Today’s kids are missing out

As I write this, the sun is shining for the first time in days. There isn’t a cloud in the sky. My two teenage stepsons are in bed. They probably spent most of the night playing video games and watching you tube.

I can’t help but think but the teenage version of myself would be doing on a day like today during the school holiday. First of all, I would be up and awake putting my “playing out” clothes on as my mum always called them. I would likely ring my friends house and I would run to get my bike out of the shed. I would bike down to my friends house quicker than my legs could power me, navigating a very scary Jack Russell in the process. We would play either at hers or mine for hours on end. We listened to the spice girls and played in the ford with other kids. We were young, free and happy with no worries at all.

I am definitely guilty of using the phrase, “back in my day” possibly a bit too much lately but I’m frustrated.

Today’s kids are spending their days lying in bed, or on the sofa wishing they had money. They are constantly scrolling through social media for “likes” and they play games where they can explore new worlds or become someone else for the day.

If they open the curtains and get out of bed, they will find the world is out there.

According to a poll carried out by The Nature conservancy, “most children watch tv, use a computer, and/or play video games every day but only 10% of kids spend time outdoors on a daily basis”.

There are many reasons why we should be encouraging our kids and teens to play outside.

First of all, their health. I’ve found that when the boys stay indoors all day they are not only just lying down and being inactive but they also tend to eat foods that reflect this. They will eat pizza, crisps, chocolate and drink fizzy drinks. They also wake late and go to bed late as they insist they aren’t tired. I’m not surprised, video games and spending time attached to a phone screen stimulates the brain and then add on top all the caffeine in various fizzy drinks and there is no way that they are relaxed and ready for bed. All of this before I even mention that they aren’t exercising. I was the epitome of health as a child. I never worried about my weight. I rode my bike daily, I played tennis on the drive, I danced to pop music and I participated in sports after school because it was promoted by both of my schools. I always slept well and my parents made sure I had plenty of fruit and vegetables in my diet.

Social skills are taking a massive hit when we don’t encourage our children to meet friends away from the smartphone. Remember when you were on holiday and you didn’t know a soul and your parents would tell you to “go and play?” I remember tentatively approaching the pool steps and hoping that the kids in the pool would engage with me and make the first move. By the end of that day, I knew everything about them, exchanged addresses and promised to meet up once we all got back home. I have always been the same. I never struggle talking to new people. Can we all say the same for our children now? Making friends is much easier on a smartphone. You can leave a friend request hanging forever if you wish to. Chances are you may never even see the person you are now friends with on Facebook. Sadly, technology is no substitute for having a real friend. So many of our social skills rely on eye contact and body language. Imagine teaching your toddler rules without using your voice or your body language. They would never learn. Picking up on people’s emotions is how we mature and develop our relationships. Have you ever received a text message and wondered why that person is so annoyed with you only to find out that they aren’t? All because you can’t pick up a tone of voice in a text message. When our kids go out into the real world, their lack of social skills will hinder them in the workplace and in their relationships. Technology is the enemy, not our friend when it comes to our children in this instance.

Addiction to electronics, in my opinion is the root of breakdown in communication in every single relationship we have. I’m just as guilty, sometimes I find myself and my other half sat in silence attached to our phones. When we do this, our children pick up on it. They see this as the norm. A study carried out in the United States found that most 8 to 10 year olds are spending 8 hours with various electronic media. That statistic then goes up to 11 hours for teenagers. Scarily, that is longer than they spend daily at school in the U.K. Our family mealtimes when I was a child was time to talk. We would sit, all four of us and it was always a lovely time,of the day. It was time to touch base and have a little chat.

I am not living in a dream world I promise. Me and my daughter don’t spend hours outside exploring the garden and splashing in puddles. Some days we watch cbeebies for too long and I do housework but I hope that in the future Wren realises there is much more to life than being in these four walls.

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All Mums are equal

First of all I just have to clarify, my sister is a mum to two children and works full time, my best friend of 9 years who is mum to two children also works and I massively salute them. When I speak to my sister she tells me of the struggle to spend time with the kids and her fiance, keep the house clean, see friends and family all whilst staying on top of her pretty demanding job in IT. The only time we catch up during the week is when she calls me on the way to work and we discuss how tired we are, how our washing baskets are never empty and how we very occasionally miss being able to just lie on the sofa with a cuppa watching trashy programmes together. I feel compelled at this point to say that I do miss those days but then when I see our three kids together my heart is full. I love it.

The older generation do not understand why Mums now go to work instead of staying at home and just being Mum. In my Grandparents day, career opportunities simply didn’t exist the way they do now. The men went out to work whilst the women stayed home cleaning, bringing up the children and making sure dinner was on the table by the time their significant other came home. My mum verifies this by telling me how my late Nan used to do exactly this for my Grandfather. The thought horrifies me. Why? Because from the age of seventeen I have worked and can’t imagine that a woman should just have to stay at home every day tidying up after everyone else and throw away any hopes or desires they may harbour. We also want a lot more than our predecessors, we want a nice new car so when we are sat in traffic on our sometimes hourly commute we are comfy and entertained. We want bigger TVs because we spend more time at home, tired from being parents and employees. We want foreign holidays because we need time in the sun and to relax after juggling work and a household. The pressure of being a successful mum and career woman nowadays is crazy. Even our favourite television programmes show Mums juggling nappies and bath time with deadlines and checking emails. Employers don’t always make it easy for mums to go back to work. A lot of my friends with young children have said that if they managed to negotiate shorter hours or less days that they were expected to do the same amount of work in a shorter period. All whilst sat thinking about someone else bringing your child up and what other people think of that fact. I should add here that some mums actually just prefer going to back to work as they feel better about themselves and want to provide for their family too instead of feeling like they have to ask their other half for money all the time. I admire these women just as much.

In my own case, I was excited to be a stay at home Mum. I simply didn’t earn enough in my job to put my daughter into full time childcare and thought that I would follow in my Mum’s footsteps and be a full time Mummy. I wasn’t enjoying my job anymore, eight years doing the same tasks with no hope of progression just wasn’t doing it for me. It’s not been without its challenges though.

In the first few weeks I experienced loneliness that I wasn’t prepared for. The days seemed immensely long. I would say goodbye to my other half and it felt like years passed before he came home. Doing the simple tasks was so tricky as Wren really liked to be held and couldn’t be entertained by a bouncer chair or play mat like so many other babies seemed to be. The washing was piling up, the house getting dustier and my hair was in a permanent mum bun. I missed just being me for a little while, having the chat in the office and deciding what to have for lunch. The workplace banter and a routine. I decided to take charge.

I decided that me and Wren needed a routine and from the minute I decided that, it all changed. We woke up and I had a shower, dried my hair, put make up whilst entertaining Wren in whatever way possible. I started to develop a little housework routine that worked. We went to playgroup every Tuesday morning, even if Wren just slept throughout. It was nice to have a cuppa and talk to the other sleep deprived Mums. Some mornings when my other half left for work I felt jealous. Jealous that he could get a hot drink when he wanted, talk to other adults and be himself and not responsible for bringing up a tiny little human. Then I would be trapped underneath a sleeping baby, thirsty or hungry or both watching inane programmes and I would sit and think how lucky I was. How many mums would just love to be able to watch their little ones deep in sleep or watch them take their first steps? Yes some days I still feel like a skivvy, I’m responsible for bringing a child up and tidy up and clean up after everyone else. I have an hour and a half maximum to myself all day, and in that time I squeeze in a hot drink and some escapism television.

No one is superior in this situation , whether you work or stay at home. Either way you miss out in some way but what we should be doing is supporting women (or men) in whatever decision they decide to make. It’s both challenging and brilliant either way and it’s not going to get easier if you get judged when you make it. I constantly feel the need to explain why I chose to stay at home and honestly it irritates me. As long as our children are thriving, healthy and happy who cares? I don’t and I don’t see why others should.

Not acne but Rosacea

Being 31 and having the skin of a teenager is not fun. It knocked my confidence and quite frankly I was fed up of having to apply foundation and concealer daily. Each morning I would wake up to painful and sore spots or pustules as I now know they are referred to. I simply put it down to my hormones settling down after having Wren but given they weren’t improving and getting more and more painful I decided a trip to the doctors was in order.

Without make up, I ventured to my doctor and luckily I was having a particularly bad skin day. The doctor asked me if this was a recent development or whether I had struggled with this for a while. I told him it was getting progressively worse. Straight away he told me, “this is not acne but rosacea,see how red your skin is between your eyebrows and under your eyes”. I had heard of rosacea but for some reason I had never thought this is what I was being plagued with. Thankfully, the doctor prescribed me some antibiotics and gave me the following advice based on my questions to him.

  • Baby wipes are not particularly good for removing make up
  • Wearing make up is fine
  • You may find certain food and drink will make your skin worse

  • Do not use sudocrem on your skin, it is too drying and will cause more harm than good

I was slightly embarrassed about the sudocrem point because just the night before I had smothered it all over my chin prompting my other half to say I resembled Heath Ledger’s joker!

Typically, when I got home I went straight on the internet to find out more about my new diagnosis. I was stunned to find that women in their thirties with pale skin were extremely likely to suffer with this skin condition. Essentially, it’s a long term skin condition that is poorly understood in medical circles. It is able to be controlled with prescribed lotions or in my case antibiotics but it is something that will always affect you once you develop it. Some people find that if they eat spicy foods or drink too much alcohol they will get a flare up. For others it may be a hot shower or too much exposure to the sun. Many sufferers keep a diary so they can monitor these triggers and try and avoid these in the future. Since my diagnosis I have determined that red alcohol such as red wine or port is a definite trigger for me. Unfortunately I discovered this over Christmas when port was readily on offer in our house and even more frustrating, it’s one of my favourite tipples over Christmas. Symptoms range from flushing of the face right through to pronounced blood vessels under the skin. If not kept under control in whichever way is best for yourself and your symptoms it can physically and emotionally damaging. Especially as when you are in your thirties,people do not expect you to have skin reminiscent of a teenager.

I am currently on my second round of antibiotics and then I will need to come off them, at this point my skin will either continue to look as it does now or will relapse and then it will either be more tablets or some sort of lotion.

Before I come to the end of this entry, I would like to add that the NHS doctor I consulted has been absolutely brilliant. He has been reassuring and thorough. I may moan about the cost of our prescriptions but wow, are we lucky to have free healthcare?! Hopefully I can keep my symptoms at bay and control this horrible skin condition which affects so many with so little research.

Now to lay off the red wine when we have ran out of white!

Holly x

My skin on the day of my visit to the doctor

Things I wish I had bought for myself before Wren was born

Before Wren was born I made an extensive list of everything she needed. Around one third of it she didn’t use or like, (namely the (Snuzpod I was so excited about) but it didn’t occur to me to spend a bit of money whilst I still had it on things that would make my life easier.

  1. A decent hairdryer is a must. Keeping a baby or toddler occupied whilst you are trying to dry your hair at lightning speed, not to mention straightening it is a mammoth task. My other half bought me a fantastic Lee Stafford 2200 watt dryer for Christmas and I wish I had it back at the start when I used to turn up to playgroup with my hair just about dry tied up into a mum bun!
  2. This sort of leads me on to make up. I always loved make up in my teens but couldn’t apply it for the life of me. I wouldn’t consider myself anywhere near an expert now but I like to think I can turn myself from shattered to satisfactory easily enough. However, buy a decent foundation! You don’t have to spend a lot even. I have two favourites, W7 it’s a matte or a lovely Eve Lom compact I bought from TK maxx which is the best I have ever used. It just means that even if you only have time to put some foundation on and some mascara, at least it will boost your confidence and make you feel human, or halfway maybe.
  3. A tv for my bedroom is now something I’m dreaming of. Sometimes, during the evening after looking after Wren during the day I feel like I just need an hour or so to myself. Sometimes I just message friends and family in a feeble attempt to try and keep in touch with everyone or I will immerse myself in trash such as Towie, Real Housewives of Cheshire or Geordie Shore, (the old ones, back when it was watchable) or I will continue a boxset. Having a tv would be a massive improvement on leaning my iPad up on the bed and not being able to charge at the same time as the blooming cable is so short! It might seem like a bit of a weird one but after a long day being Mummy it’s nice to lie in bed, candles lit watching what you want.
  4. A decent camera or a phone with a decent camera is a must have in my eyes. I have taken so many pictures of Wren on my phone which luckily has a decent camera,(thanks Huawei) but I would love to own a semi professional camera and then archive my photos in nice albums liked my Grandparents and Parents did.
  5. Lastly, this isn’t a luxury but I absolutely love scented candles and I particular Yankee candles. When I was working full time I would treat myself all the time to these and burn them for fun. Now I have at most 2 tarts and honestly, I miss just lighting my burner and waiting for my favourite smells to fill the room.

When we become Mums we give up so much, yes we gain a whole load too but I think if you surround yourself with a few of the things you like and that will make life easier, why not?!

Go on, treat yourself whilst you can.

X

My very first post

Where to begin? I’m an ordinary Mum. I don’t have infinite wisdom, loads of crazy life experiences and I certainly do not consider myself to be an expert.

I am a stay at home Mum to my little daughter who at the time I sit and type this, (whilst watching The trip to Spain) is 8 months old and has quickly become a crawling menace who I couldn’t love more even if I tried.

I would have gone back to work but I fancied a career change, (does being a Mum count)? Plus, childcare for 5 days a week in these parts is approx 250 pounds upwards. Not worth it when the job you are going back to is a retail based customer service role.

My other half also works in retail, and has two older boys. We have two indoor cats who before my actual child was born, were my little babies and honestly, they still are!

Anyway, to summarise all I will ever share on here is my musings, any helpful tips I can think of and sometimes it will just be little old me having a rant!