We all get stressed at christmas trying to make it “pictureperfect” running around like headless turkeys buying presents and food, this year we wanted to simplify our christmas as a family with a tight income and three children to buy for, each year we have been a parent( our eldest now 10)we have learnt and realised that the pointless things, the unwanted unnecessary gifts are just a waste of money, we try to homemake many of our gifts for other people, we dont buy for many of the adults in the family or outside the family and only give a small gift of chocolate or a homemade gift to children in the family other than our own, each year we have spent less on our children and the presents under the tree have lessened rather than multiplyed, each child getting a small number of presents from us, and as the children have grown the need for numerous toys and plastic and novelty items has reduced, their understanding behind the real meaning and celebration of christmas and giving thoughtful gifts has increased and we have become stronger about what we want as a family at christmas time. We dont have a big excessive christmas dinner either and we dont spend lots of money on luxury food or alcohol, it is just one day that comes around each year,why put yourself through hardship, and strain for one day, just enjoy being with those that you love enjoy the twinkling lights on your tree, the carols, the family time, the great tv, and the time off work and school.Merry Christmas everyone.
Well today I turned 35 and I feel good and grateful and thankful for the years that I have been on the planet creating the story that is my life thus far,the 5 ft 1 and a bit of me that may be small but fierce, and I enjoy growing older as with every new line on my face and crinkle and crepe and grey hair, I feel stronger more confident more liberated and more me as I am evolving and growing to become the person I really want to be, the happiest version of myself, creating the story, writing the chapters, capturing the moments and memories and laughter lines of life and within that I see the women that have influenced me, that are inside me, that are part of me and I a part of them as I look at my hands I see my Mother as I look at my eyes I see my Grandmother, when I hear my voice I hear my Nan, and I feel blessed, and I look at my daughters and children and see those women and me in them also and I smile for the life I have had and the life yet to come, for me and for them…
I used to love the lead up to christmas, the shops filled with festive promise, the colder weather, The adverts, the boots gift catalogue, excitement, the lead up, the magic but as I have said in other blogposts, since having children I also find it a time of great financial stress and strain and overwhelment, it is a time where I feel the need to take a break from social media, feel overflowing with things to remember, things I need to get, lists, cards, gifts events snd occasions, my legs feel like they are carrying heavy weights on them and tasks seem harder than usual. It is a time where I need to sit back reflect and relax and prioritise what christmas really means and not be taken over by expectation, to me christmas is a time to relax and to enjoy the company of my family to appreciate them and enjoy the days spent together, it is a celebration of jesus birth and the importance of church, the singing of carols, the sharing in nice food. Togetherness, love and thanks, homemade gifts and twinkly lights and trees and making happy memories. It should not be a time of worry stress and distress, and hardship.
Something Im really passionate about and have written about before is the art of decluttering, of organising and simplifying your life as once you do it cuts down stress, it declutters your mind speeds up decision making and keeps your living space tidier, it is an ongoing job however if you have children or other people in your house that dont help you to keep the home organised and clutter free, but if you are passionate enough about it it can really make a difference I reccomend reading the Marie Kondo book, which goes through each room and suggests ways inwhich to tackle them it talks about precious things and how to let them go if they have no use to you, I found it so enlightening and helpful, I love it when I only have one handbag on the go that I really really love , one coat that I wear everyday, One scarf,enough clothes that I adore and wear all the time but not too much to choose from as I do not like being overwhelmed everyday like a kid in a sweet shop, I like capsule wardrobes that all mix and match.I only have shoes that I will wear, mugs that I use very few ornaments that I dont need to dust. This lifestyle isnt for everyone and some people may think me odd, for I have very little attachment to material things, unless I use it find it beautiful or significant. I do have little obsessions for a while I collected lots of Emma Bridgewater mugs until I realised I had far too many to use, then I had a fondness for cushions, then Cath kidston dresses then green things and now gold things but I do try to be rather ruthless and sensible with what I purchase. To know when ive gone too far had enough and no longer want nor need. I try to encourage my children to do the same and am a big donator and customer of my local charity shops when Im having a declutter. Im not done yet I still have that drawer full of randomn rubbish, and far too many knives and forks but Im getting there.
Its funny isnt in life how quickly things change people you were once close to become like strangers so suddenly, people you thought cared or that you thought you knew well you realise You didnt know really at all, and they didnt know you, and people who were there one day are gone the next.
Things that once mattered SO much are no longer significant and things you thought you needed you never really needed that much at all, For one day you may wake up and no longer be able to do the things you once could, or make the decisions you once made, you may no longer get up and walk away or pick up the ornaments from the shelf to dust, you are still alive but a different version of yourself no longer independent, still and silent, just waiting, waiting to be moved ….. waiting from the sunrise to the sunset you are waiting, and the things that mattered are just things, collections, piles of accumulating stuff, drawers of random to do lists, spare keys youve forgotten what for, old batteries, elastic bands and till receipts records of the past of the life you once lived that you will never look at again, the book still turned at the corner of a page from a story long ago, the ticket stub from a journey you once took, the odd glove who never made its way back to its matching other half, all the time that you wasted, all the efforts you made with people who didnt care, you look down at your tired hands that once did so many things and you wonder what was it all about what was it all for, is this it????
It is the night before Halloween and all through the house the candles and pumpkins are dancing in the dark evening light, treats are awaiting in bowls by the door for children excited for sweets galore, the witches are waiting dressed up for a fright their broomsticks fired up for a moonlit flight, and chattering ghosts hide in the hall to scare passing visitors who dare to call….. ………
Remember that song from school when we all used to sing hymns everyday in assembly? I loved the song “Autumn days” it summed up my favourite season and I still sing it to myself now, whilst walking through rustling red leaves, fallen conkers. Comfy jumper and cardigan days, where the colours all around beautiful, reds and oranges and the summer has ended and the best time of year for me has begun, a sense of newness, new school terms, new shoes, new projects, homecomforts, hot chocolate or coffee, soup, pumpkins, harvests and thanksgivings,a sense of being grateful for what we have,an appreciation for the changes in nature, the smell of rain and bonfires and the twinkling of candles in windows, in Autumn I feel so comfortable in my home the dark nights pulling in, snuggling under blankets, being lost in books and period dramas, and I remember to be thankful xx
Even many moons ago when I was at school there was such a thing as a 100% Attendance certificate, at Senior School level….I never got one, nor did I expect to, I may have got English prizes and Art prizes and progress in swimming, and Tutor group prize and merit certificates and I was a Prefect. I behaved inpecably, completed homework on time, was never late and had a great attitude at School but I was a sickly child picking up every bug and germ going, suffered from weekly migraines, if something was going round I would get it, I have been known to throw up in class on many an occasion and once fainted on the Teacher. Needless to say my otherwise outstanding school report would always have a less than 90% attendance record. My parents never minded they knew me and they knew when I was ill,and ultimately it was their choice to keep me off school whenever necessary. They expected many a phone call from school to pick me up, but that was just me and my school just showed me and my family empathy and care and warmth and understanding.
Now as a grown up mother of three I also can judge my children I can see it in their eyes, I trust my instincts, I would not drag my children into school if they are poorly, or recovering from a sickness bug, and I would not take my children out of school for holidays either and that is my choice not my childrens, in a world where education is governed by facts and figures and percentages, schools are doing everything they can to improve sickness and absence levels, in order to achieve Outstanding Ofsted results but in primary school level where children are growing and their immune systems are still developing, and it is up to the parent whether they keep a child off or not, not the child .Schools and Authorities are going about it the wrong way I believe , to me the most important thing is my child’s health, happiness and wellbeing a child should never be made to feel guilty for being ill nor should lucky healthier children be given prizes and certificates for being blessed with such good health singling them out over others.
Praise and reward for good work, good attitudes and kindness and effort and aptitude yes always but please do not make a parent feel like they are doing wrong for making that decision to care for a poorly child often disrupting work and childcare in the process even causing financial difficulties, most parents would prefer their child to be at school than at home, and each child and family have different circumstances, some children have underlying health reasons as to why they are ill or emotional problems, things that make it more difficult to get to school than others or they are just unlucky getting the usual bugs at the start of the school year, these should all be treated as individual cases. Show warmth and kindness all us parents want is happy children in schools and authorities that care and that our children are excited and proud to be a part of, Schools and Teachers and authorities that care because they have missed your child not because the percentages of attendance will look bad on paper.
My children may not come home this term with a 100% Attendance certificate to stick on the fridge but I know they have 100% Brilliant Attitudes 100% kindness 100% Individuality 100% Fantastic effortmaking and are 100 % Happy and that is good enough for me.
Next week my beautiful girl will be ten years old, ten whole years of having her in our life aswell as being my biggest girls tenth birthday it also marks ten years of being a parent, A decade as a Mum, Mummy, the hard times, the fun times, the lonely times, the sleepless times, I wanted to write a post about the things I have learnt as a Mum during that time.
I remember how scary it was bringing Poppy home for the first time, this precious little doll that we thought would break, that we didnt dare put down even for a minute, the pressure I felt breastfeeding and being this tiny things only source of nourishment and comfort not daring to drink a cup of tea hot, taking her with me to the toilet and everywhere, feeling like I needed to eat my food quickly incase she should need me, but I felt so in love with this beautiful little thing, yet lonely at the same time for every single thing now revolved around this little person and I did not know who I was anymore, being a Mum was far scarier than I expected it to be, and far harder too.
Before she was born I remember being so excited for all the things we would need to buy reading mummy and baby magazines,working it all out getting things ready, tiny outfits, tiny shoes, latest gadgets and gizmos and comfort blankets and cot blankets etc travel systems and carseats, it was only when I went on to have Maisie and Ben I realised alot of these things weren’t needed, weren’t any good, weren’t used, hats that were worn once, soft shoes that fell straight off her feet, organic nappies that leaked all over, dresses that she never got to wear, more toys and books than you could wish for, why didn’t someone tell me, though I guess part of being a new parent is discovering that for yourself what works and what doesn’t but I think I would have appreciated some advice, it doesn’t just stop there as they grow it’s all about weaning and potty training and bed routines and which book to follow, what bowls spoons and cups to buy, following organic baby food books to the letter until your child eats a rich tea at toddler’s and realises there are much nicer sweeter things in life than butternut squash, ricecakes and raisons, aswell as trying to work all these things out you have to contend with the different groups of mummies and toddlers and baby massage and music groups and tumbly tots. When it comes to having subsequent babies, you are lucky if you can even find a hat or socks or a matching outfit, you are lucky if you can even make it to a toddler group on time with a toddler and newborn in tow, their napping routine becomes whenever you are pushing them in the buggy to and fro and their toys are whatever your toddler throws at them or your keys or a remote controller, and their weaning routine is a mashed up version of what you are feeding your toddler, and you give up on the traditional wooden toys and sensory baskets you envisioned because the annoying musical light up plastic flashing toy and peppa pig on your phone are the only things that will keep your little one entertained, and you realise that it is nothing you expected it to be at all, your strong willed little girl will not wear floral Cath Kidston and bows in their hair however much you try because they are their own person, their own little amazing individual and nothing you ever read in a book is set instone and you have to trust your instincts and go with what works for you and your child and just love them and hug them and hold them and enjoy it all as much as you can and not worry too much because it wont be long until that tiny little thing turns ten, and you wonder how it all went by so quickly..oh and only buy tommee tippy sippy cups and maclaren strollers cos everything else is a waste of time xxxx much love
I was reading a facebook piece from shelter charity earlier that really pulled on my heartstrings it was a lady who talked about the instability of renting and shelters campaign to change the rules etc for renters, this is a subject very close to my heart…..and it made me think about my mental health anxiety problems and how they stem from the fact that I do not feel rooted and settled and secure, yes I am in a very happy marriage of over ten years I have three beautiful children, but the place I call home is not my house I have never had the pleasure of choosing wallpaper or carpet colours, or have put up shelves nor browsed a kitchen or bathroom shop pondering over tiles, I have never bought a cooker or a dishwasher and all the normal grown up things a married lady of 34 with three children and a loving husband should be able to do, my children cant ever have pets larger than a hamster or have rainbow like murals painted on their walls should they want, or grow a massive sunflower up the garden wall, I have never had the feeling of new shiny keys or being carried over the threshold of our marital home, our home that we can close the curtains in and be at peace and relaxed, there is always a living in fear feeling that the landlord could knock on the door anytime a feeling of insecurity every time contracts are renewed, worry if something goes wrong, it is like house sitting in someone elses home yet our things are in it but we cant make our mark, wherever we want whenever we want, if I could only have one wish in life it would be to have a permanent home “our” home, our family home where we can store things in the loft for the grandchildren to discover in years to come, to put up shelves wherever and and permanent fixtures and pictures, and if we spill its up to us to fix it, not a landlord or an agency controlling and inspecting. We pay high rents yet cant get a mortgage and we arent quite in need (enough) for a council house. There are so many others in this position and it has to stop it is causing so much stress in peoples lives, and instability in children having to move all the time, one day I hope it will change until then I fill my home with love and floral cushions and pretty things. ….and wish and dream that one day …..