Learning to let go: Prioritising Yourself

Letting go is hard to do…..but it’s the right thing to do

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Learning to let go and focus on yourself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Go of Work

I left work last week to start my maternity leave. I found it really difficult actually, even though I was pretty relieved to be leaving as I felt pretty tired and fat and ready to be at home and get ready for the new arrival. Why did I find it hard? I found it hard because I had to let go of the things I had control of at work. I had to hand things over to other people. I couldn’t finish some pieces of work, and it was hard to leave something half-finished for someone who is a complete perfectionist. I also couldn’t do some things at work due to risk, and I had to let other people do these things for me. It felt a little disempowering, to be honest.

I found myself getting more worked up about these little things, as I felt such possession over my work and my role, I was struggling to let go, even though bizarrely it was my choice to have another baby which led me to the situation in the first place! I’ve never been good with transitions, and this is just another case of me  having to learn to move on and let go.

Let Go of Maternity Leave

It reminded me of going back to work after maternity leave. I had to let go in reverse that time. I had created a lovely maternity leave bubble, and having spent almost every day for a year with Nancy I found it really hard to hand her over to other people to look after as I went to work. I knew her little ways, what she liked to eat, how she liked to sleep. I couldn’t imagine how she would cope with other people doing these things with her, and I really did struggle initially when others were out having fun with her, whilst I was sat at work.

Over time, it became easier. Life become routine, normal and everyone settled into their lives and roles. Time and space is a good healer. Just as now, sitting here in my living room watching Netflix, any feelings of stress about my job have all dissipated. I can’t even remember what I was getting so het up about. I’ve let go, I’ve relaxed, I’ve cleared my mind of the stress that was balled up in there the past few weeks and I’m focusing on the next task – getting this bubba out. Gulp.

Let Go of Stress

This has got me thinking in general about trying to  let go and eradicate stress in my life. The past 12 months have been highly stressful and for a while my mental health suffered. Since this time I’ve tried hard to not let things escalate.

Stress in general can block you from achieving what you want, as can other people. I find I’m always the person people come to with a problem or an issue;  I do like to help others but there comes a time for all of us when the stresses and worries of others can be reflected back onto us, and we suddenly feel responsible for other people and their actions, or desperately trying to think of solutions for other people. It becomes even more frustrating when those you are trying to help, and asked for help, don’t even take the advice or listen to your solutions, meaning you have worried and stressed about something for nothing!

You shouldn’t feel guilty for prioritising yourself in your life.

Focus on YOU

So, how do you let go? How do you drop these things from your mind when initially they can seem all-consuming? I think you have to focus on one thing: yourself.

What makes you happy.

What can you actually do.

Your life. Your dreams. Your wishes.

Doing things for myself and getting interested in crafts and creative tasks have really helped me to calm and relax. It is amazing how your mind can empty when you pick up a crochet hook or start reading a book. It’s important to remember to make time for yourself amidst the work, family, friends, babies.

Let Go of trying to fix others

I’ve also learnt that I can’t fix everything, or everyone. I can help as much as I can, but there comes a time when you just have to stop and regroup, and not let it totally consume you.

I could sit here and worry and stress about a hundred different things – and yes, sometimes things do take over my mind and I find it hard to shake off. But I try my best not to worry about things I have no control over, or that don’t even directly affect me. I can’t solve everyone’s problems and I’ve realised that in order to make myself happy, I have to focus on my life, and what I want from it. You shouldn’t feel guilty for prioritising yourself in your life.

Letting go of all of these things is empowering.

If people want you in their life, they will make the effort, as will you. If you’ve managed to work out how to juggle your life, solve your problems, others can do too. If people choose not to accept your advice, that is up to them. You are not irreplaceable at work, someone else can do just as good a job as you, and they will – and that’s OK. Choosing to focus on your family and nothing else for a while is not selfish.

Letting go of all these things is hard, but it is the right thing to do. Getting caught up in all of these things is not healthy and will only make you feel bad – usually for no reason at all.

Let. It. Go.

(How tempted were you to start singing Frozen songs then, eh?)

Preparing for Baby Number 2: Then and Now

Oh how times do change between your first and second baby…..

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Preparing for Baby…..Then and Now……

Purchases

Then: Buy everything new. Shiny and new.

Now: De-moulding the car seat that’s been sat in the garage for 3 years

Baby Fashion

Then: Buy a special ‘just been born’ outfit, as well as a ‘leaving hospital’ outfit, plus spares if required

Now: Finding the old baby clothes and doing the ‘sniff test’ – if they smell OK, chuck ‘em straight in the drawer

Clothing

Then: Spend so much time and money buying baby stuff you forget to buy anything non maternity that will fit post-birth

Now: Buy yourself about 50 pairs of new pyjamas

Cleanliness

Then: Carefully wash (on a gentle wash with Fairy) every soft toy then go over with an anti-bacterial wipe when dry then finish off with a spray of dettol

Now: Use a wet wipe to wipe over a few of the baby toys lying around in the back of the cupboard

Nappies

Then: Research every nappy on the market, only buy those which are gold rated by at least 3 parenting magazines. Spend hours agonising which size to buy for a newborn

Now: Pick up a packet of essential/value nappies each time you shop, in various sizes

Cooking

 

Then: spend your early pre-baby maternity leave days cooking batches of wholesome slow-cooker meals and freeze them in little tubs with labels on

Now: Chuck a few packets of pizzas and oven chips in the freezer, concentrate on stockpiling tea and coffee like a nuclear war is pending

Hospital Bag

Then: Pack about 3 hospital bags because you just can’t fit everything into one bag!

Now: Chuck a toothbrush, PJs, pack of maternity pads, 5 nappies, wet wipes and a handful of used baby clothing in a carrier bag

Knowledge

Then: Read a lot of books about pregnancy and birth. Download baby apps, pelvic floor apps, labour apps until your phone memory is full

Now: Download the Domino’s pizza app and whilst waiting for said pizza do a pelvic floor exercise. If you remember

Birth Plan

Then: Write a very descriptive birth plan, covering every eventuality and including a spotify playlist. This should include Kate Bush ‘ This Woman’s Work’ and with two choices of song to play once baby is born dependent on gender (Isn’t she lovely by Stevie Wonder and Father and Son by Cat Stevens).

Now: Forget to write said birth plan, and you don’t care what music is played as long as it isn’t Now That’s What I Call Disney

What other preperation have you done for baby number 2?!

Dear Baby 

Sorry baby, we haven’t meant to totally ignore you for the past 7 months…..

Dear Baby

I’m sorry you’ve taken a back seat 

I’m sorry I’ve sort of forgot 

I’m sorry you’re soon to be wearing castoffs 

And sleeping in a second hand cot 

I haven’t bought any nappies 

I really am quite far behind 

I haven’t even thought of your name 

I really am losing my mind

I’ve been quite frankly knackered 

And life’s just so busy and fast 

It’s not that you are not wanted 

At bedtime your sisters a pain in the….bum 

I’m not sure how we will do it 

But they say you should just slot in

Whatever you do, I’ll have my back up

Of chocolate and a bottle of gin 

We are excited to meet you

Just a quiet excited you see 

So please let me get a bit of sleep

And maybe one cup a day of hot tea 

Finding Mummy

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I feel more like myself now than I ever have. Before I had Nancy,  I worried that I would lose myself, but to be honest I feel like by having Nancy, I found myself.

I feel more confident, more sure of my decisions and I am not afraid to express them. I think the first initial months with Nancy taught me that no-one has the “right” answer and that you need to go with your own gut instinct.

I like how I look like now. Yes I could lose a few pounds but I actually like what I wear and I’m confident in what I choose to wear. I wear the make-up I want to, and when I wear lipstick,  I don’t feel stupid.

I’m starting to explore hobbies, interests, things that I can learn and grow and develop. Things I never did before. What did I used to do before? I had so much time yet I never did anything remotely satisfying with it. Now I’m crocheting, reading, gardening. I’m getting interested in politics and I’m interested in learning sewing, knitting and whatever else pops into my head.

And now, things are going to change. I’m pregnant and due in August. Now the ground will shift and we have to adjust to “normal” again.

Will I have to find myself again?

Maybe it won’t be as bad this time. Things won’t change as much, but things will shift. Being a mother to 2 will be different to 1. I will have to devote myself to another for as long as needed. I will have to forgo sleep and put my life on hold.

A part of me doesn’t want to do that. A part of me wants to just be me. The me I have found these past 3 years.

But this time, I will be in control. I will know what to expect. I don’t have to let go so much. I am looking forward to this time, I really am. Focusing on my family, a baby to love and be a sibling for Nancy. Completing my family and just taking time out to live in that delicious postnatal bubble.

The unknown is worrying, unsettling. But I have to see the positive in this situation and remember that I am stronger, more confident and more sure of myself than I ever have been in my life so far. Right now.

This baby is lucky in many ways because I know who I am now. Me and Nancy had to work that out together. We had to figure out what it was that made me a mother. It was tough, but what a journey we’ve had, and are still having and I’m looking forward to sharing that with someone else too.

Crochet Corner 

My adventures into the world of crochet…..

This month I have discovered YouTube for the delights of crochet. Oh, and Pinterest. It is down to Pinterest that I have discovered Wooly Wonders Crochet on YouTube, absolutely brilliant and easy to follow directions to make a variety of crocheted items.

I wanted to make a baby cardigan and I tried her tutorial here.
The whole thing was remarkably easy and this is the finished product:

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I’d never thought about using YouTube for a pattern but it’s been really useful to actually see how the stitches are done and what each part of a pattern means.

After my cardigan, I’ve tried another Wooly Wonders Crochet pattern – A Tulip dress. This was very simple but has helped me enormously as I’ve managed to get to grips with decreasing stitches and also sewing parts together! I’ve made this for my niece and I can’t wait to see her in it.

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I’ve had a look at some facebook/etsy crochet and yarn shops this month too. I treated myself to the Rainbow Yarn Club box from Rainbow Fusions which was lovely and I also bought another skein of yarn (called Acid rain). I’m not really sure what to use them for yet. I’m also thinking I need to wind the yarn up into a ball before I use it? Not sure but I’ll give it a go and report back!

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My current project is a chevron cowl/scarf pattern in Inside Crochet magazine a month or so ago. I’ve never tried chevron but the pattern is described as “easy” so let’s see! I’m using alpaca wool as well which I haven’t before. Let’s see how it all turns out!

I’m really enjoying crochet and like a book, once I’ve finished a project I feel like I need to reflect a bit before I choose something else to make. I love the whole process and feel at last like I have a true hobby that really does give me real satisfaction.

I am keen in the future to pick up my knitting needles again and also to get a sewing machine (I did textiles GCSE but haven’t touched one since then!!). Crochet has sparked off my imagination and a crafty side of me I thought I didn’t have!

I’d love to see what you’ve been making or any tips, good patterns or signpost me to where to buy cheap yarn or other accessories.

Happy Crocheting! Xx

The Dance Class: A Parent’s Reality

The realities of taking a 3 year old to Dance Classes…..

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Realities of Dance Classes for Parents

Last year I thought it was a great idea to sign Nancy up to dance lessons. It was one of those thoughts, where you think ‘it’s probably time I left the house and started to initiate her into a social world,’ and in paticular I was looking for something for her to do so that she gets worn out and I didn’t neccessarily need to do much to achieve it. It suddenly dawned on me that athletes, musicians or dancers started this stuff when they were really small. So in order to ensure she has the best chance of turning into the next superstar, I duly signed her up.

She actually attends a lovely dance class where she does Tap and Ballet every Saturday. I didn’t think when I signed her up, though, how much of a commitment it is for me, and how you get sucked into the world of dance classes. This is the reality of The Ballet Class:

1.The Early Start

I have to get up every Saturday morning and get her to Ballet for 9.15am in the morning. On a SATURDAY. What the hell was I thinking?

2. Uniform

Every week she has to wear the dance uniform. Which comprises of a leotard, tights and a caridigan, as well as the right shoes. Not only did it cost me a fortune, I have to remember to wash* it and make her look presentable as well as getting her to the start for 9.15am. On a SATURDAY….

I also am still ramming her into the leotard as I refuse to buy one until at least September. Same goes for the shoes, I ordered them a size larger and it was only when she wore them the first time I realised they could slightly affect her dance skills, but she’s better now she’s grown into them a bit.

*I admit there may be weeks where the uniform may not get washed and she may look slightly dishevlled and smell slightly like a PE kit.

3.  Waiting

When I signed her up for classes, I couldn’t wait to watch her in her cute little pink uniform and watch her gracefully piroet around. Well, I wouldn’t know what she actually does, as I have to wait outside the class in a cold church hall. I can’t go anywhere in case I need to help her get to the loo.  It is 45mins of pure me time though, I guess, as long as I take a jumper and a flask.

4. Other Parents

The waiting room looks like a parent wasteland. I’ve seen some parents in their Pyjamas, although I haven’t done that yet. Some look hungover, some look tired. Some look absolutely pristine and as if they’d just got off the jet from St. Tropez. Not many people talk to each other, and seats in the corners by the dividing door to the class are a premium, as you can spy on your child through a crack. My idea of meeting more Mum friends hasn’t really become a reality as yet….

5. Noise

No-one thought to tell me that  group of 3-5 year olds in a tap class are LOUD. There is half an hour of out of rythmn, tap tap tapping as well as children roaring like lions or singing the Frozen theme tune whilst they stomp about the hall like elephants. Also, the teacher is loud. She has to be, to keep it in order. I sometimes wonder if she needs a drink after the class.

6. Progress

I keep taking her, because she seems to enjoy it. But can she actually dance? I have no idea. mainly because we are always too late so I can’t look through the crack to see if she is actually moving. I ask her to show me what she does at home but all I get is a roaring lion and a shuffle on the kitchen floor. So we keep on, keeping on. Maybe I have the next Darcy Bussell right here….

7. Once you join, you can never leave

Once you’re a fully signed up member of the dance class, attempts to leave are futile. You need to give one term’s notice to leave, and not that we are planning to, but I would never be as organised as to work out when that would be! I can barely remember NOT to turn up when it’s half term….

8. You do as you are told

If the teacher tells you to buy something, you buy it. You label all the clothing as you don’t want to get told off by the teacher. You get your fees paid on time and you sit there every week and smile even though you may be dying inside.

9. The Car Park

The car park is a war zone. The later you are, the more likely you are to abandon your car in the middle of the car park, blocking off 5 cars in the process. Some people wedge themselves sideways just so that they can park in the car park. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a school at pick up time, but parents plus cars equals carnage. I am surprised no-one has been run over as yet. Once the first class ends, the real issues begin as people attempt to leave, and the next class attempt to park.

 

Wanted: Friends

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Today is a bit of a low day.

I don’t get them often. But today is a low day.

Today is a day when I want to be able to pick up a phone and call a friend. Maybe meet for coffee, arrange to go to the cinema or have a girly night in.

I want to feel a part of something.

But I’m not. 

I’ve always struggled with friends.  I find it so hard to push myself. And even when I have friends, I can be terribly flaky and some times I just can’t bear to do what I’ve arranged to do. I don’t blame people moving on and not keeping touch.

Is this being an introvert? Social anxiety?

I wish I could be the person I think I could be.

I am more aware now than ever that I need some friends. Depression and feeling crap due to pregnancy plus the  grief of my Dad meant I hadn’t really thought about it until now. But now I’m ready to be a friend. Hopefully a better friend than I have been these past 18 months.

So today I’ve reached out to people I’ve lost contact with, or who I’ve  not made much of an effort with. And if you may be reading this, I’m sorry about that.

I’m looking for groups to go to. I’m talking and messaging and trying to make some links again, on and offline.

I’m being practive, not wallowing in my low mood but pushing myself to do something about it. I think that’s progress really.

So I’m feeling low. But I’m also feeling strangely positive.  Because I’m Making today the first day in my plan to get myself back on track.

How Did I Do It?

No seriously……how?

I look at Nancy and wonder how the hell she is 3 years old. And then I think something else: I bloody did it.

I fed, I clothed,  I stayed awake, I sang, I cried. 3 years and here she is, telling me I’m wrong and some other rubbish about Blaze the Monster Machine.

Seems weird to me to say that I have successfully brought up another person for this time. That really her survival has been down to me and Dan (with help from relatives and Nursery of course). I don’t really know how we’ve even done it, not really. I have no nuggets of wisdom other than don’t drink too much.

The thought of having to do it again, go back to square one, is daunting. I can’t really remember much apart from feeling very tired and being covered in sick. Maybe I have suppressed memories which will come flooding back to me.

This time I am much more laid back. I haven’t even thought of names yet. I get confused as to how far along I actually am. I haven’t panicked yet but maybe that’s me being cool or maybe that’s me in complete denial.

It won’t be a shock this time. I’m already at a level of tired constantly so a bit more won’t hurt as much as last time. Last time the first week or so felt like I was being hit by a train at full speed. Im thinking this time it’ll be more like a car at 20mph.

Everything that felt alien to me before, and new is now my normal. Poo is normal. Sick is normal. Being tired is normal. I’m not quite sure how I’ve got to where I am, but it’s not a bad place to be. I feel quite honoured I get to do it all again. I know every baby is different but the fact I can look at Nancy and see I have actually brought her up so far and she’s actually not been scarred for life as a consequence, makes me feel quite proud.

Crochet the Fog away

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After my Dad’s death in November last year, as well as sadness,  a relief washed over me. The dark  cloud of terminal cancer that had hung over my family for the best part of 6 months, was gone.  I could start to look forward again.  I don’t mean that in a horrible, I-dont-care-about-my-dad way, but the emotional and mental trauma of living in limbo was unbearable. Not knowing when but knowing it would happen sometime. I felt trapped, stuck in a nightmare. Whatever happened, the future was going to be different.

I had spent months grieving with my Dad. By the time he passed away, I felt like I had no grief left. I was glad that he was at peace,  away from the cancer that ravaged his body and took away everything about him. 

Around the same time as my Dad’s diagnosis, I was not feeling myself. I had changed jobs at work, and I was struggling with getting to grips with new processes. I wasn’t sleeping well and Nancy was waking a few times each night and bedtimes were a constant battle. I began to feel anxious,  tired and worried. I was snappy and angry, very angry at the slightest thing. I became disengaged, not wanting to socialise and at work I was speaking my mind (which was a bit angry and ragey) which was raising eyebrows.  I wasn’t myself. All this on top of my Dad diagnosed with a terminal illness. I worried about him, my Mum, my younger sister with learning difficulties. I felt duty bound to help sort it all out and I was overwhelmed by a feeling of burden,  being my mother’s oldest child, of how I would get us all through this. I’d always been the helper, the one who sorted everyone else out. My fingers were gripping the edge of normality and I was starting to slip.

I went to the GP and was prescribed an anti depressant. However, I didn’t take it. I felt stupid, silly, overreacting. I pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on until the day I walked out of work before a presentation I was supposed to undertake. I went home that day and was then signed off work for 6 weeks.

Medication alone, I don’t think, can help with this kind of illness. You need time to refresh, time to talk if you feel you need to, and you need space to be yourself away from the stresses of life. I felt that I had totally lost who I was.

I had mentioned I wanted to learn to crochet a while back. I had tried myself with you tube for help a few years ago, but I gave up pretty quickly.

For my birthday I received a gift voucher for crochet lessons. I was intrigued and wanted to give it a go. However, the next lessons didn’t start till the end of November, so I booked in and didn’t think much of it.

I had my first crochet lesson about a week after my Dad had died. The timing was not brilliant and I did contemplate not going. It felt a bit of a stupid thing to do given the circumstances. But the lesson was booked and having a few hours to myself sounded a good idea. I was nervous though.

The 2 hour lesson was a complete relief; I thought of nothing except about what I was doing right at that moment. We crocheted a granny square and the sense of achievement I felt was a new feeling for me. For the first time in 6 weeks I felt almost normal again.

Picking up the crochet hook meant that I could do something physical, use my brain and have time just for me to contemplate, reflect and relax. I felt that by making something, it was a positive coming from my negative mind. It felt healing. It felt therapeutic.

6 months on, I feel much better now. I still have some low days but these are manageable. Having a new craft, a new hobby has really helped me feel like I’ve moved on from all those negative thoughts. I miss my Dad and I always will. Crochet hasn’t cured me but it gave me an outlet I didn’t previously have. It has given me a love of crafting and a desire to try more things and be a bit more adventurous. Things I find interesting and engaging. Things just for me. And that was really what I needed.

Pregnancy Cravings

Everyone knows when you’re pregnant, you get loads of cravings, right?

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I’m craving……

-Peace and quiet

-Cereal

-A lie in

-A day free from frozen

-Maternity clothing that actually fits

-Lots of warm tea

-Brie

-To be able to sit and watch Netflix for a few hours…or days

-Sleep

-A day to myself

-Energy

-A roast dinner

-A clean kitchen floor

-90s music

-The Archers

-A packet of Haribo. No sharing.

-An evening just lying on the sofa

-Er did I say sleep already?

-A bath. Without visitors or plastic tat

-A house that I can instagram

-A sequin bomber jacket like Taylor Swift

-Jelly