No. 7 – Keeping it real #nofilter

I met up with a good friend the other day. We don’t see each other regularly due to distance, kids, life, you know the drill. But whenever we meet up, we talk non stop, putting away a vat of wine between us, and she sorts me right out, kind of like a mini counselling session. Whatever I’m worrying about, she quizzes me on, and we talk it through until it seems not to matter so much at all. She also gives me a much needed dose of realism, cuts through my crap and tells me how things are back in the real world. Valuable attributes for a friend to have! She said to me that she’d showed my blog and Instagram account to her friend ‘B’ and her response had been that she hates me “with your cute kids, your quinoa and your abs”. My friend said she understood B’s reaction as my blog and Instagram were projecting something of a perfect image of family life. After I’d picked myself up off the floor at the thought of my family life being seen in any way as perfect, I took some time to reflect…

My purpose in writing this blog is to share recipes that my family and I enjoy, but also to discuss the challenges of getting nutritious and delicious food into my kids. Believe me when I say, they would never choose a kale and avocado salad over a pizza, but that’s not to say I don’t keep serving up the green stuff in the hope that they might do one day!

I use my blog as a way of expressing myself; a creative outlet if you will. A way of saying “this is me, this is us”. And as a way to escape from the (at times) mind numbingly dull drudgery involved in being a stay at home mum to 3 smalls. Seriously, 90% of my time is spent picking little pairs of pants up from the floor! So, I thought I’d take this blog post as an opportunity to ‘fess up on how family life really is for us, and inject a bit of reality back into my blog.

A way of saying “this is me, this is us”

Me and exercise – Yes, I work out. Every day. Almost without fail. But only for 30 minutes. Yes I love it, but I also need it! I enjoy feeling fit and taking those 30 minutes to myself each morning whilst the other half is on breakfast crowd control in the kitchen. I’m currently on an extended maternity leave with my 3rd son, so time to myself is a precious commodity, as I’m sure you can imagine. I share my fitness journey and small achievements because I think it’s important to say that mums can work out and be fit (if they want to) and that it’s ok to dedicate time to yourself each day to work towards your personal goals, whatever they might be.

We are all so busy with work, kids, house stuff, adult responsibilities. I dithered for ages before starting my workout plan about whether I could possibly take that small amount of time for myself each day. Why did it take me so long to decide to put myself first for a change?! Mum guilt I suppose.

BUT that’s not to say I don’t struggle to motivate myself to get my workout clothes on and get started, especially when the baby has been up all night (more of that later).  I wear my abs like a badge of honour because I’ve damn well earned them. This girl can!

Whilst I was living in Chicago for a year, I participated in a fitness programme called ‘Body back’; involving workouts, nutrition advice and group accountability. I genuinely credit this programme and the fabulous fit mamas I met along the way with changing my outlook on life for the better! It reminded me that I can’t look after anyone if I don’t look after myself first. And for me, self care involves working out and eating well. Plus I’m a MUCH nicer person after I’ve done a good workout. Just ask my other half and kids! May sound all cheesy and American to us Brits, but it’s completely true. So to Hattie, Katie and the rest of our group, I send heartfelt thanks 😘

I wear my abs like a badge of honour because I’ve damn well earned them. This girl can!

Me and food – I genuinely love healthy and nutritious food. I’m obsessed with avocado, salivate over big trays of roasted vegetables adorned with spices, prefer quinoa to pasta any day and count down to my next meal time constantly.

BUT, I also have a serious addiction to peanut butter, so much so that I cannot have any in the house because I can easily put away a jar in a weekend (ok, ok, in a day!). Pretty pathetic if you ask me. I’m 38 years old and unable to control myself around a jar of pulverised nuts. My other half and boys love it too, so I tried getting in the stuff that’s only 90% peanuts in the hope that the processed version would put me off, but no, proper stuff or processed stuff and I’m all over it. Literally. Evidence below…sooooo good!

Also, I’ll bet I can beat anybody for speed in a Twix eating contest. Especially when hiding my face in the fridge or cupboard and eating as silently as possible so the kids don’t notice what I’m doing. Yep, I totally do that. When I’m stressed or bored I soothe myself with peanut butter or chocolate. I don’t share that all over my blog or Instagram account do I? I recently shared a days worth of food that I’d eaten, all beautifully photographed. I picked my day carefully – it was a perfect day of eating.

This happens once or twice a week at most. So…now you know. Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes the burnt and bruised bits of non-Instagram-worthy food are the tastiest!

Me and kids – I feel extremely blessed to have 3 happy and healthy boys, but my journey to motherhood was not without loss and heartache and substantial emotional and financial cost. My friends know this already, but an outsider stumbling across my blog has no clue what went before; they see my pictures of 3 smiling boys and assume they came along easily and as planned.

Ha, far from it! Many friends and family members continue to struggle along the way, so to those and anybody else experiencing the same, I send understanding and lots of hope.

However hard it was to have my kids, I’m in no way precious with them. I’m totally winging this parenting thing and regularly lose my patience with them. I know I’m hard on my eldest because he’s always been the ‘good one’, so when he’s not I find it hard to deal with. My middle child knows exactly what buttons to press and switches from angel to devil and back again several times a day. No wonder my sister refers to him as the ‘baby faced assassin’. All cute floppy blonde hair, big brown eyes and dimples, he’ll kick you on the shin for no reason then run away, laughing. And my sweet baby boy is currently aging me at an astonishing rate. Still nowhere near sleeping through the night at 8 months old, I count 3 night feeds as ‘a good night’, that’s how low my expectations of sleep have slipped. So, whilst I may appear to have everything sorted and running smoothly, and be parenting the shit out of life, in reality I’m clinging on by my fingertips to my sanity.

I’m totally winging this parenting thing…

My kids and food – My eldest two are eating me out of house and home. Literally. There’s no filling them. Contrast that to their baby brother who would quite happily survive on breast milk, a spoon or two of porridge, a bite of a banana, maybe a rice cake with a smear of hummus and some mashed avocado.

That’s it, nothing else. I officially hate weaning! The other two took to food way better and were on 3 meals a day plus snacks by the same age, but my tiny boy just isn’t interested. I’m constantly trying new foods and worrying about what he is and isn’t eating. I’ve read all the theory, heck I’ve got a Diploma in Nutrition, but nothing prepares you for a baby who refuses to eat. So again, whilst my blog is full of pictures of the biggest 2 chowing down on healthy stuff, I’m sobbing in the corner of the kitchen whilst the baby refuses to open his mouth for another lovingly prepared meal.

…nothing prepares you for a baby who refuses to eat.

And even though the eldest two are putting away food like there’s no tomorrow, that’s not to say that mealtimes are peaceful in my house – far from it! I encourage the boys to get involved with the cooking, but their main interests lie in whizzing stuff in the food processor and licking the baking bowl after making cakes.

I’m a regular briber at mealtimes and battle my way through most meals, until I’m satisfied they’ve had enough of the good stuff. I think it’s working as their tastes are getting more adventurous, but they are still happiest when presented with a meal that’s straight out of the freezer incorporating processed potato; waffles, smiley faces etc, and when I need to buy their silence I’m not immune to chucking them a cereal bar or some mini cheddars. I pick my battles wisely when it comes to kids and food!

So, now I’ve shown you the whole picture about me, food and the kids I hope you can relate a little more to the general mayhem that is family life in my house! I’ve had conversations with so many friends who are having the same battles as me, so I take comfort in the fact that I know I’m not alone. We are all just basically making it up as we go along with this parenting lark aren’t we?! My pledge going forwards is to tell it how it really is, warts and all, not just the polished Instagram friendly version.

Get ready, as this may get messy!

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