Tag Archives: children

“Do the goodies always win?”

Superheroes are featuring heavily in my life at the moment. Or rather, they are featuring heavily in my four-year-old son’s life, and so by default I am having to take an active interest.

I’ll be honest: when it comes to motherhood, I have found even the basics utterly bamboozling: How do you strap a screaming, angry toddler into a car seat when they have perfected planking? How do you persuade them to try a teeny tiny piece of carrot at dinner? Why does it take 17 minutes for them to put on one shoe? Where have their socks gone?

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Four irritating children’s habits that actually benefit your running (yes, really!)

I’ve been working hard to improve my strength, running pace and overall fitness this past month. For over a year, I’ve been plodding along at the same old pace, covering the same old routes, without ever pushing myself too hard (because, frankly, getting out for a run – whatever speed or distance – has felt challenging enough, what with two little ones to run around after all day, one of whom has NEVER slept through the night).

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7 reasons running is the perfect me-time for parents

*Originally featured on The Running Bug*

If you’re a parent to small children, you don’t need to be told caring for them is damn hard work. In fact, what with keeping them happy (OK, happy-ish – no one expects a threenager to get through the day meltdown-free) on top of actually keeping them alive, it can feel like a 24/7 job.

However, if you can manage to carve out just a little me-time each week, it will be good for your soul – and your sanity. Here’s why it’s a great idea to spend that time running…

running-me-time

1. The silence

Aah, silence. Remember that? Probably not, actually, as once you have children you spend the majority of your days negotiating crying newborns, screaming toddlers, little people banging things, breaking things or hitting things (or each other), all while listening to a high-pitched voice demanding “Look at me Mummy! Look, look, LOOK MUMMY, LOOK NOW MUMMY!” Peaceful it is not.

But never fear – you can get back to The Quiet. When you get the chance, slip on your trainers and find your nearest woodland trail, park or peaceful running route. This will give you the headspace you need to focus, leaving you calmer and more able to face the music (AKA a toddler banging a metal tin with a spoon while belting out a dubious rendition ofTwinkle Twinkle Little Star) on your return.

2. You get to lead by example

The World Health Organisation deems childhood obesity as a serious global health challenge, and recent statistics suggest 19.1 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds in England are obese. What’s more, the fact that more and more children spend their time indoors in front of screens rather than outside playing is damaging their mental health.

But as a parent who runs, you are already helping to change this worrying trend. After all, what’s better than leading by example? If you’re outdoorsy and lead an active lifestyle, it’s only natural your kids will follow suit. So, let them see you sweaty and happy after a run – and then feel the glow of parental pride as they beg you to sign them up for the kids’ dash at your next event.

3. It’s baggage free

When you get the chance to run, you also get to leave your responsibilities at the front door. No demands for Peppa sodding Pig on repeat. No tantrums about a broken rice cake to soothe away. No-one clinging to your leg (hopefully).

Once you are outside, it’s all about you, the open road and what you would like to achieve for yourself – whether it’s your first 20-minute walk/run or a 40-minute threshold session. Even if it doesn’t go quite to plan, a bad run is better than no run. This is your time. Enjoy it.

4. It’s ideal stress relief

Running is one of the best forms of stress relief there is. It helps with focus, clarity and purpose, and what’s more, it kick-starts your body into producing mood-boosting endorphins. Whatever the kids are throwing at you (yes, even mushed-up Weetabix), we guarantee you’ll be able to handle it if regular running is on your agenda.

Better yet, as long as you have the childcare in place, you can run first thing in the morning if you so wish. (Because let’s be honest, while the kids might drive us to it, it’s not really socially acceptable to crack open the gin at 7am.)

5. You’ll be fit for parenthood (literally)

Being a parent is a physically demanding role (and we’re not just talking about the very physically demanding role of pushing an actual person out of your nether regions here). Bringing up children entails a rather enormous amount of rocking, carrying, playing, chasing, cleaning and lifting.

If you decide to turn your me-time into run time, you’ll be one step ahead of the game, because being physically fit is a huge advantage when it comes to raising children. And if you’re able to join in their games, you’ll be making life more fun for them, too.

6. It’s convenient

Let’s be honest, time is precious these days. If you’re a runner, there’s no time lost driving to a gym/pool/fitness class. If you’re lucky to get even 20 minutes to yourself a few times a week, using those minutes to run is the best way to guarantee you make the most of every single second.

7. It’s free

Wow, who knew kids could be so expensive? From nursery furniture and a travel system (yes, that’s really a thing), to clothes, shoes, school wear and simply the rather obscene amount of plastic crap they accumulate (I last saw my living room floor in 2013), having a child equals waving goodbye to your disposable cash. Good job your chosen me-time is cheap, then. No expensive spa days or therapy sessions – heading out of the front door in your running shoes is your therapy. Enjoy!

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*Originally featured on The Running Bug*

Fantasy vs reality: motherhood

Remember those carefree days before you became a parent, when you and your partner used to stroll along hand in hand and half whisper to each other throwaway comments like, “How cool will it be when we have children?” And then you’d nuzzle into their neck and kiss their earlobe, while your brain concocted fairytale fantasies about flying kites, and toasting marshmallows over a campfire, and Saturday night films sprawled on the sofa as a family, all arms and legs and popcorn and happiness.

Well, I do.

And now here I am.

Is it anything like my dreams?

Erm, not today it isn’t: not when I’ve scraped another homemade dinner into the food recycling bin, and looked down at my top and wondered whether that slug-trail stain is snot or dribble; not when I’ve been lying IN THE SODDING COT with the baby trying to get her to settle at 9.30pm while pondering what the actual f*ck has happened to my life.

Motherhood isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be. Some days, it can break you. Some days you feel worried and worn out, and just not damn good enough.

But…

You know what? I wouldn’t swap any of it for those bygone fairytale fantasies.

Don’t believe me?

My children might be noisy and messy and unpredictable and sticky. They might have caused me to utter sentences I thought I’d never have to say – things like: “Stop sticking spaghetti to the telly!” and “Put the poo back in the potty!” Yes, they have sped like a whirlwind into my life and tipped the world I knew on its side. They have crippled my social life and they have zero regard for my sleeping patterns.

But they are real. They are three-dimensional and high definition. Their laughter is loud.

They are so much more interesting and exciting than those papery, one-dimensional fantasy children, whose neat-and-tidy quiet perfection would, quite honestly, have gotten on my tits.

More than that, when motherhood was just a dream, I only imagined that I would raise my children. I had no idea about the reality of being a parent: that they are raising me, too.

My children push me to my limits. They make me question myself. They threaten to tip me over the edge pretty much each and every day. And I have to pull myself back; become more understanding; alter my perspective. I have to become gentler; more forgiving. I have to change.

I am learning and growing with them.

So you can keep your boring, perfect fantasy children, who allowed me to stick being the same old me. I’ll take my very real, very brash, very present little brood any day of the week… even if they threaten my sanity daily.

Because they are reshaping my whole world and everything in it, with their sticky fingers and inquiring minds… and I love the new surroundings we are building together.

Clangers Beach Farm

Alone time (with an audience)

A couple of times a week, while my husband is bathing the kids (i.e. getting them so hyped up with splashing and songs and bubbles it takes them about three hours to wind down), I retreat into my son’s bedroom with my yoga mat, and indulge in 15 minutes of yoga and stretching. In part, this is to ensure any post-run aches from the week get soothed, but I also do it because, well, it’s just bloody lovely, isn’t it?

Yoga. Alone. In my pants (if you can’t do yoga in your pants in the comfort of your own home, where can you?). Staring out of my son’s bedroom window, across the garden and up at the sky.

Bliss.

Except for one tiny detail.

I’ve been rumbled.

It didn’t take many sessions of my lovely alone-time routine for the little ones to figure out I was just next door. Just a few sessions before the shouts started:

‘Look, I’ve found Mummy! I don’t want my stories. I want to watch Mummy!’

So now, instead of having their bedtime stories curled up with Daddy in our bedroom, everyone sits on the sofa bed in my son’s room, listening to stories and watching me attempt sun salutations. Oh goody.

Nothing evokes ‘relaxation’ quite like listening to a three year old laughing hysterically at you while shouting, ‘Mummy, I can see your bum!’ (I might need to rethink the yoga-in-pants situation.)

And then, last night, just as I was about to yell, ‘OH MY GOD, GET OUT, ALL OF YOU! CAN’T I HAVE EVEN ONE MINUTE BY MYSELF THESE DAYS?’ (or something), a lovely thing happened.

It became audience participation.

My son performed a near-perfect downward-facing dog  while asking excitedly, ‘Mummy, am I doing it? Am I doing it, Mummy?!’ My baby girl clambered around my legs, babbling away. We stood like trees (OK, we swayed like trees). And it was fun.

Downward dog Tree pose

Yoga is about peace. But it is also about love.

I guess every now and then, my yoga time might be invaded. But that’s OK. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend some quality family time before bed.

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A home away from home

Holidays.

Well.

They’re just not the same once you have young children, are they?

The words ‘relaxing’ and ‘restful’ just don’t come into it. Because whether you’re at home, or in a cottage in the countryside, or even (I imagine) at a luxury beach house in the Seychelles, your little ones will still need to eat, play, poop and sleep.

This means while you’re away, all the usual meal preparing, food throwing, face wiping, floor mopping, dish washing, nappy changing, bottom wiping, Lego playing, rocking, shushing and night waking will come along for the ride, too.

Except now you don’t know where the sodding saucepans are. And you can’t remember whether you packed the wipes.

But…

We have recently returned from a week’s holiday in the New Forest. And while I was still a tad exhausted on our return home (see above), it was wonderful, actually. I felt really bloody happy.

Woods2

We had zero phone reception and questionable WiFi where we were staying, so we felt fairly cut off. Which was great. It helped me see what was important.

Who was important.

We spent our time walking through the forest. We went cycling – my husband pulling the baby in a trailer; me with the toddler on a bike seat (this would have been pretty relaxing, had it not been for the fact that Buzz Lightyear came along for the ride and spent the duration jabbing me in the arse, while my son pressed every available button every three seconds for FOUR HOURS, informing me that Buzz Lightyear was coming to the rescue. Shut up Buzz. Just shut up).

Buzz

Buzz Bloody Lightyear. Oh, and my son

We found makeshift swings hanging from tree branches; we splashed in puddles; I got two hours to myself to go horse riding; we let the kids stay up late so we could go for dinner in the cosy local pub and, on our walks back to the house in the dark, wrapped up warm from the cold, we pointed out the Big Dipper in the sky, to a little boy who was astounded by the stars.

Swing

And yes, we made an obligatory visit to Peppa Pig World, after which my husband and I needed therapy, but the toddler loved it, so it was worth it. Just.

PPW2

All aboard Grandpa Pig’s boat!

In short? It was the type of holiday memories are made from.

It helped that the weather was kind – bright and sunny and crisp; and yes, we had extra family on hand, in the form of my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her fiancé (who provided the sort of loving, wonderful help that made me want to stick up a For Sale sign once we got back home and move in with them permanently).

And you know what? All the mealtime madness and nappies and mess? It kind of felt like small fry when set against the fact I got to spend so much precious time with the most important people in my world.

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