Covid and kids

Ciara reunited with a preschool friend yesterday and it was a much anticipated reunion. However her attitude was really quite bizarre and I fear that lockdown life has widely contributed to this latest phase of brattyness. When we first met up she was quite obviously overjoyed to see her long lost friend and they played tag and tried to catch butterflies in their nets, it was a lovely watch, seeing her so obviously happy to be playing with another kid again. But this joy seemed to disperse quickly and Ciara became quite standoffish. She wouldn’t share her badges which we had specifically taken for the sole purpose of sharing. She kept telling her friend to be quiet and putting her hands over her ears when she was talking, something I’ve never seen her do before so I was as confused as I was pissed off at this point. I was getting more annoyed as I’d asked her several times what the problem was and why she was finding this play so overwhelming. She had no answer accept just that her friend was ‘annoying her’ (much to my embarrassment) we traipsed the woods some more. Me constantly trying to gain back her enthusiasm, whilst searching for the kind little girl I’d left the house with that morning. It didn’t work. She continued this level of spoiled brat for the rest of the outing, which resorted in me meting out a punishment of cancelling the cake baking we had planned for that afternoon.

I came away feeling deflated, which is much of how I feel often lately. Trying to make the days appealing to a four year old is becoming more challenging as we continue through this period.

In my anxious mind it just clarifies the point that my best isn’t good enough. Whatever I’m doing mustn’t be enough because Ciara is losing valuable social skills through this isolation. She’s constantly bored and it matters little how much time I spend creating small worlds on the Tuff tray or planning a scavenger hunt in the woods, she needs that time with other kids to learn and grow as a person. She’s an only child and whilst she’s always been great at sharing she is losing the need to. I’m not constantly reminding her of why it’s important because there’s nobody here to exercise the point with.

I’m giving into her because most of the time I’m trying to keep her quiet so I can get some work done, or shoving the iPad in her face so I can have a lie down.

I don’t know how to normalise what’s going on for her right now.

We need to protect our vulnerable people and stop the spread of the virus, of course we do, but our kids are vulnerable too, and right now mine is at risk of social regression. I worry about the effects on her mental health at such a young age being stuck in with me, who, lets be honest, is a not so hot mess, most of/all the time.

Preschool is such a huge part of early year’s development, I worry I’m just not able to meet all of her needs at home. There’s little option for her to go to another setting because it’s just weeks before the summer break as is, and I feel like that would only confuse her further. Not to mention we can’t afford it.

I know I’m not alone in this plight and I know some of you will be in the same if not worse situations. I just want you to know if you’re feeling lost and you’re kid has turned into a spoiled brat, you’re not alone. You’re probably spreading yourself too thin, I can’t offer words of encouragement, only that I’m riding the wave of this craziness too.

A Decade Of Lessons

The last 10 years

Well, it’s been a testing decade that’s for sure, but it’s also been the most amazing pilgrimage of self discovery I’ve ever been on.

I feel like the last decade is where I really became an adult and anything before was part of my youth.

In 2010 I was glassed in a nightclub in an unprovoked attack whilst out with friends, and it shook me beyond measure and took me to a place I didn’t know existed. I’d been in fights before, been given a slap when I probably deserved it, in my teens, I’d even (believe it or not) been hit with a bottle before, but it hadn’t shattered the first time and this was on another level. This was in response to me just being out having a laugh with friends, and it could have left me blind. Thankfully, physically most of the scars are on my décolletage and not my face (though I do have a dent in my skull) it could have been a lot worse physically.

But despite keeping up appearances, mentally I was scarred beyond recognition. I was scared too just by the weight of the attack, but in being scared I got angry.

I went ‘mad’ for want of a better word. I was wild. Following that night every time I went out I braced myself for a row and alcohol only fuelled that self destruction. I got in more rows and fights than I’d ever had before. I rowed and physically fought with my then partner, and when I ended that relationship I continued down a rabbit hole of hell.

I did some messed up things and 2013 saw the catalyst to that phase of crazy.

I lost my job, almost my house, and I was alone. Friends had given me a wide berth and my nights out were spent with people I didn’t even really like and who only hung out with me for some drama or entertainment.

I’ve always had a need to fill the shoes of the life and soul of the party, but I’ve filled them by acting like a fool. Being the loudest, the craziest and the wildest person in the room.

I met my now partner at the end of that year. I saw the new year in in Ireland with a good friend and it was like something just clicked, an epiphany if you like, and I didn’t want to be that self destructive, unemployed mess, that I had become.

I got a job, a pretty good one, and from there life has progressed at a steady pace. The following year I was shaving my hair off for charity and raising thousands of pounds. I’ve had some backslides, like being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and it’s affect on my both my physical and mental health. Having a baby wasn’t an easy feat for me, and it can be hard work just being ‘normal’ most days, but I’m surviving it, and thriving too.

Last year my mum nearly died from a freak fall and I can say with certainty, I’ve never been as scared as I was then. It puts what’s important into perspective.

Nowadays I don’t feel like I’m falling from Beachy Head every time I wake up. I don’t want to hide for a week after a night out anymore, and I don’t wish I was dead. Even on the bad days, I’m glad to be alive.

I still feel like some days I fight stigmas and a bad reputation, but it took me a long time to make it, so I guess it’s only normal that it will take me a long while to break it, too.

That being said, my future is bright and I’m lucky. All the people in my life are in it because they want to be and contribute in some way to helping me be and feel better. So I’d say, despite all of that drama, this past decade has been pretty spectacular and I’m looking forward to the next one. Taking nothing for granted is my only resolution.

Happy new year 🥳

Motherhood is…

I wrote this poem to get behind an Instagram campaign called #Riseofthemumpoet it’s a fun and expressive way to write and share your story. And everyone knows I love, writing… AND sharing! 😂

Motherhood is

It’s not a day in a mums life if you were only asked twice,

For us mums can be asked the same thing as many as 50 times.

It’s not because we aren’t listening

That they continue to keep repeating

It may be that we’re cleaning up dinner plates,

Or god forbid finally eating.

It could also be that we’re scrolling aimlessly

Staring at our phones

Watching all those perfect mums

You know the ones who never feel the need to moan.

But being a mum is more than just annoying questions of course.

It’s wiping shitty arses and kissing grazed knees

It’s wearing a constant smile even when it feels forced.

It’s reading a story then lying still as a statue in the dark next to their bed

Pretending to be fast asleep and simultaneously stroking their head.

It’s pretending to be brave when you feel really scared.

It’s sometimes sacrificing yourself so their feelings are spared.

It’s leaving the house with sick on your clothes.

It’s wiping green snot from a runny nose.

It’s missing your favourite programme repeats

You’ve had to nip out to get milk & after dinner treats.

It’s staying up late making costumes for school.

It’s accepting that motherhood doesn’t have rules.

It’s forgiving yourself for sometimes messing up

It’s begging the stars to grant you good luck.

It’s feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders

And feeling nostalgic as your child grows older

It’s praying to a god of which you may not believe

To look out for your offspring and help them succeed

It’s a feeling of pride you didn’t know you possessed

And wanting every single morning just five more minutes in bed.

You can find all the details about the campaign and write your own poetic masterpiece (or riddle) on Instagram via @Postpartumpoet or by clicking the link here.

No cure

Yesterday I had my first sick day in my new job. I’ve been there under 3 months. And until now, so far so good, been taking breaks on my days off, getting enough rest whilst still having a life, looking after myself, taking my medication. Then yesterday I woke at 3am feeling nauseous and it wouldn’t go away. It was bad I couldn’t sleep. I text my supervisor in the morning to say I wouldn’t be in and spent the rest of the day in bed with a full blown migraine. You know the ones where even your phone is too bright and your guts feel like they’re falling out of your asshole?

I’m home today too, the headache has subsided but the sickness is still there, I still feel weak and unwell and generally crap about myself.

You see the thing is, back in July I had a daith piercing and I was convinced it would cure my migraines. So to learn it hasn’t has really fucked me off. I also feel shit about being home. There’s no cure for migraine, just like there’s no cure for Fibromyalgia or PMDD and I have those too, but I feel terribly guilty about it. Because I’m not a skiver, I’m not a lazy bitch (unless I have a hangover) and I genuinely feel awful when I let people down.

When I first got diagnosed it was a relief, I had loads of text messages and social media likes, telling me how relieved I must be to know I’m not going mad. I was!

I had loads of sympathy messages too, but they have a shelf life. And when you have something that can’t be cured people get bored. They don’t understand why you’re still going on about being ill all the time. Everyone knows, you don’t need to keep banging on about it.

But I do need to. I need to because that’s the only way aside from the world all contracting the same illness, that people understand. It’s the only way to spread awareness and helpful tips. It’s the way I feel most comfortable explaining it and so that is why I ‘make such a big deal out of it‘ it’s not for the sympathy as let’s be honest that shit dried up years ago. It’s not because I’m craving those text messages that don’t often come anymore, it’s because they are diseases that nobody ‘gets’ nobody really believes.

You said you have a migraine but really it’s just a headache, here, take some asprin”

“So and so has fibro and she doesn’t go on about it all the time, she still works, she doesn’t even take medication”

“Yeah I believe she has it, but she definitely plays on it”

“It’s just a period every woman has them, stop moaning”

If you suffered migraine you would know an asprin is about as useful as a cock flavoured lollipop, once an attack has started. If you had fibromyalgia you would know it differs in intensity depending on a whole world of factors, even down to the weather! And if you had PMDD you would know that before your period comes there’s a good chance you may have considered the fact you’ve lost your fucking mind and begged your doctor to section you only to feel ‘normal’ again when aunty Flo pops in. If your mum had it and couldn’t work, or your sister, or your best friend would you say that about them too?

Anyway – the point of this post was more for me than you, the reader. It was more about assuaging my own guilt, because guilt is an emotion that the chronically ill can’t escape. I feel guilty that Shaun had to cook his own dinner after he’d been at work all day yesterday. I feel guilty that Ciara had yet another sleep over at nanny’s because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get up and see her off to school this morning because the medication I took last night meant it probably wouldn’t of been safe for me to drive, that’s if I even heard my alarm. I feel guilty for looking at my phone when I should be resting. I feel guilty for having a life on all of the other days because if I didn’t I might not feel this shit today. Guilty Schmuilty. It’s shit. It doesn’t matter how many well wishes people send, how many ‘you can’t help being sick’s’ I hear, I still feel guilty. I know I will always feel guilty until I get to a stage where maybe one day there is a cure, or maybe there’s something I haven’t tried that will help me manage better. I feel guilty for letting my family down on days when I’m bed bound. I feel guilty for letting my lovely new colleagues down on days I can’t work. I feel guilty for saying when I feel ill. I feel guilty for cancelling a night out or a meet up. But most of all I feel guilty when I make assumptions about other people’s lives. So if I’ve learned anything from having a number of long term illnesses, it’s never to assume. You really don’t have the number of someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. The likelihood is there’s people out there with worse problems than you and me. Kindness should always be your go to option.

10 things I’ve come to accept after having kids.

1. Being ignored – yep, you can kiss goodbye the idea of a toddler listening intently to anything you have to say. Their cute little elfin ears are only there for decorative purposes!
2. I’m a shit cook. – I must be because I can’t fathom another reason why my kid prefers Birdseye fish fingers instead of my lovingly prepared, home cooked food. 
3. My body will never be the same. – the piles are here to stay by the looks of it. But it’s ok, it’s brought my fiancé and I closer, him, closer to my asshole when I need him to help apply ointment.
4. Nobody else really matters. – You still care about all of your friends and family, but random opinions are better shrugged off when you have kids to care for. Oh you don’t like me? Not got a second of free time to care hun. And even when I do care, I’m better at moving on.
5. I am going to be skint forever. – Me: gets a bonus, I know….. I’ll buy my child another months worth of plastic shit, instead of buying those Dr Marten sandals I so desperately desire, or using it for something important like paying the TV License (Disclaimer I do pay my TV License, BBC!)
6. Punctuality- It is no longer my ‘strong point.’ For years I used to give this as a strength in interviews, you’d be surprised how well it worked. Not anymore Sunshine, have you ever tried getting clothes on a moving three year old whilst they’re in the middle of an episode of PJ Masks?
7. Quiet sex- gone are the days I’d try and imitate a Cathy Barry squeal. Now I have to lie there pretending I believe in Scientology because if you make me wake the kids up, I’m gonna cut a bitch.
8. I can’t be bothered – That’s right, I don’t have a good excuse for everything anymore. I’m so tired I just can’t be bothered. Wanna come over? Sounds great, What shall we do? Erm… you watch the kids and I’ll sleep how does that sound?
9. Date nights aren’t the same – Don’t get me wrong they’re still great and necessary, but they’re no longer spontaneous, they don’t hold the kinkiness they once held. You get ready whilst trying to put your kid to sleep or get them over to the babysitter and just before you’re about to leave, you eye the other one skeptically, almost telepathically asking them if they’d prefer to go to sleep, because, you know, you wouldn’t be offended if they said they would.10. Life is short – clichè but so true. The years whizz by faster than you can catch your breath when you have kids. They age overnight, as do you. Life is a collection of memories, and with this knowledge I try and create better ones everyday. Don’t waste a second worrying about the things you can’t change. Do the things that make you smile. Don’t hold on to anything that makes you miserable. If like me you struggle to let go, talk to someone. Never regret anything that helped shape you. You are special because of what you’ve been through.

Parenting with booze

Friday is coming around quick smart and we’re off to Beni with the diva, on her first abroad holiday. I’m already dreading the plane journey, I know a potty accident or a tantrum is bound to occur.

But whilst I moan and await my child’s drama to unfold, I got thinking about the ‘booze Britain’ culture and whether or not I’ll indulge in a cocktail or several poolside.

I have a bit of a hang up about drinking booze around Ciara. I promise you this is a non judgemental post so if that’s your thing I am definitely not judging, but I remember how I perceived drunk people as a kid and I didn’t like it, so for me I tend to avoid booze when she’s in our presence. Let’s be clear here that Ciara is only three, she isn’t quite self sufficient yet and therefore it’s always in my mind she may wake up in the night and I’d be too pissed to hear her, or too comatose to get up and change her bed after an accident.

That said, I know plenty of people, friends and family who do like a drink or two with their kids and they are still great parents.

I just don’t personally feel I’m at my best when I’ve had a few jars, and if you know drunk Steph you’ll probably understand why. My language is atrocious!

The honest truth of it is: I don’t like the restricted feeling I get with booze when Ciara’s with us. It’s a high alert feeling and I tend not to be able to relax fully.

Some people use alcohol to relax but I use it to get in the mood to party.

To me 1 or 2 beers is as interesting as a cup of tea.

It’s gotta be 5 or 6 or I’ll give it a miss.

I’m aware this makes me what people like to call a ‘binge drinker’ but it seems to be where my relationship with alcohol is at.

I avoid it at all times accept in social situations and then I have a no restriction approach. I say no restrictions loosely, it still means I need to be responsible enough to know my own limits, sometimes that’s the case, sometimes not so much. When I do overdo it. I pay for it. Not just with a headache but mentally too and I can become anxious and depressed. Therefore even with the occasional binge, I do try to know my limits.

I know all the info about binge drinking and it’s dangers and implications, but I still choose to be able to have a bigger booze once in a while, over a few drinks often.

That’s not to say I won’t have a couple on holiday, maybe I will, it’ll ultimately depend on my ability to relax. What I do know is I won’t be getting steaming like I am in the below picture – main reason is: The hangover is sure to make me feel like the worst mother in the world.

I love nothing more than knowing Ciara is well looked after at Nanny’s when I’ve got a bad head from too much booze. That way, I know she’s safe and I don’t feel guilty for being too lazy to do anything with her. Just as I wouldn’t feel guilty for leaving her to go to the spa or for afternoon tea. I know grandparents and babysitters are a luxury some people aren’t afforded, and I’ve been lucky that when I do need a night out Mum is on hand to save me from mum guilt the next day!

Bottom line is, happy kids usually means happy parents and vice versa, so I think if you know your own limits and your kids are well looked after, it’s ultimately up to you what they’re exposed to, or not.

I can still relate to the mum’s who post pics of their wine at the end of a long day as easily as I can, the ones who post about drinking a hot cuppa, and even the ones who get wrecked on a night out, because I’m a mum and we all have vices to get us through the tough days.

I know not everyone will agree with occasional blow out culture, and that’s fine, because as mum’s we all have our own way of doing things, we all parent differently and each of our children will be different in different scenarios.

Maybe if Ciara didn’t wake in the night I might feel more able to relax, or maybe when she’s older I’ll indulge a bit more in her presence, but for now my relationship with booze is more like an occasional booty call you can enjoy every so often, as opposed to a marriage.

Threenager at bedtime

Ah, bliss, you’ve had a long day, the kids are tucked up tidy and you’re ready to whack on your fav box set. You slouch down on the sofa, with a steaming mug of tea, or something alcoholic, whatever your tipple. Remote in hand. Sunday night goals right?

Wrong – you have a three year old remember. So don’t get too comfy.

Below is a list of things mine has said to me in the last 30 minutes:

  1. Mummy, my eyes are wet – checks eyes, hasn’t been crying (confused) I say ‘No they’re not wet darling’ her reply ‘Yes they are wet, cheeky monkey’ SMH
  2. Daddy’s turn… ‘Dadddyyy my feet are too worm.’ Does she mean warm? ‘No, worm’ takes blanket off puts a thinner one on.
  3. ‘I not like teddy blanket’ Ok well that’s kinda tough tits hun, as you pissed all over the spare last night sweetheart. (Throws blanket on floor)
  4. ‘MUMMY!! (Screamed in desperation) there’s a fly on my bed.’ There wasn’t a fly on her bed.
  5. ‘Daddy, daddy, daddy,’ Yes Ciara? ‘I need a wee’ (gets potty.) ‘No I go on toilet’ (never wants to go on the big toilet any other time) Lord give us strength
  6. ‘Mummy, I go sleep for one minute, then show kids my Batman?’ She means her batman transfer tattoo (I assume) and kids are her class mates at preschool. ‘Tomorrow Ciara, now GO TO SLEEP’

And finally, you think you’ve nailed it…. That was definitely a soft snore you just heard. It’s safe! Go back downstairs, can’t be fucked to put on said box set, it’s nearly 9pm. May as well go to bed eh?

The joke is definitely on us, as Ciara used to sleep 6.30-8.00 every night for about a year. It was bliss after living with ‘colic’ for her first year and wakeful nights until her second. But soooo took it for granted, we didn’t have enough sex in those quiet evenings, we definitely didn’t use them to do anything productive like work out or tidy the house. And now? Well now, our work outs consist of running up and down the stairs 7 times, the house is always a mess, and sex is well, it’s a rarity!

My advice to parents who’s kids sleep is HAVE THE SEX, enjoy a hot bath, food prep, do whatever you want, but savour every, single, second!!

The truth behind living life to it’s fullest – By Sandra Skelton.

I am a huge believer in the idea that you only get one chance at life and that it is not a dress rehearsal. To ignore that will only bring you regret of a life wasted. It took me a very long time to learn the truth behind those statements and with that knowledge I share my journey with you and the reason why I love my life today!

The last year of my life has been a difficult one in so many ways. Waking up and not knowing where you are or how you got there puts a totally new prospective on your life. Just over six months ago I fell and fractured my skull which led to a bleed on my brain. I now live every day grateful that I am still here, I so very nearly wasn’t. That however, brings many thoughts and feelings to the forefront of my mind the major one being my life as a parent. Those who know me really well will know I wasn’t always a great mum. I am however blessed with the knowledge that my two girls probably won’t agree with this statement! My eldest daughter suffered the most (now your Diva mum) and grew up with 666 tattooed on the back of her neck. It took me far too long to realise the importance of good parenting and because of that my girls suffered, but I am blessed with the knowledge that it is never too late to make amends.

It’s ok to tell it how it is and share it with the world. My girls have proven to me time and time again that it makes you a better parent to speak out about your struggles and always try to find the positivity in every situation that life throws at you. There is nothing better than being a mother or grandmother but you don’t have to have gained an A star in either, in order to be loved!! We live and we learn, just keep going, you will get there.

Believe me! I did and I was crap!!!

Diva mum’s rule.. be one, love one and learn from one. It is what life is all about 😘

Sandra Skelton – AKA Divanan

Things I’ve learned this Easter 🐣

The holiday is over, we’re slowly approaching the warmer climes and ice creams have again become the daily expectancy of my three year old. But what has the Easter holidays taught us?

Well it’s taught me a few things, that’s for sure.

1. It’s taught me that you don’t mess with a toddler’s scooter, no way no how! Stone on the path? Better get it the fuck out the way mate. Wheel’s dirty? Mummy, clean scooter, now please! Helmet hurts, don’t want to ride that way! Hey where’s my scooter? Out the way kids, diva coming through!! And so on! Was either the best of worse buy of the year, I’m still undecided!

2. It’s taught me never to order a meal out for my three year old. She will only refuse to eat it and proceed to scream whilst we are trying to eat ours about how ‘yucky’ the chips are (they are her favourite food, FFS) May as well take some crisps and be done with it.

3. It’s taught me that I need to be careful about what I say.

‘Stop moaning mummy’ actually came out of her mouth yesterday, seems she’s got my number marked!

4. It’s taught me, free fun is the best fun. Who needs Lego land and Longleat when you have a wilderness on your doorstep? Live need a wood? Make believe play is for you! We slayed monsters, made fairy gardens, fished for newts and skimmed stones on the stream. And it was FREE!

5. A bit more on the free fun saga. It’s taught me no matter how much money you spend if your child is cranky a trip to the fayre won’t remedy that. You can have the best day planned, but toddlers make their own rules. If they don’t want to do something no amount of money will change that. Don’t take it personally, sometimes kids have bad days too.

6. It’s taught me that children as young as three, absolutely do have their own minds. I bought Ciara these amazing Dorothy style, red glitter Converse for her birthday. She categorically refuses to wear them, I’ve even tried hiding her other shoes to try and force them on her. Hasn’t worked. Moral of the story, don’t spend £35 on your three year old’s trainers. (Unless you’re prepared to just stare at them.)

7. And finally, it’s taught me that time goes too quickly. The long drawn out half term I was dreading just two weeks ago is now over. The birthday party we planned for Ciara almost 6 months ago has now been and gone. She’s another year older, as am I. Time is precious, it really does fly by when you’re having fun. Make the most of it, take it in, even the drama and the tantrums, because one day in the not so distant future they will end too and it’ll all be just a collection of memories.

Easter has never been big on our celebratory calendar. Before Ciara arrived I can’t even remember the last time I got an Easter Egg. We aren’t religious and therefore it’s never had any sentimental or meaningful value, but now it marks a new tradition for our family. One that involves picnics and Easter egg hunts in Nanny’s garden.

Below I list some of the places we visited this Easter local to Bristol, that were fun and free:

Willsbridge Mill. https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/willsbridge-valley

St George Park https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/st-george-park

Weston Super Mare Beach https://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/explore-somerset/weston-super-mare-p500433

Chew Valley Lakes https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/chew-valley-lake