general, lifestyle, parenting

Roadtrip to Manchester

I realised just thismorning that we’re almost at the end of week 4 of the summer holidays! WEEK 4. Crazy. Looking back I feel like we haven’t done all that much, but putting it into perspective and to kind of justify it to myself,  we do a lot with the kids throughout the whole year. We’re out somewhere every Sunday regardless of the weather, so don’t really feel the pressure to have plans for every day over six weeks, or have the funds. Who does?

But my hubby was off last week. He takes two weeks off each summer but breaks them down as two single weeks. We’re strategic. Or rather I am. I figure I can do two weeks on my own no problem, it’s just like the Easter holidays (but minus the chocolate, unfortunately). By week three I’m usually lagging, and needing a bit of daddy support.

Rather than have a big holiday, we have short breaks throughout the year. This give us things to look forward to, an opportunity to unwind as a family, and I just love a roadtrip (and really really really, do not like flying)

So, as always the decision where to go was left up to me. I admit, I can be a bit of a control freak, but this is more because my hubby is rather laid back and happy to have little input in where we go. Although I always run suggestions by him, and this time we decided on Manchester. I then spent probably a whole afternoon deliberating where to stay. City Cenre, half an hour from the City Centre, or about an hour away in a country hotel, which wouldn’t really have even been Manchester.

We went with the city centre. I feel I want to boast for a second and stress that we set off around 9.30 am. I’m NEVER ready for 9.30 in the holidays (unless I’ve made plans to meet a friend. Otherwise I’m a sit in my pjs till lunch time kinda gal), but Andrew cleverly used the suggestion of  a McDonalds breakfast as an incentive. I have a feeling he will use this every time we go away, now

We arrived in Manchester City Centre after just under 4 hours travelling. We then spent around another hour figuring out how to get into the damn carpark. Andrew eventually resorted to popping into a local pub to use the toilet  ask the barman for help. He explained it’s a nightmare at the minute with roadworks and advised us to find another. So we did. Then we had a bit of an issue buying a parking ticket as it could be done over the phone only. Which would’ve been fine had we been able to find the ‘location number’ to enter into the automated phone system. We gave up and found another. Then had a 7 minute walk to our hotel (using google maps)

We then made our way to our rooms to sit back after the long journey, and relax. Only joking, we had a right muck on checking in having brought no photo ID with us (never been asked for this before) and I lost my patience with the receptionist when she looked at me with absolute horror that we’d booked a separate room for my son. I gave her ‘the glare’ with a sharp ‘And? Is there a problem’? Seriously though, he turned 18 on the sunday after we returned home.

Anwayay, after around another hour,  we finally made our way to our rooms. They weren’t the best, but fine for a couple of nights and a reminder that I really need to check out Tripadvisor first.

36

We felt we really could do with a swim, so got kitted out in our swim gear, and the kids waddled down the corridors with arm bands over their clothes and goggles on,

2to be told children could only use the pool up unitl 5pm. It was 4.45.

So we had little options other than to check out the city centre instead. We thougt a Chinese buffet for tea would be nice, but the kids insisted on chicken nuggets and chips. Cue our second trip to McDonalds of the day for them, then a Chinese for us. However, they then thought they quite liked the look of Chinese too, and I think one of the waiters clocked me giving Emily some prawn toast. Although she was pretty vocal and drew attention to our table stating rather loudly ‘oh that food looks YUMMY. I wish I could have some’.

 

 

 

Obviously I had to try a cocktail, and Emily showed signs that she is going to be a bit of a party girl by asking if kids could have cocktails too.

man3

We then made our way back to the hotel, picking up a load of leafltes from reception for more ideas what to do the following day

bf After breakfast, we headed to Gullivers World in Warrington. We’d never took the girls to a theme park before, so this would be something different for us all. I wished I’d knew of Guillivers World earlier as it also has a hotel with themed rooms which looked amazing. and the girls would’ve loved a night there. But we were staying in a hotel which I am convinced smelt of illegal substances, had the smallest tv known to man on the wall and a Jacuzzi bath which didn’t work, so it was all good

We spent a full day there, arriving at 11 and leaving around 4.30. It’s a great place to go for kids from between the ages of 2 – 13. I was really worried surprised when the girls asked to go on the wooden rollercoaster. Obviously myself and Andrew had to go on with them, and it was fast. Really fast. The kids loved it, we actually really did too and a must if you visit.

32

We also got thoroughly soaked on one of the water rides, but luckily the sun was out and we dried in no time. Only for Andrew and the girls to get soaked again on the Log Flume, which I found amusing.

26.jpg

After about 5 hours in the theme park, we made our way back into Manchester. And we even managed to get lost walking back from the car park to the hotel, again.

 

After a quick change, Turtle Bay was my our choice of place to dine that night, and it was just amazing. We were literally spoilt for choice with a menu of Carribean food. I was however, gutted we’d just missed the 2 for 1 cocktail off. Didn’t stop me ordering a few though

Along with Garlic and Chili Pit Prawns and a Garlic and Herb Flat bread which we all shared, then a main of a Jerk ‘n’ Pull Pork Bun

Then we made our way to Gino Gelatos for ice cream and the most delicious Oreo Waffle.

8 So if you’re planning a trip to Manchester, you have to visit Ginos. To.die.for

37And no, my hubby will not thank me for this pic

man710

So after an early rise for a morning for a swim in the pool and use of the steam room and spa, that wrapped up out trip to Manchester.

man

But one more thing. No matter how many hotels we visit, or how many gyms and leisure centres I go to. I just can not get my head around communal changing.

This hotel went one step further with a windowed shower. No curtain, just a big pane of glass. I showered in my costume and changed in the toilets.

We’re on our travels again in the last week of the holidays. We chose the last week for Andrews second weeks as presumably I’ll be demented by then. We’re off to Bath to visit family and we have lots of days out planned, and I am so happy to see there is a Turtle Bay in Bath.

anxiety, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

My postnatal depression story

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I have trouble remembering the first two years of my sons life. I can not tell you at what age he got his first tooth, his favourite food as a baby, his first word or when he began to sleep through the night.  I’m not even sure of what age he took his first steps.

My second child, I can tell you all her milestones. I think that’s mainly due to the amount of times I’ve had to go over them with paediatricians, therapists, doctors. She has autism, and was finally diagnosed at age six just last year.

My youngest,  Emily. I know all her firsts. Mainly because I was extra vigilant looking out for any red flags we had with my eldest daughter.

Each pregnancy was different. All had the usual sickness and discomfort.  But my third pregnancy, I just wasn’t feeling those feelings you associate with pregnancy. The excitement,  the happiness, the eagerness. I didn’t really feel anything.

I brought my feelings (or lack of) up with my midwife whilst getting my bloods done. I was assured it was perfectly normal , due to hormones and it would all settle down probably by my next appointment.

Only it didn’t.  I didn’t take joy in shopping for baby clothes, I was in no rush to pack my hospital bag, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was emotionless.

I booked a 3D scan around the 32 week mark, hoping that would make everything feel more real, I don’t think it did. It was a wonderful experience, of course it was, but the sadness continued.

The years which followed my daughters birth in September 2011 were dark, very dark. I was dealing with the likelihood of my oldest daughter having autism, which was causing stress along with that lingering feeling of worthlessness. But before even falling pregnant with my daughter, I was dealing with body image issues. I hated my appearance to the point it was affecting my everyday life. These feelings got worse. I’d stay home all day unable to face the world, or I’d only leave the house when it was dark. I’d avoid mirrors and my reflection in windows. I’d panic if we had a party or wedding to go to. I hide away in the toilets to avoid any social interaction.  And my heart would pound and my  head spin if I saw anyone with a camera.

I’d apologise to my children, as small as they were and unable to understand, for being a useless mother. I’d tell them I loved them as the tears rolled down my face, and that I was doing my best. I’d ask my husband why he was with me and give him the option to leave, which always left him gobsmacked and confused.

I’d go to bed each night and secretly wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’d have dreams of living a life where I am happy and have friends around me, and wake up devastated when I realised they were just that. A dream

My husband found me a video on Youtube about the ‘Black dog’, and asked me to watch it. I did. I broke down and he told me to get help.

I went to my GP, told her my feelings and filled in a questionnaire. From that she gathered I had depression and extreme anxiety. I was referred to the Mental Health Team. Again. I was already in therapy before falling pregnant with Emily dealing with body image issues. Hence my panic when faced with the prospect of having my photo taken. I was a mess. An absolute broken mess

That was September 2013. From then on I had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor. She didn’t come to pry or check up on me. She came to lend and ear aswell as advice and support, and I thanked her for that.

October 2013 I began attending well-being courses. I picked up techniques to deal with stress, become assertive and gain confidence.

Summer 2014 I had my first appointment with I think it was a life coach. She pretty much assessed me to see if she could help. She couldn’t. My condition was too extreme.  I was then referred to a clinical psychologist. Again

I met with my therapist every two weeks and I think I had around 10 sessions before I decided I felt ready to face the world alone once again.

I learned through these sessions I was suffering with post-natal depression, and that the depression had even grown DURING pregnancy. I found out through a quick glance at my notes at the doctors surgery as they came up on the computer screen during an appointment, that  I had been suffering with PND after the birth of my second child. I found out through a letter sent to my doctors and a copy to sent to me, that I’d even been suffering with PND after the birth of my first child way back in 1999. I had my son at 21 so I’d spent most of my adult life with depression. I genuinely thought I was just useless, unlikable, disgusting. I was non of those. I was depressed.

PND took away my memories of my first child growing from baby to toddler, it kept me indoors, it filled me with fear, took away my self-esteem and stripped me of my confidence

When the therapy ended, I took up blogging. I decided to chase my dreams and enrolled on a distance learning course. This both occupied my mind and my confidence began to grow. I‘ve taken up exercise, and spend most days either in a gym or an exercise class. I’ve made new friends. I even spend two hours on a Sunday night as part of a team for a local radio station. I’m still building up my confidence to become more involved, but I know I will. I know I can do it. I can do anything if I continue to believe in myself.

Over the months I’ve thrown myself into situations I would usually avoid. I’ve done things I could never imagine doing and I am in a place now where I have never been in before. A very good place and although I am an anxious person by nature, I have my anxiety under control and I will never let depression take over my life or steal my memories again.

general, humour, lifestyle

I’m a ‘hot mess mum’ and that’s ok

So today I’ve had yet another morning of dragging my reluctant 5-year-old through the school gates. She’s still going through a particularly clingy phase, and tells me frequently between 7 – 8.50 each morning ‘Mummy, you are my best friend’ in hope they’re the magic words to bag her a day off school.

My response is the same each morning. I give her a hug, tell her I love her, then hand her over to staff and give her a wave as she looks back and throws me evils across the yard as she’s led into school by her teacher.

e

Part of me feels I should go home feeling incredibly guilty, and ring in half an hour to check she’s settled ok. But the other part, like 90% of me part knows that this is life, she’ll be fine and I have nothing to gain in sitting around worrying. Then I feel incredible guilt for not feeling any guilt and wonder if this makes me a bad parent.

Infact I often find myself doing, or not doing things which make me question if I’m a bad parent.

As I type this, my house is slightly messy. Nothing serious, but I’m aware one of the kids left a half eaten lollipop stuck to the sofa as we were about to leave thismoring. Possibly Emily. She’ll have had it for breakfast along with the chocolate eyeballs and jelly fingers from Trick or Treating last night. Jessica had a slice or the godawful Halloween cake I made, with Angel delight, and I did too. You see some mornings I’ll get up extra early to make them berry topped ‘Brain Booster Pancakes’ for breakfast (oats, flaxseed, banana, coconut oil. That sort of Pinteresty shiz), others I’ll take the extra 20 minutes in bed and serve up a packet of chocolate digestives.

je

Sometimes I’ll spend an hour or two preping and peeling veg, another hour cooking and dish up a particularly healthy and colourful tea. Others I keep it real and know most of it will end up in the bin so processed food it is. Like chips. Fishfingers and chips. They always go down well with about half a bottle of ketchup for the youngest.

Sometimes we’ll take them to McDonalds. Sometimes once a week (dead cert on a Saturday), sometimes even twice a week. But definitely 4 times a month, at least.

Sometimes when it’s a rainy day, we’ll do arts and crafts, or I’ll try and suppress my inner ‘would you like mummy to mix in the crispies/cut the cookies and you just eat them. Please’?  control freak, and let them do some baking

Okay, not necessarily rainy, but the ones where I just can not be bothered with the drama that is putting on coats and shoes. But the times we do go to the park, I’m often the parent sat on the bench Facebooking. Telling them to go on the slide as mummy is too tired to push a swing for half an hour. Yes, I sometimes use it as ‘me time’.

And others I’ll give them the Ipad and let them watch Dora the Explorer. It’s educational. They’ve both picked up some Spanish

girls

Sometimes we’re super prepared in the morning and we take a stroll to school stretching the one minute walk down the road to 5. We’ll go the more ‘scenic’ route looking in neighboring gardens and Emily likes to point at and name the flowers each time we do.

Others I’m running around looking for something. Usually my phone, or my sanity if it’s a Friday. Then I’ll realise as we’re about to leave the house my daughter hasn’t yet washed her beautiful little face. And I’ll take her to school anyway.

Sometimes I’ll hear one of them complain ‘I can’t find any clean socks’, and I’ll offer the solution of ‘wear yesterdays’.

Sometimes we’ll go out to eat and I’ll give them a little behavioral prep talk and that ‘pleeeeease just. behave’ glare when I can see they haven’t quite listened. Others I’ll think sod it, get it out of your system and lie on the floor under the table if you must.

Sometimes when we tackle the dreaded task of food shopping, I’ll quietly hurry behind them every time they run off in opposite directions, then get down to their level and explain why it’s not acceptable behavior. Others I’ll lose my shit and shout both there names followed by ‘get back here. NOW’!!

car

Sometimes I have a run of taking the kids to every single party they’re invited to. But sometimes I forget one, or we arrive late. By a week. That’s happened before.

Sometimes I’m on a roll with the kids homework and ‘Weekend Diaries’. But others I’ll spend 15 minutes on a monday morning  searching through the kitchen drawers for a pen, then I’ll scribble away and knock up a story making their weekends sound so much more adventurous than they actually were.

And after I’ve finished typing this I’m off on a hunt for twigs, leaves and conkers to put into Emilys ‘Half-Term Autum Treasure bag’ I found inside her book bag. Thismorning

Sometimes I’ll yell at my kids. Sometimes I’ll laugh at them. But I always laugh with them

There’s some parents who appear to have it all together. Then there are the rest of us. We aren’t lazy. We aren’t incompetent. We aren’t bad parents. We’re still kick-ass awesome, loving caring mums.

We’re just, for lack of a better term, a hot mess.