Your Child Does Not Have Autism

My eldest child is 7 years old, and received his official Autism diagnosis within the last 12 months. It has been a very long 7 years full of battles against the system and against ignorant people, especially within the education system of the UK. It has worn me down over and over again and I have had to fight for support for him every single step of the way, and am still going to have to, but now I’m armed with an official diagnosis so things are that little bit easier.

I’ve often written about my boy and his additional needs, he also has Sensory Processing Disorder, and I like to share our journey to encourage others and help them feel less alone. I guess this is what this post is about, not feeling lonely in your fight for a diagnosis.

I’ve been told so many times that my child definitely doesn’t have autism. He can maintain eye contact, he can speak, he notices if something is removed from in front of him, his reading and writing skills are above average, he has friends, he eats ok etc etc. I’ve been told by GP’s, paediatricians, and school SENCO’s that he is absolutely fine, that he doesn’t need support, he definitely is not autistic and that they just don’t see what I am talking about and he will grow out of it. Do you know how this makes you feel? Horrendous! On top of the guilt you already feel for knowing your child is struggling but you cannot help him, hearing people basically say you’re making it all up is really disheartening and leaves you feeling pretty hopeless. BUT do not give up. If your gut is telling you something is not right then keep on keeping on until you get the answers your child and your family so desperately need.

I’m not one for sitting back and taking no for an answer, I never give up where my kids and my family are concerned I fight their corner every inch of the way, but boy is it hard hen you’re dismissed over and over again. You soon start o question yourself and your sanity, but don’t let it do that to you. Remember your focus, and that’s your child.

To cut a long story short we eventually got referred to a child mental health service after 5 years, and upon his initial meeting the doctor said to me that they think my child is on the Autistic Spectrum and has anxiety, and would be assessing him for this. After a few assessments they reached the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and anxiety. I was so relieved. I didn’t think this would be my initial reaction but it was. Years of battling other people for support for my child had been worth it and now this little piece of paper confirmed what we had suspected all along and now this little bit of paper meant that no longer could I be scoffed at by education professionals. My child and his needs would now be taken serious!

Don’t let people push your concerns away, don’t let them silence your worries, stand up for what your heart is telling you, it will be a huge battle, but worth the fight. If I’d have listened to processionals and let them override my gut instinct my boy would be classed as neurotypical and would not get any extra support at all, and this would be detrimental to his emotional and mental health as well as his academic progress.

Never let anybody tell you your child is fine ‘because they’ve seen children much worse than them’, never let anyone dismiss you or your concerns. As a parent your gut instinct is usually right, follow it, and don’t give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel just may be longer than you had hoped.

Keep fighting.

The Spirited Wild Child

I have a very spirited child. He is unique and wild in every way. I love this about him, but it also drives me to the brink of insanity. He is fearless. I am not. It leads you to question your parenting skills and abilities time and time again. BUT I’ve come to realise we are not alone, not at all.

Do you have a spirited, wild child? Does any of the following sound familiar?…

The Spirited Child…

They break the boundaries and don’t look back.

They leap without looking and thrive on looking down.

They are drawn to chaos and feel peaceful when messiest.

They fervently listen but do the opposite to what’s expected.

They love adrenaline rushes despite the consequences it may lead to.

They drive you to the edge of insanity but then entice you back in with a well timed snuggle and cheeky smile.

They defy every notion you hold of a child and their behaviour, yet their individuality is what makes them so adorable.

They live for the moment and instant gratification is more desired than a promise of later luxury.

They see the ‘wet paint’ sign but have to check its truth.

They hear you say something is hot but they need first hand experience of the temperature just to clarify it in their own minds.

They hear the words ‘No more!’ but they have to do it one more time.

They understand patience but not how to practice it.

They understand bath foam is to clean yourself with but they eat it anyway.

They think with their body and not with their brains.

Their nature is strong willed, and stubborn, and fierce.

The future is in their hands, they do not fear.

They leave you exasperated, astounded, surprised, fearful, and often in despair.

They are the future. A strong, bold future.

Their ‘wild’ is their biggest strength.

Their ‘spiritedness’ is their super power.

Sound familiar? Buckle down momma. Sit tight Daddy. You’re in for one helluva ride.

Choose your battles, but never battle their spirit. They’re gonna need that spirit. The world out there is tough.

It’s gonna be hard. It already is hard. BUT their spirit is evolving, and time will do the taming.

Cling on.

You’re not a failure, you’re privileged to be raising up a world changer.

Illusions Of A Parent And Car Safety

We all have dreams and ideas for our lives, our homes, our marriages,  our children. We dream of winning the Lotto or landing a big promotion. We dream of living in Mauritius with a Butler. We think big ideas regarding our future. We dream, we dream alot.

Then there’s the everyday type of dreaming; you promise yourself that tomorrow is the day you’ll have this parenting malarkey sussed and you map out your day, and even throw in a new creative activity you recently saw on Pinterest. Then real life shows up. It’s not even 9.30am and you need a double vodka, a big slice of chocolate fudge cake, and possibly a Strepsil to soothe your throat from all the yelling you’d promised yourself you weren’t going to do today, again.

Here are four dreams and romantic ideas of mine. They lull me into a false sense of dreaminess and make me think things are a good idea – when, in reality, if they don’t involve unwashed hair, pj’s, and not having to socialise with any other human beings, then it’s safe to say it’ll be a bad idea.

Lets go for a lovely drive

The dream – Let’s all hop into the family car and go for a lovely, autumnal drive. Let’s marvel at the scenery and sing along to our favourite songs. Let’s find a layby to stop and drink hot chocolate and enjoy each other’s company.

Reality – Nobody wants to go for a drive except momma. The kids karate chop each other across the seats. Momma thinks about car safety and quickly does a mental checklist; Are the coolant/water levels ok? Is the tyre pressure going to be ok and when did we last check it? Is the oil level ok? Do we have enough windscreen wash? Do all of our lights work? Is the boot free of unnecessary weight? Is everybody strapped into their seats properly without thick coats? Do we know where we are going? Right, all checked, meanwhile everybody argues over which music should be played. The car steams up and blocks everybody’s view of the scenery. The smell of the countryside makes the 5yo hurl. The hurl makes the 7yo cry. They both make momma cry. Daddy then cries after he feels a tyre blow! Forget the countryside we now need to find Kwikfit and something stronger than hot chocolate

Babycino dates with my handsome boys and my husband

The dream – We get dressed with minor fuss. Mummys hair looks great. Everyone is happy. We leave the house on time and remember everything. The journey is smooth and tearless. We order and take our seats. The boys eat the cake they chose without moaning or swapping. They sit lovely and use their manners. They drink their babycinos. We have a relaxing coffee with our lovely little boys.

Reality – The boys moan their way through waking up. Mummy is exhausted from being woken up every 45 minutes from midnight til 5am by a dehydrating three year old. The lounge floor is a Coco Pop assault course. Nobody likes milk this morning; it’s “poo poo!” Nobody wants a bath. Mummy has to karate chop pj’s off two flailing baby dragons. The bath is apparently boiling hot. Mummy slings two boys into the lava-temperature bath. Two boys get washed while doing a tantrum dance. Mummy is soaked. And mad. Nobody wants to get dressed but no choice is given. Have you tried dressing a wild coyote? Mummy gets ready in 10 minutes whilst playing referee. Daddy takes a bit longer. We leave the house 45 minutes later than planned. Mummys face sweats. Mummy forgets the changing bag. The journey is not moan free; it’s hot, the sun hurts, it’s cold, etc etc. We pull up at the coffee shop. Let’s start afresh. We order. We sit. D1 doesn’t like his chair. D2 will not swap. D1 now likes his chair. D2 now wants to swap. D1 wants Daddys cake. So does D2. No one sits still. Two dragons roar loud. D1 hits D2. A brawl occurs with a latte being piggy in the middle. People judge us. We quickly drink our coffee. We exit quick. The end.

The toystore visit

The dream – We promise our children a special treat from the big toy store for their good behaviour. We are all excited to visit the store, and feel a sense of magic. It will feel just like the Toys R Us advert. Our two children will be so excited and so grateful to us. They will hold our hand and dance down the aisle in amazement at all the wonderful toys on show.

Reality – There was no good behaviour yet we are still going to the toystore. The boys are excited. We arrive. D2 makes a getaway on the car park and runs fast. Good start. We go into the store. D1 wants the Lego aisle. D2 wants the dollies aisle. D2 lays on the floor and refuses to walk. We drag him to another aisle. We walk down the music aisle. D2 plays the keyboard. D1 pushes D2 off the stool for his turn. D2 bites D1. Timeout in a toystore is always a joyous time. Apologies are made. Fresh start. The bike aisle. D1 tests out a bike. D2 has climbed the shelf and is head first in a tractor. He screams when he is pulled out. Cue lying on the floor. After 45 minutes of pure stress we decide to leave. But not empty handed because we’re crazy like that! Anyone else? The end.

Let’s eat out for dinner

The dream – You want to spend some quality time with your family so decide to go out for dinner. You choose a child friendly restaurant and imagine the four of you enjoying a lovely meal as a family. The kids eat well and wait patiently for their pudding. You leave feeling full and proud.

Reality – You end up at Pizza hut because you know the icecream factory will be the perfect bribe for your children to behave well and eat their meal. It all starts well. D2 eats a crayon but that’s nothing abnormal. They choose their food. It takes 365 days to arrive. They get hangry. Crayons are thrown. Legs are jerked. Snarls are exchanged. The pizza arrives. Cue a break down because I won’t let my children eat molten lava pizza. It cools. They eat. They eat well. Mummy and daddys food arrives. Mid pizza the icecream tantrum begins. Everyone stares. We cave. The boys have dessert. Pizza hut call in Environmental Health to de-toddler the sprinkles and syrups counter. They have a second helping. We use four hundred baby wipes, 20 napkins, and we leave. The end.

But would we have it any other way? Yes! Yes we would 🤣

Rubbish Advice For Parents

When you become a parent you, unwillingly, attract the opinion of everybody you meet. Some people mean well, and others most definitely do not. You get advice during pregnancy, during the newborn weeks, during the terrible two’s, potty training advice, sleep advice, diet advice, school advice, advice about absolutely everything, and it drives you absolutely out of your mind!

Here is some of that advice I received during the first two years and what I thought about it…

“Get all the sleep you can before they arrive!”

Sleep?!? What is sleep? You lie down you have heart burn. You stand up you need a wee. You lie down and baby wakes up, with hiccups. You can’t lie on your side because it makes your hips hurt, you can’t lie on your back because you’ve heard it’s bad for the baby, you obviously can’t lie on your front because it is physically impossible 8 months pregnant. A pillow in between your legs is good, for 5 minutes, and then it’s back to aggravation about not being tired anymore, yet you’re exhausted. You take another swig of indigestion liquid and try again. Repeat all night long, every night. You try and nap in the day but the postman always knocks the door, or somebody visits, or you need to do the housework, or the thought of the ironing pile is making you have palpitations, and before you know it the day has gone and you didn’t catch up on any of this sleep you’re supposed to take advantage of when your baby is still in your belly.

Don’t let them them sleep in your bed, you’ll make a rod for your own back!”

What is this rod? Would it make a good pole to hang off and get some sleep because if it would then chances are a rod on my own back is just what I need. We all have different children, my first needed to sleep with momma, and my second needed his own space, and I obliged to both! Why you may ask? Because what it all boiled down to was I NEEDED SLEEP, and I didnt care how it came, I just needed it. So, unless you’re in my house babysitting at midnight and 1am and 2amm and 3am and 4am mind your own business about that rod on my back!

“Breastfeeding is better for your baby”

Breast is great, bottle is great, both ere food for my baby, and I’ll decide which is better for us both. I can’t even look at my nipples right now let alone imagine something using them to get their grub four hundred times a day, so don’t booby judge me!

“Let them cry it out!”

I tried this once, for 30 minutes, and I ended up crying worse than my baby, and I have never to this day done it again, I just cannot condition my child into knowing that if they cry it is useless because I wont come back until it’s morning. This is my choice, you have your own choices.

“Sleep when baby sleeps!”

Here’s a joke for you – Sleep…you don’t get it? Neither do I!

Six years on and I am still exhausted. Sleep when baby sleeps, say what?! So we better clean when baby cleans, and iron when baby irons, and food shop when baby food shops, and dust when baby dusts, and empty the trash when the baby empties the trash right? Just forget about sleep, at least for the first few years anyway! Sorry to rain on your parade, but it is normal.

Don’t keep picking him up you’ll spoil him!”

I’ll spoil him? With cuddles and love? Good! I want to, a baby never got spoilt by too much love. You cannot have too much love. My baby, my heart, my rules.

“Only give them homemade organic food.”

So, we tried this for a while, and it nearly made us bankrupt this organic stuff, joking, but you get my drift! Those pouches of freshly prepared food are amazing and convenient, and a momma needs convenience. There is hardly time to pee let alone whip up homemade cuisine daily. Don’t pouch judge me!

They should be potty trained by now (aged 2)!”

No way should they! They are all different, and until they are ready no amount of persuasion or anger or determination from you will potty train them, there are no rules, you have to follow their lead. I tried to listen to somebody’s advice once, and my floor was covered in pee on the hour every hour for 48 hours! And did Mrs Advice come help clean it up? Did she heck!

“Is he not walking yet? My child walked at 8 months!”

This backhanded advice really grates me! It’s like we have to have uniform children who reach each milestone at the same rate. No, my child walked at 13 months and my other child was too lazy to walk until they were 20 months, and both are doing just fine. Maybe your 8 month old has had enough of your comparing and needed to learn to walk to get away quicker! Oops, did I type that?

Don’t give your child a pacifier / dummy, it will ruin their teeth and slow down their speech development!”

Well both of mine had one, and they’re just fine, in fact they don’t ever stop talking, and I mean ever! I loved that pacifier like it was a child, it gave me a few minutes of peace when they were upset about teething, or they were tired and I couldn’t hold them both at the same time, or I just simply needed 2 minutes peace to buy a new jumper to replace the maternity one I was still wearing 18 months into being a mum!

Don’t ever let your children have candy!”

Have you seen the power of bribery a lollipop holds? It speaks for itself! Who’s with me?

 

Have you had any unwanted advice that was a load of rubbish? I’d love to hear it!

 

Dear (Additional Needs) Parent

I know as a parent we all cry at one time or another over our child, each of us for very different reasons, but all of us because we love them so very much. Sometimes we cry happy tears, then sometimes tears of frustration stain our faces, and other times it’s because our heart breaks for them.

Every family suffers it’s own hardships and circumstances, some are temporary, some are long lasting, some of them are the cards life dealt you, and others are devastatingly permanent, but one thing remains to get us all through these hard times; love. Above anything else, just love.

Love can change your perspective on almost anything, and does the world of good for your soul, and sometimes it’s the only thing you have to offer.

One of my boys suffers with severe anxiety as well as Sensory Processing Disorder and he has recently been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, and it often breaks my heart watching him struggle knowing that I cannot change things for him. All I can do is support him, guide him, and show him unconditional love. I cannot change the way his brain functions, but I’ve had a huge role to play in the way his heart functions. I fill it with love, encouragement, praise, solutions, confidence, and I try my hardest to ensure he has a healthy self-esteem.

Some days I can conquer the world with him, and we navigate our way through the problems, and the thoughts, and the behaviours, but other days I cry for him after hours of meltdowns and aggression. I peek at him whilst he is drifting off to sleep and I hear him sob. I ask him what’s wrong. Sometimes he doesn’t even know. Other times he has dreams that were so nice he didn’t want to wake from them, or dreams that were so scary he thinks they are real. Sometimes he dreams of another boy just like him who understands him and hugs him tight. This is the one that gets me in the gut and upsets me to the core, he must feel lonely, in his own world, and like he isn’t understood. I hate this feeling he has so much but all I can do is reassure him, validate his feelings and reaffirm his worth.

Some days I watch him play Lego, his familiar territory. He sets up scenes and recreates movie scenes. His eye for detail and accuracy astounds me, but sometimes it scares me. His little brain is so full and he is so hard on himself if any detail is wrong. I wish he would be easier on himself, but all I can do is love him, reassure him that it’s ok to think how he does, and try and extend his play to help him be more spontaneous. It’s hard teaching him that perfection is not always possible, his brain craves perfection at all costs.

School holidays are another time that often renders my heart broken, the dreaded night before the new term begins especially. The anxiety grips his tummy and he lashes out at everything and everyone. He goes into full flight or fight mode and nothing can soothe him, we have to ride the wave and hope it ends sooner rather than later. All we can do is reassure him, cuddle him, talk things through. It hurts my heart that I cannot help further.

There are so any routines and habits that have to happen in order for his world to feel at peace, some of them are cute little quirks that we all have, but some are a matter of urgency and must be done, and done correctly. I wish I could switch his little mind off and give him a rest. He must be so tired sometimes of the constant battles and urges.

As a parent it is heartbreaking not being able to help your child, and sometimes it gets too much. But that’s ok, we are not robots and we have feelings, strong feelings.

But, we have to be warriors for our children, and not worriers! Worrying drains the life from you, and your child needs that life, they need your hope and your reassurance. They need to share your courage when they cannot understand their own world.

I worry so often that I’m failing my boys, but when push comes to shove I’d give my last breath if it meant they’d get one more. I’d fight to my death for them. And that is what counts.

Sometimes I don’t have a solution or an answer, but I always have a cuddle, I always have a kind word, and I always have love. Love has seen us through many tough times, and I know it will continue to because it’s the only thing that never grows tired. My hope dwindles, my soul gets weary, my heart gets broken, but my love remains strong, and always will.

Additional needs parents you do an amazing job, and it’s a big learning curve too, keep going, keep loving, keep being their warrior! Never worry about being ‘normal’. Normal doesn’t exist! What’s normal for the spider is chaos for the fly!

The World Of Siblings

I am an only child. I’ve never experienced sibling love or rivalry. I didn’t have to share my loved ones or my toys. I didn’t wear hand-me-down clothing, and I didn’t have to share my room. I don’t know what it’s like to have a sibling, or what the ‘normal’ is in regards to your siblings.

I know nothing about sibling relationships.

My two boys are now 5yo and 6yo, and I often find myself asking my husband if this is normal behaviour for siblings. Are sibling relationships really meant to be like this? Should I be wanting to pull my hair out several times a day? My husband has both brothers, and sisters. He usually just laughs at me like I’m crazy for even asking, but I do question them in my mind, a lot.

Is it normal to sneakily punch your younger brother on the way past him?

Is it normal to ask your brother to smell your feet?

Is it normal to ask your brother to hold a bogey for you?

Is it normal to compare ‘toe fluff’ with that of your brothers toes?

Is it normal to randomly lick your older brother?

Is it normal to push your brother down the slide backwards?

Is it normal to chase your brother with ‘cheesy puff fingers’ and make him cry because he hates the smell?

Is it normal to wrestle like your arch enemies?

Is it normal to make your little bother ‘walk the plank’?

Is it normal to force your brother to have ‘fake medicine’ and be your patient?

Is it normal to nearly lightsaber your brother into oblivion?

Is it normal to push each other so often?

Is it normal that everything has to be a competition?

Is it normal to offer your brother a piece of candy only because it fell on the floor?

Is it normal to splash each other until tears occur in the bath?

Is it normal to pee over your brother in the bath?

Is it normal to constantly tell tales on one another?

Is this what brothers do?

My husband says yes, unreservedly yes! I have no choice but to believe him, and enjoy this crazy-chaotic-sibling relationship.

In the mean time I’ll stick to strong coffee, chocolate and rest in the fact that if I do end up pulling my hair out I can always turn to Advanced Tricho Pigmentation Treatment for a little help! 🤣

Here’s to a funfilled next few years with my little rascals!

 

 

How to Grocery Shop with Kids

Do you find grocery shopping with your children stressful? Are you looking for some top tips on ways to make it less stressful? Well you’ve come to the right place! For a complete stress-free grocery shop make sure you go ALONE, and if that’s not possible then do it all online!

I’m pretty sure I suffer from some type of memory loss regarding doing a grocery shop with my kids.

Often my husband or I will stay in the car,armed with plenty of sweets, with my 5yo & 6yo whilst the other one of us grabs the few items we need. Kids and grocery shopping are just never a good combination in my experience and why I didn’t remember this today I will never know.

We’d spent a few hours at the park the other morning, had lunch out, and even had icecream. Before heading home to play in the garden we needed to stop at the supermarket for a few things. Both children wanted to come in with me. I said yes. I said yes?! Had I forgotten the monsters they transform into once we enter supermarkets? Apparently so! Off we went, all four of us!

One didn’t want to walk, he didn’t want to sit in a trolley, he wanted Daddy to carry him. We got a trolley (a double seated trolley). We karate chopped one into the trolley, the other refused to sit in there, he wanted a separate trolley. I said no. I know, I know, bad momma, but this was meant to be a QUICK shopping trip. He now wanted to sit in the trolley with his brother. The seat had a mark on it. Meltdown approaching. Meltdown avoided. Mummy used her scarf as a seat cover, of course.

We entered the supermarket.

One no longer wants to be in the trolley, it’s uncomfortable and hurting his “winkle”. He walks, and is told to hold my hand. The other wants to walk, he is not allowed out. His ‘runner’ reputation goes before him and he cannot be trusted. I put my scarf back on because it was longer needed to be used as a somebody-elses-crap-coverer. The trolley sitter looks at the mark on the empty seat next to him and starts dramatically gagging. Mommas scarf returns to the seat. He then asks to be carried, as opposed to sitting in a trolley being pushed around like royalty.

The walker picks up a butternut squash and shouts “What’s this mummy?” I see a lady give me the once over. I feel paranoid that she now thinks  I don’t feed my children vegetables so I say “It’s a butternut squash, you’ve tried it before!” I lied. I outright lied for the benefit of a nosey stranger. Idiot. I am an idiot. He now wants the butternut squash.

The trolley sitter asks to be carried.

The other asks if we are finished yet.

My husband and I have a conversation about dinner, my youngest takes this as an open invite to shout his preference; pizza. “Pizza pizza pizza!” he bellows over and over again. I told him he wasn’t having pizza for tea this evening because he had it four days ago for dinner. He continues. My blood pressure rises. We walk by the pizza without stopping.

The walker now wants to sit in the trolley, the actual trolley, not the seat part, but it’s full of shopping. He was not impressed. He decides he now wants to stand by the hot chicken counter because “It’s warm!” The counter is empty, we feel awkward but he appears in his element.

Bread, bread, bread. Never choose bread when your children are there. Such a simple item to get, yet my brain had decided to malfunction. “Pizza pizza pizza!” yelled the 5yo as the 6yo took a big birthday cake off the shelf and sat with it cross-legged on the floor to inspect it. I asked him to put it back, instead he heard me ask him to tip it up onto it’s side for a closer look. I put it back on the shelf for him. I didn’t put it back where he got it from. He had to put it in it’s rightful place.

Bread, back to the bread.

The trolley asks to be carried.

We’ve now been in the shop for 15 minutes. Our 5 minute trip had tripled in time. Right, momma on a mission.

The 6yo wants to buy a pack of icing because it has pretty cookies on the front, he won’t believe me that the cookies are not in the packet too. We compromise on sweets instead. He wants jaw-breaking type sweets, I make a few (sensible) suggestions, he suggests 3 more jaw-breaking types before settling for mommas suggestions.

The 5yo asks to be carried. Again. I say asked but really I mean squawks like a bird that’s been hit by a very large truck!

My shopping list in my brain has disintegrated. My husband couldn’t think straight either.

The 6yo decides to spin round in circles instead of walking. I felt like my brain was doing the same.

Cheese next. Oh and milk. Oh crap, we forgot the bread.

The 5yo squawks. And squawks. And squawks some more.

The 6yo can’t walk anymore.

Let’s go. Screw the rest of the food. Who needs groceries anyway? Not us! Not ever again! Quick dash to the cashier, and lets get out. Out, out out!

Annnnnnnnnnnd we’re home.

I think going grocery shopping with children can be likened to some kind of traumatic life event. My husband and I walk into a supermarket with two children, and we leave with two gremlins and high blood pressure.

I love my kids, but not enough to take them grocery shopping with me in the near future! (Joke)

Oh, and the 5yo had pizza for dinner! 😉

 

In-A-Minute Parenting

Life is busy, add children into the equation and it is crazy busy. Careers, house keeping, families, health issues, errands, chores, appointments, school, courses; there is just SO much going on! As a momma I know there is always something that needs doing, always.

There is always a grazed knee that needs kissing, a spillage that needs mopping, a letter that needs opening, a bill that needs paying, a snack that needs preparing, a call that needs making, a coffee that needs drinking, a pee that needs taking, a diaper that needs changing, clothes that need ironing, a lawn that needs mowing, hair that needs washing, a floor that needs sweeping, a car that needs cleaning, a meal that needs preparing, a job that needs attending, a list that needs completing, shopping that needs fetching, laundry that needs washing, laundry that needs drying, a fight that needs refereeing, and a poop that needs scooping (out the bath)!

Life as a parent is a whirlwind of fleeing from one thing to the next. Our time becomes so consumed with ‘doing’ that we rarely just ‘do’. I am a nightmare for this. I will start one job, and then see something else that needs doing so will start that job, and then will see something else that needs doing so will start that job too. This then leaves a trail of half-started jobs, and leaves me feeling more unaccomplished than when I started the very first job. It’s a viscous circle I visit hourly! Anybody else?

Often during the day I will try and catchup on a few chores whilst the children play, they’ll often say “Mummy I want you to play with me!”, and I will say “In a minute, I’m just cleaning first”. They often go away with a sad glint in their eye and I feel like a bad momma. Obviously sometimes there are certain things that I have to do, but there are a lot of other times when my kids matter more.

If I counted how many times I said ‘In a minute’ during one day I think I would be ashamed of myself.

Today my 3yo fetched an interactive puzzle from his toy shelf and asked if I would help him. I had literally just sat down with a cup of tea, so naturally I said “I will do it with you in a minute!”. He didn’t even question me, he just looked sad and went to put the puzzle back on his shelf. An instant wave of guilt and regret surged through my momma bear heart, and I thought ‘Hell no have I just hurt my babies feelings just so I can drink a cup of tea, the tea will be there tomorrow, this moment with my baby boy will not!’ I called my 3yo back and said “Actually no, we will do the puzzle now like you wanted!”. His face lit up. He felt worthwhile. I added another drop of self-esteem to his confidence bucket. I would give up all the tea in the world, infact I’d give up anything in the world to spend time with my boys.

In that moment, seeing my little boy walk away and not even attempt the puzzle alone because he wanted to do something with his momma, I had a big fat slap in the face. How many times did my children hear ‘in a minute’? Too many was the answer. The puzzle took ten minutes, and after we had finished it he happily played with his cooking set alone for thirty minutes, win-win situation there. My tea can be reheated, his little spirit is not so easily fixed, that’s why I had to change my mind.

When my 4yo asks me to read him a story when I am half way through an important email I will no longer say ‘in a minute’. The email recipient will not remember the hour I sent them an email reply, but my 4yo will remember the moment momma was too busy to read him a story. I am busy being a momma, not too busy to be a momma.

From now on I vow to be present, and vow to play.

Dishes can wait, emails can wait, social media can wait, everything can wait, everything but time. Time is precious, and I intend to make our time count. I will be the ever-ready momma, the ever-present momma. No more in-a-minute parenting!

Anybody with me?

Being A Depressed Mother

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, a cause very close to my heart.

I have suffered with depression for a very long time, but have only broken my silence about it over the last few years despite suffering since I was around nine years old, and have only received medical help for it in the last seven months. The struggle has been horrific and nothing could have changed that, but it didn’t have to be so long. Shame held me back from speaking out, I felt weak, and often like I was just being stupid. I thought nobody could possibly understand me and my messed up thoughts, but I was wrong, and I only wish I had known this when I became a mother. I didn’t want to be a depressed mother.

I’ve suffered with depression secretly for a long time, although the odd red flag has maybe caused suspicion with my close ones, but I like to be the strong one, the confident one, the one who has it all together, the one who can manage on her own, when in reality none of those things are true. I’m not confident, I fake it, I’m not strong, I don’t have it all together, and I hate doing things alone. But I became accustomed to hiding my deep, dark secret, I was ashamed. And these feelings escalated once I had my first child, I had a constant voice telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I was going to ruin his life and upbringing, that he deserved so much more than me. I didn’t take care of myself, and put him first in everything, even to my own detriment, he came before everything because anything less than that meant I had let him down. I plodded on through and then ten months into being a first time mother my little surprise came along, and then after nine months I was left with a 17 month old and a newborn. It was hard. I had some real crazy thoughts and emotions, and I never told anybody, I kept it all inside for fear of losing my babies. If only I had reached out for help, it would have been so much easier. I won’t go into all of the symptoms and details this time, but I’d say it was pretty on par with post-natal psychosis, which is very scary now I look back, how I managed to come through it amazes me. I don’t know where the strength came from, or perhaps I was that good at faking a sane state of mind?

I really wish my midwife or health visitor would have made an appointment with me, a mental health appointment, and maybe I would have opened up. If they could have reassured me it was ok to suffer with mental health issues when you’re a mother. I wish I would have spoken out, reached out, cried out. I was so scared that my children would be taken off their “crazy mother”, but now I know that’s a lie. I wish I knew back then. I wish I knew it was ok to sometimes lock myself in the bathroom and wish for a different life. I wish somebody else would have told me that they too were close to running away, or that they wished their eyes would never open again. I wish somebody else would have told me they yelled too, and dreaded what the day held.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have bad days as parents, but if that cloud is not shifting, and odd thoughts creep in, or you feel overwhelmed and unable to get through the day, then please reach out and get some support before it escalates, it will be ok. It happens to lots of people and it is nothing to be ashamed of, not at all, in fact it takes tremendous courage to ask for help, so be brave, you deserve to be happy too.

It took me until September last year to seek medical help and try some medication, and i have to say i was petrified, I made and cancelled so many appointments, and then one day I went. I knew I had to, I was gripped daily by a black cloud and anxiety had became my best friend and worst enemy, I’d reached rock bottom and there was no way out on my own. I was worried I didn’t have any more fight left in me and my children would become motherless. I had to go for them. I was a sobbing mess, but it was the start of a band new way of life, six weeks into an antidepressant and my life radically changed, that chemical imbalance in my brain had been sorted, mostly. I’ve gone from 95% bad days, to 95% good days. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a miracle cure, and some days I’m left scared to death the tablets will never work again because the back cloud has consumed me, but to me it has been life changing, and to my children and husband no doubt too!

If you are reading this and anything resonates with you then please, please, please, go and see your doctor. Your life matters, and your children need a happy, alive mother, you matter so very much. Be brave and speak out, you’re not a failure admitting you need support, you are a warrior! Don’t fight your monsters alone.