Running for me.

I’ve recently started running. I know, I never thought I’d say that either. In fact just 8 weeks ago I would’ve said that my body just wasn’t MADE for running…

I downloaded the Couch to 5K app (which is FREE and I cannot recommend enough!) and have been following the programme and building up my stamina by doing three runs each week.

And I absolutely love it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done something just for me and I’ve never managed to stick at any exercise for very long. I’ve tried swimming, Pilates, Zumba, a Legs Bums and Tums class and joining a gym but I lost interest quickly.

So what’s changed? I have completely flipped my mindset. I used to exercise to ‘work off’ that cake I had and to not feel guilty for ‘treats’. Turns out it’s pretty difficult to stick at something when it feels like a punishment. I was exercising out of pure vanity and fear of putting on any weight.

There are a few things that triggered this ‘epiphany’. Firstly, I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person, you know the sort, worries about worrying, but it was starting to get a bit out of hand. I had initially put it down to driving anxiety as I only passed my test last year and the whole thing had been a bit traumatic so it just made sense. But as time went on I became more confident with driving and can now happily just jump in the car without much thought yet the anxiety wasn’t really easing up. It was creeping up into worrying and feeling overwhelmed by silly, trivial things and sometimes just a general knotted feeling that I couldn’t actually pinpoint to anything. I realised that it was getting out of hand and it was time to try and take back control. I thought that running could be a good start to see if those lovely endorphins actually make any difference.

Spoiler: yes they do.*

*(TO ME. I am in no way undermining serious mental health issues by saying you could fix your brain by going on a jog. I know I have no idea how hard it is for some people just to function everyday. This is just my experience.)

I LOVE the feeling of getting out for a run and pushing my body. I’ve gone from running at one minute intervals to 20 solid minutes in 6 weeks and I’m so happy with my progress. As a stay at home mum there aren’t many opportunities to feel like I’m achieving something. Turns out they don’t dish out medals for getting to the bottom of the laundry basket. I love being here with my children and it completely works for our family but it’s nice to have something now that is just mine.

The other thing that’s triggered this change is I’ve started listening to the ‘You, Me & The Big C’ podcast, which I highly recommend. It’s three people, two who have cancer and one who lost his wife to cancer, who discuss different topics. It’s often very funny but, of course, also really hard hitting at times and I know this might sound a bit OTT but it really hits home just how lucky I am to be healthy. I CAN get out and run, so I will. And it isn’t a punishment, it is a huge blessing and a privilege. I’m completely hooked now and will run for as long as my legs will carry me.

I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I stay so motivated so there you go. In a nutshell; I run for my mind and so that I’m as strong and healthy as I can be for my family. Any physical benefits are just a bonus really. And for once, I genuinely believe that.

My husband did a 10K in September and the atmosphere was just electric, I just cried all morning listening to everyone cheering each other on, so that’s what I’m working towards. HOPEFULLY it’s something I can achieve by Spring next year. I also just really want a medal to be honest.

I hope you find this helpful or maybe interesting. I’ve had SO MANY really lovely messages since I starting talking about running, thank you so much for all of them, with a few people downloading the app to try it for themselves which is amazing! I’m happy to answer any questions if you want to know more.

Thanks for reading. X

[Images from Pinterest.]

The woes of school mum.

So, I logged onto my poor, forgotten blog again to finally write about something completely different but then found this sitting in my drafts. I don’t know why I never finished it, or if I even wrote it with the intention of publishing. My daughter’s first year of school has been quite something. If I’m honest, it was absolutely awful when she first started. I have never cried so much in my life. My poor girl was really struggling and it was heartbreaking to watch. BUT as the months went on, everything started to fall into place. Nothing happened overnight but little by little I could see my happy child coming back and then transforming into this confident ray of sunshine. We’ve finished Reception now and I was so upset to see it end! We have both made the loveliest of friends and it’s a real joy seeing her with her classmates (and drinking Prosecco with their mums. Such joy!)

That said, I thought I’d still publish my original post because actually it all still stands. I have definitely found my feet as a ‘school mum’ now (or just got used to the chaos perhaps?) but I read this back and was instantly transported back to when I felt like I was drowning in responsibility.

I know September is creeping up again and if you find it all a bit crazy and overwhelming I thought it might be nice to know you’re not alone.

Now I’ll hand it over to October 2018 me…

NEWSFLASH! It turns out that starting school is not just a big adjustment for the child, but the whole family. We’re just dragging ourselves coming up to the first half term and we’re still finding our feet.

I won’t lie, I thought I’d be much better at this. I’m pretty organised. Our daughter attended the preschool attached to her school so we’re used to getting there and back everyday and know a lot of the other children and parents already. So, why is it so difficult?

The admin. Woah. Barely a day goes by without a letter coming home. Which is good in the sense that we’re lucky that she has such an active school but it’s just so hard to keep on top of! I have hardly any room left on my calendar… or in my brain.

I’m constantly fretting about filling in forms and handing them back in and ordering school dinners and washing the uniform and doing her reading book and then filling in the log and when is non uniform day again? Someone told me it gets even harder around Christmas!*

Also, why is it that no matter when you wake up, the mornings are CHAOS. Even if we’re all clean and dressed early something always seems to happen so that we’re scrambling for shoes and coats before dashing out the door. Every day!

I keep telling myself that I’ll get better at all this juggling in time and that when my son eventually starts school too I’ll be an absolute school admin pro… watch this space I guess!

Thanks for reading. X

*I can now confirm that it IS bedlam around Christmas, but it’s also fantastic. The nativity was one of my favourite parenting moments ever. Get a parent WhatsApp or Facebook group to remind each other about events and things. Safety in numbers!

Flight entertainment.

I know. I KNOW. I sort of forgot I had this too. I completely lost my confidence with the blog, everything I wrote I just left sitting in my drafts until I just felt like I had nothing to say. I’ll try to do a whole dedicated post about that (maybe then I won’t leave it another 6 months before I press publish again…) but for now, I thought I’d ease myself back in with a light, easy post.

We are on holiday countdown! My sister in law is getting married in Croatia next month and we are all so excited. I mean, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit apprehensive about travelling with a nearly-5 and 2 year old BUT I know it’ll be worth it.

I always find posts and videos like this really helpful so this is what I’m packing in the kid’s hand luggage to survive the flight to entertain them.

Snacks

  • Travel wipes.
  • Lots of ‘not too messy’ snacks.
  • Empty bottles that will be filled with water when we’re through security.
  • Will add lollipops for when we descend.

Comfort

  • One of Big Knight’s favourite small teddies.
  • A dummy for Little Knight.
  • I bought these travel blankets from Matalan and I’m so impressed with them! They are really snuggly, a good size for children but squash up quite small and come in their own little carry bag.

Tech

  • Portable DVD player. We never go away without it, also useful for when we go out to eat when we’re away and you can’t rely on WiFi.
  • We will also download games and episodes of their favourite shows onto our phones because OBVIOUSLY THEY CAN’T BE EXPECTED TO ACTUALLY SHARE.

Entertainment

Almost-5 year old

  • I bought these Carddies from Amazon, they had loads of different kinds, I thought these would keep her busy for ages as she has to colour in the characters and the ballet studio and then she can play with them. A lovely idea from a lovely little company!
  • You just cannot go wrong with Usborne sticker books. She’ll have the big one on the plane, and it really is huge, and the smaller one for the wedding or flight home.
  • Notebook to practise writing. She’s obviously at school now so really into doing her letters and drawing us pictures.
  • Will also pack a couple of small reading books that I will ask her to choose. These will also double up as her bedtime stories when we’re away.

2 year old

  • They will probably both really enjoy the card game. The eldest will be able to play snap or matching pairs and then the youngest will just enjoy the Peppa characters.
  • Another Usborne sticker book but much simpler. I’m not sure if he’s a little young still for this but I’m hoping at the very least it’ll stop him stealing his sister’s stickers and he does like to copy her.
  • Small Peppa books. He likes pointing out all of the characters and putting them in and out the box, very VERY occasionally he does actually let us read them too!
  • A noisy book. I know this might seem annoying on a plane but I thought they are really noisy anyway so you’ll hardly hear a little book. Plus, surely the sound of a small train on repeat is better than a whinging toddler?! I know what I’d choose.

Please let me know if you have any other ideas or if you think I’m forgetting something. If all else fails, I will be singing wheels on the bus for three whole hours so that will be lovely for everyone. Cocktail on arrival?

Thanks for reading. X

The Christmas Pressure.

As soon as November hits we are BOMBARDED with things that we simply have to buy/do/make/book etc etc to make Christmas absolutely spectacular.

Is it just me, or does it seem to get bigger every year? We’ve always had the nativity costume and the presents under the tree and the carrot for Rudolph but nowadays it feels like we have to do all of this PLUS elf on the shelf, a Christmas Eve box, personalised pyjamas, glitter adorned hot chocolates, a festive photo shoot and a partridge in a pear tree.

I hope you’re not thinking that I’m just a complete Grinch, honestly I could not love Christmas more. I ADORE this time of year. A hint of jingle bells and I get the excited jitters. If you want to do all of that stuff and more then you get the tinsel out and go for it. My point is, I think it’s so easy to feel pressured into doing so much that we run ourselves into the ground and then don’t find time to actually soak it all in.

Last year I ran myself ragged trying to make everything ‘perfect’ for everyone. This time I’m consciously making the effort to just enjoy it. I’ve really stripped back on the Christmas shopping and started it much earlier so that I’m nearly all done now. I don’t want to be pushed around in the busy shops anymore, it just makes me feel frazzled when I can’t park and I always regret not sorting things out sooner.

You should have seen the amount of presents our daughter had for her first Christmas. It was HUGE. It took 2 days to open it all and I had to do most of it as she wasn’t bothered. I honestly feel so embarrassed whenever I think about it. We promised we’d never do that again and we haven’t even come close. I would much rather spend our money on festive days out or things to enjoy together. My children obviously still get a bit spoilt at Christmas, but it’s a fraction of the monstrosity of 2014.

We’re lucky enough to get cooked for at Christmas so I only need to think about a starter. Christmas Eve will involve making a huge batch of spicy parsnip soup with my daughter, watching Elf with a tub of celebrations and leaving a glass of milk and carrot out for Santa and Rudolph. And honestly that’s it. My children are almost-2 and 4 so we don’t need anything else to make it magical.

I never take a photo of my children’s presents. I know a lot of parents do, and there will be countless numbers of these photos on Christmas Eve I’m sure, but it’s just not for me. I would hate for anyone to to see it and compare.

I don’t talk about money very often. It’s so subjective and it just makes me feel uncomfortable but there really is no escaping from how expensive this time of year is for everyone. SO! Here is a list of my absolute favourite things about this season that cost little or nothing:

  • The church carol service.
  • The school nativity.
  • Writing Christmas cards.
  • Decorating the tree.
  • Swapping my autumn candles for festive ones.
  • The school fayre.
  • Mulled wine.
  • Writing a letter to Santa.
  • Driving around to see the Christmas lights.
  • making it look like Santa has been on Christmas Eve.
  • Wrapping presents with a glass of Prosecco and Shakin’ Stevens.
  • When my husband breaks up from work and we have a solid week of family time ahead.
  • I said mulled wine, right?

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This Christmas, just do what you want to do. If you love Elf on the shelf, go for it. If you hate him, that’s cool too. (I’m in the latter camp!) It really doesn’t matter if Laura from across the street has better lights than Blackpool. Only you have your family and that’s all that you’ll really remember in years to come anyway!

Now, don the sequins, cry at the nativity and record all of the festive movies. It really, really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!

Knight Mummy x

Struggling to settle.

I don’t even really know how to start this; it’s been that long since I’ve written (well, uploaded, my drafts folder is pretty full…). My last post was about getting my daughter ready for starting school in September and I intended to follow it up with an update a few weeks later when we were all settled in.

Only it didn’t really go like that. We anticipated that it would take her some time to find her feet and that there would be some tears, but nothing could’ve prepared us for how tough those initial weeks were.

Our poor, poor girl was a big ball of anxiety. She would pace the room, she was crying and worrying all the time, even at the weekend, she was waking up upset throughout the night and yet when she was at school she was mostly fine, but at home it was awful. Having to take her there and leave her sobbing everyday was absolutely heartbreaking.

If any of this sounds at all familiar to you, or if your child starts school next year and you’re worried then please don’t despair! It took a long time but by week 7 we were making improvements and as we got up to half term she was no longer crying at drop off and honestly, it felt like we had our little girl back.

I tried to do a few things at home to help her. I made a ‘worry box’ (loads of ideas on Pinterest) for when she was feeling anxious which contained some books about feeling worried, pens and paper, a windmill to encourage deep breaths and some slimy putty to keep her hands busy. I’m not sure how much it worked to be honest but I felt like I had to do something proactive to at least try and comfort her.

I spoke with her very lovely teachers but obviously there wasn’t anything that they could do for her at home and she was settling quicker and quicker each day for them. It was always such a relief when they’d say she’d been happy at school after I’d been worrying about her all day. It was the anxiety about leaving me and the length of the day that was troubling her.

We tried that sweet idea that was going around on Facebook of drawing little hearts on our hands but then she was worried about washing her hands and it coming off so that didn’t really work.

Here are a few things that actually made a difference to us:

  • Lots of consistency. Every weekday morning was basically the same so that she could adjust to our new routine. I got a wall planner for her room where she could tick off the days so that she could see when she was at school and how long until the weekend. She was becoming obsessed with counting the days and this really helped to stop that, once she could visualise her week she became much calmer.
  • Positive words. I NEVER tell her I miss her when she’s at school. I really, really do, but she’s 4 and does not need to be worrying about my emotions as well as hers. Even at the start when I was fighting back the tears I would have big smiles and just talk about how exciting it was and how I couldn’t wait to pick her up and hear about the lovely things she’d done. I would then often cry all the way home after dropping her off but that’s fine, she had no idea.
  • I get her to make her own decisions as much as possible, even very trivial things, so that she still feels like she has some control over her life. It wasn’t long ago that it was the summer holidays and she just played all day then all of a sudden she’s going off to school for 6 hours. Every morning she chooses her breakfast, how she’s having her hair and which clips she wants, she picks her own pants etc etc. There is so much that she has to do now so it’s important that she can dictate as much as possible.
  • Chat to other parents at the school gate. The chances are, they are having some struggles with it all too and you’re definitely not alone. It’s a big adjustment even for the most confident of children. I know you hear a lot about the ‘cliques’ at school but I’ve honestly never witnessed anything but true solidarity and have met some really, really lovely women. So don’t try and soldier on alone!
  • The most frustrating one, TIME. It seemed to take her so much longer than a lot of her classmates and I can’t lie, it was so difficult reading about how well everyone else’s children were doing and how everyone just loved school (not that I would wish this struggle on ANYONE, it was just hard to not compare). There were many times when it all felt too much and I wondered if we’d ever get there. But we did. And it feels absolutely glorious. Seeing our girl skipping off with her friends every morning is such a joy and I feel so grateful.

I was worried about her going back to school after half term in case it set us back a bit but she’s settled straight back in and is always happy to go. I mean, she’s exhausted by Friday but she always says that’s she’s had a good day and Parents Evening has confirmed that!

I don’t think I can put into words how difficult and upsetting those initial weeks were, for the whole family, but we’re so proud of how well she’s coped and can’t wait to see how she evolves over the next year.

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x

The next chapter.

I’ve been putting off writing this for ages (maybe in the hope that it won’t be so imminent?!) but we’re over half way through the summer holidays now and it’s time to accept that my big girl is going off to school. *sob*

I’m feeling every emotion imaginable about it; excited for all of the fun she will have, nervous about undergoing such a big change, scared that she’ll hate it, proud of how ready she is and in complete denial that we’re even at this stage in life already. I mean, I don’t feel grown up enough to have a child in school!

I know a lot of parents who are also in this position so I thought that I’d share how we are getting prepared for the big transition to Reception. I would love to hear if you are doing anything that I haven’t thought about, whether you’re doing it now or your children are older and you’ve done it all before.

  • I’m encouraging her growing independence as much as possible. We’ve been practising things like coat zips and drying her hands properly and other practical things so that she won’t rely on the already busy teachers quite so much and I want her to feel confident that she can do things herself. She’s having Velcro shoes instead of buckles as it’s just one less thing to faff with.
  • We have some lovely books about starting school. There are so many to choose from, just do a quick Amazon search. We find that books are the best way to introduce her to new things and they worked really well with potty training and becoming a big sister. It gives her chance to go over the stories again and again and they often lead to her asking some great questions.
  • We play ‘school’ with her toys. Which, I must add, she LOVES and often initiates. Obviously if your child is nervous about starting school then you won’t want to upset them by banging on about it constantly but you know them best.
  • I ALWAYS talk about school in a lovely, positive light… even if I’m not talking directly to her. They really pick up on everything, don’t they? In all honesty, I’m feeling really anxious about it all but I would never insinuate that when she’s around. They are MY issues that she doesn’t need to be burdened with. When people bring it up I just say how excited we both are.
  • We have zero weekend plans once she starts. I’m anticipating that she will be completely exhausted and her weekends will need to be about relaxing and recharging for another week.
  • Obviously we’ve sorted all of the practical things too. Her uniform is all ready (just picked bits up as and when I saw them on offer, always a sale somewhere!) and I’m going to put her name in every single thing she owns. We’ve always used name stickers which you can personalise so we sat and designed them together. She was so excited when they arrived in the post and it’s just something else to make it all feel fun.

I am confident that she will thrive and have the best time. She is ready. Since she started preschool last year, the difference in her has been phenomenal and I cannot wait to see her continue to transform in Reception.

… obviously we all know that I’ll still have a big, fat cry after dropping her off. I just cannot help it!

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x

We own a FOUR year old.

Don’t you think four sounds so much older than three?! It’s like she was a toddler and then LITERALLY OVERNIGHT she has become this proper child who you can chat to (and argue with…) and has her own opinions and ideas. It honestly blows my mind and at least once a day I think ‘HOW are you so grown up?’.

Anyway, she ended up having a whole birthday weekend. We were on holiday in Devon last week so we celebrated a day early and went to the beach which is honestly her happy place. If we could pick up our whole family and bring them with us then we would love to move to the sea.

We all went out for a late lunch at a cafe on a boat and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun eating chips and ice cream. Perfection.

Her big present was her first bike and she was so happy with it. Hopefully she’ll have a lot of opportunities to get out on it with Daddy over the Summer and practise. She also had Trolls and LOL dolls which is just a four year olds dream.

This kid LOVES a party so she had her first proper birthday party on the Sunday where she invited who she wanted, helped choose the decorations, chose her own outfit and selected all of the music. We had face glitter and temporary tattoos, there was a table where the children decorated a flower pot and then planted a seed in compost and then we had Grace’s favourite songs (an album I entitled ‘The Gracest Hits’… thank you very much.) playing with some disco lights. Oh and a mandatory pass the parcel. It’s a classic for a reason.

I won’t lie, it was a lot of work. I always make a massive deal of the kid’s birthdays so it was never going to be a few balloons and a cake… I just can’t help myself! She loved it though so it was more than worth all of the late nights and long eBay searches. (I’ve done a few ‘DIY’ parties now so if you’d be interested in a Top Tips kind of post then just let me know.)

It was so special to see her playing and laughing with friends that she’s made herself. It definitely made me feel more confident about her starting school in September, which is a whole other blog post in itself.

It’s been a lovely (and exhausting!) few days. My girl has been completely spoilt and I’m completely touched by how much love she has around her. We’re now heading towards the end of preschool and she’s definitely ready for a rest!

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x