Happy New Year! Glad tidings near to the end of January too, I know, I’m sorry – I’m running approximately a month behind with everything at the moment. Please forgive me! I fell ill just before Christmas with a nasty flu virus, which completely wiped me out over the whole of the festive period. It was one of those ‘write-off’ Christmases that you get every now and again in your life, and as much as the little ones had such a lovely time, I still feel a little sad that I wasn’t really able to take part in it, as I had planned so much for. However, our bodies have a way of shutting us down sometimes, so I listened in and did as it said. In fact, a month on and I’m still not fully recovered. 2015 – you shall be a healthy one, a well rested one (with more sleep than 2014) and with focus and hope; a very happy year. I find that rather than focussing on resolutions, or drastic changes, I try to think about goals for the new year – more like subtle tweaks that over 365 days, might just make a huge difference. Here are some of my ideas for 2015.

 

Plan / I’m learning more and more that the key to this functioning-happy family lark is to be a meticulous planner. It may not be everyone’s parenting philosophy, but it really works for me. I’ve always been pretty organised, but towards the end of last year, I started doing more meal planning, weekly shopping lists and taking time out to jot to-do’s in my diary, arrange play dates for the boys and so on. You know how it is. It takes time, but it seems to free up bigger chunks of spare hours over the week that we can enjoy as a family. And I feel less a frazzled and distracted mother – which pleases everyone I’m sure!

 

Play / As Omi approaches his third birthday, my thoughts are often caught up in the idea of him nearing school age. I have to admit, I’m really struggling with the thought of him attending a school and we haven’t fully decided on his schooling (or unschooling) plan as yet. For now, I am reminded of how precious this time is and I want to make sure our time together is spent well. Because the children will independently play at home (some of the time), I’m often guilty of fitting in my chores and to-do’s when we are around the house. I would really like to make more of an effort to engage in real play with both of the boys when we are at home. There’s something so magical about a child’s ability to get lost in their imaginative world, and as adults, we can often forget how amazing the world of play really is.

 

Cleanse / Decluttering and minimisation were a couple of themes around our house last year. It has felt good to keep things simple and I plan to continue. Since having the children there is such limited time for me outside the realm of parenting that cleansing the unnecessary has become something of a must. This year I have saved my time wasting by cutting back on social media and have deactivated my facebook and twitter accounts (I love instagram too much to let that one go). I’ve made gradual cut backs on sweet foods (my absolute weakness – I need time with this one) and after a horrible-health end to last year, I’m putting my health at the forefront. Keeping life simple – the mantra for this new year.

 

Learn / Although I hated school as a child; as an adult I’ve always loved to learn and have taken several short colleges courses since my early 20’s. I took my Mum’s advice and held off enrolling on anything last year. Desperate as I was to get going, with the lack of sleep and nursing Orion and everything else going on, there really weren’t any extra hours in the day for college. I’m hoping to take a summer term course at a local college later this year – and I’m planning to study pattern cutting and design. The idea that I could actually design and make clothes for myself and the children is very very exciting – and something I have been keen to learn for many years.

 

Blog /  Ah the little blog. I’d be lost without it. It’s a creative space, a place to connect and to share. I’m feeling more relaxed about this online space than ever. I really hope that anyone that reads will continue to peek in every now and again over the coming year. I’m really looking forward to working on mammina this year, so if you enjoy reading – thank you so much for taking the time to tune in.

 

**for anyone thinking about a 2015 cleanse, i can highly recommend Marie Kondo‘s new book. I’ve gifted it to several friends already and it’s fast becoming my bedside life bible **

 

 

I am always tired. When people ask how I am, the first thing I say is, “I’m tired”. I bore myself with how much I can talk about baby sleep patterns, daily tiredness and borderline exhaustion. Currently being a stay-at-home-Mum to two young boys means that days are jam packed, non-stop and just not restful. I absolutely love being with them all day, and I put 100% of what energy I have into making them happy and fulfilled. It’s just…..you know….really tiring. I’ve said this before, but both boys have been pretty terrible sleepers. Thankfully, Omi has found his way and is happy to settle to sleep for the whole night, but right now Orion will wake every two hours, or less, evening and night, and is up for the day somewhere between 5am-7am. I feel like we’ve tried every trick in the book; pick up/put down (hello backache), controlled crying (eurgh hated every minute of it and it worked for about a week), offering water (hell no, why would he want that), trying to fill him up with solids (hello constipation), more daytime naps (nope), less daytime napping (nope again) – and I have finally given in and am breast feeding him back to sleep every time he wakes. I’m averaging five hours sleep a night. AND I AM TIRED. I’ve spent the last 2 ½ years developing my own compassionate strategies for coping with chronic baby-induced tiredness, and I wanted to share them with you. If you’re a kindred tired Mamma out there, then I want to send you a big e-hug (H U G) (there it is). Here are my top 10 ways of coping with a sleepy head in a busy world.

 

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE – I wrote a bit about keeping life simple. So I will refer you back to it, here. When things get too much, I simplify.

 

2. RESTFULLY ACHIEVE – There is always so much to get done, and the only time I can do anything productive, or for myself, is when the babes are napping or in bed. When I’m really done in, I make a cup of tea, grab my laptop, phone and diary and sit on the sofa. From here I can write to-do lists, plan meals, online shop, text friends back, return emails and calls, and so on. It’s a feet-up restful time, but I also get lots done. Win-Win.

 

3. TRY NOT TO STRESS ABOUT IT – Easier said than done I know. I spend most mornings totting up my hours of sleep from the previous night, minus the night feeds, resettling, toilet trips, water breaks and so on. It never comes close to that magical 8 hour target that I dream about. In the past, this would make me quite anxious, to the point that even when both boys were asleep, I would be lying awake stressing about how tired I was. I’ve learnt my lesson, and try my best to accept the unknowns of the night ahead, hope for the best, switch off and get my head down when the house is quiet.

 

4. BE HEALTHY – The more sleep deprived I am, the more likely I am to reach for easy quick-fix foods (normally cake) to see me through the day. It always leaves me feeling worse in myself, like I’m running on empty, in all senses. I have to remind myself to drink plenty of water, start the day with a big bowl of porridge, stock up on healthy snacks and try to take a good walk in the fresh air.

 

5. MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY – Owen is always saying this to me. And he’s right. When I’m exhausted after a long day, and have a broken night ahead, I have to accept that although my evening is my only time to myself to read my favourite blogs, do some writing, bake something….(in between running up and down the stairs to Ori), sometimes I have to scrap any plans of doing anything and just sleep. Even if I get an extra hour or so, it all helps.

 

6. MAKE A PLAN – I’m no expert on solving baby sleep problems – but sometimes as a parent, you may feel that enough is enough, when it comes to tending to a little one that will not settle easily. Perhaps you need a change of course when it comes to your methods of coping with a wakeful baby. Since having Ori, we have spent several evenings making ‘the plan’ on how to help him sleep better so that we can get more rest. Now, this will mean different things to different people, but for us, the plans often outlines who will attempt to settle Ori at what time and how often I am prepared to feed him back to sleep during the night. It helped us to have something to work with, so that we weren’t trying to make decisions at 2am. And I could go to bed feeling confident that Owen and I were working as a team and sharing the sleep deprivation out a little!

 

7. ASK FOR HELP – Learning to admit that I can’t do it all and that I need help with the boys, has been a great lesson for me. I’m generally crap at asking for assistance, but when I am worn out I know I can ask friends and family to help me with things like food shopping, cooking meals and playing with the boys. Having a little pressure taken off, makes a big difference to my happiness and my ability to be a good Mother to the boys.

 

8. PLAN A PJ DAY – We all know there are no holidays, sick days or time-in-lieu when you are taking care of little ones. However, I have invented my own guilt-free Mama bank holiday in the form of a planned PJ day. Planned in the sense that you must have enough food, nappies, home-based activities and visitors to entertain the kids sorted in advance, leaving you free to stay in your jammies all day behind closed doors, to rest up a little, without having to face the world. Shutting everything out for one day is just so needed sometimes.

 

9. LET THINGS GO – It’s hard to stay on top of your game when you’re exhausted. Rather than getting worked up about all the things that I should have done, or could have done, I try to take a deep breath and let go. So, I might not have had time to do my hair, or put proper make-up on, I didn’t make that special meal I’d planned or listed the pile of ebay things to sell….but I try to remind myself that things will get done eventually, life will fall back in to place and everything will be easier when I’m more rested.

 

10. KNOW THAT IT WILL END – It will end. I assure you. I’m not there yet with the little babba still waking so frequently. But Omi sleeps for 12 hours a night with no get-ups, probably 90% of the time now. I keep saying to Owen; “Imagine when they are BOTH doing that! We will be, like, sooooooo rested”. We will get there. And you will too.

 

AND FORGIVE YOURSELF – For being short-tempered, forgetful, unorganised, unwashed, tearful and all the other things you wouldn’t necessarily be if you weren’t so bloody tired all the time.

 

**how gorgeous is that photo of the lovely big bed basking in the sunshine? i took that on mine and owen’s final get away in cambodia before we left for home, 3 months pregnant and full of excitement. ah – should of slept more back then.**

Just lately, I’ve been experiencing a sense of, well, full-on-ness. It’s my new word. Things have been pretty full-on now, for over two years, since Omi was born. Having two children, as my friend Kelly puts it; “back to back”, life has felt fast, non-stop and sometimes pretty manic. It’s all been building into a big squiggle of complication in my head. I have so many thoughts, so many questions and very little time to unravel all my internal conflicts into a workable shape. Most of all, there is just so much to do – and the cliché, so little time to do it. This can easily get overwhelming, as it often does. I can’t magic more hours in the day. I can’t make my baby sleep for longer stretches (though I have tried!) Jobs will always need doing. Life will always keep on rolling. There is no other remedy, other than to simply….simplify. It really is the only way for me to bring myself down, to cope I guess. Things just have to made simpler. So, here are my rules of thumb, to regaining perspective and keeping things simple.

 

SIMPLE PARENTING – A whole day (and night!) with young children can feel long sometimes. When I find myself worrying about how to entertain, educate and emotionally care for both of the boys in one day, I have to remind myself that what they need right now is also very simple. Jumping in puddles, a walk to the canal, playing in the garden, painting with watercolours – are all easy activities that they enjoy and can be organised pretty quickly. And if it’s been a hard day, the TV or a film on is also OK too. I have been thinking a lot about compassionate parenting lately. We can’t be all-achieving-super-parents all day long,as much as we’d like to be. Some days are just made for simple parenting. Whatever that means for you and your family.

 

SIMPLE FOOD & COOKING – As much as I love to cook, there often just isn’t the time. By the afternoon, it becomes a toss up between trying to get the children to entertain themselves so I can start preparing the meal, or playing with them and hastily rustling up a dinner that I am less than happy with at 5pm. I want to eat healthy, balanced meals that are home cooked. I want the boys to experience a range of foods, that are freshly made and ready to eat no later than 5.30pm, shared by the whole family as we sit and eat together. Some days, this is my most impossible task – and has become the thing that upsets me the most. I have had to accept that, for now, our meals will have to be simplified. Helped along by the new season (spring and summer dishes always seem easier to me), we have been enjoying lots of simple steamed vegetables (pre-cut packets are life savers), boiled new potatoes (no need to scrub or peel), grilled meats, baked salmon, roast chicken (covered in foil and left to slow cook in the oven all afternoon), rice noodles (dropped in boiling water to cook, then tossed in sesame oil and tamari sauce), boiled eggs, grilled haloumi cheese (just sliced out of the packet) and lots of sliced mango (while we can still get it). As it turns out, the simpler food has been the best and most healthy way to feed our family, as well as the easiest. The thought of making a lasagne is giving me palpitations right now. All those layers.

 

SIMPLE CHORES – A friend once advised me that in order to be living in the moment, you must be ever-present. And a good way to practice this is when you are washing up. She said that instead of hastily washing the dishes, thinking about the next chore or what else had to be done next, simply immerse yourself in the current task. Feel the warmth of the water as it runs from the tap, watch the bubbles grow in the bowl, feel the sponge under your fingers and carefully clean each plate and bowl, consciously doing each one, one at a time. Stand nice and straight, and breathe. For right now, washing up is what you are doing – what you are doing is washing up. I have extended this ‘chore meditation’ practice to other things such as folding the laundry, hoovering the floors, dusting the surfaces. Household chores can often feel rushed and stressful, because there are a million other things that need doing, or things we would rather be doing. I find that the best way to simplify chores is to ask myself, does this need doing right now? If the answer is yes, then do it, consciously. Even if it is the only thing you get done all day.

 

SIMPLE GOALS – I am a keen list writer. I have to-do lists in my diary, my note pad, on my phone, on my laptop, on my fridge. I have current to-do’s, near future plans and life long goals all written somewhere, and they are ever changing and expanding. The nature of to-do lists, is that although they seem defined and attainable, they are inevitably never ending. I’ve decided to view my list of to-do’s as being on a sliding scale, from ‘do none of it’ to ‘do all of it’. Anything occurring above ‘do none of it’ is viewed as an achievement. It can be frustrating, when there is so much to be done. I’m learning to separate what needs to be done, from what I’d like to get done – and concentrate on the former, for now at least.

 

SIMPLE LOOKS – When I’m short on time, the last thing on my mind is putting together a well curated wardrobe ensemble. Since having the boys, I have found my style becoming more simple and relaxed. I wear a lot of plain colours – and am drawn to functional jeans, jumpers, t-shirts and flat shoes. I am actually more comfortable with my style than ever before and I feel at ease with my simple look.

 

SIMPLE RELATIONSHIPS – I have an incredible group of beautiful friends, and I make a big effort to see them when I can. Like me, many of them have their own young families, as well as demanding jobs and we all realise how hard it can be to make time to much else. My best friends are loving, understanding, always available in some form (even if it is replying to a text message) – but above all they are flexible and aware of the unpredictive and spontaneous nature of parenting, even if they don’t have children themselves. We might go for weeks without seeing each other, but it always feels OK. I have learnt to let go of relationships that are demanding or draining. My life may have less people in it, but it feels all the better for it.

 

SIMPLE THOUGHTS – Nothing stays the same for long. Especially in the world of parenting. I try and concentrate on the non-permenanse of sadness and negativity, if I feel it. It always passes. If I’m worried, or anxious, I tell myself that everything will be OK and to try and relax. I teach a lot of self-compassion to my clients and I try and use it in my own life when I can. When life gets a bit much, I tell myself to switch off a bit, become a little less emotionally charged, find something nice to look at, or listen to, to get lost in. It simplifies my mind, if only for a short time, and it’s very helpful in the long run.

 

I found this little Buddha, that had broken away from it’s original statue, whilst staying in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I considered taking it with me as a keep sake. It was so pretty. But something told me to leave it where it was. I took a photo instead.

 

Helpful links – practising simplicity  ‘yoga at the kitchen sink’ / pink ronnie ‘making over my life’ / buddhism for mothers / the happiness project / the one minute meditator / paul gilbert’s ‘mindful compassion’.

I have really been enjoying some new blogs recently. In particular, Practicing Simplicity, over in Australia. So, this is a big shout out to Jodi, if you’re reading…your blog is lovely and I am inspired. Here is my list, as I try to capture all my fleeting thoughts down in to one place.

Currently I am……

loving the quiet time after a long day, when both boys are asleep at the same time.
finding that it is changing the little things that have the biggest impact.
trying not to buy a £150 lamp for my bedside table.
wanting an unbroken night’s sleep.
craving milk chocolate even if it’s bad for me and giving me spots.
making surprise gift parcels for friends.
cooking simple dinners, like chicken, rice and steamed vegetables.
drinking a very small glass of red wine in the evenings, it makes me feel like i’m on holiday.
reading my new cookbook, the smitten kitchen. i was never good at reading real books.
praying for a good nights sleep.
singing summer time and the living is easy. at least four times a day.
painting water colours with omi. though i secretly want to enrol on a oil paining course.
creating more head space by taking on less.
planning a festival holiday.
wishing that i’d never shaved the sides of my head. taking forever to grow back.
waiting for a day hot enough to wear shorts and have bare feet.
hoping that one day i will live in spain.
needing some reiki from my friend sam.
wearing variations of black, grey and denim.
lusting after the whole of ace and jig’s summer collection.
thinking about home schooling the boys.
noticing omi’s milk teeth and how much i will miss them when they fall out.
knowing that all my friends with children struggle at times, just like me.
wishing that the cleaning fairy would make my bed.
laughing at omi instead of telling him off. i can’t help it.
feeling tired, always tired.
listening to my mum. she always knows best.
breathing in each new day. i am lucky. i must remember that.
throwing away anything that is not useful or beautiful.
asking the universe for a break. c’mon. make it happen.
playing hollie cook. over and over.

 

Happy New Year to you all! Wishing you every happiness for 2014. I like to have aims, goals, targets…whatever you want to call them. The new year always feels like the perfect time to get started on new things and I am really raring to go with several different projects. Here are my new years resolutions, in goal form.

 

1/ BLOG MORE – I’ve often thought about giving up on my blog. It’s a lot of work for me at the moment, and I wonder if anyone out there is actually reading it. But, I just love doing it. And I know that people can blog for a living, or at least turn their passion for blogging into some form of income. This is my creative space, my journal and my reason to keep documenting our lives so that we can sit down together as a family (as we often do) and look over old photos and reminisce. My aim is to connect with more bloggers, take part in online projects and try to push my blogging up a level.

 

2/ BUY BETTER – I’m all about organisation and de-cluttering. I want life to be simplified. Spend more, buy less. I want this year to be about fresh, locally sourced, organic (where possible), home cooked food. As well as fewer, but better quality clothes, furniture and home products.

 

3/ CREATIVE PROJECTS – I have already decided to embark on two photography projects this year. The first is the 52 project; a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014. The second is Project Life, a digital scrapbooking project that I will also document on my blog. The third is to complete a sewing project (here) that I purchased from Etsy. It will hang in my hallway by 31st December 2014. Wish me luck!

 

4/ HEAD SPACE – Need to get me some more of this. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. I hope to get back to yoga, either in a class or my own practice. I’m also planning on creating myself a desk and office space at home, where I can spread out my ideas and get planning. For me, creating is relaxing.

 

5/ LEARN MAKATON – Omi has really taken to learning makaton signing. His favourite being biscuit, strawberry, cake and hedgehog. It’s been so useful to bridge the gaps in his communication as he learns his first words. I can see how this will really help Orion along if we start a little earlier. I plan to find a local class, read some books and get signing.

 

What are your New Year goals?

 

*The photo is an old one of me. Taken by my friend Joshua Whitelaw. Check out his website. He is my film photography inspiration*

 

I’ve learnt that the first key to goal setting is to write your goal down. The second, is to share it.

So here are a few of my goals, or resolutions, for 2013.

 

1. Bake bread – It feels like such a skill to bake your own bread. I want to learn, and succeed!

 

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps – Well, he’s not really a baby anymore as he will soon be 1! But, he does still nap and sometimes I just need to stop too, and lie down with him. I never did this when he was little and sleeping lots, and I think it’s catching up with me. More rest needed!

 

3. Cook with the random cupboard ingredients – I’m always buying odd things and swearing I’ll use them in my cooking. 2013 is the year for experimenting with palm sugar, mung beans, tamarind pulp, ras el hanout, smoked sea salt and molasses.

 

4. Shop at the market – Leicester has a fantastic fresh market, so I shall endeavour to take a weekly trip to buy fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. No more Mr Tesco getting all my money.

 

5. Learn to sew – I’m enrolling on a dress making course in January, so this one is covered. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to pick up some basic sewing machine skills to alter my vintage pieces, and maybe even make something completely new.

 

6. Get out of town – We need to get away more, definitely. There will always be money, time and tiredness (laziness) constraints, so we just need to push on through and make the effort to get away and see some new things.

 

7. Get better at digital photography – It would help me with this blog, so much. Film photography is great and will always be my favourite, but it slows down my efforts in active blogging. I need a new digital lens, and lots of practice.

 

Happy New Year, everybody. May 2013 bring you peace, love, happiness and joy. x

 

 

 

I had an inspirational chat with my friend, Zoë, last week about asking the Universe for what you want and ‘putting it out there’. It’s really got me thinking. I’m contemplating more and more what I want from my life, who I want in my life, where I want to live, how I’d like to earn money and how I want my life to work for me. Over the last few years I’ve read alot about the law of attraction and I’ve seen how people are using it to better their lives. A great read is a book called The Secret, or you can watch the film. The Secret explains the idea that positive thoughts bring about positive results.  Using this law of attraction, we can literally ask the Universe for what we want, and receive it in time. It isn’t magic ‘tree-hugging hippy crap’, it isn’t selfish or greedy and it certainly isn’t always easy. It takes work to achieve what we want in life. But it starts with a simple statement of “I want” teamed with the positive belief of “I can”. I feel that a fear of failure often leads us to shy away from putting out there what we really want to achieve and receive. I believe that there is enough good energy, enough money, enough love, enough friendship and enough space in the world for all of us to have what we want. There is no limit to our individual potential.

I’ll keep it simple; You can have what you want. You’ve just got to let yourself want it. Put it out there.

 

Thank you to Ash Cummings and Angie Muldowney for these beautiful film photographs. They are both taken in Brighton. A place I love to visit and I place I want to live one day. I’m just putting that out there.