Where to even begin…

It’s been a long time since I blogged. And not because I’ve done my usual and given up, but because I’ve really struggled to find something positive or interesting to write about. Even now, this post is neither of those things. But I know I’m not alone and I know that people go through the same and I also know that some people don’t get help through fear. So if this helps just one person then I’ll be happy. And if it doesn’t help anyone at least I’ve got it off my chest I guess.

Back to my original question…Where to begin. That’s been the main reason for the blog absence, because I didn’t know where to start. So I’ve decided to just write instead of worrying about the sequence of events, it’s easier.

Buying a house is stressful. We’d been actively looking since May last year, found a house in August, put an offer in, had it accepted, had a few reports done and it needed too much doing to it so as the seller wasn’t willing to negotiate on price we pulled out. We then booked to view a house that neither of us were sure about. 5 months later we moved in! But as anyone who has moved house will tell you, it’s just the most stressful thing EVER! Particularly when you’re buying your first home and haven’t got a bloody clue what you’re doing!

But Mr D got promoted in November which we both saw as a hugely positive thing. The extra money would come in more than handy. We’d be able to get the kitchen re-done and eventually maybe the extension done to really open upstairs up. And he was working his way up the ladder. Great.

Except it wasn’t. He ended up working 11 hour days with no lunch break and getting home just as J was going to bed. He was getting pressure (but no support) from all angles and coming home exhausted. This then meant that stuff at home was falling to me. So on top of working full time, doing all of the drop offs and pick up for J and the usual household stuff I was also doing all of the house buying stuff too. It was exhausting. And we were both tired and both miserable so do what we always do and take it out on each other.

As well as that J’s behaviour was dreadful.

I don’t want you I want daddy

It’s how it started but it just got worse after that. He missed his daddy and his 3 year old brain somehow figured out it was my fault.

But I figured once we’d moved it would all settle down. We just needed to get through the next few weeks and the it would all be fine.


In the end I asked then begged him to quit. I couldn’t deal with the fallout from it anymore on top of everything else. So that’s what he did. The day before we went on our holiday, he handed his notice in and the weight of the world was off our shoulders.

So we went on our holiday. Our big deal holiday. We were celebrating 10 years together and J would be 4 whilst we were away too. But it was also the first time J had been on a airplane. And as any parent can attest to, flights with kids go either one way or another.

On the way out he was fine. Big tired after the early start but he was good as gold on the plane. When we landed in Gran Canaria he even got to look in the cockpit and say hello to the captain. But on the way back…not so much.

He was tired and really unhappy about having to come home.

I don’t want to go home. I want to stay on holiday.

I knew how he felt to be honest. But I didn’t have the mother of all meltdowns 2 hours into a 4.5 hour flight that resulted in the woman in front asking for J to stop kicking her husband’s chair because apparently seeing that we were trying our best to restrain him wasn’t enough, she had to make me feel like a shit parent anyway.

Aside from that I had felt massively under prepared for the holiday. I didn’t start packing until the day before. Threw a load of stuff into my case. Hadn’t read the flight information stuff. His wasn’t me. I was Miss Organised. But not this time. I ended up with one pair of trousers that had a hole in, 2 dresses that didn’t fit and no tops to match my shorts. It didn’t ruin the holiday but I was annoyed with myself.

But we had a good time and things were going to get better from now on, surely?

Nah! Wrong AGAIN!

But before we’d even got on the plane to come home shit hit the fan.

Our flight was getting back to the UK at 6pm so we figured we’d be home by 8pm. I was having a half day holiday the next day, Mr D was going in as normal and J was going to grandma’s.

Except before we’d got on the plane I had an email from grandma saying she needed to see Mr D urgently face to face when we got home and that she couldn’t have J the next day.

Panic then very quickly ensued. Luckily texts don’t cost any more abroad these days than texting at home so I explained the situation to my boss and asked if I could take the whole day off. That bit was easy but then we couldn’t help but want to know what on earth had happened whilst we’d been away. It turned out a lot!

Before we’d gone away Mr D’s 94 year old grandpa was in hospital because he kept falling over. Without going into details, the conversations about “if” have now turned to “when” and the two conditions he does have, have also exacerbated his dementia so it’s a particularly tough time for Grandma and her sister at the moment. But also for Mr D as they’re such a small close knit family.

There’s also health issues with both Mr D’s mum and aunty as well that are pretty big. So at this point we didn’t think it could get any worse.

WRONG AGAIN! We really should have known better at this point!

Mr D had been back at work 2.5 days when he called me to ask him to pick him up as his boss had told him to go home. Long and short of it, he’s now on garden leave for the next 2 weeks and then he’s officially unemployed. But we’ll be OK for 6 months and there’s a plan. I’m not panicking but ask me again in 5 months time and the answer may be different.

And the thing is, this isn’t even the half of.

There’s also been:

  1. The fact that Nanny had a pretty serious operation in December and we’ve been missing her like mad. I had no idea how much I relied on her to be at the end of a text until she wasn’t anymore. Things are now looking positive but it’s been a difficult few months without her.
  2. I’ve been having my own problems at work which will hopefully now be resolved in the not too distant future.
  3. Josh has been displaying ever increasing worrying behaviour which resulted in me crying for an hour with his key worker at nursery and agreeing for the Head of SEN for the area to go and observe him. He’s not what I’d class as someone you’d associate with any additional needs because in some areas he’s phenomenal, like his reading skills, but in others he’s behind. And he struggled in a bigger class but have thrived in a class of 8. When he starts school in September he’ll be one of 30 and I worry for him.
  4. We had a nightmare with the landlords. Who started talking about us reducing tree height a week after we’d moved out. It all got sorted in the end but not before I had a massive anxiety attack at work.
  5. Me, J and Mr D have just been plagued by illness. Colds, flu, tonsillitus. It’s been relentless.
  6. The fact that I’ve had no time to myself. I’m either at work, at home or out with J. It’s just been a bit kverwhelming. I didn’t appreciate how much I needed my “me time”, until again it was taken away.
  7. Ever increasing feeling of isolation. I’m not in regular contact with anyone from school. I don’t have a typical best friend, I’ve got my online best buddy who lives at the opposite end of the country. And generally were a bit friendless at the minute. If we could / chose to get married now there would be nobody to invite.
  8. I’m not sleeping properly again. So I’m permanently tired. Because I’m permanently tired I haven’t been doing the exercise I promised myself I would do when we moved, despite knowing that a bit of exercise helps me sleep better.
  9. And because I’m tired and unhappy I eat. I then get fat which makes me unhappy so I eat because I don’t drink. So I’ve got fatter and more miserable!
  10. Because I’m fat, tired, miserable and stressed my skins awful which makes me more miserable so I eat more and the whole thing goes round and round in a miserable circle!

And everything combined has been the perfect recipe for me to break. I’m not sure who it is when I look in the mirror these days but I can tell you I don’t like what I see.

But and it’s a big BUT. There is light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.

I recognised that I couldn’t do this anymore so I went to the GP. I cried at her for 15 minutes and she suggested I said referred to the wellbeing service, which I did. I had my assessment meeting last week and only cried a little bit and my weekly meetings for CBT start next week.

Both the doctor and assessor acknowledged that I’ve had an awful lot going on and it’s no surprise I’ve found myself at breaking point. Whilst I didn’t need my feelings to be validated, it was still good to hear.

I should have had CBT years ago. But it was never convenient and I put myself at the bottom of the list saying “this too shall pass”. And it always has but then I’m not equipped to deal with it the next time round. And there’s always a next round. Something else crops up and knocks me off my feet. I pick myself back up (eventually) and everything’s fine again. Until it isn’t.

So this time I’m doing it. It fits in with work and everything else so I’m putting me first.

So instead of spending the time between J going to bed and me going to bed scrolling through Facebook and the Daily Fail, I’ve been reading, learning Spanish and doing a bit of yoga. Me and Mr D have also been watching some old school films on Netflix. We’d both forgotten how nice it was to just sit and snuggle for a few hours.

And it’s been lovely.

And all it took was for me to say “enough is enough I want to be happy” and now I’m doing it.

I don’t for one second think it’ll be easy, but nothing worth having ever is!

So if you’ve managed to get this far then well done! Hopefully you’re not totally depressed because I’m not. I know I have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes I just need a reminder that it’s not all bad and that there are ways to help myself.

One big thing for me is about control.

So much of what’s going on over the last few months has been out of my control but then I’ve also not done anything about the things I can control. So I’ve made a list.

It’s a simple list on my phone of the issue, whether I can control it and what the solution is if I can. It’s made such a difference.

I’m a strong person, so everyone says and I just need to remember that sometimes. Now is one of those times because I’ve been through much worse and come out the other side.

So if you feel low, depressed, anxious or just out of sorts then speak up. To friends, to family, to partners, to GP’s or anyone you feel comfortable talking to. And if talking is a problem, write it down.

I can assure you that how you feel isn’t weird or abnormal and the more people speak out about it, the more people will realise it’s ok to not to be ok. But ith some help, support and a bit of determination you can find your happy again.

For now I’m going to my happy place…to bed. Ready for another week of life throwing itself at me and me trying now to drown in it!


Things I learnt in 2017

After 11 years of driving I still panic and can’t drive in the snow.

I’m only one person and I can only do so much.

I’m a better parent and a better partner when I have some time to myself. Since Mr D got promoted I can’t do a class or anything in the week and it’s taking it’s toll.

My mental health is important. When I let it slide, everything goes to shit.

Horrible things happen to the nicest of people and it sucks. We love you Nanny.

Families are complicated and mine is no different. I don’t have a relationship with either of my parents and whilst it should make me sad I’m actually relieved that it doesn’t bother me anymore.

Relationships take work and ours has been tested this year.

Sometimes the best thing to do after an argument is agree to disagree, let it go,  hug it out and move on.

Friendships also take work and maintaining a job, a home, parenting, some sanity and friendships isn’t always possible. Next year I will try harder.

Buying a house is an all consuming stressful ballache.

There is nothing worse than working full time and having a poorly child.

Sleep is for losers. I can’t remember the last time I had a lie in. Maybe October?

If you stay silent, nothing changes. And even if nothing changes you at least feel better that the right people know what your issue is.

I always feel better after a good cry. And I’ve cried ALOT this year.

Money isn’t everything. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really really useful but money doesn’t guarantee happiness.

Trolls are all Billy Big Bollocks online but I can guarantee they wouldn’t say jack shit if the same person was stood in front of them!

I prefer eating to either dieting or exercising. Therefore, I will have to learn to be fat and happy!

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how well you plan things, holidays can be totally and utterly ruined and it’s totally out of your control.

Netflix is amazing and we should have got it sooner.

I need to chill out a bit more in 2018!

Picking a primary school

I’ve been faffing over a primary school for weeks now. The whole thing has stressed me out. I was the same when it came to choosing a nursery except this is so much worse.

With nursery I at least knew that if he didn’t settle, didn’t like it or there were issues we could just move him elsewhere. With primary school it’s not that simple!

As well as having to choose a primary school, we have the added complication of moving house 10 days before the deadline! Luckily we can get a letter from our solicitor (my boss!) to confirm our new postcode but it’s just an added complication really.

Despite that, we have now decided what our 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice schools are. Although if we’d have taken J’s feedback we’d be screwed. When asked what he thought about all 3 schools he had the following to say:

School 1: “it’s good”

School 2: “it’s good”

School 3: “it’s good”

Although school 2 and 3rd choice got points knocked off for making J cry when a girl wouldn’t let him sit and play blocks on the carpet. He was a bit poorly so a bit extra sensitive but still…don’t upset the boy!

We only went to see three schools but we were a bit spoilt for choice so had to narrow it down because there’s over 30 primary schools in a 3 mile radius bizarrely!

We’ve visited 1st and 3rd choice as open mornings and 2nd choice I’ve had a tour with the head teacher on my own and another one today with the deputy head, Mr D and J. It’s the only way that’s worked out for us, and 2nd choice school was more than happy to show us round 1:1. So I guess if you can’t make an open morning, don’t think you can’t visit. Schools should be accomodating.

Why people choose their 1st choice school is different for different people. For us:

  • We got a really good feeling about the school, it’s pupils, it’s staff, it’s facilities and some of the quirky things they do that were never available when we were kids.
  • Whilst it’s the closest, meaning J can hopefully socialise with his friends outside of school, it’s also the one school that noone has a bad word to say about. It’s had glowing reports from friends, strangers, our house sellers and the nursery manager.
  • It has it’s own radio station! It’s run by the kids and they’ve had all.sorts of famous people in over the years.
  • It has a strong social media presence. Both the school anf the radio station have their own facebook and Twitter pages which are actively used. It’ll be a great way to know what’s going on at the school as a whole as well as in J’s year.
  • The outdoor facilities were fab. They have seperate play areas for different years, their own chickens, a fire pit, a forestry area where they teach kids some camping type basics.
  • As well the radio station they have residentials, a teacher swap with a school in africa and the chance to build a vehicle in various years.
  • It has that nice combination of being neither too old or too new.
  • Has a great before and after school provision.

One thing we haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to is the Ofsted reports for all 3 schools. I have read them, but they’re not the be all and end all if you ask me. 

So today we’ve made our decision and I’ll update the government portal but probably won’t click that all important “submit” button until we’ve exchanged contracts on the house.

The other side to all this is that I’m wondering where on earth my baby went! He’ll be 4 in February and whilst at timea it’s been hell, it’s gone so fast! Even though he’s massive he still seems too small to go to school! He’s so clever and is full of personality but he’s also very sensitive abd I do worry about how he’s going to cope with school. We went to a soft play party for one of his nursery friends at the weekend and I couldn’t help but notice that he’s a bit of an odd one out at times. He’ll happily run around with the group but then they’ll go without him and he’ll just do his own thing. And when he announced he was back, nobody batted an eyelid. But maybe I’m just sensitive because I didn’t have a great time in primary school. Just feel like momma bear is going to come out to play once he gets to school. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

So to everyone else going through the same thing, I wish you luck…only 5 months to wait now 😩

It’s ok to not love every minute of parenting

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that every parent at some point has been told to “love every minute” of parenting their kids.

To anyone whose ever said it, it’s bullshit!

Because not every minute, every hour, every day, week or month is lovable.

And that’s ok. No really it is. Admitting that you’re finding it hard and that your kid is being a tiny turd doesn’t make you a bad parent…it makes you an honest one.

I would love to be the Instagram mum baking cakes, making art, having parties, going on a million adventures, dancing around without a care in the world. But honestly I don’t think she exists.

I love my boy to the moon and back but my god sometimes I just want to run away from being a parent and never come back.

We’re having a bit of a tough time at the minute because Mr D got promoted which is great but has resulted in him working longer hours and missing a few bedtimes. J misses him, I get that. I do too. But he’s being an absolute nightmare. He just doesn’t listen…to anything. Then loses his shit when you eventually have to shout at him. Then he makes you feel guilty. It’s a shitty cycle!

What I’d really like to do is go for a spa break. Just me. In a hotel. With endless back massages for just a day. Will it happen? Nah. I’m needed. But it doesn’t make me a bad mum for wanting to escape.

Whilst there is no escaping from your parental duties, that doesn’t mean we have to relish every minute of it either. Being a parent is tough. Whatever your set up, it’s tough. Working, not working, blended family, single family, 1 kids, 2 kids or 10. We’re not superheroes and we can’t be everything to everyone all the time. 

I can happily list the times I haven’t loved every minute and genuinely wondered what the hell I’d done. Had I done something really bad in a past life or something? Was I bad a person? Was a bad mum? Surely not everyone finds it this difficult at times? 

There’s so many things I could list but thought I’d share the relatable ones:

  1. Being woken up every 90 minutes when we first came home. Why does nobody warn you about that shit? When people say sleep deprivation I had no idea it would be so brutal!
  2. 8 weeks of undiagnosed silent reflux. Hellish! I had no idea what it was I just knew my baby needed to be help upright to sleep.
  3. The 4 month sleep regression. Those that have been there just KNOW. Those that haven’t come out of the other side just hang on in there “this too shall pass”. At the time though you really do feel like your life is over.
  4. Having to spend up to an hour every night for 12 months rubbing J’s back because it was the only way he would go to sleep. You moved, he woke up. Not just disturbed him but full on tears. It killed my back. Killed daddys back. But needs must and all that!
  5. Getting delayed PND after being back at work for 6 months. The mum guilt kicked in big time and I quickly realised I couldn’t do it all…after 6 counselling sessions.
  6.  Weaning oh weaning. The most stressful thing in the world because you’re so paranoid about choking and you’re never sure if you’re doing it right or even how to do it in the first place. Not to mention everyone has an opinion about it.
  7. All the times I’ve absolutely lost my shit because that boy just doesn’t listen. I hate myself for it afterwards. 
  8. Being told that other parents have complained about J’s behaviour towards their kids at nursery. Turned out he was bored. But nothing makes you feel like more of a failure. 
  9. Having to physically wrestle J on a car park to stop him running into oncoming traffic because he has no sense of road safety despite us telling him every time we go out. He gets upset. I get upset. We have to hug it out.
  10. Being told “no mummy not you, daddy” shouldn’t hurt half as much as it does. It just feels like a massive smack in the face. And I know it isn’t his fault but it still stings.

I could go on…and on. But I won’t because parenting isn’t all bad. I always say it’s equal parts shit and amazing and I stand by that. J is a brilliant reader, has a wicked sense of humour, is a ball of energy and a cheeky chops. When he wants to he can be the best behaved kid in the world. He loves a kiss and a cuddle and has great manners.

I know some will be reading this thinking “but there’s so many people who would kill to be in your position” and I get it, I do. I genuinely can’t imagine wanting kids and not being able to have them. I am grateful that we have J but that doesn’t mean I can’t find it difficult either. I don’t have to relish every moment to be a good mum. Love him unconditionally? Yup! Love every minute? Nope.

I also know that in years to come I’ll miss this. Being asked to kiss it better. Sneaking in before bedtime to cover him up and just to make sure he’s ok before I go to bed. Dressing up as a cat to give out Halloween sweets. I’ll miss it. I know I will. But for now I’ll just muddle through and hope for the best.

But times are definitely changing. There are more and more realistic parents with more and more people are talking about how sometimes being a parent SUCKS. Friends. Family. Bloggers. Celebrities.

It’s also why I write these blogs. If everyone was as honest about parenting then other parents wouldn’t feel like a failure for not living up to societys impossible standards. 

It’s OK to lose your shit because behind closed doors so is everybody else! Don’t believe everything you see on social media and most definitely ignore the perfect parent brigade who most definitely wouldn’t say what they type on the internet to your face.

Just remember

Online estate agents

I thought the whole point of online estate agents was that they were all online? Turns out I was wrong!

I’ve had experiences with two different online only estate agents over the past few weeks and I’ve got to say they’re a NIGHTMARE!

Company number 1 – From a buyer’s perspective

First and foremost there was no app or online log in system. They obviously use one as I got a tonne of auto generated lettera and stuff from them. So to get an update meant I had to contact them. Luckily that communication was by email. 

What I don’t understand is why I was emailing 1 person and getting random calls from random people asking random things. I can’t take calls during the day because, you know, I have a job! So they went unanswered, they left a message and before I’d had chance to call them back they tried to call me again!

It also quickly became apparent that they didn’t really know their arse from their elbow. They were just passes messages between me and the seller. Considering their job title was “sales negotiater” they didn’t actually do any negotiating!

Every time they asked us how things were progressing we gave them an update and tried to get things moving until they came out with “I’d hate for the seller to remarket the property because your mortgage application was slow”. It was like a red rag to a bull and it quickly deteriorated from there. Especially as the electrical report came back and said it needed a full rewire and the seller wasn’t prepared to negotiate on the price. So guess what? We pulled out. 

Absolutely no attempt was made to either convince us to proceed or the seller to drop the price. 

Within 10 minutes it was back up for sale. 10 days later, it’s still up for sale and we’ve bought somewhere else.

I’m also friends with someone who has now sold their property through the same agents and same sales “negotiator” and their experience was no better!

Company number 2 – again from a buyer’s perspective

This one has both an app and a website you can log in to. Which is great because you don’t actually need to talk to anyone to book a viewing, re-arrange a viewing, make an offer, message the seller etc.

Up to the point of the offer being accepted I couldn’t fault their hands off approach.

However…as soon as your offer is accepted they become absolute pests.

Our offer was accepted on a Sunday at 10:30am. Within 10 minutes I had a call (which luckily I missed) to offer me their solicitor services. I also got an email. And a text.

I emailed back to say I worked for a solicitors so we were covered, thanks. 

So within 20 minutes I’d received:

  • x1 call
  • x1 text
  • x1 email

Within 24 hours that increased to:

  • x6 calls
  • x2 texts
  • x8 emails

As well as trying to flog convenyancing services they tried to flog me their legal advice and a surveyor. Before I’d even had chance to respond they’d passed my details to the 3rd party surveyor…who emailed and called me.

Now I’m not an unreasonable person, I get it. They’re just looking to upsell but FFS leave me alone! 

I was polite in all of my correspondence but they wouldn’t take a polite no for an anserr without trying to weedle more information out of me to try and offer a comparative quote. 

So I’m now 36 hours post offer being accepted and I’ve had a gut full of them already. Even my phone offered to block their number as spam! 

Overall opinion

Buying a house is stressful enough without online estate agents constantly trying to flog you shit you’ve told them you don’t need.

I’m a pretty straight forward person and know how to say no to people but there are others who could be easily pressured into parting with money before making an informed decision.

I can see the appeal in online estate agents; they’re cheap. Really cheap. But sadly you do get what you pay for. Buying / selling a house is so bloody expensive so of course people will look to see where they can save money. But I’m not sure the added stress is worth it!

So in short…wish me luck folks!

Being a Dementia Friend

Today I became a Dementia Friend.

Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative. The idea behind is it to give people some understanding about what dementia is, what it’s like to live with dementia and how we as a society can use that understanding to help people with dementia live better.

The Dementia Friends site here explains it better as well as providing all the information you need to become one yourself. You don’t really need me to explain the ins and outs of it, just know that they’re not asking people to volunteer all of their time and money.

I knew very little about dementia before today and I decided to join in because of that reason and because I do come into contact with elderly clients sometimes working as a legal secretary. My employer offered it to everyone so I figured why not?

I’m not going to go into all of the details of the training as you can find it on the dementia friends website here, but it is really simple and not very time consuming at all. 

Instead I’ll share some statistics, some info, two really good analogies, some examples of what dementia does to people, how we can help people and famous people who have had dementia.

First some stats and info!

So unbeknownst to me there are actually 100 different kinds of dementia as it’s a brain disease that can affect the 4 different cortexs of the brain in different ways. 

If you want to learn more about the different kinds of dementia then the Alzheimer’s Society has a great link here.

There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. That number is set to rise to over 1 million by 2025 and 2 million by 2051. 

1 in 14 people over the age of 65 will be affected by some kind of dementia.

That rises to 1 in 2 of people with downs syndrome.

Dementia is typically seen as an old persons disease. The youngest person to be diagnosed was actually in their 20’s. Carla Bramall, a mum of 2, was diagnosed at the age of 30 and now aged 39 is bedbound. You can find more about her story here.

Dementia can be genetic. The exact causes of dementia are uncertain but as well as being genetic, people who abuse alcohol and drugs are more susceptible to dementia later in life.


I wanted to share these as they helped me understand dementia a lot better than oodles of info on the internet ever could.

Fairy lights

Imagine a long string of fairy lights. Each light represents a brain function or skill you’ve acquired. Thinhs such ch as breathing, moving, sleeping, talking, eating, being able to tie laces and get yourself dressed etc. Dementia is a progressive disease so first it attacks just one or two of those lights. It doesn’t switch those lights off completely, just makes them flicker on and off. After flicking those lights it then moves on and finds more lights to attack. And repeats the same thing over and over until there are so many lights constantly flicking on and off that some of them turn off completely. Eventually, the constant attacks from the disease just get too much and it shuts everything off.


Imagine your brain is a bookcase.

One half of the bookcase is made of solid oak and is very sturdy. This side houses your emotions.

The other half is very flimsy and houses your personality and your memory.

When dementia attacks, your emotions remain fine in the oak side (the part of the brain responsible for emotion is much more resilient to dementia). But the books containing your memories and your personality start rocking. Your top shelf is your most recent memories; what you had for breakfast, what your partner and children are called, the film you saw at the cinema last week. The shelves then go down by decades with the bottom shelf being your first years.

When dementia attacks, it rocks the flimsy side so that some of your top shelf books / memories fall out of the bookcase. But they find themselves back in the bookcase before too long and you’re fine again.

There’s only so many times the books can work their way back onto the shelves and eventually the books are lost forever. So you move to the next level in your bookcase and start reading those books. Except those books are from 10 years ago.

The same thing happens to those books so you move down to the next shelf, then the nect shelf, then the next shelf until you find yourself stuck reading the same set of books over and over again.

Step into their reality

What dementia friends is hoping to achieve is to make people understand that it makes people happier if you step into their reality rather than trying to drag them kicking and screaming into yours.

Most people with dementia revert to a time in their 20’s and 30’s when they had children, were working and were happy.

It’s always better to leave someone with dementia happy than upset and confuses.

Can you imagine how hard it must be to be constantly told that your husband / wife is dead and has been for a long time when in your reality you waved them off to work that morning? 

You can’t change a dementia sufferers reality, so don’t try. Step into their instead.

How you can help dementia sufferers

First and foremost remember that dementia is a disease and there’s more to a person than just their disease.

Understand that one of the issues with dementia is that it can alter the sufferers perception. You know those big round mats in supermarkets? Some sufferers see those as blackholes. Blue carpet? Water to someone whose afraid of drowning. 

Instead of trying to change their reality, understand what theirs is. I was told about an elderly lady who carries a doll with her and holds it to her breast to feed it because to her that baby is real and she’s feeding her child. I was also told about a man who hadn’t spoken for 2 years, everyone assumed he was a mute. In actual fact he was Polish and the dementia had attacked his ability to understand and speak English.

If someone has dementia it’s important to dig deeper because there’s always a way you can help them it’s just finding out how. 

Abbeyfield House

I know there are more examples of dementia care homes thinking outside of the box but Abbeyfield House in Surrey is the one I’m sharing.

You can find out more here. But they’ve designed the whole facility with the fact that most residents believing they’re in the 50’s in mind. It’s not decorated to modern tastes, there are no mirrors to remind them of their actual age, there’s a dedicated nursery for those who still think they’re nursing and taking care of their babies. There’s a reason that the majority of their residents aren’t on any kind of drugs; they’re allowed to live happily in their own reality.

Terry Pratchett

I love Terry Pratchett’s discworld and he’s a really good example of how dementia affects different people in different ways.

Terry didn’t have memory loss problems. He had a rare form of demetia that affected his vision instead. He was diagnosed in 2007 and continued writing right up to his death in 2015. 2 weeks before he sadly died he did a radio interview. Terry didn’t have a problem with communicating but whilst he could do that interview with ease, he had a problem with sequencing so couldn’t dress himself. 

Robin Williams

I loved Robin Williams growing up. Mork and Mindy. Mrs Doubtfire. Aladdin. I loved them. As I grew up I still appreciated both his work (jumanji and patch adams are firm faves) and who he was as a person.

So when he died I was genuinely sad. I was even more surprised when it came out that he suffered with depression, anxiety, paranoia and had the onset of Parkinsons disease. All of these things were just some of the unpredictable symptoms of DLB or Dementia with Lewy Bodies which was only diagnosed after his death. So severe was his DLB that in the months leading up to his death he was totally and utterly confused. So paranoid was he about his state of mind and what was happening to him that he took his own life.

These are just 2 well known examples, but this and more is happening to people we know and love. I have no doubt that most of the people who read this blog with either have first hand experience of dementia or know of someone whose had it. 

The reason I’ve written this blog is because becoming a Dementia Friend is all about taking action.

I can’t volunteer to help people with dementia. I can’t support someone who has dementia. But what I can do is share the important message that as a community, if we had a better understanding of what dementia is we could help sufferers live well. Instead of being frustrated, angry and confused we can make their last years happy.

So my action is to help people understand that to help dementia sufferers we need to step i to their reality. If you see someone struggling with their pin number, ask them if they’re ok and need any help instead of getting frustrated and holding up the queue. If you see someone who looks lost, ask them where they’re going and if they need any help. If you see someone who looks confused in their surroundings, stay with them and distract them with chit chat until they’re less confused.

It’s easy to say “it’s not my problem” but you could be the 1 in 14 and wouldn’t you want the same understanding that these people need now?


Dementia Friends information

Become a dementia friend

Types of dementia

Carla’s story

More about Terry Pratchett’s dementia

Robin William’s widow explains more about the months leading up to his death

What not to say to a dementia sufferer
Donate to Alzheimer’s Research UK

To my little boy

I’m not the mum I thought I’d be.

I’m not always the mum I want to be.

I’m not always the mum you need me to be.

But I will always be your mum, come hell or high water I’ll be your mum.

I struggle with parenthood. I’m forever doubting myself, feeling guilty, feeling selfish, feeling bad that I can’t always be what you need me to be.

But I am when it matters.

When you hurt yourself.

When you cry in the night.

When you need to be brave.

I’m always there. Just being your mum.

I shout more than I should, more than I’d like but when I’m tired, frustrated and you don’t listen it’s the first place I go.

But every night before you go to sleep, we hug, we kiss and I tell you how much I love you. How tomorrow will be better. I will be better. And sometimes I break that promise and sometimes I don’t.

I don’t always do the fun stuff you want me to do and sometimes I hope you’ll forget the fun thing you want to do just so I can sit and do nothing. 

Other days I push through my own tiredness, my own frustration and do what you want us to do.

When we go an adventure I let you take the lead. You pick our direction, wherever it takes us, it’s up to you. Not because it’s easier but because you love to be the leader. And I don’t want you to lose that quality.

I don’t always do your homework with you. Sometimes I rush through the story at bedtime. But it doesn’t stop you. Nothing stops you…apart from being tired. Then you become an emotional wreck just like me.

But you’re also just like daddy; you have a thirst for knowledge and you’re developing your own sense of wit and humour. At 3.5 it’s funny to see and hear the things your brain comes up with, strange to think all of the things it’s yet to learn.

I’m not the best mummy, but I am trying to be the best mummy I can be. Sometimes I succeed and some days I fail. And that’s OK too. It’s another lesson you’ll have to learn as you get older.

Just as you’ll have to learn to navigate the perils of school, and work and relationships. But I’ll be there to guide you through. Through the issues with friends, through tests and exams, through the awkward teenage years, through the difficult decisions, through the good relationships and the bad. I’ll be there. Whether you want me to be or not. Because you’re stuck with me now and I wouldn’t want it any other way xxx

When life gives you lemons…eat peanut butter!

Yesterday I’d reached my limit. I’d had enough. Life was just all too much.

So whilst preparing tea I looked at the carrot sticks and the jar of peanut butter and said “fuck it”. I stuffed my fat face on the premise that carrots are one of my 5 a day and anyone who says anything about the peanut butter can kiss my ass.

As you can probably tell I’m not in a good place.

I should be…should be.

After looking for a house for 6 months and missing out on plenty we’ve finally found one! The offer has been accepted and the process has begun.

Josh likes it. We like it. It needs some work doing but once it’s done it’ll be amazeballs.

In readiness for this we’ve been gutting the house. So far we’ve removed 12 bin bags of crap from upstairs and only have downstairs and the loft to do. 

We’re making good progress and feeling happier for it.

But I hadn’t appreciated how stressful it would be not knowing what the feck we’re supposed to be doing! We’ve never bought a house before, we don’t really get how it all works. But my solicitor boss dealing with our conveyancing and we’ve got a mortgage advisor sorting the mortgage out. So right now I’m just waiting for someone to tell me to do something!

But as well as doing one of the most stressful things you can as a couple, we have so much other “stuff” going on.

  • J not sleeping through

I know there will be mums out there who haven’t got a kid that sleeps through and I feep for you I really do. Up until 2 months J did sleep through…now he doesn’t. And I’ll be honest this is the biggest problem

He was waking up 3-4 times after having nightmares but that was resolved by rousing him before I went to bed. Breaking the sleep cycle then stopped the nightmares. I now think he’s so used to waking up that it’s just a habit. To say I’m exhausted would be an under statement. We both work full time but Mr D could sleep through a hurricane so he never wakes up and by the time he would, if I shoved him awake, I could have settled J and would still be awake anyway.

I don’t cope well when I’m sleep deprived at the best of times but I’ll be honest this is taking the piss now.

  • Family illness

As well as Josh not sleeping we’ve had Mr D’s auntie in hospital with septicemia and the impact of that on both Mr D’s mum and his grandpa. So that was a worrying time.

We also have another family member who needs to have an operation in a few weeks which carries pretty serious risks with it. So naturally we’re worried about that even though it’s totally out of our hands.

  • The mum saga

I’ve had to remove myself from the whole situation with my mum because it was causing too many problems.

I don’t know how she’s doing, just that a leopard never changes its spots even when that leopard has been close to death!

You can read more about that here.

  • Issues with our rented house

We haven’t given advance notice of our notice to quit our current tenancy because we don’t want to risk our landlords being strange about it.

The problem we have is that since we’ve moved in there’s been problem with the bathroom.leaking water into the kitchen. We thought it had been resolved when they replaced all the tiles just before J was born but periodically it does still leak.

And tonight we’ve gone to clean another leak and there’s a dent in the plaster and water dribbling down the wall and through the taps.

Last time the landlord was here he tried to say that sealant is really a tenant responsibility even though in the 5.5 years we’ve been here we’ve never replaced the sealant.  

They’ve never called out a plumber just whacked more sealant on which obviously doesn’t work.

So we get worked up over that wondering what they’re going to say about it this time!

  • The diet

On top of everything else I just couldn’t hack the slimfast. I was hungry constantly.

Being hungry and tired just makes me hangry all the time.

I am not in the right frame of mind to be restricting myself to 1400 calories a day even if it does mean losing 3lbs a week.

So until I get back in the right mindset I’ll eat a bloody pie if I want one!

Then…last night J only woke up once and my outlook on life totally changed.

I no longer felt the need to eat peanut butter straight from the pot.

I no longer wanted to cry my face off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still tired just not exhausted!

What I’ve realised over the last few years is that it’s OK to not be OK.

So I’ll keep taking photos like this

Just to show people that sometimes being a parent SUCKS but that’s fine to admit it!

My alcoholic mum and me

I received a text today from one of my younger sisters. A text that I’ve dreaded getting because I didn’t know what my reaction would be and how I’d deal with it.

Mum’s in hospital. Serious condition on the critical ward.

Most people would drop everything and go. Except we’re not most people.

You see I haven’t spoken to my mum for over 8 years. She doesn’t know where I live. I don’t know where she lives. She’s never met J. I’ve never met her fiance who by now could be her husband. 

Most people would think I’m a monster. But most people don’t have an alcoholic mother.

Growing up I knew no different…until I hit my teens. I wasn’t a “bad” kid. I was in top set for everything at high school, got x10 A-C grade GCSE’s. Did I do bad things? Of course I did. I lied about staying over at friends houses when actually we were roaming the streets all night, but who didn’t? Bit of underage drinking and smoking, but who didn’t? There was only one time that I really got into trouble and that was when I went out, got smashed and didn’t go home. I passed out at a male friends house and was woken up by the police! After a stern telling off and a grounding I didn’t do that again! That was the naughtiest thing I did. 

But I do remember realising that my mum wasn’t like other mums when I was teen. 

I never took friends home. I was out as often as I could be. Being at home wasn’t pleasant because you never knew which mum you were going to get.

In all honesty I can’t remember all the details and those that I can I don’t feel it’s fair to share. I have younger sisters who don’t have the same relationship with my mum that I do and her alcoholism has affected us all in different ways.

What I can tell you is exactly when our relationship imploded.

It was 6 months after I met Mr D when after another violent drunken rage she text me to say “you don’t live here anymore”. For her it was that simple. And ultimately I guess it was. I think she thought I’d crumble and either end up homeless or begging to stay. What actually happened is Mr D’s mum said I could move in with her and Mr D. A few days later one of our friends with a van helped us to move my few belongings. I didn’t crumble, I didn’t beg. I stood up and left. I went back to that house once afterwards and that was the last time I saw my mum.

Was I unscathed? Definitely not. 

I had to have counselling to deal with it because I thought that it was my fault. That if I’d been a better daughter she wouldn’t have needed to drink. If I’d been a better daughter she would have chosen her kids over booze. Somehow I thought it was my fault.

That counselling saved me(not to mention the love and understanding of Mr D and his family). It made me realise that I was the master of my own destiny just as she was with hers. And I made peace with it.

It’s now 8+ years later. I’m 31. I’m a mother myself. All she really taught me was how NOT to parent.

So I sit here nit really sure how to feel knowing that potentially my mum is dying. What I do know is that my sisters won’t think any less of me for not going to see her. All I can hope for now is that my sisters can deal with whatever life has to throw at them over the coming days and weeks. But for me, I’ve got nothing to make peace with so I won’t. My life carries on as it always has. 

So many people won’t understand but for those that do please remember there’s help out there for you too. It’s hard being a child of an addict, what’s harder is feeling alone.

 Action on Addiction is a charity who the Duchess of Cambridge is a patron for. I’m hoping that with her profile the charity can become wider known because it supports both addicts, their children and the wider family. It has a whole manner of support that people can access which includes counselling. If anyone wants to contact them their email is: forfamilies@actiononaddiction.org.uk

Remember that behind every addict is a family also trying to deal with it too x

Solo parenting for a few hours

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks as I didn’t have anything to write about. Nobody wants to read about relationship and house hunting woes!

That changed today…obviously.

Today we finally went to the Emergency Services Fun Day that I’d been threatening,  I mean using an incentive for J to be a good boy all week.

Is this good behaviour? No it’s not is it? Good boys don’t get to go to the fun day do they?

There were various iterations of this over the week. And on the whole, it totally worked!

Now before I tell you about the day we had I need to salute each and every single parent because I was solo parenting at the fun day for 4 hours and that was enough. J had a great time but I was stressed out, fraught, hot sweaty mess. When we got home the first thing I did was neck the rest of the strawberry lambrini (don’t judge) in the fridge. I don’t stress drink (I stress eat BIG time) for reasons I’ll go into on another blog. But those 4 hours drove me to drink! And it’s not because he’s mega naughty, because he’s not. I’m just a mega stressed out momma.

Anyway back to Sunday morning (day of the fun day) and of course it was piddling down with rain so I asked J whether he still wanted to go the fun day or would he prefer to go swimming instead. “Swimming” he said. Several times.

So I spent 20 minutes awkwardly shaving my legs in the bathroom to then be met with “I’ve changed my mind. Daddy says I have to tell you”. So through gritted teeth I asked again if he was sure he wanted to go to the fun day to see the fire engines, police cars and ambulances and he said yes. I reminded him that today was his treat for being a good boy so if that’s what he wanted, then that’s what we’d do. I then banged my head against the wall and went back into the bathroom.

So after spending another 20 minutes washing and drying my hair we were ready to go. I was determined to have a good time despite getting off to a bad start so gave myself a talking to and off we went.

First we went to McDonald’s for lunch because I figured it was better to do that than have to queue to food and find somewhere to sit and eat it at the park. Despite it taking 30 minutes, it definitely took the stress out of the unknown. 

After eating inside we then had to go through drive thru for Daddy who was staying at home. So after dropping his maccies off we were finally en route and I was already feeling a bit harrassed if I’m honest. It was 12pm and we’d made no progress whatsoever!

The Emergency Services Day was in Longton Park but they were providing free buses to and from the event from the bet365 Stadium (which I will forever call Britannia Stadium sorry!). So I decided to utilise that as J has never been on a bus and I hadn’t been on one for 11 years. And again, not being able to park somewhere is as stressful AF! 

So here we are having a great time…no seriously he loved it. 

It’s going fast mummy.

Ooh it’s a bit bumpy mummy.

Ooh mummy look at those cars there.

I like the bus.

So we hopped off the bus, which dropped us off right outside, and followed the crowds inside. I’d already explained on the bus that J needed to hold my hand because it was going to be busy and I didn’t want to lose him. So of course the second we got off the bus he refused to hold my hand.

He did however want to meet a giant teddy

And sit on a tiny bloodmobile

He was lucky to be given a fireman hat by a lovely lady who was showing us the display car they use for school demos. Then he watched a big fire crane at work.

Despite having a meltdown because he had to queue to go on the fire engine, he loved eventually getting on it.

We then headed to the funfair. Where he got me to pay £2.50 to go on an inflatable assault course that he then decided he was too small for. I was struggling at this point because he was getting quite demanding. I asked if he was tired and he said no. Which of course meant yes. But he loves the funfair so we agreed he could go on 3 rides.

We’re quite lucky with J because as long as you explain things in advance he’s fine with it. At bed time he gets a 20, 10 and 5 minute warning and he goes to bed with minimal fuss. So when I said “no more rides now” he didn’t kick up a fuss.

I’ll admit that I was really hot by this point. I had to wear my jacket because I needed the pockets for my phone and my purse and I couldn’t really carry it anyway. J’s coat was in the already full bag so that wasn’t an option. But it so muggy I was getting agitated.

J had insisted on picking this balloon up when we entered the competition for the lego creators beetle kit. But it was quickly passed to me with a request for me to carry it instead. Along with his fireman hat, and the bag with the coat in. Then he decided he wanted to hold my hand afterall! More agitation.

At this point I felt like a pack horse and was getting warmer and warmer whilst J was getting whingier and whingier! 

So I made an executive decision and decided to head for home, which again J was fine with because I’d said we’d take a walk through the park to get back to the bus stop and he got to splash in a puddle in the band stand.

The balloon came off the pole several times before reaching the bus stop and each time J was devastated. Then when we got to the bus stop, a bus had just pulled up but J had hold of the balloon and just as we were about to step on, the sodding balloon made a break for freedom. J had a complete mental breakdown so I had to run after it whilst resembling a deranged sweaty mess shouting J not to move as he stood screaming he wanted the bloody balloon back. Eventually we got on the bus with the sodding balloon but both a bit traumatised by the whole debacle!

This is when I realised that having 4 hands was so much easier than just 2. And it was only when I got home to reflect on it that I realised how grateful I am that this wasn’t our permanent reality. I still struggle trying to balance being a mum with being a partner and working full time. And I only manage it the way I do because there are two of us at home to tackle everything together. And sometimes I still don’t manage, particularly at the moment.

Days like today I do find stressful. I try really hard not to lose my patience and fail miserably every time. I try to give J nice experiences because I don’t remember ever doing these things as a kid myself. But doing them alone is so much harder. 

I then feel guilty for struggling on these odd occassions because for so many people they have no choice BUT to do these things on their own day in day out.

Then anxiety kicks in and I feel like a shit mum for not being able to manage these things on my own.

And do you know what snapped me out of that feeling? J having a complete mental breakdown screaming tantrum for 30 minutes as soon as we got home.

Seems he can’t hold his shit together all the time either! So we’ll just muddle through like we always do, keep doing what we do, going where we go, with and without daddy. And maybe at some point we’ll both find easier, we’ll both have a good time and we won’t be driven to drink / mega tantrums!