Wednesday, 29 August 2012

If I struggle with change - How will my children cope?

 Back in 2001 my 1st husband flew over to collect his 3 children for  Christmas as I could not face taking the children to the airport and handing them over even though this was their 3rd trip- I look back at this photo and I see 3 happy kids looking forward to time with their dad. Time changes everything.
 The hardest part for me was when I got remarried and had P & Q both born during the Summer when my older children had to be in Italy . They also spend their Christmas over there so I would video them on the last day with a gut wrenching sadness as I saw them leave.
Of course on each return there would be smiles all round here they are tanned ad healthy meeting their new baby brother for the fist time. It would take a good 3 weeks to get back into routine but over the years it began to get easier as the children grew to understand the new family dynamics. For me it is still the toughest part of being a Mum.
Old enough to travel alone for the 1st time !
Each Summer I dread having to take my children to the airport for their court ordered contact with my first husband . I drop out of public view and sulk like a toddler who is missing her comforter and spend a few days wallowing in my sadness. This year I decided to get some help and signed up for a life coach to see me through what promised to be another flat summer of loneliness. I was able to type out my fears,frustrations and hurtful memories and lay them to rest. I realised for the first time ever that my perception of this annual event was still locked into my past and that looking at it from a different angle I could see that the children have benefited hugely from what I perceive to be an annual sacrifice. They have a bond with their extended family to be proud of. They get to travel to places I could never afford to take them, they taste foods and see sights that could never have been possible and they form friendships that have lasted . My daughter was just 15 months old the first time I had to put her on a flight to Italy and by the time she came back she was weaned and I felt I had missed so much of this process.
This year my daughter was 15 yrs old and traveled unaccompanied for the 1st time and even had to negotiate the airport and train  with her 17 yr old brother. I was very proud to see how well they coped and it was lovely to see how happy they were over skype .My eldest who is now 19 chose to join them for a week this year as he is no longer bound by the court order.
They will be home tomorrow from their adventure and are already planning their next trip to be away for the whole of Christmas break.  I am so looking forward to seeing them again .

Saturday, 25 August 2012

We love being a big family

 From an early age I would tell people I planned on having a large family.  By the age of 19 I was married and living in the USA in Kissimmee and was planning my brood. By 2004 I had put my body through 15 pregnancies resulting in 6 beautiful children and over the years I did a fair few media shots. I was looking through my portfolio in order to make my youngest a scrapbook and thought I would share her latest adventure with you in this weeks blog.
 Chloe is the youngest of my six she is now 7 years old and has been flexi schooling at her local junior school and homeschooling with me . During the summer we went to the opening of Mums in Business at the lounge. It proved to be  a great success for both of us . The venue is set off the road with plenty of parking. There was plenty for both of us to do the day we visited and lots of ideas to take on board as to how to keep her occupied. I met other mums who are juggling being a Mum and working from home and it was great to find a child friendly networking venue.
 Chloe got to do some hands on artwork with a lovely local artist called Karen. We were so impressed that we booked up for a super mother and daughter event and we went back to learn some more techniques together .
I think the nicest thing about networking with other Mums is they know why time with your children is so precious. We are all keen to skill swap and share ideas and all understand that a balance has to be struck between family and business. The encouragement and support I received over the Summer has made it far more pleasurable for my daughter and I . We have had some wonderful days out , met some lovely fellow net-workers and I think it is fair to say we have both learned a lot about our relationship as mother and daughter .  As I look at my children now I know time is passing me all to quickly and the time I have with my youngest is more precious than ever as we missed a lot of time together due to my illness. Every day is special now and I am so glad I discovered networking this year . Sometimes acceptance for who we are and what we do is enough to make it all worthwhile and whilst for now I may not get that from my children I do feel accepted by a group of Mums who like me are striving to find the balance.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Making Mums smile - adding to their face value LOL!

Accidents happen - it's okay so long as you have the right tools to tackle them:-)
 I saw a post today ( I used it for the title of the blog) and it made me smile. 
As a mum we are often judged by the cleanliness of our homes but we are equally judged when things are too clean so how do we strike a balance.
I suffered terrible migraines and began oxygen therapy and was diagnosed with allergic asthma source uknown.
 I went through a period of time when I was a new mum of worrying over everything my son came into contact with. By the time I had my 6th child I was overwhelemed by the sheer fact that whenever I went into the kids bathroom it looked like no one had cleaned it in days - a thankless task. I became lovingly known as MRS MOP ! I was inevitably referred to see a CBT specialist to address what outwardly seemed to be a case of OCD and very soon convinced them that in fact my cleaning routine came out of neccesity due to sheer quantity of people in the house - each weekend we had as many as 30 of us and some parties we have had 70 in the house . They discharged me with a note saying  I had responded very positively to the CBT course but that unless things changed drastically with other members of the household I would have difficulty putting any of the tips I learned into place as there simply were not enough hours in the day to achieve everything that I wanted to do as a Mum .
I  found out that I had allergic Asthma due to inhalation of cleaning products and continues cleaning habits and began removing some chemical from my home but this year I took my sisters advice and got rid of them all. I had to  admit that it was time to change the habits of a lifetime ad reclaim some time for me in the process.
The kids bathroom - I had to face the fact that I needed to ask them to help me keep it the way I liked it !
 I started with small challenges and got new products that were safer for me , safer for the kids and even better came in small concentrated recyclable packaging cutting down on waste and found I was able to encourage the children to help me keep their bathroom looking the way I wanted it .It took less time , which gave me more time to mess about and be creative with them so it was a win win situation.
My carer soaked the blocked shower saving me and my fix it guy another repair job.
 I still have a carer who comes to look after me as I am still recovering and as yet unable to take a shower without being supervised and even she enjoyed the new products and tackled the broken shower head by simply soaking it whilst she washed my hair with a jug - if we had realised how quickly the limescale would have come out we might not have bothered with jug at all lol ! What I have come to realise is that you are always learning new things and it is okay to admit that you may not have always got it right . You can only do the best you can !
Life in my house is inevitably grubby, with football,Hockey,art,craft and parties but now I can relax knowing I am not alone .
Now I am in my 8th month of a new cleaning routine , I was resistent to change , I did not think chemical free cleaning would work but by taking up the challenge with the support of my kids and carer we have turned the house around . We even have had fun dividing up the chores together thanks to some loving tips and a magnetic organiser from my new life coach Tarryn Hunt.
 My son loves bubbles so he is the master of the mop now and is also in charge of cleaning out the bath . My daughter loves to freshen up all the upholstery and carpets because it involves a spray nozzle  - her rug has never been more loved. In fact I see an overall change in all 6 of my children .
 I had always encouraged them to be creative and had been more than laid back about artistic or baking mess but had not encouraged them to clean up after themselves .
I had felt that was my duty as their mother and guilt set in as clearly the mess only seemed to bother me but sometimes asking for a little help and encouraging them to realise its okay to have fun drawing on the windows, tiles and floors but someone needs to clean it up and it does not always have to be me is a pleasant change.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Taking a look back at babysteps ..and my baby sister who is 15 years younger than me ..

In 2001 I was a mum of 5 and I was living in Chaos (Can't Have Anyone Over Sydrome) I discovered that many of my NCT friends had found an incredible email support buddy from the USA known as The Fly Lady. At the time you signed up to receive daily guides on how to tackle your everyday worst chores. It became a game and by the time I had drawn up my zones and had followed her terrific guidelines in taking babysteps into loving my house again I really began to form a great network of support . These days Social media and networking has come a long way and it was with great pleasure that I found Fly Lady has bloomed with an incredible amount of followers both on the forum and facebook .  Even now 11 years later I still pop my shoes on to get busy , I love my 15 minute fling tasks and whilst the children do make a mess I am now more than ever equipped with the tools I need to get on top of the daily mess they create .  I would say the only thing that has changed are the products I use . I was introduced to chemical free cleaning by my sister who has 3 children under the age of 5 and like me wanted an easy and safe way to get results particularly without having to worry about the kids touching or licking the surfaces you have just wiped down . I like most mums had never really looked at the labels or for that matter on the instructions on my cleaning products. It was a shock to see that most of what was under my sink had huge warnings - to wear protective clothing,use in a well ventilated room,keep away from children ,chemicals like ammonia,formaldehyde which are not only caustic on your skin but actually give off some pretty good toxic vapour into the air . Well I took the information on board and could see what she could see in choosing safer products . I too help her by referring customers in the UK now whist she is doing amazingly well building her business from the USA as  Global leader. I think the key thing is we are creatures of habit , we do not like change and we are seduced by media marketing . I would say that I was the biggest skeptic when it came to changing not only my routine but the products I used too . But I am glad I was not daft enough to say No without at least trying to understand what it was I was being asked to see.  I would advise anyone to take a chance on change , when someone has the ability to show you something new listen and when you have listened and done your research and decided that it is not for you then it is absolutely okay to say NO It's not for me. But never assume like I did that your way is the only way we have so much to learn even from younger sisters - Love you Sam - keep going you have given me a great start and I am so proud that as a single Mum you are still just Doing the Best You Can !