Tag Archives: routine

The A-Z of Life – Variety

Question!

If variety is the spice of life, why, do we all seem to terrified of change?

When change happens, we are all guilty of being reluctant to embrace it fully in some way.

Variety may be the spice of life, but routine is safe, it’s what we know and sometimes we just don’t want to leave our comfort zone.

For me, I think that’s probably why I never put money into a house. I wanted too, and came close a couple of times. But each time, I was swayed by a couple of external factors – my dad (ever the cautious accountant) saying, that the word was house prices were going to drop in the next couple of months (just don’t buy shares, I think would be my advice to him now) and secondly, myself. If truth be told, I was always too scared to branch out on my own. I’ve already said I am one of nature’s natural born-worriers, and always there would be a barrage of what-ifs that popped into my head, and the worrier in me would outweigh the adventurous me. It always does.

I would like to think that now, with the wisdom of a few more years, I am slightly more adaptable to change, especially having had SC.

In fact, right now, I am embarking on a new voyage of discovery.

The chains which bound me in work for the past couple of years, I have just shaken off, and for the first time in a long time I feel free.

I have so much that I want to do, so many ideas, but first and foremost I have to build myself back up in order to be a hard-core bread-winning machine.

I’ve finally accepted the hand that has been dealt me now, and if I am to be on my own, then that’s the way it’s going to be.

I’ve proved to myself I can deal with my own disasters however painful they may be.

I feel afraid, for sure, but I know I can cope with anything life throws at me – I have the battle scars to prove it. I may have been defeated, more times than I have won battles, but I have not failed, for every single time I dusted myself down and stood back up again stronger and wiser than ever.

I didn’t need anyone before I had SC, I don’t need anyone now!

One of the best books I have read was “Who Moved My Cheese”, by Dr Spencer Johnson is all about the different ways we look at change, which can be applied to any aspect of our lives.

Most of us can embrace change, eventually, and it takes some of us longer than others.

There are some people though who will never be able to embrace change.

As for me, I’m off to find new cheese!

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Top 5 Tips for New Parents

Royalist or not, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (along with millions of other parents around the world), welcome their new bundle of joy into the world (and yes, I have a bet on the name!) I thought I would rake my brains to come up with a top 5 tip list.

When I had SC (just over 6 years now) there was all the build-up for 9 months and then there he was this tiny little human being that I was in charge of looking after and nurturing. It was very emotional – before they arrive you have absolutely no idea how much a child completely and utterly takes over your life. I was very much, before I had him, “Oh, I’ll be back working within a fortnight.” In reality the moment I held him against my chest a few seconds after he had been born I never wanted to leave him for one second, he was, and is so precious. I never wanted to miss a minute of him.

Children are a precious gift and from the moment they are born, we, as parents have a responsibility to raise them to becomes good, kind, thoughtful and responsible adults.

Parenthood doesn’t come from instruction manuals – no matter how many you read (and I read quite a few) – it’s a massive learning curve, especially with your first-born and we all make mistakes (I’ve made plenty) but if we do our best everything will turn out all right.

So here are my personal top 5 tips for new parents:

5.  They don’t break!

I remember when I first held SC how incredibly clumsy I felt. I was holding this tiny wriggling baby and it just felt as if every time I went to pick him up my hands had suddenly morphed into clown hands – you know where the hands are five times the size, just like those false ‘pointy finger’ hands people wear at Baseball games – and that if I picked him up wrongly he would somehow break like a china doll. It did take my midwife and my mum to reassure me that this wasn’t the case, and it really was just a case of practice makes perfect. Like changing a nappy and lifting up the legs to pop the clean one underneath the baby’s bottom – you are not going to do any harm lifting the feet up together in one hand…Oh yes, you do learn how to do many things one-handed – chopping vegetables is a positive art form one-handed!!

4.  Work Together

I was not fortunate enough to have a ‘hands on dad’, someone who would do his share of getting up early in the morning, or even just taking the baby out for a walk whilst I did a normal thing like take a shower! If you are that fortunate, you need to work together to find a routine that works for everyone – so that dad gets his fair share of changing nappies, and the early morning shift, but that he also gets to help out with the fun stuff like bath time and bed time routines. The early days are very testing for any new parents, mothers get very emotional around day 4/5 after the birth – the baby blue period – and the lack of sleep in the early days doesn’t help with tempers which is why being supportive and there for each other is vitally important in my opinion.

3.  Talk to your Baby

This might sound completely crazy, after all it’s a new-born baby, but read to your baby, talk to it, sing to it, make silly noises – it all helps with the bonding process. I started reading stories to SC the day he was born – I know he didn’t understand the stories (it was one of my favourite childhood books “The Tales of Blackberry Farm”) – but its the sound of your voice and the closeness that reading together creates. Even now, at the grand old age of 6 he will climb onto my lap with a book (we have progressed to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn) and snuggle into my arms whilst I read, and he still has a story before he goes to bed. The other thing I used to do was have him facing me in his buggy, and talk to him whilst going round the shops about what I needed to buy – I swear everyone in the supermarket thought I was completely nuts, but all interaction is good interaction! And I used to sing to him, anytime! I would pop him lying on his back on my legs and sing nursery rhymes to him and then I would pop on my musical CDs and belt out showtunes…no wonder he has a penchant for them now (and ABBA and rock music!)

2.  Cuddles

Everyone loves cuddles and there’s no need to wait for an excuse to cuddle your baby! Cuddles are fab! Cuddles are part of the bonding process. I think I spent the first 2 years cuddling SC. Literally! If we weren’t playing, he would be in my arms whilst I was doing chores. He fell asleep being cuddled. And now, we have a morning cuddle routine where I sit on the floor and he rushes from one end of the room to me and jumps onto my lap and we give each other the biggest cuddles ever, and a night-time cuddle routine, and then after-school cuddles and plain old ‘jus cos’ cuddles. Children will grow out of cuddling parents all to soon so you need to get a lifetimes worth into a short space!

1.  Trust Your Instincts

My top tip is to trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone. Everyone will be all too happy to give their own opinion and advice. You will read far too many text books. But trust me, no two babies are the same. Use advice, opinions and parenting books as a guideline only. Trust yourself. New parents feel under so much pressure to get things right, they feel a failure if their baby doesn’t sleep through the night within 8 weeks (it can take longer believe me! My empathy kicks in at a year, sympathy at 3, mine didn’t sleep through the night til he was 4!) You are made to feel a failure if you don’t breastfeed, if you don’t employ the ‘crying technique’, if you wean too soon, or too late, or you don’t take them to every single toddler group under the sun! Every child is different and you are the best judge of what is right for your child. Trust your instincts, they won’t fail you!

 

I lay no claim to be an expert. I am not a perfect mum. I make mistakes – I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But I do the best job I can. I love SC more than anything and can’t imagine life without him now.

It is a hard job, the hardest job you will ever do voluntarily! You will get stressed, anxious, cross, vexated, tired, emotionally spent, I could go one, but ultimately it is the one thing that will give you the most joy and happiness in the world!

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How to Cope with Life the “Quirky Way”

Re-published Blog post from 2013

“This was an article I read in the paper last week.

We all have days when we think “why did I bother getting up”, or “my life is sooo boring”, or we are just plain exhausted, or our job is getting us down and we feel anxious, stressed and depressed.

Research by Direct Line, the insurance company revealed that we all try to cram so much into a day, that approximately 25% of us end up feeling too tired to enjoy the fun things in life.

So, a Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor in human behaviour at the University of Central London came up with the following suggestions to bring a little boost to our energy levels:

  • Listen to a minute and a half of loud rock music pre day at around 11:30 am.
    • Apparently it’s an ideal way to keep you going until lunch – and I thought that was, according to the adverts, a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (or indeed any other breakfast cereal). At the moment we alternate between School Disco in my car CD player (SC is particularly fond of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”, or Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love”) and Now that’s what I call 30 years of Music (favourite tracks The Proclaimers “500 miles” or Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell!”) – will try blasting them out tomorrow morning at 11:30!
  • Allow time for a power nap during the day.
    • Personally, I’ve never been a power napper. Closing my eyes during the day makes me feel worse, sick and then I can’t sleep at night – so I’ll be giving this one a miss I think.
  • Jog to meetings and lunch to boost endorphins.
    • Endorphins, as everyone knows are what make you happy – it would certainly make me smile to watch everyone in an office jogging along the corridor to their next meeting, or indeed jogging along the busy streets of London (and yes, I know not everyone works there) in their power suits off to the local supermarket!
  • Write in different colours and styles.
    • Ooo, I can see a surge in sales of those pens with 4 different inks in them. You know the ones, with one click you can go from blue to black to red to green. Many a happy hour was idled away at school changing colours. Even at university I used to write in different coloured ink. Assignments were sent in red, turquoise and I think even lavender at one point! And as for style, mine changes like the weather and depending on my mood ranging from very neat and tidy to doctor scrawl which needs several different interpreters to decipher what I actually wrote!
  • Indulge in social media for 5 minutes at a time!
    • Seriously? 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work, 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work ….
  • Start a hobby that improves self-esteem – to make the things that ‘have to be done, like going to work, feel easier.’
    • Surely anything that you enjoy will improve your self-esteem whether that is pounding away on the running machine and the weights at the gym to something more creative like writing, art or music. After all, if we indulge in what we love and enjoy then we release more happy hormones, don’t we? And surely, self-esteem starts with feeling happy?
  • Doodle (not write) to-do lists first thing in the morning.
    • I used to be so organised before I had SC, and I was working. Now I just used post-it notes, which get stuck everywhere, or write lists in various notebooks!
  • Sleep on the wrong side of the bed.
    • Seriously, do people have a wrong and right side? As long as the mattress is firm and I have enough room to stretch my long legs out, without them ending up dangling off the end of the bed I do not care one iota which ‘side’ I sleep on. I know I’m anal about most things, but which side of the bed I sleep on is not one of them!
  • Eat a piece of fruit at 3pm to combat the afternoon ‘slump’.
    • A natural burst of sugar to keep you going until the end of the working day. I used to do that at work when I was pregnant, because around 2/3 o’clock was when my blood sugar plummeted and I started feeling nauseous. Orange juice kicked up the blood pressure, didn’t quite get rid of the mid-afternoon sickness though!
  • Set New Year’s resolutions in July.
    • I get the whole it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, etc. Time to make a fresh start. But I don’t see why we have to wait an entire year before starting, or finishing, something we want to do – like going on that diet, finding a new job, etc.
  • Tube surf – change your usual route to work.
    • When I first read this I had images of commuters standing on the tube platform in the morning with surf boards under their arms and strains of The Beach Boys “Wipe Out”, playing over the intercom system. I always used to tube surf. It’s sometimes a necessity when the tube line you need is severely disrupted, and you end up with varying ways to get to the office. Even when I drove to work I would sometimes just drive a different way in. Plan B is always essential on the commute, you never know what hold ups with occur.
  • Get a personal mantra.
    • I’m all for mantras. The more positive and focussed the better.
  • Let imagination and creativity run wild by reading a favourite childhood book.
    • Einstein said “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere,” and also “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!” As adults we lose our childhood imagination to see the world as a vast adventure, and it does become a hum-drum existence of working to live instead of living to work. Where does our imagination go? Why does it get stifled?

I’m all for quirky 😉

I never do things by the book.

If you’re feeling a tad stifled in your existence, try some of the above. What’s the worst that can happen?

As for favourite childhood books, I’m such a bookie it’s a hard decision. My top 5 would probably be “A Dream of Sadlers Wells”, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, Family from One End Street” and “Mallory Towers” (I so wanted to go there when I was little!”)”

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