The night of November 16th 2017 – I was in the kitchen with my mum and sister drinking copious amounts of Prosecco and dancing to Paloma Faith with party hats.

I barely ever drink, so there had to be a good enough reason for me to get completely pissed and share my love to the women who the mean most to me.

‘Cry baby’ was the highlight of our night, I’m pretty sure I downed Prosecco out of a measuring jug at one point.

Despite us having a blast, dancing as if I was on stilts and having fits of giggles; I still found myself running upstairs every half hour, screaming into the bathroom towel and sobbing.

I woke up the morning after with a blasting headache and I felt the room spinning, but the event of what was to come was much, much worse.

I packed up the last couple of boxes and cleared a few draws. I saw my son walk out his bedroom for the last time and watched my daughter play peacefully in our bare living room.

We were moving 100 miles away to live with my Dad in Oxford.

Although this didn’t exactly come as a shock, I had been waiting anxiously for this very moment for months.

As I got into the car I burst into tears. I shouted at my mum “Why did this have to happen!”.. weeping into my tissues.

I couldn’t quite believe that the town I had grown to know, to love – the town I had given birth in twice; I was leaving it all behind.

Without going into too much detail, this wasn’t an easy decision. To be honest I wasn’t given much choice.

We arrived in Oxford and I was completely exhausted – perhaps the Prosecco Party the night before didn’t help; but overall I was exhausted from spending the entire journey to Oxford just sobbing.

My eyes were bright red and I remember wanting to go straight to bed when I got to my Dad’s.

We were now homeless.

Although we weren’t sleeping on the streets – we were very fortunate that I had family that were kind enough to let us live with them, but where society is concerned, we were considered a homeless family.

The months leading up to this moment, my son questioned why we were having to leave; I tried to tell him that I wanted to be closer to our family.

But I knew deep down he spent most nights sat on the stairs and listening to me cry on the phone to my sister for hours on end.

The first couple of months were the hardest; adjusting to living with a parent again when I’d spent the last year living in my own house with my own rules was pretty difficult.

It took weeks talking to the council, sending them eviction letters and numerous telephone calls to finally be placed on their housing register.

Over 3 months I wasn’t getting anywhere with the online council house bidding. The fact that I hadn’t been homeless long enough played a big part as to why myself and my two young children weren’t top priority.

However, sleeping with my two children on a blow up bed on the living room floor seemed doable, apparently.

Months went by and I felt useless – mine and my children’s futures were in the hands of somebody else deciding if we were in need of housing, which we were, desperately.

I upped the anti-depressants which was advised by my doctor and started to feel a bit better after a few weeks; but the anxiety I felt every Wednesday at 12pm when the new bidding cycle opened was still there.

Some weeks there was no properties to the area I had local connection to, better yet, some weeks they had none at all. I started to lose hope.

It has now been 9 months since we were deemed homeless by the council. In May this year, we were finally offered a property by our local council and it was such an overwhelming feeling knowing that my children would finally have a home to call their own.

We moved into our new home last Friday and I cannot put into words the feeling I felt signing our tenancy agreement whilst my children ran around our house exploring.

It has needed a lot of work, but after a week it is finally feeling like a proper home.

I shared this story because I would like to think this could give someone the hope they need – that there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is always a rainbow after a little rain.

Thanks for reading!

Laura x

It’s no lie that I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for quite some time now. I believe in some ways I have always struggled with mental health and it’s an issue which has been passed through my family.

At the age of 17, when I gave birth to my first child Alfie, I was struck with post-natal depression very soon after. I was in a continuous battle with myself of wanting to be this amazing, perfect mother. But in reality, I was far from it. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to be the mother I had hoped to be for my baby boy.

depression

Fast forward a few years, I began feeling like myself again. I believe I struggled with postnatal depression for around 2 years, before something just clicked and I began actually enjoying motherhood.

As Alfie grew, so did our relationship. We had (and still do have) this bond which was so precious and comforting, as if we were making up for lost time.

Here and there, I would feel bouts of sadness and I was fearful that I had inherited mental health issues, like depression, from my parents. But depression to me just sounded so overdramatic. I never realised I had postnatal depression with Alfie until he was around 5 years old. All them years I believed I was just a bit sad, moody and felt like I was missing out living my life as a teen.

When I fell pregnant with Holly, I had the constant fear that I would get postnatal depression again. I’d heard that if you have had it in the past, you’re at a higher chance of having it a second time round.

I was determined I wasn’t going to let it happen, I trusted my parenting, I didn’t listen to anyone else’s judgements and I made sure I looked after myself better.

Baby blues hit me when Holly was around a week old, but baby blues are very different to postnatal depression. I was confident that I was hormonal, tired and sore from breastfeeding so I was bound to feel a little upset and moody.

Months go by, and yes, as any parent I would have my down days, but nowhere near how bad they were when Alfie was a baby.

Lots of things happened in Holly’s first year of life. I began contemplating suicide, I would lock myself in the bathroom, cry and scream for hours on end and I wouldn’t eat for days.

The depression was back.

This hit me like a ton of bricks, unexpectedly and it hurt like hell. I was completely failing as a parent by being so depressed and anxious that I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks unless it was for work or the school run. I completely isolated myself.

It was this time, I was determined not to let depression and anxiety just eat me up inside, so I sought help. I was very honest when I was at my doctors appointment, telling her that I didn’t want to live anymore, that some days I didn’t want to be around my children and that all I wanted was to sleep.

She wasn’t much help, but she did prescribe me medication which at first I felt a bit defeated by; I didn’t want to have to rely on medication to make me less of an arsehole to my kids. But I was thankful that this was the first step in feeling myself again – being a better mother.

It’s now been little under a year since I sought help. And despite being hesitant to take medication, I truly believe it saved my life. I appreciate my life every day and although it’s a long road to recovery, I haven’t felt this good in a long time.

Having depression and anxiety when you’re a single parent, does not mean you have failed, or you don’t love or care for them enough. It means you’re trying your hardest, you burn out and feel trapped with nowhere to turn.

I am thankful that I had to go through that dark time to make me remember and realise just how precious life really is. Especially when I have two beautiful children looking up to me, and without them, I wouldn’t be here today.

 

As some of you may know, my son Alfie is 8 years old – which means he is very much into his video games, YouTube and anything technology based.

Just very recently I have noticed his mood change dramatically when he is told to get off the XBOX, go outside or get on with his homework. What once was a bit of fun, has now turned into an issue which I’m not quite sure how to resolve.

He didn’t have a great year last year, he went through many changes, had to say goodbye to people he shouldn’t have had to and, for a while, gaming was some kind of escape mechanism he would use to not only take his mind off things, but to also block out his ‘really annoying’ little sister, too.

technology

So for a while I let him spend a lot of time playing video games, I wanted him to be happy, content and I didn’t want to set any restrictions because his life, at that point, had been restricted enough.

I wasn’t even sure if video games could become addictive, until I tuned into This Morning the other day, and saw other parents, not just me, complaining about their children and the ongoing battle of how much technology time they have. Before then, although I knew Alfie spent a lot of his time playing video games, it hadn’t once crossed my mind that this is a major issue for mums, like myself, all over the country.

In some ways, it made me feel better to know I wasn’t alone. My child wasn’t the only child kicking and screaming whenever I told him to turn his XBOX off, or ask him to do simple tasks which meant he would have to look away from a glowing screen. Although it gave me a sense of relief knowing that; it also terrified me to think it was an addiction; it can’t be… Can it?

I’m all for embracing modern day technology, especially as that’s what our children are growing up with. Rather than turning their heads from every TV or computer screen, I let them explore this world of technology and not prevent them from having fun or learning.

We’re no longer living in the stone ages – and the more people begin realise that, the better the world will be.

But when is enough, enough? How can you tell a child that enjoys technology so much, to take a break? I’m talking waking up in the morning and asking to play Fortnite, rushing home from school and turning on the laptop to watch YouTube videos.

Don’t get me wrong, Alfie is very lucky that he has the option to play outside with his friends, where we live is very child friendly and I am able to watch him outside with his friends from practically every window in the house.

Is this becoming a serious issue? I would love to know your thoughts.

My issue has never been with video games, or YouTube videos, or any kind of technology that my son has access too. It’s how his mood changes entirely when he has to remove himself from his XBOX or laptop, step out of the virtual world and step back into the real one.

I definitely think I will start being more stern on how much screen time he is allowed, at the moment there are no boundaries and I definitely feel that is a fail on my part.

Is your child addicted to technology?

 

03/02/2018

Thought of the day: motherhood

 

With the beast from the east upon us, it’s meant the kids and I have been home bound. Living in a village, the roads are ridiculously dangerous and unfortunately for us, driving to and from places is our only option, or so it was.

That’s probably the biggest downfall for living where we do – you have to drive to get anywhere you need to because everything is so far away.

With the weather being how it is at the moment, we’ve spent the majority of the time indoors. Trying to entertain them as much as I can before we all go stir crazy is proving difficult. Alfie has spent some of his time outside playing with his friends, but within half an hour he’s back –

“Let me in, my toes are frozen!” 

And if he isn’t complaining about the cold; he’s inside glued to his XBOX (don’t judge me).

Holly on the other hand, is spending most of her time amusing herself with her toys, or watching YouTube unboxing videos. But being stuck indoors means she has every reason to be stuck to my chest like a fly on… You get the picture.

Yes, I’m talking about breastfeeding. Holly is 2 in April and I still breastfeed on demand when we’re at home. Venturing off in the car to different places gives me a break and spares me a few hours of untouched bliss.

So as you can imagine, we’re definitely feeling the cabin fever over here. Being stuck indoors with an active 8 year old and a *cough* inquisitive 23 month old, has meant my parenting has been tested immensely; which has made me question, am I failing in motherhood?

I try my best as a mother to take a ‘gentle parenting’ route.

Gentle parenting: Gentle Parenting is a scientific, evidence based, approach to raising confident and happy children. It is a parenting ethos characterised by the following four tenets: Empathy, Respect, Understanding, Boundaries. Gentle Parents are ‘mind minded’, that is they raise their children in a manner that they are aware and considerate of the child’s feelings.

I have tried to understand their frustration of being stuck indoors, be empathetic that they’re upset our plans to go to the farm this Sunday were cancelled, and respect their feelings of complete cabin fever in the hope they’ll respect mine.

But the past couple of days, I have gone completely against my parenting ethos. I have shouted probably more than I ever have, I’ve become frustrated with their frustration and I’ve become agitated if they begin getting upset over plans we can’t do.

Am I failing at this motherhood thing? Or perhaps I set myself for failure by trying to be the best mum I can be, all of the time. Their isn’t a worse feeling than when you’re sat in the bathroom sobbing because you snapped at your child for no reason whatsoever.

It’s very easy to compare yourself and your parenting with other parents. You know, the ones you see on Instagram playing in the snow with their children, flat laying their children’s ridiculously healthy lunch time meals and there is nothing but laughter and smiles throughout their entire Instagram feed.

Where is the TANTRUMS?

The TEARS?

The MESS?

That is the power of social media. I am too guilty of portraying our lives to be picture perfect and #parentingonpoint, and I do wonder if anyone ever glimpses at my Instagram feed and thinks the same as I do.

Patience has been tested, parenting doubted and my mental state questioned. Am I failing in motherhood? Probably. Will I always fail in motherhood? Most definitely. But I know for sure my kids think I’m acing this entire parenting thing, and they adore me, no matter what.

 

 

With Spring just around the corner, it’s time to pull out the hairy food from under the sofa, throw away the empty shampoo bottles that have been progressively turning into a pile on the bathroom side, polish & dust your unrecognizable TV stand and take down the mouldy cups from your bedroom.

Surely people can’t live like that?! I hear you say… Oh yes, they can, and they’re probably reading this right now.

via GIPHY

STEP ONE:

  • Acknowledge that you need to clean and don’t hide
  • Put your headphones in & blast some motivating music
  • If you can’t see the floor, pick everything up
  • Unsure whether the chicken that went out of date 2 months ago is still ok to eat? THROW IT OUT
  • Vacuum everything. Even the cat.

STEP TWO – THE HACKS:

The Microwave 

I can’t be the only one who has left the microwave to go pretty grim & smelly now and again. It’s one of those things you always mean to do, but it gets thrown back to the end of the list. I see you nodding.

And of course if you’re leaving food stains to sit for a rather long period of time, it takes some elbow grease and determination to scrub it away. The best hack for that is vinegar – yes, you read that right!

Microwave a bowl of water and vinegar in a microwave safe bowl on high for 2 minutes. The steam will help break up stubborn stains and you can wipe it clean easily. Job done!

Washing machine 

Again, this is another forgotten about appliance in the kitchen when it comes to cleaning. Washing machines are a breeding ground for germs & bacteria, especially as many of us are running low temperature or economy washes.

Fun fact: One in 4 items of laundry washed at 40°C contains traces of bacteria linked to faeces.

…I bet you wanna clean that ol’ washing machine of yours now, don’t you? Keep reading..

You will need:

  1. 2 cups of white vinegar
  2. 1/3 cup of baking soda
  3. any old cleaning cloth
  4. an old toothbrush

The gaskets at the front of the machine (rubbery bits) are notorious for growing mould & mildew.  Firstly, spray the vinegar into the folds of the gasket, sprinkle some baking soda over the top and give it a scrub with the old toothbrush, then wipe it over with your cloth. Once you’ve done that, give the door a good wipe down too.

Secondly, pour your 1/3 cup of baking soda into the drum, pour two cups of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and turn it onto a hot wash, not only does this clean it, but also gets rid of any smells to.

Tips – make sure you always leave your washing machine open; thus prevents mould build up, never leave wet clothes in the drum for long periods of time (us mums are guilty of this – “put it on another spin” I always say! x10) and lastly, make sure you regularly give it a wipe down between washes.

Time to summon the oven

I’m pretty sure the oven is one of the most forgotten things in your average household, almost every person I have come across say that the oven is the worst cleaning job. I have to disagree, I find cleaning the oven therapeutic.. is that weird?

So, how to get that greasy, forgotten oven of yours looking squeaky clean in time for spring? You will need…

  1. water
  2. vinegar
  3. baking powder

spring cleaning

Probably around half a cup of each, combine them all together in an oven safe bowl , mix into a paste & dab it over the grimmest part of the oven, keep some paste left over & stick it in the oven for 40 minutes on 100 and when the time is up.. use a sponge to clean!

Bathroom

I love myself a clean & tidy bathroom, but with two kids in tow, it doesn’t stay clean and tidy for very long. Spring is the best excuse to thoroughly clean the behind-the-scenes neglected bits, that need a bit of TLC.

Shower head: fill a sandwich bag with vinegar, then carefully secure the bag over the shower head so it’s fully  submerged, use a hair tie or elastic band. Leave to soak overnight.

Tiles: 5 cups of water, 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/3 cup of lemon juice & 1/4 cup of vinegar.. put it all into a spray bottle & spray onto tiles, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and scrub!

And last but not least.. De-clutter! There is nothing more satisfying than having a good clear out of unwanted junk that has been laying around for months and Spring is definitely the time to start.

Donate clothes to charity (you can order charity bags online!), get the kids to join in by sorting through their unwanted toys & get the kitchen cupboards organised!

Spring is definitely my favourite month – what’s yours?