2017 – a review

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope that, regardless of how 2017 has treated you, 2018 will be amazing.

For us, 2017 was an amazing year. In February I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing. She has guided our life in a new direction and although some days it feels like we’re holding on for dear life, other days we’re thoroughly enjoying the ride. Every day with her is a gift. She is growing up so fast and I’m sure she learns something new every day! She keeps us in our toes now that she can crawl. She’s quite speedy too when she gets going. Her turning 10 months on Boxing Day means that we are about to begin the frantic process of baby proofing the whole house. She can now wave and can even say ‘bye’. That takes her word count up to four (Mumma, Dadda, Bubba and bye). If you make a gesture to kiss, she’ll lean in so you can kiss her forehead. She laughs at everything! She has 7/8 teeth. She walks when you hold her hands and easily climbs up furniture and toys so that she’s standing. She talks to her toys/herself a lot. She can recognise herself in a mirror or camera and laughs when we play back videos of herself. She’s beginning to throw tantrums too. Little strops if you take something off her or won’t let her roam freely. Soon she will be walking and we expect all hell to break loose. In a few months she will be one and that’s a very scary thought. It’s such a cute stage in her development though. Time is just going by too quickly and if I blink I fear I may miss it all!

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2017 also brought about a change of direction in my career. Unfortunately, many employers won’t make space for mums who are returning to work after maternity leave and who are in need of more flexibility. If I have one regret for last year. It would only be that I didn’t take more time off, even if it meant less or no money. In May I made the hard decision to leave my full-time job because as many will know, full time work (especially as a teacher) and motherhood do not bond well together. Whilst I fully appreciate family’s that can make it work for them, I think I’ve always known that I couldn’t commit to full time work. The decision was made with a tear in my eye. I had made friends, worked with some great people, made it through my NQT with grit, determination and a lot of bloody hard work. As well as all that I think it’s fair to say that I owe my teaching career to a couple of amazing teachers/HLTA’s who, without their support and guidance I would have easily given up in that first year. Naturally I was sad to go but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose contact with these ladies. I also promised that I wouldn’t allow myself to be over worked and under paid anymore so in November (after having finished late October) I became a supply teacher. The money is good, the hours are massively better, I can choose when and for how many days I want to work. The positives far outweigh the negatives in that sense. Yes, there are some really hard days and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but being able to leave at a reasonable time and get home to my family before dark is a real bonus. Knowing that I don’t have to continue work when I get home is good. It’s such a relief to enjoy teaching again.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October. We went to Greenwich Park as it was somewhere we used to visit a lot when we first started our relationship. I’ve always loved Greenwich so it seemed only right that we took Zosia out for her first adventure there too. She celebrated her eighth month a few days later so we made it a double celebration. We wanted to go back to a restaurant we often went to but it had been closed down. It was sad to see it gone but it was going down hill in our last visit. Instead we went to Jamie’s Italian a little down the road. Zosia joined us at the dinner table in her own high chair for her first proper restaurant experience. She was so cute holding her dads hand across the table. It will always be a fond memory.

Being married has been the easy part. Trying to change my name has been the difficult bit. You forget how many loyalty cards you’ve got until you try to change your name on them all! Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is as much a pain in the arse as he was before we were married but he is now, as he always has been, my biggest support. He is by my side through every tough decision, when I hit the 24hr+ marker of labour and the Doctors we’re trying to make me take some form of pain relief, he stayed true to my prior decision and reminded them that it was my body and thus my decision if I took their offer or not. He held my hand through every contraction, every push, every moment of my exhaustion and my sheer jubilation at having finally, 51 hours later, given birth to our beautiful little girl! We stood together by her incubator, hand in hand. He dried my tears as I blamed myself. He held me up just as I felt the initial weight of motherhood pushing me down and helped me push back. He is and will always be my pillar of strength.

We have also just celebrated our first Christmas together as a family and it was just so magical. Zosia made a trip to another of our old haunts (Bluewater) to visit Santa and his elves. Although she didn’t seem too fussed about the whole thing, we will treasure the memories. We took her Christmas shopping and to have her first lunch at Ed’s Dinner. She only had a salad of course!

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Our Christmas Elf. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

We had our first Christmas Day to ourselves in a very long time. We got dressed before presents – something I’ve never done before. I wanted to make sure the photos were good for the future rather than a messy Mum. I know that sounds daft but when I also love to share pictures with our families so I was not going to share barless, unwashed and undressed pictures of me with anyone! Zosia was spoilt over the two days of celebrations. Families were visited on Boxing Day. She now has a mountain of toys and books. My house is awash with toys. My living room is an obstacle course. Luckily I got some nice storage boxes from the MiL so we can at least store some away. She enjoyed her Christmas dinner with us too. There was lots of love and laughter all day. It was perfect.

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First Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

It’s been difficult to keep up with the blog. Trying to find time between working and being a Mum and a wife is hard work. I’m trying to remain creative too, using my bullet journal more again and trying to make some prints to sell. I guess we’ll just have to see how the year will pan out as it goes. I’ve got plans in mind to help keep up the posts. Keep your eyes posted for a post about goals for the new year both personal and blog.

Thanks for listening

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

JakiJellz
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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So, how is it Christmas Eve already? Where has this year gone? When you have a child, time sure flies. I’ve always loved this time of year but this year is going to be something special. We’re all prepped and ready to celebrate our first Christmas as a family. I’m so excited to see how she reacts to her gifts. Don’t get me wrong, we’re fully aware that she has no clue about the significance of tomorrow but she gets so excited about new things, how can we not be excited?

There will be plenty of love and laughter in this house tomorrow and that fills me with such a feeling that I’m sure I’ll burst! We’ll document the whole day so that we can share it with her when she’s older and share it with the family during the day.

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions but I’ve enjoyed every single moment. I look forward to what next year shall bring too. I’ll be setting up my bullet journal for next year and hopefully more creative work will come out of it. I’ve got big plans for the blog but it’ll be hard work preparing for it all. I’ll also be continuing work as a supply teacher which I’ve enjoyed more than I imagined I would.

So, thanks 2017! You’ve been great. Here’s hoping 2018 will kick your arse!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. Stay safe and enjoy it all.

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama and family!

 

Family

The Dangers of Personalised Bags for Kids.

It is a sad fact of life that kids go missing everyday.   Some are found the same day, just a kid that’s wandered off.   However some do end tragically.   I can’t imagine how I would deal with that as a mother or a teacher.   But did you know that the personalised bag and/or lunch boxes you’re buying your children could be putting them at risk?  I often see children at school with the latest brands of bags or even stationery but lately I’ve noticed an increase of children walking around with their names on their rucksacks, P.E bags or lunch boxes.   I mean, sure, there are some cute designs out there but are they worth the risk?

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So, why is this a problem I hear you ask?   Well, it’s simply down to what we teach the children at school.  Stranger Danger.   We teach them what to do when they are approached by a stranger but what happens when that stranger knows their name because it is emblazoned on their bags?   If a stranger can call a child by their name, it will likely confuse the child into thinking that they must know them somehow.   For all they know it could be a friend of a parent or grandparent and they’ve just forgotten who they are.   The child becomes unsure and doubts themselves.  They don’t want to seem rude or upset their parents.  Before you know it, they have been abducted.   Everything we teach them at school becomes undone.

 

This poses a huge problem, especially with the younger children who may not even make the connection between their bag and the stranger.  So, I ask you, nay, I beg you, do not send your children to school, or anywhere public for that matter, with their name on their bags.   It is so very dangerous.   Think twice before you buy that bag/lunch box etc. for the child in your life and help to keep them safe.

 

Thanks for listening,

Monsterful Mama

Mindfulness: how to be mindful everyday.

 

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Does it always seem like the busier you are, the less in control you feel? It’s easy to get lost in the mundane of everyday life, be it at work or at home. We are all guilty of being a mindless zombie, trudging through life searching for brains but what happens when you finally find one? Do you scoff it down so fast it barely touches the sides? Do you eat it without thinking about it is you’re actually eating in the first place. Now take out the analogy because it’s slightly gross and apply it to something slightly healthier and more appetising, like your daily bowl of cereal. Do you still scoff it down mindlessly? Do you eat your breakfast on autopilot every morning? Think about it, you had oats today but what did you have yesterday, or the day before or even last week? Living life on autopilot might seem like an effective way to get things done but where is the fun in that? Trying to do too much means we miss out on the beauty of every day.

It’s understandable that if you’re leading a hectic lifestyle, keeping things simple is the easy option but self care is just as important. The idea of self care is to make time for yourself. The simplest way to do so is to just pause. Take a break from the madness and stop. Stop the task you’re doing. Sit or stand where you are and think – not about work or the task you were doing but the spoon in your hand, the sound outside the window, the taste of your cereal, really think about it.

It sounds easy doesn’t it. Just stop and think about your spoon, it’s not a hard task. Stopping what you are doing and thinking in the moment, not the past or future but the present, this very moment but did you try it? As a teacher (and a new mum) I know all too well just how difficult it is to switch off. It’s not a 9-5 kind of job where home is the work free sanctuary. Home becomes an extension of work with half your marking piled up on the dinner table most evenings. You want to switch off but don’t want to become a hemp wearing, vege munching hippy (we love you really!). Mindfulness is an incredible tool that can allow you to switch off from work, from those mundane tasks, from whatever it is causing an imbalance in your life. Using mindfulness to take a break, a brief and intentional pause from your own thoughts can enable you to stop and reset, reconnect with your mind, body and surroundings.

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Mindfulness Watercolour.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

How do I let go and be in the moment?

At school I use one simple thing. The chocolate button. The kids love it because they get a treat, the teacher because the whole class is quite for 2 minutes and you’ll love it because it’s being naughty whilst being good to yourself.

Follow my 5 step plan to help you become mindful.

First things first, disconnect yourself. Turn off all electronic devices. We don’t want to be interrupted. Make sure you have some chocolate buttons in reach. Get a yoga mat, blanket or cushion. We want to be comfortable. Make sure you read ahead before you begin and just remember that we are all human, if your mind wanders don’t beat yourself up about it. Just refocus and move forwards.

Step 1: Make sure you are sitting comfortably with your eyes closed. Listen to the sounds around you. What can you hear? The fridge whirring? The neighbours getting ready for work or the birds outside chirping? Shut that out! That is a distraction that will lead your thoughts astray. Instead focus on your breathing . Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Inhale

Exhale

Step 2: Once you’ve refocused your mind, take a single chocolate button (only one is needed, this is not an exercise in eating chocolate!). Place the button on your tongue. Let it rest there. Don’t swallow it. Think in this moment only. Think about the chocolate, the texture of it, the taste. It’s melting. You’re salivating, it’s yummy. (If your mind wanders or you ‘accidentally’ eat the button, just get another and bring it back to the moment by focusing back on the breathes).

Step 3: The chocolate is almost gone. Don’t rush to finish it, savour it. The velvety chocolate resting on your tongue as it slowly disappears. Once it’s gone, don’t open your eyes, remain in the moment. Focus on the feeling in this moment. The euphoria of now. Let the moment wash over you. Let the corners of your mouth stretch into a smile.

Step 4: Refocus back to your b

reathing. Taking deep breaths.

Inhale

Exhale

Inhale … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Exhale… 2 … 3 … 4 …

In … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Out … 2 … 3 … 4 …

Step 5: Open your eyes. Continue to focus on your breathing before you get moving again. Stand up, stretch it out. You’ve just completed your first mindfulness exercise. How did it feel? Now is your time to reflect. Not on life but on the feeling inside. Do you feel ready to face the day? Alive and kicking? Good! Enjoy it.

You can use other foods such as a raisin or other dried fruit. Something that won’t disappear too easily but that will still excite the taste buds and awaken the sense. Try adding this to you daily routine and see the difference it makes. This is one of many mindfulness exercise that can help you you take back NOW, to refocus your mind on the moment and prepare for the day ahead.

Other exercises to try:

Walking: this is a great source of low impact exercise that can invigorate the body and the mind. The fresh air and the sunshine on your face helps to refocus your thoughts.

Making tea/coffee: the step by step process may seem like a mundane task but you focus on what you are doing in each step. You can be in each moment and you get to enjoy a cuppa.

This may seem like the opposite of what you need to do to refocus your mind but it is about taking time out and enjoying a bit of self care. Reflect on what you are reading and switch off from work and life.

Meditation: mindfulness is rooted in meditation. If you need that time to come back to the moment, to de-stress, you can take 5 where ever you are. Just find a quite spot and enjoy a moments peace.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. It’s really cheap as there are a lot of free apps available. They will guide you through each session and some even provide music to meditate to. Applying mindfulness to your everyday can bring about positive changes to your mental well-being and it’s so easy to get started.

I hope you like my little intro to mindfulness. As I said, there are so many great apps and guides out there so get looking and get trying. If you do try the chocolate button exercise drop me a comment and let me know how you get on.

Monsterful Mama

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