I’ve not written a from the heart post on here for a very long time. So I figured a little honest chat (or mind dump) over there wouldn’t be too he worst idea.
I can genuinely say, although for us, 2020 wasn’t the worst – we were very lucky – I can’t remember the last time I felt truly. That probably sounds ridiculous as I have four healthy (ish – Izzie’s spine aside) happy children, a wonderful husband and a lovely home. I feel selfish even writing it as I know I am very lucky – and I feel very grateful. I definitely don’t feel happy though. The last time was probably when Ottie was born – and then 6 weeks later when we discovered Izzies sudden spinal curve, everything seemed to crash down around me. From then on, it was all about just making it through, through her official diagnosis, through the worry and wait for hospital appointments and finally through her surgery. And we made it. 5th March 2020 and Izzie had her (literally life changing surgery). Izzies scoliosis story isn’t one for here – she wants me to share it and I want to as I know a few people who it has already really helped – but it deserves its own spotlight.
After her being discharged from the hospital 5 days later (5 days of trying to entertain a one year sibling in a hospital was interesting) , and being reunited with the boys who had stayed at home with my parents, I finally felt like I could breathe. We didn’t have the massive worry of Izzies health hanging over us for the time being (talks of her lungs being crushed by her spine, paralysis had well and truly pushed me over the edge before her op) but little did I know that in less than two weeks life as we knew it would change.
Talk of Covid had started becoming more prevalent when we were in the hospital but it still wasn’t really on our radar yet 11 days later and we were in lockdown.
From then on, like most UK parents, I was no longer just mum. Home learning with three children, who were in year 5, 2 and reception, plus a crazy, climbing toddler, was at points total insanity.
It became a case of doing what we could to get through the days – lessons prepping for the week ahead every Sunday, incessant organisation, deep breaths, trying to find my patience – then rapidly losing it. All whilst Ell was working when he could after the first lockdown was eased slightly to allow construction and trade workers to be able to work. My once tidy house became a mess of paper, printers, toys, counting equipment, laptops, iPads, chargers and stationary. I have no teaching background – I was a dental nurse by trade – but tried my hardest to give everything I could to helping them learn from home – and also to make them not feel like life had changed as much as it had. Having four kids became a god send as they always had someone to play with and I can honestly say although they missed their friends, it was a lot easier on them than it probably was on some families.
Along with Ell working, I also lost major support in the form of my mum and dad as we weren’t able to see them. We are very independent as a family but I do rely on my my for walks, and company. My best friend was also shielding. It meant I slowly became very isolated, on top of the exhaustion from the home learning.
Life became a game of ploughing on and making it as easy as possible. Easy meals, not as much exercise as I was no longer doing school runs. From being a person who was confident, as a person and a mum, I became scared to leave the house with four of them, feeling that within our house and garden I could keep them safe.
Once lockdown eased as we came in to the summer holidays that lifted slightly but I had already started to notice I’d lost what made me me.
I lost my desire to look good – I gained weight during lockdown and felt awful in myself. I managed to have my roots done once in July but as my hairdresser was on maternity leave, I hated my grey roots and knotted hair – it had got so long it just became a mess that I tied up as much as possible. The introduction of masks meant that my skin reacted big time – I’ve had more spots in the latter half of 2020 than I had my whole teenage years. Leggings and hoodies became my go to – partly for comfort, partly because it meant I didn’t have to think about the fact my clothes were too tight.
I stopped making videos on YouTube and stopped uploading as much to Instagram. This was for a couple of reasons – firstly with lockdown the content was no longer there – I didn’t feel I could make videos about makeup or changing bags or even family life when people were living a nightmare. It all seemed flippant, although it was something I loved – and still love and want to do. I also lost 90% of my writing and content creation work, meaning a huge loss in self employed income.
I’m not writing this all down to complain – far from it – although we lost people in 2020 we were lucky it wasn’t covid related – and we still managed to pay our bills, we played in the garden and we grew flowers and veg – and even managed a week in Cornwall in August that we had booked in 2019. We survived 2020 and we were incredibly lucky – however I do feel like ‘me’ was a bit of a casualty.
I wanted to write all this down to make myself accountable for making some changes in 2021.
As I write this, it’s the New Year, and in Wiltshire we are in Tier 3 – but being on the Wilts/Glos border (Glos are Tier 4) means that we are pretty much locked down anyway. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with schooling – as it stands the kids should be going back Monday, but if I’m honest I’d prefer to keep them at home and home learn for a while after learning that the new Covid variant spreads quicker amongst children – it doesn’t feel fair on the teachers or on the kids to sent them back into such a unpredictable situation. If we do have to do home learning again, I’ve definitely got some tricks up my sleeve that might make it slightly easier from last time. I’ve also got some ideas for changes I want to make to make myself happier too.
Some of them are very much ‘New Year Cliches’ but I wanted to make a note of them so I could try and push myself into feeling happier this year.
10 ways I want to find find my ‘HAPPY’ in 2021…
- Drink more water – I’m the worst at reaching for a can of diet fizzy anything and I need to break this habit. I’ve got a water bottle and I’m going to try and drink more water – hopefully this will also help my skin issues too.
- Lose the ‘covid stone’ – in the past slimming world has worked for me, but meetings aren’t doable times where I live, and online is so expensive, so I’m going to go it alone. I’ve bought a slimming world tracker diary from Amazon, and I’m going to use websites such as SlimmingEats and recipes books I’ve already got such as Pinch Of Nom to try and make things that are family friendly and a bit healthier for us all. I’m going to try and use the actifry more, and utilise the slow cooker – half of my problem is that it comes to 5pm and we have a massive rush for homework and tea and we end up eating easy, not so healthy food. I also am rubbish at eating – I skip breakfast, sometimes skip lunch and then shovel everything into me in the evenings – not great.
- Read more – I love my kindle and kindle unlimited and I love to read so I want to try and read as much as I can to give myself some downtime.
- Watch more tv – I’m the worst at actually sitting down and watching a series – I mess around on my phone and before I know it it’s 11pm and bedtime and I’ve done nothing.
- Team TOMM – I got so into The Organised Mum method for keeping on top of the housework. It really does work if you stay on top of it.
- Prioritising ‘Pamper’ time – and I know how wanky this sounds – but I’m crap at it. Sometimes I use so much dry shampoo instead of actually washing my hair that I just feel gross. Just having a bath instead of a two minute shower, or using a facemask once a week would make such a difference – especially since during lockdown it was easy to get lazy as I wasn’t seeing anyone except Ell and the kids.
- Exercise – me and exercise have a very love hate relationship – probably like most people – but I always feel amazing after I’ve done it. I haven’t worked this one out yet but as soon as I know I’ll let you know. It’s not the easiest with four young kids to find time but I’m going to try.
- Saying NO! I’m such a people pleaser and I get myself caught up with so many different projects and taking more and more on – and then don’t know which way to turn. I need to stop being such a walkover, and learn to say no. It’s definitely a work in progress.
- Start blogging again – even if it’s random brain farts, like this that only really benefit me. I used to share all those little moments that I didn’t want to forget and I want to try and do that again. I used to just write because I loved to – and somewhere along the line it lost its fun. I want to find the love of writing again.
- Find my place on YouTube again – I’m not sure what form that will take but I want to get back to it as I’ve loved being part of the community and having so many wonderful family memories we can look back on.
I’m also so conscious of the fact that Ottilie was meant to be my last baby, who I got to enjoy all the ‘lasts’ with. We’ve missed out on so much of that because of Covid and I want to try and enjoy my time with her for this last year before she starts preschool in 2022.
Looking at that list, it seems a bit extreme and it isn’t all going to happen at once – but I can only try. I’m determined this year to find some more happy, and a lot less worry, anxiety and feeling lonely.
Life is way too short to not be happy after all!