Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Depression Bingo. Dare you play?

Back when I was depressed the thing that surprised me most was how many people confessed they were wondering if they might be depressed too.

When you go to the doctor to talk about 'feeling a bit down' they get you to do a Depression Questionnaire - like one of those multiple-choice quizzes you get in magazines, only not as fun. Just check 9 easy tick boxes for your chance to win a prescription for legal drugs and a leaflet on 'talking therapies'. #winning

While this questionnaire is useful, maybe you're not ready to face the answers yet or talk to anyone official. If you're anything like I was, you'll be in denial and telling yourself you're 'just having a bad day'. Again. And 'everyone feels like this sometimes*' (*all the time).

In which case why not play Depression Bingo? This is not scientific, does not replace medical diagnosis and won't bag you a supply of Happy Pills. It's just my take on the signals that characterised depression for me, along with some thrown in by other sufferers.

So come on, play along. I dare you. Cross every box that relates to you - I've got my fingers crossed for you.

Are you....

Easily Overwhelmed

The school playground and parents evening are heart-racing territory

Teary every day

Mascara is a distant memory

Unable to make simple decisions

The supermarket cereal aisle is torture

Obsessing about the daily routine

Bedtime was my nemesis

Questioning your judgement

'Is it just me?' ‘Am I imagining this?’
Freaking out about socialising

No middle ground: you either hyper-schedule company or make like a hermit
Feeling disconnected

Loved ones and even - whisper it - your children feel distant


Sleepless or sleep crazy 24/7

Struggling with everyday admin

Signing forms, posting letters and reading emails never make it off the To Do list
Craving help 

Just leaving the house warrants a distress flare
Constantly wondering 'am I depressed?'

Trying the idea for size, perhaps?

Hearing a judgypants voice in your head


'Not seeming yourself' to family and friends


Feeling like the world is conspiring against you

Call me paranoid but...

Are you a winner at Depression Bingo? If so, maybe think about speaking to your doctor to claim your well-deserved prize - whether that's exercising more, talking to someone who can help or going on medication.

Wishing you all the best and here's hoping you feel champion again soon. xxxxxxx

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

What I REALLY hope my son learns at school

We're nearly a week into my just-turned-four-year-old starting school and it's going much better than feared. Only complaints so far; school dinners are rubbish and the other kids aren't interested in his jokes. Fair dos on both counts I'm afraid, son.

'Why is gravy brown?
Because it's poo poo,'

has limited laugh-appeal when said gravy probably does taste a bit crap.

Poo poo banter aside, I'm wondering what goes on behind the classroom door once I tear myself away, dewy-eyed each morning.

'There's not many toys,' Bouncing Boy informs me. Wow. Maybe they're actually doing some learning in there? I don't care for reading, writing or arithmetic at this stage, but there are some things I'm hoping school might help me out with...

Keeping his clothes on
Is it just my children who strip off the moment they get home? Bouncing Boys sheds everything barr his pants at the threshold, and is naked from his first toilet break - such a free spirit, as if the wearing of clothes cramps his very soul. It's quite cute at home but could make play dates awkward. 'Oh yes, didn't I mention my son's a nudist when I invited yours for tea?' Here's hoping the uniform rules nip this one in the bud.

Getting his clothes off
Hands up, I'm one of THOSE mums - one who fails at the basic task of equipping my school-aged child with even rudimentary independence. I did try, honest. I'm no stranger to dressing up games and songs but my son couldn't care less about getting his trousers on the right way round. He'd rather be naked. See above. Still, a bit of gentle peer pressure when it's time for P.E. and he might finally tell the difference between his arm hole and his head hole...

Damn baby-led weaning and my inability to keep track of kids' cutlery. My son would still rather muck in up to his elbows with his hands. Oh, the shame of catching him pouring cereal straight from the box into his mouth, the dirty looks re his dirty face when we eat out. School Dinner Ladies, I beg you, save me from a future of wet wipes and weeping every mealtime.

Not Eating
The only thing worse than messy eating is not eating at all. Mealtimes are a game of chance in our house, where the rules and odds on whole food groups change at whim.

'I never ever don't eat egg, mummy. Only at Grandma's. On toast. And for breakfast. At weekends.'

Silly me. Quite frankly, I'm relieved to hand over the responsibility for one meal a day. And Bouncing Boy is loving the 'service with a smile' school chefs. Maybe that's where I'm going wrong...

Does any mum really get over losing nap time? Bouncing Boy dropped his afternoon kip relatively late - around 3-years-old - but I still felt hard done by when it went. I mourned the long lazy hours in the afternoon when the house would fall silent and I'd have time to just stand and gaze at him for awhile, all angelic and slumbery. The tea, biscuits and guilt-free Facebook time and had nothing to do with it, honest. Imagine my excitement when my son fell asleep after school the other day. OMG. I'd expected him to be tired, but voluntarily-taking-himself-off-for-a-nap-tired? Sweeeeet!

Not Sleeping
You know what it's like. There comes a time in every pre-schooler's life when the 6.30pm bedtime starts to feel ridiculous, even to you. Bouncing Boy has been pushing back for months, adding more and more books to the bedtime routine. We were in 6 story territory before school started. But ever since that first day, his eyes have been drooping from the first page. I don't know what you do in there teachers, but thank you. You've added an hour to my evenings and taught my little boy to sleep like a baby. Keep up the good work.

What d' you reckon? Not much to ask is it? My wislist is worth a few itty-bitty changes to the Early Years curriculum surely?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Once Upon a Bedtime...

7pm; children bouncing on the bed, picture books flying like Frisbees, chants of 'just one more, mummy, just one more!' We've all been there, right?

Things get desperate when we exhaust our pile of mutual favourites (currently Dragon Stew, The Day Louis Got Eaten and This Is Not My Hat.) I know what's coming; it's only a matter of time before the four year old digs out Thomas the Thankless Engine. Anything, ANYTHING to avoid The Fascist Controller and his concentration camp on the Isle of Sodor. 

'How about a ‘Tell-To Story instead?’ I pitch up, remembering the stories my own mum used to tell me as a child. Her recollections of a childhood spent drinking lemonade from ice cream cones and getting lost in fields of bracken counted as high steaks when I was a kid. I was thrilled.  

Following her lead, I take inspiration from everyday details that have lit-up my son's imagination during the day, from his endless questions to his quirky take on the humdrum of life.

A 24/7 cereal habit inspires Cerealsaurus and his gang of imaginary cereal monsters; Rice Wispie, Wheatopixie and Shredditaur, the perfect scapegoats for my son's clandestine munching. But what happens when the cereal runs out?

A lost umbrella inspires Ella's Umbrella and takes us on a circular adventure through my son's imagination. Maybe a magician used the umbrella as a wand? Maybe a pilot used it as a parachute? Maybe a pirate used the handle as a hook? Anything could happen as Ella tracks her umbrella’s journey back to its rightful place in her coatstand at home. 

A ride on a scooter inspires The Superdooper Secret Scooter, the story of a 4 year-old who steals time with his mum on a secret early-morning scooting mission before the rest of the family wake up. 

It’s amazing how creative and motivated I can be when it comes to avoiding trains and grumpy station masters. And if the laughter and chants of ‘Again! Again!’ are anything to go by, I reckon our tradition of 'Tell-To Stories' might be a win:win. Who knows, they might even encourage the next generation of family storytellers. That's the biggest inspiration of all. 

Where do you get your storytime inspiration from? 

This post in my entry into the Mumsnet Linky Big Idea competition in collaboration The Big Idea Competition 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Nevermind the four-year-old, am I School Ready?

Excuse me while I bore off about my son starting school next week AGAIN. I've posted a blog on the Huff Post here if you care to take a read.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Goodbye pre-school son

Good bye pre-school son, at the nursery gates today for your last day.

Good bye starting the day when you feel like it.
Good bye being picked up early, no explaination required.
Good bye dressing like a super hero, just cos.
Good bye hugs on demand.
Good bye hanging out in a class of 9.
Good bye crusing round, doing what you choose.
Good bye sitting on the teacher's lap.
Good bye bringing toys to class.
Good bye no expectations, no judgement.
Good bye being a pre-schooler.

And for me;
Good bye dropping you off at 'Kay's House'.
Good bye twenty minute chats with Kay at the gate.
Good bye recognising all 8 of your classmates by name.
Good bye rolling up when I get my butt in gear.
Good bye knowing Kay is on-call, anytime.
Good bye being the person you spend most of your week with.
Good bye detailed notes about your day, everyday.
Good bye holidaying when we need it, not when we have to.
Good bye no expectations, no judgement.
Good bye pre-school son.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Summer Hols

Just a quick post to say thanks so much for all your amazing support on the Telegraph thang I wrote. 11K shares!!!! Super chuffed and totally blown away by all the lovely comments. Thank you!

I'm taking a break for the summer but normal service will resume in September. I may do the odd post and will try to comment on blogs now and then, but mainly I will be savouring a long uninterrupted summer with my children - the eldest starts school in September. Gulp! So I feel the need to make the most of this precious time. And drink Pimms.

Have a lovely summer people, but don't forget me. Catch up again in the Autumn. xxx

Wednesday, 25 June 2014