It takes a village to raise a child, says the old African proverb. From the first days of becoming a parent, professionals insist that you use the support structures around you; generally, family and close friends, as it can be a tough adjustment, especially while coping with sleep deprivation. What if your support structure isn‘t around if you don‘t live near family or don‘t have friends who understand what it’s like? This has become increasingly common in modern Ireland, as people move away from family for work or college, friends have emigrated or moved on for work or relationships, and you are left home alone with your newborn, wondering where that village has disappeared to.
I’m really happy with how this series has been going; the ability to share the stories of others who have experience with mental illness and mental health issues to a broad platform. I’m learning a lot along the way, and I guess that’s the point – for all I can say I think I know about mental health, there are a million stories out there containing things I’d never even imagine. Unlike the image thrown out there in the media, mental health is about more than anxiety and depression, it’s about more than going and getting a full nights sleep, eating right and exercising. The amazing Fiona, who writes at Sunny SpellsÂ and Scattered Showers, wrote a fantastic piece this week about her views on how mental illness is represented in the Irish media, which appeared in the Irish Times. Fiona writes on her blog about her experiences with BPD – borderline personality disorder – and the different therapies which she has encountered, the struggles and the triumphs and how it affects her and her family. I was thrilled when she agreed a few weeks back to join this series as I feel her experience is definitely one which we don’t get to hear much about and is so important to add to our understanding.
Since starting off my Slimming World Journey, I’ve been experimenting with more cooking in the kitchen – getting rid of the processed food and learning to cook from scratch. This is easier said than done with a very active toddler, so I have found some old favourites rejigged to be a happy compromise. Diet Coke Chicken was a favourite dish of mine during my Weight Watchers Days, and now that I’m under a less restrictive diet and feeling more confident, I’ve been making some changes. The result is a delicious dinner which all the family loves (okay, the toddler eats two spoons and then walks away, but he does that with everything).
We recently elected a new government, not that you could tell it in looking at our currently defunct parliament. In the 36 days since our votes were counted and those who were chosen by the people were officially elected, we have sat around watching them squabble like children, unable to pick their teams in a way that made anyone happy. They’ve racked up a whopping 1.75 million (and growing) wages bill – and that’s just the TDs – for their playground politics. Keep that figure in mind when you see the next one I give you – a proposed cut of 12 million from the 35 million budget ring fenced for mental health services. In our already fractured mental health system, the government is prioritising other things and taking funds away from helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I’m angry.
I’ve been down this road before, I know. This is not my first rodeo with battling with my weight. I’ve documented on this blog my previous foray into Weight Watchers after the birth of E, but after a few months where I had lost weight, I was bored, I fell off the wagon, I vowed to never eat slimbo breads again. In the mean time, medication changes and increased pain causing less ability to exercise. With my back injury, I’m not really able to do much workout things at the moment – and classes like Zumba are a long way down the road. To be fair, the chocolate biscuit addiction was of my own accord, as was the disaster that was mixing the child’s birthday (multiple cakes) and Easter weekend. Weight piled back on. However, I had an epiphany in the last two weeks where I decided that this was it, I was setting myself a goal of not being this way by the time I turn 25 in September. So off I headed to my local Slimming World, and here’s how I got on.
So, here we are again, mid-week, trying to get to the weekend in one piece. That is until we remember that we’re parents now, so the weekend really isn’t a chance to relax, more to manage the chaos around us in a slightly more relaxed setting. In order to get over the midweek hump, I’m putting together a look at what I’ve been loving lately to boost some positivity around here. I’ve used the format of My Little Loves from CoffeeWorkSleepRepeat a few times and it’s worked quite well, so time to join in that bandwagon again and add to the fun!
By now, you’ll have heard that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States of America. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, lucky you), you’ll have observed that his campaign has been brash, offensive, and discriminatory in just about every way possible – racism, sexism, and a whole pack of incitement to hatred thrown in for good measure. Recently, he made a statement which caught my eye more than the others – and given the dramatics he’s come out with, that is really saying something. Upon being interviewed in Wisconsin lately, he statedÂ that women who seek abortion should be subject to â€œsome form of punishment.â€ Media uproar ensued. Women’s rights activists lamented and shouted. Here in Ireland, we looked on at the potential new leader of a world superpower condemning his country to our current state: where women’s choice in their reproductive rights is limited and intrinsically linked with the opinions of people whose lives it will never affect.
This month, on the 24th of April, every household in Ireland will be filling out the census form. They’ll document every little detail about every person in the house that night – details of education, employment, religion, earnings, practically everything except for what they have for breakfast. This happens once every five years and gives the government information which they can then use to develop policies and allocate funds for development of things like schools, community amenities and various other schemes to improve society. It gives the state an honest picture of what it’s citizens look like. That is why I am finding it important to ensure my census form has the “No Religion” box ticked.
I’ve never been very good at this hair and beauty thing, it’s not something which came naturally to me as a teenager, or through my college years. After having my son, I felt it became more important to appear to the outside world that I had it all together, and so I started to focus on my appearance more. As any mother knows, a baby/toddler can wreak havoc on the amount of solo time you’ve got – going to the bathroom alone is considered a luxury so spending an hour on hair and beautyÂ isn’t exactly an option. However, I’ve discovered a few products in the last while which have been game changers – quick, easy and effective – what more could you want?
I officially have a two year old. I’m in a little bit of shock how quickly it’s come around – he’s no longer my teeny tiny baby, dependent on me for absolutely everything. Still a short arse, just one with a big personality and an independent mind. It doesn’t feel like a whole two years have passed since the day he was born.
Last month I got an email which excited me greatly – I was being asked to be part of Irish Country Magazine’s Women of Ireland 2016 series, in a piece about motherhood and parenting in modern Ireland. Never mind that, there was mention of hair and makeup and getting dolled up for a glam photoshoot – I was sold! It’s now hit the shelves and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
The child will be two on Thursday, full on toddler mode, though on any given day he’s going on 15. He’s become a lot more vocal in the last few weeks, definitely a lot more assertive about what he does and doesn’t want, and knows how to communicate these needs to you. Loudly. Repeatedly. Alongside a chorus of “Mam. Mam. Mam”. Family have been asking for ideas for birthday gifts for him, to which I’ve really been drawing a blank (what do you give the toddler who has a tonne of toys he likely forgets he owns?), but then I started thinking about all the things he’s made sure I know he wants over the last week…
I, like the rest of the Nation, was heartbroken to find out that the series of Room to Improve ended last Sunday night after just four new builds. I’d grown used to watching unsuspecting couples see their homes turn from ordinary, unsuitable for their needs houses to complete money pits with problems up to their ears, and then into magnificent mansions with ALL of the light. He loves a good window, does Dermot Bannon.
The show has gotten me inspired though, as to what kind of things I’d like to have in my dream house. Much as I love our apartment, as modern and insulated as it is, the dream is to have a house with more than two bedrooms, with space to fit everything we own into that doesn’t look like a mess of clutter. Not much to ask for, right? I may have resorted to Pinterest of late, inspired by the huge amounts of light, beautiful mezzanines and kitchens to die for (maybe not the concrete wall though. That’s a step too far). Here’s what I’ve had in mind. (This may have taken up a lot of hours of dreaming about the house that could be. Oh yes, that’s why it’s not exactly gone up on Friday…)
Women, they’re incredible, aren’t they? We live in an age where we strive for equality on every level, and work hard to make sure that any glass ceilings are shattered. Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration worldwide which has been ongoing for more than 100 years making the most of the powerful souls which make up half of the worlds population.
It’s easy to look and find incredible role models – there are some obvious choices in the worlds of sport, politics, celebrity, something for everyone. Women who are looked up to for using their talents and savvy to make a difference, to change the world around us. They’re not always the most obvious ones either – some are bold and out there with showing the world their “I am woman, hear me roar” stance, while others are quietly working in the background, letting the work say it all for them.
What’s that they say about making plans and the gods laughing at you? I’ve definitely had a few tastes of that over the last few years, and this last week was no exception. See, my blog turned 2 last week and I had been thinking of different things I could do to mark the birthday. Then my toddler decided otherwise, and mid tantrum knocked over a glass of water, onto the table where my MacBook Air, my first baby, was sitting.
You’re likely not coming to my door, given the big gate and the secure apartment block, but sure, I’d like you to know my needs anyway. It seems everyone else is getting a fair whack at letting you know exactly what is on their minds. An election has been called and in less than three weeks, we’ll be standing in primary schools and community centres around the country, scribbling our votes in tiny booths and choosing the fate of our country for up to the next five years. I say up to, because I’m not sure how long it will last given the current composition of what is ahead. So, here we go.
They say that to become a better writer, you need to read constantly. Right now, much of my reading is online, as I’ve less time for actual book-reading. The things I search out are generally to do with my own circumstances, so parenting blogs feature heavily. As I love a good list post, here goes – five parenting bloggers that I think you should watch out for. These are bloggers who I follow religiously, whose posts make me laugh and cry and have all of the feels, and who have definitely paved my way in parenting and blogging about it in learning from their experiences. If you’ve not checked them out already, you’re definitely missing out and you have a lot of reading to do.
It’s getting ever closer to the tiny man’s second birthday. The fact that I’ve an almost two year old is stranger to nobody than me. He’s a proper little person now; independent and wild (just a few steps back from feral, we’re doing okay). I’ve been looking back at the earlier update posts which documented my very tiny baby getting very slowly bigger, and it’s like it’s a different child – the time has absolutely flown. I didn’t believe it at the time, but the saying “The days are long but the years are short” is definitely a quote to live by for the infant years. That, and “This too shall pass”. At 22 months, we’re hitting head on into toddler-dom, tantrum first, but it does have a lot of rewarding moments too.
When I was pregnant, I saw a lot of my doctors thanks to my blood pressure and I not getting along. In the later stages of my pregnancy, the words “pre-eclampsia” were bandied about a bit. It was discussed at length as to whether or not specific results that day indicated if I did or didn’t have it, or if it seemed likely I would. Nobody sounded very happy about the possibility so I for sure knew it wasn’t a good thing. However, there was little enough information being sent my way about it which led me to googling what it could possibly mean.
For a pregnant lady whose blood pressure was already high, googling may not have been the best idea. There’s a lot of information out there online. In particular, information in well meaning forums where pregnant women and mothers discuss different symptoms and features of pregnancy, birth and beyond. A lot of this can be misleading, or more frightening than it should be.
So, for the sake of my past self who was terrified of what this diagnosis could mean for me and my baby (thank you Downton Abbey), here is a No Nonsense Intro to Pre-Eclampsia – hopefully if you’re reading this due to a similar Google search, it will allay some of your fears. While it is a very serious condition which can be very dangerous if not managed correctly, it is also key to keep in mind that when it is caught in time, which is the majority of cases in modern Ireland, mother and baby get through it healthily and happily.
Throughout my time writing this blog, I’ve tried to promote events which were on in Cork for parents (and parents to be), things that would make it easier for those of us with kids to get out of the house and meet other people who are in our shoes. I’ve written about Toddler and Parent Mornings in the Library, Cuidiu Coffee Mornings where sanity is regained over a cup of coffee, and random events in between. This time however, I’ve gotten a little bit more involved.
I was thrilled to be approached a little while ago by the organisers of this new Coffee Morning For Mums event, which is being held in a shopping centre not a million miles away from my regular stomping ground, Douglas Court Shopping Centre. From experience I know that being at home with baby/babies can be quite lonely and isolating, and it can be difficult to meet others who are in your shoes too – so when the idea of a coffee morning which will also have informative talks for Mums was mentioned, I thought it was a great idea.
Every year I vow that I will read more as one of my New Years Aspirations. Admittedly, this has become much easier since graduating from third level education; the land where I had so much mandatory reading that there was little time (or enthusiasm) for extra reading for the sheer love of it. Thankfully those days are gone so these days, my bookshelfÂ tends to be split into two categories: Books I read for me and Books I read to the Toddler. You can sense which ones I get more joy from (and no, itâ€™s not that bloody Love You Forever book).
Here is a look at what books we’ve been checking out to start off the New Year 2016.
The boy is not yet two, so in my mind, cannot officially enter the terrible twos. He doesn’t care for this lack of decorum and has jumped right in, two feet kicking and a roaring tantrum thrown in for good measure. We are not amused. Toddlerdom has officially kicked in, and we’re getting it in stereo: he’s learning everything new about the world around him, and while some of it is lovely and charming and fun, we’re learning very quickly that LIFE IS HARD WHEN YOU’RE ALMOST TWO.
It is tempting to look at the clock and wonder if realising that it is happy hour somewhere means it’s okay to open the wine at this hour. Damn you toddlerdom.
I can see your eye rolls already. How original, a post about going to the gym in January. If I didn’t know better, I’d roll those eyes too. (Especially after discovering discounted Terry’s Chocolate Oranges the other day). This isn’t exactly a resolution to myself though, not in the traditional “I am going to get fit/thin/much lighter” way. This year, it’s more like “I am going to be able and stronger by the end of the year”.
Oh, the weather outside is… well, it’s bloody awful for the last few weeks, isn’t it? While I consider myself extremely lucky to not have been affected by the horrific flooding around the country, it has been pretty miserable out, meaning that my big wandering walks have been lessened and more time trying to keep a toddler amused and myself sane has been had. It’s been a long holiday break, but there’s nothing like getting stuck into a series to make the time go faster. Enter Netflix, saviour of the rainy day blues.