time flies when you're being a mum

Time for Mum

if you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to even find time to have a wash, there’s always something more pressing. Here I’m hoping to encourage myself and you to put yourself first a bit more!


Finding Purpose

Apr
03rd
2019

...and the birthday space time continuum!

03 Apr, 2019

This post has taken 2 weeks to write! 1 week to work out what was going on and 1 week to write it down…and it’s turned into a long one! I’ve given myself until today to finish it because otherwise I might never publish it. It’s turned into a mammoth one about finding purpose, moving on after another ‘failure’ (although I’m still having insomniac moments as I wait for the loose ends to be tied up) and working out what meaning truly is for me.

If any of this rings true for you, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below, come for a chat on the Mums’ Days Facebook page or even email me hannah@mumsdays.com.

Birthday blues

It was my birthday 2 Wednesdays ago (20th March) and I didn’t massively enjoy it.

Finding Meaning

That’s not completely true; I woke early and opened my present from Reuben (a thoughtfully chosen book by Mike!), I went to Bootcamp (which I really enjoyed), had a chilled afternoon (I watched lots of The Office (US one. I. LOVE. IT.) with Nancy feeding and sleeping on me) and we had a delicious family meal at a local pub. I got some lovely presents, thoughtful cards and many, many FB birthday wishes…but all day I had this underlying feeling of ick.

It’s taken a week to work out wtf is with this.

I’m grateful for my family and friends for their love and gifts – I had a great day and felt special.

I thought it might be because I’m now closer to 40 than 30 but I’m not bothered about my age. 36 isn’t old. I’ve got friends in their 40s and 50s (and older – my Grandparents are rocking their 80s) who not only look great but are content, so I’m hoping to improve with age.

I was wondering if I was gloomy about the fact I met Mike 10 years ago, just after I turned 26 – remembering the excitement and promise of a life together. But no, I’m happy to have that as a memory rather than wanting to go back in time and relive it (particularly the giving birth bits!).

Overall, I feel like I’m in a great place;

  • We have a beautiful home, that’s all but finished, and everything we need.
  • My body isn’t a dream one but it’s a very good one that’s served me well, and I’m enjoying the process of getting in shape.
  • Mike and I are in love (we’ve certainly had our troubles but we have kept working at it. We’re communicating better now than we ever have).
  • We have a complete family, with 3 beautiful, healthy children and our family time is brilliant and frequent.

So, if it’s not age or feeling unloved or my relationship or my family, what is up with birthdays?!

What is up with Birthdays?

Each year for as long as I can remember caring, I’ve felt weird on my birthday. I try to do things in solitude (one year I saw Music and Lyrics literally on my own; I had the cinema to myself) and I’ve realised it’s because I find birthdays like a portal in time going from birth up to death – each day linked to the other for all eternity! And, it’s too big to comprehend (hence zoning out under my baby and watching The Office).

Finding Meaning

At New Years it feels like a fresh start and we can tinker at the edges of ours lives. This year I WILL floss every day. Plus everyone is in the same boat.

But on my birthday, I’m alone.

It’s just me and my whole life, past and future, is staring me in the face.

On this day, I feel a direct hotline to my calling. It shouts at me, almost angrily, that I should be doing something. But it’s also tiny. Like the children in Honey I Shrunk The Kids. So I can’t quite make out what it’s trying to tell me. The secret to my existence remains a mystery beyond the fact that I know it’s there and I know I’m not doing it.

The feeling is along the lines of… Is this all you have to offer? What will you have achieved by next year? Next decade? By the time you die? What will you do? What do you love? And why aren’t you doing it? Will you ever do it?

Finding Purpose

I’ve distilled it down to finding purpose. I’m a perpetual searcher for my thing. I’ve done more jobs than you can shake a stick at from helping the milkman (age 13 to 18) to University researcher (after finishing my masters in Civil Engineering) to public speaker to working for myself (blogging and trying to write a novel) and running a business (two in fact).

So far nothing has stuck. Most recently, I started a business with a friend 3 weeks before giving birth to Nancy and in the midst of major building work… My friend had a great idea, the drive was intense so we just went for it – and it was a great business idea, Emily and I loved what we were doing and we had customers, lots of them not even friends and family! But I couldn’t sustain the workload, scrabbling for time around the 24/7 demands of a newborn baby (and on a bad day, 15 builders all making as much noise as possible and wanting decisions and teas made).

A week and a half after having Nancy I wrote the first draft content for the January box during an epic 2 hour night feed, and we spent a week printing and packing boxes in-between feeding and taking it in turns to hold the baby. The next month I got up between 4 and 5am (basically after the second night feed) every day for almost 2 weeks, just to get the February box out. I loved what we were producing but I was exhausted so I had to tell Emily the sad news that I couldn’t keep it up. Just over 3 weeks ago, 5 months after starting, we closed the business.

Failure, Daemons and finding Purpose

All this experimenting can make one feel like a failure. And a nutter. Why keep trying and failing when I don’t need to? I have a baby to look after, 2 older children, a house, 4 pets, a humongous garden that the triffids have started to take over and I don’t need to work, so what is this urge?

In Steven Pressfield’s book, The Artist’s Journey, he calls it our Daemon – a thing that we cannot control that makes us do often crazy things. It presses us to keep striving despite our ‘better’ judgement. It doesn’t care what our circumstances are, it just keeps that fire burning, encouraging us to move towards our higher purpose.

That’s a little woohoo for me, but equally, I like to think it explains a lot.

Over the past 6 weeks, I’ve been doing a Bootcamp in town. Not only do I love the workouts and extra endorphins but I’m absolutely loving my commute. 35 mins there and back to listen and learn and think.

I’ve listened to tons of the James Altucher show, a couple of them twice, which has led to listen to Failing Forward by John Maxwell and, as I mentioned, The Artist’s Journey by Steven Pressfield. Both of which are nice and short at around 2 hours each and have been hugely helpful for reframing my thinking. Particularly around ‘failure’ and also how to move forward.

The big take aways are…

  1. Fear has been paralysing me – I’ve completely stopped writing and making things again because I’m scared of everything from Trolls and what people will think of me if I truly open up; to indifference and what if no one gives a shit; to hard work and do I actually have what it takes to keep going when the going gets tough?
  2. Create art to find out who you arepurpose and your subject is something you find. It doesn’t find you – beyond that initial tap on the shoulder and a pull in the right direction.  By creating art (aka something that didn’t exist before) we are reaching beyond annoying things that stand in our way, like ego, arrogance, fear of failure, and fear of success, even, and we start to understand who we truly are beyond the bullshit.
  3. Quantity over quality. Creating art is hard work because obstacles pop up all the time. And, obsessing over perfection while trying to create ‘quality art’ does not result in good work. Good work comes from trying, and ‘failing’, again and again. Create loads of stuff (stories, art, videos, blog posts, podcasts, music… whatever you want) and see what works and which themes emerge.

Each time I’ve started something since quitting professional blogging 3 years ago, it’s brought me back here. To Mums’ Days. The place I document all the highs and lows in life. The place that keeps track of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to achieve in the future. The problem, I think, is that I keep thinking perhaps blogging IS my thing, when in fact it is purely the tool for keeping track and discovering my thing.

When I make blogging my thing, it distracts from discovering my subject by making me obsess over the things that make me feel down and don’t actually matter – planning, social media, numbers, making money, etc. – instead of making art and connecting with people on a deeper level.

I believe my purpose lies here and this blog is the tool for helping me document the finding of it. Making something every day is far more meaningful to me than planning a bunch of blog posts that I hope may go viral!

What now?

Another podcast I listened over and over again was a Tim Ferris one, where he called his listeners and answered one of their questions. I listened to his answer to one chap’s question (starts just after 20mins of the podcast linked above) about 5 times in a row to get my head around it.

Tim was asked how he found meaning in life, now he has achieved so much.

His main driver for everything is ‘scratching his own itch’

  • Everything he does comes from a problem he has and he says, whatever your problem is (even if you’re a housewife searching for the meaning of life) there will be thousands, if not millions of people out there with the same problem who will benefit from you documenting and sharing your experiments.
  • Life is about your perception of what matters. The people around you may have strong opinions about what you should be doing with your time, but doing things to please others and not being true to what matters most to you will not lead to meaning and fulfilment.

He recommended reading The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch (it’s a bit heavy, I’m working through it at the moment on audible and I’m struggling, so I think I’ll switch to reading it -the rap at the beginning is toe curlingly bad!) to help identify what is most important to you. Other books mentioned are Awareness by Anthony de Mello and Man’s search for meaning, The Classic Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust by Viktor Frankle.

A couple of itches I want to scratch are…

  • Weight loss after baby number 2
  • Writing a novel (that one is refusing to quit)
  • Motherhood
  • Finding meaning, obvs.

I’d like to address the above through a number of medium from writing to podcasting and even a bit of video making!

Right, that was a long one! Did you make it to the end? If so….

  1. can you relate?
  2. what itches do you want to scratch?

As I said above, I’d love to hear from you. Comment below, come for a chat on the Mums’ Days Facebook page or email me hannah@mumsdays.com.

 

4 months old

Mar
15th
2019

15 Mar, 2019

Nancy’s 4 months old today! And what a change from last month…when she was sleeping through most nights and her teeth weren’t bothering her!

B49BC3CC-0081-464D-827B-C729FB6F24EB

It’s been a bit of a tricky month, with her fully embracing the 4 month sleep regression. Some nights she’s waking every 2 hours.

4 months old

Thankfully I’ve not found it too bad. Because I’ve started exercising again I find I get to sleep easier and sleep deeper when I do sleep. I also have more energy even with broken sleep (although hangovers without drinking is a real thing).

She’s also embraced daytime sleeps in her cot, which I love. A little bit of quiet time to read and write is heaven to me (I’ve realised since stopping drinking 18 months ago and getting a bit older that I’m actually an introvert and crave alone time to mull things over).

4 months old

I’ve noticed a real change in her development this month as she’s found her feet, she’s grabbing at everything (handfuls of hair are now missing) and she’s much stronger so carrying her has suddenly become a lot easier – no more head support.

All in all she’s a delight. Our little chicken, as Mike calls her and while I certainly don’t want to wish the time away, I’m looking forward to what the next month brings!

4 months old

weekly wins

Mar
02nd
2019

02 Mar, 2019

Hurray! It’s Saturday. It’s actually 8.27am and I’m all alone. Reuben’s catching up with Pokemon, Nancy’s back in bed (she’s taken to waking up around 6am this week, which is fine as I’m already up but it’s making her a bit more tired and grouchy) and Mike’s on a bike ride. So I’m taking this opportunity to look back over the week and see what happened and why I feel so beaten up. Ha!

1. I went back to bootcamp

Oh, that’s why! Yup, I started back at Bootcamp and successfully made it to 3 workout sessions at 7:30am without anyone having a breakdown. The fact Nancy’s been waking early has been a good thing for this as I’m able to feed her and therefore don’t have to use the dreaded breast pump. It also leaves Mike with one less thing to do before the school run. He’s had a busy week at work, so if we can make it work this week, the rest of the 6 weeks will be a synch!

The workouts are hard but I love them and really get that buzz after (I don’t normally when I workout but then I don’t normally work this hard).

2. I’ve listened to some great podcasts

The other bonus of Bootcamp is I’m enjoying listening to podcasts again on my drive in (listened to and loved this from James Altucher about positivity and as a result been introduced to this Youtube channel by Evan Carmichael). Hello brain, I’ve missed you! Plus, the sunrise is so beautiful.

Back to bootcamp

3. My mum came over

I had a lovely day with my mum in the glorious weather on Tuesday. We did a few jobs, ate a lovely lunch, went for a walk and spent plenty of time in the garden. I also put Nancy in this gorgeous dress my mum got her for her Christmas. She loved looking at the patterns. I loved her bare toes!!

weekly wins

4. We went to our first baby class

If it wasn’t for my friend sorting this, I’m not sure when we would have got around to it, but on Thursday Nancy started her first baby class – Rhythm Time. It was so lovely, and has given me so many new ideas for communicating with her and playing with the things around us, other than the constant mum monologue, of course.

Shall we make lunch? Let’s see what’s in the fridge. Oh, bugger all. I’m sure I have a tin of tuna in this cupboard… etc. you know how it goes.

5. The house is nearly finished!!!!

Really this time. We had the last of the carpet go down yesterday and the builders recon they have done everything.

We’ve even had artwork go up. 2 and half years living in this house and we have artwork.

On. Our. Walls.

I know. Get the papers.

weekly wins

weekly wins

Shark by Katy Dobson

back at bootcamp

Feb
25th
2019

25 Feb, 2019

I started back at bootcamp yesterday morning and I am beat! I write this in a dark room at 8:30pm and I’m aching from head to toe (literally. I have a headache and a blister and every muscle in between hurts!) – the minute I finish this I’ll be going to sleep ready for tomorrow’s onslaught.

But I’m so happy to be doing it!

Back to bootcamp

Back at bootcamp

Yesterday morning I crept out of bed at 6am to make myself some breakfast and express some milk for when Nancy woke up (I’ve been stocking up on milk in the freezer just in case but I also need to express first thing if I don’t want them to explode during my workout)… I don’t find expressing to be anywhere near as effective as Nancy though so thankfully she woke 15 mins before I had to leave so I fed her. Then I was off leaving dad in charge.

Back to bootcamp

It was such a stunning morning and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive in; having some me time and listening to a podcast.

My group is huge, maybe 50 people and the workout itself was really tough. Lots of HIIT and Tabatha style things (squats/lunges/burpees all for 40 seconds on 20 seconds off) that lasted forever (or 45 minutes if you want specifics!).

It will get easier though!!

back to bootcamp – diet

To help us reach our 20lb target, they’ve also given us a diet plan. At first it seems a bit complex but actually so far so good.

Dippy eggs and asparagus soldiers this morning were a revelation!

Back to bootcamp

I think it’s going to really help to kick some bad habits, get me out of my cooking-the-same-thing rut and get me cooking and experimenting again. Fingers crossed for next week’s weigh-in.

because I'm struggling to read at the moment!

21 Feb, 2019

Listening
I haven’t read anything for AGES!! But I have been listening to stuff, so I’ve a couple of things on my recommends list.

Listening list

 

Firstly, The Self-Care Project by Janey Hardy was a nice, quick, easy to digest book about, you guessed it, self-care! I really enjoyed it and found it to be so helpful to reframe some of those ‘jobs’ that you can’t be bothered to do or feel guilty for doing. Self-care is so important, especially if you’re a mum with a family that depends on you. It can often be the last thing you want to do but the cracks start to show very quickly and a frazzled mum does not make for a happy family. So, have a listen (or read!) if you feel like you need to pay yourself a bit of attention.

 

Secondly, upon the recommendation of my pal and Yoga teacher, Natalie (Natural PT), I listened to Brené Brown’s lecture, The Power of Vulnerability. I listened to this over a series of evenings while feeding Nancy and settling her to bed. Phew, what a great listen! She’s an researcher of shame and vulnerability and hit the big time when she did a TED talk that was seen by millions of people (as of writing this it’s more that 9M!!!). The whole premise is really interesting. She also shares some great parenting tips. I feel like I need to listen to it over and over again to really let the messages sink in. Here’s her TED talk as a little taster, but I’d highly recommend having a listen.

How do you find time to read? Or do you listen too?

I’d love to hear what you’re reading and listening to at the moment. What do you recommend?

Comment below or come chat on the Mums’ Days Facebook page or Instagram.

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