Skip to main content

Day 11: A Grumpy Post, featuring Tea

So, somehow four days have gone by since I last managed a blog post. My intentions were good, but time and a pressing need for tea were against me. Tea in the company of friends is definitely a satisfying way to pass the hours, but does detract from the accomplishment of missions.

The truth is that I've been slightly shell-shocked and distracted by the return to school and the dreaded after-school activities. The Big Boy is slowly settling in to secondary school, but the other two have struggled with the changes to our routine. I'm not sure if I've already mentioned that kids with ASD really hate change, and like life to be predictable. Somehow I forgot to prepare them for a different morning routine, and I've been paying the price. School went back last Tuesday and that night all three kids stumbled into my bed at some point, unable to sleep and looking for comfort. The cat was already there. Yes, we have a cat (furry domestic pet) as well as The Cat (less furry, less domesticated, but about equal in terms of moodiness and propensity for scratching). The Cyclist (husband, but mostly Cyclist) ended up in a child's cabin bed, which at least took the snoring out of the room. Sadly I couldn't take advantage of the lowered decibels in the marital chamber, as I was drowsily hanging off the side of my bed, unable to relax into deep sleep for fear of falling into a gap between the bed and a bookshelf, but unable to get out from under the assortment of limbs and claws that needed their Mummy. On the plus side, one inner thigh got a really good workout. I'm only just walking normally again today.

I have spent today trying to believe that I can move from frustrated perfectionist living in a squalid pit to a life that is 'good enough'. Rachel Hoffman, the author of Unf*ck Your Habitat, has a great system of starting small, and just setting a timer for 15 minute bursts of clearing out. But at that rate I need about a thousand years to get through my house, and that's without the drinking of tea. Today I did the usual washing, cooking and clearing up, but was also in and out of various schools and spent two hours taking one son to a psychologist. Admittedly I had to go out to buy teabags, after an unusually creative attempt to make 'aged' paper for a pirate map yesterday with cold tea and much smelly dabbing of paper. And after all that effort it would have been churlish not to ask the neighbour in for a cuppa and a chat. But other than that, the day was spent in the service of my children, despite the fact that they were mostly at school. Then the monsters were home and all bets were off in terms of tidying, thinking or feeling human.

All this is about 'good enough' in domestic terms. In terms of mental health, it may be even more of a challenge. Here are some activities I have found beneficial in previous attempts at self-care:

  • running
  • walking
  • healthy eating (including formal programmes: 30 days of Arbonne,  5 days and 21 days of Herbalife, 8 weeks of I Quit Sugar, all of which I loved)
  • mindfulness apps
  • reading
  • yoga (if I ever learn to do it without releasing wind)
  • writing
  • Pilates
  • drinking 3 litres of water a day
  • photography
  • spending time with friends
  • cooking
  • giving up caffeine, chocolate, and anything else delicious and stimulating
  • day-time cinema
  • browsing in bookshops or libraries
  • knitting
When I signed up to give up alcohol for 90 days, I deliberately avoided signing up to do anything else from the list above for any given number of days. That would have been my previous modus operandi: to declare that I was Changing My Life Forever, all in one go. And I probably would have managed a few weeks, then given myself a 'break' and gone back to chocolate for lunch and walking in circles stressing out instead of doing anything at all. (I swear I can do that for hours.) So the current challenge is an attempt to embrace the 'start small' ethos of Rachel Hoffman. I've got to tell you, though, that despite remaining resolute in my resistance to alcohol, I'm finding the shift in thinking really hard. How do I look after myself 'just enough', without obsessing about an extreme challenge all day and putting off other tasks until the end of the 21 days or week or 30 days I might previously have committed? How do I fit 'enough' self-care into the rest of my life? What is 'enough', anyway?

It would be so much easier to give up on myself entirely and concentrate, as I have so often done, on making sure the kids have what they need to feel comfortable. This may take the form of tickly weetabix (in a deal to persuade one son to attend school, he demanded that I tickle his milky weetabix and it's now, excruciatingly, A Thing), or non-scratchy socks that are exactly the right length, or reading their minds every Friday afternoon to know that their Sweetie Day preference changed at some point during the school day. Clearly I've got it all wrong tonight, as it's many hours past bedtime and they are not even nearly asleep. This pretty much always means they are anxious, which generally feels like my fault. Even if someone outside the house makes them anxious, it feels like my fault for (a) not foreseeing whatever situation upset whichever child, (b) not ensuring that such a situation could not arise and (c) not putting in place a contingency plan so that the person in contact with my child was fully briefed on how to handle him should the safety net of (b) prove ineffective. 

Tonight, though, I am grumpy. I would call it hangry if I were dieting, but dieting I am most decidedly not. Maybe I'm hirsty or thangry or something along those lines. Maybe I'm just scared of life lived a new way. Maybe like my kids I'm struggling to imagine, let alone embrace, any form of change. But right now I want a sodding Pimms. And I really want those boys to shut up and go to sleep, so I can gaze upon their slumbering forms and remind myself that I love them.

Please give money to ADD-vance. I'm too tired to fancy that up any tonight:
And an enormous thanks to those who have already donated. Some of you have listed a single name or are anonymous, so my apologies if I don't track you down for a personal message of thanks. You're all awesome x


  1. Liz I am part of a 'Wellbeing Warriors' online group of about 300 women all over the world. We have monthly modules and work repeatedly on our 'minimum baseline' which is the 'exercise enough' bare minimum that you could achieve and tick off and feel good about even on your crappiest, busiest day. Mine is 20 mins of whatever (often 2x10 mins) and sometimes it is traipsing up Queen Street in heels. Other times it involves stretchy pants but either is ok. The point is that you get to feel good every day about doing whatever your minimum baseline is. Some people say 7 mins of walking the stairs at work. Others say dancing with the vacuum. I find it great for being able to tick something off every day and feel like you've done something - however small - for yourself. Could work?

  2. You made me chuckle out loud in DJs 😆 You're doing a great job - of the blog, of the challenge, and of being a Mum. Go easy on yourself xx

    1. Happy to help you smile! (And your video today did the same for me x)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Day 71: ‘Tis the season...

Let me list a few things that disturb The Cat:

A long build-up to an exciting eventSchool being ‘different’Being asked to singSurprises (e.g. presents)Large family gatherings Music that he hasn’t pre-approvedMummy singing along to anything at all, or even hummingCandlesUnfamiliar smells, like, say, a tree indoorsCooking smellsAny strong smell (with the bizarre exception of the little boy wee smell that he leaves on bathroom floors and walls)Changes in routineSitting at a table for more than ten minutesNoisy chatter or laughterLoud bangs (from, say, a cracker)Seeing girls (e.g. his kind, beautiful, little girl cousin)Food other than pizza, salmon or sausages Going places he has to wear clothesCake that isn't chocolateTalking to anyone other than Mummy, The Dog or The FriendMummy talking to anyone other than himThinking about anything other than Pokemon, Greek mythology or Minecraft And a few of The Dog’s dislikes: Weeks where his sports are cancelled Getting wet/cold socks on the tra…

New Year, New Blog

And so, having been swallowed by Christmas and poorly kids for a couple of weeks, I find myself at the end of 2017. With that must come the end of this blog, as it has already lasted a month longer than planned.

A few final thoughts, however - because I’m not actually capable of shutting up. Ever.

Firstly, please consider ‘giving back’ in 2018. It makes you feel good, or in Big Words: the positive effects on your mental health are well documented. If you get involved with a charity that has touched your life in some way, you are likely to find a tribe of people Just Like You, whether that’s SEN parents, cancer survivors, anti-suicide campaigners or whatever else is relevant to you or your family and friends. And if this blog has shown you anything, it should show you that you can be sponsored to take on any crazy challenge you can think up. Think of something your friends wouldn’t expect you to do, then do it. Or call your favoured charity and ask if you can help in some practical way…

Day, erm, Almost-the-End: ADD-vance and Not Blaming the Parent

I've just realised how close I am to the end of my 90-day challenge, and would like to write my last few blog posts about the ways that The ADD-vance ADHD and Autism Trust -- the beneficiary of the sponsorship for my challenge -- offers support to families like mine. Because when I first encountered ADD-vance, the idea of self-care was laughable. Did these people not understand that I spent part of my days restraining a violent child and much of the rest of it dealing with wounds or wreckage or the anxieties of two other children? Had they no concept of how hard it is just to get three SEN kids into clothes every morning when two are dyspraxic and one spends the larger part of his life upside-down or in mid-air? Did they not know that I had zero seconds to myself, and that even when the kids were in class, I was in meetings at school or on the phone trying to persuade local services to offer us some 'service'?

Turns out they did get all that. That they had all gone through…