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#thesnazzysockchallenge

Sounds interesting right?

A few weeks ago I was set a challenge, a dare some might say…

It all started when my psychologist was telling me about her training days, part of her training required her to take herself out of her comfort zone and put herself in the shoes of the patients she would one day work with.

So one day, she found herself in a busy shopping mall, placed herself in the middle and stood on one leg. She did this on and off all day. Why did she do this? To prove to herself that she didn’t have to care about what other people thought of her. I laughed. How mad. Surely everyone looked at her as if she was nuts? They did. She felt self conscious at first, however as the day went on, she stopped caring.

And that is what she wants me to do. To accept that sometimes others may be thinking negatively about me and realise that it makes no difference to my life if they are or not! Easier said than done for the overthinking mum with self esteem issues and social anxiety.

To test this for myself, she asked me to take myself out of my comfort zone. Push my boundaries and do something odd to see how many people actually cared. By doing this one step at a time, I would eventually be able to stop myself overthinking and in turn reduce my anxiety…apparently.

A week passed and I was too anxious to do anything out of my comfort zone. My psychologist was not impressed. I was due to work later that day, I do casual work for a local bistro as a hostess/waitress, the ‘uniform’ being all black. I couldn’t find any black socks to wear with my black pumps (socks with pumps, already a fashion faux pas I know!). It was cold out and I didn’t feel like taking my current brightly coloured socks off.

Okay, this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most, wearing bright socks with pumps. But when I spend all of my energy on worrying about what others are thinking about me, this is kinda huge.

I walked to work with my stomach in knots, I was building up all sorts of thoughts in my head. What if my boss told me to take them off? What would I say? What if a customer stared? What if someone laughed at me?

I imagined serving someone I knew and them going home to tell their friends that they’d seen me wearing funny socks at work and that I was obviously an unfit mother. My thoughts quickly catastrophised from seemingly problem free to disastrous.

I took a deep breath and stepped in. I worked for around 4 hours and to my surprise, no one said anything about my socks! Of course they didn’t, why would they? I had been so busy that I had even forgotten I was wearing bright socks. It wasn’t until I walked home that I remembered. I started to over think again, but then stopped myself.

No one had said anything. Everyone had a good night. The colour of my socks had no impact on any aspect of the night.

I continued to walk on my own through the dark high street and suddenly felt a weight lift from me. I could feel a cheesy grin spread across my face and I let out a little giggle. No one cared what I was wearing, why would they? I had done my job, and everyone had left happy.

I craved that feeling, so for the next week I wore patterned socks every day. Only two people said anything, a close friend joked when I was wearing Christmas socks (I was pushing it a bit that day!) and my boss, when he accidentally stepped on my foot and noticed them, he just joked that they were a bit bright.

Instead of feeling self conscious, I laughed along both times and continued as if nothing had happened. The complete opposite from the week before, where I would have panicked for days over who they might have told or what they would have thought.

So, are you willing to accept my dare? Show off your snazzy socks in public and see who cares – you’ll be surprised by how much it could brighten your day!

Share your photos with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #thesnazzysockchallenge – I can’t wait to see your ‘snazzy’ socks!

 

The Important Meeting

Since having my first child, I have been heavily involved in the local Children’s Centre. From becoming a breastfeeding peer supporter and volunteering at the weekly support group to being a part of their Parent Partner committee, organising Family Fun Days and everything in between. I really thrive off being a part of something good. I love volunteering and being part of a community.

However once I realised just how ill I was, my son was around 4 months old, I started to close in on myself. I stopped going along to the weekly breastfeeding support group as I felt like everyone was watching me. I felt like they knew I was having difficulties, despite the happy smile I plastered on my face each week. (Even now, many people tell me they wouldn’t have a clue to my struggles, I hide them too easily). I felt I was a hypocrite, giving advice to others based on guidelines that I wasn’t able to follow myself.

Once I was in a better place (which I’ll write about in more detail in my ‘Where it all began…’ series) I decided to start up a support group along with a friend who had also experienced post natal depression and anxiety. We had only had two meetings when I received a call from the volunteer coordinator for the Children’s Centre, someone who I had quite a good relationship with until I got ill. She had heard about the support group and was inviting me to attend an Advisory Board Meeting for Mid Devon on the topic of Mental Health. They wanted to hear from real parents going through mental health issues to find out their experiences and how they can help support parents and their families cope during these difficult times.

I was very wary to go. I had been to these meetings before as a Parent Partner, so understood how they worked. This also meant I knew who would be there. There was a long list of ‘important people in suits’ including a local MP and my primary school head teacher. Did I really want to go and open my heart to a bunch of strangers?

Apparently I did…I talked it through with my husband and psychologist and decided to go for it. Once I confirmed with my cycling group that I wouldn’t be able to lead that week, I decided if I was going to be telling my story to a bunch of important people, why not finally take the leap I’d been thinking about for so long and start a blog? And here I am…

I traveled to the meeting with the volunteer coordinator and we caught up. I took my son whilst my daughter was in nursery. I was very nervous, and it seemed my son was too as just as we arrived, he projectile vomited all over himself and his car seat. This is when I realised I had forgotten to pack spare clothes and wet wipes, I assume out of nervousness! Luckily we managed to find him some spare clothes and clean him up.

Completely flustered and feeling like I’d made myself look like an even worse mother than I feel most days, I entered the meeting room. I was relieved to see my Health Visitor sitting right in front of me, this gave me a little confidence boost, to know she was there and had my back if I needed her. Another Mum I knew through the support group PANDAS Tiverton (find out more here) was also there to share her experiences. I kindly let her go first 😉

It was emotional to listen to, but in a way comforting to know we were in the same boat and supporting each other. A few people made comments, mainly apologetic that she had such a bad experience from the team of people that were supposed to help her. We learnt that Health Visitors, the professionals that are a mothers first point of contact during the first six weeks post partum, actually have no mental health training. Isn’t that in itself shocking? How are these professionals supposed to diagnose and support mothers without the correct training?

Although I had a bad experience with my initial Health Visitor, I feel immensely lucky that I agreed to see a student Health Visitor on short notice, who is now fully qualified and one of many in my support system. She is fantastic, mainly due to the fact she was previously a mental health nurse, but also as she is so personable. I wouldn’t have been able to open up to others in the way I did with her in the beginning and I can’t thank her enough for all she’s done to help and support me. Whenever people talk badly about Health Visitors now, I can’t help but stick up for her!

I told my story and what I felt needed changing. In particular I am having trouble at the moment finding childcare in order to start an intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy course. It seems somewhat ironic that I need this therapy because I’ve had children, yet can’t receive the therapy, because I have children.

The room was opened for questions, mostly positive and I felt confident answering them. Then a man asked a question, I looked up to see my old primary school headteacher…”Let’s get to the bottom of this then, I think PND is caused from too much pressure to breastfeed!”

Er, what?

I felt awful, mainly because I knew the other Mum had felt an immense pressure to feed when she didn’t feel well enough to. I could see she was getting emotional but couldn’t help but stick up for myself. My hand shot up. Everyone turned to face me. I felt like I was in school again.

I explained that I had breastfed both of my children, one I had no experience of PND and the other I had quite an intense experience of PND. I explained that mothers needed support in feeding, not told to give up because they were depressed or anxious. That for me, breastfeeding was my only connection to my son in the early days. And if I hadn’t felt that need to feed him, I probably wouldn’t have held him at all.

Both with tears in our eyes, my Health Visitor confidently told the room that the discussion was over and the topic of conversation was changed.

Despite a negative ending, it was overall a positive experience. I gained a few contacts who are looking into the possibility of holding a creche for PND/A sufferers to attend therapy and have been asked to attend various other meetings to build more awareness in our area.

I am determined to support as many local mums as possible through our support group and awareness campaigns and help others, through this blog, feel less alone and slightly more normal. #1in4

When you go down to the woods today…don’t.

When you go down to the woods today...

We got lost.

Of course we fricking got lost.

If you’re aware of Haldon Forest, you’re probably wondering how the heck we got lost. But we bloody managed it!

It all started out quite fabulously. My husband decided to take along the big bulky backpack carrier as he refuses to wear by beautiful Boba 4G in ‘Wildflower’. I insisted we bring it along anyway, just in case.

We got to the forest and parked along the road, right next to a large puddle. The toddler decided, of course, she wanted to jump in the muddy puddle (Thanks Peppa.) We agreed, on the condition she put on her waterproof suit first. She refused. Even after we told her how cool it was. Still not interested.

Wanting to avoid tantrums, we distracted with thoughts of seeing Stickman, and we were on our way. Toddler walking, baby in the bulky backpack carrier with Daddy.

5 mins into walk…Daddy decides the bulky backpack carrier is very uncomfortable and he can’t possibly carry baby in it any longer. Not wanting to say ‘I told you so’…(Ha!) I agreed to carry baby in my Boba (how nice of me).

6 mins into walk…Toddler starts tantrumming over the fact baby is being carried by Mama when she wants to be. Daddy carries Toddler in arms.

7 mins into walk…Toddler decides she is hungry. Find bench and have a snack. Baby goes crazy over thought of food. Offer yoghurt tube which he proceeds to squirt all over self, Mama and Daddy.

10 mins into walk…We are off, for real this time. Stop to take photos of children having a lovely time on our family day out in wooden seat. Toddler refuses to let go of drink to smile for camera. Give up.

20 mins into walk…Decide to go off the beaten track to ‘hunt for bears’. Hmm, if you’re sure Daddy.

45 mins into walk…Yup. We are lost. But at least the toddler is happily running along the path. We follow the ‘Butterfly Trail’, butterfly we feel means it will be light and easy? Awwe, maybe this isn’t so bad.

46 mins into walk…Toddler falls over.

1 hour into walk…We manage to soothe toddler, she is content however refusing to walk. Daddy carrying in arms, with bulky back pack carrier still on back, holding nothing.

1 hour 15 mins into walk…Toddler exhausted, baby content in carrier but getting heavy. We sit on a tree trunk for a snack. Whole forest seems deserted. No one to ask for directions. Daddy tries to find where we are using Google Maps. This does not help in the slightest.

1 hour 20 mins into walk…We get up and trudge along again. We now seem to see lots of people and manage to find our way back to the car park, all up hill.

1 hour 30 mins…WE MADE IT! So. Tired.

We checked the forest map and turns out we walked the hardest route, covering 3 miles, mainly uphill.

We’ll stick to the path next time!

So happy! Before the walk truly began...
Before the walk began, at least we got a good photo?

 

 

 

Meet Other Mums #BlogSquad

Wow!

I am super excited to announce that I am now a member of the Meet Other Mums #BlogSquad!

I will have a monthly blog on their site, which reaches just over 25,000 – WOW! I never thought I would get the opportunity to reach so many other Mums so quickly. I couldn’t be more pleased!

My first blog on MeetOtherMums.com will go live shortly – I’d love for you all to go check it out!

It’s also a great site for finding other Mums with common interests in your local area, like a dating site, but for Mum friends.

Now to get writing…!

 

The Bedtime Tag – my first tag!

Yay for blogging firsts!

So very excited to be tagged by The Mum Reviews in The Bedtime Tag, thanks Nicole!

This blog is not quite what it seems, instead of being a quiz on your child’s bedtime routine, it’s a quiz for the grown up’s. Have a nosey and see what I get up to before getting in the sheets…

Describe your usual bedtime routine

It depends what kind of mood I’m in to whether I go downstairs (we have an upside down house) with my husband at 10pm or stay up a bit later to watch a few episodes of reality trash, as my husband so kindly calls it. My current faves are Ex on the Beach and Geordie Shore. I love a bit of mindless telly! I’ll eventually make my way downstairs, spend another half hour or so flicking through Facebook whilst on the loo, then climb into bed.

What are your favourite pyjamas?

I actually sleep in my pants and a vest top, however I like to change into my ‘lounge wear’ once the kids are in bed. I currently have some lovely fleecy jogger style bottoms and a cosy pink spotty dressing gown.

What is your current bedtime reading?

I am incredibly low brow and tend to read on my iPhone or Kindle Fire. I click ‘Romance’ and download whichever ones are free. Most are self published so need a bit of editing, but once in a while you get a fab read! I particularly like the naughty ones, however with the lack of editing, some are a bit cringey. You would think there’s only so many ways to describe ‘doing the deed’ but boy, some get quite creative!

What would I find on your bedside table?

I don’t actually have a bedside table! However I do have a box that my daughter uses as a step to climb into bed with us in the morning. On that there is a Frozen Night Light (our lamp broke and we haven’t bothered buying a new one yet), my compliments book, my journal and a few pens. I like to write first thing in the morning, once I’ve had a night’s sleep to mull over everything!

What scent makes you sleepy?

I don’t really use anything to make me sleepy, however I do love the smell of freshly laundered sheets!

What are your usual bedtime and wakeup times?

Bedtime can vary from 10pm – 12pm, wake up time also varies. Can be anywhere from 7am – 11am, dependent on the previous nights sleep, my mood that morning and whether I have anything on that day.

What are your top three bedtime products?

Um, I don’t really have any bedtime products…I brush my teeth and if I’ve managed to put some eyeliner on that day, I’ll use Primarks Own Sensitive make up wipes to take it off. £1 for two packs, I do love a bargain!

What is your most common sleeping position?

Foetal, on my right hand side, legs in between duvet and hand under pillow with other hand tucked into duvet holding it in place. Every night. Without fail. Sometimes my husband likes to snuggle but as soon as he falls asleep I shove him off and get into this position.

Do you have anything you like to take to bed with you?

My phone. I’m a bad person and sleep with it under my pillow. I often wake during the night so will watch random videos or read blogs to get myself back to sleep.

What is your worst bedtime habit?

Probably a mixture of being on my phone and shuffling the duvet about to get into my position to sleep, it definitely annoys my husband – oops!

I tag Jelly With The Belly and Harriet at Mummy Goes Where Flo Goes to answer the questions above.

 

THE RULES OF THE BEDTIME TAG

Step 1: Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to their blog.
Step 2: Display The Bedtime Tag badge; which you can find above. (save the picture)
Step 3: Answer the ten questions included above.
Step 4: Nominate fellow bloggers to take part and answer the above questions.

#devongirlscan #thisgirlcan

bikes

When I tried a taster session for a local Active Mums Bike Ride, I never thought six months down the line I would be leading the sessions on my own! However I caught the cycling bug and with the added bonus of bike and trailer hire included, meaning the kids tag along and are contained whilst I exercise – I was hooked! For once, I didn’t care what others thought of me, I was doing this for me, and it felt GREAT!

 

I find having that responsibility each week, of having others rely on me to take them for a ride, is great for giving me the motivation to get started with my day. Getting to enjoy the beautiful Devon countryside, and push myself up it’s many hills, are a great end to the week.

Active Mums is a part of Active Devon, the County Sports Partnership for Devon who are passionate about finding innovative ways of getting everyone in Devon Active for Life. Research reveals a huge difference in the number of men and women playing sport. And it’s not because females don’t want to get active. Millions of women and girls are afraid to exercise because of fear of judgement.

Developed by Sport England, This Girl Can is a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look bikesor even how red their face gets. They want to help women overcome the fear of judgement that is stopping too many women and girls from joining in.

Active Devon have started their own campaign – #devongirlscan I’ll be sharing my photos regularly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why don’t you join in too? Let’s do this together and show the world that #THISGIRLCAN !

 

Another Mummy Blog!

I’ve been umming and ahhing for a while about whether I wanted to start a blog or not. I wasn’t sure if I would seem self obsessed or attention seeking. However, I’m ploughing through a really great stint of therapy right now and I’ve been told I need to be more open about my life and my struggles, so where better to start than by writing it all down for everyone to see?

I will try to keep this brief, as introduction posts tend to be quite samey…

I live in Devon with my husband and two children,  there is 18 months between each child so I spend most of my time getting them out of the house before they kill each other.

I didn’t suffer with post natal depression with my first child, which is apparently weird. Although it made it a lot easier to spot that this time was different, but carries a large guilt that I’m not doing everything as well this time around.

I pretty much carry a lot of guilt about everything.

Well, everything parenting related.

I’m going to try and write as regularly as possible, hope someone out there enjoys reading what is in my boggled mind and can maybe even relate? If so, please let me know by commenting below or by giving me an email> thatmummyblog@gmail.com