Let’s be positive

Let’s be positive

Is it me, or is there an overwhelming amount of negativity in the world right now? A constant stream of bad news, hate and anger? It seems every where I turn, there’s a reason to feel down and anxious. Not that my brain needs much of an excuse for that. Anxious is its standard setting. It’s hard work though, living life from negative to another.

So, just for fun, here’s something positive. An ever-growing rock snake on St John’s Road in Edinburgh. Every single one carefully decorated by someone wanting to spread a little love and cheer. Beautiful.

Something else? How about a positive story. Izzy left her cuddly rabbit in the park last week, abandoning it in the midst of a typical toddler temper tantrum. Just a few hours later though, that very same rabbit was back in her arms having been dropped off by a friendly stranger who found it in the park and posted on a local Facebook group. One happy toddler, one night time melt down averted and one cuddly rabbit warm, dry and in need of a bath.

Cuddly rabbit

And finally, one more thing. Time. When we talk about lock down, it’s nearly always negative, usually along the lines of ‘I’m bored of being stuck inside, unable to do anything or see anyone‘. And there is no doubt that the situation has been difficult for everyone, some far more than others and I do count us very lucky. But, looking on the positive side for a minute, for me, there’s an overwhelming one – time spent together. I’ve lost count of the weeks, but every day that my husband is off work on furlough is another day that he has with Izzy that he wouldn’t have had under normal circumstances and wow has that bond grown. We entered lock down with a Mummy’s girl but are most definitely leaving it with a Daddy’s girl. It’s been wonderful to watch.

In a way, the same can be said for friends, family and neighbours as well. With everyone at home more, we have had more socially-distanced chats with people in our road than ever before. Likewise, with the zoom-craze in full swing we’ve seen our friends and family down in England more in the last few weeks than probably in the last year, virtually of course, but still more. I hope it continues as life returns to normal.

Ice painting

Ice painting

The internet is full of ideas on how to entertain a toddler. You could spend hours scrolling through post after post and still not have a clue what you are going to do. Some ideas are great but, in my experience, many are far from the simple activity they are made out to be. If you end up stressed and in a muddle trying to follow what appear to be basic instructions on a Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest post, you are not alone. I assure you of that!

This discovery, however, was easy to do and luckily I had everything I needed in the house. To ice paint, all you need is:

  • An ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • Lollypop sticks or an equivalent. I used wooden spoons I found buried in the back of my baking cupboard!
  • Paper or random bits of recycled cardboard

All I did was fill ice cube trays with water, mix in a little food colouring and add spoons for handles. Then I placed in the freezer until frozen and ready to use. A good half an hours entertainment before everything ended up being thrown on the floor…

Planting sunflowers

Planting sunflowers

I appreciate my garden more and more every day at the moment. The sunshine and warm weather is a real life saver when you have a toddler and can’t leave the house. We spend most of our time moving sand and water around the garden, occasionally watering the plants, but mostly making a mess. It’s fun.

For a change though, we dug some old pots out of the now tidy (thanks to my furloughed husband!) shed and planted sunflowers. Entertainment and a good use of all the rich compost our composter is producing.

It was a bit chaotic, seeds and soil everywhere and we now have a dining room full of pots, but, we obviously did something right as our seeds are growing.

A crafty Easter

A crafty Easter

Like many others, I am sure, we were meant to be away this Easter, enjoying the countryside with family. Instead, we were deep in lockdown survival mode scrolling Instagram for toddler entertainment ideas, of which there are many!

I’ve been building a craft box from recycling and bits around the house since Christmas. Something I highly recommend, It’s provided endless entertainment – who knew plastic tubs and bottles could be so much fun?

We’ve not done much with it up until now, just a bit of painting and colouring in. That changed this weekend though with the unleashing of my creativity and limited artistic ability. Here’s what we got up to, with one of the original Instagram posts for comparison – think I may need to work on my drawing skills!

How I started with reusable nappies

How I started with reusable nappies

We’ve been using reusables since Izzy was about a month old and I can’t imagine using anything else.

Getting started is hard, though, especially when you’re already dealing with the overwhelming nature of pregnancy. There are so many types and makes available, and, while there is long-term money-saving potential, the upfront cost can be steep.

I’ve had quite a few ‘where to start’ conversations with friends, so here it is, the start of our reusable nappy story…

Why?

‘Why’ is a question I was asked a lot at the beginning. Why deal with all the poop? Why bother with the washing? Why not take the easy route and use disposables?

For me, it was simple. I couldn’t face the idea of sending thousands of disposable nappies to landfill when I didn’t need to. I was determined to make them work.

How?

I started with a newborn trial pack, I can’t remember where from. There are a few places that offer them, and they are a good way of trialling different types. I paid for ours though, and I don’t remember it being particularly cheap, which is the downside.

If you’re in Edinburgh, Changeworks offer one I wish I had known about. It’s subsidised by Edinburgh Council so cheaper than most available. The Edinburgh Real Nappy Community also offer lending kits that you can borrow for a few weeks. Further afield in the UK, The Nappy Lady offers trial packs you can buy, try for 30 days and send back for a refund if you don’t get on with them.

Once you have an idea of what you like and what works for you and your baby, it is easier to build your stash. For us, the trial pack confirmed what we didn’t like rather than what we did. One of our key discoveries being that we are a Velcro household! But it all helps.

Then it is just a matter of taking a leap and buying your nappies. The majority of ours are 2nd hand, found locally on Facebook Market place. Here’s our haul laid out in the lounge…

We have a mix of types and makes, though the majority are Totsbots all-in-ones. Buying 2nd hand saved us a fortune and is better for the environment than buying new. It is a bit of a risk though; reusable nappies do wear out over time, so check the condition before you buy.

A letter to the critical part of me…

A letter to the critical part of me…

Dear critical me,

Shut up! Leave me alone, let me be. I don’t have the energy right now for yet another internal argument.

OK, you don’t think I am good enough… OK, you don’t think I can do it… OK, you think that everyone is judging me…  But how do you know? What are you basing your ideas on, and why are you so reluctant to change?

I get it, you are good for me. You are, you drive me. You push me to work hard, to do well. Without you, I wouldn’t have achieved anywhere near as much as I have, and for that I am grateful. But, I guess what I want to know is why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to turn life into an argument? Why can you not support me without insulting me?

Would it be so bad to let me leave the house sometimes without telling me that what I am wearing makes me look fat, or that my hair is fluffy? Would it be terrible to let me have a conversation without making me question everything I say to the point where it is easier not to speak? Would it be a disaster to let me make a decision without telling me that it is wrong and everyone is going to think badly of me? I mean, does it really matter if the restaurant isn’t perfect, the movie not great, or cookies would have been better than chocolate digestives as a snack?

Why not let me write a blog, a Facebook post, or send a tweet without making me analyse every single word to the point where I am so unhappy with it that I rewrite it 20 times before deleting it and giving up? Perfectionism is OK, but you know it is impossible? Doing something, even if it isn’t 100% perfect, is probably better than doing nothing.

I guess what I am trying to say to you is that I know you mean well, but can we work together rather than against each other? Don’t go away completely, keep me motivated, keep me modest, but don’t focus purely on the negative, register the positive as well. Realise that I am OK, I am more competent and more confident than you think I am, and that somethings don’t need to be over thought!

OK, now we have that sorted… shall we do some work?

Sincerely,

Me

Eat a frog for breakfast

Eat a frog for breakfast

Do one thing every day that scares you‘ – Eleanor Roosevelt

So, we are into February now and so far, 2017 is going better than 2016 – to say I wasn’t sad to say goodbye to last year would be an understatement. The perfect opportunity to put everything behind me and move forward.

I didn’t make new year resolutions as such so there are no I failed already stories here, but I did decide to make a conscious effort to break out of my bubble. Mainly this involves doing things that make me anxious, pushing the limits of my comfort zone. Not always big things, some are small like making a phone call, asking a question or expressing an opinion. With each little accomplishment comes a sense of satisfaction, a sense of achievement, and a little bit of self-confidence.

This is what I have learnt so far:

– Eating frogs first thing in the morning is a good thing. No, not actual frogs, I am a vegetarian and the idea of consuming frogs for breakfast is stomach churning, but rather do the tasks you don’t want to do first. Putting off that phone call? Make it before breakfast and enjoy the rest of your day.

– Say yes straight away and deal with the anxiety later. If you have been invited to something and don’t want to go – say yes without giving it a second thought (assuming you are available of course). That way you haven’t gained a new frog – an invitation that needs a response – and once committed, it is probably easier to go than it is to contact someone and give an excuse as to why you can’t.

– It is a small world and strangers are more friendly than you think. Get chatting as you never know what help and advice you may get.

– YouTube is an amazing source of information and you are more capable than you realise. OK, yes I admit I am a bit slow on the uptake with this one. I have never been a big YouTube fan, but if you want something done but don’t know how to do it- ask YouTube and give it a go. You never know, you may end up with a beautifully decorated hallway.