Can You Help Change?

As an A-Level Student (longer ago, than I care to mention) I read a book in German. Given I now barely remember a word of German, I still can’t quite believe I managed it but I did.

It’s a book that even all these years later stays with me. It was called “Damals war es Friedrich’ which translates roughly to ‘At that time it was Friedrich.’ It was a book set in the Second World War, which talked of the persecution of the Jewish race, and it started with a poem which I’ll never forget; a poem which listed people who had been persecuted throughout history and asked quite simply who would be next.

The message was simple; at any point history can change, at any point we can be on the receiving end, we can become the persecuted. We should therefore remember that. We should remember that at any point our life can be changed unrecognisably.

At around the same time I read another poem, a poem called ‘Welcome to Holland’ it’s a poem that in the Additional Needs community is well known, some love it, others hate it but most have heard of it. It’s an analogy for pregnancy and ultimately parenthood, a mother has hopes and dreams of how her child’s life will be, she dreams of Italy. But when the plane lands, her child has additional needs, and she is in Holland. Now Holland, like having a child with additional needs, can be a good place. But it isn’t what you expected, it isn’t what you imagined. Life is suddenly very different, you have a new set of hopes, a new set of dreams, a new language to learn. Your life will be very different to the one you imagined.

We often hide from things that make us feel uncomfortable, we choose not to think about them. We live in our own world, surrounded by our own problems not thinking about the issues that face those around us.

But the truth is, none of us knows what is around the corner. None of us know what the future will bring. None of us know if at some point we could be the ones that need help. And right now there are a group of mums who are trying to make a difference, mums determined to do what is right. Mums who are thinking not only of their children, but of the children of others, children who are born and children who are yet to be born. Children who will ultimately become adults needing their independence.

They are campaigning for the most basic of human rights: A toilet. A toilet that is accessible; a toilet with a hoist, a toilet where they can change their child safely as they grow, a toilet that will enable them to enjoy family days out, visit new places, experience new things. Do the things that we in our families take for granted. With only 900 accessible public changing places in the whole of the UK, the time for change is now.

Some things matter! Just because they are right! This is one of them, so if you can, in whatever way you can, please lend your support. It would mean so much, to so many.

For more information and to find out how you can help please take a look at http://www.changing-places.org or http://mychangingplace.co.uk

Even Mums Need Me Time. Yes You! You Deserve It!

If there’s one thing I’m not very good at, it’s ‘me time’. In fact if I’m honest, I’m pretty terrible at it.

I think it comes from the combination of mummy guilt and teacher guilt, and well the two are a pretty powerful combination. Whether it’s a pile of paperwork, housework or extra time with the children – there’s just always something that I find to prioritise.

Now, I’m not talking a day in a spa here – forgoing that would be acceptable, I’m talking about the small things, like actually taking the time to do my hair and put on a dash of make-up. Or even just sitting with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoying it; without feeling that I should simultaneously be typing at the computer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – it’s my choice. I love being busy. I love spending time with my children. And actually, most of the time at least, I’m more than happy to sacrifice a little me time, I have much more fun doing other things.

But I’m thinking maybe I’ve taken it a little too far. My whole morning routine, from getting up to getting out of the door (including taking a shower and washing my hair) can take less than twenty minutes, I can’t remember the last time I wore make-up, and up until today it had been a year since I had my hair cut.

So today I made a decision. I decided that actually I am worth it. I love my children more than life itself. I love my work – be it writing or teaching. But actually maybe it’s time I started to love myself just a little bit to. So the Other Half had the children for the morning (more than willingly, he’s always saying I should do more things just for me) and I had a lovely new hair cut, and treated myself to some new make-up.

So now comes the hard bit, now I have to make enough time each day to ‘do’ my hair as opposed to brush it as fast as humanely possible, and create enough time for the make-up to get out of the box and onto my face. I figure other women create time, so I must be able to as well. So if you have any tips about how you create time for you, I’d love to hear them.

After all, we deserve it x

The Baby Proofing Begins!

Number Two is on the move, and I don’t mean a halting shuffling kind of move, I mean a full scale if I want it I’m going to get it, on the move! It’s a moment that if I’m perfectly honest the Other Half has been eagerly awaiting and I have been secretly dreading.

Number One, despite being incredibly clingy and totally refusing to do anything that resembled sleep, was actually a pretty easy baby. Sure she learnt to crawl, but even then she seemed to have an inbuilt need to follow rules, she played nicely with her toys and rarely touched anything else. She lulled me into a sense of security, that was definitely unfounded. My baby proofing was limited to a gate at the top of the stairs; it was a doddle!

Number Two on the other hand has a mind of his own. Rules are not to be followed; he is stubborn, independent and determined. He will happily pull himself to standing, then let go – after all he thinks he can walk. He’s desperate to get at the fire, eat wires, dribble on Number One’s homework… in fact pretty much if it isn’t his or isn’t safe, he wants it. He’s off and he’s letting us all know about it.

So now the real work begins, we have to find ways of keeping him safe. There will be fireguards, baby gates and maybe even a play pen (the Other Half thinks it’s a great idea, I’m less convinced by the idea of putting him in a cage but on the other hand if it’s the only way to keep Houdini safe whilst I have a wee I might have to concede!) And even with all this I’m sure he’s going to end up covered in bruises, he’s fearless and I’m beginning to think that may not be a good thing….

Of course it also means he’s definitely not a newborn anymore, my baby is growing up, and I’m certainly not ready for that!

Can Women Really Have It All?

Sometimes I feel like life is a set of scales. Whether it’s getting the right work life balance, balancing out the right amount of time spent playing with the children as opposed to cleaning the house, or prioritising which of my two munchkins needs me the most, it often feels like an act of precision that it’s impossible to get right. Which I suppose is, at least in part ,because as is so often the case in life there is no right and wrong answer; it’s about doing what is right for us as a family.

Returning (or not returning as the case may be) to work is a case in point. As is inevitably the case now we’re half way through our maternity leave, my mummy friends and I have been discussing the inevitable end of our blissful year. And on this subject, perhaps more than any other, I find it difficult to align what I want with what I want for my children. I love teaching, even after fifteen years in the job, I get up every day passionate about my job, passionate about making a difference. Yet I’m acutely aware that as I’ve risen up the ranks and gained more and more responsibility, I’ve missed out on Number One growing up.

She has for instance spent the last two years going to morning care and after care, before that she would clutch my hand, kiss me goodbye and tell me she loved me at the school gates. Fast forward two years to me once again being able to take her, and those days are long gone. I am now confined to the car, and told NEVER EVER to mention the love word in front of her friends, and as for a hug, no chance (well not in front of her friends at least). Now of course all of this is an inevitable part of growing up, it would have happened, even if I’d been a stay at home mum. I guess the difficulty is, that I feel like I’ve missed out.

So now I have to decide, I have to decide whether I can live with missing out on the last bit of Number One’s childhood and the formative part of Number Two’s, or I have to make the decision to step back at work, go part time or even give up completely, and in doing so relinquish the role I’ve worked so hard to build. Of course, I realise the choice is a luxury, and one many would love to have, and I also know that because of who I am, whatever I choose I will love. But somehow right now whichever way I look at it, it feels like a loss. It feels like either way I lose part of what I want.

The Other Half says he’s not getting involved, he says it’s my career, my decision. I love him for that, for his supportiveness, for his understanding that actually I don’t know what I want. But actually, in an odd kind of way, I wish someone else would make the decision, because then I wouldn’t have to feel so guilty about letting down whichever set of children I don’t choose.

So I guess for now, I’ll avoid making that decision a little longer, even though in reality I what I’m going to do, I’m just not ready to make it official. So I’ll forget about work, bury my head in the sand and enjoy those baby cuddles. Because if there’s one thing I know I’ll never regret it’s sneaking in those cuddles before he’s too grown up to want them anymore.

Get Fruity Snack Bars

Like all mums, I’m concerned about feeding my children a healthy diet. And although I find that easy at mealtimes, it can often be difficult to find tasty and nutritious snacks that I think Number One will enjoy, especially if we are out and about.

Luckily even when she went through her rather long fussy eating stage, she has always loved fruit. Since she could quite literally eat for England, this has always been our saving grace. There is however, in Number One’s eyes, one very big problem with fruit when she’s outside the house – and that is that fruit is often messy. And if there’s one thing she really and truly hates it’s being messy.

The Get Fruity Snack Bars solve that problem for us. The fulfil my need to provide with a diet that’s nutritious and full of natural ingredients and fulfil Number Two’s need to be fed frequently and stay clean. What’s more they taste delicious, in fact so delicious that I’ve been known to sneak the odd one (or two) myself when she isn’t looking.

As if this wasn’t enough there is a range of flavours to choose from, which means we’re spoilt for choice. Which is handy for me, as I’m easily bored. From Marvellous Mango to Radiant Raspberry, from Scrumptious Strawberry to Moist Mixed Berry, and from Juicy, Apricot, Orange and Ginger to Tangy Pineapple, Coconut and Lime, however picky your children are you’re bound to find one that they (and you) like.

So if like us you lead a hectic lifestyle and are looking for a healthy, non messy snack you can feed your children on the go, it’s worth checking out www.getfruitybar.co.uk because we all know how grumpy children can get when they’re hungry.

Disclaimer: We were given a selection of Get Fruity Bars to try out in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this post are my own.