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!!

Anxiety Behind The Screen!

My experience with anxiety is, or at least has, been a parody of Prozac Nation. Have you ever watched it? It’s a film with Christina Ricci, I recommend it to anyone who feels like they’re going insane. I’ve learned over the years to control it better. I function these days for the most part, and it’s rarely all consuming as it was during my first panic attack.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, I was 14 years old, and maybe unsurprisingly, it came on after I’d been hacking a bong full of hash. But it wasn’t the stoned feeling that was scaring me and making me panic. It was every wrong thing I’d ever done in my life come back to haunt me in those moments. It was all the things that I couldn’t undo, couldn’t unsay. Teenagers do a lot of questionable things during adolescence and I was no exception. Those things now enveloped me and choked me as though I was dying. I was so swamped by thoughts of my failings I couldn’t breathe. I was physically trembling and my heart was beating so fast it’s a wonder it didn’t pop out of my chest.

For about two years following that first panic attack I was quite severely mentally ill. I had nightmares, I had obtrusive thoughts and my poor mum couldn’t leave the house without me phoning her every twenty minutes. Every time she did go out, I had convinced myself she was going to die and the fear of that was beyond what my young mind was able to rationalise. I was out of my depth, popping antidepressants like sweets and using everything in my power to numb the constant noise inside my head. I often wondered then if I was some kind of monster. If I had a kink in my armour that made me mental. If I deserved to feel so helpless and desperate every moment I was awake. I lost friends, my relationships with my family suffered and I feared everything.

Now I’m in my thirties plodding along with a bit more self control and the strength to be open (at least on paper) about how I’m feeling. That doesn’t mean I feel any less though. For example I have a hormone imbalance and when I’m feeling a dip, like now, I get a bit introvert. I actively avoid people and places. I don’t have any patience for small talk and I get irritated easily. Sounds like a bit of PMT eh? But it’s not just a bit of PMT it’s my life. The school run for instance is a nightmare for me this week. I’m really struggling with it. I don’t have a good network of school mum friends as yet and I feel like I have to keep part of myself, this part, hidden. For fear of judgement. So I avoid talking to people. I know you may think that’s silly but whether you believe it or not, there is still a stigma around mental health, especially mum’s with mental health problems. I’m trying hard not to take medication at the moment for other reasons, but yesterday morning, given my hormonally anxious state, I took a Valium to enable me to get through a meeting. I was sat in Pret A Manger drinking decaf coffee with sweaty palms and a knee twitch that I couldn’t stop. It worked (The Valium) and I did some self care by way of talking myself round. I don’t sit there chanting to myself or anything, I just try and focus on something else and remind myself there’s no reason to panic.

Some days it isn’t as easy as that to shake off those feelings of impending doom, even with the aid of a tranquilliser. The mind is a scary place, followed by you’re body’s reactive physical symptoms, you really do feel like you’re dying sometimes. I’ve had days where I’ve felt so out of control I’ve wanted to run away. Before I became a mum it was easier to hide. We all know the mental health service is practically non existent, extremely under funded and under resourced. You only have to try and get an appointment with a counsellor to realise how unlikely it is you’ll ever receive said appointment. All the more reason for us to be more mindful of each other, to look after ourselves. To learn new techniques to manage our symptoms. Of course intervention will in some cases, always be necessary, but there’s a lot we can do to help each other and ourselves too.

    Listen – Ask someone how they are and actually listen to the answer. Check in with your friend who’s gone a bit introvert. He/she might not reply straight away but they’ll know you care, and in times of anxiety that can be a real comfort.
    Practise Self Care – It sounds so cheesy doesn’t it? Self care! Breathing exercises and all that bollocks, but for some people these are a ritual that does the job and kicks a panic attack where it hurts before it’s taken hold. Cut yourself some slack too, rest when you’re stressed and do some feel good things, even when you don’t feel like doing them!
    Ask for help – I know I’ve given the psych services a bit of a bashing, but you don’t necessarily need a qualified professional to help you through a period of high anxiety. You might just need a friend. Tell someone. I am guilty of not doing this because it’s something I feel stupid for feeling, so although I’m able to write about it now, actually talking aloud is still a struggle.
    Don’t play it down– In doing so you’re lying to yourself too. You deserve to feel safe and if you don’t it’s ok to say you don’t.
    Think rationally– I know you must be reading this last one thinking, if it was that fucking easy I wouldn’t be panicking. But I don’t mean during an attack (well, then too if you can) but I mean the rest of the time. Tell yourself over and over again when you’re not in the midst of an attack why you don’t need to worry and why you’re not going to have another one. Psychosomatic!

I’m not an expert and everyone’s symptoms of anxiety will be different. I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying it, mental health doesn’t discriminate. There are hundred of different types of mental illness but they will all meet over lapping symptoms. We are each at risk of having some period of depression or high anxiety during our time on this earth, so we need to work together to educate people and ourselves. We need to mean it when we go around saying it’s ok to not be ok.

When you see this pic of me, perfect make up, fresh hair….. What do you see?

Do you see a happy girl?

A girl with her shit together?

Confidence?

If you answered yes to any of the above you’d be wrong. I got up this morning and it took me an age to feel like I looked ‘ok’ I’m not feeling my best at the moment.

I have no job so deffo don’t fall into the ‘shit together’ category, and my confidence is under par. My anxiety is bad, I’ve had about 4 hours of broken sleep and I’m tired. So fucking tired.

Moral of this post: Don’t assume. All is never as it seems. Looks are deceptive. You never really know what’s going on behind the screens.

10 things people without children should never say to Mothers.

10 things people without kids say to Mum’s that they need to STOP!

1: When I have children I’ll _______ The likelihood is that whatever _______ is, you wont.

2: I’d never co sleep.

When you’ve been up for 15 hours straight with a colicky baby, you’ll do almost anything to make them sleep so you can close your eyes too.

3: I know having kids is hard but everyone does it.

You haven’t done it yet Julie, so why not pipe down.

4: I would never let my kid do that! If we’re talking about eating a happy meal or an ice cream before dinner or even staying up past their bedtime, sometimes Diane, you will.

5: If my kid doesn’t eat their dinner they won’t get offered anything else.

I didn’t believe in giving your kids coco pops for tea or letting them eat off of the floor either, but when they’ve turned their nose up at 5 different meals and found a wotsit behind the sofa that they actually WANT to eat, trust me Wendy, you’ll believe in the power of orange corn puffs.

6: I’m going to establish a routine from day one. NEWS FLASH babies are human beings, that means they have their own brain, and do pretty much what the hell they like. But good luck with setting those ground rules by day 3 Keisha.

7: My kid would never get away with that!!

Ok darling. Keep me posted when they draw all over the walls in pen, punch another child for no reason or eat a tampon, feel free to give your advice on a suitable punishment.

8: All kids are the same.

NO, No they’re not.

9: I wouldn’t do that if I was you. Great thanks for that Rebecca.

Please feel free NOT to give me advice on what you wouldn’t do.

10: You look tired. YES, Yes Stacey, I am so fucking tired, my tired is tired, thanks for pointing that out.

Motherhood is hard. Mums are tired, and hormonal, and sensitive and everything in between. Please be mindful of this when giving out unwanted and it most cases unnecessary, advice.

Try saying ‘How are you feeling?’ in place of you look tired.

Or ‘Can I do anything to help?’ In place of I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Lastly, you could just keep quiet and provide an ear to listen.

Snoring is ruining my life

It’s 2am and the drilling has started. You wake with a start and want to wake your fiancé up to tell him he’s going to have to go next door and talk to them about the noise! And that’s when you realise, it’s not the neighbours drilling again at all, it’s coming from him, he’s snoring.

So you punch him in the shoulder, probably harder than intended but you know, snoring! He then wakes with a start of his own, moans and rolls over. For all of 30 seconds it’s quiet again. 30 seconds isn’t very long. Repeat above steps until you can cope no more, so you go downstairs and join the cat on the sofa instead.

What am I complaining about? For the love of God woman, everyone snores sometimes! Yes, that’s true, but this isn’t sometimes, darling, this is Every. Single. Night!

For us, snoring has come close a number of times, to destroying our relationship. I have a chronic illness and sleep is crucial for my body to repair nightly and reduce symptoms. I cant function on less than 8 hours. Minimum. Gone are the days I can stay out until 4am and get up at 9. No, I NEED sleep. I have a child, I can’t afford to be faced with the daily fatigue that follows around Fibromyalgia sufferers after a sleepless night.

So what can I do about it you ask? Well, I do a lot of punching, and a lot of sofa sleeping. We don’t have the luxury of a third bedroom in our house, so fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have the option not to share a room. I know, that sounds an extremity, but I know a lot of couples that have their own bedrooms based on the fact that one of them incessantly snores. In my Fiancé’s defence, he’s been to see his GP about our little but loud problem. More than once, and do you know their advice? To go on a website and read the tips. Like we haven’t read every fucking tip there is to read about snoring, online already!! Sure, thanks Doc, why didn’t I think of that? He’s already tried, nasal strips, throat spray, throat foam, even a fucking chin strap to keep his mouth closed, didn’t work. The only thing that sometimes allows me sleep is if I go to bed an hour before him and get to sleep before him, so that when he starts, I’m already asleep. Sometimes it works and sometimes he STILL wakes me up. Not to mention the fact going to bed an hour before him makes our sex life impractical and irregular, but also you lose a closeness between you. You lose the cuddle that comes before you roll over to sleep. You lose the leg over that cocoons you during the night, and although annoying makes you feel safe.

It sounds like a real first world problem, and is I guess, but it’s one that really does test our relationship. I wake up some days so resentful that his snoring has kept me from the sleep my body so desperately demands that I don’t want to talk to him. Other days he wakes up resentful that I’ve banished him to the sofa for something that’s not his fault. Out of his control. To be honest I can still hear him from the sofa, but it’s a welcome dulled down version when he’s not sharing a bed with me. I don’t know what the answer is, maybe surgery? But sleep therapy isn’t well funded by the nhs and it’s another expense we can’t afford to invest in at the moment. What’s the cost to our relationship if we don’t though? I know it’s not his fault but it makes no odds to the despair I feel nightly. Buy a bigger house? Wear ear plugs? (Tried them, can’t hear toddler in the night then though) put a pillow over his face? Maybe! The irony is apparently that I also snore pretty loudly, but I don’t keep him awake so if we’re competing then he’s still in the lead for the loudest and most annoying!

It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live with, but I also don’t think I’ll ever be able to live without him. So here I am preparing for another shit nights sleep, and getting the pre bedtime cuddle in, just in case I have to abort the master bedroom before sleep hits, again!