My Christmas in Photos
Bringing parenting back to basics, helping mums to use their instincts!
Disjointed: lacking a coherent sequence or connection.
You may or may not have noticed my lack of blog posting recently. It’s been a funny few weeks. Not necessarily in a bad way, but not entirely good either. I’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad – and have desperately been trying to promote my book by writing several guest blog posts which will hopefully be live soon. There’s been vomit and nativity plays and nights out with wonderful friends. There’s been a visit to Father Christmas and endless shopping and wrapping of presents. But what there hasn’t been for me, is festive cheer.
I’ve desperately been trying to get into the Christmas spirit – normally by now I’m totally Christmas crazy – yet this year it’s just not happening. And the reason, the painful truthful reason as to why I’m not in the festive spirit, is simply because this year, for the first time in twelve years, for the first time ever in her beautiful life, I will not be spending Christmas Day with my daughter. For she will be with her father, at her wish.
As many of you regular readers will know her father wasn’t exactly enamoured with the idea of becoming one at such a young age and he did pretty much everything in his power to make it not be true. And so for the first few years, when he was rather inconsistent in his presence, she was blissfully all mine at Christmas.
As a single parent, who’s father had passed away just two years previously, Christmas was always spent at my Mum’s house, where we carried on all of the wonderful Christmas traditions that had started during my childhood. It was wonderful, something I always looked forward to with immense excitement, and soon there came new traditions as we grew as a family and welcomed more people in. The phrase ‘all good things must come to an end,’ now springs to mind for after a long time of me trying to get her father regularly involved in her life – because even though I had formed a firm opinion of the type of man he was, I strongly believed she had the right to know him and make that decision for herself – we started alternating Christmases. He would have her from shortly after her school broke up until Christmas Eve, and then the next year he would have her until Christmas afternoon, when she was picked up on the way to my Mum’s.
This year, without either of us talking about it (our communication has been a bit crap of late) I assumed the same would be true. However my daughter’s father had other ideas which promptly placed her rather uncomfortably in the middle. Now I know at times she can be – along with every other twelve year old – quite a challenging human being, deep down behind all of the pre-teen hormonal rage she has a truly beautiful nature and hates upsetting people. She was torn and teary and it was horrible to see. So, in spite of everything I was thinking and feeling at the time (namely rage as her dad hadn’t been particularly friendly in the discussion) I handed the decision over to her and told her that I would support her 100% in whatever she chose. I reassured her that her Nanna and Uncle wouldn’t hate her, and neither for that matter would I. And – frighteningly quickly – she chose to go to her Dad’s.
I didn’t show her my hurt or upset, I didn’t voice my dismay all at her decision. I hugged her and told her I hoped she’d have a wonderful Christmas, and reassured her that yes, we’d do Christmas Day all over again for her on Boxing Day when she was to be collected. My husband and I then worked out our Christmas with the boys and my family (his mum and dad always come to us on Christmas Eve and prefer to spend Christmas Day at home just the two of them, so that was sorted!) and how and when we could pick her up on Boxing Day. All worked out. Daughter happy. Dad happy. Me…well you can imagine.
I hope you don’t think me trivial or indulgent for writing a blog post about my upset, because yes, it is just one day and I am incredibly fortunate in so many ways…yet for me without my daughter there, even for one day, Christmas simply will not be the same. There will be something missing. Part of me missing. Christmas undoubtedly becomes magical all over again once you have children, and that magic doesn’t stop when they become a pre-teen (she still wanted to see Father Christmas the other day) and it’s hard to know that for the first time I’m not going to be there to see it. And this will be the first of many, a new tradition now formed whereby every other year she is not here to celebrate with me, with us, with her brothers.
Since making the decision I can tell she’s still been torn. Whenever Christmas has been talked about I’ve also been incredibly torn – for if I say how excited I am she gets hurt and thinks I’m not going to miss her…and yet when I say it won’t be the same without her she gets equally upset and demands that I will be ok and have fun! Safe to say I’ve not been able to do right for doing wrong so to speak! No change from the norm there though really either – living with a pre-teen really can be a mine field!
So for now my job before she goes on Christmas Eve, is to embrace what time we will spend together over Christmas, and make it as magical and special as I can. I’m lucky I have my awesome husband and gorgeous boys to celebrate the day with and my heart goes out to others who are not so fortunate. For families come in all shapes and sizes and each have their own challenges to face.
And for us, I’m determined that Christmas this year will still be a magical one…just a little disjointed.
Last week I received an extremely exciting email letting me know that @BritaxUK would like to send me one of their new B-MOTION 3 strollers to review! I am ridiculously excited and hopefully it will arrive this week! It made me think about what you need to look for when choosing a pushchair and thankfully BRITAX have some very handy top tips…
SOME HANDY TIPS FROM BRITAX ON HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PUSHCHAIR FOR YOUR FAMILY
From lightweight three-wheelers to travel systems and off-road strollers – there’s a huge array of pushchairs available to choose from, and it can be difficult for new parents to know where to start.
Ask any seasoned mum if she would fork out for the same first pram again and she is likely to say no. In fact, she is more than likely to have one or two more prams back at home in her quest to find the pushchair that satisfied all her and her baby’s needs.
BRITAX has been speaking and working with mums for decades, and, in the hope of helping new mums learn from other mum’s mistakes and save some serious time and money, we have developed a few simple tips to consider before splashing hard earned cash.
THINK ABOUT YOUR BABY’S NEEDS…
Think comfort. A comfy baby is a happy baby, so think seats that fully recline, are spacious and well padded. Think cosy footmuffs, smart raincovers and hoods that protect your little ones from the elements.
Think practically. Don’t forget, the needs of a baby and toddler are very different and they soon grow. Older toddlers will still need space for a comfortable snooze when their batteries run low.
A boisterous toddler (and tired mum) can be heavy handed and you need to look for a pushchair that has good quality features that can stand a good deal of wear and tear.
Also, think, will the pushchair be handed down to a new sibling in a couple of year’s time? Look for a hardwearing fabric that will work for both boys and girls.
THINK ABOUT YOUR LIFESTYLE…
Do you need something lightweight that you can easily get on and off buses, fold up quickly to put in the boot of your car? Carry up a flight of stairs? Do you need a heavy weight pram that you can pound the pavements with, with a large shopping basket for all your food shopping?
Considering your lifestyle requirements alongside the needs of your child are key in selecting the right pushchair for your family. With almost 50 years’ experience in manufacturing pushchairs and travel systems, BRITAX has something for every family and every lifestyle.
Consider the following points before you make your final decision…
*If you have a newborn baby, your pushchair should have a full lie-back seat unit. Not only is this the most comfortable position for your new arrival, it is also much safer and will help protect the soft bones in their neck whilst you’re on the move. Some models, such as our BRITAX affinity also come with fully reversible seat units so your baby can face you
*Those families with twins or small children close in age will need to find a pushchair to suit the needs of both siblings. Double side-by-side pushchairs such as the B-AGILE Double, or tandem options such as the B-DUAL offer fantastic features that will suit any family looking after two young children
*Inner city mums are likely to be looking for something lightweight, with good portability that’s easily collapsible (preferably with a one-handed pull fold mechanism), particularly if you’ll be using their pushchair on public transport or have steps leading to your house. For those looking for a great all rounder which works well in the park or at the shops, the B-MOTION family caters for children from birth up to approximately four years of age
*Alternatively, those living in the countryside might like to make the most of their surroundings with an all-terrain stroller such as the BOB Sport Utility Stroller – its textured tyres and superior suspension will ensure a smooth ride for your child on even the bumpiest terrains
*All of the BRITAX pushchairs can convert to what is known as a travel system – using very simple CLICK & GO adaptors, you can attach a host of carriers, sleepers and carrycots
THINK ABOUT YOUR BUDGET…
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get great quality practical features. You need a pushchair that reclines, is well padded, is safe and provides a comfortable experience for both mum and baby.
Think carefully about whether you will be passing the buggy down to a future sibling – in which case it may be worth spending a little bit more money to ensure it wears well.
Shop around for the best deals, as there are always great offers. BRITAX offers something for every family and for every budget.
Try before you buy – get a proper feel for how it folds, manoeuvres, how much storage space it offers, the height and feel of the handle bars…
Think about where you will be storing the pushchair – in your car, in the hallway, have you got the right amount of space?
Look and see which accessories are included in the price, there are always some great deals to be had.
And remember, it is possible to tick all the boxes; it just takes a little research and testing!
This post was brought to you as part of the BRITAX Mumbassador program of which I am extremely lucky to be a part of.
Restore: To return (something, esp a work of art or building) to an original or former condition. To bring back to health, good spirits, etc.
You know the phrase ‘I didn’t know how hungry I was until I ate something?’ or ‘I didn’t realise I was so poorly until I felt better?’ Well now I’ve invented a new one….’I didn’t realise how much we needed a family holiday together until we had one!’
For the last two glorious weeks we have been in France, staying in an old and crumbling gite near Royan, which is on the west coast near Bordeaux. Just the five of us for two whole weeks. The last time we went on holiday abroad for two weeks was four years ago, and then only week of it was just us as a family (then only four of us) and the last week was with my mum, brother and sister-in-law. It was the holiday where we got engaged, proposed to at Mont St Michel and it was lovely, but not in the same way as this. This has been magical. We have slotted into a relaxed, carefree routine and blended together as a family. Work and PND have not enabled that to happen for many reasons over the last year or so. My husband often works long hours and can be in Bristol on a Monday, Leeds on Tuesday, London on Wednesday and then Edinburgh at the end of the week. Sometimes we are definitely like ships that sail in the night and only have time for a brief ‘hello’ before tiredness sets in and one of us has dropped off to sleep on the sofa. We haven’t had a “date night’ when it has just been the two of us for at least the last six months, if not longer. And often the children see daddy briefly in the morning as he’s rushing out of the door or for a bit before bedtime. Weekends are also often so busy visiting lovely family and friends that again it’s never just us. In essence we’ve almost been too busy to be a family.
So last year when I wasn’t very well and it was a difficult time for us all, my husband thought it a good idea for us all to have something to look forward to. A two week holiday in one of my favourite places, where I used to holiday as a child and is filled with wonderful happy memories. We saved up and found a gite we could afford. The gite is very traditional and is a bit tired and things tend to fall apart in your hands the minute you touch them, but it’s been our home for the past two weeks and has been fantastic!
Somehow France has worked it’s magic. It’s relaxed us all; the 12 year old has had less hormonal moments than usual and even the 1 year old has been sleeping! Work and the groundhog repetitiveness of everyday life have been forgotten. The silly things my husband and I used to bicker about no longer important. I’ve actually managed to read two whole books and I haven’t worn any make up or done my hair once! It’s been so refreshing!
But more important than all of that is the little traditions and memories we are making as a family. Songs on the radio that become our French holiday songs. Games on the beach and in the sea that become our holiday games. Time spent making wonderful memories for the children to look back on when they are grown up, just as I have been remembering my wonderful holidays from when I was a child. You can read a poem I have written about building memories here. And also, in the evenings when the children are all in bed, my husband and I have had precious time to ourselves, time where we’re not too exhausted to have a conversation, time to listen to each other and laugh.
I know we’ve been very lucky to have been able to afford a holiday abroad (next year we will almost certainly holiday at home) and that this holiday as been the perfect first one as a family of five. We shall all treasure it forever and need to remember how important time as a family is. It is so easy to get eaten up by everyday life and all of the cr** that it can bring so….my mid-year resolution is to make sure that we have more time together as a family….and that my husband and I will have that all elusive ‘date night!’
Sunshine is sunlight, the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Sun, especially in the visible wavelengths. (Wikipedia)
So today is Monday, and this week’s #magicmoment is brought to you by sunshine. (Sunshine, what’s that? I hear you cry!) Well, it’s a lovely thing that comes from the sky, and brings with it light and warmth. It makes everything look more beautiful to me. And it gives me hope.
Yesterday was my middle child’s 4th birthday. He’d already had his party (Bleurch, read previous post lol!) so the day was going to be a simple family day. Just the five of us, plus my Mum up from Cornwall. The birthday boy wanted a Wagamamas for lunch, and a robot cake. Simple. As the clocks had gone forward that night, getting up at half past seven hadn’t seemed so bad. (I tried not to think about what time it really was as I am NOT a morning person at all) We came downstairs, he opened presents and had a lovely breakfast together. Simple. We played with the toys he’d been given and then my mum arrived. Still simple, still so very lovely. We all went off to Wagamamas. Lunch was eaten and then we returned home. Simple. And it was after we returned home that for me, the magic happened.
For those of you who have read my blog you will know that I have recently been quite poorly with post-natal depression, and thankfully am starting to come out of the other side. In just over a week’s time I should be completely antidepressant free. It’s been a tough few weeks reducing my medication, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and for me, yesterday was another giant step forward. Another moment when I realised, and believed, that I really am getting better. And it was all because the sun came out. Tentatively at first, peeping out behind a few stray clouds. And then slowly it became stronger, and warmer, and out for longer stretches of time. There is always a temptation when the sun is out to quickly rush out of the house, to go somewhere, to enjoy every second of it and make the most of it whilst it’s here. Get our bikes, pack a picnic, hike up a hill. All wonderful things to do, but I forget that I actually have a perfectly lovely place to enjoy the sunshine not more than two metres away from me most of the time. A place that doesn’t require hours of planning, endless packing and organisation and more often than not a lengthy car drive. My garden!
So into the garden we went, and as we sat there, in the sunshine and for the first time in what feels like such a long time feeling warm, I felt a huge sense of optimism and hope. I watched my children laughing and running around and I felt hope for the future, for a summer full of sunny days (We are ALL most definitely due one!) For a summer where I can spend time with my amazing family in my garden, and in the sunshine, and actually enjoy it! Last summer was swallowed up by a giant black cloud for me, both literally and metaphorically, and I was unable to really enjoy any of it. I mostly spent it crying, panicking or trying not to run away and never come back. But this summer, when my youngest will turn one year old, I know that I will truly be back. The magic of the sunshine yesterday made me know that I will be the person I used to be, before the b**** that is PND took me away.