The frazzled Mother

I’ve had a little bit of a hiatus from writing on my blog recently and although it wasn’t planned I just haven’t felt like sitting down and writing.

The main reason for that is because I use writing as an outlet for all the frustration of day to day life.  I like being able to sit down and pen my worries and just leave them there for a while because it not only frees up my mind from all the clutter but it also brings me closer to a whole community of people out there who may be feeling the same way as me and a problem shared is a problem halved.

But recently I’ve found other creative outlets for reconnecting with myself and de-cluttering my frazzled mummy brain, mainly Instagram!

Some of you may not know but when my maternity leave ended I felt so overwhelmed with life with a baby, and the added everyday pressures of being a wife, a woman, a human being, that going back to work almost broke me.  I can talk about it now because I’m in a much better place personally, psychologically, physically and emotionally but at the time I just wanted to run away!

For quite some time I lied to everybody that asked and just said ‘yes, work is fine’ but my reality was I was barely half the person I was before getting pregnant and I was trying to spread that half person so thinly over my husband, my son, the house, my blog, life in general and it just wasn’t working.  I was granted a 6 month career break which suddenly freed my mind of so much emotional distress and all the stresses that came with being away from my boy.  I gave myself those 6 months to grow as a person so that when the time came to going back to work I’d be in the best position I could be to juggle motherhood and having a life.

Well that time has actually come! In three weeks time I shall be hanging up my mummy cape and heading off to work for 2 days a week and this time I feel ready for it.  We’ve found a nursery that is a bit further away but I feel Adam with thoroughly enjoy and I have had the last 6 months to free my mind of all the negativity I was harboring, surrounding motherhood in general and am in a much better place.

What has helped me the most is keeping myself busy, focusing my mind on more taxing and creative tasks so that I just haven’t had the time to obsess and fester on negative things.  I became obsessed about many things when I first my son like breastfeeding (I had to get it right and when it wasn’t I blamed myself for being a useless mother), Separation anxiety (I couldn’t manage even an hour or two without my baby) and lots more including his weight gain and his health in general (I worried about every little ailment and it made me an anxious mess!).

If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while you’ll notice a bit of an evolution in my photography recently, I’m enjoying putting my focus on editing and taking beautiful photos instead of worrying but I’m not going to lie it’s worked brilliantly until now…

I’m back to being a nervous wreck and an anxious crazy loon but I think with enough planning, the transition into nursery life has been a bit easier this time.  I’ll be writing a post about what we changed and how we’ve made the whole process of enrolling him back into nursery much easier for him and for me so keep your eyes peeled for that.

 


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My favourite literature for anxiety…

If you know me well you’ll know that my most favourite platform at the moment is Instagram and recently I put up some polls asking my followers which posts they wanted to see next.  I asked about whether I should write about what literature I’ve found to help with anxiety or what supplements I take and the results were pretty 50-50 so I’m going to write both.

If you’re like me and have suffered with anxiety for a while, or it’s been heightened since becoming a parent then this post may be of some help to you.  Below are some of the books/literature I’ve accumulated in my search for a calmer, more level headed me and they’ve helped me so much I’m keen to share in the hopes that they will help someone else too!

The Anxiety Solution – Chloe Brotheridge. I found this book when searching for books to help with Anxiety and it had amazing reviews on Amazon.  It’s an easy read and takes a few hours to complete cover to cover with nappy breaks and toddler tantrum intervals but it’s a real eye opener.  I would say though that it’s written from the point of view of a woman and therefore is more biased to female experiences but that’s not to say a man can’t read it.  If you’re going to read this book then I’d advise committing to it, complete the tasks, take notes and be honest with yourself.  It’s not going to delve too deep into your soul but I found it helped me to understand my anxiety a lot more and now that I understand it I can manage it much better.

Just Breathe Magazine – I found these through Instagram but they’re actually stocked in all major supermarkets and I usually pick mine up from Sainsburys but you can also order online here.  If you substitute your fancy barista coffee from starbucks you can pick up one of these instead and you wont regret it.  I’m going to be very honest, I have 2 copies so far and I still haven’t read them all completely because their images are enough to make you feel calm and zen.  sounds kinda stupid but I can very happily just flick through these over and over and not get bored.  They are stunning, their illustrations are mind blowing and the articles are great for promoting mindfulness and positivity.

Breathe journals – If like me you love the magazines, the journals will literally blow your mind!  I have the Nature Journal and its so beautifully put together and illustrated that I almost don’t want to use it but I am, slowly.  I may also have just made a sneaky little order of the other journals in their range and I can’t wait to get stuck in.  You can even find some of them on Amazon like the list journal, perfect if you love a good list like me.  If like me you find that mindfulness and putting your mind to more creative outlets really helps chill out your anxiety then these are a must for you.

Calm – This book coincides with the Calm app which I also love but if like me you’d rather practice your mindfulness, away from your phone and all other technology then the book is brilliant.  It gives guidance to how you can practice mindfulness and meditation everyday along with short mindful activities that you can complete in minutes and they instantly bring a bit of calm to your life.  This book gives you everything from physical exercises to help wind down, to proverbs and anecdotes from other cultures and famous people.  Some of my favourite activities are the imaginative ones like design your calm island and go cloud gazing.  I’m not sure where you can pick this up as I found mine in my local Homesense stationary section but I did find it on good old Amazon here.

Start where you are – This was another Homesense find that can be found on Amazon here.  It’s called a journal for self exploration and it ‘pairs insightful quotes with prompts that spark reflection through writing, drawing, list making, and more.’  I bet you’re seeing a theme now with the sort of literature that has helped and it’s definitely ones that make you pause and reflect on your worries with actual mindful activities to help you conquer your fears.  I found this one to be the easiest to do, simply because the tasks aren’t too taxing.  They just simple, quick tasks like write three things that made you smile today and describe one thing about yourself that pushes people away.  It’s very easy on the eye with lots of typography.

If you’re looking for something that’s going to really get you thinking and working on your anxiety then The Anxiety Solution is by far the best one for you but if you’re looking for more thought provoking simple activities that you can incorporate into your everyday life for little snippets of calm in your day then any of the others are great!

I’d love to hear if any of you have any suggestions for books or magazines that you find great for anxiety then I’d love to hear them in the comments or if you try any of my suggestions do let me know! I’d love to know how you get on.

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Protein ball recipe…

A few weeks ago I posted an Instagram story talking about these protein balls that I made when I was pregnant and how I swore by them for an extra energy boost when I was feeling drained.  I then got an influx of messages from lovely followers asking for the recipe so here it is.

If you want to see a step by step then head over to my Instagram and check out my highlights to see how I made them.

Ingredients

  • Your choice of nuts – I used a mix of almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, a mix of seeds and whatever else I could find in my cupboards.
  • Dates – mine were a bit dry so I soaked them in some water.
  • Semolina – Used as a bit of a filler and binder for the balls but you can use gluten free options like coconut flour
  • Coconut butter – to help bind the ingredients but not a necessity.
  • Honey to taste (optional)

Method

  • Grind the nuts and seeds to a course powder.
  • Add the soaked dates and blend.
  • Meanwhile, in a pan, melt the coconut butter (can use any butter or oil) and toast the semolina until it turns a light golden brown colour.  Add some water slowly, to the semolina/butter mix until it forms a soft doughy paste and then add this to the nut/date mixture.
  • Roll in to balls while the mixture is still warm and let them set before storing them in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

I haven’t really included any specific measurements because I don’t weight the ingredients, I just adjust the recipe according to the texture of the mixture on the day.  If it’s too dry or powdery I add a few extra dates and maybe a bit more melted butter or honey to help it bind or even a spoon or two of any nut butter and if it’s too sticky I may add a few extra nuts or a couple of spoons of desiccated coconut/spices such as cinnamon/coconut flour/oats/cocoa powder.  Anything that takes your fancy really.

Have fun giving this a go and don’t forget to head to my Instagram account and tag me in your creations. I’d love to see where you take this recipe.

 

 

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The unwanted effects of Pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum..

Excuse the long title, this is basically going to be a me ranting about how hard my life has been since first falling pregnant over two years ago, fueled by a lack of sleep and raging hormones.

I’ve taken myself out into the garden this afternoon whilst Adam is napping for some Vitamin D and rather than wallowing in my pit of misery I though I’d do something productive and write a post about things that I certainly wish I’d known before getting pregnant.

Now don’t get me wrong none of these things would have made me think twice about having a baby and he is, hands down, the best thing in my life but if I’d known a few of these things I feel I could have prepared for them a lot better.  Instead I was in this happy, finally got those two blue lines on my pregnancy test, bubble and so when shit hit the fan I just didn’t know what to do with myself at times.

Let’s start with the first and probably the biggest effect of pregnancy – Hyperemesis!  To most this is known as severe nausea and vomiting throughout pregnancy but it is actually a lot more than that.  There’s the fact you can’t go anywhere or do anything without having sick bags, countless packs of tissues and a bottle of water for those unexpected bouts of vomiting.  Team that with the dehydration and weekly trips to see the midwife, the fact I probably tested my own urine more times than I can count and the many sleepless nights I had worrying about how my baby was growing when I couldn’t keep anything in.  I lost so much weight in pregnancy that I actually weighed less at full term than I did at my first midwife check in and I spent countless nights in a hospital bed hooked up to IV lines and a baby monitor because I had dangerous levels of ketones in my urine.

All that throwing up wreaks havoc on your teeth! So just when I thought everything had mostly settled back to normal after having the baby a year and a half ago, I’m learning that there could be lasting damage to my teeth.  Vomiting introduce stomach acid and bile into the mouth which over time can really wear down the enamel of your teeth.  What I thought was the best thing to do was to brush my teeth everytime I was sick but I’ve actually just learnt today that it was the worst thing i could have done. I was just rubbing the acid over my teeth even more and helping it to wear down my teeth to the extent where they are now just cracking and breaking all over the place.  What I should have been doing is rinsing my mouth with plain water and waiting atleast an hour before brushing.  I’ve also been advised to use a high fluoride toothpaste which I get on prescription and to occasionally rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.  So if you’re suffering with Hyperemesis and brushing your teeth straight after being sick, DON’T.  Just rinse with water and wait an hour or so.  Chewing gum can also help regulate the PH of your mouth if you really want to get rid of that funky vomit breath!

I’ve always had issues with my body image and self esteem but little did I know I’d literally end up hating myself and my body after Adam was born.  I think this was also because after I’d had him I was able to eat again, and eating normally after being sick for 9 months meant that I instantly put on weight.  I’m learning to love the body that gave me my baby but I think this will take a lot longer to overcome.  All I can suggest it taking small steps into caring for yourself whether it’s popping out for a quick ten minute walk in the sun while somebody watches the baby, or getting your hair done or your nails painted.  I’ve left the sunshine to come upstairs and sit in a quiet space to finish this post whilst daddy looks after the whingey toddler because it’s a testing time for my patience and I’ve got a whole week ahead of me to tackle the tantrums while daddy is at work.

Raging hormones that never seem to end!  When I got pregnant I realised I was hormonal at times but what I didn’t expect, was that those hormones would be so much worse once I’d had the baby.  I remember spending days and nights just weeping at the stupidest things in those early weeks after bringing Adam home but along with the lows came the extreme highs and this hasn’t really settled down now that hes a year and a half older.  My husband said to me the other ‘I wish your moods would just stay level sometimes, you’re either really high or really low and there’s no inbetween’.  I do think he’s exaggerating a little but it’s definitely true around that time of the month!  I get crazy hormonal, tear at up the silliest things and become near impossible to be around because I just want to lock myself up and catch a break from the world and I can’t.  There’s a tiny dictator toddling around demanding food and naps and entertainment and all the things that I just don’t have the energy for around that time.  I’ve been looking into holistic remedies for helping to regulate hormonal imbalances and there will be a post on that coming soon but I’m a bit limited to what I can take at the moment as I’m still breastfeeding Adam.

I hope this will be of some use to some of you out there and if anybody has anything to add or any tips on coping with any of the issues I’ve mentioned I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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Reasoning with my anxiety…

When you value something, you take extra care of it.  You protect it and nurture it and hold it close because you value it’s very being and just how hard you worked to get it.  I think this is the reason for my anxiety.

The other day I’d been out to Sainsburys to do the food shop with Adam as we normally do every week. And when I’d packed the car full of the shopping, the child and myself I noticed that the first thing I did was check my bag to make sure my camera was in there.  It’s then that I realised that because I hold the camera quite highly in value compared to the other stuff in my bag I’m constantly checking to make sure it’s there and I even keep it wrapped in bubble wrap so it doesn’t get scratched.  If my fingers don’t happen to land on the camera as soon as I open my bag I begin to inwardly panic because I know how hard Ayaz worked to buy it for my birthday and he knows how long I banged on about the bloody camera in the first place.

Then it hit me like a tonne of bricks, the reason why I’m so anxious about Adam all the time.  It’s because he is THE most precious thing in my life.  As soon as I became a mum, he came first and I’m learning to be ok with that.  I look back at how hard we tried to have him (stop those dirty thoughts you perverts!).  I think of how hard I longed for him and how many days and nights I spent hunched over a toilet or sink throwing up while pregnant and the labour pains were just the beginning!

The real test began after he was born, the struggles with feeding, the endless mum guilt and the constant feeling of never being good enough for him.  It’s because I would move heaven and earth to give him the best in life and that is because I feel that when I took that step, and made the decision to be his mum, I took a silent vow to help nurture and grow him into the best that I physically can.

In discovering this I have moved on to the reality that I can’t possibly give him the best without being my best and Ayaz always says you wont be able to look after him if you’re dead! A bit of a harsh way of putting it babe but it’s true I guess!  I’ve written a post not long ago about how I’m putting a little more care in to myself here but now I’m taking a little more care than just eating well and drinking more water.  I’m learning to say no to things and people that don’t promote a happiness in my life or encourage me as a woman or a mother.  I found that people who criticised me on my life and parenting choices just caused unnecessary anxiety so I choose to stay away from them.

I’m taking more care of my emotions and my wellbeing, I will allow myself to feel low as long as I know I need to pick myself back up again for myself but also for my son.  I’m slowly realising that the more time I have to myself to sit and think, the more my thoughts turn to anxious ones.  Keeping busy and focusing on more physically challenging things allows me to become too tired to worry about the small worries and to focus that energy in to more positive tasks like taking photos for my Instagram which I’m really enjoying at the moment.  I’ve also signed up to Sara Tasker’s Bloom and Grow class and I’m really loving the positivity I’m gaining from focusing my energy on something other than constantly worrying.

I think the main thing I’ve come to accept about my anxiety is that I will never be able to rid myself of my maternal worries because it comes with the joys of being a mother.  Breathing life into a little human being you’ve helped to create means your children will always be your most prized possession and therefore worrying about them is part of the job description I’m afraid.  What I am learning is there are things that can wait to worry about and those that can’t, can be managed much better by focusing more on the positive aspects of being a mum.  The more time spent worrying about what may be, robs you of precious moments with your little one and those moments you will never get back.

 

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