Here We Go Again…

What a week it’s been eh?

We’re all feeling a bit incredulous really. This past few days, it’s felt like we are slowly sliding into chaos once again.

  We’re trying to adapt to all of the changes that are coming at us faster than Sonic the bloody Hedgehog, while trying to maintain a “calm” in front of our kids. 

 And with the indecisiveness, “we will , we won’t, we might-iness” of our Government, we can be forgiven for wondering what the actual feck is going on.

Once again, we’re back to working, whether at work or online, all while minding and homeschooling our kids, trying to keep them occupied and fed and generally trying to do eleventy billion jobs from our kitchen tables. 

And this time, we don’t have the long sunny evenings or unusually warm weather to soften the blow.  

And as I try to get my own head around this new situation in my own house, I’m trying to remember the things that worked (and that did NOT work) for me last time we were in this type of lockdown. 

One thing that became VERY clear to us last March, was that Homeschooling was NOT something that we were successful at.  Trying to pivot your business online and trying to teach online for the first time ever, after almost 20 years of standing in an actual classroom, meant that finding time to sit with our girls to “homeschool” was impossible.  

 I felt like crap about it to start.  How is it that a teacher, for God’s sake, couldn’t manage to educate her own children?  Disgraceful… 

And then I copped myself on.  I couldn’t do it.  I was trying to make up a whole new version of my job AND we were trying to keep our family business alive.  And it’s going to be the same this time to be honest. (Also, I could teach Shakespeare to a duck, but 3rd class maths? Nope!)

I will get them to do some of the work their angels of teachers send, but it’ll be done within the realms of OUR ability and only as long as it isn’t adding more stress to our lives. 

Here we go again I suppose. 

One of the biggest mistakes that loads of us made last time, was to think that we had to do it all.  Think about it…

There aren’t enough hours to combine the 6/7 hours your kids spend at school, with the 8/10 hours you work, the few hours you need for cooking, cleaning etc… never mind homework, exercise and trying to stay on top of things.  You’re trying to fit about 30 hours of “stuff” into a 24 hour day.  When do you sleep Mammy?

It’s not physically possible to do it all. 

SO choose what you NEED to do and do that. 

Give yourself a break.  We’re in a global pandemic.  

Here are some things that work for me. 

  1. Routine:  Make a plan for the week, just as you would if you were all getting up to go to work/school.  For me, I tend to get up at 6am as usual to do a few hours of school work before the girls get up and then a few more in the afternoon.  I’ll allocate a time for the kids to do some school work.  The girls will have playtime and downtime and bedtime will remain as normal as possible. And they’ll know that Mammy and Daddy still have to work for certain hours.
  1. Eating:  If your kids are anything like mine, they’re ALWAYS hungry.  I’m going to try to keep the idea of “breaktime” and “lunchtime” etc going at home.  Otherwise, Princess’s bum will be stuck out of the fridge constantly. 
  1. Get dressed:  seems obvious, and yet it’s so easy to stay in the pjs.  But from tomorrow, it’s up, shower and get dressed. Just without heels or makeup. See the positives where you can!
  1. Don’t overdo the Mary Poppins act:  I’ve already seen social media influencers who have done 3 weeks worth of arts and crafts activities in the first 2 days of no school.  Calm yourselves.  Let the kids play. Let them be bored. Let them read or draw.  Put on their coats and open the door if you can!  Not every activity needs to be organised or planned. Save those for the really long rainy days where they are genuinely bored or need cheered up.
  1. Follow people who inspire you:  Social Media has been a dark place this past few months.  Don’t allow yourself to become bogged down or overwhelmed. Switch off the phone. And try to have a switch off time in the evening.  And only follow people who are making you smile. Please learn to use the unfollow/mute button on accounts that make you doubt what a Queen you are. 
  1. Keep active:   We’ll train together every morning with our Rushe Fitness members and most days, I’ll try to get out for a run/walk. Sometimes, just getting OUT is amazing.  While it’s cold and slippy, it’s still gorgeous out there. Go for a walk or jog.  Fresh air is good for everyone. Get as much as you can.  If you’re used to training but can’t do it alone, join us for our online programme which you can follow from your home at a time that suits you.
We run Opti-Mum, Ireland’s leading at home training system for Mums
  1. Read:  If you’re like me, you’ll have a pile of started and unread books in the house.  Put down the phone and start to read.  Let your kids see you do it.  Have a “reading time” block in the day where you all sit and read. Monkey see, Monkey do.
  1. Cook:  Again, most of us cook functionally and conveniently.  Rather than firing on the slowcooker or  cooking in a hurry, set your inner Nigella alight and get chopping.  Let the kids cook too.  They love it.  And if you have a few of those “Betty” quick brownies in the press for the really long days, you’re winning at life AND you have something sweet and tasty for your cuppa.
  1. Stay in touch:  For many of us who are used to social interaction with colleagues or clients, the sudden isolation and lack of communication can be upsetting.  Talk to each other.  Message friends. Set up messenger groups with people who you would usually see each day and check in on each other.  Make phonecalls.  Pick up the phone and call someone rather than always messaging.  Some people might not hear another voice from one end of the day to the next.  Communicate.
  1. Stay positive:  yeah it’s easy to say isn’t it? But it’s hard to do. We all have good days and bad days. But go easy on yourself.  You’re allowed to be scared. You’re allowed to be upset.  Grief and fear are not signs of weakness.  In order to deal with things, we first have to process it; to let it sink in. So allow yourself time to process.  Then, look for the positives and focus on those.

We are in weird times.  We are dealing with disappointments and stresses that are unprecedented.  Much of what we are facing is bleak. and yet in the middle of it all, we’re seeing glimpses of hope and finally, an end is in sight. 

Mind yourselves.  Go easy on yourselves.  You are not in competition with anyone.  Do what you need to do, for you. 

Toodles 2020. Off You Feck!

I’m a big bungled bag of mixed thoughts and emotions as I sit to write this. 

Usually, my last blog of the year flows easily; full of nostalgia and positivity and hope and excitement… and actually, I’m feeling all of those things right now too.  I just can’t seem to write them down in a way that will be meaningful to everyone. Because now, more than ever, none of us can fully understand how anyone else is feeling.

We’ve just come through the weirdest year of our lives.

  I could start to talk about how “while it was bad, it was actually good”, or “In the midst of the chaos, was joy”, or “the lessons I’ve learned this year”.  God I could write 20 pages on each of those titles if I’m honest. 

It was good, in its own way. 

I did learn loads about myself and about life in general.  (80 pages coming on that…next year!)

In the midst of the chaos, there was joy.  

We did make loads of memories. 

Yes, 2020 was good for lots of reasons. 2

The main lessons I learned were that actually, life did NOT need to be as busy and chaotic as it was and that actually, as long as I have my own wee family safe within my own four walls, then all is right with the world, no matter how frightening the world is.  (I wrote a LOT about our own four walls this year.  I spent a lot of time looking at them I suppose!)

And while I could sit here and wax lyrical about how we must all look at the positives of 2020 and be grateful for this, that and the other, I can not let the year end without acknowledging that it was the hardest, most frightening, confusing, frustrating and heartbreaking fecking year that we have ever faced. 

I am grateful.  I’m so grateful for my family and for health and for work.  And personally, I know so many people who have had too much sadness and hardship to bear this year. I’ve cried with lots of friends (virtually) and like everyone, I’ve had moments of WTF?

 But as always, perspective is key.  I can, and will, only ever speak for ME.

I’ve been afraid.  I’ve been stressed.  I’ve struggled.  I’ve freaked out.  (I’ve had panic attacks about going to do the fricken shopping for God’s sake.)  I’ve spent more hours than I care to remember, looking at my children, terrified that they’re not OK.  I’ve spent hours and hours stressing with my husband about our family business and wondering how many more slaps it can take,  I’ve cried onto my laptop as I tried to figure out a whole new way of trying to do my job, while trying and failing to homeschool my own children. I’ve missed family.  I’ve missed my friends.  I’ve seen my best friend once since March… I’ve been angry.  I’ve been frustrated.  I’ve been sad.  I’ve even been judgemental. Show me someone who at this stage, has NOT given out about someone else’s actions this year (and then send me whatever magic potion they’re using please.)

And yet, tonight as I sit watching the clock tick towards 2021, I can’t help but feel proud.  I’m proud of myself.  I’m proud of my kids. (Kids are amazing!) I’m proud of my husband. I’m proud of every one of my family and friends who have clawed their way through the shitshow that was 2020. 

We made so many memories this year.  We found joy we’d never realised we could find within our four walls and indeed on our own doorsteps.  We’ve been surprised by the things that we’ve missed and the things that we found that, actually, we didn’t miss at all. 

We’ve been torn apart by the ferocity of missing people and being apart from people we love. And yet, we’ve also realised quite abruptly who is important to us and who is, maybe, not.

On top of Muckish Mountain on a rare day out with some of our Rushe Fitness crew last summer.

I can look back through my camera roll tonight and share my “highlights”.  It is filled with photographs of 2020, each one telling a story to anyone who looks at it, and yet each one holds so many memories that no one but us could ever understand. Behind lots of those smiles are a million other emotions. Some of the smiles are real. Some of them are hilarious. And yet, some are frantic and frightened. Some don’t reach the eyes. 

I have looked at some today. They’ve made me smile and laugh. But I won’t be sharing them anywhere. I’m not looking back. I’m too tired to be honest! And so I’m looking forward. I can’t wait for it to be tomorrow so I can close the metaphorical door on a year that I’ve been wishing away since March.

I’m ready for it to be over.  And while I know full well that at midnight tonight, absolutely NOTHING but the date is going to actually change, I am excited for the new year.  Every day will bring us one step closer to getting back to some sort of normality, where 2020 is a distant memory that we talk about and reminisce about. 

So whether you’ve come through 2020 enlightened and empowered and energised, or you’ve skid towards the end, glass in hand, roots to your armpits and a bit delirious, I raise a glass to you tonight and wish you a better and more fablis 2021. 

Give yourself a round of applause.  You made it!

 And no matter what 2021 brings with it, it’s a brand new year that we are at least a bit more ready for than last year. 

From Emmet and the girls and myself, I wish you every best wish for 2021.  May it be filled with brighter days, good health and hugs and smiles that reach your eyes. Love to all. 

Until next year!

Me x

To-Do and Ta-Dah!

It’s Christmas… I keep reminding myself of that.

Personally, it’s been a crappy week. I can’t pretend it hasn’t. I can’t sit here and write upbeat Christmassy inspiration, when I’m a wee bit broken to be honest.💔

Grief and sadness and disbelief engulfed a community that I’m part of, that has always and will always be my other family.

I’ve missed hugs since March, but never more so than this week.

And yet compared to others and what they’re going through this week, I have no right to be sad. No right at all.

As I write this, my list of things I need “to do and get” sits glaring at me. It’s mocking me I think.

It’s like it’s laughing at me, screaming “Hey Ria. Here’s that list of all the things you thought were important and urgent on Monday. Haha! Not so fecking important now are they?”

I feel a bit stupid now that THAT was the list that just a few days ago, I deemed vital.

OK. Maybe not vital, but important. And in fact, the list IS important. It’s mostly food in fairness, but still.

It’s indulgent. It’s mostly superfluous and it’s far from necessary, and yet, this week, I still need to drag myself to the shops to get it.

Because while I might not feel very Christmassy at this moment, it’s still coming and it’s still going to happen. And it’s my job to make it happen in my house.

And so while I KNOW that in the grand scheme of things, the list is nonsense, I’m going to start to tick it off.

I like lists. They make me feel in control. A good list can make me feel organised and accomplished. The strike of a pen through words can grant the illusion of competency.

A list can make me feel like I’ve actually got my shit together, especially in times where I actually, certainly, definitely, do not.

And so this weekend, I’m making my lists, checking them twice, thrice and then a few more times.

And then day by day and step by step, I’m going to tick things off. And maybe, by pretending I’ve got my shit together, it might magically happen.

My very wise friend Mr Porter, posted last week about his “Tah-Dah!” list and I absolutely LOVE it.


I’m going to look at my To-Do list from last week, strike off the stuff that REALLY doesn’t matter and create a new list of the stuff that I DO want/need to do.

My TahDah list!

And every time I strike something off it, I may sing TahDah! In my most Mary-of-the-Poppins voice. Sure why not?

But seriously, Take a look at YOUR list. How many of the things on that list are absolutely necessary and essential? How many of the things on that list could be deleted? How many of the things on that list are adding unnecessary stress to you?

Start ‘tahdahing!’

Whether you’re easing and relaxing into the Christmas festivities calm and full of the joys of the season, or sliding in sideways, a complete train wreck and filled to the brim with worry and chaos, I wish you the best that you can have.

My best and your best don’t need to be the same. And realising that the only person who needs to be happy with YOUR choices this Christmas, is YOU, is honestly and truly the key to contentment.

Hugs to all, especially to all who need one x

A Train to Somewhere Special…

We’re going on da train Mammy.”

“Are we really?”

I do enjoy how much of a novelty the concept of a train is for my kids. Mini-Me will probably GET that ticket for the Hogwarts Express before we see trains in Donegal in fairness.


“Come on Mammy. Get on!”
“Where are we going?” Mammy asks.
“Somewhere special” answers my wee conductor.

The closest my Donegal Babies will get to a train is the Hogwarts Express


She’s turned the sofa into a train, using cushions to create compartments.
Quite frankly, I’m all for any game that involves Mammy getting to sit her arse on the sofa for a bit.

As I grab my cuppa and walk towards the sofa, sorry train, she is putting the passengers into their “carriages”.

“You sit in here Chase, aside Marshall.”

Aw.

She turns to the ponies… “You guys go in here togever.”

She puts two members of a Sylvanian Family of hedgehogs into the last carriage. “You girls go in here…”

I’m about to ask where exactly Mammy is supposed to go, seeing as that all the carriages are now taken by fluffy bottoms.

“Why don’t you put them in beside your PawPatrol…(sorry POP a Troll)… so I can sit in that carriage I ask.”

“Because of Cowona viwis…”

“Sorry what now?”

“COWONA VIWIS… Only bruvers and sisters can be togever Mammy. We can’t mix them up…”

Fuck.

“You sit here.” I plonk myself at the end of the sofa train and watch her jump on the other end and start to “drive” the train, choochoo sound effects and all.

And while she is off in her imagination, on her way to ‘somewhere special’, I sit at the back, a little bit broken that no matter how much I’ve tried to normalise and downplay the effect of this shitstorm on my wee angel, the impact of it and the reality of it is there in front of me, as plain as a big feckin train.

Fuck you very much Corona Virus.

I never did find out where the ‘somewhere special’ was… I suppose I was already there.

My Little Women.

I’m brushing my youngest’s hair and we’re chittering away.

‘You’re my beautiful Baby girl’ I say as I kiss the top of her inexplicably fuzzy head when I’m done.

‘I am not a Baby Mammy. I am FOUR.’ she replies.

‘Yes I know, you’re a big girl…but you’re still my wee baby.’

‘You don’t got no babies no more Mammy…’

Boom.

Slap.

Smash…


There we go.

She’s right of course.

There are no more babies in my house. All evidence of babies has been reduced to smudge marks on walls and a few baby toys which managed to evade my preSanta clear out.

My girls are now “big girls” and I no longer have babies apparently.

At 4 and almost 8, they’re my Little Women.

And while this makes me sad, it makes me happy at the same time.

I love the age that they’re at now. Still so dependent on us, but fully capable of doing things like getting a drink for themselves and getting dressed themselves… (Well. Sometimes!)

I love that when they waken on a Sunday morning, they can play together in the bedroom for an hour before coming near us.

I love that the pram is gone… (literally, it’s in Dublin!) and that there is no longer a need to bring half the house with me when I leave it.

I love the craic we can now have with them; enjoying their company and genuinely having fun as they unleash their personalities onto the world.



And while every age poses its own challenges…(stubborn 4 and emotional almost 8 anyone?), I have to say that this stage of our little family, is enjoyable.

Do I miss them as Babies?

Of course I do.

I look back at photographs and videos of them as newborns and wobblers and toddlers and my heart stops and starts at the same time. It swells with nostalgia and love and pride.

But it also sighs with relief, because while I loved much of the Early Years, there was much about it that I wouldn’t go back to for all the tea in China.

I would have no urge to go back to the blur of the first few months.

(I’m not in the slightest bit broody either before anyone gets excited and throws THAT particular tuppence in. 😂)

I don’t miss very much about the baby phase, except for THEM. My baby children.

Their faces, their hugs, their smells… of course I miss the little voices and first words and mispronounced phrases and funny waddles and baby giggles.

But I enjoyed them while they lasted and now, I’m enjoying the hilarious questions, and little notes on our pillow at night and listening to them play together and random conversations with two little ladies who are trying to make sense of the world.

The pudgy, sticky little arms that used to go around my neck, are now simply longer. (Still sticky sometimes!)

The beautiful blue eyes which used to stare up at me with utter trust and love, stare now with suspicion and curiosity and sometimes with annoyance, but still with trust and love.

Always with trust and love.

Rather than pushing them in front of me, I now walk beside them. Sometimes behind them as they run ahead, exploring the world.

And I am loving every second of it and savouring every second, because this too shall pass and soon, there’ll be a new phase if my Little Women with new challenges and new fun.

They can run ahead all they like.
They can get as tall and big and independent as they like.

I’ll always be right behind them, or beside them, or wherever they need me to be.

So while my Princess was correct, she was also wrong.

Because even when they’re all grown up, they’ll still be my babies.

M x