World Mental Health Day 2017: Awakened

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

Last year’s World Mental Health Day post focused on the importance of mental health while on maternity leave.

This year, I’m taking the angle of work-life balance.

More than ever I need to look after my mind. I’m working full time, attempting to run a house as well as look after an eighteen month old.

I’ve got everything I ever wanted.

Which is why it’s important that I look after myself.

So I don’t loose it.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to read a book called ‘Awakened‘.

Debbie Stokoe, a copywriter and blogger, shares her experience of depression and the importance of a work-life balance.

The book came at a perfect time in my life.

2017 has been one of significant change.

I went back to work after maternity to a new job.

That in itself was hard. Not only did I have to mentally prepare for leaving a little person I’d spent the last ten months caring for full time. I had to prepare for walking into a new job.

Fast forward two months and I’m offered a project role.

In that same month, I also moved house.

The cards had well and truly been thrown in the air.

And over the course of the summer they’ve slowly drifted back down into place.

Their new places.

It’s a wonder I didn’t have some form of break down.

Reading Debbie’s book has helped me put things into perspective.

Too much change at once can be difficult to process.

There’s a paragraph that really struck with me.

It’s about mindfulness.

Being in the moment.

Something a lot of us (including me) are not very good at.

I once thought being busy was good. I thought I was achieving things.

The constant.

Thinking that The Constant was good.

It meant I could race through life and not be alone with my thoughts.

To over think things.

But since embarking on motherhood, I’m more mindful than ever. Babies quickly grow and a triumphant toddler soon takes over.

In that respect I’m now mindful to take each day as it comes.

To enjoy the moment.

To listen to her little chitter chatter.

To take the plastic tea cup when offered. To pretend to sip it. To gasp that it’s the nicest cup of tea I’ve ever had.

And to inhale that freshly bathed smell as I read her a bedtime story.

As it ain’t going to last forever.

So I’m grateful for Debbie’s book to put things in perspective. And to also to introduce me to meditation.

Debbie recommended Jessica Mullen and The Honest Guys. I’ve found them on You Tube and they’ve been really useful to listen to.

I’ve lost touch with reading this year with everything that’s gone on. Awakened has pulled me back into the reading game. I’ve now picked up The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. A book I started before I moved.

So what is Awakened about?

Debbie kindly gives us an insight into her book and her life …

Having read Awakened, you’ve written a compelling journey of self discovery through your working life as well as personal events. What inspired you to write Awakened?

I went through a lot of pain and the main inspiration was to help others to avoid that if possible. I talk about how I was affected by perfectionism and low self-esteem as a child, which affects a lot of young kids today who feel pressure to push themselves too hard, so part of it was to hopefully get a message to them to start being more compassionate towards themselves. In terms of the work-related mental health issues I experiences, I just felt very alone and scared when I was going through severe depression and wanted other people who are experiencing similar things to realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I guess I tried to write the book that would have helped me when I was ill. Hopefully it will also help family members and friends of people who are suffering from similar health issues to understand it better.

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

It was also a healing process for me to write about what happened to me, and cathartic in many ways, even though I had a lot of resistance arise about revisiting these difficult times in my life. It helped me to understand myself better and to work on certain things that still affect me (I’m still too hard on myself about a lot of things).

How would you compare writing Awakened to anything you’ve previously written?

I’ve never written a book before so it was a new experience! I’m a copywriter so I write for businesses for a living, and I’ve been blogging about art and culture for about six years, so I’m using to writing things like websites and blog posts. I decided upon the chapters then dedicated a couple of hours each morning for four months to writing it. I was pretty disciplined about writing every week day. I hadn’t been that vocal about mental health in the past so it was quite daunting being so honest and discussing my deepest, darkest feelings. There have been times when I’ve felt like not putting it out there as I have some fears about what people will think, but the message is more important than my fears.

How do you organise your work and life to ensure you get a healthy balance?

I became self-employed partly to have more control over my life, and to a certain extent it’s worked. It suits me better as I can organise my workload if I’m having a down day (I’m still affected by low mood) and I can work from home which means I don’t have to deal with people that annoy me as much! It has its stressors though, mainly because of the uncertainty and ‘feast or famine’ cycle that can happen when you’re self-employed (either too much work or not enough work) so it can be difficult to feel balanced.

How do I stay in balance? It’s a lifelong work in progress and I’m constantly changing my routine to feel more balanced. I have a morning routine which involves a combination of yoga, meditation, a walk and drawing an oracle card (I talk about my spiritual path in the book). I am still trying to limit my use of technology but I make sure I stay off my phone after 9pm and read before bed. It’s important for me to get out in nature at the weekends and switch off. A weekly yoga class also keeps me in balance, and regular holistic therapies such as massage and reiki. Reading a lot also helps and I go the cinema or theatre once or twice a week which inspires me and gets me away from a screen.

If you had one piece of advice on wellbeing that you’ve learnt, what would it be?

Learn to love yourself. It sounds a bit cliched, but life gets much easier when you’re your own best friend. I’ve always been too hard on myself, which started at school. I was always pushing myself to be an A grade student and if I didn’t achieve that standard I would berate myself. Being a perfectionist does not lead to a happy life. You can never celebrate your achievements and nothing is ever good enough. I think it’s so important for kids to learn to love themselves (not in a narcissistic, selfie-taking way) and not measure their happiness against external factors, which society teaches us to do. When we learn how to do that (and there are many ways to do that, such as learning about self-care, finding your passion and purpose, and learning to appreciate the little things and have more gratitude) life flows better.

World Mental Health Day 2017 missuswolf

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

If you read the book you’ll know, but I have a Facebook spiritual group with over 1,300 members. I realised that I felt ‘different’ and was having interesting spiritual experiences, so I created it to find my tribe and talk about spiritual topics such as angels, past lives and the law of attraction with like-minded people. Now I don’t feel so lonely or out there and have made life-long friends as a result of the group.

You can get a copy of Awakened here.

Where to find Debbie and her support groups:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/DebbieStokoeWriter

Twitter – @DebbieStokoe111

Instagram @socialbflycomms 

Stay Sane At Work website – www.staysaneatwork.co.uk

Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/StaySaneAtWork 

You can take part in World Mental Health Day today in the Time To Change #inyourcorner campaign

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Time To Change website

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Awakened as part of this post 

Postnatal Depression and Me: Guest Post by Emma Koster

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Today’s guest post in support of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week is written by Emma Poster.

Post-natal depression and me

I can still remember the day clearly. Evie was coming up to six weeks old, and my Health Visitor had just arrived for our six-week post-natal check. We went through the usual “how is your caesarean section scar healing?”, “any problems with feeding?”, “have you thought about contraception?”, and so on.
Then, though, we went on to talk about how I was feeling.

It was part of the NHS’ screening for post-natal depression programme, and it was filling me with dread.

Postnatal Depression Awareness week

The Health Visitor explained that she was going to ask me a series of questions, and she would then score my answers to determine whether I may be suffering from post-natal depression.

I already knew what the score would say.

I’d found those first six weeks incredibly hard.

If I’m being completely honest, I’d found the late half of my pregnancy a struggle emotionally, too.

I lost count of the number of times I cried each day. I really felt like I wasn’t coping, and I was having more and more thoughts about harming myself.

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

I loved my beautiful baby, Evie, of course I did.

But, I wasn’t enjoying being a mummy back then.

Please select the answer that comes closest to how you feel

Although, deep down, I already knew that I as suffering with post-natal depression, I had no idea how to talk to anybody about it.

Was I just supposed to blurt it out?

What would people think?!

It was only when the Health Visitor started asking me direct questions that I felt I could start to admit how I was feeling. She asked me how often things had been getting on top of me.

Most of the time.

In fact, I felt like I wasn’t coping at all.

How often had I felt scared or panicky for no good reason?

Often.

Very often.

Having somebody ask me these questions, and asking me to pick the most suitable response, it was exactly what I needed.

The Survey Says …

It came as no huge surprise that my answers suggested I was suffering from post-natal depression.

My Health Visitor phoned my doctors surgery on my behalf, and booked me an appointment for later that day.

The diagnosis was confirmed then, and I was put on some medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms.

It took a while for the tablets to start working, but I instantly felt a little better after admitting to somebody how I had been feeling.

It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

The months that followed were hard, but I gradually started to feel like things were getting easier.

Alongside the medication, I made other changes.

This included making time for ‘me’.
Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Not easy when you have a new-born, I know, but so vitally important.

I also started being more honest with other mummies. Up until that point, I’d found that all the mummies I met at baby groups would tell me how much they were enjoying parenthood, and how wonderful everything was.

I, of course, smiled and nodded along.

Once I admitted, though, that I was struggling, and didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing, everybody else started opening up more too.

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week PANDAS

It was so refreshing to learn that I wasn’t the only one who had no idea how to get their little darling to sleep in their cot.

I wasn’t the only one who sometimes struggled to get dressed until gone midday, if at all.

I wasn’t the only one who struggling to enjoy the first few weeks of parenthood. Phew!

Fast forward a year

Evie is now thirteen months. I’m not quite sure how that has happened, but the big black circles under my eyes seem to confirm it.

I’ve seen my GP regularly about my post-natal depression over the last year, and together we have agreed to start reducing the dosage of my medication.

In hindsight, I was probably a bit too eager to do this, and ended up taking things too quickly.

I started to feel like I was struggling again, so I increased the dosage slightly, again with the advice from my GP.

I wouldn’t say I feel more like ‘the old me’ as I am pretty sure the old me wouldn’t be routinely sniffing another human being’s bottom to see if they had ‘gone’, and wouldn’t – usually – be singing silly songs and blowing raspberries as they graced the aisles of the supermarket.

I do, though, feel much better.

Yes, I still doubt my parenting skills regularly.

After all, little humans don’t come with a manual, and I becoming quite a pro at ‘winging it’.

I am, though, enjoying being a mummy much more than I was.

I feel I am coping much better.

I finally feel that I am beating post-natal depression.

Em x

Thank you to Emma for sharing her story.

If you’ve read this post today and feel that it relates to what you’re currently experiencing – please- don’t suffer in silence.

There is help and support out there.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from PANDAS and UnSplash

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week: Guest Post on PTSD

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

This week I’m proudly supporting PND Awareness Week with PANDAS

Today’s guest post is written by Claire North and her experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The 2nd August 2014 was the start of a very exciting new venture for me and my husband as I was taken into hospital to be induced with our first baby. We had waited patiently for 38 weeks and the time had finally come.

PANDAS Pregnancy image

My labour induction started like most, pessaries and a hormone drip to get baby on the move, eventually after 6 hours my waters were broken and from then on things started to progress pretty quickly, after getting to around 5cm dilated I could see the midwife rush around, she quickly dropped the bed and asked me to lay on my side!

She pushed the emergency button and a load of midwives started running in, I could see the colour drain from my husband and mam’s face and I knew something was wrong immediately.

I was told that my babies heart rate had dropped and so I was being taken to emergency theatre to be monitored.

On arrival to theatre it was all systems go, the midwives and doctors were rushing around and prepping tools ready to deliver my baby by Caesarean section.

I lay there wondering if my baby would be alive when he was born and my eyes were pouring with tears. Some tests to check the epidural was working took place and things went from bad to worse when I was told I would have to go under general anaesthetic in order for my baby to be born!

Because of this my husband wasn’t allowed to be present for the birth, I sobbed!

I was so worried and scared, would I wake up from surgery? Would I wake up to my baby having died?………..

I came round a few hours later, I remember I was in so much pain but it soon disappeared when I was handed a beautiful healthy baby boy!

He was perfect!

Postnatal Hands PANDAS

Life was great, sure I had the regular baby blues but nothing out of the ordinary or so I thought. I would wake in the night from terrible nightmares and repetitions of my birth, I’d have dreams that my baby boy had died.

I told myself that I didn’t deserve this baby and that he would die.

I became over protective of him, I wouldn’t let anyone else take care of him because to me I couldn’t trust them to take care of him properly.

On odd occasions when I did have to leave him with my husband I would be stressed, constantly texting and I would rush home to see that he was safe.

I would get anxious when meeting with friends and would decide on if I was going depending on how safe it was, example. Was it near a lake where my baby’s pushchair could roll in, was it raining making the roads bad and higher risk of a car crash…basically extreme thoughts! I struggled on by myself and hid it from my family and friends for almost 1 year.

The turning point for me came after a huge breakdown.

Post Natal Depression - Image from Unsplash

My little boy had been sleeping through the night for some time and yet I found myself waking more and more to check my baby was still breathing….except he was no longer a baby!

He was a toddler!

My husband began questioning why I was waking to check him and I broke down, I knew it was because I was due to return to work!

I was going to have to leave my boy with someone else whilst I was working and I couldn’t bare the thought.

My husband rang the doctors and took me down to the surgery straight away, I was scared, I thought I would be judged, the doctor would think I wasn’t capable of looking after a child and my husband would think I was a failure…. I was so wrong!

The doctor was very supportive, they called Talking Matters and made an appointment for someone to call me.

The next day I received a call from them and talked about all my feelings and thoughts and the lady listened, she didn’t judge, she assured me and more importantly told me that someone could help me!

Help me stop these terrible nightmares/flashbacks/extreme thoughts, it was the first time in almost a year where I felt a little relief and that I wasn’t alone.

Two weeks after my telephone appointment I met with my counsellor, she was amazing! She taught me coping mechanisms, calming strategies and more importantly how to take time for myself and listen to my own needs!

Postnatal Depression Awareness week

For so long I had tunnel vision and it was baby baby baby!! Over time I began to start doing things for myself, I started going out more and enjoyed it, knowing that my little boy was safe and sound at home.

I guess the reason it took me so long to admit I had a problem was because there wasn’t a lot of awareness at the time and I was scared.

I can’t say that it’s an overnight fix and that after one chat with a counsellor everything will be better but I can tell you that you aren’t alone.

And you ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB!

Thanks to Claire North for sharing her story.

If you’ve read this and feel that you’re experiencing what Claire went through – please – speak up. 

You are not alone.

There is help and support out there.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from PANDAS and UnSplash 

PND Awareness Week 2017

PANDAS PND Awareness Week 2017

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week runs from 4th- 10th September this year.

I’m a firm believer people come into your life for a reason.

Rachael Logue, a lovely lady I met at Pregnancy yoga, was pivotal in my postnatal journey.

At the time, she was setting up Tots and Tums. 

These sessions alone got me out of the house with my tiny new bundle.

To have a coffee.

To chat to other new mums.

To escape my own four walls for someone else’s.

Motherhood is a crazy ride that you’re thrust into.

And once upon a time, it was a community – a village even- that helped raise a baby.

Now, despite social media providing a means of online community, we are actually more isolated in ‘real life’ than we once were.

Which can enhance those already overwhelming feelings a new parent (or even a second or third time parent) is experiencing.

Rachael was diagnosed with Postnatal depression last year.

A year later and Rachael’s doing much better and Tots and Tums has gone from strength to strength.

It’s now rebranded as Relax … Holistic Baby Fitness.

Relax Holistic Baby Fitness

There’s so much happening it makes me want to be on maternity leave again!

Joking aside, this is a great support network offering baby classes, fitness clubs and relaxation sessions.

Rachael has pooled her energy into helping other parents by providing that community of support.

That community that helps you raise a baby.

Read Rachael’s story again below …

I didn’t recognise that I was suffering from Postnatal Depression straight away, despite being trained in PND and Mental Health and previously suffering depression.

You see, my own business collapsed three years ago when the funding ceased. I had to let go of twelve members of staff; twelve local people all with families to look after and roofs over their heads – twelve people who had bills to pay.

Just like me.

I suffered from anxiety which turned into depression.

Post Natal Depression - Image from Unsplash

Through suffering depression three years ago, I recognise that I have manias: On a high I can take loads of work on and I feel like I could conquer the world. Last week , I had three really good days where I was involved in Jolly Babies, Lush Tums Postnatal Yoga and then a day trip to Whitby with my family. On a low, I want to shut myself back in my bubble, away from the world.

I’ve learnt that it’s all about understanding me as a person.

Which I thought I did when it came to having my second child, Evie, back in February.

I had Evie at 09.50 in the morning and I was out of hospital and home by 5pm – make-up on the lot – getting on with motherhood. 

My feet hadn’t touched the ground.

I went back to work after six weeks on the Postnatal Depression project that I had created while I was pregnant.

I was busy;  I’d get up and take Cameron to school and then I was off working at the groups that I’d set up.

I was focusing so much on my family and supporting other families in my work that I completely forgot about myself.

My breakdown point was when I’d left the house really early one morning. I was just walking around Blyth in the rain in what I can only describe as a confused mist. I felt lost and numb.

Postnatal depression talking PANDAS







I remember the day. It was a Tuesday.

I couldn’t think straight.

I found myself walking towards and going intoTalking Matters on the main street in Blyth. They couldn’t see me straightaway but they did give me a leaflet with a contact number on. I rang the number and talked, which helped a lot. 

I knew what I needed to do but I just hadn’t been thinking straight. I made a doctors appointment that day. 

I gained support from the doctor who didn’t dismiss it as just the ‘baby blues’.  They prescribed me some medication – sertraline. I’m now into week eight of taking this. 

Sertraline tabletsWhen I was suffering Postnatal Depression, I wasn’t one for not getting up and ready in a morning; I had to do this to take my oldest to school. It was the little things – like the thought of folding clothes. Simple chores became too much to deal with. I also went into a zone where I didn’t want to see or contact anybody. I wanted to stay at home, just me and Evie.

I retreated into my own little bubble.

You hear of mother’s not bonding with their babies, but my motherly instinct and love for Evie was over-the-top love. I’d do things like take Evie off my partner when he held her.

I’ve found that you do forget about yourself and therefore you do need to take time out. I did postnatal Yoga in Ridley Park on Friday and, although I had both kids with me, it was still time doing something for myself. Cameron even enjoyed it, it was accessible to things he never thought he would be interested in. It showed him that it’s not all about xbox and school, that it’s natural to go into the park and get involved in other activities with other people.

Postnatal Yoga in Ridley Park Blyth

I’m slowly getting back on track now and I’m taking things one step at a time. I’m in a good place now and getting out and just talking with other parent’s has made a huge impact already. I’ve found that it’s good to talk and not suffer in silence.

PANDAS PND Awareness Week 2017

PND Awareness Week is all about that – raising awareness of those feelings of postnatal depression.

If you’ve read this today and it resonates with how you’re feeling- please – speak up.

There is support out there.

To find out more on where to get help or how to get involved check out the PANDAS website.

You are not alone in this.

This is the motherhood.

We are the sisterhood.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Cuppa and a Catch-Up – An Author Interview with … Deborah A. Stansil

 

Today I’m hosting fellow North Easterner author and blogger Deborah A Stansil.

Deborah kindly sent me a copy of The Mirror as part of her feature here today. 



Deborah is Author to The Joker, The Twisted Tales series as well as recently published The Mirror.

As you all know, I love to have a book to read, especially before going to bed.

I find it the ultimate therapy to relax after the chaotic days.

This month’s bed time read has been ‘The Mirror’.

The story centres around Amy and her daughter Lilly. They make a seemingly innocent purchase of a mirror that goes in Lilly’s bedroom.

But then Lilly’s behaviour starts to change.

It’s been interesting to read this from a parent’s point of view now that I have the Little Lady. Although I’m nowhere near the school days at the moment, the story involves not only the concerns of Lilly’s parents, but that of the school too.

There’s an underlying story that’s ticking over that’s fuelling Amy’s constant anxiety over her daughter, which comes tumbling out half-way through the book.

These are all issues that once upon a time I would have read on auto pilot and not really reacted too (cold-hearted I know but the pre-parent me could switch off).

Now, the motherhood side of my brain plays upon these topics and experiences and puts myself in that position.

It’s interesting to see Lilly’s character change and how it affects those around her; her parents, her teachers and even her best friend, Jessica.

At the time of going to press, I’m still reading (and enjoying!) The Mirror (life’s getting in the way a bit of my reading plans – imminent house move).

I’m at a part of the story where a link appears to be forming with the mirror and the family (no spoilers). I’m now intrigued as to what angle this is going to take and my heart goes out to Amy for what she’s experienced in the past.

Looking forward to getting tucked up tonight to read a few more pages. 

 

~Biography~

Deborah A Stansil Author Pic Missuswolf

Born and raised in the North East of England, Deborah A Stansil always dreamed of one day becoming a writer. As a teenager, she would write fiction but she rarely shared it with anyone, and as an adult, life got in the way.

She never forgot her passion to write creatively and now the dream is a reality, with both her books and her blog. Deborah has well and truly caught the writing bug and she is now a full time writer.

She enjoys reading, writing and she’s never far from a book or a notepad/laptop. She also enjoys travelling, both in the UK and abroad and one day, she would love to travel the world.

Deborah is best known for her love of the horror genre, both writing and reading, although she does enjoy writing in both the crime and fantasy genres too. She hopes you enjoy reading her books as much as she enjoyed writing them!

 

 

Hi Debbie welcome it’s good to have you here today.

 Congratulations on your fourth book – The Mirror. What was the inspiration behind it?

The Mirror Deborah A Stansil book Missuswolf

 

I actually started out with the intention of writing a haunted house type of plot (watch this space for that one in the future!). When I sat down to write it, the idea of involving a mirror kept nagging at me. I have always had a thing about mirrors being spooky, so I changed tack completely and went with the idea of the mirror as the central theme to the story.

 How would you compare writing The Mirror to anything you’ve previously written?

The Mirror was written in a very different way to my usual fiction. There was no real plan, no outline, it just poured onto the page. I loved writing this way, I felt like I had no limits and the story kind of wrote itself in a sense.

How do you organise your writing time?

I write freelance as my full time job, so I try to work on my own novels on a night time. I’m a bit of a night owl anyway so this works well for me as somehow I always seem to feel more motivated at night. Once I get into a story though, I do sometimes find it spilling over into my work time (oops!).

How did you start writing? Was there a particular book or moment in your life that spurned you on?

I’ve always said I wanted to write a novel, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I actually sat down to do it. There wasn’t really any big event that spurred me on, it was just a matter of stop saying it and start doing it!

Where is your best ‘writing space’; the place where you feel comfortably locked away from the world and are able to let your creative juices flow?

I mostly write on my laptop, perched on the top of my bed. All the advice says this is wrong, I should have a desk and some sort of office space, but this works for me.

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

I had a poem published in an anthology when I was fifteen. I submitted it under a pen name because I was embarrassed in case people knew I had written it! The worst thing is I can’t even remember what the anthology was called!

 Thank you so much for having me, this has been great

       

Thank you for being here today Debbie and best of luck with the book.

~Where to find Deborah~

Missuswolf - Deborah Stansil My Random Musings

Blog: www.myrandommusings.co.uk

Website: www.deborahstansil.com

Amazon author page: https://goo.gl/FrXC4V

Twitter: www.twitter.com/randommusings29

FB: www.facebook.com/myrandommusingsblog/

Insta: www.instagram.com/debrandommusingsblog29

The Joker: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01JND8VY6

The Mirror: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N9YWFBN/

Twisted Tales: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01H94D1MS

Twisted Tales 2: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MSRDI4

Love Missuswolf xxx

How Healthy Eating In Pregnancy Changed My Eating Habits

Missuswolf How Healthy Eating In Pregnancy Changed My Eating Habits

Who would have though that experiencing pregnancy would alter my eating habits – for the better?

Certainly not me.

I was a firm believer that once I was pregnant, my life was over.

My body would not be my own and I would be destined for a life of sugar, caffeine and cake.

Granted those treats still feature in my life but on a balanced scale now.

This time last year I was scoffing two easter eggs (I kid you not) – and tonight I’ve been scoffing hard boiled eggs.

Missuswolf How Pregnancy Changed My Eating Habits

Ahh the days of consuming two Easter Eggs

Yeah – I know. So rock and roll now.

But the hard-boiled-egg habit started when I was pregnant.

The healthy lifestyle all started with the obvious

– not drinking alcohol.

I was miserable and panicked at how I would cope. My weekends revolved around food and drink. Not only could I not drink, that first trimester I lost my appetite and dropped eight pounds.

The second trimester I craved chicken, rice, fruit and veg.

It’s like my body only wanted to eat what was good for it.

Someone at work brought in a hard boiled egg one day and that was it. I batch-boiled on a Sunday, stored in the fridge and ate them during the week.

I was eating poached eggs on toast or overnight oats for breakfast. In the third trimester, I started with good intentions. The extra 200 calories were coming from a slice of toast with butter at breakfast. I admit that those calories increased as this last milestone went on (Easter Eggs).

Frozen green beans became a regular addition to meal time dishes. One of my favourite meals is the Slimming World Carribean Pepperpot Stew.

The third trimester, however, was a different story.

I maintained the boiled eggs and healthy eating.

But my pregnancy vice was puddings. Puddings and Easter Eggs.

I reasoned that because I couldn’t drink, I’d treat myself to a pudding instead.

But the arrival of Easter Eggs in the shops tipped me over the edge.

I was on my feet a lot in my job and the Little Lady’s last growth spurt seemed to depend on sugar.

And so did my body two weeks post natal. Hospital meals (FYI Crammie hospital meals – unreal. I didn’t want to leave that place), visitors with food parcels, endless cups of tea and treats. I told myself they were all part of the ‘healing’ process from my section.

That was the last of my unhealthy run (bar a little slippage on summer holidays and over Christmas, which is inevitable).

Once I was left to my own devices and routine with little E, I reverted back to those healthy habits I’d picked up during pregnancy.

I also started healthy eating in the form of (my own version of) slimming world, baby-friendly workouts and walking introduced me to a healthier lifestyle.

And by own version of slimming world I mean I followed it to a degree.

To the degree that included the healthy food. I, however, lost count of the synnage a fair few times with coffee and cake clubs.

Hey ho Mat Leave Life and all that.

But you need a balance in life to be happy.

I’m nearly a year post partum (bliddy hell when did that happen?) and my eating habits are the best they’ve ever been.

I’ve always drank loads of water and I continue to do so. I drink hot water and lemon and limit myself to one cup of coffee a day (a new motherhood habit I’m finding hard to kick).

I don’t drink anywhere near as much alcohol, despite missing it when pregnant.

But I think that was more because I couldn’t have it than actually wanting it. As time went by, I wasn’t as bothered.

I’m a planner by nature and as I have to be super organised now to get myself and a child out the door (very early doors) I now find I meal prep too.

Like a boss.

Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy pizza Friday’s.

B A L A N C E

Inspired by Instagram fit mammies, I factor in thirty minutes every other night fitness routine at home.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t face Instagram when I was in hospital.

I felt like a fat blob and I refused to lower my confidence with images of incredibly toned mammies.

But that was my own fault for following them when I was pregnant.

Which is a sad factor of society now.

But it spurred me on – in a good way. Some accounts that I follow motivate you to incorporate home workout routines around your baby.

They motivate and inspire. Not brag and dictate.

Which is the difference.

I try and run (I’ve found I can run much further since having a baby?! Bizarre. And with a buggy too) as well as attend exercise classes. I tried a new one this week called Pound.

A workout with drumsticks.

Great for letting out your aggression and toning, especially your arms.

The results? I’m actually nine pound lighter than I was pre-pregnancy.

It makes me look back and think that my lifestyle did need a shake-up. I drank far too much and ate unhealthily.

And it’s sad the mindset my pre-pregnancy self was in. That I believed I would evolve into a fat mess who loathed myself.

But joining the motherhood morphs you into superwoman in so many ways. You balance your life, your work, your home and your child – giving you the ultimate sense of empowerment.

You feel like you can conquer the world.

This drive made me determined to be strong, fit and healthy.

If not to survive my new chaotic lifestyle, to set a good example to the small person that I’m raising.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Image credits – Easter Eggs (myself obvs!) and the pretty boiled eggs – Pixabay

Surviving That First Phone Call From The Nursery

 

Surviving the first phonecall from nursery - Missuswolf
Well I’ve experienced it.
Just a day short of being back at work a month and I thought I’d escaped unscathed.

Unscathed from that first phone call from the nursery. (Well actually, it’s my second. The first one was a couple of weeks ago when I forgot her milk. Bad mam alert!)

But it was the first phone call asking me to come and retrieve my child.
It’s the call you dread receiving. Dread seeing the nursery’s name flash across the screen, the vibrations seeming more urgent and insistent.

In true Missuswolf style – I missed the call.

Argh. Cue even more guilt and bad Mam status.

I’d actually gone for a pee. Something I always leave to the last minute too as my mind is so preoccupied. (I’m in danger  of regressing to a toddler one day. You know – when you’re so engrossed in an activity that you actually piss yourself.)

Jeez what has my life become?!

As I approached my desk I happened to glance at my phone.

And in a nano second my work persona slipped. I knew the sheer terror was etched all over my face.

A missed call from the nursery.

And a voicemail.

Shit.

In that moment I wasn’t me.

I was Mam.

Full on Mam mode – heckles up, on high alert – ready to face  the emergency

I forgot how to operate the voicemail. Stupid I know but my fingers fumbled.

Sod it.

Just ring them straight back you divvy!

No matter how much they say it’s nothing to worry about you immediately think they’ve suffocated in the sandpit. 

Turns out she had a gunky eye and no amount of bathing would clear it. As there’d been conjunctivitis going round they couldn’t keep her there.

So off I trotted to collect her.

And obviously I couldn’t get a doctors appointment that day.

But I was offered a triage call back by the nurse instead.

I described the symptoms and the nurse prescribed eye drops.

She advised that as the little lady has been full of cold she’d more than likely spread this to her eye (you know – wiping snot all over her face yak!) and she’d developed conjunctivitis.

Thankfully the nursery allowed her to return the next day with her drops in tow.

As well as  her previously prescribed  cream for her yeast infection (for under her chin from aaaall the teething dribbles).

I was like a walking pharmacist.

Despite all this, E is still full of beans and fine in herself the little trooper.

Suppose she’s going to catch far worse over the next few years.

But on a positive note – it builds up her immune system in these early years. Hoping she’ll be match fit by the time she goes to school.

And as for me – well, I’m fine in myself too. Normal (chaotic) service has resumed.

I survived my first nursery call-out.

So from now until the next phone call,  I just live in fear of the ailments spreading to me …

Love Missuswolf xxx

Image credit to Anthony on Pexels

Getting Back Into The Workforce: Part-time and Flexible options

Career Loving Parents (Working Mums – and dads too!)

Missuswolf Career loving parents

Image from Pixabay

Are you a Career Loving Parent? Why not take this quiz to find out what your chances are of getting a part-time or flexible job …

Quiz

Full Time But Still Flexible

Here I am. Four weeks into working life following ten months maternity.

And how am I coping?

I’m going to be honest. It is tiring and my head can be all over the place.

But it’s not been as hard as I imagined. Organisation is key and I’m lucky that I have flexible employers that accommodate nursery pick-ups/drop offs.

Which is why I’m massively in support of the Hire Me My Way Campaign.

Empowering Women Back Into The Workforce

Missuswolf women working on car flexible work options

Image from Pexels

 

I’ve blogged previously about my thoughts on wellbeing and a work/life balance. I truly believe to achieve happiness and contentment in your life – especially as a parent – you need a happy medium.

You need time away from being a parent – where you have a role and responsibility outside of raising a small human.

Even if it’s just for a few hours a day.

To regain your sense of person and sense of purpose. Of course I’m not suggesting you don’t feel purpose by being a parent.

It’s the

biggest purpose

in life.

Just that you need that part of yourself back where you’re using your brain, personality and skill set to contribute to the running costs of raising a family.

1 in 4 workers have part-time jobs and everyone now has the right to ask their employer if they can work part-time. But as most working mums know, this apparent easy availability of part time work disguises many problems:

You can ask your current employer if you can work part-time, but what happens if your request is rejected?

And what happens after a few years, when you think it’s time to move on/look for promotion?

What if you take an extended maternity break, so leave your old employer and are looking for a new job when you decide to return to work?

When you’re looking for a new job, less than 1 in 20 are advertised on a part-time basis (for quality jobs with salaries at £20k+ pro rata).

The result is that many people (mostly women) get stuck in their current jobs. And when they have no choice but to look for a new part-time job, its commonplace to be forced to down-skill, taking a salary below their true value in the workplace.

I feel passionate about this. It’s not the world I want to bring my daughter up in.

1,500,000 people in the UK are currently trapped in low-paid part-time jobs below their skill level.

I want her to go out there, get a career she’s happy with, have a family and then return to working in a flexible role that matches her skill set.

And not get trapped and become de-skilled.

Missuswolf career loving parents flexible working

Image from Unsplash

 

The Hire Me My Way campaign is calling on all employers to start advertising their new jobs as being open to flexible working options. In other words, extending the ‘right to ask for flexibility’ to day one of a new hire, rather than just being a right for existing employees.

 

Anyone who feels strongly about this issue can sign up to the campaign here: http://hirememyway.org.uk/  to help the Hire Me My Way team put more pressure on employers.

You can check out employers who have joined the campaign and agreed to start hiring flexibly here.

I feel like now is the time to make some changes.

Women are at a stage where they are thriving in careers and we need to keep that skill set in the workforce.

Not penalise them because they’ve had a family.

Take the Quiz here.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Disclosure: Collaborative Post

Stripped Back: Red Wine, Terry’s and a Good Old Fashioned Black and White

Missuswolf stripped back bare trees

Despite one of the tag lines of my blog revolving around Fizz, I occasionally cheat on her with her cousin.

Vino rouge.

For those of you who know me, you know my strict relationship with wine.

Those of you who don’t, here I shall explain.

Once the seasons change, so does the colour of my wine.

As September sweeps in and the Autumn leaves curl, the crisp and dry vino blanco, once shared at sunset on patios, becomes an evocative shade of red.

A big, strong glass that can be sipped all night long. Preferably in front of a roaring fire.

Which I don’t have.

Once upon a time I would seek one out in a pub. And sit until last orders with my OH. Putting the world to rights.

Planning our next venture.

Well tonight, on this bitter eve after the Thundersnow (FYI I saw snow but missed the thunder) it’s been more of a toast to our ventures.

Life is deliciously chaotic at the moment and after the weeks militant routine, sometime it’s just nice to kick back and, you know, just chill.

Warts and all. By this I mean cosy in my winter jarmies, hair scraped back with sudocrem (yes you read right) over the winter boils that encroach my face.

Sipping red wine with a bar of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Watching a good old fashioned black and white film with the mister.

We may sound old, boring or uncouth. But I feel incredibly relaxed. There’s something utmost soothing about watching old films.

They appear to have lived in simpler times.

And in these crazy times that we live in, sometimes it’s just nice to take a step back. Out of it all.

So tonight we watched Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A title so well known yet I’m ashamed to admit I wasn’t at one for knowing the story line. Argh.

But now I do.

And I want to know many more story lines from many more good old-fashioned movies.

Just while the nights are dark and the wine is red.

Until I’m back on a patio at sunset and the wine is white.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Image from Pexels

Guest Post: The Books I Love Reading With My Boys

Today’s guest post is from the lovely Deb Sharratt from My Boys Club who is kindly sharing with us the books that she’s loved reading with her boys …

 

@MyBoysClub is a lifestyle, travel and food blog by Deb Sharratt all about enjoying life in a family of boys. Follow at www.myboysclub.co.uk or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

  

The books I’ve loved reading with My Boys …

There are so many reasons why reading to and with your children is a good thing. Helps them learn to read, improves concentration, teaches them new things, improves vocabulary, encourages creativity, can develop empathy and is calming and relaxing. However as well as all this it’s fun. It’s a special time between parent and child and I’ll really miss it when my boys no longer want to read with or to me or indeed no longer want a bedtime story.

Maybe that’s the reason why I’m a keen buyer of kids box sets and series of books  – I’m trying to make the bedtime story last forever! Anyway here are my top seven series of books sets.

 

Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child have been read and spoken so many times in out house that my boys can recite the entire books perfectly without having to read them. The books have inspired trails, such as this one in Hamsterley Forest,(http://www.myboysclub.co.uk/2016/10/all-leaves-are-brown.html) but other stories such as Tiddler, Stick Man, Monkey Puzzle and The Smartest Giant in Town too, with their flowing, soothing, rhyming stories are a favourite with toddlers and are just as delightful for older children as well.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

My Boys receive their first ‘Wimpy Kid’ books as a reward for having 100% attendance at school and they have been hooked ever since. With both typed text and comic strip style illustrations, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney are all about a kid called Greg who fills in his journal (not a diary!!) of all the misadventures in his life. Everything Greg seems to do has hilarious consequences and his family are very funny.

My Boys couldn’t stop reading these books and thought they were funny and fun to read. They also laugh out loud at the films too.

Michael Morpurgo

Any collection of books by one of the nation’s favourite storyteller is one to treasure. The former British Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo is known best for

children’s novels such as War Horse (1982) but has written over 100 books. His work is noted for its “magical storytelling” but also for recurring themes such as the triumph of an outsider or survival, for characters’ relationships with nature, and for vivid settings such as the war. We are now on our second collection of books. I was a little worried about the subject matter at first – the books cover wars, morality, death and what is deemed right and wrong but in doing have provoked many questions about so allows my boys to learn to share and express their thoughts.

 

Mr Men

Ever since the first books were published in 1971, Roger Hargreaves’ Mr. Men have been an enduring favourite with children (and parents!) of all ages. The likes of Mr. Happy, Mr. Tickle, Mr. Bump and friends must rank as some of the most famous characters in children’s books – and the boys love reading them as much as I did when I was a child. There are so many to enjoy and we love the bold, bright illustrations and simple storylines that make the Mr. Men stories fun and appealing for my boys to read over and over again. Every Mr. Men character has a key personality trait that provides huge entertainment as they head off on a variety of adventures but my favourite one remains Mr. Tickle.

Dr Seuss

Well, what can you say about Dr. Seuss’ wild, wacky and energetic creations? They are amazing. Entertaining. Loveable. And tell a great story too in rhyme making them easy to read and even easier to listen to. From The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, to How The Grinch Stole Christmas, these are timeless books of crazy rhymes and weird and wonderful characters that we never tire of reading.

 


Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, macabre, often darkly comic mood, featuring villainous adult enemies of the child characters. His books champion the kind-hearted and feature an underlying warm sentiment. Some of his best-known books for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine.

Read about our year of celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl

(http://www.myboysclub.co.uk/2016/12/2016-year-celebrating-roald-dahl.html).

 

His stories have gone on to capture the hearts and imaginations of children and adults across the globe, Matilda has always been a firm favourite with me and my boys.

 

How to Train A Dragon

These books inspired the Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon films. It is a series of twelve children’s books written by British author Cressida Cowell. The books are set in a fictional Viking world and focus on the experiences of protagonist Hiccup as he overcomes great obstacles on his journey of becoming a hero the hard way. The books have some illustrations, activities and also teach you how to speak Dragonese and train your own dragon to do tricks!

My boys love them all but they are perfect for children of any gender. Whichever books you choose to read, enjoy, it’s a very special time.

What’s your favourite book to read with your children?

Deb x