The summer holidays have officially commenced. The dreaded (or much awaited, if you’re a teacher or have little angel children), end of term has pounced upon us, slightly quicker than I anticipated. It only seems like yesterday that my darling baby was heading into Year 1. Now he’s done and dusted another year of primary school, doubled in attitude, and leg length (his school shorts are starting to look a bit like hot pants, ooppss), come on leaps and bounds in his reading and writing and can (and does) out smart me on a daily basis! Anyhow I now have the ultimate Mum mission of planning and executing 6 weeks of thrilling, stimulating, super fun activities. The prospect excites me and makes me want to crawl under my duvet and hibernate for 6 weeks, all at the same time!!! Right now, sat here, enjoying the sun, munching my way through an apple, my energy levels (and mood) have peaked. This is the closest to ‘normal’ I have felt in a very long time (I don’t think I’ll ever really achieve ‘normal’ status – genetics to thanks for that one though – sorry Dad) – the coffee, sun and the fact we jet off tomorrow may have something to do with it but either way, lets not knock it! I’m just hoping and praying that I can keep it up for 6 weeks, for Harvey’s sake and my own sanity.
I making it sound like I really hate the school holidays – which is so far from the truth. The summer before Harvey started school, before I started working, I pulled him out of nursery and we had an absolute blast, we went out and did loads together; picnics in the woods, Legoland, cBeebies Land, fruit picking, countless visits to the Great Central Railway, playdates and a hundred other fun things. If there was a local event on, we’d be there!
At that point in time, I was well – really well! I could eat and not feel guilty or worry about it, I wasn’t preoccupied with food thoughts and calorie counting, I had energy, my legs didn’t ache all the time, I didn’t get any dizziness and most definitely wasn’t passing out, and, I was happy – like a real, content happiness, I was so grateful for what I had and the moments I spent with Harvey, friends and family, but at the same time I felt good about me – the way I looked, how I felt, being myself – life was pretty damn good. Those were the days!
Last week I sat and asked myself, “In an ideal world, what do I want this summer to look like?”, without even really giving it much thought it was memories of that summer that were popping up in my mind left, right and centre. After smiling at the thought of it, I gave my head a bit of a wobble, came back down to earth and realised, it’s not going to be like that, not this year at least, but I’m not giving up hope for the future, just yet. As you’ll gather if you’ve read my other blog posts, I have a tough time accepting defeat and that as much as I think I am, or want to be, I’m not WonderWoman or SuperMum. I have limitations and I’m trying my best to embrace them, accept them and do the best I can, given the circumstances (easier said than done at times though – especially when you chuck a crazily, energetic, wont-sit-still, 6 year old into the mix). I’m getting closer to accepting that this summer isn’t going to be as full on as previous years, it does get me down a bit, and I do beat myself up for it at times, despite the fact I’m doing what I can to recover. However there’s always next year or the one after for bike rides and Go Ape and theme parks and we can still have an awful lot of fun without needing to be constantly on the go.
The parenting/ED/depression balancing act is where my Summer Holiday Plan of Attack comes into play. I set myself the task of defining 3 goals, for what would really make a big difference to Harvey (and myself), to make the time off together as smooth sailing, and enjoyable as possible. These things might be a given for a lot of people but for us, they’re no longer our reality and things we both miss or need. So this is what I came up with:
- Eat at least one meal a day together – whether its a picnic at the park, breakfast in the kitchen or tea sat around the table, just once a day. I feel awful for not managing to sit with Harvey at mealtimes at the minute, we no longer have the social element of meals. It is safe to say our mealtime routine is all over the shop, so, I figured, what better time to try and get back on top of things, one meal at a time! Eating at home is a hugely, anxiety provoking task so this may be hard at times, I just need to remember why I’m doing it! I really miss baking and cooking with Harvey – he loves being in the kitchen and we used to have some real good fun creating various treats and meals – being comfortable doing that again would be the end goal, but baby steps to begin with.
- Spend at least 2 hours of quality time together every, single day! 2 hours may not seem like much but as a minimum, I figured it was probably an ideal start point. In my mind, I’m hoping for more but what’s the point in setting a goal you’re unlikely to achieve? At the minute, I struggle with spending time with Harvey, undivided, just him and me, for heaps of reasons. I’m not saying we don’t spend time together, but when we do we’re usually doing our own things. And I miss him, even though I see him everyday. I miss laughing and joking around with him, listening to him waffle on about nonsense and his insane imagination and games! We’ve almost become like strangers in that sense and I need to rectify this ASAP.
- Last but not least… Stay calm!!!! This isn’t really a goal directly related to Harvey but indirectly, it will (should) have a massive, positive impact on him (I hope). At the minute I’m often quite (very) crabby with him and in general – lack of nutrition, sleep, distracting thoughts and depression/anxiety are more than likely are to thank for some of this. By staying calm, I mean taking a step back and trying to see the bigger picture before reacting. Making some time each day, for me to relax (we all need to be a bit selfish at times and think about ourselves too). Remembering that it’s not for ever and ultimately I’m in charge of me, although right now I’m on a path to taking back that control, so there’s no need to panic and flap when things aren’t quite going right. I think this will be the hardest of them all, if I’m being honest, because lets face it, who manages to keep their cool 24/7 when they’re tired and hungry, worrying about a million and one (mostly irrelevant) things and have a bored, grumpy 6 year old that needs entertaining (if you know anyone that can – I want to know who they are and how they do it!)
In order to stand any kind of chance of achieving the above I realised I’m going to have to be prepared and have things lined up for every eventuality. If I don’t I’m scuppered and there’s another of Harvey’s days lost to Minecraft and Roblox – not that he’d complain! As much as I worship the iPad and phones and computer when I’m burnt out and need a rest, the last thing I want is to zombify my child and allow him to turn into a tech cabbage – where’s the fun in that?! Together we’ve come up with some ‘activities’ that we would like to do together over the summer, some out and about, some requiring minimal effort and everything in between.
This way we have a choice of what to do regardless of how I’m feeling and we don’t have to think on the spot (Harv and I together are possibly the most indecisive double act you’ll ever meet)! I carry a lot of guilt for the impact that my health has on Harvey’s childhood, there’s so many times I have had to tell him “no”, because my legs hurt or I’m exhausted or simply just don’t have the physical strength. It’s frustrating and upsetting for both of us. I have told myself that this summer, I want it to be all about him (I have an awful lot of making up to do for recent times) and I want him to have an amazing time and make some cracking memories together (again, head in the clouds a bit, but it’s a goal to aim for), hence the plans for every occasion. It may work, it may not but there’s only one way to find out!
As you can probably imagine (or know from experience), when a child is bored or fed up or wants to just get out but can’t, they can completely switch personalities and behaviour. Imagine Jekyll and Hyde, just smaller. This is Harvey all over. He’s nice as pie at times. The most loving, kind, caring, considerate boy in the world but the moment something tips him he can be like the son of Satan!! There’s no middle ground with him. I know this is through no fault of his own, again genetics, (I’m fairly sure my parents would agree I have had my fair share of Jekyll and Hyde moments growing up) and more than likely, his annoyance that we can’t always do ‘stuff’ together, as well as the confusion as to what’s got into his Mummy (he doesn’t understand why I say no, or can’t play with him or eat with him or take him out)! It can make times slightly trying and the mega meltdowns usually come at periods I’m not feeling so great (obviously – why would he have a tantrum when I’m feeling good and on top form to deal with it?!). I know when we are together and spending time with each other, I’m relaxed and having a better day, he’s my angel boy. I’m well aware there’s a cause and effect relationship here, but in the moment it’s so tough to step back and realise that and do something about it – hence where all 3 of my goals have stemmed from, to some degree.
To kick start our 6 weeks of Summer, we fly off to Turkey tomorrow – what better way to get things going, ay!! We kinda have no choice but to be together. Being abroad, in the sun, splashing in the swimming pool, eating in the restaurant at set mealtimes, I reckon it would be hard not to achieve the first 2 goals, under these conditions! And when we’re back we WILL get on top of things, properly, once and for all, no matter of all the fears and bumps in the road (I don’t doubt there will be a few of those but it’s all part of the process). Having an enjoyable break and giving the little dude the childhood he deserves is worth so much more than an extra 0.1kg on the scales or the extra 18 calories I ‘shouldn’t’ of eaten, I just need to keep this thought at the front of my mind over the next few weeks!
Wish us luck – not sure who will need it the most though, Harvey or me?!