Preparing for Easter

What an exciting time of year!! Preparations for Easter are well under way at our house, with the “creative event”  (making Easter bonnets) being planned (by the boys, not necessarily) for this weekend. I’m looking forward to it, knowing it will be a day of mess, glue, stickiness, creative ideas and paint. I love hearing their concepts and theme ideas for their bonnets and how they will make their ideas come to life. But yesterday, something even more special captured my heart. Whilst discussing themes, the older boys came back to the very foundation of Easter – Jesus. They began discussing how we wouldn’t even be celebrating Easter without the resurrection. It was soul soothing to hear them acknowledging the true meaning of Easter and knowing that the things we are teaching them are sinking in. Of course, they will enjoy the bits that go alongside this special celebration, but at least they remember why we are celebrating. They are very much looking forward to the arts and crafts afternoon at church and visiting the museum for an egg hunt. They will enjoy the days out and the gifts they will receive from family. And of course, they will enjoy the special time we get together as a family with the extra time off school, something we all thoroughly enjoy!

How will you be celebrating Easter this year? 

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Learning language

Recently, my blog posts have covered all manner of topics and focused a little more on the parent (looking after yourself etc) than on children. So tonight I thought I’d write about a topic that amazes me daily. I have studied language development from a childhood perspective and from a psychology perspective, yet my interaction with children (particularly my own) always manages to surprise me. Children learn so much language in such a short space of time – and from so many sources. My 3yo surprised me tonight with the level of language he had relating to the circus. We’ve never taken him to the circus, we don’t have books about the circus and as far as I can remember, he’s never watched anything related to the circus. Yet he knew so much about it. Obviously he’s heard it somewhere, most likely from school, and he’s retained it. He’s using words that surprise adults – trajectory and motion for example. His ability to understand complex language is, quite frankly, amazing! Children find ways to communicate from such an early age. Although they don’t always use the word we would use, they gave their own sounds to represent their needs. Absolutely incredible! My 6yo and 7yo were discussing the difference between dissolve, evolve and devolve – devolve coming from a slop of the tongue, but nevertheless leading to an interesting conversation. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much our children are capable of picking up from other conversations going on around them. It’s amazing how they absorb language, but lately, it is becoming ever more prominent to me that we need to censor our conversations in front of them. There are some things we discuss that aren’t appropriate for them to hear out of context (tragedy and war and poverty for example) and we can sometimes forget that they are listening and hearing and absorbing what were saying, even subconsciously. Things like that need discussing in an appropriate manner with young children, so I know I need to start being more mindful at home. Still – what children learn is nothing short of miraculous. We are so wonderfully made!

It’s not all about the scales

So, today is my weightwatchers class and usually I look forward to them. However, I have a feeling that the scales will not be my friend today. It’s not because I haven’t followed the plan or I’ve eaten things I shouldn’t, in fact, I’ve been very rigid with my points. It’s because I weigh at home each week and I fear today I may have put on a lb. Yesterday, this really upset me. I felt low and almost reached for a cheesecake – something I generally avoid at the moment (lack of willpower), the mind set being if I’m going to be disappointed at the scales, I might as well have eaten something fabulous. But I didn’t. Instead, I reached for my phone and contacted my amazing coach and asked for help. And I breathed. The moment passed. This morning, I now feel focused and positive instead of feeling down for stuffing my face. So, am I writing this to be negative? Of course not. It’s because I went through a dark tunnel and came out the other side. I’ve been following the weightwatchers plan  for 9 weeks and I have consistently lost weight. I think this week, my body is simply taking a breather. Due to medical issues, I haven’t been able to exercise as much as I’d like recently and I think my body is just slowing down. It can become all too easy to focus on the numbers in the scales and base your esteem and your progress on just those numbers. But that’s not the case. I look at photos from Christmas, just before I started the plan and I can see how much my body has changed. I have more energy. I like being in photos with my children now instead of always hiding behind the camera. Today, I’m ready to face the day and carry on with my journey. My husband attributes this change to the weather – we’ve had so much gloomy weather recently and today we woke to glorious sunshine. He may be on to something – I’m generally a much happier and more positive person when the sun is shining!! So I dug out some holiday snaps from our amazing family holiday to Cornwall last year where the sun was shining and a felt happy. It’s given me a boost.  My advice to everyone today is to breathe. Relax. Don’t focus on the scales and just keep going. You can only do your best – and that’s good enough!

De-clutter

Following on from my last two blog posts about looking after yourself, I’ve been thinking about other ways in which to feel more in control of things when life is throwing a lot at you. For the past 4 months, we’ve had nothing but trouble with our car and it has spent more time at the garage than with us. On the side lines, we’ve been dealing with several medical issues, needing a new kitchen floor, replacing our hob, trying to re-decorate in preparation for selling our home and to top it all off this week our car decided to malfunction again and our sofa broke!!! A complete nightmare at a time when we are trying to save! Yesterday, I was ready to fall apart and couldn’t deal with any of it. Today, after a “good sleep” (there’s no such thing in our house), I’m ready to tackle things. I can’t do much about our car or the sofa right now, but I can do something. We desperately want to move, but before we can, there are little jobs that need doing. The biggest one right now is de-cluttering! With 5 of us living in such a small space, it gets out of control very quickly. Therefore, today I’ve decided to focus on throwing things out or finding new homes for them. Nothing clears the mind more than clearing the space around us. I’m hoping that having a task to focus on that I have some influence over will help me over come the anxiety over those things I can’t control – and think of the calories it will burn!!  I hope that whatever you’re doing this Sunday has a positive impact on your well-being.

Losing weight

Following on from my last blog post about looking after yourself, I thought I would share a little more about how I’m trying to do just that. It’s a subject I try not to talk about and it’s something that I have quietly worked on, but recently a few people have commented on this, so I figured I could share now. I’ve always battled with my weight. I was always the big girl in my group of friends. I’ve never enjoyed shopping, never felt comfortable in my clothes or the way I look – but I’ve never had the willpower to change. I’ve tried many diets & exercise regimes, with some small success, but it’s never stuck long term. But over the past few years, I’ve been privileged enough to find the most amazing friend who had totally inspired me – who happens to be the best weight Watchers coach you will ever meet. So in January, I volunteered to help her with a class and joined in. It’s been the most liberating experience! In 9 weeks, I have lost 27.5lb and gained a new confidence I never thought I’d have. Volunteering in class also means I am never tempted to give up or miss a class and, for the first time in over 7 years, I spend a couple of hours a week doing something for me. The guilt I initially felt at “abandoning” my boys has slowly lessened and my hubby does an amazing job without me. The boys look forward to “daddy night” because he is fun and doesn’t make them do any work!! They have free reign of screens or movies and enjoy the bonding time with daddy. It’s been a real turning point for me and I’m so grateful to all the wonderful people who are supporting me. You know who you are. I would encourage anyone who wants to lose weight to be brave and take that first step. Join a class & find what works for you! If I can do it, you can do it! I’d love to hear your own experiences with these issues too!

Looking after you

Right from the off, I am going to be honest, I am the absolute worst at looking after myself. I always prioritise everyone else before myself. My children, my husband, my family, my friends, people I read about in the paper or online…..I just don’t like focusing on myself. I think a lot of people are the same. I have seen articles about the importance of looking after yourself and I always tut at them and skip them. Yet here I am writing about it. I am hoping that someone will at least have a read! I have been suffering from medical problems since my very first child was born and it is a condition that has been getting worse ever since. It has meant there are times when I have been physically unable to leave my home and I have missed out on trips and events with my children. It breaks my heart when that happens. It has left me with several other, more minor medical complaints too. However, more than that, it has left me with a problem that I would never have imagined I would suffer with. This condition is anxiety. Having studied anxiety during my psychology degree, I thought it was something that would never happen to me. I was always confident, talkative and outgoing. I never shied away from social situations and would talk to anyone. There were times when other people would say to me, “oh, I can’t go there, I am too shy” and I just wouldn’t understand. Now I do. There was a time, about a year ago, where I didn’t leave the house for 3 because of my medical condition – and after that, I didn’t want to leave the house. I was sure people would be looking at me, judging me and I just felt so uncomfortable. I didn’t want to face the school yard or go shopping. I just wanted to hide. I must stress here, this wasn’t because anyone had done any of these things. It was just inside my head. I was anxious about everything, all the time. I didn’t tell people about it. I did my best to visit family and go to places with my boys that didn’t involve social interaction – the woods, parks, empty beaches. But I really struggled with other places, especially jungle gyms and parks where we know lots of people. I thought it was a one off time – it took a few weeks of accompanying my husband to the school yard before I felt confident enough to go alone and for a few weeks, it was all ok. Yet, a year on, I still have times when I get too anxious to collect my boys. I don’t want to leave the safety of my home. There are no specific triggers and I can’t explain why. It is what it is. I have learnt that, at times, I have to look after me. I know my children want me to be at every pick up and drop off, but sometimes, I just can’t. The guilt overwhelms me at times. Other days, I can process it and accept that there is nothing wrong with my husband being there for them. I am learning that sometimes, I have to take care of myself. I would urge everyone to remember that unless you are well, it is hard to look after others. We really do have to look after ourselves too. I would love to hear from others who have had similar experiences or have something they would like to share.