Monday, 30 March 2015

13/52 : Photos from our very relaxing weekend


This weekend marked the start of Easter/Spring break and we decided to spend it doing as little as possible. The last month has been hectic for us so we definitely needed to relax. 


Saturday

On Saturday my dad came down to Plymouth to visit me and my sister for the day. Whenever he comes into town we always head to our favourite place, the Plymouth Hoe waterfront. It is such a great place for a walk and a spot of lunch, we always have so much fun there with our family. Our favourite place to eat in Plymouth is The Boathouse Cafe situated on the waterfront. The Cafe is a seafood restaurant which boasts views of the Plymouth aquarium and the Mayflower steps. It is well know for using fish they have caught themselves out in the Plymouth waters meaning the food is extra fresh and of course very local. However, not all of us eat fish which I know is probably very strange that our favourite restaurant is a seafood restaurant but we love the atmosphere here, it's so relaxed and has the friendliest waiters. We had a lovely time chatting over buckets of chips and ham sandwiches whilst playing with the latest addition to the family, little Bobs. 



Sunday

When we woke up on Sunday we were all feeling a little rough and the weather outside was terrible. I declared a pyjama day and said to the boys they had the freedom to do what they liked for the morning while I caught up with the house work. This made them very happy and immediately turned on their play-stations, of course. I just about managed to pull them away from their consoles at lunch time to have some play time with me. However, things got a little out of hand and they ended up having a full on pillow fight. I didn't want to stop it because they were being gentle and they had such a massive fit of giggles. It really turned out to be the perfect pyjama day. 






Linking up to Living arrows and Point and shoot

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Sunday, 29 March 2015

#Mysundayphoto


photography, sunday, fun, photo, blogger, parent

- A throwback photo of my boys playing with their cousins.

OneDad3Girls
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Friday, 27 March 2015

My battle with anxiety



This is quite a difficult post to write. I guess because I didn't want people to know that I have mental health issues. I kept thinking, 'will people judge me for being the sole carer of two young boys while fighting depression and anxiety?' I decided that it will be ok to talk about this because anxiety and panic attacks are something that so many people are diagnosed with these days.

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I first started seeing a doctor at the age of 18 after I experienced a series of panic attacks when I left home for the first time to move to London. I was always a shy and nervous child who preferred to sit alone at the lunch table than to surround herself with a large gang of friends. I remember my parents taking me to the doctors to see what could be done to bring me out of my shell. They recommended an adventure week for kids with similar problems to me but I kicked off about having to go to a strange place with people I didn't know. I didn't go and carried on as I was, I guess everyone gave up trying to change me. When I left school a series of events from heartbreak to family issues happened that made me desperate to leave my home town. I decided to really scare myself and join the military, it was the only way to leave Cornwall. I underestimated how hard the training was and during the first stages, I was experiencing my first panic attacks. The instructors and my friends didn't really understand and I received comments like 'it's all in your head' and 'stop looking for attention'. If panic attacks were all in my head then why does it feel like there is a truck parked on my chest, restricting my breathing. When the attacks were really bad, I would shake uncontrollably, become dizzy and on a few occasions I would pass out. 

My attacks has always been brought on by fear, closed in spaces/crowds, unfamiliar faces and spaces, and meetings. Since becoming a single mum I have also began to experience anxiety through simple tasks like parent/teacher meetings or talking to family on the phone. I have lost the ability to talk to adults I guess. I really don't want to be like this but it's getting to the point where I am saying no to potentially life changing opportunities simply because I know I will never be able to go through with them being the way I am. An example of this is Brit mums live. I would really love to meet all the bloggers I look up to and whose blogs I spend my evenings reading but I know that I will get to the doors, panic and then get back on the train home. I really don't want to be like this anymore so I have decided that I will definitely go to Brit mums live next year, giving myself a year to prepare. 

The first step on my road to attending a large bloggers gathering has already been completed. I bit the bullet and last month I booked in to start seeing a doctor again. The night before the appointment I was up all night pacing, crying and ready to phone to cancel as soon as the surgery opened. I was sick with worry because I had never met this doctor before and had in my mind that he was going to think that I was attention seeking just like everyone else had thought of me. I fought it inside but I went the next morning, concentrating on my breathing to prevent an attack. I went into the doctors room and ended up feeling instantly comfortable enough to blurt out everything I was feeling. He was the first the doctor I had seen that I actually felt like he was listening. The doctor asked me to complete a test which asks a series of questions on how often I feel certain ways and to what extent. I scored high in the test which meant I was suffering from severe anxiety. This wasn't a shock to me as I already knew I had it with the way I am around people but to have it officially diagnosed is still a lot to deal with. Seeing a doctor was the best thing I could've done and I feel I have benefitted not only myself but my children too. The medicine and support will hopefully start helping me with taking the children to clubs, parties and school events. It was a turning point for me to sit in a GP's office and I ended up feeling on the top of the world. 

I wanted to share five tips I have been taught to help with anxiety if you experience it too:

*Control your diet
There are certain foods and drinks that are thought to bring on anxiety. These are caffeine, sugar, starch, and alcohol. Cutting down on these could have a huge impact on anxiety levels. Keeping yourself healthy and ensuring you are getting the right nutrients is important and will help raise mood levels and lower the hormones responsible for stress. 

*Get moving
They say that regular exercise relieves symptoms of everyday anxiety and improves feelings of well-being. Consider giving yoga a try. I spend an hour doing yoga in the safety of my own home, through youtube. I enjoy the chance to be quiet, calm and focused, I always feel great afterwards. If the thought of exercising itself makes you anxious, start off with a low impact physical activity such as a ten minute walk around your neighbourhood. Fresh air really helps to boost your mood every day. 

*Breathe
When you feel stressed and anxious, breathing deeply and slowly is important to prevent a panic attack occurring. I find that if I focus on breathing from my diaphragm and not my chest it helps to decrease my blood pressure and relaxes my muscles, more air will flow through my body this way. 

*Find an activity you enjoy
Anxiety could occur when you have too much time to think about your problems. If you have half an hour in your day when you are not doing anything, fill this space with a hobby which brings you peace. Some examples you could try are reading, writing, sports, sewing, or painting. Distracting yourself away from your thoughts is a great way to tackle anxiety. 

*Get lots of sleep
Everyone needs at least 8-9 hours of unbroken sleep a day. If like me you have children, this is very difficult to manage but the more sleep we get the better we will feel mentally. Try going to bed and waking up at the same times every day to regulate your sleep cycle. Also, I know its hard but avoid your using electronics such as your phone, laptop and television an hour before bedtime. The bright lights from these devices can prevent the sleep hormone Melatonin from being produced properly. 


I wasn't going to post this because it's quite personal and slightly embarrassing for me to talk about mental health issues but I have found that more and more people have come forward as having anxiety, so I know I'm not alone. I hope this helped a little if you suffer from anxiety too. For me, it is going to be a long journey to recover and hopefully I will manage to make the trip to Brit mums live next year. 

Thank you for reading, 
Gem x

Mami 2 Five

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Through my child's eyes #5



Hello and welcome back to through my child's eyes, the link up for children's artwork and photos. A big big thank you to the four bloggers who linked up last week, there were two wonderful drawings and two amazing photos. I loved the drawings from Harley over at Mylifemylove.com  featuring some impressive round knee caps. Also there was a lovely hand painting from W posted on Workingmummyandwife.com. I loved the idea of creating animals from your hand prints, it makes a wonderful painting. I also want to give a shout out to Little Ladybug for posting her gorgeous photos from her visit to the farm, she is an amazing mini photographer. Lastly, thank you to Merlinda over at Glimmer of Hope for posting her mini photographer's photos that he took when he visited a helicopter museum. You can really tell that he loves taking pictures.

I showed my children each link up and they were very inspired by the artwork so this week they wanted to submit their Easter themed drawings to my blog. The top two pictures are by my youngest and feature the easter bunny handing out eggs. The bottom picture is by my oldest son, Alfie and is also the Easter bunny. I'm not too sure what the orange thing is though. It's either a basket or a crab, any ideas? I asked Alfie but he isn't sure either, he just said he felt like drawing it. 
drawing, picture, art, zayn, easter, bunny, rabbit, eggs, children's art, happy, link up, blogger, parent,



The linky
  • Please add my badge to your posts 
  • Link up your children's artwork or photos, with or without words is fine
  • It will run from Thursday 12am till Saturday
  • Can be old or new and as many as you like
  • When you add your link, please make sure they lead to your posts and not your blog's homepage. It may be difficult for me to find. 
  • Share your link up on twitter using #throughmychildeyes and tag me @gemma_stevens so I know to retweet and comment on your post. 
  • Try and comment on other posts in the link up. 
  • Feel free to link your Instagram photos too
  • Enjoy working together


Now it's your turn. 
I look forward to seeing the photos and artwork your children have created recently. Please help me make #throughmychildseyes a success by sharing the link up across your social media and by adding my badge to your posts.

Gemma the family girl



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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

How to stay motivated to blog when you just want to give up.


Last week, I secretly started to feel down about my blog and felt that I will never be able to compete with the top bloggers. I guess these feelings where brought on after the release of the Tots 100 scores which weren't as good as I expected them to be. Yes, I know Tots 100 is based more on how well you promote yourself on social media and not the quality of the blog but it's still gets to me. A few days later I told myself to stop making blogging a competition and start remembering why you started your page in the first place. I started blogging as a distraction from the horror that was my breakup from my husband and as a tool to help me through the lonely evenings. I love the blogging community especially. I love that I can log on to twitter or Facebook and there will be someone there to chat to day or night.  I love that you can pour your heart out in a blog post and people will comment messages of support and offer additional advice. One time someone told me I was an inspiration to them, that meant so much to me. People who send me such encouraging messages really motivate me to carry on blogging but as we all know, the upkeep of a blog is tough. You can go from having so many ideas one month, and then have nothing to write about the next. Also, there are always new bloggers emerging, so the competition to get your blog noticed is getting harder. Companies are spoilt for choice for bloggers to work with so you really have to work hard to stand out. Your life is massively effected. Blogging has literally taken over mine from the pressure to keep up my presence on social media, taking photos for posts, replying to emails and of course spending all evening typing away on my computer. It is especially hard to keep blogging if no one reads that post you spent four hours working on the night before. You are putting all this time and effort into your blog so what is the point of carrying on if no one is taking an interest in your voice and opinions? It is so easy to feel so worn out to the point you never open your blog up again, especially if you are doing all this hard work for free like I am.


 I have been looking at ways to keep up my blogging mojo and thought I would share some ideas with you guys incase you feel the same way.

*Write down a plan of what you want to post each day of the week
Creating regular features helps to prevent 'blank screen syndrome'. Some ideas that you could do are: Things I love Mondays, Blogging tips tuesdays, Wish list wednesdays, weekly round up fridays and so on. Or here's a good one: Write a post about ways to re-motivate yourself to write. I like to do a weekend round up on Monday, blogging tips on tuesdays and I tend to fill up the rest of the week with my link up contributions. If you are stuck for ideas, read other blogs that will inspire you to be a better blogger. Whether it's great features, photography ideas, amazing writing, or link ups etc. I find that the more inspired I am to be a better blogger, the more motivated I am to succeed. 

*Find something you love writing about
Don't write a post just because it's what everyone else is posting on their blogs. If you don't like writing about your personal life or posting amazing cake recipes, you don't have to do them! You make the rules for your blog and you decide what it is about. Don't feel pressured to write something you know nothing about just because you are scared of not fitting in with the other blogs, you just won't enjoy writing if you do this. Someone told me that the more unique the blog is, the more likely it is to stand out and become successful. 

*Don't put pressure on yourself
One way to burn yourself out is to put too much on your plate. I often try and show off my amazing multitasking skills by doing everything, but I know that if i do my blog will suffer. This means that I am going to have to turn down opportunities now and then, but my sanity is more important. With my home life as it is, there is no way I can commit just yet to extra projects. It will just be too stressful. I have to remember blogging has to come after my family, friends and job. If they start getting affected, I will need to dial back the blogging a little bit. My advice is if blogging gets too much for you, step away from the computer and take an internet holiday. I always find that when I take a break from blogging, I feel refreshed, full of ideas and much more excited to write. 

* Stay positive
For me to stay motivated to blog, I need to remember that I am blogging for myself. This is the internet so of course you are going to come across people will dislike your blog but there are also lots of people who will love what you do. Concentrate on the positive people who will provide you with the all important praise and encouragement. Also don't worry about losing followers. It used to really affect me but now I have realised they are quickly replaced with people who do enjoy your blog but remember stats aren't everything. 

*Create a clean space just for blogging
I try to keep a clean home environment but with two boys its hard to have a clear space to blog on. When I sit down to write it is important to me to create a comfortable and calming environment. If my desk is messy, it demotivates me because I don't want to sit there or it distracts me away from my writing because all I can think of is cleaning it up. It is the same with my blog layout too. I wanted to create a clean space which is aesthetically pleasing. I am the type of person to click off a blog page if the design makes me cringe so I wanted to create a space that I was simple and I was happy to work with. 

*Think about your audience
Do not take them for granted. If you post a blog series on a set day and time, your readers will be there waiting to read it. They come to you for a source of information/inspiration so don't let them down, they might not return. 


I hope some of these tips helped. What ways do you motivate yourself to sit down and blog? 

Gem x

Mums' Days

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Monday, 23 March 2015

12/52: Photos from our Saturday at Woodlands adventure park

On Saturday I surprised the children with a trip to Woodlands which is in Dartmouth, Devon. It is an adventure park with rides, a zoo-farm and lots of various play areas. I used to come here all the time as a kid so I was really excited to bring the boys here for the first time.

woodlands, devon, adventure, park, mushroom, parent, blogger

The park is still in its winter season so most of the rides were unfortunately closed but we still managed to have lots of fun in the outdoor/indoor play parks and the farm. The children's favourite place was the wooden huts along the woodland walk. They loved running around inside them, pretending to live in each one. 

woodlands, upside, down, house, fun, park,
He shouldn't have asked for a second ice-cream. 

Thomas beat Alfie at a go-kart race

My favourite part of Woodlands has always been the Zoo-farm where we probably spent most of our time on Saturday. The children really enjoyed seeing the new born lambs especially and kept disappearing to go and play with them. 

Huddling together under the heat lamb or having a very important meeting?
Charlotte the shire horse. The boys thought she was a unicorn. 

Within the farm is a Dinosaur tractor ride which the boys absolutely loved. It was like being in Jurassic park and featured all the different kinds of dinosaurs. I loved that each one had a little sign post describing what each one was so the boys didn't ask me any questions. I really need to brush up on my dinosaur knowledge. 



We ended the day with the indoor soft play area just to pass the time while we waited for our bus home.   I really don't know where the boys get their energy from. I was exhausted by this time from all the walking we had done but yet they managed to run up and down the stairs to the top of this slide at least twenty times. 

We a had a great time at Woodlands on Saturday and we are really looking forward to returning when the rest of the park is open.

Living Arrows
snowingindoors

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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Sunday, 22 March 2015

My Sunday Photo

This weeks sunday photo was taken at Woodlands adventure park in Dartmouth, Devon. I was waiting for the boys to finish their ride on the tractors when I noticed this Peacock trying to start a fight with an Alpaca. I thought it was quite funny how the Alpaca just carried on as normal, without even noticing the  angry bird. 

woodlands, alpaca, peacock, funny, lol, dartmouth, blogger, parent, sunday, photography

OneDad3Girls
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