Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dear Flylady

Dear Flylady....

How can I say Thank You when what I really mean is: You've changed my life - entirely and completely. I am so very, very grateful.
I discovered FLYlady on 15th September 2010. I felt like I had a lot going on in my life.... My beautiful baby girl was 4 months old and was what's commonly known as a "high needs baby".... she seemed to need me every single minute - day and night. I was also working hard on establishing our kitchen business - my (at the time) partner had been made redundant the week our daughter was born so A LOT of energy was being ploughed into preparing our showroom, website, marketing materials, etc...
Add that to the fact we'd combined TWO households of clutter in the months just before our daughter was born, and I thought "routine" was a cuss word. Things were in a mess, and I felt like I was drowning.

I feel so sad now when I think of how much I beat myself up in the first year of my daughters life, about not knowing how to keep a home. I'd feel ashamed everytime anyone came to visit and felt like such a failure when I'd have to send the ironing to my MIL.

But I found your website, and I started to flutter.... slowly at first.... but bit by bit, things began to change.
The first thing I noticed was the light!! The three bedrooms in our home are all at the end of a long hallway, and the doors had always been kept closed in case anyone would see the CHAOS... but using 15 minutes at a time, I began to get to a point where I could leave the doors open without being ashamed, and our home felt bigger and brighter.

As if I didn't have enough to deal with, we decided to get married - and not only that, but to host the wedding ourselves, in a marquee behind our home. I dread to think what it would have been like without FLYlady! I can't say it was stressfree.... I still hadn't got my routines in place, but the principles of decluttering meant that I could manage to get my home ready (although can I admit to 'stashing and dashing' A LOT of stuff in the week before the wedding?!). So in May 2011 I married my DH, and the following day we celebrated our daughters first birthday - over 200 people in my home over 2 days!!! Best of all, with the help of my Mum I was able to leave my home two days later knowing that i didn't have to dread coming home to a mess after our honeymoon!! I was so grateful to you, Flylady, for giving me the skills to create a home I could open the doors too!

It felt great... but i didn't feel like I was flying until September this year when I decided to jump on board with the 'monthly habits'. It co-incided with my reading a book about 'Simplicity Parenting' which helped shift my mindset. Before then I'd believed that trying to create a routine for my daughter was unnecessary and potentially harmful, but your wise words and the wisdom in that book helped me to realise that it didn't have to be rigid and legalistic - it was about creating security for my daughter, and if it helped me out - well that had to be a bonus! At this point, getting my daughter to fall asleep could take HOURS.... it left me frustrated, exhausted, and feeling like a failure - both as a mother, and as a home maker - as it meant that shining the sink every night felt impossible. Whaddya know? Within a week of implementing a (fairly strict) bedtime routine for my little one, she started to fall asleep by 7:30!!! WOW!!!! What a relief that was, after 15 months of bedtime battles!! And so my own evening routine became possible, and my sink was (almost always) shiny when I went to bed.... Knowing how to fall asleep meant she also started to nap at a regular time during the day. WOW WOW WOW!!! Anyone who has a little one who seems to need 24/7 will know what a blessing that is!! All of a sudden I could manage to keep up with my ironing too!

It feels to me as if it was just in time..... just before that I had hit a real low, and admitted to my husband and mum that I regretted having my daughter. I'd suffered from depression in the past, and felt as if I was being overwhelmed by it again, but having a routine meant that I could get more rest, and take care of yourself. Part of the healing is reading your loving words in the daily digest every morning before i get out of bed. I've realised that i am worth taking care of too - and so in the last weeks i've started to do things that I enjoy! like cooking different recipes (I have a lamb, borlotti bean & tomato casserole in the crock pot at the minute that smells *really* good!), scrapbooking, and most importantly for me, getting outside every single day into the fresh air and getting some exercise!

I'm very blessed in my life to have my Mum, who is a childminder and so can care for my daughter two days per week - that time means I can work on our business, and bless our home weekly. I consider myself equally blessed to have found you - you've taught me how to create a home that I can be proud of. A home that is clean, and fresh and can be filled with good food, family and friends - without shame. Without your help, I believe that depression may have sucked me under, and robbed my daughter of the fun, loving Mum I want to be to her.

Today I am sitting in a home that is not perfect.... but it is clean. All of our living space is free of clutter, and I have been able to bless so many people and charities with what I've flung. Best of all, I now believe that I will be able to cope when (God willing), our family grows - I wouldn't have been able to face going through it again if things hadn't changed!!

A while back, you asked for tips on FLYing with a baby / toddler. Here's my summary of how I've made this work for me through these times

FLYing with a baby....
- Don't use a timer to beat yourself up with.
My daughter used to nap for sometimes only 20-30 minutes at a time and I'd get frustrated with myself when I didnt' get to finish my 7 or 15 minutes.... so, to be kind to myself, as soon as she fell asleep I'd set the timer for 15 minutes 'me time' - to sit and have a cup of tea in peace, or to just switch off from the constant demands. The rest of her nap time I'd try and declutter or do daily missions - but I stopped beating myself up that, at this time in my life, the timer didn't really work for me. When my baby needs me, she needs me.

- Don't try to do it all yourself
Your kind words helped me to accept that I'm not a failure because i can't do everything. I was letting my ironing pile up higher and higher believing I *should* be able to get to it. Instead I realised that other people like to be able to help when they can see someone struggling, and so instead I started to do a load of laundry every day and send my daughter and husbands clothes to my MIL to be ironed (she doesn't mind!). I'm proud that now I don't need to - but I've promised myself that I will let her help again if we are blessed with another child. In the early weeks and months I'll also ask somebody else to do my weekly home blessing. People always ask "is there anything I can do to help" - and know I'll know what to tell them, and won't be ashamed to have them open any door in the house!

- Zone your house for visitors
If clutter is an issue and stops a room from ever feeling company ready, then start off by dealing with the rooms your guests will be in. People love to visit babies!! and so I often had people calling I didn't know very well.... If the kitchen, bathroom and hallway were clear then I didn't have to panic when the doorbell rang

- Be ruthless with gifts
I have just today (in the childs bedroom 27 fling boogie!) decluttered several items from on top of her wardrobe which were given as new baby and Christening gifts. If you don't need or love something, either return it to the store (if you can) for a credit note, or pass it on to bless somebody else. This is especially true with childrens clothes. We were incredibly grateful that several people donated bags of their own childrens clothes but i allowed myself to drown in them in the early months before i learnt it was okay just to keep what we need/what suits our taste, and pass the rest on right away.

My tips for FLYing with a toddler

- Get them involved
My LO loves being given a damp rag to clean and dust when I am doing it, she's got a mini washing up bowl and sponge and she gets to play with water in her high chair after dinner while I clear up, and her favourite thing to do is load laundry into the machine!! "Make it fun (for them) and it will get done (slowly.... but with a lot less of a fight for you!"

- Simplify their toys
This really became an issue for us after her first birthday, when she received so many gifts. Even when I'd tidy up, there were so many toys everywhere that it never looked clutter free. And the book I mention above helped me to realise that toys can be clutter too! On their advice I took 3/4 of her toys away and put them into storage - she didn't miss them at all!! My daughter now has one cupboard in each room (kitchen and two living rooms) - and no more. We're going to do another fling pre-Christmas to ensure that the clutter doesn't build back up. She actually plays BETTER now and her concentration span increased almost the minute the excess toys were gone!!

- Create routines that involve everyone
Up until we began to stick to a routine, I did everything myself - partly because it wasn't clear in my head what needed done. Once I knew what needed done, it was easier to share that with my husband. After dinner we BOTH clear up, and he feeds the critters (one dog, two goats, three cats and four ducks!) whilst i bath the LO, I dress her for bed and nurse her, and then we take it night about to put her to sleep. Would you believe that up until we created a routine I had done every single bedtime myself?! (apart from the nights when I was at my very wits end and left her with my Mum!)

- Zone your house for playing
Your child does not always need to be able to play in every room of the house. Instead of always keeping every door open - and having to clear toys out of every room, every night - I now keep the door closed to the front living room so it is always company ready for weekends. Most of the time I keep the door closed to the playroom too, so it's always fresh and tidy for playdates, etc. If your child has enough space in one or two rooms then keep them there! and you'll only need to tidy toys away in that one room at the end of the day

Friday, 7 October 2011


I'm feeling tired today...
My nose is stuffed up, my head feels heavy and I was awake for most of the night

It's frustrating to feel this way today: I had so many intentions for the time when Rose was away, but I feel it's been wasted. Realistically - at least I got the Christmas gifts organised and packed away so they're no longer cluttering up the dining room, and I got the nappies washed and hung up, along with doing some paperwork for the business

I would have liked to have done my weekly home blessing - and I can't decide whether to be annoyed with myself for procrascinating or to give myself a break...I've been doing so well lately with keeping on top of the housework that it feels like a backwards step to have missed a day. I still have the possibility of doing it tomorrow morning - but I know it's unlikely when I'm on my own with Rose all day.

I've had a very positive week, in the main - I got the VAT return done, got some personal paperwork organised, and some decluttering done. I've had two 'settling in' sessions with the child I'm going to childmind - and that's gone well. Yesterday I was feeling pretty positive too - treated myself to a haircut, and even made the extra effort to stay up later so that I could go to bed with my husband for a change!

That may have something to do with my ambivalence today...In my heart I feel like our family is ready for another baby. I'd love to have that feeling again (not the morning sickness, perhaps... but the magic of seeing and feeling a life grow within me), and I feel like it would be a gift that Rose seems ready for - especially after seeing how beautifully she 'shared' me when the other little boy was here.

In my head I'm scared - my pregnancy was so difficult the first time around, and I like to hope I'll be able to manage my symptoms better this time, but I'm scared of sacrificing the pleasure I can take in Rose's toddlerhood. I'm nervous too about going back into the black hole that was Rose's first year. Rationally, I know it won't be the same. For one thing, I've already made that massive psychological jump to being a Mother. First time around I had a hard time reconciling my 'ideal' of motherhood with the reality of it... so in a way I feel as if I'd be going into it with my eyes opened.

On a practical level, I'm probably better equipped now than I was pre-Rose. FLYlady has transformed the way I manage my home, and so I hope that by using those routines I could maintain a home environment I want to be in!

Added to which the business is slightly more established now, so shouldn't really be as intensive as it was during Rose's early months. I'll still have responsibilities, and still need to support my husband - but there shouldn't be so much physical effort on my part.

In the end though, it's out of my hands. We've DTD and the rest, really, is in God's hands. All that i can do is pray for His will to be done - whether that's the arrival next year of a little Daniel or Lucy, or if it is another year or so dedicated to growing alongside my precious Rose.

What would I do differently, if we were to be blessed with another baby?
I won't stress about where the little one goes to sleep, or if they self settle or not - I intend to fully research my options for baby carriers (as opposed to just physically carrying Rose in my arms all the time!) and I'll co-sleep full time from the start instead of all the tears I shed cot-side as I tried and tried and tried to teach her to sleep on her own without letting her cy (what was I thinking!!!!! How could I have expected something that is so contradictary to infant nature!!!)

I'll ask for help: perhaps ask somebody to come weekly to maintain the basic cleanliness of the house, let MIL do hubbys washing, invite people to come for - and cook - dinner, instead of trying to do it all myself and hating myself when I felt I'd failed.

I'll understand that it is an achievement to get through each day with two happy little people. and I'll remind myself often that it is up to me to be happy too.

I know I'll miss the times I had with Rose - a second baby will never get the same attention the first one did, inevitably. When I think back, it seems like the start of the most intense love affair... spending full days curled up in bed together, watching her just revelling in the comfort of being close to her mama... the sensuality of that beautiful baby soft skin... kissing the tiny toes... watching her breathing, and her eyelids fluttering while she slept.....
How can I contemplate feeling the same way about somebody else? When she is still the truest, most perfect love I've known?

oh well.... I guess I won't know for a while how that will pan out... it's all in God's hands.

Friday, 30 September 2011

My marriage

As a little girl, I dreamt of the Perfect Husband... I would be the Perfect Wife, and together we would live in a beautiful home and raise our Perfect children.

Instead, since having our beautiful daughter, I've found myself being JEALOUS! of single mothers!! A man who was in our home yesterday was telling us he'd split up from the mother of his child, but that he looked after his daughter four nights a week..... wow!! what would I give for those nights off at the minute!!

I imagined having a third less laundry; no newspapers lying around; not having to think about what to feed him everyday!; not to have to entertain his friends when they call in the evenings;
Now since I've been cutting myself a bit of slack lately, and allowing myself to be not so perfect after all, I thought it only fair to allow my husband the same leeway so i've been thinking...

Instead of being sad that he rarely says 'I Love You', I'm trying to be thankful everytime he says 'I'll do it', or 'Let me help', or even 'How are you'?

Instead of sighing that he never buys me flowers, I'll remember it's more useful that he brings home milk and fresh bread, and always asks when he's going out if he can bring anything home from the shop.

We may not share many romantic candlelit dinners, but we're both committed to family dinnertimes every day, and; even better! he gives Rose her breakfast most days so I can dress in peace

We don't often for romantic walks together like me & my Perfect Husband would have... but he takes our little girl out on his lawnmower, or to visit her grandparents, or to feed the ducks... and that's the sweetest thing :)

We may not have sex as often as i would like (did I mention, once I got a bit older, I always expected to have lots of Perfect Sex with my Perfect Husband?), but he rubs my feet when I'm tired in the evening, and shares big family hugs and cuddles at bedtime. He doesn't even mind that I've been sharing a bed with our daughter for 16 months instead of with him! (okay, okay... so Perfect Husband would perhaps have bought a bigger bed so we all slept together...oh, and Perfect Husband would like sex in the mornings, and afternoons too instead of believing it can only be done in bed, at night... but I'm not meant to be thinking about Mr Perfect, am I? lol)

Yes, I'd love to be able to send Rose to "her Dads" and have a night or two off.... but I'd miss both of them pretty quickly I'm sure!

He may be irritating at times, but he wasn't around who'd cut the lawn? and take the car to the mechanic? and feed the animals (that *I* wanted) when it was raining?

In the last 30 months, I've supported him through a heartbreaking divorce (his wife left him months before I met him); We've conceived a child together; I left my job, he lost his; for 9 months he carried me ice pops and flat pepsi when I was sick and pregnant. He was there - holding me up - when I gave birth to our baby. With blood, sweat and tears we've started a business and built a life.

We share a business, a home, a child, four ducks, three cats and a dog.

We were two sad, lonely, searching people and now we're a family. and if he's not Perfect? well neither am I. And on reflection? it looks like he's perfect for me.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Why do I feel I have to justify my time spent on myself?
In an effort to be a happier and better balanced Mama I'm trying to make more of an effort to do the things that used to bring me comfort and pleasure... but it's hard to justify sitting at the computer talking to yourself, about yourself, when there is so much else to be done.

Today has been one of those pretty hectic days....
drop Rose at the childminder, pick up groceries and run errands, call with a neighbour who needs some help at the minute, washing away, groceries away, paperwork, phonecalls, tax credits to sort out.... Despite the fact that I have been busy from 8am this morning through until 4pm I still feel like I've achived very little, and no matter how much you do it seems as if there's always more to be done.

Sometimes I feel like I need a pressure valve at the back of my neck to let off steam!! After a very busy day I'm looking forward to giving my girl a cuddle when she comes through the door, but I just wish I could guarantee a peaceful family evening instead of frustration and impatience. The worst part of it is that I realise how irrational my feelings are at the moment, but feel helpless to stop them.

Yes... Rose is going to say NO a million times between getting home and going to sleep, but it's a phase!! She's just figuring out her own will and really, I'm very blessed to have such an intelligent, determined girl.... it just gets wearing sometimes. I want to always be ready with kisses and cuddles. I want a family full of fun and laughter.. I just don't know how to get there when I feel so exhausted all the time.

On the plus side, we're having stir fry tonight.... Oh how it makes me laugh to watch my girl with her noodles :) One of life's little pleasures that i have to remember to count!!

So in the interests of good mental health ;) here's my blessing list for the day

I am blessed: to have the resources and knowledge to feed my family well; to have a safe family home where we can eat and share together and know we are safe; to have a beautiful, healthy, funny daughter; to have hot water so we can share a splashy bath together; to have access to wonderful stories to share with my girl; to have heat, and light, and comfort in our home.

I am blessed that my daughter falls asleep everynight with her mama or daddy beside her, and as a result she knows beyond doubt how loved and precious she is. I am blessed to have access to information to support my views, and a family who support me in what i believe in - even if they think it's a bit kooky!

I am blessed that once my daughter is sleeping, I have a husband who loves me, and cares for our family, and to be able to go and cuddle on the sofa and get my feet rubbed might not feel like much, but those are the moments that glue us together.

I am blessed to have good friends, so that tomorrow we will have lots of fun and laughter

I'll be even more blessed if I get off my butt now and make the most of the last hour before Rose gets home from the childminders, so that I can bless us all with a clean home!! Timer at the ready.... it's time for Home Blessing Hour.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Hello! Who are we?


Let me introduce myself.

I'm Katy. I'm 26 years old, and since May 22nd 2010 I have been getting to know my wonderful little girl, Rose

Over these 16 months she has been my centre, but as she gets a little older and begins to move into independence, its time to find myself again. Two weeks ago I admitted to those closest to me that I was struggling with depression.

It's a battle that plagued my teenage years, but with the use of CBT and self help techniques I overcame it - and this time round I realised that as soon as acknowledged my feelings I already had the tools to manage it.

Not only that, I remembered that I believe we all need to be mindful of ourselves, and to consciously keep growing. So I hope to use this blog to consciously grow as a person, and learn from my daughter as she does the same.