Thursday, 11 June 2015

Father's Day Gift Ideas

So on the 21st June it is Father's Day. Now I don't have my father to buy for, he died when I was a child. I do however but some gifts for my partner from Michael. Here are some ideas if you are stuck.

1. Hamper of goodies. Now I did this for Daniel(my partner) at christmas and have done him a smaller one for Father's Day. I put in American sweets in a basket and essentially make it pretty. B&M do american sweets really cheaply. It goes down well because my partner has a sweet tooth and it's stuff he does not usually get. If your dad/your child's dad does not like sweets, you could do anything really. A beer/drink hamper, other treats etc.

2. Photo album. My partner is a extremely hands on dad so last year on his first Father's Day, I created him a scrapbook of him and our son. I put in pictures, our son's hand and foot print, poems, I even put in texts we sent each other when I was pregnant. It did not cost a lot at all to make, and was a really special gift that my partner still looks at.

3. Clothes. Now Daniel loves clothes with dad on it, so he has a couple of t-shirts and socks with dad written on. Some people are not a fan, but you could buy a t-shirt your father/partner would like. This year I bought Daniel a Star Wars t-shirt he was admiring a few weeks earlier.

4. Time with their child. I am not a massive fan of large gifts when it comes to Father's Day. I spend more on birthdays and so Daniel just has a shirt and some american sweets. I have probably spent around £15 and got Michael to draw in a decent card. However time is really valuable. Daniel works full time so he has limited time with Michael and I know he misses time with him, especially since he is such a mummy's boy. So we make a big effort to spend time all together on Father's Day. Neither of us have dads to visit so it's just us, hopefully we will be going out for Sunday dinner all together. When I think about my dad, I wish I were able to visit him on a Father's Day. 

What will you be doing on Father's Day? 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Let's Talk about PND

I never expected to be diagnosed with post natal depression, I knew of it of course but during my pregnancy I was so excited and happy to be having a baby. Everything was going great and then I had Michael. It was literally hours after he was born, when I was sitting in the hospital bed alone and trying to breastfeed desperately that the tears fell. I was so emotional and I could not understand why. At first I put it being down to staying in hospital(I hate hospitals but then who loves it!) and yet the tears continued when I got home.

I bonded with Michael and loved him but still I resented him. My partner returned to work and suddenly I was left with this new baby and I missed my old life and sleep! I was either in an awful mood or I was crying and it was in this time my partner and I argued the most. He had no idea how to deal with me or what to say. It was so out of character for me. I felt useless, like I was nobody anymore. I knew I should have gone to the GP or my health visitor straightaway but I admit I was scared. I was scared they would look at me and think I was a bad mother and that I could not cope with my son.

Then there was one night where I was up countless times with Michael. I could not get him to settle and I felt like the worse mother in the world. My partner at the time was working night shifts and with hindsight he should never have agreed to them when Michael was a newborn. I went into the bathroom, picked up a razor blade and seriously thought about harming myself in some way. It was the moment when I then heard Michael cry that I knew I  needed help, I couldn't continue as I was and hoping it would get better on its own. I went to the GP and was prescribed antidepressants and counselling. I was on the antidepressants for a good couple of months and it was only when my son reached around 10-11 months that I truly felt I was starting to regain some of the old me back and started reconnecting with my partner.

Some days I did not even want to get dressed and that was ok. Depression is like a black cloud above you, it affects everything you do and is difficult whatever time of life you get it. A new born only heightens it, you are sleep deprived and have this little person depending on you. Katie Hopkins recently talked about people on antidepressants telling them to quote "get a grip". Well sorry Hopkins if I was able to get a grip I would have indeed got one.

Her quite honestly ignorant comments show that there remains a stigma about depression and other mental health conditions. I am not ashamed to say I suffered from post natal depression. It was awful but I got through it. There should be more awareness and education about post natal depression. It does not mean you are a bad mother or person. With help you CAN get through it, even when it seems you can't.

Now Michael is nearly two, and I feel much happier but I admit I look back to the depression with sadness. I feel sad that I did not enjoy my son as a newborn as much as I could have. I look back and it is a blur, it passed so fast and those days of him as a newborn are gone. I feel regret that it took me months to get the help because I was scared. I can only comfort myself that I now enjoy my son everyday(not all day, he is a difficult toddler after all!) but I am able to be happy with him and enjoy spending the time with him. It helps I think that he now sleeps through the night and I was able to regain some of myself when I went back to university. Some time away from your child and some decent sleep are amazing!

If you do feel you are struggling and suspect you have post natal depression, I would advise you to seek help from your doctor or a health visitor. They will understand, be sympathetic and most importantly help you. Also talk to your family and friends, don't suffer in silence. Someone to talk to and someone to watch your baby while you have some time to yourself can help a lot. Most of all be gentle with yourself.


Indoor Activities for Toddlers

So here in London, we have had some miserable days(so much for summer!). I do try to take Michael out rain and shine, we do swimming, soft play, playgroups etc but when you don't drive, sometimes it is easier to stay indoors. Here are some of mine and Michael's favourite indoor activities:

1. Playdoh. I have written about playdoh before because I really do think it is great. You can make your own, and it keeps toddlers entertained for ages. You can also use household items to make shapes, we use cookie cutters and also Michael's stacking cups.

2. Baths. I used to think baths were there just to clean your child but if your child is ratty, chuck them in for a bath. Put lots of bubble bath and toys and they will happily play for a while. I tend to use that time to clean the bathroom or sit on the toilet reading or something. 

3. Indoor picnic. Michael really loves doing this for a treat when it is miserable outside. We put a blanket down, he grabs his teddies, and we just have some lunch on the floor. I tend to also buy some foods we don't usually have so it really is a nice little treat to break up the rainy day.

4. Baking. Michael has only really got into helping me cook. I am not very good at cooking, so we just have those simple packs where you add water and an egg. He really does like helping me do it though and then eating all those cakes. We then take some of the cakes round to Michael's nan(my mum)

5. Arts and Crafts. Again Michael is a little young for this so at the moment he is just doing some drawing and playing with stickers. However for older children I would keep some crafts sets there for those rainy days indoors. They are useful in keeping your kids busy.

I do try as well to catch up with some housework when we are in for the day so luckily Michael is happy to entertain himself with his toys or I get him involved with helping me.

What are some of your favourite indoor activities with your child? Let me know in the comments below.