

I was particularly reminded of this recently, because things had improved, and so rather cockily I had stopped taking the supplements I listed below.  Suddenly things got worse (Little Dimples at 15 months has decided to develop molars; Oh joy), and I was absolutely knackered, like someone had let all my energy down the drain.  I was thinking which of my exhaustion tips to publish this week, when I realised that I hadn’t yet published this one, and oh yes, had actually not been taking my magic potion (see point 1) for a couple of weeks because Ocado has stopped stocking it.  So I’m back on it, and perking up already.

(Please note, I am not a doctor, these are not meant to replace being sensible and going to the doctor.  If you have any medical issues, please check with your doctor before trying anything that you haven’t done before).

Things that keep the body going are:

  1. Floradix – this is a magical iron and mineral supplement, which makes a huge difference to me.  Pricey and for some reason it’s no longer available from sainsburies or Boots or Ocado.  But you can get it from a health food shop and other chemists (My local health food shop in Radlett sells it)
  2. Blueberries – seriously, I had a mate who visited once every couple of weeks, and I found that although we worked all day and I was tired, I seemed to be fine the next day.  Then I realised that she came with a big packet of blueberries, and I got the same results if I bought my own.
  3. Drinking water/squash – if your body doesn’t get it’s 8 glasses of water a day it thinks it’s in a desert: enough said!
  4. Bathing in Epsom Salts – you buy a huge bag from a health shop and pop 2 cup full’s in a bath.  It helps MASSIVELY with the sense of overwhelm.  It also helps to ensure that you get 1hr alone each week.
  5. Not too much chocolate – If I eat too much I get a headache and feel worse.  I’m not cutting it out, because it works for me right now, it’s just about limiting it daily, just as it is wise to limit caffienne and fizzy drinks.
  6. 15 min walk – I mentioned last week how fresh air always helps.  I’m not talking about running or anything strenuous that might tip your body over the edge, just a brisk walk every day.
  7. Massage/Reflexology – I’m a big proponent of massage or reflexology.  Even if you can only afford it once a month or less, you can do some yourself or find people in training you are cheaper.
  8. Omega 3,6 and 9 oils keep my brain more in order than it is without!
  9. Vitamins – as I’m still breastfeeding, I am taking pregnacare, because as much as I love Little Dimples, I know that she is basically a parasite sucking all the nutrients out of me.
  10. 5 fruit/veg a day – it takes a little effort, but is worth it, and I can feel the difference when I don’t manage it for a couple of days.

Not all of these things are cheap, but I suppose that being nearly 42 I’ve prioritised my health a bit higher up my list now, so it just means not doing something else.  Feel free to add your recommendations for people below, every little helps!

For more ideas …..

You might like to check out the rest of my tips on dealing with exhaustion.

UPDATE February 2012 – I’ve also just started a whole series on ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘ which will take you through the most simple and basic nutrition that you need to know and some simple recipes.

For a whole life makeover, check out my book ‘The Mummy Whisperers Six Steps To A Sparkling You and Enjoying Being A Mum‘ – only 99p and you don’t have to have a kindle to read it.

Exhaustion Tip: Caffiene and panic attacks

The worst thing about being exhausted sometimes is then not being able to get to sleep.  I’ve got several tips on this, but the first is the most obvious; self-inflicted insomnia!

Do you ever lie down and your heart is pumping a hundred to the dozen?  It almost feels like you are having a panic attack, and despite feeling awful you just cant sleep?  Then you are drinking or eating too much caffienne too late in the day, or something else that speeds up your metabolism.  For instance, there are certain wines that have the same effect on me, maybe they have chemicals in them.

So try no coffee/coke after 4pm and if that doesn’t work try not having it after lunch.

Plus NO chocolate in the evening, which is tough I know, but it is full of caffiene especially the dark good stuff.

Watch out for some alcohol, medicines, and fizzy drinks, I’ve often been caught out by Lemsip because some types of lemsip have something to help you function during the day in them.

If this tip helps, I’d love to know, so please do pop a comment below.

If you would like to know how close to the red line you are running your life, then pop your email address in on the right hand side to sign up for my newsletter, and you will get my free Life Health Questionnaire.