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.

Secrets of a momma’s Google search history

I love Google. You can search for anything, at any time. It’s helped me out countless times, and has made me think I’m about to cardiac arrest on several other occasions.

Google is not judgemental. You can ask it anything and it will never disclose your identity (if you have it set up correctly!). This is an amazing invention.

I have asked Google some pretty crazy things over the last 4 years and 8 months; some personal, some hilarious, and some hilariously personal. I do not believe for a second I’m the only one with a funny search history, but the only way to tell for sure is to share (some of) mine with you.

These are in chronological order from February 2010 when I became pregnant up until October 2011, D1’s first birthday. I’ll share my search history from 2012 until now when I am brave enough!

Why is my period late?

Reasons a period can be late

Are cheap pregnancy tests accurate?

Are Clear Blue tests accurate?

What to do when you find out you’re pregnant

Clear jellylike substance

What does your first scan involve?

How big is my baby at 6 weeks?

Is it normal to have an increased sex drive in your first trimester?

Why do my boobs hurt?

Why do my boobs hurt at 8 weeks pregnant?

Morning sickness

Morning sickness and afternoon sickness

Why are pregnant women sick?

Why do pregnant women crave lager?

Does sex when pregnant effect your baby?

Smells make me vomit

What can go wrong with 12 week scan?

Can you eat nuts whilst pregnant?

Why do I keep crying?

Pregnancy hormones

Pregnancy and feeling crazy

Nursery designs

Moses basket mattresses

Sudden high blood pressure in pregnancy

How can blood pressure effect my baby?

Inspiring quotes for pregnant women

Do hot baths hurt your baby bump?

Why have my nipples tripled in size?

Is it normal to not want your husband anywhere near you in bed?

Why am I peeing every 15 minutes?

Why is my belly itching?

Will I love my baby?

What if I drop my baby?

How accurate is a gender scan?

Blood pressure readings during pregnancy

Dummies

Which bottles do I use for a newborn?

Caesarean section

Caesarean recovery

Growth scan at 32 weeks

Have I got thrush?

Why am I still throwing up week 32?

Is Cow and Gate milk ok?

Catheter

Should my newborn cry constantly?

Do newborns sleep at night?

Colic

Why am I a rubbish mum?

I feel crazy

When does a baby roll?

Weaning

Are exploding nappies normal?

Should baby poo look like korma?

Baby injections and reactions

Can a baby have calpol?

When does teething start?

Sleep deprivation

No sex drive post pregnancy

When will my caesarean scar stop being numb?

Bark cough in baby

Nhs direct

Can my Caesarean scar pop open?

Bumbo

When do you need to take a baby to dentist?

Baby puree ideas

Is it safe to take 10 month old abroad?

Baby bumped head

Signs of concussion

Baby fluid intake

Why is my period late?

Two under two

Coping with a toddler and a newborn

Do you love your second child as much as first?

Tandem buggies

Am I a terrible mum having a small age gap in children?

Morning sickness remedies

Will my 17 month old ever sleep on their own?

First birthday party for boy

Jungle theme first birthday

And there we have the highlights of my first year of motherhood from the view point of Google.

Share some of yours with me below or on Facebook.

Happy Googling folks!

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!

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! 😉

 

I Cry for my Child with Sensory Processing Disorder

My 4yo has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), his life is drastically different from other children who do not have the disorder, yet he is currently unaware of this. He starts school in a few weeks and I know soon he will start to realise he is a little different from the majority of his peers. I am determined that he will celebrate his differences and not let them chip away at his self esteem.

When I think about him starting school my eyes well with tears. Sad tears. I am scared. Scared for him, scared about him going into a world where people don’t know about or understand his little quirks, his thought processes, his dislikes, his triggers, or how his little mind works. It has taken me such a long time to figure out how to avoid a big proportion of meltdowns, and how to calm him when his anxiety is in overdrive – I’m his momma, it’s my job. BUT, I won’t be there for almost 7 hours of his day, and that thought rips apart my heart. As I write this the tears are streaming down my cheeks, but I know I need to write this and let other parents know they are not alone in their worries.

I often have a little cry about my sons SPD, not as much as I used to. I sometimes get overwhelmed with how much his life is effected. My heart aches for him. I see how much he wants to do things but his little mind just will not let him take that leap.

I see how much he wants to go on the big wavy slides with his brother, but he can’t sit in the scratchy tweed sack, that stops you getting hurt, because it looks itchy and doesn’t feel nice.

I see how much anxiety it causes him when he knows he has to have his nails clipped.

I see how brave he has to be to try out a new food, it’s not simply a case of putting it in his mouth, I see the fear, but I do also see his courage.

I watch him set up his toys into neat, symmetrical scenes, but never play with them, and I watch his little spirit crumple as someone else decides to play with them because he cannot bring himself to. My heart feels saddened.

I feel sad that his little mind has to verbally process his day for 90 minutes before he can attempt sleep. I long for this little boy of mine to be able to relax, and turn off his tornado mind.

I watch him get carried away in role-play and constantly be a state of make-believe, I worry people won’t understand it’s his way of playing.

I worry other people won’t understand how obsessed he is with Lego, every waking moment is filled with Lego, Lego movies, Lego sets, Lego, Lego, Lego. He doesn’t understand not everyone loves Lego like he does.

My heart breaks seeing how his anxiety is in overdrive regarding using unfamiliar toilets. I hate that he would rather be in immense pain then use one, and that he has no control over this. His brain will not let him use a public toilet. His heart races. SPD sucks!

I worry, I worry a lot, too much, but it goes with the territory I guess.

Sometimes I cry because I am happy, happy that my boy conquered a fear; letting go of me in the pool, trying a previously loathed food, sitting on a not-so-clean stool, going to sleep within 10 minutes instead of the usual 90, holding someone s hand other than mommas, having a band-aid on a cut, using an unfamiliar toilet, using his words to explain a worry instead of having a meltdown etc.

Sometimes I cry because my heart aches for him to be ‘normal’. It is very hard to accept that he will never have a life that is normal by society’s definition, but I have learnt to accept that it is normal by his definition. He is normal, a new normal. This is his journey, our journey, and I will support him along every step of the way.

Sometimes I look at other children who don’t have SPD and, for a second, sometimes I wish my son was like them, without a care in the world, happy and care-free, but then I give myself a big slap around the face. How dare I wish for anything different?! I am blessed beyond measure to be gifted this little boy to cherish and help grow into a fine young man, and I will do the best job I can. My boy, my family, our story, is unique to us and we will write it how we see fit. Life is too short to sit wondering about milestones and all the ifs-and-buts in the world won’t change the facts surrounding me.

Mommas, it’s ok to cry. It’s ok to cry because you’re sad, or because you’re heart breaks seeing the struggles of your child with SPD, it’s ok to fear the future, it’s ok to be worried, BUT it’s not ok to stay in Cryville for more than a minute or two. We all need to visit there sometimes, and it’s part of the acceptance process, but it’s not a destination, not even a short term holiday spot. It is your job to fill your child’s self-esteem bucket to overflowing, and wallowing in self-pity or sympathy-pity will not allow for that to happen. You have to be brave, courageous, and champion your new version of normal.

Pick up on every positive, and work around all the negatives. We now have a plastic bottle for public toilet situations, and it has worked wonders! And school? Well, one day at a time. I could sit here worrying about all the what-ifs and whens but in reality nothing will change by worrying about it. If I spend my time worrying about the new school chances are my child is going to pick up on it, and hell will freeze over before I let that happen. I am a momma bear who will protect her cubs no matter what, and that means I must never let my child with SPD think I feel sorry for him. I don’t. He doesn’t need pity. He needs a cheerleader, a supporter, a coach, a mentor, and as many cuddles as he likes.

I am not going to worry if he will make new friends, I am going to send him to school to be a friend, to look for the kids who have nobody. I am not going to worry if people will be kind to him, I am going to send him to school to be kind. I am not going to worry if people will speak nicely to him, I am going to send him to school knowing that he needs to speak nice to others. Work on everything from a positive point of view, it’ll help your child and you so much more.

So, mommas, don’t feel guilty for crying, there is a lot of therapy in tears, but don’t linger there, pick up your sword and keep on fighting. I know it’s lonely, but you are not alone, remember that.

Head high.

Easy Activities For Young Kids

Whether it’s a rainy day or a lazy day we all find it hard to occupy our children without it costing the earth. Over the last 18 months I have found numerous activities that my children love that are relatively cheap or even free! Here are the top 24 (two per month at least):

Rock painting – pretty self explanatory. It kept my children occupied for over thirty minutes. You can varnish the rocks after they’re dry and keep them on your garden.

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Gluing & Sticking – My boys love to use glue. I usually cut out a random animal or mode of transport shape and give them lots of different things to decorate the shape with (dried pasta, foil, lollipop sticks, buttons, sequins etc).

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Making a stick man – My children love these. You literally pick some sticks and fasten them together with pipe cleaners or string.

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Treasure Hunt – My children love treasure hunts. I draw them a map each and then plant treasure around the house or garden. I use gold coins, or chocolate eggs, but anything will do.

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Shaving Foam – My boys love getting messy, so shaving foam is one of their favourite activities. I hide plastic dinosaurs and figures in the foam and make snow mountains. They love it!

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They also love clapping their hands together in the foam to create a snow blizzard!

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Fruit fondue – Melted chocolate, cubes of fruit, and a blunt skewer. My kids love this!

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Decorating eggs – You can use foam eggs or real eggs. My children love painting eggs and hiding them around the garden for each other to find.

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Floor doodles – I use a roll of old wallpaper for this, just turn it over. I give my children a tub of markers and chalks and let them draw away. They usually end up drawing a volcano and river and then put their small world figures on there.

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Pancake creations – My children love pancakes, and they love making them. I usually lay all the syrups, creams, sauces, marshmallows, sprinkles and fruit out for them to create their own pancake dessert once we’ve made them.

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Fun in the tub – My children love waterplay especially bubbles in the bath. Add some funnels and you’ve got an hour of fun!

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Make your own popsicles – You can buy these popiscle moulds from discount stores everywhere and they cost next to nothing. We add milk, yoghurt, jelly, candy, and fruit to ours.

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Sink waterplay – My two year old loves nothing more than pretending to wash the dishes. He’d stay in there all day if I let him. Plastic dishes and cutlery of course!

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Paper plate decorating – Totally self explanatory and so quick and easy too!

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Salt dough handprints – My kids love salt dough creations. They love mixing the dough, sculpting with the dough, cooking the dough, and then painting the dough. This activity passes a couple of hours. The recipe I use is literally one cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt, and half a cup of cold water all mixed together then kneaded to a smooth dough. I then cook mine in the microwave once it’s scuplted for around seven minutes but it depends on your microwave. Just check it at three minute intervals until hard and dry. Then cool and decorate.

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Printing – My kids love to dip things in paint and print them. You can use anything aswell as real stamps; fruit, toys, sponges.

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Tape track – This is so easy and provides hours of fun! I turned my whole lounge into a race track using tape! Laughter and fun galore!

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Sock puppets – All you need is a sock, googly eyes and other pieces of fabric or paper to cut into ear shapes etc.

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Pizza creations – My children love making pizza for dinner! It gets them involved with their meals too. Just give them a few ingredients to choose from.

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Footprint and handprint wreath – This wreath activity can be used all year round if you change the colours to reflect the season or occasion. My kids loved printing their feet and hands.
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Cornflour play – Cornflour mixed with cold water is such a bizarre combination. Have you tried it? It solidifies as you collect it up then turns back into a liquid and runs through your fingers. My children love it. I’m not gonna lie though it is very messy, but worthwhile!

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Spoon animals – Old wooden spoons and cut outs of animal ears and noses etc. It keeps my children occupied for ages as they use them for puppet shows after too!

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Clothes peg trees – I did this at Christmas time with my kids, but again, you can change the layout and colour to be season appropriate. My children loved making these trees and were so proud we displayed them on the kitchen door.

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Salt dough gift tags and hanging ornaments – See salt dough recipe above. We made stars, cars, and gingerbread men here. Don’t forget to punch a hole through each one before cooking so that you can thread ribbon through.

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Teddy bears picnic – This idea is such fun. My children constantly ask if we can have a teddy bears picnic. Sometimes we have it in the lounge in our beach shelter!

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I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to get creative with your children. You don’t need to be Van Gough or Master Chef! Have a try. Your kids will love them!

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Your Second Child

Having a baby is an exciting experience, whether first child or second child, yet your experience with your second child is totally different.

With your first child during pregnancy everybody treats you like a pampered pooch, and wants to protect you. You lounge around napping at every opportunity and with good reason. You do all the correct exercises and enjoy the weird cravings. You get to experience morning sickness without questions. You buy everything brand new for your baby. You plan the nursery down to the last detail. You have your maternity notes in a pretty binder and you frame each scan photograph. You spend your pre-birth maternity leave shopping and sipping decaffeinated machiattos with people gushing over your bump and imminent arrival. People buy you presents left, right, and centre.

With your second pregnancy it’s somewhat different. You already have a child, an 18 month old in my case. Pampered poochness has long gone. You have to get on with it. You can’t wee in peace. You cannot lounge around and you most certainly don’t nap your way through a day. You get to eat when time allows, and cravings are generally neglected (unless your husband tries to win you over, wink wink). You have to run to the toilet with a screaming 18 month old under your arm as morning sickness takes its toll for the fourth time that morning. Your nursery is already planned, and full, so you have to rearrange things to accommodate your future arrival. You don’t attend antenatal classes because you’re too tired, and have an infant in tow. Your infant has to watch you pee into a bottle. Your maternity notes are folded in half and shoved in your changing bag. You detest shopping, unless it’s online. Shopping, being pregnant, and an infant make for a stressful nose-sweating sort of trip. People do not gush over you, instead they give you a sympathetic look or comment. You’re not glowing this time, you’re sweating like you’re in the Amazon. You don’t get maternity leave if you became a SAHM first time round. You reuse your first child’s car seat, baby bath, moses basket etc. Not so many presents head your way. You spend the majority of your time in pjs.

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When your first child arrives you spend countless hours cuddling your sleeping bundle (& crying because they won’t settle and you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing), you enjoy people cooing over them in their stroller. You change their outfits several times a day so they look gorgeous. You meet with your friends for coffee and shopping trips. You can get a few chores done whilst they bounce in their rocker to Disney Jnr.

When your second child arrives you have to ensure they self soothe. It’s impossible to hold a newborn without an 18 month old demanding attention. You have to have eyes in the back of your head. You can no longer leave a child in a rocker, the older one will poke them, hard. You now only change clothes if absolutely necessary as to avoid both ironing and adding to the laundry tower. You rarely meet with people; leaving the house with a billion bottles, snacks, two dressed infants, and a clean face yourself are near impossible. You now run on your own time zone. Housework schmousework! People don’t coo, they say ” I bet your hands are full!” No, they’re not, I have plenty of time to myself, they sit quietly and read, they even feed themselves!!

But it’s ok. As abnormal and as run off your feet you feel, it’s normal. It’s normal to feel guilty like your second child has somehow missed out on precious mummy time, but they haven’t. It’s hard to split yourself in half, but there’s no need to. There’s no rush. Your older child will learn patience. Your baby will learn that mommas love is so heroic it stretches to their sibling too.

Having a second child is more of a shocker than your first, but I’d never change it for the world. And it does get easier. Much easier. And although you may feel like you’re in some kind of comedy show be rest assured your normal!

Go enjoy every minute!

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.

 

 

Memory Making & Blah Blah Blah

Memory making. A major phrase used on social media, and in hashtags. Have you seen it? Of course you have!

If you’ve followed my site for any length of time you know I am all about the memory making, most likely OTT some of the time, but I am desperate to ensure my boys have a childhood full of happy memories, not full of money, full of memories; picnics, crazy desserts, snuggles, books read by flashlight, spontaneous parties, forts and mud pies.

But do you know what? Some days I don’t want to make memories! Am I alone in this?

The park? Ew, no, it’s cold, we have to pack four hundred snacks to avoid hanger, it’s muddy and I cba cleaning wellies after.

The cinema? Ugh, no, it costs the same amount as my weekly grocery shopping and everybody needs a billion pees!

A theme park? My worst nightmare, convincing my kids to get into a queue, and wait to go on a ride that they keep convincing themselves not to go on, the hook a ducks there that cost half my mortgage, and the high probability they will fall asleep on the journey home and not go to sleep ever that night.

The beach? Suncream, towels, changes of clothes, moaning, fighting, wasps, etc etc, hmm, no, not today.

A family board game? Oh Lord, no. The tears over losing, the arguing, the cheating. Shall I go on?

A picnic? Momma doesn’t feel like slaving away over a picnic ensuring everybody’s tastes are catered for, and the wasps that always plague us? Nope, can’t be dealing with those today either! And the dogs that always manage to run through our picnic and terrify the kids, nope can’t be dealing with you today either. The damp butt from the soaked-through picnic blanket, the four year old eating ALL of the cakes and traumatising his brother. A picnic? No, thanks.

All f the above we do, regularly, but sometimes, just sometimes I just don’t want to, and why? Because I simply cannot be bothered with all it involves! Am I a bad mum? Ha ha, please tell me sometimes you just cba to make life magical!

Here’s to the low maintenance activities we can throw our kids way that still score us brownie points; duvet nights with a movie and popcorn, chalks on the garden floor, water-painting the garden, drawing competitions etc etc blah blah blah.

Some days CBA is more than ok to be your motto, none of us are Mary Poppins, none of us! But it’s ok, you’re doing great just as you are, even with all of the cba’s! Sometimes those cba’s are memory making at it’s finest!