Stripping, snapping and surviving todderhood.

This has been a tough fortnight. For the first week, we decided on decorating our living room, which meant 8 days of us shift-swapping childcare / DIY during the daytime, and working together until 11pm every night. This is what stripping painted wallpaper off ancient plaster walls and not being able to find a plasterer in Easter week will drive you to. Hashtag Polyfilla. Amen to Grandad who stepped in with additional childcare over a few days too. Although they were long, hard days, I kind of enjoyed the task we were both working towards and the shared sense of achievement as we cracked open a beer at the end of the day.

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Queen of all she survey’s

This amazing girl child of ours is fully immersed in the emotional rollercoaster of toddlerhood. Strong impulses, desires and really big feelings she doesn’t yet understand. It hasn’t been easy for her to have her main play area totally out of bounds. One day, as we headed back from the park, she began to cry uncontrollably. When I stopped and kneeled beside her to ask her what the matter was, she gasped between sobs that she didn’t want to go home because “the room is all messy and I want my toys back!” I felt awful. We always assumed she loved being outdoors above all, but it really brought home how much she valued our home as a safe place to play. It seems so obvious now I am writing it out.

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Pretty scraps of vintage wallpaper – like buried treasure.

As well as the full on week of DIY-hell, the Easter holidays bring a relaxation of the usual daily rhythms. Having afforded myself additional chill-out tokens after the redecorating, I have not prioritised things like running, meditation, time outdoors or writing. While it’s nice at first to just go with the flow and chill out (especially after the week of DIY mayhem – did I mention it?) I know that without these activities my stress levels have gradually crept up to the point where I no longer have room for my own big feelings, nevermind my daughter’s. In the last week I’ve cried several times, shouted and snapped at my family, and had to retreat to my room twice. I feel like I am failing her when she needs me most.

And so begins the negative self-talk. The pessimistic chatterbox sitting on my shoulder commenting on all my failings, reinforcing all my insecurities and undermining any attempts to turn the day around or look on the bright side of life. If I’ve learned anything this last two years, it’s how to recognise that little blighter sooner rather than later. And that sleep is King. On Saturday, Mister took the reins and I retreated to my room. I bathed and then I slept. Then I went to bed early and slept some more. I awoke feeling stronger again. More able to brush that little demon off my shoulder. Not perfect, but trying to be more compassionate to myself and to others. And accepting that whatever I’m doing, I’m doing my best, in this moment. And on the way to making our home nice, we might get our hands dirty and drop a few other balls along the way.

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Juicy blossoms .

So we begin the week with a new resolve to nurture ourselves (it isn’t just me feeling the pressure, obvs), with our weekly groups to look forward to, and maybe a wee camping trip next weekend. Onwards and ever upwards.

How do you find holidays affect your family’s mojo? Which ways have you found to cope with your child’s toddlerhood? Are you looking forward to next weekend already?! Please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

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