Could 2019 really be the year?

I am one of those people who quite enjoys the strange time between Christmas and New Year, where you don’t quite know whether you’re coming or going. I find myself in a naturally reflective mood, setting intentions and goals for the year ahead, pondering the year gone by and giving myself an annual pep talk that come January, I really will start using my wardrobe instead of my floordrobe! This year, I realised that the pondering and the intention setting is the easy bit, the dreamy bit (I’m such a Pisces!) It’s lovely to sit down and set goals, visualising our best selves and feeling motivated by the fresh new start that 1st January brings. The thing is though, I’ve lived through enough New Year’s Days now to know that in reality, it can often all feel like a huge anticlimax because having spent all that time dreaming, you are then bluntly awoken with the same old crap, just with a different date attached. The clothes are still on the floor, I’m still too tired to exercise and there’s still a to-do list that’s growing by the hour. That feeling of discomfort from procrastinating worms its’ way back in and as the spiral of excuses starts again, days can tick into weeks without anything really changing.

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Jasmine and Summer on Christmas Day

All that being said, this isn’t a time to be self-critical or give myself a hard time for not living a picture perfect life. I am, after all, a Mummy to two young girls who DO take up most of my time, energy, love and time (I know I wrote ‘time’ twice but it’s the most important one.) I achieve so much each day when I look at my two girls but this year, I want to feel different in myself. I believe it’s more than possible for me to make some changes that will benefit my whole family.

This year, 2019, I’m aiming to create a life of more joy with less ‘stuff’, more knowledge with less screens, more yoga with less avoidance, more creativity with less self doubt and I’m determined to make it the year that come 31st December 2019 I can say, “yes, I really did it!” The number 19 is my birth date. It’s also my wedding anniversary date and was my Grandma’s birthday too so it does hold a lot of significance. Maybe that’s why this year feels like a big one.

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So without further ado, I’m going to write my resolutions, not only to be as a record and a memory for myself but because the act of writing them down makes them more real and also allows me to be more accountable to keeping them. Here goes….

  1. Read more books. A classic, I know, and I often make this a resolution. I love reading but last year I think I managed a total of 3 books with a further 5 abandoned without being finished. These days I love digesting personal development books, parenting books, factual books or a good old fiction book. So often I put the TV on the evening and say, “there’s not really much on is there?” and so when that happens from now on, I want to reach for my books. Amongst many, on the list so far are “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, “The Highly Sensitive Child,” by Elaine Aron and “I am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai. I have been making an Amazon wish-list of books which is helping me keep track of what I want to read and I’m setting a goal of 12 books within the year, which can include audio books too.
  2. Exercise. Such a January cliche but hear me out. I haven’t exercised properly since before Jasmine was born, which is getting on for 3 years now. I don’t feel strong in my body despite having a heavy toddler who insists on being carried all the time. I suffer with back pain a lot (thanks pregnancy, co-sleeping and hormones) and my energy levels can be rock bottom. I’m now 6 months post partum with Summer and feel very ready to start working on myself again. My goal is going to be exercise of any form at least twice a week, preferably yoga or dancing around the kitchen with the girls.
  3. Reduce my screen time. In the spirit of accountability, I’m just going to say that my average daily screen time is a LOT (if you have an iPhone, it tracks it for you). Mine is far too high. I love my phone and I love connecting with my friends on Whatsapp, being inspired by blogs or social media accounts, taking (and posting) photos and writing blogs when the moment strikes me but I’m still guilty of mindless pick ups, falling down the scrolling hole and being on my phone in front of Jasmine and Summer. I really want to change this habit and put some of those ‘wasteful’ screen hours towards something else.
  4. Write more. Ah, my blog (this one you’re reading now!)  I started this blog last year because I wanted to journal about my motherhood experience, have a creative way to express my emotions (thanks motherhood for that, too) and leave something long-lasting for my girls to read. I must have written 15 or more draft blogs that sadly I’ve never gotten round to finishing, despite waking up almost every day willing myself just to do it. I want to keep writing because it helps me in so many ways and I believe that our ability to share our vulnerabilities and emotions is how we can connect to one another.
  5. Minimise and de-clutter. Back in November I started (and never finished) a blog about how I managed to get rid of over 415 items from my home in just one month. I am hoping to write that one up sometime! It was an amazing and eye opening experience and since then, I haven’t stopped. I feel passionate about living a life with more by having less and this is a new but exciting journey for me. I want to continue to make steps towards living “zero waste”, minimising our belongings as a family and tuning in to what truly brings me joy. I can’t wait to see how this one in particular unfolds over the year.

And that’s it. 5 “resolutions” that can last me the year but that feel like me and where I am at in my life. I’m actually so excited to get started.

 

Self-doubt as Jasmine’s Mummy

Do you ever question yourself about the way your children are and whether you’re doing the right thing? I do it all the time with Jasmine and always have done, especially on those days that don’t go so well. I know it’s my personality to be sensitive, emotional and over-analytical and it’s also her personality to be highly sensitive, emotional, perceptive and unpredictable.

There’s more though….Jasmine is having some difficulties breathing properly which has been going on for some time now. She breathes through her mouth not her nose, is always congested, always has a runny nose, snores loudly and snorts all day to try and clear her nose.  She often sounds like Darth Vadar and you can quite literally see and hear her struggling to breathe normally. The winter weather seems to be exacerbating things but now our “bad” or difficult days are now far outnumbering the good days leaving me feeling full of self-doubt, sadness and guilt. It’s impossible to know which version of Jasmine will show up each day and it’s also impossible to know why that particular version shows up!

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Jasmine is a child of high highs and low lows, as I guess all children are really. She’s either dancing around the house to Lady Gaga spinning in circles and shrieking with delight, running to see who is at the door and eagerly asking to play with me, or, she’s watching TV for 90% of the day, crying at the mere site of a kind stranger and the most used word in her vocabulary will be “no”.

There are times she’s happy to try all sorts of new foods, eat fruit & veg by the gallon and enjoy avocado and quinoa but there are times the only things she’ll eat all day are a box of raisins, a snack bar, crisps and cake, with even her favourite meals being rejected. That day was today.

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There are times she has an abundant energy, bouncing out the door ready to go swimming or to a friend’s house to play but there are many, many days where leaving the house is as hard a task as climbing Mount Everest. No offer of going here, going there or going anywhere is good enough and she just seems in a constant state of fatigue or disinterest. There are days she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t stop talking and singing, or, there are days where she wakes up crying and keeps crying about everything that happens for at least an hour or more. There are times when we giggle, we run, we play, we jump and we explore but there are days when we walk on egg shells around her because if the slightest thing goes wrong, there’s a waterfall of tears ready to come flooding out. There are times when your energy seems abundant and times when you barely move all day. Is this just toddlers? Is this just Jasmine? Is this just me?

I worry when we have days like that. I wonder what is going on inside her body and her mind to make it a difficult day for her. Is she not feeling well but can’t recognise that sensation? Is she just really tired but no longer able to nap? Is she not able to breathe well enough to feel energised and healthy? Does she genuinely just want to stay at home all day to play? Is the unpredictability of random outings too much for her? Is she still adjusting to the arrival of her sister? Then I worry that it’s me. Perhaps I’m too soft with her or perhaps she has too much control. Perhaps she’s just testing me and I should “put my foot down”. Perhaps there’s actually no problem at all and I’m wasting precious energy worrying for nothing.

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I’m still learning to trust that much of all this is all OK and totally normal. The highs and lows and the roller-coaster are what every toddler and every parent experiences, right? I’m still learning to let go of that worry and go with the flow, knowing she is a happy, healthy, loving and thriving child. I’m still learning that she can’t always tell me how she feels using words so uses actions instead. I’m still learning all about her and all about myself at the same time. I’m still learning not to compare her to others. I’m still learning to focus on the positives, what we did do not what we didn’t.

I wish I could have a crystal ball to see into my children’s future. A way to look forward 20 years and see that everything turned out OK and that the “bad days” didn’t really matter at all, that maybe it was just her way of trying to tell me exactly what she needed, her way of showing me her unique way of learning and developing. For now, my job is to support her through the bad days and enjoy with her the good ones.