Pink & Blue Mummyland

Pink and blue parenting through pink and blue moods….

New Normal

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine lost her mum very suddenly. She collapsed at home, and had died before they even reached the hospital.

We all knew Nanny. Every morning Nanny and Poppy would stand by the window waiting for us to walk by on our way to school so we could wave at them. Nanny used to give my advice on what bulbs to plant where, and how to protect my vegetable patch from bugs.

Some of you might remember School Run Mum from this post. As long as I have known her, she has had an air of strength about her that I’ve always been slightly envious of. She says things how they are, and is the kind of ‘what you see is what you get’ person that I always warm to.

She is having to keep going for her family – both her dad, who lives only a few doors away, and her children, who saw their Nanny every single day. She’s holding it together for the eight year old who is so angry at the unfairness of life and death, and the four year old who knows something is wrong and that Nanny isn’t there, but can’t quite figure out what’s real. She’s keeping strong for the man who has never lived alone, who’s been married to a woman who has looked after him for forty years. She’s putting a brave face on it for the school run, where people ask how she is, and she tells them how everyone else is doing because she hasn’t had a second to think about herself. She’s treading water.

Seeing people broken is never easy, but seeing this woman, who I always saw as so strong, on the verge of falling apart, reminds me of the way life can shock us. I hate cliche, but it reminds me of my own mortality, and that of my family – including the children, which is the hardest part. It has made me appreciate my family more, knowing that the time they aren’t there any more can come swiftly and unexpectedly. There is a reason cliches become cliches.

She and her family are headed into a new phase now. A few weeks on, after the funeral and all the planning that goes into such an event, life is starting to get back to the normal run of things. Back to school, back to work, back to washing uniform and cooking meals and reading bedtime stories. All normal, except for the massive Nanny shaped hole that no-one is ever going to be able to fill. From the difficulty of those first couple of weeks, waking up each morning knowing that every second is going to be hard, the family are moving into a new phase. The ‘hard’ carries on changing, and life is taking on a new kind of normal.

Most of the time I just wish I knew what to do. I want to make it better. But as much as there is a ‘time for every season under the sun; a time to heal and a time to mourn,’ there is also a time to talk and a time to stay quiet. All I know is this: when I don’t know what to say, that’s what I say. And when I am standing, just being there, saying nothing can be as valuable as saying something. Weeping with those who weep and mourning with those who mourn isn’t easy – I have left her house and wept on the pavement more than once. But the privilege of being able to do that, of being invited into someone’s life and grief, is astounding. I treasure this friendship and all it has brought me – delicately holding the pain as assuredly as we laugh and have fun as the good times roll. I guess that’s what friendship is all about.Lonely_Tree_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1705927

If you are the praying type, please pray for this family. Jesus knows.

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Abbie’s top 5 resolution making tips!

Having talked about the right time (and wrong time!) to make New Year’s resolutions Resolutions I found myself inundated* with requests for other nuggets of wisdom regarding making choices for change. So, without further ado, here are my top five tips for making resolutions that last. Most of these come from my book Insight Into Self Harm, which helps people who self-harm make progress with their recovery, but I think the ideas are universal.

1 – Know what you want to do

Tip number one sounds simple, but it’s crucial. Not only do you need to know what you want to achieve, but you need to know exactly what you want to achieve, and know for definite what you either don’t want to change or aren’t going to change right now. The big thing to remember here is that you can’t do everything at once.When I look at my life, I can see multitudes of things I could change for the better. Drink less, eat less, smoke less. Pray more, write more, exercise more. I’ve learnt that if I try to change everything at once, I normally end up back where I started. Habits take a long time to form – we need to give ourselves time to change them..

2 – Know how to go about it

This is where you plan and prepare, and gather resources to help you get where you want to be. Some of these will be obvious – think nicotine patches and celery sticks. Others will be harder to pin down. For me, routine is always a big thing – it’s got to be something that fits into my life if I’m going to keep doing it.
NB – if you really want to make a lasting change there is no shame in seeking professional help. Doctors, therapists, AA – whatever gets the job done.

3 – Know why you want to do it

Reasons are important to have a stock of during those times you want to give up. They are also helpful for when you do temporarily give up. Reminding ourselves why we’re putting ourselves through it to start with is what’s going to give us a kick up the backside when feels hard. Find yourself a phrase: “I am doing this because…” – this is your mantra for when the going gets tough.

4 – Know how to deal with set backs

I think it was Thomas Edison, when inventing the lightbulb, who said something along the lines of ‘I never failed, I just found another way not to do it’. My interpretation is, when you fail, chalk it up to experience, and keep on keeping on. Berating yourself isn’t going to make you feel any better, and it distracts you from getting back on track.

5 – Know when you’re done!

One of the things I say in the book is to make your goals measurable – that is, design them so that you’ll know when you’ve done them. If that’s not smoking or drinking it will be easy to see, but if it’s ‘get down to two a day’ that’s good too, just as long as you know what you’re aiming for. If it’s a positive thing you’re trying to do (eg pray regularly) you still need a way to measure it, but don’t go too hard on yourself – I’d suggest four or five days out of seven to start with. The key with resolutions is, don’t set yourself up to fail.

So, there we are! I’m just getting started on what I want to achieve this year. I’d love to know what you decide and how you’re getting on…

*OK, I was asked by three people, which isn’t ‘inundated’ as much as ‘slightly pestered’. But I can dream….

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Resolutions

Now we are out of the chaos of Christmas and the humdrum of the holidays, I’m sitting down to consider my resolutions.

I think resolving to change for the better is an important part of growing up, so I’m a big fan of it. But I personally think that New Years Day is the worst possible day to start new things.

I don’t know about you, but by New Year I’m exhausted. We’ve normally travelled as a family to both sets of grandparents, plus a visit down to London to take part in a day of traditional English morris dancing at a pub (that’s a whole other blog post…!). This year was worse than most, because Cable Guy’s parents have moved to the very end of Cornwall, about ten minutes from Land’s End, which entails spending about six hours in the car each way.

By the time the kids go back to school I’m frazzled. The thought of adding in extra things to do at that point is crazy. I did it for years, and never managed to hang on to my new, shinier life. And these days, by January first I can’t even remember what normal life looks like (and our family life is fairly chaotic at the best of times…). New Year just isn’t clear. Everyday life goes out of the window. And whilst having a week long detox of all things unhealthy feels great whilst I’m doing it, if I really want to make changes that last, they have to fit in with everything else I do. A resolution has to be incorporated into the lives we live every day, not just easy to say on the day after what, for most of us, has been an overindulgent night. The idea that the best time to start better behaviours straight after a week of celebrating (or handling) hoildays is ludicrous.

So here’s what I do. I send the husband off to work and the small people back to school, spend a few days getting on top of the jobs that got left undone whilst away, drink some coffee and do some knitting, and generally give myself a rest. Then, once I feel more at peace and back into the routine of everyday life – that’s when I start changing things in that life. Because unless I figure out a way to fit them all year long, there’s no point in trying to do them at all.

My job this week is to take stock of my life. What was great about last year? How can I keep it great this year? What was pants about last year? Is there anything I can do to improve it this year? What did I achieve last year? What do I want to achieve this year? It’s only when I’ve answered these questions that I can decide exactly what it is I want to change.

I’ll keep you posted….

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