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New Year, New Blog

And so, having been swallowed by Christmas and poorly kids for a couple of weeks, I find myself at the end of 2017. With that must come the end of this blog, as it has already lasted a month longer than planned.

A few final thoughts, however - because I’m not actually capable of shutting up. Ever.

Firstly, please consider ‘giving back’ in 2018. It makes you feel good, or in Big Words: the positive effects on your mental health are well documented. If you get involved with a charity that has touched your life in some way, you are likely to find a tribe of people Just Like You, whether that’s SEN parents, cancer survivors, anti-suicide campaigners or whatever else is relevant to you or your family and friends. And if this blog has shown you anything, it should show you that you can be sponsored to take on any crazy challenge you can think up. Think of something your friends wouldn’t expect you to do, then do it. Or call your favoured charity and ask if you can help in some practical way…
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The ADD-vance Community

So, it turns out you readers are a lovely lot and met my previous honest post with honest messages of your own. How is it that we all have so many hidden wounds and carry so much guilt about things that were never our fault -- like, say, postnatal depression? I can only hope we sort ourselves out for the next generation of Mums, and that the difficult conversations become the norm, and that no future parent is turned away or dismissed when they ask for help. I do actually believe that blogging Mums are making headway here, as nobody can shut them (/us) up, and all it takes to share reflections is a click on a facebook page. It's a powerful community.

Which leads me neatly back to ADD-vance, which has become a powerful community for SEN Mums in Hertfordshire, all thanks to one Mum who didn't want anyone to be as alone or unsupported as she was when her son was diagnosed. (That's Anne Ross, who still runs ADD-vance, 21 years on, and who deserves every medal going.)  Before t…

After the End: ADD-vance, Honesty and Community

So last Friday was the 1st of December, marking the end of my 90-day drought, and I may have had a drink or two to celebrate! A few friends from ADD-vance came over, and a lovely lady with a big bag of skincare products. (Laura from Arbonne, if you’re interested! Very lovely indeed and another who has used ADD-vance services.) With my kids duly threatened and bribed, I had the kind of chatty evening-at-home-with-friends-and-make-up-and-wine that I haven’t had since, well, the early 90s. If you take out the girlie pampering bit, I need only track back seventeen years to August 2000, when my husband was away for his Stag Do and a select group of friends came for an all-female slightly tipsy sleepover. Either way, I was overdue a girls’ night at home.

The 90 days of my challenge have flown by, especially the last week. There’s so much still to say about ADD-vance, about self-care and about the mind-shift I’ve experienced just by making one small change to my lifestyle.

What I have realis…

Day, erm, Almost-the-End: ADD-vance and Not Blaming the Parent

I've just realised how close I am to the end of my 90-day challenge, and would like to write my last few blog posts about the ways that The ADD-vance ADHD and Autism Trust -- the beneficiary of the sponsorship for my challenge -- offers support to families like mine. Because when I first encountered ADD-vance, the idea of self-care was laughable. Did these people not understand that I spent part of my days restraining a violent child and much of the rest of it dealing with wounds or wreckage or the anxieties of two other children? Had they no concept of how hard it is just to get three SEN kids into clothes every morning when two are dyspraxic and one spends the larger part of his life upside-down or in mid-air? Did they not know that I had zero seconds to myself, and that even when the kids were in class, I was in meetings at school or on the phone trying to persuade local services to offer us some 'service'?

Turns out they did get all that. That they had all gone through…

Day 74: The Alcohol Thing

Greetings all, from the survivor of another Big Family Occasion without a drink!
When I started this blog, I imagined I would be posting every day to moan about the difficulties of parenting without Pimms (or gin, or wine, etc.). But you know what? After a few weeks and a major investment in herbal tea, alcohol barely crossed my mind. And the longer I went without it, the less I thought about it. Until 1 November, that is.
With a month to go, the possibility of drinking suddenly seems close again. And indeed, I am having some close friends over on 1 December, and I have planned my first (and possibly only) drink for that night. (Prosecco with a splash of strawberry gin liqueur, if you are interested.) (It's as good as it sounds.) With that image in my mind, suddenly everybody else's glasses of wine seem like something possible for me, rather than just part of my life I've shut down. I've had many people suggest that I 'simply' drink on special occasions or on c…

Day 71: ‘Tis the season...

Let me list a few things that disturb The Cat:

A long build-up to an exciting eventSchool being ‘different’Being asked to singSurprises (e.g. presents)Large family gatherings Music that he hasn’t pre-approvedMummy singing along to anything at all, or even hummingCandlesUnfamiliar smells, like, say, a tree indoorsCooking smellsAny strong smell (with the bizarre exception of the little boy wee smell that he leaves on bathroom floors and walls)Changes in routineSitting at a table for more than ten minutesNoisy chatter or laughterLoud bangs (from, say, a cracker)Seeing girls (e.g. his kind, beautiful, little girl cousin)Food other than pizza, salmon or sausages Going places he has to wear clothesCake that isn't chocolateTalking to anyone other than Mummy, The Dog or The FriendMummy talking to anyone other than himThinking about anything other than Pokemon, Greek mythology or Minecraft And a few of The Dog’s dislikes: Weeks where his sports are cancelled Getting wet/cold socks on the tra…

Day 62: Freedom and The Falling-Apart Car

Greetings all!

I can't quite believe that it's ten days since I blogged - and at the same time it's entirely logical, as this blog is about self-care, and I've been the last person on my own mind for, well, about ten days. I am determined to refocus while chaos rains down around me, like some kind of Zen Master transported to the child-infested suburbs. If that fails, I'll settle for a cup of tea and finding one thing to remove from the house each day, as per my decluttering challenge.
One complication in life recently has been the near-death of our beloved Ford Galaxy. This may seem a very odd topic for a blog, but I love our car for many reasons and faced with the fear of losing it. I've realised how much our various decisions about the car tell us about our lives and our priorities over the last decade or so.
When we found out we were expecting not one but two new babies, I emerged from about three months of shock and denial to start tackling the logistics. …