The time when: I was outnumbered by small people.
I have 3 kids. You’ll do one of 2 things now you know that information – take a sharp intake of breath thinking she must be mad, or feel an immediate connection with another exhausted parent who is outnumbered by mini dictators in their house. As Jess’ birthday approaches, I am reminicing about the journey that lead us to be a family of 5. When we were trying to decide if we should go for number 3, there were lots of things to consider: The world is built for families of 4. Everything from cars and hotel rooms to packs of yoghurt are made for 4 to share. How would the boys cope being 1 of 3, especially Charlie who has a such a sensitive soul?Did we really want to go back to the sleepless new born days?And most importantly, what do you do when you’re outnumbered. How do you do story time when you only have 2 arms? You are the minority. What if there mutiny aboard and we lose control completely? When we were considering the pros and cons, we quickly came to the conclusion that there is no logical reason to do it. In fact, it’s a pretty crazy thing to do, but I just knew I wasn’t “done” and that fact wasn’t going to change. I felt like our family wasn’t complete yet, there was one more piece to fit in. Lots of people think we did it to try for a little girl, (which made me really very angry and protective about my beautiful boys. Why weren’t they enough for the world, why did everyone think you needed “one of each” to get the full set?) but we were actually just as excited about the thought of having a gang of boys running about the place. Yes a girl would be lovely, but we just wanted a healthy baby thank you very much. Having seen my friends go through the heartache and devastation of baby loss, how could you ever want more than that? Then we got our beautiful baby girl and we both knew that we were complete. Yes, it’s very corny, but Jess was our final jigsaw piece. The moment that the boys met Jess was possibly the best moment of my life but does the reality of living with 3 mini people live up to the long-held dream of being a family of 5? Well…. People take great joy in telling you that 3 is the most stressful number of children to have. And it’s true, it’s not a walk in the park, especially when your eldest is just 3 and half! When I was flying solo with all 3, I have to say that I kept things simple. A trip to the park, the occasional music class was more than enough to begin with and even those quite often were too much. I treasured the quiet days with Jess when the boys were in nursery when we could have snuggly feeds for hours on end, sing silly songs, snooze and watch Grey’s Anatomy. But there is nothing like the chaos of having us all together again. Although each child loves some 1:1 Mummy and Daddy time, they miss each other dreadfully when they are apart. So yes, 3 is a stressful number, but it is our perfect number and we wouldn’t change it for the world!
The Time When I Had 3 Children Under 4
We had a new born, a 21-month-old and a 3-year-old having night terrors and it felt like I hadn’t slept properly in a lifetime. You’re supposed to be tired when you have a new born. It’s part of the deal that you signed up for. Snuggly night feeds with baby number 1 are actually in lots of ways such a special time (although I do remember that at the time the fear of the sleepless nights was crippling!) and you know that come morning you can just stay in bed and snuggle some more. No one was standing by your bed at 5am asking if it was time to go downstairs for breakfast or shouting for you to come and wipe their bum because they had done a poo. This picture is when Jess was about 2 days old and we were out conker collecting with Charlie and Ben because that’s what little people want to do! They don’t care if you’ve just given birth, your constantly breastfeeding or you haven’t had more than 20 minutes sleep! Bloody hell I was tired, so was my husband. In fact, we still are. Yes, it’s true, now we don’t get woken up every 40 minutes by a new baby needing feeding, but between temperatures, nightmares, wet beds, sheets that need tucking in and falling out of bed, our house at night is like playing a game of never-ending whack a mole! One child pops up, you settle them, get back into bed and you’re just falling sleep again when another one pops up with the next ridiculous emergency. My personal favourite was Ben screaming like a banshee only to discover once I was inside his room, that he actually just had a piece of rogue snot on his finger. But in the middle of the night, you are so afraid of them waking up the others that you move like a cheetah to shush them and try and get them back to sleep before you have a full blown 2am riot on your hands. I can count on one hand the number of unbroken night’s sleep we have had in the last 6 years – its relentless. When you are this tired, it’s hard to find the energy to eat properly, to call your friends, to do more exercise than trekking the kids up to school and back or to be much more than civil to your partner. Life with young children is hard right? And it was hard before bloody ‘rona when we all had to do everything we did before, but now we had to add in teaching, working from home with a child using you as a climbing frame through zoom calls, without any physical support from family and friends. And I see that written into every one of my friend’s faces as they try to balance their children’s needs, childcare, doctor appointments, homework, playdates, house work, food shopping and work. I think we all need to take a minute to appreciate just how well we are doing just to stay afloat amidst the chaos of life. I think everyone who is surviving is doing a great job! Do you know a Mum who has a lot on her plate right now? Why not send her one of these postcards and some delicious chocolate to brighten her day?
The Time When It Was My First Father’s Day Without My Dad
One of the most wonderful things about running Tell Her You Care, is reading the messages of love and support from our customers to their friends and family. I wish I could share them all as they make my heart sing to see the true goodness that humans have within them, especially when there is so much heartache and pain happening across the world. Today we had the absolute privilege to write this special message from one friend to another who has lost their Dad: “I know Sunday will be a hard day for you, but I wanted to let you know you are so loved by everyone around you and every day you make your Dad proud.” Occasionally messages speak directly to my soul and this is one of those times. I felt the huge wave love and support being sent through one of our gifts and it brought tears to my eyes. Sunday will be my first Father’s Day without my lovely Dad. I will spend it celebrating my wonderful husband and the kids’ other fabulous Grandad. We are lucky to have some incredible father figures in our lives, but it will of course be bittersweet, as I can’t help but see the huge hole that is left as my Dad isn’t there. I miss Dad every day in lots of little ways but on Sunday I know the pain will be amplified as I miss his laughter whilst watching the kids, or his wrinkled nose as he tells me a tall tale about something or other and the feeling of just knowing that he’s there if I need him. So I just wanted to send a specially big hug to all those for whom Sunday will be especially difficult for: everyone who can’t give their Dad’s the long awaited hug they need, those who have lost Dads, Dads who have lost children, Dads who don’t see their children, children who don’t see their Dads, men desperate to be Dads, those who are celebrating what might be their last Father’s Day with their Dad and so many others. I see you and your pain, it’s OK to be sad, in fact it’s OK to feel anything. Take a moment, cry when you need to, breath and know that you are surrounded by love from those who are still with us and those who we can’t hug any more. My Dad lives in on in the animal noises my children make when going through a tunnel in the car, the fairy writing we look for in the woods and the complete love that he showed me how to give to the people in my life. So yes there will be tears, but some will be happy tears as I remember how lucky I am to have had someone who helped me find the silliness and fun in life and how to love unconditionally. This is the postcard that is mentioned in this post.
The Time When My Dad Died
With everything that is going on at the moment, I find myself thinking of Dad a lot. Of how lucky I feel that he isn’t here to go through this, that we don’t need to manage his daily care through this crisis and that we don’t have to say goodbye to him at a distance without being able to hug one another through the pain. When Dad passed away it was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, and we had been lucky in lots of ways that we had time to come to terms with what was going to happen, had made some incredibly special memories with together in his last 18 months and were able to be there when he passed away at home. I am a positive person. I smile through tough times and try to see the good in most situations. So, when I had an underlying feeling of sadness that I couldn’t shift and an overwhelming sense of being lost and angry, it really shook my whole world as I didn’t know how to deal with those strange feelings that I couldn’t make better with a plan and some positive thoughts. I can’t begin to imagine how so many families are feeling at the moment; losing someone you love when you can’t be with each other to say goodbye and are unable to grieve in the way that we imagined. Never before has it been so important to stay in touch and remember the grief that is with that person every minute of every day. No one expects you to make it better, they just don’t want to feel alone at the hardest time in their lives. The best thing someone said to me was: This is a funny one as people said some lovely things to me like, “I’m just checking in on you, there’s no need to reply, I just wanted you to know that I love you.” And “I’m here for whatever you need.” and “I know that your birthday will be hard, this year of first times will difficult and I’m thinking of you.” All those messages meant so much to me, but there are no words to make grief go away. It is a long old process and I think actually it wasn’t about anyone having the magic cure to make things better – no one could do that, and actually I didn’t want them too. All I wanted was to feel like someone cared and they were standing by my side. That they remembered that my life was forever different and that although the world keeps turning, my life was in a weird surreal bubble that I couldn’t seem to break out of. So many people didn’t know what to say that they didn’t say anything at all which I found hard to understand and at the time and it felt like they were devaluing Dad’s life and my grief. Or after the funeral appeared to think that my grieving must be over and life had moved on now. It felt to me like they’d sent the “I’m sorry” card and flowers, so the box was ticked and that they didn’t need to do any more.* I will never forget the people who did check in with me. The people who text me and called me all the time, even when I didn’t reply or pick up the phone. The people that were just there (even though they were miles away), when I needed them most. Making me feel like someone cared at the loneliest time in my life. So please, if your friend has lost someone they love, just SAY SOMETHING. Tell them that you care and keep telling them as often as you can. *Now I am out of the grief bubble I appreciate that it wasn’t personal when I didn’t hear from some people and that life is tough for everyone, but the messages and letters and postcards and phone calls that did keep coming, really meant the world and I will forever be grateful to the people who kept me afloat when I felt like I might sink.
The Time When We Were All Stuck At Home
The time when we were all stuck at home: These are strange times we are living in. With the latest recommendations, all 3 kids are now at home for the foreseeable so work has moved to evenings and during the day I am now known as Miss Brown (don’t ask!) and I am running a home school for 3 children ages 5,4 and 2. So far we have had mixed results. My eldest loves re-creating school and is passionate about doing his work (to a point) but he is also bossing the middle one round like never before and so he has become somewhat whiny. My youngest would just like to watch Lion King all the time, thank you very much and then discuss why the orange lion died. You can, from now on, assume that my house will be a total mess from morning till night and in fact the hours in between because when the kids finally go to sleep, I am desperately trying to get my work done. I haven’t left the house for 8 days now, the kids are starting to bounce of the walls and when the Tesco man came last night, all he said as he handed over the list of things that we DIDN’T get on our shop was, “Well at least you got your ice cream!” And he’s right, let’s try to focus on the ice cream and not the missing toilet roll. So last night, me and two of my lovely friends had a virtual glass of wine together and a good old gossip. We all video called each other, drank wine, ate chocolate and chatting about the impending world catastrophe and whether we should eat a chomp or a curly wurly next. The best thing someone said to me was: Fill up your wine glass and let’s have a chat. It’s the small things that will keep us all sane at the moment. And it’s the acts of kindness that will get us all through, like my friend spent two hours filling out and dropping off those cards offering to help those on her street who are isolating or struggling for whatever reason and had received so many grateful texts and calls for doing something nice and offers of help from others just wanting to do something good. Let’s help each other when we can, be kind to each other and don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Don’t get feel guilty if the most you child has learnt today is how to work Netflix. That is a true lifeskill. We are all doing our best. And remember, we have to physically distance ourselves from each other, but that doesn’t stop us communicating with the people with love through phone calls, texts, FaceTime, letters and rainbows in windows. If you know someone who’s face you miss, why not send them this postcard and have some virtual vino together.
The Time When I Felt Lost
These are uncertain times we are living in. On the one hand, I feel like I have taken a step out of the rat race – I no longer have to rush 3 kids out the door and up the hill in time for school, or grab the work I need for a meeting that I am late for because someone dropped a box of cereal all over the floor before we ran out of the door. Now we have all the time in the world (apart from the constant juggling of work, homeschooling and foraging for toilet rolls). What I mean is that no one has to be anywhere or even dressed for anything at the moment. I haven’t straightened my hair or worn any make up in days. And I find that I’m not shouting at the kids anymore as whatever they are doing can be dealt with in the excess of time we now have together (although give me another 6 weeks in the house with Ben singing “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and it may be a very different story!) It is liberating in many ways and a privilege to spend this precious time with the people I love the most. And yet I have a constant feeling of unease. Worry about what is around the corner. Worry for my Mum being on her own. Worry for people I love who have health issues. Worry for my friends who have been hit hard by this disease. Worry for my incredible friends in the NHS. Worry for people I don’t know who were already struggling to get through the day before we added the stress of a global pandemic and being housebound with no face-to-face support into their already difficult lives. I have also realised that I don’t know how to relax anymore. I feel like I need to be doing something even after the kids are in bed to make the most of the childfree time. I have found I can’t switch off my phone and just “be” in the evenings. I am hungry for information that, once consumed, keeps me up all night. And so I find myself feeling a little lost – feeling helpless against the incoming tide that we are all facing together. The best thing someone said to me was: Whilst in the midst of a storm, focus on those things you can control and right now that is the little bubble of my house. So I am making plans to toast marshmallows and camp in the garden, to put paint in water pistols and make a mess, bake cornflake flapjacks and have hour long snuggles with my three little people. I know this is a scary time for everyone, we could make some amazing memories that our children will treasure forever. And tonight, I am putting my phone down, my laptop away and having a beer with my gorgeous hubby. Tell Her You Care has put together a lovely range of postcards that would brighten anyone’s day, but are especially perfect for the people we love who feel far away and have never needed to hear we are thinking of them more.
The Time When I Couldn’t See My Mum On Mother’s Day.
It’s the first Mothering Sunday since Dad died so it was always going to be a hard one for everyone. Dad always sent me a card today telling me what a wonderful Mummy I was and how much he loved his grandkids and I am missing the reassurance and love that he always gave. And of course it was going to be incredibly hard for our Mum without him by her side as he has been every other Mothers Day since they became parents over 40 years ago. And now Mum will have to be physically alone on what feels like a really important day. Don’t get me wrong, we know it’s the right thing to do for her and the wider community but it is breaking my heart to know how upset she is at being alone today and the prospect of it being that way for the foreseeable future. We are doing stories every day with with the kids by Skype, texting and calling lots and today I will be dropping off a mini “Corona survival kit” for her to hopefully raise her spirits a little. But these next few months are going to be incredibly difficult for everyone. I read reports from my simply amazing friends working on the frontline of the NHS about how genuinely scared they are and I know that there are absolutely more important things to worry about at the moment. But in my little family’s bubble, today is a big day and I know it will be a sad day for lots of other people because their Mum is no longer here, they have lost a child, they have a difficult relationship with their family or they are separated from the people they love the most. We know we are doing the right thing, but that doesn’t stop the pain of not giving or receiving the hug from your Mum when you both need it the most. The best thing that someone said to me was: Stay at home and you will save lives. This is not a drill, this is our chance to SAVE LIVES. I know that the upset of being apart today will be absolutely worth it, but to everyone out there who is not hugging the people that they love today, I am sending you all a virtual hug. We are in this together and we will come out the other side. If you’re missing your Mum or someone else who’s special to you (aren’t we all?), why not send them this postcard and some delicious chocolate to tell them that they will be OK and we will be together again.
The Time When I Took 3 Children Swimming
The time when: I took 3 children swimming To be fair, one of them had a swimming lesson, so I only actually had responsibility for two of them in the water – a breeze you might think. But wrangling 3 children under 5 into their costumes on a wet changing room floor and then showering them all when Jess thought that shower water was a torture technique was not the most fun I’ve had on a Monday afternoon. And of course, then you have to try to get them all dry and dressed and chase 3 naked children round the changing rooms before they all decide to hide in a locker. (Which they are all bloody good at by the way. When faced with a wall of closed lockers and 3 missing children it is beautifully quiet but also a little worrying. Once Ben learnt how to lock the doors, I had visions of having to go to ask the receptionist to help release my children whilst answering some awkward questions about why I was padlocking my children away…) This particular afternoon, the children we busy being children – getting in one lady’s way, being a bit noisy and generally making me feel like I didn’t have control of my rabble. My mind was busy telling me that I was failing at parenting and that obviously I was being judged by everyone in the changing room. The best thing someone said to me was: The lovely lady in the changing room who my children kept knocking into said, “please stop apologising for you kids. They are beautiful and are really making me smile. You are doing such a great job.” She made my year. This tiny comment made me feel like I was winning at parenting. I will never forget that lady’s kindness. Let’s always try to say something nice when someone is struggling, it really could make all the difference. Do you know someone who feel’s like they have lost control of their tribe? Why not send tell them they are doing a good job with this postcard?
The Time When I Started A Business
The time when: I started a business OK – I am scared. I am scared that real-life people will read this and think it’s a load of tosh, or that I’m weird or my friends will have to try to be diplomatic and say nice things like, “Oooo it’s really… INTERESTING.” “You’re so… brave.” I’ve talked about running my own business forever, in fact I even set one up once, before closing it on pretty much the same day (I’ll write a blog post about the mini life implosion that led to that another day.) But now just felt like the right time and yes, I may be having a little mid-life crisis. Just after I got married, I left my career without a job to go to because I was miserable, and my husband pointed out to me that it wasn’t really OK to cry at the thought of going to work. Then we had babies and I moved from job to job in between maternity leaves. I was incredibly lucky to work for some fantastic charities and loved each and every one. After Charlie was born, I was lucky enough to find a charity that ignited a real passion in me and have loved being part of something special ever since. But I had an itch that I just needed to scratch. I needed to see if I could design something that someone else would love, something that would make other people’s lives better and that they might even pay for. I wanted to take an idea from concept to delivery and try something new. It was exciting and gave me some fire in my belly and something that was for me and not my kids after 6 years of feeling like my life was a little bit on hold. So I am excited! Really excited, and for some reason, I feel a bit embarrassed too. But I am grabbing the opportunity and pushing down the worries to do something that I am really passionate about and hoping that you will love it too. The best thing someone said to me was: I know you can do this. If anyone can – you can. I think you are bloody brilliant – I’m so proud of you. I think you’re amazing. Have you got someone that you’d like to tell how proud you are of them? Click here to see the perfect postcard and we can sort the rest out for you at the click of a button.