Becoming a Young Mum

Eleven years ago, I had just turned 19, started university and found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t the easiest time, as I had to come to terms with being pregnant at a point in my life I hadn’t planned for. I left university after 3 months of starting and lived 3 hours away from Mr P, who stayed at university to finish his degree. The hardest part was feeling as though I was being judged and had ruined my life.

These were not feelings I imposed on myself. I have to say, that there were certain people who made me feel this way; at times unintentionally. Their words resonated though and for quite a while I felt ashamed. I felt that I had failed in some way and I think it was those feelings that sowed a seed which ended up growing into anxiety and depression many years later.

Coming out on the other side though, I now know I have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed and nobody has or had any right to judge me. Yes, I had a baby at a time in my life that many wouldn’t consider to be ideal by present social standards. Maybe going to university, getting a job, getting married and then having babies is seen as the correct thing to do. Everyone’s circumstances and decisions are different though, and really isn’t it more important that we do our best with what we are given and support everyone no matter what their situation is? I feel that is what I believe and have done. I had a baby at 19, I also went back to university a year later, got married to Mr P and came out with a First-Class Honours Degree. I then got a job, studied to be a teacher and earned a PGCE with Distinction. Is my life perfect? No! Would it be more perfect had I not had my eldest son? I doubt it because life is never perfect, and I have actually worked so much harder to be an amazing parent and do more with my life because of my son. The people who judged me for having my child so young, actually spurred me on so much more. I wasn’t going to be what they expected. I wasn’t going to sit back and not do something with my life because that’s what they stereotype young parents as doing.

At the end of the day, whether you are young or old, being a parent is hard. Age does not and cannot indicate what kind of parent you will be. That is down to who you are as a person and your experiences and expectations of life. Therefore, no one should judge anyone for being what they consider a young mum. Especially, if they don’t know you, your circumstances or desires.

I have been very fortunate and had a lot of support from family and friends, which has enabled Mr P and me to pursue and live the life that we do with our children. All I can say is do not pre-judge anybody for when they become pregnant. Yes, there will always be those that perpetuate a stereotype, but if you look hard enough you will see that actually there are probably far more young mums that are parenting and living successfully and happily than not. I know of so many other teenage and young parents who are the exact same as me and have done everything in their power to provide the best life possible for their children and themselves.

It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. If you know someone who is going through something similar to myself, please offer support and not judgement. I always believe that you should treat everyone with kindness and maybe if certain people had shown more to me during this time in my life, I would not have felt as if I had done something so terribly wrong. So, I finish by asking everyone, no matter what your views and opinions, to just spread support, love and kindness because, at the end of the day, we all need it.

If you want to read more of my blog posts, please click the ‘Follow’ button on my blog page. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

Thank you for your support.

Mrs P x x x

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Toddler Tales – Week One

Being a parent is an amazing thing and I feel so blessed to have two beautiful children. Every stage of a child’s life brings different challenges, but I honestly have to say that no stage has so many ups and downs as toddlerhood. Well, that is how I am currently feeling with my youngest son (DB2) at the moment.

We went for a lovely walk in the park the other day and it was wonderful to see DB2 enjoying the leaves so much. He loved finding them, exploring them and jumping in them. Being able to experience this joy with your child, is when being a parent is a real pleasure.

During the same visit, DB2 also decided he didn’t want to do anything but sit in the leaves. Even after we had given him a very long time to play in the leaves, he refused to move. This led to one thing and one thing only – a huge toddler melt-down. He was so insistent he wanted to be on the floor with the leaves that he kept throwing himself down, to the point where he ripped his lovely new rain suit and made his mummy quite sad. This, I have to say, is one of the downs of being the parent of a toddler.

I know that so many parents are in the exact same position, which is why I have decided to write a mini blog in between my main blog posts all about the ups and downs I go through each week, due to being the parent of a toddler. Every week there are moments of pure hilarity and joy, but there are also a few occasions where toddler tantrums do get on top of you. I find reading others experiences really helps me to know that I am not the only person going through this. So, I hope this mini blog series may also help someone else and bring some humour to, what are more often than not, very funny situations.

I will be posting my Toddler Tales once a week around the weekend. If you are interested in reading these posts or more of my main blog posts, please click the ‘Follow’ button on my blog page. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

Thank you for your support.

Mrs P x x x

Learning to Let Go

This is a picture of my first baby a few hours after he had just been born. He is now ten years old (so he looks quite a bit different now than he does here), but this baby is still how I see him. I think this is how I will always see him, but the reality is he is growing up. This means he is starting to want more independence and I am really struggling with that fact at the moment.

I gave birth to my oldest son (DB1) when I was 19 and I don’t know if being quite a young mum has any bearing on my worries. My childhood, and all its ups and downs, are still very present in my mind. I wonder whether this causes me to worry more or if this is something every mum feels just as anxious about. I have been quite protective, and I suppose I’ve tried to maintain his innocence for as long as possible, but we are definitely getting to a point where this is going to have to slowly start to change.

He will be starting secondary school, high school, big school (whatever you want to call it) in September which is a huge change. It has been hard enough choosing a school for him to go to, let alone accepting he is ready to go to one. I used to work in a secondary school and I cannot believe he is as old as those children I worked with. They were teenagers! He is in his last year of primary school though, which means he does need to start to get ready for the move otherwise it will be an even bigger shock to the system.

We have finally made the decision and applied for schools, but it is still a worry. I keep thinking have we made the right choice because there is so much to consider. Exam and OFSTED results are one thing, but the pastoral care and feel of the school are so important too. When you go to a school, you can definitely sense whether it would be the right place for your child. Our problem was there were two schools we got the ‘feel’ for and even after all the positive vs negative comparison charts (I love planning and organising a little too much), I still worry about our decision. As much of a choice as it was for us, it was also DB1’s. After all he will be the one going there for potentially seven years. So, I keep saying to myself that as long as he is happy with the choice then we will be happy. It doesn’t stop the ‘mum worry’ though.

After starting to come to terms with my son’s impending journey into secondary education, I have also had to start to allow slightly more independence. I say slightly more because he is only ten after all and I still have over two years before he is officially a teenager. This independence has been incredibly gradual. It has been hard because some children in his class had this independence all at once as soon as they started Year 6 or even before. Every child and parent is different though, and I feel for DB1 taking things slowly is the right thing to do. This has resulted in many strops recently, but I know I’m doing the right thing.

The first step has been the addition of a mobile phone. We tried to put this off for as long as possible, but for our own peace of mind we had to give in. It is an incredibly cheap and basic phone, that is used only to ring and text us. When I went to buy it from the shop and requested this phone, the salesman did comment something along the lines of “Do you hate your child?”. I might be paraphrasing, but it had the same negative connotation for how terrible he thought the phone was. We do take it off DB1 when he is home because otherwise I get woken up at 5:30am by a phone call or a text asking, “Can I watch TV?”. Now, I have to say if I am to be woken up by a child at this time asking that question, I would much prefer the terrifying outline of said child staring and gently tapping me in the dark, than my ring tone going off at full volume an hour before my alarm is due. So far, besides the undesired use of the phone as a means to make demands, it is working out well and it has been used as intended.

The hardest thing has been allowing him more freedom. This has consisted of letting him play out with his friends more freely and walking to and from places that aren’t that far away on his own. I know some children his age have been doing this for a while, but I do suffer from anxiety which makes me worry so much more. This is where the phone has become invaluable. He is able to keep us informed constantly of where he is and what he is doing, and although he is never more than a few minutes from home, it does reassure me.

I don’t think I will ever feel completely comfortable when I am not with him, but he is getting older, so it is inevitable that he is going to start to spend less time with me. I know it is only going to get worse, but after speaking with my mum, I was reassured slightly because she used to feel the exact same way when giving me more independence. She never felt comfortable and always worried (actually still does) but knew that children need their freedom to grow.

I might have called this post ‘Learning to Let Go’, but actually I have realised that as parents we never really let go of our children. We simply take a step back and hold on just as tightly from a distance.

 

If you want to read more of my blog posts, please click the ‘Follow’ button on my blog page. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for your support.

 

Mrs P x x x

Managing My Mental Health

In recent years, I have struggled with my mental health. When I was pregnant with my second child I developed antenatal depression and anxiety. Although I received help and managed to get somewhat better, I never fully accepted what had happened. So, it was no surprise when I faced a difficult period in this last year, that anxiety and depression returned.

I was lucky that I had people around me who had been through this with me before and thanks to the help I received when I was going through my antenatal depression, I was also able to recognise and acknowledge that I was not well and needed help. I went to see my GP as soon as possible and they referred me on to my local NHS mental health service. I received CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) as I had done previously, but this time I made sure to engage with all the advice and activities given to me and have continued to utilise them on a daily basis.

It has taken many months and there is no magic cure, but thanks to the help I received and awareness I now have, I am better and have far more tools in order to try to maintain my mental health on a day to day basis.

I have created a very clear daily mental health routine. I do love a routine and for me consistency really helps me to achieve. I am not a therapist, a psychologist or a health professional of any kind, but I have been a patient and a sufferer of mental health issues. I know when going through bad times, having access to information and reading about others who had been through or were going through the same thing as me, really helped. That is why I am sharing some of my mental health management strategies in the hope they may help others. I can’t say if they will work for anyone else, but so far, they have successfully helped me to improve and maintain good mental health.

 

  1. Mindfulness

At its worst, my anxiety was causing me to have regular panic attacks and worry uncontrollably. This was very debilitating, so one of things I was encouraged to use was mindfulness in order to focus on the present. It was only after being aware of how overpowering my thoughts were, that I realised I never actually focused on an activity completely because I was always over thinking or worrying. I was given a CD to work from by my therapist, but I also used The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr Patrizia Collard as it has 10 minute a day exercises which are very easy to access. I didn’t take to it immediately and it did take some work and exploration of the different activities before I started to see some benefits. I try to start every morning now with a mindfulness activity and it really does help me focus my thoughts throughout the day.

 

  1. Worry Time

This is a process recommended to me during CBT in order to control my thoughts. Initially, I would carry a little notebook with me and list any worries that came to mind. I called this my ‘Worry Diary’. I would then tell myself that I am not going to worry now, I will worry about that at my allotted ‘Worry Time’. I have to say that was incredibly hard and initially impossible, because when a thought comes in to your head you can’t help but think or worry about it. The more action you take around this activity though the easier it becomes because you start to see the benefits of doing it. I would usually give myself around 30 minutes at a certain time in the day (I found during my son’s afternoon nap was the best time) to look through my notebook and worry about all the thoughts I wrote down. If possible, I would try to take action and problem solve in order to deal with my concerns. As I have used this technique more, I have found that I don’t need to write everything down. This is also because my anxiety has improved, so I am worrying less. I still give myself this time though and it has really helped me take control of my worries.

 

  1. Treat myself with kindness

For a long time, I had been so negative towards myself. I never felt I looked right, did things well, I thought people didn’t like me, the list could go on. I only realised how negatively I had been thinking after starting to really move forward with CBT. My therapist gave me tasks in order to improve my low self-esteem, which although was one of the causes of my anxiety and depression, had become much worse during this time. The first thing she asked me to do was write a ‘Positive Qualities Record’. This was incredibly difficult for me, because she was asking someone with such low self-worth to list all the good qualities and achievements they have. This was the moment I realised how negative and toxic my thoughts were. After a few hours and some tears later, I had written down quite a number of positive qualities and it did make me feel slightly better. It was hard to push those negative thoughts about myself aside, but by the end it had been quite eye opening and liberating.

After this, in order to keep the positive thoughts and self-image building, my therapist asked me to create a ‘Positive You Journal’. Every day I had to write down some positive things I had done throughout the day. The things I wrote down didn’t have to be ground breaking, it could be as simple as ‘I put make-up on’; which I have to say at this time was a very big achievement as my self-care was not wonderful either. So, every day I would write down a few positive things I had done or achieved that day, and this has been such a big help in managing my mental health. I make sure I do this task every night when I get into bed just before I go to sleep, and I find it helps me end the day in such an encouraging way. It has enabled me to develop a more positive view of myself and helped my self-esteem increase so much.

 

  1. Keep Busy and Get Organised

I found that when I was struggling most with anxiety and depression, being in the house all day on my own really affected my mood and made everything seem so much worse. It was due to an accident and injury that my anxiety and depression returned in the way it did, so for quite a while I was physically unable to do anything and was house-bound. When you are going through dark times, facing the day can seem impossible, so even when my injury improved, this was something I started to do gradually and increased once I was receiving treatment.

When I felt I could I would try to stay busy. This was the best way to stop myself from over thinking, which caused my anxiety and mood to deteriorate. I made sure I was actively involved in looking after my children and the house; something I hadn’t been able to do for a while because of my injury. There were days when just getting out of bed felt like a challenge, but fighting through and praising myself for these little achievements encouraged me to continue to build up my activities.

In order to be as proactive and productive as possible I like to plan. This gives me goals and a focus of what needs to be achieved every day. This was probably the last thing I added to my routine, because until I had overcome a lot of other obstacles, I couldn’t even begin to give myself these kinds of targets.

I tend to only focus on short term goals at the moment, so I now like to plan my week using a weekly planner. I will sit down on a Sunday evening, go through my calendar and write down all the activities and events the family will be doing throughout the week. This is then put on the fridge and everyone is aware of what is happening, and I feel in control.

I also have a diary that I use to create weekly tasks for myself. At the moment they mostly consist of activities with the children, cleaning the house and creating blog posts. As I begin to feel more confident and mentally able, I will probably try to set myself long term goals, but for where I am right now, less is more.

I also set my alarm every morning for 6:30am in order to start my routine before the children wake up. This gives me the opportunity to do my Mindfulness activity and get myself mentally and physically in the right frame of mind. Being a new stay at home mum, having a clear morning routine has also helped to keep mornings calm and do the school run without any stress. I’m sure other parents will agree that mornings can be one of the most stressful times, especially when everything feels like a rush. This is why having a set time to wake up and jobs to complete has become so important, because otherwise I find my anxiety can start to flare up.

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All of these activities have taken a long time to implement and become a solid part of my routine. They have made a big difference to how I approach my mental health and have helped me become more aware of my thought processes and how to control this.

I hope some of the information and advice I have shared can be useful. As I said previously, I cannot guarantee how well they will work for others and I haven’t written in as much depth about each activity as I probably could, but I didn’t want to waffle on for too long. I will hopefully be creating more posts in the future around this topic and these activities.

If you want to read more of my blog posts, please click the ‘Follow’ button on my blog page. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @FromMissJtoMrs1.

 

Thank you for your support.

 

Mrs P x x x

The Knowing Smile

The other day I went on a lovely autumnal walk with my husband (Mr P) and my youngest son (DB2). The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the trees were a mixture of greens, oranges and browns and the leaves were falling. It was made even more beautiful by the fact my two-year-old son did not have too many melt downs.

We are in full-blown toddler tantrum mode at the moment and it honestly can be awful. I look back to the Sunday just gone and DB2 decided he wanted to play on the altar at church during the sermon. He doesn’t care that the reverend is in full flow and the congregation engaged. No, he is determined to reach that altar. So, as he had already run down the aisle like an Olympic sprinter, I chased after him probably looking like the manic and embarrassed mother I was. Eventually, I caught up with him and tried my best to quickly grab him. He was not going to make it that easy though. He did all the things every child does when they don’t want to be picked up. He went floppy, thrashed about like a freshly caught fish, tried to hit me, headbutt me, screamed, etc.… He was doing all this near enough to the front of the church, so all eyes (even if they didn’t want to be) were on him and me. He is strong and all 5ft 2inches of me does at times struggle when he is like this. But, like so many mums, I will not be beaten by a two-year-old. I did eventually get enough of a grip of him to get down the aisle; all the while smiling on the outside and cursing on the inside. I have to say I tried my best to avoid eye contact with anyone, so I didn’t have to be met with any judgemental glares. My church is great though, and usually when this does happen there are those that will see the funny side and laugh out loud and the reverend did make light of it as he was addressing everyone, which does ease the embarrassment and guilt slightly. I did feel mortified though because this wasn’t the only time he tried to do this on Sunday. By the end I did want to curl up into a little ball and cry, because I felt there would be those judging me as a mother for letting my unruly child behave in this way.

I do joke that I brought this on myself, because with my first son (DB1) I was so smug at the fact he didn’t go through the terrible twos. He didn’t have a proper tantrum until he was nearly four. I thought the terrible twos were a myth. How wrong am I now and I am positive it is thanks to my arrogance that DB2 has become a typical terrible two-year-old.

My walk in the park though showed me that there are so many mums that go through this. As we were heading back to the car we came upon a mum with two children. One was holding her hand looking like a picture-perfect child. The other was being held underneath the mum’s arm screaming and thrashing about just as my son has done so many times before. She saw that I had my two-year-old and the knowing smile I gave her let her know that I knew exactly what she was going through. We exchanged a hello and asked each other how we were. This made me feel so much better, so I am hoping my understanding smile made her realise that she is not alone and made her feel slightly better about the screaming child under her arm too.

This smile is so important. Mums try their best, but most children go through a terrible period at some point. My eldest has left having his tantrums until he got older and even though he is ten, the teenager in him is starting rear its ugly head. So, if you do see a parent or a grandparent with a child that is having a meltdown, understand that the adult is trying their best and rather than judge, give the knowing smile of understanding and support. I promise you it will make a difficult situation so much better for the person going through it, because I know when people give me this smile I don’t feel like I am failing. I feel like I am one of many going through the ups and downs of parenthood.

If you want to read more of my blog posts, please click the ‘Follow’ button on my blog page. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment.

Thank you for your support.

Mrs P x x x

World Mental Health Day

Anxiety and depression do not always strike at the times we think they will. When looking at this photo I am filled with a certain sadness, because although I am filled with the glow and contentment of life growing within, about an hour earlier I was having a serious panic attack and wanted to disappear.

I struggled with antenatal depression and anxiety and until recently I haven’t been able to openly admit that. I felt ashamed, a failure and so guilty for feeling the way I did during a time in my life that I was also so grateful for and so happy about. But we cannot always control how our bodies and minds respond to certain situations no matter how much we wish it might be different. All we can do is try to recognise our struggles, admit to them and ask for help. That is much easier said than done and I, like many people struggled in silence for a long time, until I realised what was happening to me was not right. It is only through others speaking out about their struggles that enabled me to recognise mine. I am so grateful to Tommy’s, Mind and PANDAS Foundation for sharing the information and stories they did. They enabled me to discover what I was going through, see that it is more common than we think and access the help that I needed. If you are pregnant or have just had a baby and feel as though something is not right emotionally or mentally, I urge you to look at their websites and see your GP.

I was lucky enough to receive help relatively quickly and CBT sessions did help me through the rest of my pregnancy. The problems have not magically disappeared and after thinking I was better I have had relapses, but after overcoming the hurdle of asking for help and admitting I was not well, I am in a much better place than I was.

I know how important and helpful speaking out about issues with mental health is, as without others doing so I may not have got through the difficulties I have. Knowing that others struggle, knowing it is ok not be ok and knowing that there is no shame is so important. That is why I am going to continue to share my experiences with anxiety and depression on my blog frommissjtomrsp.com and hopefully help others the way that I was helped.

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P xxx

 

Tommy’s website: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/mental-health-during-and-after-pregnancy

 

Pandas Foundation website: http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/preantenatal-depression/

 

Mind website: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/postnatal-and-antenatal-depression/#.W75Hui-ZP-Y

Welcome

Hi, I’m Mrs P and yes, I have decided to start a blog.

I have two children who for now will be called Darling Boy 1 (DB1) and Darling Boy 2 (DB2).

I found out I was pregnant soon after starting university and gave birth to my first son when I was 19. So, I was quite a young mum. He is now 10 years old and since giving birth I returned to university, married Mr P, got my degree, studied for a PGCE and became a teacher.

I then became pregnant with DB2 and struggled greatly with antenatal depression and anxiety. During that time I started to follow some mummy vloggers and mummy bloggers and they really helped me. It has been a long journey since becoming pregnant for the second time, but I am now, after going back to work, overcoming injuries and having anxiety and depression relapses, in a place where I feel I want to share some of my experiences in the hope that they will help support and encourage other people who are going through similar difficulties or just need to read about someone whose life isn’t all together but is trying to get through.

My life is anything but Instagrammable. I don’t have the perfect house, I don’t look perfect, I have huge insecurities with my face and body and my clothes and style are not perfect. In the past, due my severe perfectionist disorder, not having the perfect life or being able to do everything perfectly caused me many years of low self-esteem and unhappiness. But today I am so happy to embrace all the imperfections because I can now acknowledge and accept that life isn’t and cannot be perfect and I honestly have never been happier.

So, if like me you find that the best blogs to read and vlogs to watch are the ones from people who seem real, then I’m hoping you might find some comfort and enjoyment following me.

I’m hoping my experiences as a mum (one as a first-time teenage mum and the other as a second-time mum in my late twenties), my struggles with anxiety and depression, being a working mum and more recently a stay at home mum will make for good reading. Because if my experiences, stories, advice and thoughts can help someone else as other vlogs and blogs have helped me, then I will be very happy.

Mrs P x x x