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Friday, September 28, 2018

Anxiety Depression and Me

After I had my third child something just wasn't right. I wasn't really bonding with him and felt down pretty much every day but didn't acknowledge any of these feelings. I was fortunate enough to have a really amazing midwife called Mary who spotted the tell tale signs of postnatal depression and was quick to alert my husband and offer him advice and support on how best to support and help me. I had a great support network in my parents, sister, husband and a few friends which really helped me face up to my feelings and get the necessary help. 

Nine years ago, depression was something that was still pretty much a taboo subject to talk about, so I didn't. I got the help I needed and got on with everything that a mother has to. I did start to feel better and started bonding with my little boy but it took four months. A whole four months before I WANTED to cuddle my baby rather than HAVING to cuddle him to soothe him.

Things got back to 'NORMAL' and I carried on with my life, occasionally I'd have days when I didn't feel great but then after a few years I started to have lots of days when I didn't feel great and the more frequent they got the worse they got and it was then that I realised I needed help. I made an appointment  to see the mental health nurse at my GP surgery and she suggested that she started me off on a low dose on anti depressants to see if they helped. To be honest, the first few weeks I felt like they had made things worse but slowly I started to see an improvement. The nurse monitored how I was feeling on them and after a couple of years after much discussion I was weaned off them.

It was only when I would get talking to people at playgroups and baby clinic that I realised just how many women locally were suffering just like I had and yet felt too embarrassed or ashamed to open up and say that they too were suffering from depression. From then I decided that I wouldn't just be another statistic and that I would be open about what I had gone through because if my experiences helped just one other person then it would be worth the stigma attached to it.

At the very end of 2014 I found out that I was expecting again and was petrified about how this would affect my mental health(I had gone into premature labour in 2012 with another pregnancy and suffered really badly, but that's another post!) and how I would cope.
I mentally prepared myself for the challenges that pregnancy, birth and a new baby would bring and we kept the pregnancy super secret(so much so that I was over halfway through before we told the few family members that we did tell). Sofia's arrival into the world was 2 weeks early and just as super quick as the others. Despite some feeding issues to begin with, I bonded with her instantly and she has been my little sidekick ever since. I didn't suffer with post natal depression and actually found myself to be the happiest I had been in a long while.

Shortly after Sofia's first birthday I slipped whilst on holiday and after just 2 days away I had to be rushed to A&E by ambulance. Fortunately we were in the UK and after 9 days in hospital I had to have an operation and pretty much learn how to walk again. This accident has left me disabled and with that it brought those days of feeling low again but this time around I know how to deal with it. Ignoring those feelings and locking them away are the worse things you can possibly do because they just fester and get worse so now I'm very open with those around me on my bad days and believe it or not it helps keep them at bay.
Since my accident I have limited sensation in my left leg and often walk funny which has brought on something that I've never suffered with before ANXIETY. I get anxious when I am out that people are looking at me because of how I walk or how I have to use items around me to sit down or stand up but to cope with that I have realised that despite me thinking everyone is looking at me, we live in such a fast paced environment where everybody else is so wrapped up in their own lives that nobody really cares that I walk with a limp or have to stick my bum up in the air to bend over, they really don't.

I know everything is always easier said than done but if you are out there suffering, please don't. Speak to someone, anyone. A friend, colleague, doctor, partner or drop me an email. You'd be surprised by just how many people out there are in the same position and thankfully so much has changed in the last nine years that depression and anxiety is no longer a taboo subject. In fact the tables have completely turned and we are encouraged to talk about our experiences as therapy and as a way of helping others.

Take care of yourselves and each other
Emma xoxo

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Please Look After My Baby

Please look after my baby
She’s the last I’ll ever have
I know that she’ll have good days
But I know she’ll have some bad
And when I can’t be there
To give her some tlc
Please just let her know
She’ll get mummy cuddles after three

I know she seems quite grown
Like she can handle being there
With her grown up smart new dress
And her very fancy hair
But when she first falls over
Or can’t make sense of it all
She’ll probably cry and sob and sob
And you’ll see she’s still so small

I know I’ve done this all before
With girl then boy and boy
But Sofia is our rainbow baby
And brought us so much joy
So when you see me tearing up
As I wave my little girl goodbye
Just say it’s ok as she walks away
And I go home to cry.

Emma xoxo

Friday, September 21, 2018

What’s It All About Then?

About 10 years ago I started blogging. I wanted to document my journey as a work from home mum of 2. Back then, blogging and vlogging wasn’t as big as it has become but nevertheless I wanted a place where I could vent and look back on where I had been and where I was now.

It started off well but then I felt I lost my way a little, with the explosion of blogging, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube I started feeling that everyone out there had more interesting things to say, nicer holidays to snap, more beautiful homes to show and just generally better lives to document.

I would compare my minute follower numbers to their rapidly growing numbers and felt that my posts were irrelevant and not up to scratch so changed my writing style and content to try and ‘fit in’ but because none of this interested me I lost interest in my writing and my blog pretty much fell by the wayside.

A little while back I was scrolling through Instagram and come to the realisation that a lot of the accounts that I followed were completely irrelevant to me and didn’t reflect me as a person or parent at all.

Middle class women asking whether this £160 rug or the that £190 rug suited their lounge better or what hair products were working great on their European hair just didn’t interest me at all. If I had £190 to spare I sure as hell wouldn’t be spending it on a rug and my Afro hair has completely different needs to that of someone with European hair.

I got speaking to another Mum at a playgroup and we were discussing these self same issues and it was then I thought to myself that there must be other women out there just like me who find it hard to relate to the staged Instagram images and the blog posts about things that just don’t speak to them and it was then that Me,Him and Them was born.

We are a family of six, I swear, we’re working class, our kids aren’t perfect(neither is our home), we budget, I’ve suffered from depression, I need to lose *a few* pounds, me and him have ups and downs, we are just a ‘normal’ family blogging, vlogging and talking about normal things.

So if my blog makes one woman feel less alone or provides them with someone out there to relate to then I’ve achieved my goal.
If anyone wants to reach out for a chat, ask a question or anything else then I’ll always reply.
My Instagram is here, Twitter here and YouTube here.

Emma xoxo

Monday, September 17, 2018

Playground Politics

For many, the school run is one of the most hated parts of the school year. Not because every morning without fail you’ll be screaming at your kids to get their shoes on and you’re already late or because you’ve picked them up and forgot to bring the all important snack, but because you stress about finding your place in it all.
My daughter starting nursery at our local school isn’t all new to me, her three siblings before her have all been there so you you could say that I’m part of the furniture as I embark on my 14th year of school runs at this school, yes that’s right FOURTEEN years and without a break in between!
I remember my first week of school runs, getting to 

know the other parents, seeing how my daughters friendship groups were working and finding my feet but one thing that stuck out was how ‘cliquey’ some of the mums were.

Despite being quite a chatty and friendly person it seemed really hard to ‘break into’ these mummy circles and not feeling accepted would often leave me feeling deflated. I’d try reading up on things they were talking
about so I could join in the conversation, pretend to like the things they did and just generally fake it till you make it as they say but I soon realised that what should be an enjoyable experience seeing my daughter off to school was becoming a chore and making me feel quite low. Waiting for that invite for coffee with the other mums or the text to enjoy a glass of wine with them felt like it was never going to be extended to me. Was it because I wasn’t middle class and white like the vast majority of parents or was it because I didn’t have that size 10 toned body? It took a while but then I started to feel accepted(or so I thought) but it just didn’t sit right that I had to be somebody I wasn’t just to fit in with these people that not long ago I didn’t even know.

It was then that I decided if these people didn’t like or accept the real me then they just weren’t worth my time. 

I let my guard down, started being myself again and you know what, I started to enjoy the school run and along the way made some real friends. People who laughed at the same things as me, people who had the same worries in life as me, people who liked and accepted me for ME.
Over the years I have observed parents in the playground looking uncomfortable or feeling left out and as a school run mum veteran try and pop over and say ‘HI’ because I was once that Mum and sometimes all you need is a friendly hello.

If you have become a school run mum this year then remember, just be yourself and don’t feel intimidated by the established cliques and friendship groups, say hi, smile and know that in time you’ll find your place in the playground and if you are already a school run mum and see a parent looking rather lost or lonely in the 
playground, be that warm and friendly face. 
We all have so much going on in our lives as mums, dads, guardians etc so playground politics is the last thing we need.

Emma xoxo

Friday, September 14, 2018

And Just Like That She's Off

For the past three years I’ve had a constant shadow. That shadow goes by the name of Sofia. There have been days where I have wanted to lock myself in the bathroom just to have five minutes peace and maybe have a sneaky biscuit without having to share it but there have also been days where she makes my heart melt with her cuddles and kisses and has me in fits of laughter with her cheeky comments. One thing that has become apparent to anyone who knows us is that she definitely is my little sidekick but our days of it just being the two of us are numbered. My mini me is heading off to pre-school in a week and it’s got me rather emotional. 

I don’t remember feeling this way when the others headed off to pre-school/nursery and I wonder is it because she is the last and I know that as much as there will be lots of new firsts there will also be lots of lasts?Next week she’ll start the settling in process and providing all goes well Sofia will be leaving me for three days a week from 9am until 3.20pm
We’ve had our home visit which went well although I did feel sorry for the nursery teacher having to answer my list of questions and its comforting to know that Sofia will be attending the nursery at the school that all three of my older children have attended and where her older brother still goes.

I can’t believe that less than two months ago our little madam was only 2 and now is getting ready to abandon me to explore the big wide world.
I’ve tried to make this week special by spending quality time with Sofia, crafting, days out, cuddles and Disney films(all of which was probably more for my benefit) but the more time I spend with her the more I realise just how much I’m going to miss her.

So while she’s off making new friends, exploring the world around her and just being her usual amazing self in her new environment, I hope she never forgets that I was her first friend and will always be her best.

Emma xoxo

Monday, September 10, 2018

Back to School Survival Essentials

With back to school well underway and the uniform, stationary and shoe shopping finally completed, I thought I’d share with you my top ten essential items I try to make sure we’re stocked up on now the kids are back at school so we are ready for the inevitable.
Need I say any more. Starting from the 16 year old all the way down to the 3 year old, there is always some cut, scrape or bang that requires a plaster.

Packs of tissues
I always try and chuck a pack of tissues or handy wipes in the kids bags as they always come in handy for SOMETHING especially snotty noses in the winter months.

I always keep a secret stash of stationary. Without doubt my bigger two always lose their writing pens so I don’t rush out and spend like £2.50 on a single pen in the newsagent, I simply produce one with a smug smile from my secret place(not THAT secret place either ya dirty buggers) My stationary stash always comes in handy for homework projects or handwriting practice with little man too

Generic birthday cards and wrapping paper
Week one has just finished and we’ve already had 2 party invites which is why I always keep a selection of generic birthday cards and wrapping paper in one of my kitchen cupboards(see, already sticking to the the Tired Mum's New School Year Resolutions!)

Nit lotion 
Touch wood I’ve never in my 16 years of being a parent had to use it. I think it may be down to the oils I use in our hair daily, however, that dreaded letter comes home every term without fail to say someone in the class has had them so better safe than sorry.
Whether it’s in liquid form for the younger ones or tablet form for the bigger ones, we always make sure we’re well stocked and ready for fevers, headaches, time of the month pains etc.

Let’s face it, shit happens, quite literally. So when it does, have some sachets in a cupboard to make sure your little ones(and not so little ones in my case) stay hydrated.

Sewing kit
Not a fancy Martha Stewart super deluxe sewing kit but it’s definitely worth buying some needles and thread(preferably in the colours of your kids uniforms) to patch up and minor issues like a slight seam split or a fallen hem

Without fail, at least one of my kids gets some kind of bug during winter and whenever I take them to the doctors the one thing they always ask is what has their temperature been like. So it’s definitely worth investing in one of these. I find the digital ones are the best 

Emergency tipple
Speaks for itself! When you’ve had a really crap week or your angels have turned into demons,treat yourself to a glass or two....

Is there anything else you make sure you have in for when the kids are back at school?

Emma xoxo

Friday, September 7, 2018

Our Summer Review

Before the Summer holidays we all sat around the dinner table and between us compiled a list of the activities, days out, short breaks and things that we'd like to do during Summer and we called it our Summer Bucket List.
Armed with the list, Sharpies, post it notes and a large sheet of card I set about planning out our Summer.

We didn't manage to tick everything off of our bucket list but in fairness some of my additions were a little ambitious given the time constraints and the kids are quite happy to roll some of the activities over to the upcoming weekends and October half term but here are the highlights of our Summer.

We had AMAZING GCSE results from Mikhayla

 We had a fab afternoon at our newly discovered local indoor Plonk Crazy Golf

I didn't win, but to be fair I didn't lose either! Result
 A certain little lady had her feet measured and bought her first ever pair of school shoes ready to start nursery later this month.

We spent a lovely sunny day being tourists in our city. We went on the London Eye, splashed around in the Appearing Rooms water installation just outside the Royal Festival Hall, we watched lots of fab street performers and enjoyed a meal inn Nandos right beside the ITV television studios.

We had a blast on our annual visit to Gray pick your own farm in Wokingham. As always, the kids loved every second of it and we came away with so much fruit and veg we didn't need to shop for them for a little while. 

We enjoyed a sunny afternoon on the beach at Thorpe Park after a morning spent on rides. 
We had a yummy scrummy baking day

 Loved our short break to Hastings

Got adventurous at this indoor climbing centre in London 
Spent a rainy morning here before the clouds rolled away  

          He made a new friend at Pontins He tried reaching for the stars

And these two enjoyed 'a bicycle made for two'
                       They scrap booked their entire Summer and then...

Here's hoping you all had an amazing Summer!

Emma xoxo                                                

Monday, September 3, 2018

Self Care is Not Selfish

For many years no matter how tired or run down I was, I carried on. I'd need the loo;hold it, need a drink;it would wait, nails in desperate need of a manicure;oh well and it went on like this for ages.
I always maintained that it didn't matter what my emotional, physical or mental needs were as long as the kids were happy and healthy then that was all that mattered. After all, they didn't ask to be born did they? So it was my duty to make sure they always came first.

Then BAM, I became very poorly and couldn't do very much at all and literally everything in the house went to pot. The dirty laundry pile got out of control, dinners became chicken nuggets and chips daily, our home looked like a tip and generally everything just fell apart.
To be fair, I have to take the blame for a lot of this because everyone is so used to me doing absolutely everything and refusing help that when I'm unable to do anything nobody has a clue what to do.
It was during that bout of illness that I realised something HAD to change!

Treat yourself to some me time

I was never that Mum who would schedule me time in daily, weekly or heck even monthly. That would be selfish right? I mean surely every waking minute of your day is supposed to be devoted to looking after or entertaining your little darlings isn't it? NO , it's not.

More recently I had an accident that has left me with a disability and it has affected my quality of life and what I can and can't do and what I have come to realise is that if I'm not taking care of myself and feeling my best then that affects me being able to parent to the best of my ability. You know those days when you've had very little sleep and despite your best efforts to be chipper and carry on you're very snappy and short tempered?? Yeah, well that's a perfect example and that is exactly why SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH.

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the daily routine, chores, shopping and other things that need doing around the house and for the kids and I sometimes think we just switch to auto-pilot and carry on but in doing that we start to forget that yes although these things need doing, the feeling of almost becoming a robot and just 'going through the motions' daily and not taking the time to check in with ourselves is our new norm or reality when in truth it doesn't have to be.

Let's face it, parenting isn't getting any easier, life is demanding and it is so easy to just get caught up in everything and forget about the person we need to look after the most because ultimately if you are not looking after you and putting yourself first then how on earth can you look after your family to the best of your ability. 

Show yourself some love 

So go and get that manicure, have a long, candlelit soak in the bath, call your friends and arrange a get together or even just treat yourself to an early night but whatever you do take care of yourself guilt free!

Take care
Emma xoxo