#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 11

Date: 11 June 2020

Miles today: 13.1

Windsor Castle

Total miles: 145.9

Highlight of the run: Despite weather forecast, we miraculously managed to stay dry on yesterday’s and today’s run. I actually enjoy running in the rain, my child less so.

I ❤🍕

Day 11 and I’m losing it. It’s like my entire world consists of running, thinking about running, talking about running, planning runs, rolling on a foam roller and listening to Baby Shark. Yes, that’s correct. Baby Shark. Dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo. My son is normally very lively, so he knows he can have and do anything that will keep him happy and still in the running buggy. So when he requests to watch a one hour (one hour!!!) YouTube video with Baby Shark on repeat, who am I to say no?

Apologies if you expected a daily dose of running wisdom. There isn’t any. Apart from the obvious – do NOT listen to Baby bloody Shark for an hour straight. Just don’t. Because if you do, dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo… 🦈

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 8

Date: 08 June 2020 (over half way there so can put my feet up)

Miles today: 13.13

Total miles: 106.4

Highlight of the run: Wearing my Slough half marathon t-shirt while taking four Slough Strava segments (with buggy obviously). Gotta show the town who rules it! 😆👑

This morning, it took me a while to figure out what day it is and how many half marathons I have left to do. They all start to blur together. I am dreading to see another Strava notification and cannot be bothered to even start thinking about tomorrow’s route. Nahhh, just kidding!! I thought I would be over it by now but still loving it. Only just took a shower after my run but am already thinking about where shall I head tomorrow – excited! It never gets boring and never gets old. Even my little monster starts each day with pointing at the buggy saying it’s “Derry new running buggy” and mummy has “ouchie legs” but we will go running regardless. 😆 If I could teach my child only one thing, it would be that he needs to get out and see the world…and nature will then teach him the rest.

Happy running everyone, and thanks for reading! You can always sponsor my blog and my running here.

Grand Union Canal (Slough arm)

Armageddon Diaries: 30 March 2020

I have spent the past week and half on annual leave (that’s correct – I have wasted seven days of my leave in a lockdown). Today was my first day back in the “real” world – in the world where we have to work from home while taking care of our children at the same time. I mean like “what???”

I am a single parent of an almost-2-yr-old darling (read “little sh!t”) whom I love with my whole heart and more. I normally struggle coping with him at weekends because he needs entertainment every waking minute and can sit still for about 45 seconds at a time. So when I was told I would work from home while taking care of my son, I nodded the same way I would nod if someone told me they had been abducted by aliens.

This morning I woke up all charged up and determined to do it. By 9:30 am during a video meeting my child was quite literally climbing onto me using my hair to pull himself up. At 9:45 he became very quiet and finally entertained himself. I suspected he might be in the bathroom drinking toilet bleach. When the meeting was over a few minutes later, the bleach was untouched but I found black permanent marker drawings on the furniture. They will go well with the chocolate hand prints on the walls and miniature tyre marks on the doors.

Finally, we got to nap time which meant I can get some work done. It took me 45 mins to send him to sleep, but it was totally worth it as he slept for whole 16 minutes. Out of my work day he spent about 30% time squeaking, howling and throwing himself onto the floor.

Going mad towards the end of the day, I donned a blonde curly wig for the wide team meeting. Losing my fear of embarrassing myself, I have won some sort of “best coffee mug” competition, only thank to my wig, having no coffee mug handy.

Now here I am at the end of the day, only just starting to actually work, thinking “How will I keep this up for another two or more months?”

How?

I haven’t got a clue.

Even my own mother who has got a PhD in pedagogy wanted my advice on this because apparently she gets asked that question all the time.

My advice to her was:

You know when Jesus was on the cross and he got offered wine but refused? Well, parents homeschooling their little ones while trying to work from home are essentially hanging on their own crosses. The wine offered to Jesus was intended as a type of painkiller. You are in pain. My advice is: take the wine! You need to take the edge off the pain, so please do whatever it takes – exercise, wine, chocolate, kicking the wall… whatever it takes. Because you need to stay sane – because you don’t want to snap and scream at your children – because you don’t want to be unkind – because you cannot lose your sense of humour. So do whatever works for you, no matter what it is, because all is fair in love and war 😉

And how’s your new year’s resolution going?

24th January. Most of you have given up on dry January. (Luckily the dry January idea never even crossed my mind.) I am still going strong on my new year’s resolution, partially inspired by the tragic events of New Year’s Eve.

It’s Friday evening. 8:30 pm. I just stopped working. Those who know me can confirm that this is about an hour earlier than my usual “close of play”. The washing machine cycle has finished and I am not taking the laundry out. Instead I am sitting on my sofa with my feet up. TV off. Music on full blast. I haven’t done this for years.

I have been on an autopilot for the past two years (the never ending cycle of work and parenting) and only now I am starting to learn how to be alive again. How to dream. How to feel. How to listen to the butterflies in my stomach – to the butterflies I thought were long gone.

So I guess this is a message to all you busy people: Stop! Stop using the “being busy” excuse as a reason why you don’t think about your feelings, your desires, your pain, your memories, you future hopes and aspirations. Take a breath. Look around. Be human again.

It’s 24th January and I am learning to walk again and making baby steps towards becoming the person I used to be.

How to cope with a heavy workload: a guide for working mums

In my previous post I talked about mums who have it all. Clearly, the “all” doesn’t come easy so an ambitious mum probably finds herself in a busy job, just like mine. Mine is busy, borderline overwhelming, and I love it. I can cope because I have developed my own way of dealing with the demands of my role. Here is my guide:

  • Come to work early to get some work done before everyone comes in and starts chatting. Or stay in late.
  • Get up early to “pre-work” and go through your unread emails.
  • If someone is talking about a task or a process that does not affect you and that you don’t need to know about, don’t listen. If you do, your brain will get overloaded. Cover your ears and sing “lalalala”.
  • Find some time to relax each evening. Have some wine.
  • When you think you can’t cope with your workload, ask yourself: “Am I or anyone else going to die if I don’t complete this on time?” (If the answer is yes, you better have it done. Chop chop!)

  • Have some wine.
  • Instruct your kids to do chores so you have more time. I trained my 19 months old to do practically everything from loading and unloading the washing machine, to dusting and tidying up his toys. I mean they came out of your inside, so you have every right to make them work for you for the rest of your life.
  • Ditch the husband if he’s not being supportive.
  • Have wine.
  • Maintain a structured to-do list with clear priorities. Don’t use paper as you will loose track. (I personally love my One Note that is auto-saved and backed up on our company’s cloud.)
  • Walk into every meeting with a question “Do you really need me here?” If not, pack up and leave.
  • Have wine.
  • Work from home because it saves you a great amount of time you would otherwise spend travelling to/from work.
  • Have wine.
  • Love your job and your team. If you don’t, you are doomed.
  • Have more wine.

And that’s pretty much it. Finally, I would like to add that mums are excellent workers in general because they have high tolerance for chaos, are used to living on the edge and always adapt to everchanging priorities (“Mum, I know I asked for one and half egg omelette with heart-shaped ham and two cherry tomatoes of exactly the same size, but I just changed my mind and need a Mickey Mouse shaped fresh cream cake with rainbow sprinkles for my dinner.”)

The Mum who has it all

I’m sure plenty of people go / went through the process of deciding whether to have kid(s). One of the arguments not to, is the general perception that you can’t have it all. So if you have a child, you have to sacrifice other aspects of your life. Especially as a single mum. You simply can’t be a good parent, bring home the bacon, have an actual career going on and look good. It’s impossible. Or so they say.

But those who know me, understand that there is no limit to my stubbornness and determination. So I decided I will have it all. My @Derrys_Diary is 18 months old. I am slimmer than ever and this year I ran 5K, 10K and half-marathon PBs which suggest I am fitter than before I had a baby. I got a new job while still on maternity leave, and five months later I successfully got into another new job that is proving to be the perfect role for me. Besides finally having flexibility, I am able to use the creative as well as logical part of my brain, within an industry I am passionate about and in a company I adore. It is a dream come true.

Yes, my little one has to stay nine and half hours a day in a nursery but I swear to you – for both him and me this is more beneficial than spending 24/7 in each other’s company. He gets the opportunity to play with his peers, learn some social skills and experience all the songs, messy art sessions and similar things that are just not my thing. At the same time, while he is in the nursery I have an opportunity to be me – as a professional, not as a mother. Win-win. I believe this makes me a better parent indeed, because I seem to have more patience for his little toddler dramas and tantrums.

It would be delusional to deny that there are sacrifices to be made pretty much on a daily basis, but to me they are just little trade-offs rather than massive life-limiting sacrifices. So this is a message to those who are told that their life is about to be totally over and to those who blame the lack of career and/or exercise on being a parent. It is possible! It is possible to have it all providing you find the motivation and flexibility – because as they rightly say “if there is a will, there is a way”. Always. And I am a living proof of that.

Shall I train my baby like a dog?

Have you watched “Train Your Baby Like a Dog” on Channel 4 last the other night? No? You should have!

This show has caused a huge outrage and there is even a petition going around to cancel it. Apparently, it’s dehumanising and indefensible. Yes, using a dog clicker (which appeared to be a tiny tiny tiny fraction of this parenting strategy) is not a traditional approach to parenting.

I am thinking of all the parents who have to suffer through tantrums of their naughty little devils and through sleepless nights full of screams – parents who I’m sure applied all traditional methods of parenting. If you were one of them, wouldn’t you try just about anything to make your child behave? I certainly would.

So before signing a petition to cancel Train Your Child Like a Dog, maybe we should consider signing a petition to ban other reality shows like for example….uhmmm… Love Island. Or Batchelor. Because to me these shows seem more dehumanising and indefensible than a programme about making your child well-behaved and happy.

And actually, if you did watch the show – it was really about kids’ happiness and about fulfilling their needs, because their undesirable behaviour was proven to stem from their needs (attention, safety and security) not being fulfilled. To me, the show was extremely insightful! No, I won’t be shopping for a dog cliker anytime soon, but if I was really really desperate I would certainly consider it. Feel free to judge me 🙂

Don’t put your child in a box

Last Sunday I was getting ready to head out to my local supermarket for a quick essentials shop (nappies and prosecco). 16 months old @Derrys_Diary insisted on taking along a TV remote control. I said no. Because you simply don’t take TV remotes out. It’s something people don’t do.

Then I thought to myself: People generally don’t take remote controls out for a walk. But people often lie, are unkind, don’t care about people, spread gossip and judge others. That’s what people do do.

So why should I force “the rules of this world” onto my little one? Why should I teach him that status quos are not to be challenged? Why should I tell him what’s normal and what’s strange? Yes, taking a remote control out to shops is definitely outside the box, but isn’t an “out of the box” way of thinking associated with society’s high achievers, big minds and influencers?

So, why would I force my child to stay in the box? Yes, I do have responsibility to teach him right and wrong in the moral context, but otherwise – screw the box!

We wandered through the isles of Tesco Extra, him clenching his Sky TV remote, happy as Larry because as far as he knew the remote control gave him the power to have a say in the future world and make his own choices.

Happy birthday to Mummy!

Yesterday it was my birthday! Yay! 15 months old @Derrys_Diary got up at 5:20 am to celebrate. Shortly afterwards, he scattered crushed cheerios all over sofa (first breakfast) and rubbed yogurt into his hair (second breakfast). Then he started banging on neighbours’ wall (to celebrate my birthday of course) before deciding he’s hungry some more. So instead of making myself a cup of coffee, I cooked him a puree of apples, nectarines and carrots, and he went ballistic because it took four and half minutes to cool it down.

At 8 am, when I got tired of him hitting his head with an empty cereal bowl and using the wifi router as a football, I dispatched him to the nursery where he had a meltdown because they already stopped serving breakfast and he was incredibly hungry.

At 8:30 am I was already exhausted and opened a bottle of prosecco. More prosecco followed in my local Wetherspoon’s (posh!) accompanied by a £5.95 burger and neverending depressing statements from @Derrys_Diary dad who was leaving on a jet plane in a few hours time. Later on at home when I attempted to get some birthday attention (i.e. a snog), he started clipping his nails behind my back while hugging me. And they say romance is dead.

As soon as he left for the airport I rushed to my local pub for a drink with the girls. When I arrived, the bar manager wished me a happy birthday and pointed at prepared bottle of prosecco and pre-chilled glasses. He refused to tell me who arranged and paid for it, and I for a brief moment hoped that the mysterious person was a handsome thoughtful guy with an athletic body shape and an above average IQ. Obviously, it wasn’t Him, and the “secret admirer” turned out to be one of my girl friends (thanks Noels!).

I left my birthday session 1 hour and 47 minutes later as I had to do a Tesco run before collecting my hungry child from the nursery. After countless tantrums and dramas, I sent him to bed, tidied up his toys, put the laundry on and washed the dishes, before collapsing onto my bed and falling asleep at about 9pm.

Yes, on my birthday I did wish for flowers and heart-shaped chocolates and actual gifts (ideally jewelerry or spa treatment vouchers) wrapped in glittery paper and fancy ribbons. At the same time, I could not possibly be unhappy, neither disappointed, because looking at the face of my little @Derrys_Diary, I knew I had no right to ever wish for anything else in my life, because I do already have the one thing that really matters.

The mum in control

First day at work. Sitting on a toilet. Having a mild panic attack about all the parenting-related things that have gone wrong, will go wrong and are probably going wrong right now, without me even knowing. About all the things that might have gone wrong and might still possibly go wrong. I have only a few minutes until an important meeting and I’m staring at my phone, expecting the nursery to call me that I need to pick up my #babysupervillain asap because he has a fever or chicken pox or conjunctivitis or diarrhoea or all at once… It’s quite overwhelming and I’m trying not to cry because I’m sure the people in the meeting would notice. Suddenly, a message comes through from a friend I haven’t been in touch with for about a decade.

She says she read my blog and admires how I’m on top of everything. Apparently she’s doing an awful job at being a mum. And apparently I have it under control. As if!

My Instagram account is packed with happy photos of me and my little man, because I’m just not going to post cry-selfies from our HQ restroom. Besides, I have very little patience for people moaning on social media about how tough their life is. Everyone’s life is tough in one way or another. I thought we (the society) were long past the social media happy image of perfect life and stuff. We all know it is either fake – or considerate (because you don’t want to unload your s**t on your followers). My Instagram is full of happy photos not because I’m finding parenting as peaceful as a stroll through spring meadows, but because I want to share positivity and happiness. Which doesn’t mean that positivity and happiness is all I encounter.

So here is my message to everyone who thinks I’m on top of things and to every mum/dad who doubts their parenting skills: In any given situation, all you can do is your best. And if you do just that, you ARE doing a great job! Look at me – I’m winging pretty much everything in life. In my previous job, I was in charge of an aircraft cabin full of people. There were so many aspects and variables that I couldn’t possibly be on top of everything, and trying to be in constant control would have resulted in major anxiety. To stay sane, I simply focused on doing my very best in any given situation and it worked because my plane never went down (yay), no one ever died on my watch (well, just once but it wasn’t my fault) and my customers were happy.

So how does this apply to motherhood? The priority number one is to keep your child alive – so you’re already winning. Anything else in addition to that is a bonus. And if you personally are functioning as a sometimes-independent entity with washed hair you are truly on fire! If you are doing the best you can, you are doing the same amazing job as all the social media happy-perfect mums. Trust me, I’m one of them and I’m telling you – I’m just winging it 😉