A Letter to my Big Boy as you Start Year 2

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My darling boy,

As you return to school to start year 2, I want you to remember the following:

Keep going – I know how hard you find it, but keep persevering. We all learn at different rates and when you find your groove, you’ll fly.

Be brave – try new things. Push yourself. You have so much going for you, so don’t be afraid to spread your wings and fly.

You’re making forever-friends – you may not know it now, but some of the friendships you make this year will be the ones that stay with you for life.

Don’t be afraid to speak out – I know it’s hard, but always speak up for those more more vulnerable than you. Be brave. Tell the truth. Mama’s always in your corner.

Have fun – you’re only 6 once, so enjoy your school days. When you’re old and tired like mummy, you’ll long for the days when reading Biff and Chip was the most taxing thing you had to do that day.

Love always,
Mummy

P.s And if you can fit it in, amongst all the learning and developing; can you please remember that when I ask you to ‘get dressed’ in the mornings, it doesn’t mean ‘stand around naked with one sock on watching tv’.

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Finding your me-time

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We previously featured Personal Trainer and mum-of-three, Tricia Paisis-Oakwell , as our #mumhero of the week.  We’re delighted to say she’s back, with some great advice for all us mums, on the importance of self-care and some suggestions on how we can all grab a little piece of me-time each day.

As a health and well-being advocate, you must see a lot of mums who want to do something for themselves, but can’t seem to find the time.  Why do you think it is that we, as women, often put ourselves last?
Our role as wives and mothers is to nurture and take care of the needs of everyone else first. I hear it daily – a mother’s guilt.  Guilt about taking time out for themselves, and about wanting some ‘me time’.

Why is self-care (physical and emotional) so important?
Because we need to be the very best we can be – not only for our families but ourselves, too. Our families rely on us and if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’ll become tired and run down – and this can lead to other more serious complications,  like ill health or much worse.

‘Mindfulness’ has become a bit of a buzzword recently, but what does it actually mean?
For me, mindfulness means ‘a stillness of both the body and mind’.

When my clients ask me how to practice this, I encourage them to find a quiet and peaceful place. Relax by either lying down or in a comfortable seated position.

Try to block out the thoughts of what’s going on around you and just be in the moment –  try to stop the brain and thoughts from rushing around.

Focus on your breath ( this helps to quieten the thoughts), breathing in and out through the nose slowly.  Try to do this for at least 3-5 minutes-longer if you can.

Can you suggest any ways that even the most time-starved mama can take 10 minutes out for herself each day?
Look at your week
and set aside the time in your day that works best for you and your schedule.  Treat it as a diary event or meeting. If it’s booked in and written down, then you are more likely to set aside the time to complete it.

I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier than I need to get up in the morning. When the alarm goes off I don’t jump out of bed rushing around or reach for the phone to check my messages. I take a few deep breaths in/out and stretch out before climbing out of bed. We often jump out of bed in a rush and the whole day is then set at that state of stress until we crawl back into bed at night.

Likewise when you go to bed, you can do some slow breathing and mediation to help relax and unwind. This will also help you de-stress.

If you work, don’t eat your lunch at your desk whilst trying to finish emails. Go outside, find a park bench, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air (especially in summertime).

Find a friend and go for a walk during your day. This will help you if you’re time-poor and find it hard to exercise, too.

Whilst grocery shopping put on some relaxing music or an audio book – this is a great way to make time to do some personal development or catch up on your favourite story/author. ( I find it so hard to sit down and read these days, so I use this trick in the car or when out at the shops)

Find a sport or hobby and agree with your partner a coupe of times a week to block that time off for yourself, so you can take an exercise class, play a sport or go to Yoga.

If you have a baby – take a nap when they nap. Leave the housework or chores for a short time. The world won’t end if the bathroom isn’t cleaned or washing isn’t put away right now.

Relax with a nice herbal tea, a good book or your favourite pet. Pets are proven to help de-stress us.

What ever you decide to do, just honour that time as your time to rest, recover and recharge.  This isn’t selfish – it’s self-preservation.

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If you’re interested in finding out more about Tricia and the work she does, you can check her out on Facebook or Instagram or visit her website.

 

Finding your mum/life balance

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Tricia Paisis-Oakwell is my #mumhero of the week.  She’s a mum of 3, a Health and Wellness Coach and runs her own business. Did I also mention she’s a Personal Trainer, a nutritional therapist, Yoga teacher, Boxing and Aqua instructor, too?   I feel tired just writing those things down!

So how does someone manage to fit it all in and maintain that mum/life balance, which we all so desperately crave?  I joined Tricia for a chat and this is her story…

Tricia, why do you love what you do?
As a nutritional therapist and personal trainer my job is to help other people reach their goals and live fit, healthier and happier lives. I love supporting them on their journey.  But it wasn’t that long ago that I was having my own health crisis.

That’s surprising – I didn’t expect to hear that! What happened?
Back in December 2012 I was very overweight, stressed out and running my body on adrenaline. My husband and I were running 2 businesses that operated very long opening hours, 7 days a week. We were working almost 100 hours a week and had 3 small children under the age of 7.

I was very overweight, had adrenal fatigue, high cortisol levels and insulin resistance. I was only sleeping 3-4 hours a night and hadn’t had a holiday in 7 years. I realised that if I didn’t take care of myself then, I wasn’t able to take care of my family – and that was very scary, as they all needed me so much.

So what did you do about it?
With an enormous amount of support from my husband and family I set about making small changes.  I joined a gym and started making changes to my food to include the vital nutrients I needed to get through my day and my high energy workouts.

With help from a Naturopath (someone who uses natural medicines to help the body get back into balance) I created a new eating plan and worked to get my body functioning more efficiently.

I addressed the 5 key areas that needed to change: my diet, my exercise,  my water intake, a reduction in my stress levels (this was a gradual process) and I increased my sleep to at least 7-8 hours a night.

And how did you feel?
In just over 9 months, I had lost almost 5 stone!

I had more energy than ever before, I was running around playing with my kids and I wasn’t tired and sluggish.

It was all done in small steps, but the results were life-changing. The picture on the left was taken in December 2012 – and the one on the right was me 9 months later.

 


That’s amazing! And is that what sparked your interest in helping others?
Exactly! I’ve walked-the-walk, I’ve made the changes and I’ve put the hard work in – and I know how great it can feel once you start seeing results.  I realised I wanted to help other people achieve their goals too – and that’s where my Integrated Health and Fitness business started from.

So how do you juggle running your own business and motherhood?
Like many other mums out there, I find there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Most people try to do too much, and end up doing a little here and a little there, and never actually completing anything – which only re-enforces the feeling of overwhelm and failure.

So I prioritise what is important and write my to-do lists. I focus on completing just 3 things on the list each day, to feel like I am accomplishing my tasks and marking things off my list.

And when you’re not being mum or helping other people, how do you make time for you?
Great question!  I think as mothers we always prioritise the needs of our families first and often neglect our own needs. But how can we take the best care of them, if we are tired, rundown and  sleep deprived?

I look at recharging my battery depending on how my week has been.

If I have taught a lot of classes and my body is feeling sore, I love to have a nice long soak in the bath – I often use my Epsom salts (for sports recovery or Magnesium salts). This is great, especially in the winter, and aids the aching muscles in recovering and helps me sleep better.

If I have had a slightly stressful week, I add in some mindfulness, meditation or some more yoga. This helps restore the calm in my mind and body.

And sleep is soo crucial. I am fortunate that my husband will allow me a lie in on Sundays as it’s the only day I don’t work, so I get to sleep longer whilst he and the kids make breakfast together. (Don’t worry I repay him by giving him his catch up sleep in the afternoon whilst I take the kids to the park or play in the garden).

I always remind my clients to try to have  one early night a week or have Nana-naps during the day or weekend to catch up on their sleep.

Looking after yourself is vital – it’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation.

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If you’re interested in finding out more about Tricia and the work she does, you can check her out on Facebook or Instagram or visit her website.

 

Are you ready for a Digital Detox?

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Like most of us mamas, I’m never very far away from my phone.  Whether I’m taking pictures of the kids, having a quick peek at my news-feed (ok, ok – I’m reading about the latest episode of Love Island – not even sorry) or checking out what the weather will be like tomorrow – it’s always within reaching distance.

On Sunday 25th June 2017, it is National Unplugging Day – a day when we are all encouraged to go gadget-free, from sun-up til sun-down.  I’ll admit, the thought of that is alien but oddly refreshing. My husband, on the other hand, came out in a cold sweat when I told him about this, and looked like I’d suggested he cut his arm off. Which quite frankly, he would probably find preferable (as long as he still had one good hand to scroll).

Why unplug?
In the modern world, being digitally connected has become the norm – it’s expected. We can be ‘on’ 24/7 and we are unintentionally disengaging from each other without even realising it.

We never switch off – our phones are often the first thing we pick up in the morning and the last thing we look at before bed. We’re so focused on keeping up with what’s going on online, that we run the risk of missing out on what happening right in front of us.

A digital disconnect
There is an extremely powerful set of images entitled ‘Removed‘ taken by photographer Eric Pickersgill. He physically removed phones and tablets out of ordinary pictures, to show to we’ve become digitally disconnected from the people around us. And the results are pretty poignant. You can take a look at the full project here.

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Image credit: Eric Pickersgill

Shocking stats
According to statistics from Time to Log Off, UK adults spend an average of 8 hours 41 minutes a day on screens (more time than they are asleep).  Over half of us admit to being ‘completely hooked’ on our smartphones and (sadly), 69% of kids say their parents spend too much time on their phones.

You can check out the full facts on our digital dependence and what it’s doing to us, here.

Baby steps
So this seems as good a time as any to attempt my first digital detox.  But it’s not something that should be a one-off (although National Unplugging Day is a great way to kick-start it).

I recently connected with Mark Ellis, author of Digitox (how to find a healthy balance for your family’s digital diet), on Twitter and he offered me some very valuable advice, in the face of what seems like an overwhelming digital detox challenge. “It takes more than a day to do it. Try ‘no bedroom’ first, then a 7pm curfew – and then a day off.”

Will you join me?
So tomorrow, on National Unplugging Day, I vow to put my phone away from 8am to 6pm. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how I spend the time – and how it makes me feel. And if anyone has any Love Island gossip, you’ll just have to share it amongst yourselves, as I will be officially unplugged 😉

I don’t have time for Mindfulness…I’m a mother!

The reason I started the Me Time for Mama campaign, was because feeling stressed, overwhelmed and experiencing multitasking-overload seemed to be a very real thing for us mums.

At any one time, we’re playing the role of nurse, negotiator, cuddle-giver, PA, bum-wiper, cook, cleaner and general giver-of-all-things. And quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

Mindfulness is something that we’ve been hearing more and more about over the last few years. And I’ll admit, when I first heard about it, I dismissed it as a something for zen-like people, with more time on their hands than me, who wanted to connect to their inner spirit-animal guide, whilst running barefoot through a cornfield. And who’s got time for that?!

But the more I looked into it, I realised it’s actually for people exactly like me – a stressed-out mama trying to juggle it all, who is often left feeling overwhelmed and drained at the end of each day.  And as I researched further, I found out that there was no barefoot-cornfield-running required – bonus!

So what is mindfulness, exactly?
Put very simply, mindfulness is the art of being present. Of being completely immersed in the moment; not letting your mind wander into tomorrow’s to-do list, or worrying about who is going to pick Oscar up from Beavers, because you’ve got to drop Sarah off for swimming lessons.

Tara Brach, psychologist, author and teacher of meditation, says:

“Mindfulness is a pause — the space between stimulus and response: that’s where choice lies.”

And that spoke volumes to me – so often we’re caught up in the craziness of motherhood and we get stressed. And when we get stressed, we become snappy and less tolerant, and that affects the way we react to our kids, our partners or to situations at work.

Quite often we’ll bottle-up all that stress and overwhelm, trying to be a non-shouty crazy person, and then we step on a Lego brick (which is possibly one of the most painful things known to man) and all hell breaks loose. All the frustrations of the last few days come tumbling out, and you release a tirade of pent-up frustration on the whole house. Even the cat.

So being able to be in-the-moment enough to put a pause between the situation (the ‘stimulus’ – my children acting like loonatics) and my reaction (the ‘response’ – shouty-shouty-crazy-lady) started to seem like a pretty attractive option.

But I don’t have time for that!
Easier said than done, I hear you cry! (Because I said that too) – but like anything, mindfulness can become a habit and even more than that, it’s claimed that it can reduce stress, help you become more focused, and improve your relationships.  And I think we could all do with some of that, right?

So what now?
So I a bid to practice what I’m preaching, I’ve download the Headspace app, which lured me in with the promise of helping  me ‘stress less, exercise more and sleep better’.   And the best thing? It only takes 10 minutes a day! Sounds like a winner to me.

I’ll let you know how I get on…