Burns Night

If you’re Scottish, you’ll know today is a very important day for us. Today we celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns. Being a teacher (when I’m not so ill), we usually prepare for today by teaching our pupils all about Rabbie and his poetry. We also have competitions to see who can recite his poetry the best.

Burn’s night can be lots of fun and I do love Haggis, neeps and tatties with a glass of Irn Bru but in my world today of lock down and homeschooling 2 young kids I had a slightly different view of Burns Night.

Here is a little poem that I wrote for the occasion.

Schools are closed, it’s homeschool these days
Covid has changed the learning ways
No Scottish verse speaking competitions
Just doing the basics feels like a mission
No chanting the lines of poetry from the bard
Weans don’t understand it, it’s no fun it’s just hard
I’m going to say something controversial next
It may have fans chasing me with their axes and picks
But Burns can be a little outdated
I’m not saying he shouldn’t be taught or be slated
But teaching five year olds about our Rabbie
Is like teaching Shakespeare to your babbie
Perhaps if we let them write their own views
About their country, the folks and the news
Then maybe their experience of being a Scot
Would inspire poetry within them to come out like a shot

It’s not a traditional Burns poem but I hope some people like it.

Happy Burns day everyone! Lang may yer Lum reek.

2021 is here! Hmmm…

So, how has your year started? If, like me, you’re in the UK and have kids it’s probably started off being pretty busy. Who loves homeschooling?

Honestly, I am grateful for the extra time I’m getting to spend with my kids but I really wish I wasn’t having to force this new routine on them. Home is supposed to be where you chill out and have fun. But now, it’s where absolutely everything happens because we’re not allowed out (for very good reason) and when we do go out, say to walk the dog, the kids have forgotten how to act and you spend your time shouting about crossing the road safely and reminding them they don’t have to scream and run as fast as a cheetah just because they are outdoors. I feel infinitely sorry for children right now. Almost as sorry as I feel for their parents. Lockdown is hard on everyone but homeschooling seems to be pushing lots of people to breaking point.

Here’s my take on it as a parent. I hope it helps some people.

  1. Do what you can to help your child get set up for the learning each day and make sure they know what they have to do.
  2. Encourage your child to do as much as they can by themselves.
  3. Help your child when they are struggling and explain that there is nothing wrong with struggling, it shows they are trying.
  4. When you or your child gets overwhelmed, have a break.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until complete (If you have young children, maybe just repeat until the next meltdown and then call it quits).
  6. Praise your child for trying their best.
  7. Enjoy the rest of your day together.

There will be times when you may decide to have a day off because you know that you and your child’s mental wellbeing is at risk so you take a holiday. This doesn’t mean the learning stops, it just changes. These are the days where you practise life skills, whether this be cooking and cleaning or learning patience and waiting your turn by playing a board game.

I have been homeschooling for 2 weeks and have found most days a struggle. Being unwell has made supporting my eldest with her school work and entertaining the toddler very difficult. I am lucky because the teacher was very understanding when I told her I have an ongoing illness but we would do our best. However, having barely been able to get off the couch on Wednesday and Thursday this week but still trying to complete as many tasks as we could, I decided that Friday was an unofficial holiday. I can’t tell you the difference this made to both me and my kids! Honestly, my house was like a different place today. And they helped with the housework! I can’t wait to spend the weekend with them and just have fun.

What I’m trying to say, but not doing a particularly great job of it, is this. 2021 hasn’t got off to the best start. However, we can make it work for us. If we all do our best and help each other as much as we can (a phone call or text to check in with a friend or loved one) we can do this. You don’t have to do everything. Some days it’s perfectly acceptable to do nothing! These are shitty times but we can make them a little better by being nice to ourselves and recognising and acknowledging how hard we are trying and everything we are doing.

We’ve got this! Take care and stay safe.

If the struggle becomes too much please speak to someone and ask for help.

A little poem for you

My poetry isn’t exactly deep or earth shattering. It’s just me spewing my thoughts and feelings onto paper in a way that works for me. Almost like a journal so don’t judge too harshly. I wrote this one in December when I was feeling pretty down but wanted to feel better.

Be the change
When it hurts so much you no longer feel
When you don’t know if you’ll ever heal
Look around and take a breath
There’s reason to feel so bereft
But keep on looking, what do you see?
So many reasons to stay and be
The beauty of the world around
Birds in the sky and plants on the ground
Your family that love you so
They wouldn’t understand why you had to go
Those lovely friends who make you laugh
They’ll stay with you on this shitty path
Now look inside, what’s in there?
A girl, a little frightened and scared
But she’s slowly learning who she is
Maybe sometimes she gets in a tizz
But give it time, this isn’t easy
When parts of your past make you queasy
Be kind and gentle, build it up
A wolf will grow from this pup
You are strong in your own way
Believe in yourself this is your play
This is your story and you are the author
Be the leading lady or why even bother
You know you can do this it’s now or never
So get on your unicorn and live forever!

Hopefully that’s given you a little inspiration. Or at least a giggle. I’m off to feed my unicorn now.

Hello 2021

So, my last post was a little like 2020, if you made it to the end without serious damage, well done. Let’s make 2021 better.

There are so many things I want to change about myself. Not because I’m not brilliant and amazing, but because I have lost myself over the past few years and I’m not as shiny as I used to be. It’s time for a polish. Usually I make plans, lots and lots of plans. This year I’m making a wishlist, nothing set in stone, just some things to work towards at my own pace.

2021 wishlist:

  1. Have fun with my kids. Any kind of fun. Films, colouring, games, outdoors, tickles, building reading dens, baking, anything that makes us smile. Then record it in the lovely memory book I got for Christmas.
  2. Improve my health/manage my illness. This is a tricky one because we don’t know what is actually wrong with me but I’m hoping 2021 will bring more information/a diagnosis/a way to live with it. This will help with all other aspects of my Wishlist. This will include trying to improve my diet (which is currently mainly chocolate and sweeties), attempting gentle exercise (walking and yoga), breathing and meditation and anything else the professionals suggest.
  3. Get on top of the housework. I know this sounds incredibly boring but I am a hoarder! There, I said it. My house is full of clutter and it stresses me out. I want to have a calm space to breathe and enjoy. I also want my children to learn the lifeskill necessary for being a functioning adult when the time comes.
  4. Get back to work (and stay there). I think working on the above will help to improve my physical and mental health and give me a better chance of returning to work and managing it. There are lots of reasons to get back to work (financial, social and emotional) but really I want to be doing the thing I love and feel that sense of purpose and usefulness again.

So there you go. My wishlist for next year. I think working towards this will definitely bring back some of my shine. What’s on your wishlist? Post your ideas in the comments.

All the best for 2021! I hope it’s a good one for you!

Goodbye 2020

Like most, I will be glad to see the back of 2020. It’s been a tough year on many levels. This is the year of Covid-19, isolation and lockdown. But on a more personal note, this is the year I grieved the end of my marriage, couldn’t go to work because of the fatigue and pain I experience and the year my eldest started school. It has been a year of ups and downs but I got through it.

If 2020 has taught me anything, I can’t remember what it is at the moment. My marriage ended in January 2019. It was, I would say, a sudden and unexpected ending. Not that we didn’t have issues, but they were ‘normal people issues’ that modern families have, so I didn’t think they would cause the complete breakdown of our marriage. I was wrong. My husband left and didn’t look back. My eldest was (and still is) devastated whilst my youngest was, thankfully, none the wiser. I did everything in my power to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for my girls. I had a few moments where they saw me break down but I used those times to teach them that it was okay to miss someone they love when they’re not there. I slapped on a smile and got on with it. I was nice to their dad in front of them and civil at most other times. I kept it up for over a year. What I didn’t realise was that about 10 months after he left, my body couldn’t keep it up. This may have been coincidence or it may have been linked but at that point I became so tired that I felt like I couldn’t do everything I needed to. On the day that I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow and cried every time I opened my eyes I phoned the GP. I went to see her and we put it down to anxiety and depression. It was coming up to the first Christmas after my husband had left and I was struggling to hold it together. That Christmas was also the first time I thought I didn’t want to be here. A fleeting thought, but a scary one.

So 2019 wasn’t great. Turns out it was just the trailer for 2020 and there was worse to come. The depression and anxiety eased, but the fatigue got worse. The first day I slept for 20 hours I couldn’t believe it. And to make matters worse, I was still tired! I had no energy to do anything and was feeling horrendously guilty for not being able to tidy the house or play with my kids. Then lockdown hit and it was just me and my babies for 12 weeks straight. I was sleeping during the day with them sitting on me watching Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig because there was no hope of me staying awake. Luckily my kids are awesome and trustworthy but the guilt just kept piling on. I was a terrible mum, my kids deserved someone better, I should just get up and play with them, I should be ashamed of myself. I will say now that none of that was true because I was giving it my all. Every ounce of energy I had went to looking after my kids. My personal hygiene went out the window and I went to bed at the same time as them so that I could get as much rest as possible.

I was still off work too, which was awful. I am one of the lucky people who has a job that I love and I miss it every day. That also made me feel guilty and made my fatigue worse. I did try to go back to work but I didn’t last long and by this time I was having joint pain too, as well as some socially unacceptable symptoms. Having to stop working again was awful, especially after such a short time back. I felt like I had let everyone I work with down and was being a terrible role model for my kids. Now that I realise my kids are happy, healthy and safe, my big fear is that I don’t get back to work. I just can’t think about that for now, it makes everything feel worse and so much harder.

During this time my eldest started school and I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of her. She has taken to it so well and is absolutely amazing. She loves it and gives it her all. She got a kindle for Christmas, chose a book and read it to me! My heart almost exploded with pride and love. She is a little super star! Definitely one of the highlights of my year.

Things were less joyful when my ex announced he had a new partner this year and I realised I hadn’t taken any time to think about my marriage or grieve the end of it. I had been so busy making sure my girls were ok and getting through Christmas and New Year and dealing with these strange symptoms and just trying to get through each day (which by this stage involved fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches and those delightful socially unacceptable symptoms). Anyway, I met his girlfriend and then the kids met her. She is lovely and I think she will be good with my girls which is all I care about. I suppose now would be a good time to mention that my ex doesn’t know what the truth is. He isn’t exactly a liar, he just bends the truth so its more in his favour or more like what he thinks you want to hear. Also, he wasn’t good for my mental health and I never felt like I was good enough, pretty enough, posh enough or clever enough for him and was constantly doubting my worth and my self in general. I’m sure that was a combination of both our personalities but I’m pretty certain he used it to his advantage on more that one occasion. My mental health hasn’t been good for a few years now but I deal with it and I get help when I need it.

The lead up to Christmas has been particularly tough. The pain was getting worse and the fatigue just takes over my life. But on top of this I began to think about all the things that were never going to happen because my husband had walked out and moved on. My ‘plan’ had never involved being a single mum or having to share my kids on weekends or losing half of my family. I cried and raged and slept and cried and slept and cried until no more tears would come. I was surprised how much crying I was able to do. Then I thought about it. I don’t want him back, I don’t like him and he is very bad for my mental health. So what was I grieving? I was grieving my plan. I was grieving for my children because they don’t know why daddy left. I was grieving for my in-laws who are now just people I used to be close to. I was grieving not being good enough for him despite driving myself into the ground trying. It’s still hard and it still hurts but I wouldn’t change it and I suppose there has to be some comfort in that.

As we approached Christmas my mental health took a nose dive. I was overthinking everything and feeling sorry for myself and one day it all became too much. I felt awful. I was exhausted beyond words, the pain was horrendous, I was sad about my marriage, I didn’t want to share my kids at Christmas, I just wanted to not be here. I didn’t want to be responsible for not being here because I couldn’t have my kids having their dad walk out on them and then me desert them. But if something could just happen so that I didn’t need to deal with it all that would suit me just fine. It was scary and as I thought about it I realised I had to do something. If not for me then at least for my kids. I called the doctor and explained. I told her I wasn’t likely to do anything drastic but I just really and truly didn’t want to be here. I just wanted to take the easy way out (and I still do to a degree). I feel like the last 2 years have been crap. My entire life has fallen apart and I don’t know how to put it back together. I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for my kids I wouldn’t be here but then again, if it wasn’t for my kids I would have probably grieved sooner and have fewer issues with the whole marriage ending thing. But then again, I think if we didn’t have kids we might not have separated. I could go on.

I won’t be sorry to see the end of this year. But I will take forward a few important things. I am a good mum and when it comes to my girls I give them my all, they are happy, healthy and safe. I wouldn’t change the situation I’m in so I need to make it work for me. I will do everything I can to improve my health, manage this illness and have the best possible life for me and my girls. There are people out there who are so much worse off than me and I am grateful for my girls, family, friends, colleagues and my safe, warm home. If you have had a tough year I hope next year is better for you.

If you ever feel like you don’t want to be here please reach out for help. Call your GP or NHS24. There are many organisations out there who help people in need, please reach out. You are not alone.