A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label being a mum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label being a mum. Show all posts

Thursday, 6 August 2015

How to love your own company

Alone, happy, companyRight now, I'm home alone and distracted with writing my blog. As my husband runs his own business, invariably this involves long hours (including weekends) and as my daughters have left home, getting used to an empty house has taken some time to fathom. While spending time with friends and family is a wonderful thing, there are times when secretly, I crave to be alone. As a writer, I'm no stranger to solitude. For me, this is a chance for joy and self-discovery.

Here are my suggestions for making the most of your own company.

Go to the cinema
It may have taken a while to get around to trying this, but I was so happy when I did. Subtract the discussions over what film you're going to watch and which variety of popcorn you plan to munch on, and despite the shocked looks from fellow cinema-goers, it has its merits. I sniffled quite happily through The Fault In Our Stars and felt no embarrassment on leaving the cinema as it was unlikely I'd see any of the audience again. A lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Go a little crazy
As a mum it's easy to lose sense of your own preferences as you sacrifice so much of your time (and sanity) for loved ones. From watching hilarious cat videos on YouTube, to digging out ancient CDs and singing at the top of your voice, or trying on clothes you haven't worn in ages - the options for being creative are limited only by imagination. And for the record, knowing that there's no one around to judge you is really rather liberating. 

Dine alone
Having been guilty of feeling pity for anyone I'd spied dining on their own, this one was a real eye-opener for me. I'd maybe recommend starting out with lunch and taking a magazine to read and when you're feeling braver... people watch, take your time and order whatever you want from the menu. As someone who's blessed with a very sweet tooth, lunch is sometimes cheesecake or a piece of pie! As my husband isn't a huge fan of Italian food, when he's not home, that's exactly where I go for dinner. What's not to love?!

Set targets
When you work from home it can be easy to keep going as the hours and minutes disappear all too quickly. But I've learnt that I work best when I set targets along with time restrictions. I also write a daily 'To do list' and factor in time off for good behaviour. It's easy to think that you have all the time in the world to finish a project when you're working from home and alone, but without focus, entire days can vanish along with any chance of enjoying some downtime.

Time in the great outdoors
Any chance to go outside and I'll take it. And whatever the weather, this is something I do every single day. At this time of year I love to take my coffee (or lunch) out into the garden in the hope that the sun will shine for at least a few minutes. If it's raining I might walk into town and go to the library, or browse in a couple of local shops. If I've more time to spare, I'll walk for several hours in the forest. I always come home again feeling refreshed.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ten Things my Daughters Wouldn't Have Said Twelve Months Ago

Daughters, growing upThere are tentative signs that my daughters are turning into adults. And since they turned twenty last month, our mother/ daughter conversations have had me biting my lip in an attempt to disguise the fact that I'm trying not to laugh.

We still have the odd lapse when things get very silly, but most of the time I'm left wondering who has kidnapped my teens and replaced them with a couple of young ladies? After years of attempting to get my daughters to help, organise and be pro-active about everything, finally, they get it. Here are a few examples of recent conversations...

1. "Right, I'm all packed and ready to leave for uni tomorrow. What time are we going?"

2. "I'll clean the glass coffee table in the lounge, I love how it sparkles when you can't write your name in the dust."

3. "I'm just going to set off the first load of washing." After arriving home from a holiday in Barcelona.

4. "Can Dad show me how to use the Flymo? I need to mow the lawn at the new house."

5. One day we were heading home from a shopping trip and a child in the car in front was waving his arm out of the window. As the road was narrow and he was facing oncoming traffic, I tried to alert the driver that something was amiss. Olivia piped up with, "It's all great fun until someone's arm gets taken off by a passing truck isn't it Mum?" Seriously... she sees danger. Obviously she's in training to become a mum one day!

6. "Mum, I'll call you back, I'm cooking dinner for everyone tonight."

7. "Can you email me the recipe for vegetarian paella?" I thought Sophia was joking.

8. "Do you want me to do anything?" This one threw me completely the first few times I heard it. As I'm so used to doing everything myself I had a habit of replying, "No, I'm fine thanks." I am learning though.

9. "I'm just going to bake some cookies. I've been out and bought all the ingredients." I should point out that during baking twelve cookies merged into one on the baking sheet, dripped all over the cooker and when the mega cookie cooled, we couldn't budge it as she'd forgotten to grease the tin. Still, she's older and wiser and she did clean up the mess.

10.  And my favourite of all... Olivia actually put Sophia straight on something when she saw it from my point of view and sided against her sister. "Sophia, you're just wrong, so apologise to Mum and shut-up!"

How did this happen? And why do I find all of the above completely hilarious? My daughters are turning into awesome young women and I truly love what I see. I guess it's going to take a little getting used to...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Trouble With Sleep...

Sleep deprivation, lack of sleepThe end of summer is a busy time of year in the Anderton house. For starters more than half the family have birthdays between 29th August and 13th September, this includes my husband and twin daughters. The girls also head back to university mid-September and before that, they're going on holiday for a week. Sophia also has an interview in Birmingham and is cramming in as many rowing events as possible before she leaves again.

Consequently my mind's on overdrive as I negotiate present buying, arranging parties, fathoming out whether (or not) we're all available for various social events and thinking about the girls' going back to uni.

And the trouble with sleep at the moment is... I don't ever seem to get enough...

On Tuesday night my mind was so overloaded as I attempted to sleep that instead of sleeping, I kept on thinking. The more I tried to silence the random thought bubbles forming inside my head, the worse it got.

When my daughters spotted the trailer for I Don't Know How She Does It a few years ago, their comments were, "Mum, does this remind you of anyone?" Yep, if ever there was a film that hit a nerve... this was it! At the time I was working for the NHS and although I loved my career, there were days when I had no idea how we made it through till bedtime unscathed.

You can check out the trailer here and if you haven't seen the film already, it comes highly recommended....

It was a shocking realisation once my daughters were all grown up that some of the issues are still right at the forefront of my troubled mind and responsible for many a sleepless night. Obviously, some have disappeared altogether, but only to be replaced with thoughts like...
  • OMG, where the hell are my daughters?
  • Are they going to get out of bed in the morning, we need to do x, y and maybe even z!
  • Have they remembered to... insert whatever (there's always so much to choose from!)
So, inspired by the film, here is a little quiz I've compiled all about the things that keep me awake. Warning, there are a few tricky ones in there with more than one correct answer. To help you out, there are also one or two clues. Good Luck... 

1. What are my daughters doing as I head off to bed on Tuesday night at 11pm?
      a. Watching a film.
      b. Reading and/ or studying quietly.
      c. Sleeping like babies.
      d. Listening to music and giggling a lot.

 2. It's 1am on Wednesday morning, what has woken me up so far?
      a. Nothing.
      b. Sophia taking a shower at midnight.
      c. Mr A fidgeting.
      d. Olivia popping in for a chat about books.

 3. Now it's 2am on Wednesday morning, what am I doing?
     a. Sleeping peacefully.
     b. Reading a good book.
     c. Meditating.
     d. Making a list in my head of all the things I need to remember tomorrow.

 4. After failing to get back to sleep for another hour, what am I doing at 3am?
     a. Yoga.
     b. Enjoying a pot of tea.
     c. Checking Twitter notifications.
     d. Writing a list.

 5. What are the rest of the family up to at 3am?
     a. Sympathising with my inability to sleep.
     b. Sophia: sleeping.
     c. Olivia: also sleeping.
     d. Mr A: sleeping and snoring.

 6. How many random tasks compiled in my head in the early hours of Wednesday morning did I actually
     manage to complete?
     a. None. 
     b. One or two.
     c. About half.
     d. Are you kidding? All of them! Tomorrow's another day and tonight there will be a whole new list under

  7. It's after midnight on Thursday morning, what's keeping me awake now?
      a. Absolutely nothing, I'm completely shattered after yesterday.
      b. A combination of heavy rain and Mr A breathing.
      c. The family pet who's just wandered upstairs because someone forgot to feed her.
      d. I need a glass of water.

  8. The girls are going to a party on Friday night, how will I sleep? 
     a. Like a log.
     b. I'll doze on the sofa while awaiting their safe return.
     c. On and off, while repeatedly getting up to see if they're home.
     d. I won't sleep a wink until they're back, despite the fact that when they're at uni I know nothing and this
         doesn't bother me.

So, there you have it. If you correctly guessed answer 'd' to questions 1, 3, 6 and 8 - well done. The slightly trickier questions were 2, 4, 5 and 7, the correct answers were actually b, c and d!

So what was on the list in my head in the early hours of Wednesday morning exactly?
  • What do I buy my mum for her birthday next week?
  • Check train times and location of hotel for Sophia's interview.
  • Remember to call Dad and invite him over for dinner on Thursday evening. 
  • Remind Sophia to double-check she has all of the documentation required for her interview. 
  • Make appointment at the vets for Kitty. 
  • Remember change for the car park at the station: no one else will! 
  • Don't forget to deliver Nephew's birthday gift before leaving for Birmingham. 
  • Make a start on the housework before going out (as always when the girls are home, the house is a tip!)
  • Attempt a couple more loads of washing as there's still a formidable-looking laundry pile left over from daughters' camping trip last weekend.
  •  And finally, how do you dry 2 sopping wet pairs of trainers that are currently abandoned on garage floor after the aforementioned rain-soaked camping trip?
I've tried making lists in the evening before heading to bed and discovered only this...

There will always be one thing I've forgotten and this will bug me for the rest of the night! I need to be able to write lists in bed, it's the only way to go.

I'm happy to report that Sophia's interview was successful and if all goes to plan she will be working in the US next summer. I'm guessing that's something else that's going to give her mum a few more sleepless nights, but I couldn't be happier for my daughter.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Your Lack of Planning is Not my Emergency

Your lack of planning is not my emergency, life with teensI have no idea who came up with the quote used for the title, but since discovering it a couple of months ago, I have used this in conversation with my daughters a couple of times. Naturally, neither child was impressed in the slightest.

After the chaos of last week, read here, the situation with both daughters is still unravelling like a reel of cotton. Plans change on a day-to-day basis and I have concluded only, that I should nod my head, agree wholeheartedly with whatever they have suggested and then immediately forget all about it. I need to learn to wait for official confirmation, before stressing about how I'm going to factor whatever, into an already crazy week. If I don't, it only messes with my head and my brain feels as though it's been whizzed through a blender and reinserted back in through my ears.

In fact, as a joke the other day, I came up with this helpful form and emailed a copy to my beloved offspring to fill in each time they require assistance from either parent.

Name: Olivia/ Sophia (delete as appropriate).

Date(s) Parental Services required:

Likelihood that the date(s) will change after your parents have juggled whatever's on in their already chaotic lives: Slim/ Moderate/ Hell yes (delete as appropriate).

Reason for request: Hugs and cake/ Supplies required/ Removal services/  IT problems/ Other (please give details):

Anticipated mileage for round-trip: Up to 250/ More than 500 (delete as appropriate). 

Size of vehicle required: I have lots of c**p that needs locating elsewhere/ I'm just bringing myself, a small case, laptop and a cuddly toy.

Once at home I require: Lots of TLC/ Mum's car/ Laundry services/ Storage space to hide all of my treasured possessions (or else they'll be scattered all over the house)/ Full-board/ All of the aforementioned options.
Terms and conditions: In the event of both parents being hired previously by your sibling on the same day, the first demand will be honoured, and you will have to change your plans. Occasionally, your parents may have prior arrangements that cannot be rescheduled, Eg holidays in Paris. In the event of any emergency, your parents will drop everything and be with you as soon as possible. Your parents love you no matter what (even though you sometimes stress them out more than you'll ever know).

By the next time I write a post about my daughters, one, or both of them may be home. I'm guessing I'll be the last to know about it though.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

What Kind of Mum am I?

Sophia & Olivia at 8-months
I was recently challenged by the lovely Cathie over at Wicked World of Lucas to write a blog on the theme of  'What Kind of Mum am I?' Cathie had written a very funny post all about parenting her son, Lucas and been inspired to write this after reading a thought-provoking post on parenting five children by Marie at Normal Everyday Life.

It's an interesting topic, and one I've thought about a lot over the years. Before having my daughters, I thought I'd be a real earth mother and take to being a mum like the proverbial duck to water. Sadly, this never happened and my parenting skills are based solely on making it up on a day- to-day basis and doing the best I can. Just days after giving birth, I realised that I was completely clueless and to be honest, things haven't changed all that much.

I guess it's so much easier to be wise after the event, but the following points sum up 'What kind of mum am I?' quite nicely:

I've written a birth plan and we're sticking to it!

After giving birth to my daughters, I re-read the birth plan and collapsed in a fit of hysterical, (but painful) giggles. Absolutely nothing had gone as planned and let's just say that, apart from the miracle of having two beautiful daughters, the experience was not a positive one.

My daughters won't have dummies, or suck thumbs!

What was I thinking? After only 6 weeks, I'd caved with Sophia and bought a dummy, if I didn't she'd have happily whinged all night long. Oh, and by six weeks Olivia had perfected the art of sucking her thumb. Fortunately, Sophia gave up her dummy around eighteen-months old, but cracking the thumb habit took a hell of a lot longer. As a result, Olivia ended up with braces and still has to wear a retainer. We did warn her!

I am going to be great at getting up in the night

Ha ha, b****y ha! Having done on-call for years before I had the girls, I was convinced that I'd be OK with getting out of bed. What I hadn't factored in however, was that each daughter took an hour to take a bottle, and required a feed every two and a half hours. The ever patient Mr A shared responsibilities during the night, but quite often we'd both be in denial about who'd been up last and who had been fed! Honestly, sleep deprivation is the cruelest thing you can do to a person.

My daughters will never sleep in our bed

Sophia perfected the art of climbing out of her cot by twelve months and would toddle across the landing to sneak in with mum. Sometimes, I was too tired to even notice, and other times I'd be happy she'd snuck in for a cuddle. She was however, one heck of a fidget and I'd always struggle to settle her back down in her cot when I'd decided enough was enough. As soon as Olivia was potty trained, she used to wake herself up during the night, head to the bathroom and then into our bed! This earnt her the nickname 'The Midnight Toilet Fairy.' Some mornings, it wasn't unusual to discover both daughters asleep in our bed, sometimes we didn't even notice they'd crept in. Sleep deprivation can do that to a person!

Having a third child

We always joke that by the time we had our third daughter, we had our parenting skills well and truly perfected. She's never given us a sleepless night, answered back, or left a trail of belongings all over the house, but then she is a cat!

Food will never become a battle ground

To be fair, we've never battled over food, if the girls didn't like something they were allowed to leave it and get down from the table. Later on, they'd be offered a healthy snack if they were hungry and to this day, they have a great attitude to food and will try almost anything. I am the exact opposite.

My daughters are most definitely partners in crime and I joke that they are individuals, with added twin factor to add to the chaos. Most of the time as a mum, I think only that I'm getting it wrong, but I guess that not all my parenting decisions have been bad ones. I love both daughters unconditionally and remain completely in awe of the incredible futures they're creating for themselves.

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 18 November 2013

Four Weeks and Home...

Having finally succeeded in peeling the rind of teen grunginess off the family home, our thoughts turn to Christmas and the prospect of our daughters returning from university. And in only four weeks, the chaos of family life resumes for the holidays - yay!

I am astounded (and amused) by their antics now that they've left home and despite the fact I apparently know nothing - my daughters are masters of confessing all about their sibling via Skype. This, as far as I'm concerned is fabulous and obviously, a fact I'm not going to share with either of them!

We paid Sophia a visit last weekend after it became apparent that she was having a bit of a wobble. We did what any parent would do - set the alarm ridiculously early, packed a selection of treats from home and arrived before 9:30 am. Naturally, she wasn't up.

I was astounded at how quickly I resumed the role of mum and took charge. My daughter has changed so much already but became a child in need of reassurance once more. I was relieved to have seen her and helped out as much as possible. I'd forgotten already, just how wonderful it is to hug a child who genuinely needs a hug. I hope that we sorted a couple of things out for her, and that after we'd left she felt a little happier.

When it was time to go, I'll confess to wanting to scoop her up and bring her home. And yes, I know that wouldn't have been helpful and so, I turned and walked away with promises of letters and texts and Skype and being there whenever she wanted to talk and of picking her up again in just a few weeks.

She's OK and has settled down again. But I am on countdown for Christmas and hope that this year will be extra special having spent so much time apart.

Many of the facts I've inadvertently learnt via Skype this week are sadly of the 'don't kiss and tell' variety. However, here's a little something to make you smile - one of the latest tracks played in all the clubs. I have to admit this makes me feel each and every one of my forty-something years, but having listened to it several times over it's growing on me a little. This makes me realise just how much I miss the chaos of life with my twin teen daughters and their unique perspective on the world. Here's to four weeks and counting down...

Ylvis - The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)


Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton

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