Slave To Elave

It’s not a generally held viewpoint, but I hate the summer. Don’t get me wrong- I love the fact that we can all dine alfresco, get the paddling pool out and relax but, there’s one main reason as to why I hate summer- eczema (yes, that again!).

Eczema can be worse in the summer or winter. Myself and Middle’s always seems to get worse the second the sun emerges. The thought of putting suncream on his skin when it’s so broken, fills me with utter dread. Also, as it’s on my hands too, I fear for myself. I’ve literally been going through psychological warfare with suncream for a month now. As stupid as that may seem!

Last week, the lovely guys at https://gardinerfamilyapothecary.com/ sent me some of their Elave products for us both to try- suncream, aftersun, moisturisers and bath products. I always go into these things expecting little….. boy, was I wrong! The packaging highlighted everything from the outset- organic, no sulfates, paraben or alcohol. All the things that typically exasperate any skin condition. This was looking promising.

Luckily for us, it was the best day weather-wise fell the following day. I braced myself to tackle Middle with the suncream. He usually starts crying immediately and runs like the clappers when he sees me brandishing any form of cream. I explained that this was a new cream and would help his skin whilst playing in the sun. No tears from him nor myself upon applying- that’s a first! At one stage he even asked if I could put some more on him!

We’ve used all the products for a week now and I have to say I’m majorly impressed. The suncream is amazing. We spent all day outside and no burning whatsoever. Both our skins felt hydrated and not at all irritable. Unfortunately, my sister didn’t fare the same way when at the beach but that gave me the opportunity to try out the Elave Aftersun on her. She too was impressed but I didn’t want to part with the bottle (sorry sis/auntie me me- I hope you slept ok and have forgiven my selfishness).

If you or your little one suffers from any kind of dry or sensitive skin condition, please try these products. I won’t be buying anything else after having used them. I love how they are organic- but, what I really like is the fact they actually work!

To all my fellow weary, homeschooling mums, check out their Sensitive Daily Skin Defence cream also. I’ve been using it after taking my make up off each night and my face is as smooth as Baby’s backside! Who needs botox?

You can buy the products at gardinerfamilyapothecary.com, delivered right to your doorstep.  At the minute they have a fab offer on their two Sun Safe Essentials bundles at £35.99, a saving of over £5.50.  Both bundles contain Botanical Aftersun 250ml and Hand Sanitiser 100ml, with the adult bundle also containing an SPF50+ 200ml sunscreen and the baby/junior bundle also containing a Paediatric SPF50+ 200ml sunscreen.

Follow Elave Skincare on Instagram @gardinerfamilyapothecary; on Facebook at gardinerfamilyapothecary.com; and on twitter at GF_Apothecary, so you can keep updated on all their latest products and money-saving offers.

A miracle in tube form!

Lockdown Log (Day three)

Well, I didn’t see that coming- not! Here’s how we have fared during the first few days of lockdown. Disclaimer: May have lost it more than once.

Day announcement made

Get up at the usual time and dress kids. Grab a cup of tea and proceed to homeschool. Eldest is highly receptive and enthusiastic- weird. Homework never goes as easy! Middle loves doing his worksheets but needs a lot of guidance. Eldest continually tells Middle that his effort at circling words is “absolutely rubbish!”. Middle begins to cry. Too early for wine? Yes, it’s not even 11 am (sigh). Morning work done, tablets permitted whilst I get ready. Any point doing your make up if you can’t go anywhere? What if there is a worldwide shortage of concealer? Decide to just leave it. Coronavirus doesn’t care if I have makeup on I’m sure. By the time I’m ready, the boys have started knocking lamps out of each other and are getting restless. Make lunch then head out for a walk. Every elderly person in the area has decided to do the same. FMAL. I have one flying mad on a scooter, Middle is on the Paw Patrol ride on and Baby is on a toddler trike and moving at the pace of a snail. Have to shout like a madwoman for them to pull in somewhere and keep a distance from others. All of us are coughing so I’m frightened one of them will cough in the presence of others. Seemingly no one knows the correct protocol for social distancing and we are all suddenly afraid of people. Very odd. Come home and have a wee sob. Is this real life even?

Official day one of lockdown

Decide to jump on the bandwagon and start the day with Joe Wick’s PE lesson as opposed to worksheets. Eldest attempts five minutes of said workout and begins to cry as he “can’t do it!”. Middle ignores all Joe’s instructions and has stripped off his jeans and pants and is raving in the corner. Baby is wailing due to my lack of yoghurt getting. It’s 9:10am. Yes, 9:10am! This bodes well. Get myself ready (finally) and prepare to do battle with something called SeeSaw Class for Eldest all whilst Middle’s teacher is sending work through for him to do on an entirely different platform. Resist the urge to scream and cry simultaneously. Having navigated both and, ready to lose the will to live, all are forced outside. Make a cup of tea and enjoy five minutes of peace and tranquility. Forget that the boys cannot spend five minutes on a trampoline without battering each other. Bring them back in. Tea goes cold as I run around getting them what feels like a million different snacks and drinks. In an effort to expel boredom, I try and get all of them to draw a rainbow to put in the window. Eldest adamant that instead of a rainbow, we should draw Mario from Super Mario. Try and explain the whole concept behind the rainbow drawing. No, still insistent on drawing Mario. Middle gives it a good go (see picture above). Possibly the worst rainbow in a window in the whole of Northern Ireland but, God loves a trier.

Day Two

Struggling to even get out of bed as my anxiety levels are through the roof from the second I wake up. Take a call from my mum who is in tears as two confirmed Coronavirus cases in my nan’s care home. I haven’t seen her bar leaving things to her door on Mother’s Day. Feel utterly helpless. I can’t hug her nor make her a cup of coffee. Even have a face to face chat to soothe her worries. She laments the fact she is missing the kids. They are missing her also. I am missing her more. Reality is setting in for everyone. Try and maintain the routine with boys but find it difficult as my head is all over the place. Get them to bed and pour a glass of wine. Read on Facebook that the NI Executive has declared that all off licenses should close with immediate effect. WTAF?! You can take away my freedom but you cannot take my wine. Arlene, have you been in lockdown with my kids? Just plain selfish! Discuss with a friend on WhatsApp about how we could do a weekly booze cruise to Dublin with her sitting in the back to socially distance ourselves. Feel placated and no longer worried about the lack of toilet roll.

Day Three

F#’k homeschooling. I will never ever again say anything negative about a teacher. The novelty has worn off. Meanwhile, I still attempt it as I am so worried about Eldest falling behind when he has a referral to Occupational Therapy in place. We may not survive this. Oh, stand-alone off licenses can now stay open! Maybe we shall survive after all! Middle appears to be taking the lockdown very seriously and has self isolated in his bed for most of the morning. That one loves his comfort! Up you get! Jesus Christ, Baby has started asking “why?” about everything going. Also, anything I try and do for him results in him screeching “I do!” whilst having a complete fit. If there is a God, is he there? If so, can you send a cleaner my way? Just realised my house has fallen to absolute pieces. Thanks!

To be continued. If I survive the next few days…..

Coronavirus Chaos

I couldn’t even have dreamt this happening. That’s coming from someone who once had a highly questionable dream about David Cameron and Nick Clegg. If I could have divorced my own brain after that, I would have. I will never ever be able to look at either the same way again, especially Nick Clegg. (shudders).

It all seemed to happen so fast, I think I’m still in shock. I imagine you are all the same. We’ve gone from thinking “it will all be ok” to “holy sh#t the schools are closing!”. I won’t lie, I had a monumental breakdown once that was announced. Firstly because this is unprecedented and, secondly, because I have zero faith in my own ability to teach Eldest from home. He gets so frustrated even doing his homework each day. If I dare to rub something out, he throws an absolute fit. Once it’s finally done and dusted, the two of us have to socially distance ourselves until he succumbs. Usually when he needs some milk. Guess we were prepared for that part at least.

Middle I am worried about for different reasons. He will be four when he starts P1 in September. So he will already be at a disadvantage. I’m so lucky I had his parent-teacher interview last week and no issues were raised in terms of his capability bar scissor work. Which I’m rather ok with because Middle + scissors sounds like a nightmare combination! But, on the other hand, he is a sociable child and I imagine he will miss that aspect enormously. Even if everyone is an “idiot” and he “hates girls”. He doesn’t seem to act this way when I’m peeping at him through the window however and tells me continually that he has three girlfriends. Contradiction much?

Baby is terrible twoing (as per last post). I took him to the park today only to spend thirty minutes dealing with multiple meltdowns that his hood wouldn’t stay up! We were the only people in the park. Maybe that say’s more about me than anything. But, there is no way I can keep three boys couped up in the house. They will batter the daylights out of each other and I will be locked in the bathroom sobbing or rocking in a corner somewhere. Mental health is so important during all this too.

I don’t know how I will fare, as I’m sure you don’t. But I kind of figure that we’ve given birth and kept them alive up to this point. Is it ideal? No. Is it going to be highly stressful? Yes. Will we require lots of wine? Probably.

The lack of clarity around everything children related, be it with schooling and the effects of the virus itself, has been disastrously managed. They have left a nation of mothers in a state of anxiety and panic. I’m still unsure as to whether my own mother should see the boys. Mainly because of the mixed messages and statistics that are slowly being released. My sister is also a midwife which will add to any decision that has to be made.

It’s a frightening time for all of us in every aspect. I will be making a point of sharing anything I think might help us. Anything that will relieve some pressure. If you have something you think might help someone else, message and I will share. If you run a business that is having to rethink how you are operating, message and I will share too. If you are royally losing the plot, message and I will lose it with you! Disclaimer: I will definitely be losing the plot! #Mumpower

Resolving To Fulfil My Resolutions

As the clock struck twelve last night, I turned immediately to Eldest and embraced him tightly. “Happy new year!” I yelled at him happily. I then found myself bursting into floods of tears, seemingly out of nowhere. Tears that wouldn’t stop flowing at that! I was unsure at the time if this was due to the fact that I had permitted Eldest to stay up for the first time or something else. Upon reflection today, however, I think it was due to 2019 feeling like the worst year of my life.

Earlier that day, as I drove the boys to visit my sister, I raised the subject of resolutions to Eldest. “What do you hope to achieve in the new year then?” I asked. He looked at me entirely nonplussed. I thought for a second. “Ok then, mummy will go first” I said, clutching the steering wheel. “In 2020 mummy would really like to feel happier. Mummy would also like to shout at you all less, do lots of fun things with you all and devote more time to the things she enjoys doing too”. I looked at him expectantly and reposed my earlier question. He turned to me, looking stern and replied, “in the new year, I’d really love Owen to stop being such an idiot!”. I dissolved into giggles. I think that may be more far-reaching than my resolution to devote more time to myself son! One can hope though.

After visiting my sister, we spent the drive home holding an impromptu 2019 awards ceremony. The winner for the best farter went to Middle (totally deserved), Baby won the biggest demolisher of yoghurts in 2019 (I think I might contact the Guinness Book of Records as I’m pretty certain he could feature in it) and Eldest awarded himself the best at everything trophy (methinks this was a slightly biased vote). “What award should Mummy get?” I asked. “The best shouter in the world award!” Eldest replied whilst laughing into his hands (see, hence my resolution). Having accepted my award, whilst feeling a bit embarrassed and sad, Eldest suddenly turned to me and said, “only joking mum, you get the best mum in the world award, even though you shout sometimes!”. I may have sobbed for the duration of the drive home.

This year has been shit to put it blankly. Utterly shit. It’s been that way due to depression and the mindset I suddenly found myself in. It’s been that way because I finally lost the will to fight against it. What is the point? I tried everything within my power to wage a battle against it this year. It won, I lost. It will always be the victor and I somehow have to try and figure out how I adapt and prosper with this being the case. In 2020 I have faith that I will. If I can’t shout, I have to find another way to channel my energy. I’m ready for the fight depression.

I just wanted to leave you all with the most important thing I learnt over Christmas. You can put yourself into debt buying presents and fulfilling their lists but, the most important thing to them is quality time spent with you. I daren’t look at my bank account and haven’t for weeks now. Eldest got everything he asked for and more yet, when I sat with him colouring one afternoon, he did nothing but talk about it. So impressed was he with my effort, they promptly got stuck on the door to his room (scroll to bottom for pic). This is an accolade usually reserved for posters in magazines alone. Every time I’ve walked past his door today, instead of going mad about the mess (and shouting), I look at those pictures and remember what’s important. He better not take them down anytime soon or the shouting may return………………

To all my readers, I hope you had the best Christmas and have a fantastic new year xx

Pride and place!

Walking In A Winter Wonderland At Enchanted Winter Garden

We were very kindly invited to a preview night of Enchanted Winter Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens yesterday. I have never been before. Mainly due to the fact that I am a disorganised person in general and always leave it too late to get tickets. But my sister goes every year and I’m always so jealous of the festive pictures she manages to get. If I had of got myself in gear last year, I would have had a lovely December picture for the calendar I print for my mum each year. Who am I kidding? Three of them looking at a camera simultaneously? A mum can but dream…

Baby was mesmerised from the second we set foot inside. The whole place is awash with colour and lights. At every turn there was something new to see. You want flashing fairies- sorted. You want a huge ferris wheel- sorted. What about a festive train ride that takes you direct to Santa’s workshop? Well, that’s sorted too! There was a multitude of rides catering to all ages. Baby seemed utterly petrified of them all however, bar the train ride and ferris wheel. To be fair he is at that stage where anything that involves him having to leave my side makes him get on like I’ve just sold him to a stranger!

They have an array of food choices too. Slightly expensive however, so empty their money boxes before going (just kidding, as if I’d ever do that). A burger at the stall we chose cost £6 and a kids meal £5. The food was delicious however and the portions big. I noticed too late that they had a fire pit that you could toast marshmallows on (at a cost). That would have made the perfect Christmas dessert.

Baby loved going on the “choo choo!” to visit Santa. This was great as it served to build up the excitement, for me more than anyone. Inside the workshop, there were lots of animatronic displays to observe whilst they eagerly awaited their turn to meet Santa. Baby wasn’t overly fussed on St Nicolas and got on the same way he did about some of the rides. I mean, if I was going to sell him to anyone, surely he should be happy that I was selling him to the CEO of the biggest toy factory in the world? He did come round however when offered some chocolate buttons.

I can’t even begin to describe this place properly and give it the credit it so rightfully deserves. It truly is magical in every way. At every corner, you are greeted with a new scene and different characters inhabiting them. All that whilst basking in beautiful surroundings and shimmering lights.! I totally felt like I was at that London one you see plastered all over social media at this time of year. A PSA to Simon Cowell: have you considered visiting Antrim this Christmas instead?

The only downside for me was Eldest and Middle not being there to experience it. I know they would have loved it and I would have loved seeing their reaction to it also. It’s definitely something you should do with your whole family. Unfortunately, they were too busy screaming “oh yes he is” to May Mcfettridge at the panto. Once home, Middle was positively fuming when I showed him my pictures. He growled at me “if you don’t take me to that place next year Santa will bring you no presents as you are a bad girl”. Don’t worry son, this mamma isn’t being put on any naughty list. Well, hopefully Santa hasn’t seen what mummy did to your money boxes (oh no she didn’t)……

Enchanted Winter Garden takes place from Friday 6th December to Sunday 22nd December and is open from 4:30pm – 9:30pm. Tickets cost £4 per adult and £2 per child (children under two are free) note that these prices are if booked in advance. A family ticket is £15. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.enchantedwintergarden.com If you don’t prebook, prices are £6 for adults and £4 per child. So pre-book! Note that the event will be closed Mon 9th December to Wed 11th and also on the 16th and 17th (the fairies need to recharge their batteries). Check out my Instagram for even more pics and things I don’t post on Facebook : https://www.instagram.com/youandmeplusthreex/

Meeting Santa
What? No yogurts on the menu?
Wanted to go on this so badly but Baby had other ideas…
You know I like to tell you prices for prep purposes!

Nightmares

Last night the kids were sound asleep and I had just settled down to take my make up off (after tidying up their carnage). Suddenly I heard a familiar sound. Footsteps up above. Footsteps that for someone so small, should resemble a ballerina pivoting on a cloud yet sounded like an elephant trapped in a jumper. They all have their own sounds and I can tell who it is immeadiately by footstep sound alone. Middle was up!

Upon his descent from the stairs, it became apparent that he was highly upset. “What’s wrong I asked?” whilst scooping him up into my arms. “I had bad dream” he informed me through sporadic sobs. “Oh no! Come and tell mummy” I soothed. He sat calmly on my knee and began to divuldge his dream. “A really bad guy was trying to freeze me mummy!” he advised. “He turned off all my lights because he was so bad” he added. This is quite apt as he has spent two weeks now turning on every light in the house no matter what the time and I have found myself yelling “it’s like Blackpool illuminations up here!”. Yes, I have become that kind of mum. “Dreams aren’t real Owen” I reassured. “They are just your brain playing tricks. Plus, mummy would never let anyone hurt you let alone freeze you” I added whilst cuddling him. He gave me a kiss, looked at me square in the eye and said “the only way to defeat the bad guy was to throw cake at him. So, I think we need to get cake tomorrow mummy”. Um what? “You know, incase he comes back” he stated seriously. Nice try son!

Meanwhile Baby has morphed into a complete and utter nightmare himself. His new thing is throwing every book we own down the stairs, many of which are unfortunately hardback. I’m no sooner bending down to pick them all up when he’s lobbed a Pokemon encyclopedia back down, near knocking me out in the process. No amount of telling off is working as he finds the whole thing hilarious.  His only redeeming quality is the fact that he has started asking to hold Middle’s hand and the two of them dander away together. So cute! There’s nothing better than seeing them actually be loving towards each other. Whilst Middle brings out Eldest’s less serious side, Baby brings out all of their loving/caring sides.

This week and next, we are nativitying. Going by my kid’s past record with these, I can only but hope that all of them pass without any kind of drama or embarrassment. Eldest is highly annoyed that he has been cast in the role of shephard again, Middle is point blank refusing to sing the songs he has been taught as he wants to sing exclusively about tacos and Baby will probably spy me and cry the whole time. I will of course keep you updated on how we fare.

Baby Baby Baby Oh/Mad Middle/Toy Car Gate

Yes I have used a Justin Bieber song lyric as a blog post title. The shame! But it’s totally fitting (I promise).

It was 2am on Tuesday morning and Baby had awoken from his cot. As usual, I gleefully transferred him into my bed for lots of cuddles and kisses. As he lay there, greedily guzzling some milk, I stared lovingly at him. Come 3am I was still staring at him (stalker much?). He looked like a proper little boy and not a baby anymore. I found myself getting all emotional and sentimental. It seems like only yesterday that I was holding his little 6lbs frame in the same bed, glaring at him in disbelief that he was finally here. Where has the time gone? I can’t be dealing with this!

If there was a pause button I would hit it right now, at this exact stage. I love it when their personalities are starting to shine through and they still need you but are becoming more independent. He won’t let me open anything for him these days and insists on trying to dress himself (all of which have varying success rates). He is becoming highly vocal also and his dictation is clear and concise, mainly when voicing his extreme displeasure at his brothers “NO, bro bro!”. This is the worrying stage however as it’s when you start to consider another. How bad could it really be? I imagine very very bad indeed if I end up being a mum to four boys, which is exactly what would happen.

In other news Middle has me entirely exasperated this week. I picked him up on Wednesday from preschool and he was more subdued than usual. He also looked quite sheepish in hindsight. I buckled him into his car seat and off we set for home. “How was your day?” I implored. “Um it good” he replied whilst fiddling with the bottom of his trousers frantically. “What are you doing?” I asked. He threw me daggers then dissolved into giggles. “Me have a car” he replied whilst wielding a black toy car that had seemingly emerged from the bottom of his trousers. “Where did you get that from?” I replied alarmed. He looked at me like I had just uttered the most stupid question ever. “I took it from nursery because I want to play with it at home in my room”. Oh dear god! I pulled the car over and tried to explain the concept of stealing to him. Whilst doing so, he continued to retrieve a further eight cars from every crevice of his trousers! “How many do you have Owen?” I yelled. “Lots AND me have more in my jumper too” he answered proudly. “You can’t just take things from nursery Owen, that is wrong! The other children need to play with them. How did you even manage to smuggle so many up there?”. I asked this for a reason. Mainly as he hadn’t placed them in his pocket like a normal person but had blatantly shoved them all up the bottom of his trousers. “I wait until no one looking and I just put them up there one by one” he answered matter of factly. Surely this was the least inconspicuous method he could have deployed? His trousers are cuffed at the bottom and super tight! How no one managed to observe his shenanigans is beyond me.

Upon returning home, I confiscated his contraband and hid them. I then had to message his teacher and advise that she has a thief in her midst and one of whom was showing zero remorse for his actions. Whilst reprimanding him he kept repeating “but where my cars so I play with them?”. He was not receiving the message at all that what he had done was wrong.

This kid- he literally dances to the beat of his own drum all whilst I scramble to fix the situations he gets himself into. I am also having to strip search him before we leave nursery now as I don’t trust him one iota. So I reckon three kids is more than enough and Baby can stay as my baby. Imagine trying to keep on top of two Middle’s? Um, no thanks!

F You Eczema!

I have had eczema for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve eczema. It has been the bane of my life for so long now. The only hope I ever harbored was that the kids wouldn’t get it. Mainly because I know how much of a detrimental effect it has had on my life.

Then something happened last year. Middle got sick. During his illness, I started to notice sporadic patches of dry skin all over him. No need to panic I thought. It’s just related to his viral infection. It will disappear the second he gets better. Flash forward to today and his eczema is more severe than mine ever was.

Like I said, some of my earliest memories revolve around eczema. The fact that my siblings could just get out of the bath and put their pj’s on whilst I had to stand for a further twenty minutes getting smothered in various creams is one of them. Another is being plied with Piriton most nights just to enable me to get some sleep and stop tearing shreds off myself. My parents tried everything to make it better for me. At one stage they even paid a fortune for some Chinese herbal pill that promised to cure me immediately. That’s how desperate they had become. But it was to no avail (unsurprisingly) and it continued to worsen. As I became a teenager it made me highly self-conscious and upset. Whilst all the other girls would discuss what dresses or skirts they would be wearing to the school disco, I knew I’d be wearing my usual- trousers. Because my legs were so utterly covered. I dreaded PE every Wednesday due to the fact we had to wear skirts. It filled me with so much fear that I used to just dander home before the lesson started as it was the last class. It took them forever to cotton on to this fact too! I guess they didn’t figure that someone would be so brazen as to do that. Never underestimate me! This brings me to Middle….

He is covered from head to toe with it. This is not even an exaggeration. His eyelids, his neck, wrists, arms, legs, and even his ankles. I now have to do to him what my parents did to me. It breaks my heart every day to see him itching away and getting so frustrated. I can’t even tell him not to as half the time I’m doing the same thing! It wakes him up numerous times during the night and by morning, his bedding is covered in blood. We have tried various creams, with little to no success. It’s got to the stage where I’m going to have to prepare for a fight to get him referred. I didn’t get anywhere with my doctors until I was sent to a private dermatologist, at six months pregnant with Middle (this was due to the hospital list being too full). So appalled was the derma who saw me, she offered to see me again for free. I walked away from her practice with a prescription for eleven different items, one of which was bandages. Now I am free from eczema everywhere, bar my hands. It started on all my fingers whilst working for Calvin Kline spraying perfume. A year later it transpired that I was allergic to perfume (and hydrocortisone oddly). Now, it has calmed down on them and moved onto my palms. Nothing I do will shift it- nothing. I’ve switched to nonperfumed products with everything and it is not for f ing off. It gets so bad on occasions that I can barely lift things. I can’t tell you how many plates and cups I’ve accidentally broken. It’s like a bar mitzvah in this house weekly.

If you or your little one are suffering from this and, nothing is working, please push to get them referred. I’m a firm believer that doctors just don’t know enough about it and prescribe the same old creams in the hope that one of them eventually works. I even had one prescribe me a mixture of two hydrocortisone creams mixed together when it was all over my notes that I was allergic to it. Sometimes you need a specialist. I intend to push for this with Middle. If they refuse, I will have no option but to take him private. Maybe we will get a two for one deal? A mother and son discount? Eczema can F right off.

I Got 99 Problems But Turning 34 Ain’t One!

Today I turned thirty-four. Yikes! As a teenager, I would have officially deemed that as ‘ancient’. You know it’s bad when you have to keep scrolling down at the age range section upon signing up for things.

Leading up to my birthday, Eldest asked me what present I would like from him, being careful to remind me that he ‘would not be spending his money, however’ (MY money son, that you stole). After contemplating for a while, I replied ‘I would like you boys to say thank you when I do things for you. I would also like you all to stop stripping off the moment you get into the house and leaving various items of clothing strewn in every room’. He looked at me like I had just asked him for a million pounds, then responded, ‘I can definitely do the thank you thing but I don’t think I can do the other one’. At least he is honest and know’s his limits I suppose.

On the morning of my birthday, the boys bounded in filled with excitement. They then proceeded to open all my presents on me. I don’t know why I expect anything different each year. They then fought over who could cuddle me first. Eldest flung himself over me, Middle started kissing my arm up and down (randomly) and Baby was throwing a right fit as he couldn’t get anywhere near me despite his attempts to climb over the other two. As the chaotic scene around me unfolded, I thought to myself, they may not say thank you, they may strip naked continually, they may drive me bat shit crazy on occasions, they may fight and whinge for most of the day but, they do actually love me. What more could a girl want on her birthday?

Today I have found myself reflecting on last year as a whole. I lost myself for most of it. I’ve drowned in motherhood, I’ve fought severe depression and at times I’ve just felt like I wanted to run away. Runaway and have one day of zero responsibilities and zero military organisation. A day to just sleep and recoup, a day to maybe go get my hair done and be pampered. I guess, a day to find me again! You know the person I was before all this? A person who didn’t get anxious, who was motivated and saw positives in everything. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the boys, I don’t know what the outcome would have been this year. I really found myself in the darkest of places without the will or want to even fight it. They kept me going because, you can’t just stop being a ‘mum’, despite how bad you feel. They need interaction, bathed, fed and homework completed. When at times my brain was deserting me, I was pulled out of it by having to go get one of them milk or whatever else they were demanding. Because, despite how bad I felt in myself, my love for them never diminished. My need to ensure that they were ok and cared for never wavered. They are my greatest achievement at the age of thirty-four after all.

My aim for this birthday year is simple. I want to be more relaxed with regards to everything I feel I have to do. I want to be able to say f*ck the cleaning and tidying and go have a bath instead. I want to be able to ask for more help when it comes to family. I want to go out once a month and eat a meal in absolute peace and quiet. I’m going to demand this. I’m going to put myself first, even if it’s only once a month. Because, if I don’t, the cycle continues. The boys see women as mere robots, there to serve their needs whilst neglecting their own. I’m pretty certain that’s not the example I want to set. I want them to treat women with the utmost respect. To appreciate them for everything they do. I want them to be considerate and loving towards them. I can’t expect them to do all that whilst I sit here self-loathing and running myself ragged can I? It’s time this mama toughened up and started laying down the law with regards to self-care and me time. I had been doing so well before.

Looking For A Hand Washing Hero? Look No Further And Meet Rufus!

I don’t know about you but, I really struggle sometimes getting the boys to wash their hands. It drives me utterly bonkers! Eldest needs continually yelled at to do it and Middle, after going through an obsessive hand washing phase, has now decided that he can take or leave the whole process. Arrggh! That’s why I was super excited to learn about Safefood’s new handwashing initiative aimed at children up to five years old.

There’s a reason it’s vitally important that they wash their hands. I’m not just nagging for no reason at all (unless it’s to hubby). That reason is harmful bacteria and how easily it can spread, most notably E coli. Did you know that children under five are more vulnerable as their immune systems aren’t yet fully developed? I know I didn’t!

That’s why I love the idea of Rufus and all that he represents. Safefood (with input from Early Years) have created a pack that they have distributed to 350 childcare providers in Northern Ireland already. The pack contains a book, sink poster and sticker set that all promise to make handwashing fun. Not only that but, it clearly outlines the five key steps of handwashing: Wet, soap, rub, rinse and dry. There’s also a catchy song to help them remember!

Keep an eye out for these at your childcare provider and try to encourage it at home. I know I am so sick of kids getting sick in this house. That’s why I am going on a handwashing nag-a-thon! Brace yourselves boys!

For more information on the campaign and resources for childcare providers visit http://www.safefood.eu