Official Motherwell Cheshire Blog
August is upon us, which means it’s almost time for lots of little ones to make the transition to primary school! It can be scary and emotional time for everyone, I want to help with some reassurance if your kids are due to start soon! It is extremely normal for both parents and children to be upset on the first day, it is a huge transition, physically and emotionally. No matter if your child has been in a nursery for eight hours a day for the last three years, or they’ve done a couple of days term time since they turned three, it is still a huge thing for them starting school. I will admit that I shed a tear, but it is also a really incredible journey that they are about to begin!
If your child is upset when it is time to go in, again, it is really common. I know some parents then go home and worry that they will spend the whole time crying. Reception teachers and staff are a different breed of teacher, and are incredible at dealing with this confusing time. They have lots of tricks up their sleeve to be able to calm and distract them. Most schools will offer shorter days for the first week or so, which makes it a bit easier. If there are any concerns, the school will be in contact.
One thing I think we will always worry about, is whether our child has any friends, or if they’re all alone. Staff will be keeping an eye on all of them and will encourage them to play with others. You may find that their friendship groups change on a day-to-day basis. This is fantastic, and can be helpful over having just one friend. If that friend was to be off one day, they have other options are friends to play with. You can also expect to hear these friends described rather than named. Max would come and tell us about his new ‘friend with the curly hair’. It took time before he found out his name (that was only because I approached his mum and asked her). It also doesn’t matter if 0 or 10 children came from the same nursery or preschool as they did, as they will all be encouraged to play with others.
The majority of children will have been toilet trained for a while before they start school, but the changes can cause a regression. This can be for a number of reasons. It could be because they’re not sure where to go, or are worried to ask, or it could just be that there so engrossed in what they’re doing that they forget, or they’re worried they will miss something that’s happening. Max had a number of accidents over the first few weeks, for a mixture of the above reasons. Staff were fantastic though and they constantly remind them what to do if they need to go. If this does happen often, it may be worth having a chat with the teacher, and packing some spare uniform and pants from home. Reassure them that they’re not in trouble, and remind them of the toilet rules. After the first few weeks, Max stopped having accidents.
Tired and Cranky can be managed!
Reception is a fantastic year for children! There isn’t as much sitting down at tables all day, and the majority of work is done via structured play. Even so, this workload can be mentally draining, and after getting home from school, routine may go out of the window for that first term. We discovered the best way to keep things calm was to allow around one hours down time after we got home. This could be watching a favourite TV show or going on his tablet. Allowing him time to process all that happened during the day helped stop his tiredness from making him so cranky. I like to think of the fizzy pop analogy. If you were to send them to school with a bottle of fizzy pop, every time something happened that made them anxious or put them out of their comfort zone, they could shake the bottle, and at the end of the day when you get home and you’re asking what they’ve been doing all day, you’re opening that bottle in the safe space where they were let off all of that anxiety. By allowing them time to process those things at their own pace, slowly releasing the pressure and making it easier on everyone then. Some schools may send out a weekly letter of what they’ve been up to, or your child may just tell you in their own time, when they’re in the bath, eating their tea or getting into bed. The only thing I now ask is what he’s eaten for lunch. It is a good idea to utilise the school website, they often have class pages where you can see upcoming topics and events and lots of useful information.
Homework very much varies from one school to the next. We found it was mainly tasks we could incorporate into our daily lives like letter recognition and phonics. You will probably have already met your teacher before the summer, but there may be an opportunity in the first few weeks to go into the class room and learn more about the work they will be covering for at least the first term.
What to do if you’re worried..
If you do you have any concerns though, don’t keep them bottled up. The teachers are there to help. There are a few ways you could contact them, and this would all depend on exactly what your concerns are. You could try and speak to the teacher at morning drop-off or again when you collect them. This can seem difficult at times as 30 parents could all be trying to do the same, is also not the most discreet way if the matter is quite personal. Alternatively you could speak to the school office by phone or email and request to pass a message to the teacher, or for the teacher to call you when possible. Some School office staff may have a bad reputation like doctors receptionist, but they are at the heart of the school and have a lot of information if you don’t need specifics from the teacher.
How to get involved
If you want to get more involved with your school, the PTA is a fantastic way to do that they may have a meet and greet in the first few weeks to let you know more about them. There are a lot of fun ways that you can get involved. Ask your school office or check the website for more information.
There may also be opportunities to volunteer by chaperoning swimming lessons, reading in school with other classes and children who require extra help, or other activities. If this is something that you’re interested in, then ask at the school office for any vacancies or help they need.
Meeting other parents!
One of the big things we all worry about is the playground politics of meeting all the parents. Parents were probably as nervous as you are! There will be plenty of opportunities to meet them at the dozens of class birthday parties that will take place over the next year!
So try not to worry, it’s okay if you cry - don’t forget the obligatory photo in front of the door on that first morning.
We’re on countdown here until the summer holidays begin next week. I imagine that for the most part, parents are looking forward to 6 weeks filled hour by hour of activities for all the family. For
some of us though, there is a feeling of dread, and that is a perfectly reasonable and valid feeling. There is a sense of shame to not look forward to 6 weeks of uninterrupted time with your kids. There are so many different reasons why, and not one of those
means you love your children any less, or that means you don’t have enjoyable time together.
For me, it is a mix of triggers that stir up a feeling of dread and uncertainty. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as other mental health conditions and chronic pain thrown in as well. Sometimes the chronic pain means I can’t leave the house, that I need my painkillers and my hot water bottle to save me from crying all day long in pain. Trying to keep a very active boy occupied all day at home seems impossible. When he is in school, that gives him 6 1/2 hours of his day to be with friends and run around on the field outside. Trying to find a full day of at home activities can be hard work, and often our movie subscription is well used on these days!
Jay works full time, as do both of my parents, so even having someone else to look after Max on these days is impossible. I dread it because I feel like I’m failing him (hello mum guilt!) and that he will resent me for not being able to do all these things. Even on a lower pain day, there are still things that I cannot do, things his friends and their families are able to do. I’ll try and get some play dates booked in, so not only does he get some fun with his friends, but because I may actually get some adult conversation with someone other than the postman or the Amazon delivery driver. Unfortunately, my amazing friends are all super organised and all have their plans for weeks booked well in advance, packed with lots of days out to different places and different activities (that make me tired just thinking about it all). All of these places are totally and completely chockablock during the holidays. There are no preschools, or regular clubs operating over the holidays, so every family descends upon these places. They must make an absolute killing as a lot of them are also very expensive. (Money has a lot to answer for, especially when you don’t have much of it.) You need to take out a bank loan just to get into some of these places. If you have more than one child, it gets even worse and even more unaffordable. When these attractions become so full it can cause havoc for people with mental health issues, panic attacks over the sheer volume of people, sensory overload with the noise, negative self deprecating thoughts on your body image, fear of peoples opinions on you, and on your parenting and any decision you make. All of these things, combined or alone, can cause someone to dread the school holidays. My advice to you?
* Let go of the guilt, if your kids are fed, clothed and have a roof over their head, a few days at home won’t matter
* Yes, we’re told all the time we should restrict the amount of screen time that our kids get, but a movie day is a great way to keep them entertained and help to regain some of your sanity.
* If you can afford to, it may be a good idea to try and put your child/ren in the local holiday club, even just for one day a week. This lets you know that they’ve had time with their peers, and is a day of activities you don’t have to plan, and can allow you time to rest/clean/tidy/work or recharge
* Finally, don’t worry if you don’t have a plan. Download a weather app, take each day as it comes, and do what you need to do.
Regardless of how many days have been out and about or at home, you will still have made lots of memories with your children, so be kind to yourself, know you’re not alone. Take off the pressure and enjoy what you can.
I once gave a piece of advice to a friend who was in this situation before Max began school, and I told her that while she wasn’t out with them all the time, her boys were learning compassion, care and patience. Sometimes we need to be reminded of these things, even when we can’t see it. Max’s school report came home this week, and he was called a role model to his peers, and a really hard worker. Despite all of my issues, I must be doing something right to have raised such an incredible little boy.
In July 1948, the NHS was formed. It is something that we have all used at least once in our lives - when we were born. The thing with the NHS, is that it does not matter how much, or how little money you have, you have affordable healthcare available. We do not have to decide whether we eat this week, or whether we can afford to see a doctor, or have a prescription filled. In honour of those who work for the NHS, I want to share my story of the NHS with you
In July 2012, I was very heavily pregnant eagerly awaiting the arrival of my first baby. It was hot, and I was very uncomfortable. Five days after my due date, the consultant had agreed to go ahead with induction. I was given the pessary at 5 PM, and by 7 PM I was getting regular contractions. At 9 PM, my partner (Jay) was sent home, ward visiting hours were over. I was in so much pain! I was perched on the edge of the bed because I couldn’t sit back, the pressure was too much. I tried people watching out of the window, and hooking up my TENS machine (which did nothing more than mildly distract me when I electrocuted myself)
I buzzed the midwife because I couldn’t take it anymore. She came and said I could have some paracetamol in an hour (I felt like throwing her out of the window at this point, and then telling her she could only have paracetamol!) The lady in the bed next to me being induced at the same time as I had - she admitted she was jealous - mine had worked, and hers hadn’t.
When the midwife came back with the paracetamol, she told me to get ready for the doctor to come and examine me - FINALLY!
I admit, it took me about 15 minutes to get on the bed because of the pressure and how awkward it was to undress, but finally I was there! And the lovely doctor came in and began his examination - I held my breath, hoping all this pain was worth it “Well,“ he said “you’re about 4 cm, lets get you down to the labour ward.” Cue me bursting into tears, and declaring my undying love for him. I had it though! I had the go-ahead. I was in labour! The midwife went to ring Jay while I got ready to move. Unfortunately it took me twice as long to get dressed as it took to get undressed. How was I meant to put my knickers back on on my own? As soon as I get down to the labour ward, they took them off me again anyway!
Now I was on the labour ward, I was allowed the good drugs! I was straight on the gas and air! They failed to site an epidural, so I had Remifentanil (like pethadine in a syringe driver) they were a good few hours after that! Jay and my mum arrived, I made a random phone call to my pregnant friend to tell her labour was bad (like she didn’t already know). I don’t really remember too much. But I do remember this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to push, I’m trying to stop myself bearing down - fighting the most natural feeling in the world. I was fully dilated for a whole two hours before Max was born - so when I did eventually push, he was out in three contractions. (It felt like so much more!) Then I had this gorgeous baby boy in my arms. He was all mine, cooked to perfection.
Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan, I had a retained placenta and I had to go to theatre. I remember having to sit on the cord (it felt really odd!) while they gave me a spinal block, that they weren’t even sure was working properly. My only real memory that sticks out from that time, was the doctor with a torch on her head, and a glove up to her elbow while she is between my legs while they’re up in stirrups! Thankfully the student midwife, who delivered Max, stayed and held my hand - hours past the end of her shift, so I had someone there with me.
Once I’m sorted and back on the ward, the paediatrician came to tell us that Max had an infection on his chest (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome) and he would need IV antibiotics. This meant a five night stay in transitional care for SCBU. They looked after us so well. Throughout all of it, the only charges we really paid were for the car parking, and a minimal amount for food for Jay from the hospital canteen.
I have seen a picture doing the rounds on social media, showing a medical bill in America, where a woman was charged $15 for Skin to Skin contact with her baby! She was charged to hold her own baby!
Now I don’t know how much any of this really costs, but during our stay we had all of the following provided for us at no extra charge, and probably a ton more things that I haven’t even thought about!
Thank you to everyone at the NHS. For everything you do, everything you give up to help people like me, and my family.
- A bed for 2 nights on a ward for me
- 4 nights in transitional care
- 12 hours in the labour ward
- Theatre for 3 hours complete with surgical team
- Chest X-ray for Max
- 5 nights in a SCBU cot
- Clean bedding daily
- Tests daily to check the antibiotic level was safe to administer more
- 3 lots of cannulation for Max
- 2 lots of cannulation for me
- 3 blood tests for Max
- 2 blood tests for me
- Vouchers for Jay for money off meals in the hospital canteen
- An additional bed in transitional care for my partner to stay too
- Newborn hearing test
- Heel prick testing
- Daily access to bath/shower
- Maternity pads (when I ran out because I didn’t think I’d be in a week)
• Oral Antibiotics for me
• IV Antibiotics for 5 days for Max
• Heparin Injections for 6 weeks for me
• Anti-sickness meds
• Entinox (Gas&Air)
• Remifentalin (2 bags)
• Spinal Block
• Oxytocin Injection
• Pessary to induce labour
• Vitamin K injection for Max
• Iron Tablets
- The Staff (at least this number of each)
• Countless Midwives
• 6 Consultants
• 4 Anaesthetists
• 3 Paediatricians
• 5 SCBU nurses
• Health Care Assistants
- The housekeepers/cleaners who worked quietly to empty the bins while me and my newborn were sleeping - an who stopped to congratulate me when we were awake.
Suicide. It’s a word we’re hearing more and more these days. There are many more celebrity deaths by suicide, and while the word is out there - we’re still not talking about suicide enough. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal deaths in the U.K.
I have been unfortunate to be on both sides. I’ve lost a loved one to suicide, and I’ve wanted to take my own life. For me, an integral part of my suicidal thoughts, stems from self harm behaviours first.
As a teenager I often self harmed, I have scars covering my forearms, my stomach and my legs. It is difficult to explain to someone why you self harm, and the feeling you get from it. For a long time, self harm quelled any other depressive feelings, until I began to feel suicidal. I became consumed with thoughts of my death. How I could do it. What horrible things would stop if I stopped my life. The bullying would stop, the self loathing, the name calling, slut shaming, the friends who would sooner stab you in the back. I know it goes on in schools still, but no one should ever have to feel that way.
The first time I was on the radar of CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service) was when I was 16. I was in the middle of my GCSEs. One night I cut too deep, I had a 4 inch gash on my arm, that split open about an inch, and I couldn’t close it to heal. I tried to put a clean sanitary towel on it cos I didn’t have a dressing and I was panicking. The following day I told my mum I cut it on a screw on the bus to school in the morning, and needed to go to A&E. The doctors clearly saw through my story, and said the wound was clearly older than that. They also noticed my other scars. I had to admit what I had done. I burned with shame, and was made to feel like I was in the wrong. They referred me to CAMHS, but they did nothing for me. When I failed to turn up for an appointment, they never followed it up with me or my parents.
A few years later, after battling many inner demons, I decided I needed to do it. That suicide was the only way. I came up with the plan, I took the bottle of tablets - and then I thought of my mum finding out. I threw up what I could, but I ended up in hospital, drinking activated charcoal to protect my insides. I was treated like an attention seeker because I had gone for help. I felt humiliated, ashamed, and most of all, a disappointment to my family, that I was like this. That I was broken, that I didn’t want to live. That I wasn’t like them. No one else in my family ever felt this way. I was always the odd one out. Out of a huge group of grandchildren (maternal side), I was the only one with thick dark hair (like my dad) I was referred to the Mental Health Team, but there wasn’t much help - they didn’t know what to do to help me. CAMHS hadn’t helped me as teenager. I felt like they failed me, as much as I failed myself.
I limped along the next few years, filling the void in my life with sex, drugs and alcohol. I went from wanting to desperately be with someone, to wanting nothing more than to be on my own. I pushed so many people away that I ran out of chances. I became so tied up with all the crap in my own head, that I became an awful friend. I was a useless, awful friend, to someone who told me they wanted to die, (this happened on a few occasions). I was such an awful friend, that I actually thought ‘he’s threatened to kill himself before, he won’t do it. I’ll speak to him tomorrow when he’s calmed down.’
Tomorrow never came. The phone call did though. The call to say he was dead. That he had wanted to take his life so badly, he had doubled up to make sure he didn’t make it. I was in work when I got the call. I walked around in a daze for most of the day, barely able to make sense of it, until I was on my way home, and all of a sudden I felt like I had been sucker punched in the chest and I couldn’t breathe. I pulled over at the side of the road and sobbed in my car for 30 minutes until I could catch my breath again. He was my marmite friend - we either loved each other or hated each other, there was no inbetween, but we loved more than we hated. He was always there. He was always there with a smile, and the most infectious laughter. At his funeral I was angry. Angry at myself for not being there and not believing him, at all those 2 faced people sat in the church who contributed to his death, who bullied him, and who slagged him off all the time. And most of all, I was angry at him for leaving. For leaving me, leaving his brothers, his mum, and his nieces and nephews. After the anger though, I was consumed with guilt. That it was my fault - that I should have been there. I should have gone to him. I should have been there. Realistically, I know he was already dead before I could ever have gotten there. There was nothing I could have done - but it doesn’t stop me feeling it.
Having been on both sides, and still being on both sides now, they are both as equally damaging. So here is my advice;
If you’re feeling suicidal, speak to someone. The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or contact your GP or nearest A&E if you’re in crisis.
If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, know this, and only this. It was not your fault. There are bereavement services available that your GP can out you in touch with.
Finally, if you’re worried about a friend who you think may have,or is going to harm themselves, take them seriously, and get them help. Every. Single. Time.
This weeks blog post is brought to you by an anonymous guest blogger
An Open Letter to my Abuser,
It’s been 10 years since I walked away from you. I always swore I would never allow myself to be “that woman “in a toxic relationship. I wouldn’t stand for someone treating me that way.
At the time, emotional abuse wasn’t so recognised as it is now. It was more centred on physical or sexual. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t recognise it. Perhaps that’s why I made excuses. I didn’t want to see it. That’s not to say that it was all emotional abuse -you are just careful with how and where you left the physical marks. If it had all been physical, perhaps it would’ve been easier to heal. Mental scars are the hardest to deal with.
It has taken me a long time to even talk about what happened, to tell anyone the extent of what you put me through. It has taken time to admit it out loud, to myself, that I was abused. You abused me. You took away part of me and you changed my life
You had this hold on me - the hold was so strong, so ingrained in me, that a song, a smell, a show on TV, it can take me back to a time with you. They tell me this is my PTSD. I don’t know if this feeling will ever go away. Whether new memories will just fade it out over time. I hope the nightmares will end at some point.
You controlled so much of my life for so long, that when I found the courage to leave you that one day, I lost control of myself for a while. Finally I could make decisions for myself, but I didn’t know how to. I wanted people to like me. You told me over and over that no one else would want me, that they would only be using me. You are the only one who could ever love me because I was so broken and damaged. So when I left, I wanted to be loved, by anyone who would love me. I wanted to prove you wrong.
I made a catalogue of errors over the following few months. It took me time to find the “real me” under at all. The me that I had been before I met you, back when I was 17. I wasn’t perfect, but I was still a kid, finding my way in the world. A blank canvas. At 21 years old, I came out of our “relationship” ripped and torn. I slowly stuck myself back together with tape and glue, but I was forever changed because of you. I had to start my life over again from scratch. Our friends were actually your friends. I was cut off from all the people I cared about, because you didn’t like them.
Not all of your friends condoned your actions - well, the cheating at least. No one really knew all the hurtful things that you said, and the way you manipulated and controlled me when no one else was around. But the cheating. You made me feel like I was going mad, that it was all in my head. I found afterwards that it was close to 11 different people. Not just the 4 or 5 that I had always suspected. I don’t know what was worse - knowing I was right, or being right.
You ruined my relationship with my family - they hated you, and I can’t blame them. They only wanted what was best for me, but the more they pushed you away, the closer I came to you and away from them. Their love for me has been unwavering. When I stepped away from you, they were there ready to catch me and guide me. It wasn’t always easy, but we did it.
It’s been 10 years. 10 very hard years. I found it so hard to trust a man after you. I did though eventually. Even though I’m still broken on the inside, he is the tape and glue that keeps me together now. And if my child ever meets a man like you - I won’t be afraid to tell them what you did to me - and how much more they deserve. That they can leave and they can be someone.
I shouldn’t believe in Karma, it hasn’t quite caught up with you yet - but I live in hope that one day it will. And if you’re ever lucky enough to have a daughter of your own, let’s hope she doesn’t meet the version of you for her generation.
A God-Damn Warrior