Happiness · Holidays · Home

My Dream Shower

As you may or may not know, Husband and I eloped and got married on the tiny, tropical island of Vakarufalhi in The Maldives. We spent two weeks living in a beach-side bungalow, surrounded by white sand, reefs filled with tropical fish and sea that closely resembled bath water. The island was as close to paradise as I could ever hope to witness and our accommodation was seriously swanky, too. My favourite feature was our bathroom – accessed through a door in the bedroom, it actually only had three walls; part of it was entirely outside! We had the normal bath/shower/toilet/sink combination, but then in the outdoor section we had a shower that, although closed in from prying eyes by a tall wall, was completely out in the open! You don’t know liberation until you’ve walked out of the sea, across hot sand and then stood completely starkers in your own private tropical garden having a shower under the sky!

Outdoor shower
Not hugely clear, but this is the view from the shower in our bungalow!

I’ve been a bit obsessed with ‘The Perfect Bathroom’ since then and Eau Couture have got some fixtures and fittings which come pretty darn close. I’ve accepted that, in a UK climate, I’m never going to get my open-air shower, but I do love the idea of a huge rainforest-style shower head which is less luke-warm trickle and more full-on waterfall effect! There’s nothing worse than a shower where you have to choose between allowing the water to get really hot but coming out like a dribble, or proper powerful jets which you can only ever have lukewarm.

I’m generally more of a shower girl, but that’s because our bath is too damn small to allow for proper soakage. If money were no object, I’d have a tub like this:

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In fact, I’d probably never get out of the bath at all if I had a tub like that, however I’d have a fight on my hands as both Husband and Sausage LOVE the bath!

What would your dream bathroom look like?

Anger · Family · Parenting

Arguing in Front of Kids

Arguing in front of kidsEarlier this week, I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and I saw a post from Mama Syder, one of my favourite bloggers, who’d seen a debate on telly about the potential damage done to kids when they see their parents argue. According to the expert findings “Destructive’ conflict – including sulking, walking away or slamming doors – puts youngsters at greater risk of a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, said relationship charity OnePlusOne”.

Study co-author Dr Catherine Houlston said: ‘We know conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. It’s not whether you argue but how you argue that matters most to kids. Research suggests that, over time, the impact of being exposed to arguing between their parents can put children’s physical health at risk.”

The thing I found most interesting, though, was Mama Syder’s take on the findings. She said:

The Syders“I think kids need to see arguing so they don’t grow up with unrealistic ideas about love. I know watching my parents row & divorce taught me that marriage wont be a fairytale and that forgiveness is an essential ingredient to loving & being loved in a long term relationship.”

Now, if you don’t know anything about Mama S, I’ll give you a little rundown. She’s been married to her Husband for 25 years, has three children, one grandchild and lives a gorgeous life on the Essex coast. When you read her posts, tweets and Facebook statuses, you know that although life hasn’t always been straight-forward for her, she and Mr. S are as much in love today as they were 25 years ago and it makes me wonder if her forgiveness and realism are what have seen her manage what a staggering 42% of people can’t (official divorce statistics from 2012)

I asked two other wise and wonderous bloggers what they thought, two more women whom I admire and look up to, Annie from Mammasaurus and Tanya from Mummy Barrow, and here are their thoughts:

MammasaurusAnnie: “I think hearing people argue is an important part of growing up, friends, parents, randoms – so long as there’s discussion afterwards about the arguement. Children need to know that it’s cool to express when they are angry with something or someone but that there are different ways they can do it – some acceptable and some not. And by seeing all sorts of arguements it helps them form their own opinions, and gives them a sort of moral compass.”

Tanya:

Mummy BarrowIf arguments are constructive and calm (not screaming, hurtful, or aggressive) then it is good for children to see that adults disagree on things and can either agree to disagree, or opinions changed. I dont think it is healthy for children to not see arguments resolved if they hear the argument start and not end or do I think it is healthy for a child to NEVER hear an argument. If they sense an atmosphere and parents not talking as a result of an argument they never witnessed, how is that healthy? Children need to learn how to argue. Its not all screaming cat fights like on Eastenders, and that is not healthy. Same with funerals, I think children need to go to those too. They need to understand how processes work, there is an argument, it happens, we move on. And hearing arguments whilst upstairs is not healthy either.

I agree in part with everything that the ladies have said. While it’s not ideal for kids to see heated arguments or escalation, I do think it’s reasonable for them to see that life isn’t always sunshine and roses and that human beings do experience conflict. I also think that T’s point about resolution is really important too. As someone who grew up with a lot of adults who’d rather use passive aggression and guess work to communicate with each other, I never really saw anyone backing down or being the bigger person, just a series of snarky comments and then everything being swept under the rug until the next argument.

Husband and I do our best not to argue in front of Sausage, although there have been times when we have, but we always go to great pains to explain to her that Mummy and Daddy love each other very much and that disagreeing with each other is a totally normal part of life. We’ve also been known to conduct disagreements via WhatApp or Hangouts so that things don’t get too heated! She also sees, FAR more frequently, Husband and I being affectionate towards each other, having happy debates, mucking around and mickey taking and ribbing each other gently. Just yesterday she said to us “I love it when you two laugh together”, which really warmed our hearts!

I think the escalation factor is the most important one – as long as kids see you managing conflict in a calm, measured way, that’s okay. Providing they don’t hear name calling, see aggressive behaviour such as raised voices, door slamming and plate breaking, it’s perfectly possible for them to witness an adult argument without it causing trauma to them and I genuinely believe that they can learn effective conflict resolution by being set a good example by their parents.

So, what’s your take on all of this? Do you avoid conflict of all sorts? Have your kids seen you arguing? Do you think it’s potentially damaging or a fact of life that they need to learn? Let me know!

Depression · Family

Billy No-Mates

Alone in a CrowdWhen I was around 20, my whole life revolved around my friends. I was a social butterfly, to say the least, and my phone would be constantly abuzz with texts about nights out and things that I was doing that evening. My friend Jamillah and I used to joke and say that Tuesday was the new Friday because pretty much every night of the week was an excuse to be out, in the thick of it. I rarely paid to get into a club because I knew all of the door staff, or knew someone who knew someone who’d let us in for free, and there was more than one occasion that I’d go out with no money in my pocket at all, because I knew there’d be plenty of places where our money was no good anyway, and the drinks would still be flowing.

I won’t lie and say I was 100% happy, or that all of it was real, because I was definitely running away from reality and lots of the people I counted as ‘friends’ were nothing more than fellow party-goers, searching for the next buzz. I’m so grateful that I met Husband when I did because I think my burnout would have been far more spectacular, had I not. As it stands I met someone who cared about me a whole lot more than I cared about myself and it gave me the impetus to stop abusing my mind and body.

Skip forward a few years and even the friends who were real, the ones I have almost life-long memories with, are few and far between. I won’t lie to you, dear readers, it’s largely my fault. A heady mix of lack of confidence because of my weight, combined with social anxiety that was exacerbated by PTSD means that I’m flaky at best. I’m great at talking to people on Facebook, but actually mobilising myself and getting to a coffee shop or friends house sends me into a tailspin. Even when I do make plans, more often than not I’ll cop out and cancel at the last minute. For someone who used to thrive on being out and about, it’s quite a turnaround.

I’m lucky in the fact that I have a lot of friends that I’ve met through blogging and social networking, people who I genuinely class as proper friends (like that Mummy Barrow, who spent ages trying to phone round my local hospital when she found out I’d been taken ill last year!). And the immediate gratification of being able to pick up my phone or turn on my laptop at pretty much any time of the day and connect with someone makes it even easier for me to be a shut in.

I’m also lucky in that I’m very happy with my little family. Husband is the best friend I could possibly ask for; we have so much in common and even when we’re both working from home, we find new and interesting things to talk about – we connect really well, even after 8 years of marriage, which is a huge blessing. And then there’s my darling Sausage. She’s an absolute pleasure to spend time with and more often than not, I’d rather go for a hot chocolate with her than do anything else.

But…

I still have this weird feeling of loneliness sometimes. I see old school friends on Facebook going out and having fun and I do get a pang of jealousy. It’s no-ones fault but my own, no-one has stopped me from maintaining my friendships, no-one forces me to be a social failure. Someone asked me last week if I’d had a baby shower yet and I was forced to admit that not only had I not ever had a baby shower, but I probably couldn’t muster up enough friends to even go to one. Same goes for my 30th – having a party would be pointless as it’d be me, standing in a big hall, surrounded by about 20 people, most of whom would be family. I’m not saying I don’t have any friends at all, I do, but I feel totally displaced from just about everyone and it’s all a bit sad, really.

Maybe it’s just me being pregnant and hormonal, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll join a mother and baby group once 2.1 comes along and see if I can find some equally lonely shut-ins, like me. Perhaps I need to just man the hell up and start actually leaving the house for longer than it takes to do the school run or wander round Waitrose.

Advertorial

Moments That Matter

Lloyds Bank are currently running a campaign to get us to show our ‘Moments that Matter’ and have kindly produced a .gif for me, made up of our very own moments:

mumstheword

Obviously, one of our biggest moments this year was finding out that we’re expecting baby number 2, but there’s been a lot of other stuff along the way. Sausage discovered her love of horse-riding and started her first course of lessons in the summer. She’s going to start again in the Easter holidays, hopefully.

We also had some great day trips, many locally but also to Longleat where I met and fed lots of Lorikeets, my favourite birds. We went to our first firework display as a family, visited Anfield and had an AMAZING experience there (as well as getting to see Luis Suarez score his first ever hat-trick at home!). Sausage and I had our lovely Christmas manicures in the run-up to the festive season, as well as spending lots of quality time together.

Chuck gets a mention because he’s been with us for 8 years this year and my lovely old boy is still an incredible companion for our whole family. The picture of Big Ben represents the day that I had to visit St. Thomas’ hospital for our fetal cardiology scan and finding out that our baby girl has a strong heart which is developing properly, despite my diabetes. It was a HUGE weight off of our shoulders.

All in all, 2013 was a pretty big year for our family and 2014 is looking to be even more hectic, what with a new little person coming along. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for us and what new challenges and opportunities might pitch up along the way.

What was your ‘moment that mattered’ from 2013 and what are you looking forward to about the year ahead? Do let me know.

Education · Family · Kids · Opinion · Parenting · Personal

Sausage, Rainbows and the Religious Conundrum

Husband and I have been looking for an after-school club to send Sausage to for some time; there are clubs run through her school but they’re for slightly older kids. She’s a bright, outgoing little girl but being an only child means that she lacks interaction and sometimes is a little under-confident in social situations where she has to push her boundaries. We were aware that a few of her classmates went to Rainbows so I enquired about our local group and waited for a reply.

Husband raised concerns that he thought that The Girlguides Association was a Christian group and as someone who attended Brownies and Guides myself, I had to admit that I remembered promising to ‘do my duty to God’ during the Promise. I went onto the Girlguiding website to check it out and according to the information on the site, the part of the promise mentioning God has been removed altogether, after a public consultation. It also goes on to say that The Girlguiding Association “is not, and never has been, a Christian organisation”. The Promise, which aims to represent the inclusive values of Rainbows has now been changed to say ‘to be true to myself and develop my beliefs’

Okay, so far, so good…or so we thought.

After Sausage’s first session, which she really enjoyed, I emailed the Brown Owl at Sausage’s group to see if she could shed any light on the situation, mostly because we’d received a schedule of the next few meetings which said that she’d be attending ‘Church Parade’ within the next few weeks. I asked the leader if this was a compulsory activity and if there was a general note of religion running through any of the sessions. Here’s her reply:

“There is not a particularly religious aspect to our meetings.  As you may have read in the Press last autumn, Girlguiding has altered the Promise to ask a girl to be true to her beliefs, whatever they may be, so it is multi-cultural.  Church Parade is not compulsory, but as we meet in the Church Hall and are given greatly reduced rates for the hall hire by the PCC we do like to support the Church.  About once a year the Vicar runs a meeting for us.  This has taken the form of a nature walk round his garden, a BBQ, a tour of the church and a talk about Advent.  These meetings are listed on the programme and you are at liberty to withdraw Sausage from that evening if you so wish.”

So, what that sounds like to me is that, because the Church hires the hall space to the Rainbows for a reduced rate, they’re given access to the kids to be allowed to preach religion to them. Despite the official organisation tack of ‘all-inclusive’, I don’t see anything on the schedule about activities with a Rabbi, Imam, Buddhist monk or any other such religious leader, so it does seem to be fairly exclusively Christian, does it not? And what, in exchange for cheap hall rental?

I appreciate the fact that we’ve been given the option to keep Sausage back from the sessions which involve religion, but I don’t understand why there has to be a religious aspect at all? It’s all well and good to encourage “spiritual development”, but I really feel that should be part of the parents job, not the remit of someone who is clearly biased towards one religion or another. My daughter is five years old – she’s not old enough to make her mind up about which religion she wants to follow, if any (she regularly tells us she wants to be a Hindu until she realises that it means she’ll have to give up eating spaghetti Bolognese) and beginning some sort of insidious indoctrination at such a young age is not what we signed up for.

To be honest, I feel really disappointed on Sausage’s behalf. She should be able to attend an after-school club without us having to worry about what might be being preached in her ear, but this Rainbows pack in particular has obviously decided that the all-inclusive nature of Rainbows is to be ignored. The whole point of the Promise Consultation wasn’t just to make the organisation inclusive to all faiths, it was to make it inclusive to those with NO set faith too.

She’s given MORE than enough religious education at school (which, believe me, is an understatement, she comes home almost every day telling us that there’s been some sort of religious aspect to her education) and the last thing we want is for it to be poured onto her at an extra-curricular club too. Faith, or choosing NOT to have faith, should be a personal thing, dealt with at home and marginally through a small aspect of their education. She’s five years old and it’s all too much.

Perhaps I need to see if I can find a science club for her to attend.