Miscellany

Emerging from the cocoon

I love this time of year. Living in a place like Canberra, you can literally feel and witness the turning of the seasons. About a month ago, I could feel the onset of spring on my skin. The way the breeze wouldn’t chill me through to my bones, but rather just brush against me with enough coolness to raise goosebumps. I couldn’t feel the harshness of the outside air in my lungs anymore, the way it seems to burn during the worst of winter. The air smelled different, more lush and full.

 

20150909_165247 The camellias at our front door are in full bloom – they’re about 3 times as heavy with flowers now as they were when I took this photo a couple of weeks ago!

 

We’ve had a glorious start to spring in this part of the country, weather-wise. I can’t quite believe it, but we’re expecting summer-like temperatures this weekend. I almost don’t know what to do with that, there are so many possibilities and so many things I want to be doing! After the winter that we’ve had, we need to be doing things – outside and together.

I’ve written before about the spell that spring puts over me, and it’s doing it again. I can feel motivation and energy returning. I feel uplifted and hopeful for what the remainder of the year will bring. We have no plans, but plans will be made. I want to spend time with friends, having fun and laughing. I want to go on weekend road trips to visit family interstate. I want to experiment with new knitting patterns. I want to find myself having spontaneous picnics in the sun with my family. I want to walk in the bushland surrounding the city, listening to the sounds of the earth meeting my footsteps. I want to spend time in my garden, kicking a ball with my children, and lazing around on picnic blankets and reading in the sun.

Mostly, I just want to breathe deeply, and laugh, and feel the sun on my skin again.

 

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Miscellany

Tips for dealing with insomnia naturally

I’ve always had issues with sleep, as long as I can remember. My issue hasn’t been getting to sleep in the first place, it’s been staying asleep and getting back to sleep after waking.  It tends to happen to me in bouts. I’ll be sleeping quite well, then all of a sudden a phase of sleeplessness will begin and for a week or two, I’ll wake up each night at crazy a.m. and stay awake for hours. The fact that my husband snores as loud as a jet plane doesn’t assist me in gently drifting back into dreamland. I’m also a worrier, and my mind tends to run away with itself in the middle of the night. Little R still wakes up occasionally during the night too, so all in all, it makes for a very tired Mum.

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When I started back at work two months ago, I experienced one of these phases almost immediately. I guess in a way I expected it, knowing that I would be nervous about going back to work, wondering how my job would have changed, and how I was going to fit it all into an already busy life. Stress and worry are surefire triggers for insomnia.

I wasn’t prepared to just wait for it to fall back into normal rhythms and hope it didn’t take too long, knowing it would inevitably come back before too long. I wanted to do something about it before I ran myself completely into the ground. So I went and spoke to my GP. She talked me through both the natural remedies that could help guide me to sleep and keep me there, and the medicated options. With two young kids, one who still sometimes needs me during the night, I wasn’t prepared to launch straight into medications that might make me too drowsy to function. So instead, I gathered up an arsenal of powerful natural goodies and put a night-time routine into place. Truthfully, I haven’t had a lot of luck using natural remedies before so wasn’t really expecting any miracles. But, I was pleasantly surprised by how well this combo has worked for me. From the very first night of my new routine, I enjoyed some blissful, uninterrupted sleep, and even when I did wake up, I was able to easily slip back into unconsciousness.

If you suffer from insomnia as well, or you just find it hard to initially get to sleep, these are some good options to try out, and they’re all cheap to put into place too.

Yoga

Yoga shouldn’t be intimidating, and it also doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You can do yoga easily in your home, in the comfort of your own daggy clothes, at any time of the day or night. It doesn’t matter if you’re completely new to yoga, no experience is necessary to start enjoying and benefiting from some simple poses. All you need is a flat and relatively comfortable surface (a yoga mat isn’t necessarily required), and some comfortable and loose clothing. It helps if you can practice somewhere warm too. There are a lot of free yoga channels on YouTube, which are perfect for trying out yoga for the first time, expanding on an existing practice, and winding down with some gentle poses at the end of a long day. My preferred channel is Yoga with Adriene, she has so many different videos to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate, and varying in length too. There’s a great Bedtime Sequence that’s just perfect for night-time. This is how I like to start my night-time ritual.

Meditation/relaxation

Sometimes if I feel like being really still, I might choose some meditation or relaxation instead of yoga. I personally find it quite easy to switch my thoughts off and focus when in a meditative situation, but that has only come with practice. The more you try, the more you understand the importance of the breath, and the more you can get out of your head and tune into your body. Again, there are plenty of channels on YouTube that you can check out, or you could have a look at Smiling Mind. This is a great website for those new to relaxation, and just want to give it a try with some brief meditations. You work your way through a program which also incorporates mindfulness, and there’s an app you can download too.

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Chamomile tea

Don’t underestimate the power of chamomile. It’s so calming and subtle, a lovely drink to wind down with. I prefer to have it as a mixed tea with other flavours, rather than straight on its own. I bought a gorgeous blend from T2 called “Sweet Dreams“, which contains chamomile, lavender, apple and rose, among other yummy things. After a gentle yoga workout or a peaceful meditation, drinking this tea is just heavenly.

Lavender spray

I like to spray our bedsheets with lavender spray after they’re washed, and I have a sweet little lavender pillow spray that I use too. It’s such a soothing scent, great for the bedroom thanks to its calming properties. You can also use lavender oil in a diffuser or oil burner to let the smell permeate your whole home, or add a few drops of the oil to your laundry powder before you wash your bedsheets.

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Valerian

Last but certainly not least, I take some valerian just before I slip into bed. I find this helps me to start feeling deliciously drowsy shortly after, but not so much that I wouldn’t be able to wake up if one of my kids called out in the middle of the night. After speaking with my chemist about valerian, I learned that it’s non-addictive, it will make you feel drowsy but won’t knock you out, and you can also start and stop using it as needed – it doesn’t take time to build up maximum effect, and there’s also no side effects if you suddenly stop taking it. Of course, you should always source your own medical advice from your GP or pharmacist before taking any type of supplement or medication, herbal or non-herbal.

Wishing you many a long and undisturbed night’s sleep!

Do you also suffer from sleep issues? Would you add any other tips to this list?

I’ve got a sweet little Facebook page, and would love you to connect with me there!

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Miscellany

Insomnia and small children don’t mix

Things that I fretted about while I lay awake during the early hours tonight:

Childcare arrangements.

Cost of childcare arrangements.

Return to work arrangements.

Balancing returning to work with family time, activities, keeping the house and garden under control, getting food on the table at a reasonable time each night….

How stupid it is that we will fork out tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the childcare years, just so I can work. Not to do anything enjoyable, to WORK. I am paying to work!! I don’t even like it, why do I have to pay to do it?!

How annoying it is that on the nights Little R sleeps through (tonight), Moose will wake up and on the nights Moose sleeps through, Little R will wake up. They never sync up. Because life’s just like that, isn’t it?

Will I ever sleep through ever again? Why can’t I get back to sleep once I’m awake?

How bad it must be for my body and mind to constantly be yo-yo-ing between varying levels of sleep from night to night with no consistency.

What would I worry about, and what issues would I have if I didn’t have children?

Whose idea was this whole having-kids thing anyway?!!

Oh look, I have to get up in half an hour to get Moose ready for her first day of preschool.

Another day ahead on 4 hours sleep….

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Miscellany

Lately

I haven’t been blogging much for a while, apart from the usual 52 Project posts and my Read, Watch, Listen posts.

Lately, it feels like there is too much fighting for my time.  It’s not all bad, a lot of it is fun stuff and I just wish I had more time to really sink my teeth in to everything.  However, I know I really am quite spoilt right now to not have to worry about work sucking up all the hours in my day, and to be able to dabble in so many hobbies.  Sometimes though, with the additions of being a parent and also being a wife (ie. Treasurer, Doctor, Taxi, Events Organiser, Administration Assistant, Chef, Cleaner, Gardener, etc.), I feel like every moment of my day, someone or something is depending on me.  A lot of the time I love that, but at other times, it can get draining.  Sometimes, you just want to be answerable only to yourself for a while.  I know that will come, eventually, one day.

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I had a bout of depression and insomnia a couple of weeks ago, with the two of them feeding off each other.  I seemed to only be getting between 4-6 hours of sleep each night, and regardless of how tired I was, I couldn’t get to sleep easily.  There were middle of the night breakdowns, frustration and impatience during the day, and arguments galore.  I was feeling like a failure as a parent, as a wife, and in myself.  It happens from time to time, but once I’m in a logical state of mind again, I can see how it all boils down to the quality (or lack of quality) of my sleep.  I’m feeling a bit better now, and trying to get back into a positive mindset, but I’m still not getting anywhere near enough sleep.  That’s partly my fault due to staying up too late.  When you’re “on the job” from 6am until 9.30pm every day, all you want at the end of it is time to veg out and do whatever it is that YOU want to do!  But, 9.30 is a pretty late time to just be beginning “me” time, and before I know it, it’s 11pm and I’m still not ready for bed.  The sleeping issue is also partly due to being woken up through the night at least once.  Little R has just started waking up during the night again after sleeping through for quite a while, plus we started night-time toilet training with Moose just recently.  So, sleep-throughs have become more rare lately.

I’ve got a couple of “special projects” going on at the moment.  The first is NaNoWriMo, which of course you know all about, right?  This is the third year I’ve participated, and I’m yet to win.  I’m not holding my breath that that will happen this year either.  I had a cracking start on Day 1, it was so good I had to tweet about it!

But I’m now 6,000 words behind, and with a wedding to attend this weekend it’s not looking likely that I’ll be able to make up for lost time.  I keep thinking “That’s it, it’s over, just give up now and don’t waste any more time on it”.  But then I think “Just do what you can, and then try to smash it in the last week or so to get to the end!”  I don’t know what I want to do, and I don’t know why I keep attempting this year after year!  I think I am just a competitive person, and the fact that there is this thing out there that I can’t master, it really eats away at me.  I can’t stand that!  I must conquer it!

My other project is that I’ve started on Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT program.  Now this project I’m happy with my progress on!  I’m doing the “Post-Baby” program, and my aim is not to lose weight so much but to increase my tone, flexibility, strength and overall fitness.  I also wanted to pick up some new exercise techniques, and healthy recipes along the way.  Going in to the program, I knew that I wouldn’t be playing along strictly on the nutrition side of it.  That might seem like I’m therefore wasting my time, but I think we eat reasonably well anyway, plus I like my food way too much to make any drastic changes to what I eat.  Our two main issues with nutrition are that a lot of our dinner meals are very “carb-y”, and that Big R and I will have sweet treats at night on most nights after the kids have gone to bed.  So even though I’m not taking on board the breakfast and lunch suggestions from 12WBT (because for breakfast I just can’t do fruit/muesli-type fare, I’m always starving and so I can’t do without my toast and coffee, and the lunches just because I don’t have time to whip up a homemade meal from scratch in the middle of the day), I’m replacing a lot of our usual dinners with 12WBT dinners.  I’m also making an effort to forgo the nightly sweet treat more often.  On the exercise front though, I haven’t missed a workout yet!  6 days a week and going strong!  I love exercise and I’m really enjoying being challenged and doing new things (as my old routine was beginning to be just that – old).  I’m feeling good, sore a lot of the time, but that’s ok.  I’m one of those strange people who actually likes that feeling!

Speaking of exercise, I have another new obsession thanks to Veggie Mama – the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube!  Adriene has so much variety in her videos, regardless of whether you’re an absolute beginner and just want to go through the common poses in detail, or if you’re feeling sore in a particular area and want to stretch it out, or if you’re a yoga regular and are looking for a new routine.  She’s very clear and easy to follow, and I love that she isn’t a stickler for holding the perfect form, she allows you flexibility (ha! Geddit?) to move around in the postures to find what feels right for you at the time.  As someone who has been practising yoga for years, I’m finding this to be the best philosophy for reaping the most benefits from the exercise.  While we’re talking yoga, check out the other recommendation in Veggie Mama’s post that I’ve linked to above – the Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel.  I was trying to encourage Moose to watch an episode and do the yoga each week but she wasn’t as keen as I thought she would be.  But never mind about her, I think this channel is fantastic!  The stories are engaging, the backdrops are colourful, and the yoga is integrated in to the storyline so discreetly the kids will hardly even realise they’re exercising!  This would be great for kids between 2-6 years of age, and a fun activity for parents and kids to do together.

Combined with all this exercise and yoga, I’m making more of an effort to practice mindfulness- trying to catch myself in moments, to stop the internal chatter and pay attention to what’s happening right now. It’s not only about enjoying this time while I’m at home with the kids, but it’s something I want to learn and continue with so I can better enjoy their whole childhood too and our years as a young family, as well as to help me see the goodness in my own everyday.  It’s about it being a practice for life.

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And the kids?  Well, Moose seems to be discreetly growing up from right under me, little by little each day.  I can see it in the way she talks and in her expanding vocabulary, as well as in her facial expressions.  Little R is growing up too of course, but his growth is more obvious.  He’s now rolling around on the floor at lighting speed, from back to front, and occasionally from front to back.  He’s also well on his way to saying his first word.  Here’s a little preview of what he’s sounding out right now, can you guess what the first word might be?-

Mmm, mmaa, mmaammaa

*grins proudly with glee*

 

So, what’s up with you lately?  Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

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