Saturday, 8 August 2020

Some words for International Breastfeeding week

This post includes affiliate links.

It's International Breastfeeding week!  Hurrah! I hear you cry! 

Except I don't hear this cry very much at all. What I hear a lot of is "Breastfeeding week makes me feel bad because I couldn't breastfeed for xyz reasons".  

Now as an ex breastfeeding volunteer for the Breastfeeding Network (I had to give up due to childcare responsibilities) I have a huge amount of empathy for women who have struggled to reach their breastfeeding goals.  I understand the challenges women face, breastfeeding if often HARD, that is one of the reasons why only 24% of women are still breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum and only 1% of women are still breastfeeding at the WHO recommended minimum of 6 months. This is not because 76% of women didn't care, decided that breastfeeding wasn't for them after all, or didn't try hard enough. Studies reveal that as much as 80% of women wanted to breastfeed. The reason is a lack of support.  

This lack of support has myriad facets, here are a few:

  • Lack of access to support,
  • Lacks of funding for support,
  • Lack of support and encouragement from family,
  • Lack of breastfeeding role models,
  • The sexualisation of breasts in the media,
  • Financial power of the formula industry,
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding about breastfeeding from medical professionals,
  • Pressure to return to work,
Women are unsupported by family, friends, medical professionals, their employers, the media, and society generally, we are shamed for breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding without a cover, breastfeeding beyond what society considers an acceptable age, told we are disgusting told to breastfeed in toilets, and even told we are sexally abusing our children, (when it comes to being a woman and breastfeeding you're damned if you do and damned if you don't and I talk more about this in my Patreon post HEREit's a wonder any women meet their breastfeeding goals.   

And right there is our reason for celebrating those women who did make it.  They made it in the face of adversity, they are the minority, and that should be celebrated. Most women didn't breastfeed beyond the first few weeks, formula feeding is the norm, (it's infant formula adverts we see on TV not breastfeeding adverts) just like most people didn't run a marathon and jogging round the park or even sitting on the sofa is the norm.  But this doesn't stop us celebrating those who did run the marathon. The same should apply to breastfeeding mothers.  (I realise this isn't the best analogy as breastfeeding isn't a race or a competition where there are winners or losers, but it's the best this sleep deprived mama could come up with!)

International Breastfeeding week isn't about shaming women who couldn't, wouldn't, didn't reach their breastfeeding goals for whatever reason, any more than Black Lives Matter is about saying that other lives matter less,  It's about acknowledging the massive obstacles women faced and overcame in breastfeeding their child. 

And breastfeeding week isn't just about celebrating the amazing achievements of those mothers who reached their breastfeeding goals, it's also about raising awareness about the lack of support, and demanding better, it's about acknowledging that mama who gave her baby colostrum, that mama who managed a week, the mama who sought out donor milk, the mama who pumped for 6 weeks or longer, that mama who used a SNS so her baby could get as much breast milk as possible, and it's about saying we (as a society) should be doing better, we (as a society) should be trying harder. Trying harder to help mothers who are struggling, trying harder to normalise breastfeeding and trying harder to flip the sexualised message the media sends us about breasts.

So if you breastfed, no matter how long for, breastfeeding week is for you (because any amount of breastmilk is a wonderful gift), just as much as it is for those women who did reach their goals. It's not the time to justify personal hang-ups, guilt or grief, it's about supporting, celebrating and educating. 

In a society where you are more likely to see a breast in a push up bra than with an infant attached, let us have one week to celebrate our amazing bodies.  Now is the time to celebrate our stories, to shout our achievements from the rooftops without worrying about making someone feel guilty. (Should those who finished the marathon not celebrate their achievement for fear of making those who didn't finish, or didn't take part feel guilty?) Do you think men would think twice about celebrating their breastfeeding goals if they could breastfeed? Not a chance, yet we women minimise our achievements to try to prevent others from feeling bad and it has to stop. We have to stop minimising our biology (again, I talk more about this in my " Embrace or Erase" series over on my Patroon HERE).

In International Breastfeeding week I want to celebrate that I have breastfed three children, two through pregnancy, through mastitis, through poor latch, pain and years of sleepless nights, that I pumped milk for a friend's baby and that I am currently still breastfeeding my four year old.  I don't want to feel like celebrating my achievements might make my friends who didn't reach their goals feel guilty and resentful, I want to feel like they are standing right beside me, celebrating with me for their own achievements no matter how big or small as well as mine, and fighting for better with me.  And I want to fight all of the things I mentioned above that are barriers to breastfeeding so that more women can achieve their breastfeeding goals and feel like International Breastfeeding week is for them too.

If you're interested in reading more about how our society views women's breasts and how this affects breastfeeding, I would encourage you to visit my Patreon page HERE  and read my post called "Embrace or Erase part 1".

If you are looking for support to breastfeed you can contact The National Breastfeeding Helpline which is open from 9.30am till 9.30pm daily on 0300 100 0212

If you would like to understand more about breastfeeding, here are some books that I highly recommend:


Saturday, 11 July 2020

So you're thinking about home educating?

(This post includes affiliate links)

Hi friends.
As we approach the summer holidays I am getting word that many parents who have been doing lockdown schooling/distance learning at home with their children are considering taking the leap and opting out of the school system and home educating for real.  How exciting!  I thought I'd put together a little blog post to help parents with the decision making process of whether to choose full time home education or not as there is a good deal to consider before making the change.

The last three months have been a very strange time, parents have been plunged into a home schooling situation with no previous experience, time to read and research or organise resources.  I hugely admire the hard work you have all done with your children, it must have been a huge and unexpected challenge and one that I do not envy.  I spent many years reading and researching before embarking on home education but you have all done superbly with only a few days notice, it really is remarkable, even more so those parents who have been tying to work from home at the same time, phew!  I don't now how you have done it, home educating your children is a full time job!

Of course actual home education is a little different from what you all have been doing, so here are a couple of things to ponder:

Do you like spending time with your children?

When you opt to home educate you are opting to spend a large amount of your time with your children.  Home educating usually calls for some sort of personal sacrifice.  It is not possible to do an out-of-the-home Monday to Friday 9-5 job if you are home educating your children, (so it is likely you will have a drop in income as well) You will not have your children's teachers popping onto your laptop screen for hours of teaching each day, you will be their main teacher.  You may decide to send your children to some groups and private part time schools for part of the week, and do some online learning, but you will still be spending the bulk of your time with them so it is important that you enjoy their company most of the time.  There will of course be times when your children drive you insane, it's not going to be perfect all the time, but if you really find spending time with your children tedious then home education probably isn't for you.  It's a big commitment and not something you can always undo very easily, they may lose their place in their school and be behind on the school curriculum if you decide they should go back, remember that they will likely be with you when you need to pop to the shops, visit friends, and even to the Doctors!  These can all be learning experiences, but having your children with you does change the way you run errands and do your chores.
Educating your children though school makes life easier in so many ways, they are exposed to many different learning and social experiences through school and it is important that we fulfill these essential experiences through our home education.  Unlike lockdown schooling/distance learning, where we have been stuck in our homes not seeing anyone, you will have to take responsibility for providing opportunities for your children to interact socially. Of course there will be everyday interactions with other adults, at the library, the shops, church and the leisure centre for example and family get togethers, and you may continue sending your children to after school activities such as Scouts, sports groups and holiday clubs.  But you will also probably want to seek out other home educators and groups where your child can get to know other home educated children.

What will it be like to home educate when school aren't sending you all the lessons and resources?

Once you fully opt out of the school system you are on your own.  This is both wonderfully freeing and terrifying in equal measure!  The local authority do not offer much in the way of advice on where to go for resources (nothing you can't get from a Facebook group or knowledgeable home-ed parent anyway) or how to begin planning your own curriculum and schemes of work, there is no set curriculum you must follow, no targets set, no deadlines to meet. The world is your oyster, but when the options are endless we can become paralysed by choice. How will you approach home education now you are not constrained by the national curriculum? There are many theories of education that you can opt or buy into which range from buying a big box curriculum to un-schooling with no plans or curriculum at all. There are free curriculum, expensive curriculum, ones with testing, ones without, online plans, free websites and those with subscriptions.  It is worth having a good old think about how you will approach home education now that you are free. Here are a few popular approaches that you might consider:

Unschooling - https://happinessishereblog.com/what-is-unschooling/
Charlotte Mason - https://www.amblesideonline.org/WhatIsCM.shtml
Semi-structured - https://educationalfreedom.org.uk/school-at-home/
Classical - https://www.design-your-homeschool.com/classical-home-schooling.html
Montessori - https://fearlesshomeschool.com/montessori-homeschool/
Waldorf/Steiner - http://www.ahomeeducation.co.uk/home-education-steiner.html
Eclectic - https://www.homeschool.com/homeschooling-methods/#relaxed-eclectic-homeschooling

This is not an exhaustive list but will give you an idea of some of the ways other home educators approach their children's education.  I have tried to direct you to resources that do not require you to invest huge amounts of money on educating your children, as this simply isn't necessary.  A big box curriculum may make you feel secure and take away decision making but it is not essential to successful home schooling.

So there are a couple of aspects to consider in the next few weeks if you think home ed might be for you.  If you decide it is (and your child is registered with a school) then all you need to do is send your school a letter declaring your intention to home educate and requesting them to remove your child's name from the school roll.  That's it! Then you are free!  Over the next few weeks I will do some more posts on home education to help new home educators with the decision making and options.  In the mean time you might like to take a look at some of these books that could help you on your journey.  These include my affiliate links.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Gratitude Mandala

I thought it was time for another post where I share with you one of the pages from my "Mama Space Journal".  If you recall I designed my "Mama Space Journal" specifically for mums in need of self care, it contains 50 prompts to encourage relaxation, reflection, creativity and mindfulness.

This week I wanted to share with you my Gratitude Mandala. I have decided to share this prompt with you next because, as with the Zentangle I shared with you last time, this prompt is very visual, is relaxing and doesn't require us to practice any particular drawing or artistic skills.  This prompt does ask you to think a little more deeply, beyond the simple visual and physical process of drawing, into reflecting on the goodness in your life.  This is still a fairly easy thing for us to do as we all have many things to be thankful for and it doesn't require too much soul searching.  So it's a fairly un-challenging prompt to complete next, easing you into a creative journey.

I am drawn to gratitude mandalas because I love the idea of combining the meditative patterns and shape of a mandala with the uplifting effect of practicing gratitude. I first became interested in the idea of sacred geometry when I developed an obsession with collecting antique doilies! I expect you're wondering how doilies connect with mandalas, well I loved the patterns created with needles and hooks in doilies, but being completely useless when it comes to these tools of the trade I found that I could actually draw similar designs with pen and ink on paper that were almost as satisfying as the doily itself. From practicing these circular geometric patterns it didn't take me long to learn that they strongly resembled the circular mandala patterns of Hindu and Buddhist religions.  After further reading and research I came to understand that patterns like these aren't exclusive to the eastern traditions but appear in virtually all religious traditions around the world.  Being a Christian myself I was particularly drawn to the repetitive shapes and patterns that occur in the stained glass windows, knows as Rose Windows, of Gothic churches especially those of the famous churches such as The Notra-Dame in Paris.  We also see this circular sacred geometry in the dream catches of the Native Americans, Roman tile patterns and in Islamic art.  It seems us humans have been inspired by these forms for thousands of years, maybe this is because they reflect the fascinating geometry we see in the natural world, from the spirals of a snail's shell and the petals of a flower to the leaves of a cabbage.

The idea of combining a mandala shape with gratitude isn't my own, an idea that has been floating around on the internet for many years, and because I thought it was such a great idea, I included a template for one in the "Mama Space Journal". As quick google search with come up with lots of inspiration and ideas for how to design a beautiful and unique mandala.

But why bother altering to something already beautiful and relaxing to create by adding in gratitude?  Well, expressing gratitude has shown to be very beneficial to health.  When we express gratitude the brain releases serotonin and dopamine which make us feel good and can improve our mood.  If we practice gratitude regularly we can strengthen neural pathways, ultimately creating a permanent state of positivity and gratefulness within us. Because of the overwhelming nature of motherhood, it can sometimes feel like we have little to be grateful for, it's hard to feel thankful when our daily activities often revolve around feeding babies, wiping bums, cleaning spills and washing endless piles of laundry, but taking time to find things to be grateful for is part of looking after ourselves, it is a form of self care that can be a tool to improve our mental and emotional health and increase our capacity for joy and peace. With a gratitude mandala we combine the relaxation of drawing in a circular motion with the positive effects of expressing gratitude, it's a win win!

The way to make the most of this exercise is to begin by creating some mental space ready for the task, as always some child free, quiet time is ideal, but any snatched moment will also benefit your mental health and get the creative juices flowing.  If you are able to meditate for a few minutes before you begin that will really help you to relax and get the most out of your creative engagement. Here are a few guided meditations you can access for free on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnusFbC0E80 for a ten minute meditation,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCorElLKFQE for a five minute meditation,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhF8vLesRRc for another five minute meditation.

I began my Gratitude Mandala by creating a colourful background to my page with watercolour paint.  I actually stuck a piece of cartridge paper onto the page and traced the circle template through because I printed my "Mama Space Journal" on ordinary printer paper which doesn't accept watercolour paint very well. I created a sort of rainbow of colour around the circle with my paints which is something I often do on my pieces as I love colour.  You might like to create a background for your mandala, it could be created with watercolour, pencil crayon or collage. When my watercolour background was dry I simply wrote all that I was grateful for around the central circle radiating out from the centre like the rays of the sun. I wrote whatever came to mind and if I was stuck I just looked round the room for ideas.  I wasn't worried about making the writing legible because the benefit of the writing was the process not the end product, so try not to worry about your handwriting. You could also write your gratitude going round in a circle or even with wavey or zigzag lines.
Here are a couple of videos of part of the process and a photo of my finished result.  I did a little mandala in the centre circle and embelished over the top of the gratitude with colouring pencil and coloured drawing pen.




                                          



I hope you enjoy completing your gratitude mandala and you get as much from it as I did.  I'd love to see how you get on so do send me some of your pics when you're done if you're happy to share.  If you want it get involved head over to my Etsy shop and check out my "Mama Space Journal".                        







Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Zentangle

Hi Friends,

I have been so overwhelmed by the support I've had for my new product which I just released this week, I have been blown away by the number of sales I had so soon after releasing it, it really warmed my heart and motivated me to share my example pages with you as I work through them.  I really hope they will inspire those of you who have bought my product and I look forward to hou sharing some of the pages with me online.
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about; this week I released my "Mama Space Journal" into the world.  It is a digitally downloadable journal, specifically designed for mums, with 50 prompts to encourage relaxation, reflection, creativity and mindfulness. You can find out more in my Etsy shop.  Although I have written the prompts with motherhood in mind, almost all of the prompts could also be used by those who are child free.

Mothers and motherhood though; those are my passions.  My "why". Because I know what it's like to face the misery and majesty of motherhood.  I've been there in the wee small hours with a crying baby, feeling like I was the only person in the world whose child would not sleep through the night.  I've experienced the sore, leaking breasts, the peculiar discomfort of a changed body, the stepping into a strange new unknown version of myself. I also know the joys of motherhood, the absolute wonder of the gift of bringing life into the world, the power of it and how after giving birth you look around and wonder if anyone notices that you are changed.  And I know what I needed when I was (and still am) going through all this.  I needed someone to acknowledge how damn hard this motherhood journey is, how it wears you down to the bone, how it bares your soul completely naked and exposes the hidden parts of yourself.  I needed someone to say it's hard, but you're doing a great job. I needed someone to say what you are doing it worth something, that all your hard work is precious and important and seen.   And that is what this journal does.  It says you are awesome, what you are doing, raising children, it's monumental, it's THE most important thing you can do now those little souls are in your care but mostly it says mums need to be looked after too, mums need care and time to reflect on this epic journey of self discovery they are embarking upon. And it offers a small jewel of hope, a light in the dark, an opportunity to grab with two hands and make your own,.  A chance to relax, reflect, to capture the creative spirit that burns inside your heart since your body became switched on to creating when you conceived that child in your womb (or heart).  That is why I wanted to bring this journal into the world, because I love motherhood and I think it is important and I want you to love it too and know that what you are doing matters.  For all the discomfort and challenges it brings, there are also the moments of exquisite joy that make it all worthwhile.  Because you come from a long line of strong women, because women have always had to be strong, I want to bring this to you to acknowledge your strength and to help you to own it, to see the complex  and intricate web that has been woven through generations past and generations to come because of the gentle and loving power of motherhood. What you are doing matters, motherhood matters, and I am honouring that with this creative space that I have designed for you.  I really look forward to this journey as I work through the book in the hope that I will have some kindred spirits to join me through the experience over the coming months.

In this post I wanted to talk to you about using the journal and especially the Zentangle prompt.  Unlike some of the prompts which ask you to dig deep, the Zentangle doesn't require any soul searching, so it acknowledges that sometimes mamas get tired and what they need from time to time is a little mental escapology. Drawing a zentangle is a great way to do this and an un-daunting way to start getting creative as it requires little equipment, time or mental investment.  You simply pick up a pen and begin, which is why I decided to give a tutorial on this prompt first.

In an ideal world, when we approach a mindful or reflective journal or creative prompt in your "Mama Space Journal" it is good to get into the right head space.  This means child-free, quiet and time.  If you are lucky enough to be able to get these three things that is so great, you'll really be able immerse yourself into the prompts (if you haven't don't worry I will talk to you about that later.)

During lockdown it has been especially hard to find time to myself so I can absolutely empathise with mums who are feeling burnt out and overwhelmed because that is me right now. I am snatching the odd moment between my husband finishing work and cracking on with dinner every few weeks and I have insisted upon one Saturday afternoon to myself every two weeks.  My husband takes the boys out for the afternoon on those days so I can be home with all my art materials, my laptop and everything I need to work and get creative with painting, drawing and writing.  I also use my evenings (when the boys are down early enough and when I have the energy after a long day) to work on my creative projects.  Ideally I keep the TV off so I can fully focus on what I am doing. I know some mums who get up before their children to get some alone time which is also a really good idea, just doesn't work for me in this season, but maybe it would for you.

If you manage to get some periods of quite time to yourself you might like to begin by following a guided meditation.  I really love the meditation that Lucy H. Pearce writes in her book "The Rainbow Way" (affiliate link below), she helps us imagine ourselves moving into a special private creative space all of our own.  I really love this meditation (and have written versions of it for my retreats and my "Affirmation Card e-workshop") because it sparks our imagination and inner creative spirit, which is exactly what we need for a creative act.  It also encourages us to imagine a support figure to help us when we go into this creative space.

I thought this was rather a nice meditation that is free on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSqEYFsF3w8

And this one which is a little bit shorter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5dNHrYCYMw

Or if you only have 5 minutes there's this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TODtU3FKIMU

If you are relaxed before you begin you'll get so much more out of the creative activity. Maybe I'll upload one of mine onto my Patreon page some day.

Once you are in a relaxed space you are ready to begin.  Take up your pen and begin to create patterns, let your mind relax into the lines as you create them and let them flow from the pen.  If you get stuck try looking at some pattern examples so you're not blocked thinking about what to do and can let the lines and patterns come naturally.  Here are some examples on my pinterest page.

If you aren't able to get extended periods of quiet alone time to meditate and really focus on your zentangle, don't worry, you can simply add to your doodle whenever you can snatch a moment.  You'll still benefit from a small moment concentrating on the lines and shapes you draw, just do what you can when you can, perhaps before the kids are up, or while they have breakfast, if they watch TV you could do some creative work then, or when they've gone to bed.  I have been know to go and sit in my car for some quiet time during lockdown, just to get away from the noise and mess of the house. With kids you sometimes have to be creative with your time, but there is usually a way.  I have found that all together  I end up spending not an insignificant time each week on Facebook, so managing my time on apps like this and Instagram also frees up moments during the day when I could be creating.

Anyway enough talk, time to get creative, check out my little sped up videos below to inspire you:




    
 

















So I hope you find these little videos helpful and you feel inspired to have a go at this prompt in your journal if you have purchased one.  If you would like to grab a digitally downloadable version for yourself check out my Etsy shop HERE.

Of course you don't have to buy the journal to have a go at drawing zentangles, you can grab any bit of paper and get going.  However the beauty of the "Mama Space Journal" is that all the prompts come together in one place, so not only are the kept together but you have a record of your creative journey as you complete all the prompts. In time it will become a valuable and precious document that you can treasure and look back on in the future to mark progress, reflect on memories and just to delight yourself with the wonder of seeing your own creativity manifest itself upon the page.



Saturday, 25 April 2020

Easter Morning Acclamation


Hi friends, I haven't posted for ages even though I've had posts in mind, I wanted to tell you about my Easter but that seems ages ago, and so much has happened since then, including the death of an old family member whom I was very fond of.  I am sure in time I will have found some meaning in her passing to share with you but in the meantime I will share with you about what happened to me on Easter morning:


The day before Easter my eldest son lost a tooth, we performed the age old ritual of putting it in an envelope under his pillow then promptly forgot about it till 5am Easter morning, at which point my sweet husband woke me up in a panic to remind me to quickly swap it for a pound as per the tooth fairy exchange system.  (Husband had a bad back which was why he didn't get up.)
After doing said swap and placing his lost tooth in a little tin, my mind was transported of Easter morning two thousand years ago and how the women had visited the tomb in the early hours of the morning to prepare Jesus' body with oils and spices, and I decided to step outside onto the garden.
It was still dark but a faint glow over the roofs of the houses indicated dawn, I took out my ear plugs and my ears were met by what can only be described as a cacophony of bird song,  it was absolutely glorious! The whole of nature was up and celebrating the Risen Christ! My whole garden was full of life, full of the beauty of spring, we had robin chicks in the ivy, blue tits in the tit box, our tad poles were wiggling all around their bucket and little green shoots of lettuce, runner beans and courgettes were popping up in their trays. The whole of nature was out on all it's awesomeness clapping its hands for new life springing up from the ground which in turn celebrates the new life we receive through Jesus.

Then, in the back of my mind I kept thinking I could hear a faint "mummy, mummy" emanating from inside the house. Thinking my littlest one was calling me I reluctantly I left the garden and headed back upstairs thinking as I went how frustrating and typical it was to be drawn away from the beautiful and intimate moment with God by the call of my ever present offspring (now interested that this work contains the word "Spring"). But then, before I could begin to get resentful I realised that God gave me the gifts of these children, knowing full well that our intimate moments would be irregular and short lived and he transcends this and meets me daily where I am. He knocks on the door of my heart as I hang washing, as I read bedtime stories, as I scrub dirty dishes and as I kiss bumped knees.  God knows life, he creates it every year without fail in all its chaotic, noisy spring-splendidness, so he understands how our own little lives call to us, distract us and keep our minds busy on more earthly and less heavenly things. Being called by my children doesn't mean missing out on moments with God, it means glorifying God through honouring the lives of my children with my own service and sacrifice, and in turn I receive blessings.
Life is full of seasons, and this is just one I am traveling through right now, and trying to enjoy the journey as I go.  As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."

For me perhaps now is not a time for endless meditation on the wonders of God's creation, it is not a time for hours of quiet Bible study and prayer, but at least for that small moment on Easter morning God gave me the gift of pondering the new life in him and in the world, but he didn't let me forget the responsibility he has given me to cultivate and nurture the life he has given me, and how that is just as important a form of worship as bathing myself in the mystery and majesty of Easter morning.


Don't forget you can read more of my thoughts, reflections and encouragement on my Patreon membership HERE

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Corona encouragement

Just a quick message from me to tell you in the spirit of trying to do something productive and helpful in these trying times instead of withering away with anxiety I have made some affirmation cards, please feel free to print them off, cut them up and use them for your self, stick them round the house, pop through a letterbox, tape to a lamp post, etc etc whatever you like. 


Thursday, 19 March 2020

Corona Virus days 1-3 Social Distancing

On Tuesday I received the message that our weekly Forest School was cancelled due to Government advice regarding Corona Virus.  I cried.  Not long after this every single other of my home ed groups were cancelled and we were faced with the prospect of having no activities or meets and not seeing any friends.  For a person who is pretty heavily reliant on chatting with friends for my mental health, this was very very bad news. I quickly broke my Instagram lent fast in an effort to avoid feeling totally isolated and jumped online to feel part of a community. 

We have managed to pass the time pretty well over the past three days, one visit to some woods, packed lunch included, a morning at a local nature park with playground and today was our first day where we could be considered isolated as we didn't go out. We spent the day reading books, the boys played, we did some art activities, and a I spent a lot of time telling the boys they would have to wait for their next meal before more food (seriously are they never full up?).

I am trying to find some brain space to reflect on what is happening, but it is challenging as the boys seem to be picking up on a vibration or energy in their air of panic, anxiety and fear, even though hubs and I are trying to remain calm and not panicked (though inside I am pretty stressed out and have an aching jaw from clenching my teeth all night and half the day) and are therefore absolutely bonkers!

However I have been able to stretch my brain just enough to arrive at the following observations:


  • This whole thing would never have happened if people didn't eat animals,
  • The UK is in a particularly difficult situation as of the end of the week when schools close because we have a very strong culture of two working parent families, both by force of finances and social pressure.  This means either one half of the workforce is forced to stay off from work, or children will be looked after by at risk grandparents. 
  • We have a very strong individualistic culture, so people aren't automatically thinking of others by offering to do their neighbours shopping, or help generally.  Supermarket shelves are empty because people are over buying. I don't know who the people are who are buying more than they need (though I have my suspicions which I won't go into it here at risk of offending) but it most certainly isn't the large families like us, living in tiny houses as they do not have the storage space for stashing away hundreds of loo rolls and tins of baked beans. These people who are hoarding are selfish.  The same goes for the people who are continuing to visit pubs, restaurants and nightclubs etc.  These people are putting others at risk.  Now is not the time for Keep Calm and Carry On.  At times like this, the bravest and hardest thing to do might just be to stay home. 
  • A couple of weeks ago before this who thing really got serious in the UK the MPs gushed on Question Time about how we were all going to pull together and look out for each other, the "spirit of the blitz" and all that.  There are glimmers of this but overall my feeling is that no one remembers what the spirit of the Blitz is, sacrificing your own wants for the needs of others is a lost concept to most people these days. Our parents have lived through a long period of relative prosperity, peace and financial security, so there is no genetic memory of having to band together, we have inherited an attitude of expecting everything to turn out just fine and when faced with the prospect of it not all being fine, people are turning inwards not outwards. 
  • Maybe something good will come from this whole disaster, it is forcing some families to spend more time together, friends and family members are looking out for each other, there are neighbours sending notes round offering help, there are small cracks of light breaking through I have hope that there are still individuals out there who think of others.   I worry of course for those who are not able to get away from toxic or abusive family members, single working parents, those who have lost their job because of this and the myriad other people who are being so negatively effected by this. 
  • The world will be different afterwards.
  • I am incredibly thankful that I do not have to work, that my husband is able to work from home and that I feel safe an comfortable in my home. 
In my own small way I am trying to do something positive with this whole thing.  I am not in a position to be able to look after anyone's children, visit the elderly, do supermarket runs etc because  we are having to pretty much isolate ourselves because of some health conditions in my family which puts them at risk, but I am sharing poetry on Instagram and will be sharing a few of the activities we are doing to pass the time which I hope might inspire others and put some beauty into the world

I intend on updating this journal every few days, sharing how we are managing, the problems we encounter and tricks and tips on mentally and emotionally surviving this. 

If you're interested in supporting me with my writing and art I'd love it if you visited my page on patreon where you can read more of my thoughts, musings, ideas and art.