What Does ‘Happily Ever After’ Look Like?

So, I’m going to be forty at the end of this year, and it’s been making me think about a a lot of things. Mostly it’s about what the future holds, how lucky I am to have had the past I have had, and ponder the meaning of life a little too.

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One of the themes I keep returning to is the happily ever after. I think you spend so much of your life waiting for the happily ever after you are in danger of missing it when it comes.

In your youth you grow up wanting to do well at school, go to university, get a ‘good’ job, find a partner, settle down, get married and have kids. Live the dream. Now I’m almost forty I’m there. Now I’ve done all those things, and I’m living my happily ever after, but it looks a little different than I imagined.

No one told me that it would look like a weekly shop at the supermarket, plunging the blocked toilet, staying in for the boiler man to come, wiping snotty noses, driving the kids here, there and everywhere after school, loading and unloading the dishwasher. So what happens if you get there and it’s not your happily ever after you’ve imagined in your head? I’m sure there were more day trips to the beach as a family in mine, less vacuuming.

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As we get older and I see that it’s not always the way we have it mapped out, things happen, lives change and once we reach destination Happily Ever After then what? Unexpected things go wrong with our physical health, our mental health, our personal and family relationships, things rock our world that are beyond our control, parents, relatives, friends pass away, lives change forever. Life seems to get more complicated all the time and worse still we’re supposed to have reached the end goal of the Happily Ever After.

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So what I’m beginning to realise now I’m almost forty is that Happily Ever After is not a destination: it’s a way of life. It’s  all the cliches you already know; it’s not about waiting for the storm to pass it’s about learning to dance in the rain. That in order to make a rainbow a little rain must fall. That we should stop waiting for our Happily Ever After to arrive and make it happen in our day to day-ness of lives instead.

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I’ve started at night to remember one Happily Ever After incident that’s happened that day amongst all the day to day-ness of managing everyone’s needs. Yesterday it was enjoying breakfast with my nephew, today it will be remembering how happy I felt watching the small boy scooter in the garden in his wellies, last week it was an outing we had at the park all together as a family. And when you stop to count them in a day there are so many Happily Ever Afters going on that no matter what else is going on if you can pause to remember and be grateful that you have those tiny things in your life that make you happy then you’re there. Your happy ever after is changing all the time and it always will, despite what’s going on in your life at that time. The trick is to remember you’ve made it, your making it and you’ve still more to make!

lucy-xx

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Wicked Wednesday – The ‘Stick’

The Small Boy loves a good stick, like most small boys! However, he loves to seek out the biggest stick he can find. Here is a prime example of the type of stick he loves from when we were at Newby Hall. Not sure this even qualifies as a ‘stick’! 😝

IMG_2068.jpgAnyone else with the stick thing? Just mine then! 😬

#WickedWednesday 5th October 2016

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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

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Lucy xx

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Parenting; a Europe wide issue!

The evidence is out there, we’re all doing our best;

Whilst touring around our Italian campsite for two weeks on our summer holiday I was lucky enough to be able to witness a range of nationalities; German, Dutch, Swiss, Italian, British, Polish and many others. It turns out that Venice is easily accessible to lots of countries!

What struck me most was not how different we all were as families, but how remarkably all the same we are! All I saw were parents across Europe all doing their best to raise their family.

Turns out the same conversations are going on around the globe that you are having in your very own home.

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Refusing to smile for the camera is not just a UK thing!
  • The German 10 year old is being reprimanded by his parents over a lost hat? “where did you last have it?”
  • The Italian 4 year old is being shouted at for not looking where he was going on his bike.
  • The Swiss toddler is crying and wriggling, wanting down from her Dad’s arms.
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Toddlers not giving a sh*t – that’s a global phenomenon, honest!
  • The Dutch five year old is being told off in the restaurant for swinging on his chair
  • The British teenager is embarrassed by her dad’s dancing
  • Preschoolers from every nation are persistently being told not to throw sand.
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Throwing sand is not a problem you alone are facing, it’s Europe wide!
  • 14 year old Polish lads are in bother for booting footballs high and landing them on parasols
  • Children universally are not wanting to have sun cream applied
  • Every European little one is loosing it over late nights and too much sun.

So while you might think you’re the only ones dealing with this sort of shizzle, then rest assured you’re not. The same convos are going on around the world, the same little battles over mealtimes are being fought, the same exasperated faces from parents are being shaped. For this is parenting.

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Parents trailing unhappy children around cities of culture is not limited to the UK!

I found the whole experience completely reassuring! You are not alone Mamas, the rest of the world stands with you in your parenting highs and lows!

So next time I’m stuck thinking, why does everyone else’s child put their shoes on when they’re asked?! I’ll think back to my Italian campsite and think of my European counterparts dealing with the exact same situation themselves and be relieved, in the knowledge it’s not just me it’s universal, across the globe!

For doing all these things, fighting all these battles, sharing right and wrong with your children is just called being a good parent. In whatever language you speak!

If you want to see some pretty pictures of our holiday – and there were obviously some good times! Ha! They you can read this post all about it. Five go camping in Venice.

Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – Siblings

If you don’t already know I have nine year old twin girls, and the Small Boy, three!

When people ask me ‘is it very different having a boy after two girls?’ I often say, ‘somethings are…’.

Here is what I actually mean…

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Sitting quietly, knitting

 

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Sitting quietly, knitting
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…this! 😝

😬#nowordsneeded

#WickedWednesday 28th September 2016

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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

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Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – The Crisp

Why do they do this? The small people? Why will they only have a photo taken if it’s with their ‘sword’, ‘Peppa Pig’, ‘PomBear Crisp’? What is that all about?!

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Photobombed by a PomBear 😆

AGGH! One day I will get a nice photo of him! One day! There will be no crisps in it!!

#WickedWednesday 21st September 2016

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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

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Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – Toilet Roll Bed

Anyone else’s child like to get two pieces of toilet roll and lay them on top of themselves before they fall asleep? Anyone? No, just mine then 😬

IMG_1895.jpg Just to be clear – he did this himself! 😆

#WickedWednesday 14th September 2016

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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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Five ways to make new Mama friends at the School Gate

When my girls started school I was worried about making new friends for myself! I know when you’re 30+ you’re supposed to have it all sussed, but turns out I was just as anxious about what to do, where to stand and who I was going to talk to at the school gates as my kids were!

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When my small people were really small!

So if you’re facing the same dilemma here are five things I did that helped me make new friends at the school gate. They’re not rocket science and I’m sure you do them anyway, but they helped me enormously!

1.) Arrived Early – that way people came to me to start a conversation and I didn’t have to stand waiting awkwardly or try to join an existing group.

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2.) Said Hello and Smiled – I read somewhere that if you don’t make conversation within three seconds of someone standing in your vicinity than you generally don’t start it at all – at which point it feels awkward. So however uncomfortable I felt I always said hello when someone  came to stand close by. I always tried to smile, even if  I wasn’t feeling very smiley. I found people were much more likely to talk to me when I was smiling.

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3.) Asked open questions – I used to ask other parents about their kids, I found it always went down well. “How is your little one settling in?”, “What have you got planned for today?” and at the end of the day “What have you been up to today?” Better still, if I saw the same person, I could (when I could remember) asked them how their ‘supermarket shop’, ‘day at work’, ‘trip to town’ had been which helped me build on-going relationships with them.images.jpeg

4.) Volunteered to help out with school activities (only small ones! Ha!)- from collecting prizes for the PTA raffle to helping out on the annual cake stall. It meant a lot of parents got to know my name and I got to find out who they all were too and got the pick of the best cakes! Ha!

5.) Helped out in the classroom – tricky one if you have younger siblings, but I found trying to make the time to help out on the shorter school trips (like the Autumn walk) for an hour or so was a good way to see what goes on in school, discover who the other children in the class were and meet other parents who had also offered to help.

Good luck, I found it daunting when I started, but now I have some lovely Mama friends (and don’t volunteer as much! Ha!)

Have you got any tips to share? What worked for you?

lucy-xx

 

 

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Wicked Wednesday – The Selfie Comeuppance

We all know someone we’d like to do this to, right?! All ‘selfie’obsessed and self absorbed in their phone all the time! Turns out the Small Boy sometimes feel like that about me! Fair do’s I say!

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For the record I think it looks worse than it was and I’m also not convinced he was aiming for the left hook fully, his face isn’t in it enough! That’s what I’m telling myself anyway! 😬😂🙈 Also let the record state I was trying to get a selfie of the both of us, honest!

#WickedWednesday 7th September 2016

brummymummyof2

(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and YouTube too!

Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – Bin Day

When you’re three, and your parents take you on holiday to Italy and all you want to do is walk around with a bin on your head! That!

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Bin Head Day

We had a lovely time, honest! Happy Wednesday folks, last one of the school holidays here! I may have gin later to celebrate – like I need an excuse! Ha!

#WickedWednesday 31st August 2016
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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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Ask the Expert: How to get help when you’re suffering with Depression

While my blog usually takes a look at the more light hearted sides of parenting this post has a more serious message. In the second of my ‘Ask the Experts’ series I will looking at the subject of depression and where parents can go locally to seek support.

It’s not just relevant for depression sufferers but also for those people around them sharing advice on how you can best support partners or friends through their depression.

Ask the Expert: Dr Em, Local GP

This month’s ‘ask the expert’ feature is from Dr Em*, who is an experienced practicing local GP. Here she shares her expertise from her experiences of dealing with parents who have depression.

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“My baby didn’t sleep. Chronic lack of sleep was like a form of torture. Depression and anxiety crept into my life until they almost fully consumed me. Waking each morning not wanting to open my eyes. A heavy, leaden feeling in my chest, rather as when someone you love dearly has died; but no one has – except, perhaps, me. I felt acutely alone and emotionally cut­off from my friends and family, like viewing the world through a sheet of plate glass. I was i rritable, angry and tired most of the time…”

I’m quoting a friend who has ‘come out’ regarding her postnatal depression. Sadly the stigma of mental illness makes it so hard to admit to yourself and others as well. Largely, it has to be said, people cope by keeping quiet about it.

Harrogate recently scooped the prize for the happiest place to live for the third year running, but not everyone is happy. This post is designed to try and raise awareness and encourage understanding of depression.

There is no single cause of depression. You can develop it for different reasons and it has many different triggers. For some, this may be a stressful life event such as bereavement, divorce, illness or money worries. The cause of postnatal depression isn’t completely clear; the sleep debt and hormonal changes as well as the huge life-changing effect of having a baby may play a role. Looking after a small baby can be stressful and exhausting!

Too many people play the fake-game, don’t they? Perfect life on social media. Perfect hair and smiles at the school gate, but real life (in all its guises, work,relationships,children) isn’t perfect.

It seems people are often very quick to dismiss depression as a minor, trivial concern. After all, everyone gets depressed now and again, don’t they? Doesn’t everyone feel miserable at times? It can be hard to empathise with such unattractive traits as bad temper and apathy, and I can completely understand how a non­sufferer would find it difficult to grasp what it’s really like to have a mental illness;

BUT it really is unhelpful to suggest “stop worrying”, “chill out”, or “what you need is some endorphins, try doing some exercise”. It’s easy to think that mental illness is a choice. There’s this great belief that we control our mind and it doesn’t control us. But if I broke my leg, nobody would expect me to use my mind to overcome the breaks in my bones.

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‘Real’ depression, the clinical condition (a genuine debilitating mood disorder) is categorically not something you can snap out of or overcome with willpower alone.
I love the analogy Dean Burnett makes in The Guardian article (12 August 2014 Robin Williams’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish);

“Dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it, is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you.”

At one end of the spectrum, there is mild clinical depression which could last for weeks or months, but which still allows you to live a fairly ‘normal’ life, going to work and coping with day­to­day activities. Not stopping you leading your normal life, but making everything harder to do and seemingly less worthwhile.

At the other end, severe clinical depression can virtually paralyse you, keeping you a prisoner in your own home and carrying a high risk of suicide.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is admit you may have a problem and talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Why not see your GP.

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Treatment is effective ­ it may include a combination of talking therapies and self­help and/or medication.

Useful links:

  • MINOS (Mums in Need of Support) group ­ A friendly and informal local Harrogate group for Mums with babies under 2.5years old who need a little extra emotional support. To refer yourself or for more information call JUST’B’ on 01423 856790.
  • Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it! Even a 15­minute walk can clear your mind and help you relax.If you haven’t exercised for a long time or are concerned about the effects of exercise on your body or health, ask your GP about exercise on prescription:
  • Take a look at www.nhs.uk/Moodzone; links also include a Depression self­ assessment tool, information on Postnatal depression as well as stress,anxiety and depression.
  • Mindfulness is a tool aiming to help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. There are various online resources (including this from the nhs).
  • The Samaritans operates a service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for people who want to talk in confidence. Call 08457 90 90 90
  • Information & Support (including advice for friends and relatives) from Mind  Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness are a major part of depression. This can mean someone avoids their friends and relatives, rather than asking for help or support. However, this is a time when they need your help and support most.

I hope you’ve found that of use, it’s great to know there are some really locally services who can offer support as well as national organisations. As Dr Em says, visiting your GP is always a great start.

Let me know if there are any other experts you’d like me to feature on the blog for next time or other topics you’d like to see discussed here.

(Dr Em* – has chosen to stay anonymous)
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