The anxiety of parenting…

Clare has written this fantastic guest post describing her anxiety about her eldest son starting high school. Even though my blog usually discusses parenting of younger children, I think the emotions she is feeling are something that many parents experience, no matter their children’s ages. I hope that her honest sharing will make people feel less alone when dealing with anxiety.

A guest post by Clare from NeonRainbowBlog

My eldest son Oli is 11 this year and joining the world of high schoolers in September. He is nothing but excited about the whole experience. For him this marks his leap into becoming an adult, where he gets more freedom and more responsibility. However, for me, I feel apprehension. My baby is no longer a baby at all, and I have no choice but to let him grow. If I could stop time right now I would, because in all honesty I don’t want him to grow up.

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I’ve always been an overprotective parent and I often say the words “It’s better to be overprotective than underprotective”. Throughout Oli’s life he has had to deal with his Mum’s anxiety over letting him grow up, and even though to him it’s normal and doesn’t really phase him, I’ve no doubt when high school and the teenage years really do kick in that it may become somewhat of a problem.

As he’s grown up, my anxiety over parenting him has reared it’s ugly head numerous times. For example:

  1. I was always reluctant to let other people babysit him. When I did it would cause me nothing but worry, panic and nervousness.
  2. Trips to the park were coupled with overbearing “be careful, don’t do that, watch you don’t fall, wait your turn, don’t push in” comments. I’d be constantly following him around like he would break or fall at any moment.
  3. The same could be said for letting him walk places with us. This gave me major anxiety: what if he veered near the road, what if he fell by accident and into the road, what if a car came up onto the path and he was in front, what if, what if, what if.
  4. Even learning to ride a bike came with unbearable anxiety over him falling off, going out of my sight, hitting something, something hitting him.
  5. More recently he started playing out in our cul-de-sac and our neighbours houses. This prompted constant worry over where he was; was he being good? Could I trust him to know his boundaries? And lots more “what ifs”. I’d constantly look out the window or just sit there doing stuff while continuously being able to see him. I’d also text the other mums to make sure he was behaving or being good.

I feel like my anxiety does go beyond the realms of usual parental anxieties. I know every parent will feel some sort of panic over their child growing up, making changes and becoming their own person, but when does that panic get too much?

As time has gone on the anxiety I feel when my son plays out has subsided. He can play out in our little street and in the neighbours’ houses and I feel virtually anxiety free. I’ve gotten used to it. He even ventures over to the shop or the Pokestop on our estate (it’s a few mins away) with his friends – he has to have his phone with him, and a time limit to be back for before I go looking, but 9/10 I feel okay with him going – not 100%, but manageable.

However the thought of him going to high school is terrifying me.

High school for me was a terrible experience. Most of the anxiety I harbour today was born in that playground. I was bullied by my own “friends”, no less (though I didn’t really see this until I was an adult). I felt like I had nobody I could fully trust or who wanted to genuinely be my friend. There would be days I had lots of friends to hang out with, but the very next day they could decide they didn’t want to hang out with me at all, so I’d be the loner. There was no stability for me, and that’s why I find it hard to form friendships now I am an adult. I struggle to trust anyone, and those feelings of sadness, hurt and anxiety I felt are always at the forefront of my mind when I think back to my experience of high school.

I feel all those old feelings of anxiety are flooding back to me every time I think about him going. What if he gets bullied? What if nobody likes him? Will he be okay walking to and from school (even though it’s at the bottom of our estate)?

But furthermore, what about when he wants to go out with his friends alone and go to parties? I don’t know how I am going to cope with giving him that kind of freedom, but I know it’s an essential part of growing up.

Is it just my anxiety from childhood that makes me so nervous for my own child? Will the anxiety fade like when I started giving him the freedom to play out in our street?

I honestly don’t know and I wish I had the answers. All I can hope is that it isn’t too much of a rough ride and that I’ve taught my boy enough about the world to make the right choices.

Any advice for this overprotective, anxiety ridden mother?

Check out Clare’s social media:
https://www.instagram.com/neonrainbow_sw/
https://twitter.com/neonrainbowblog
https://www.facebook.com/Neonrainbowblog/
https://uk.pinterest.com/neonrainbowblog/

Two Tiny Hands

An exercise in thankfulness

This week it’s Thanksgiving in the USA, where I lived until I was 22. It’s a day every year where people come together to eat ridiculous amounts of food and then fall asleep in front of the TV. It’s sort of like an extra Christmas without the presents or the religion. I won’t go into the full history of it here, but if you want to know more, then this article in the Telegraph is pretty informative.

For some, Thanksgiving is just about having a good time and they don’t think much about what it really means. However, for many, we like to take a moment and think about what we are grateful for in our lives. And a cursory Google search on the term “being thankful” brought up numerous articles explaining how gratitude can actually make you healthier.

But it’s not always that easy, is it? Children need looking after, houses need cleaning, work needs doing, family members need help, you get health problems, you have a bad day, people are jerks … all of the things that happen in a normal life can pile on top of each other and weigh you down until you forget to look up and remember what’s good.

I’ve been feeling a bit weighed down lately myself – so much so that I’ve started having heart palpitations and even panic attacks. My doctor’s only suggestion was to “give up coffee”. Oh right, like that’s going to make me less stressed!

But I have decided that as it’s Thanksgiving, I’m going to make an effort. I don’t bother with the turkey and all the fixings now that I live in the UK (I get enough turkey at Christmas, thanks), but I do think taking time out to be grateful is time well spent. So here is my exercise in thankfulness. I’m going to tell you some of the things that are pissing me off, and then find something related for which I’m thankful. Some are serious – some less so – but hopefully some of you will get where I’m coming from.

I’m not happy about…

…the fact that my older son is still not getting on well at school. He screams at the teachers and runs aways down the halls. Yesterday the teacher actually called home to tell me what he’d been up to. His behaviour at home has gone downhill as well. This is despite a recent visit to a paediatrician who basically thought he was fine. I’m at a loss as to how to help him right now.

But I’m grateful for…

…my son. We are having these issues but he is still my child and we love each other. There’s nothing better when I hear him say “I love you” in his little voice. We can play and giggle and have a laugh. I am not the perfect parent and I need to learn how to work with him to improve his behaviour, but we will always be a team.

I’m not happy about…

…having lost a friend recently. He passed away and I’d not made the effort to see him for a while. And so I felt grief but also guilt. I messaged him just before I found out what had happened, but it was already too late.

But I’m grateful for…

…the fun times we had together. I’ve spent some time looking at old photos and remembering, and enjoyed a pint of Guinness (his favourite) in his honour. Remembering the good is the only way to move forward. I’m also grateful for the lesson I learned about keeping in touch with people. Next time I think of a friend, I will message them straight away, while I still have the chance.

I’m not happy about…

…being sore and weak while recovering from the hernia surgery I had recently. I haven’t been able to pick up my kids or even leave the house for the last week and a half.

But I’m grateful for…

…the prospect that this will improve my long-term health. Plus, the leaflet they sent me home with says I must not do the washing or hoovering for 6 weeks! It’s right there in black and white. I’ve shown it to my husband.

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I won’t be doing this for 6 long weeks!

I’m not happy about…

…my lack of interior design skills. My house is so cluttered, with my main decorating accents being brightly-coloured plastic toys. I look with envy at beautiful lifestyle blogs and their owners’ skilled arrangement of attractive scatter cushions. I have scatter cushions that my neighbour gave me after she bought some nicer ones. It was my house or the bin for them. Appropriate – since at my house they are often covered in cat hair and biscuit crumbs.

But I’m grateful for…

…the fact we’re nearly finished building an extension to our house. It’s been hard having builders around and everything in upheaval for the last 5 months, but soon we will have more living and storage space. Hopefully I will then be able to cut the clutter. I doubt I’ll get any better about scatter cushions though.

I’m not happy about…

…being rubbish at Instagram. This is a blogger gripe. I know good bloggers are expected to take fabulous photos and share them on Instagram. But I just don’t really “get” photography. To me, it’s what the picture makes you think about, rather than the aesthetics. And I hate the shallow “great feed” comments you get.

But I’m grateful for…

…the people who follow me anyway! Why anyone beyond my close friends are happy to look at a poorly-lit photograph of my dinner is beyond me. But they do. I even got 30-odd likes on a shot of my messy living room full of packages of laminate flooring and plaster dust. So I’ve decided to keep it real on Instagram. I’m going to post pics of my real life and just be happy with the followers who want to see it.

I’m not happy about…

…what I like to call the Christmas conundrum. I’ve been working hard to get fit and be happy with the way I look for a school reunion I have coming this summer (don’t we all want to be fabulous when we see the people we grew up with after a long time?). The surgery has set me back a bit, and now we’re getting into Christmas. How can I eat ALL the mince pies without compromising my fitness goals?

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I need to try all the different brands. Let’s call it blog research.

But I’m grateful for…

…the fact that I can choose to binge on pie or not. Some people can’t afford to buy all the pies, or can’t eat pies for other reasons. I’m thankful for the very existence of pie. And wine. Let’s not forget to mention wine.

But really, why bother?

Being thankful often gets a bad name. Insensitive people try to cheer up a person who is grieving or having a bad time by pointing out that they have things to be thankful for. But it doesn’t work that way. Everyone needs to talk about things that are making them unhappy, and being thankful can’t always fix things. It’s also important to be honest about our own feelings.

But forcing myself to write down some of the things that make me happy – thinking about what’s funny, what’s serious, what’s poignant and what I have learned – has already made me feel calmer and more in control. I’ve taken a break from exercising my body, but taking some time to flex my thankful muscles has helped me lose some of the weight I’ve been carrying on my shoulders.

What things are you stressed out about? What are you most thankful for? Let me know in the comments.

Tammymum
mumturnedmom
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Blog Toast Tuesday: 6 September 2016

It’s time for my weekly feature, #blogtoast Tuesday, where I toast other blogs I’ve discovered and enjoyed in the previous week. I toast them like you do with champagne, not like what you do to bread, just to be clear.

I have been featuring 3 blogs every week, but that’s getting to be too much for my brain. At least it is for me tonight. So I’m only featuring two this week.

We’ve had a really tiring weekend:

  • We ordered our new kitchen for our new extension that’s being built. That was a nerve-wracking expensive purchase, full of lots of decision-making.
  • We moved my 22-month-old from his cot to a big boy bed. Someday he might even sleep in it – he certainly didn’t last night.
  • And we dealt with a wicked nit invasion. I’d never had or seen lice before so I found that pretty stressful!

So I think you might see a theme for this week’s post – two blogs with recent posts about staying calm!

Mindful Mummy Mission

I discovered this blog tonight while participating in the #EatSleepBlogRT linky. She was a featured blogger on Petite Pudding’s newbie showcase. I thought her featured post on mindfulness for mums and dads offered a really realistic approach to parenting. It sets goals but keeps in mind all of the challenges life puts in the way.

I have to admit that I have never thought seriously about mindfulness – it all sounded a bit hippy-dippy to me – but her site is very convincing about it. Her About page discusses the scientific evidence that points to mindfulness being healthy for body and mind. She also explains how it is easier to put into practice during our busy daily lives than you might think. And her tone of writing is down to earth and not even slightly worthy or preachy. She has changed the way I think about mindfulness and I’m going to make more effort to incorporate it into my life.

I also really liked her post about mindfulness for bloggers – it’s so easy to let blogging and social media take over your life!

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I first found this blog in the #KCACOLS Facebook group. She posted ‘Negative Automatic Thoughts, Part 1: What on earth are NATs?‘ I had never heard of NATs before, and I’m surprised about that. It should be something people are talking about. Feelings of inadequacy that intrude on your life and cause anxiety must be something that affects a lot of people. I can certainly see some of these symptoms in myself. And giving a name to this, instead of just passing it off as no big deal, can be a step towards coping with it.

I also enjoyed her post about ‘Finding Your Calm Button‘. It’s about finding the one thing that can calm and centre you when you feel your day and your thoughts are spiralling out of control. When I was younger and used to live in the USA, I would go for a drive to calm down. Now I live in the UK, that sounds like a silly idea! Driving here seems like much harder work – or maybe I’ve just realised that getting behind the wheel when you’re upset probably isn’t the best course of action. On the weekend when I was freaking out about lice, I stopped and had a cup of tea – I’ve obviously been well assimilated into British culture. But I am going to think about another way to calm myself when caffeine isn’t at hand!

Please do join me in toasting the best blogs by tweeting your favourite this week with the hashtag: #blogtoast (and if you @themumreviews I will retweet you – it’s win/win!) – or let me know just what you think of me in the comments!