Fitting it all in (everyone needs a super Dad)

I woke up feeling glum today. I have been a lot recently. I don’t really know why, perhaps it’s the adjustment to having three (although I don’t think so), maybe it’s my itchy feet and mind, feeling a bit stagnant, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the knowledge that it is simply impossible to fit in everything I need and want to do. The housework needs to be done (at least to a basic degree of cleanliness), meals need to be prepared, laundry washed/dried/put away, I need to follow our chosen curriculum, if only loosely, in order to satisfy Sophia’s desire to learn, I need to spend meaningful time with Isaac, I often need to feed Elijah, I need to take them out to our groups several times a week. On top of this I want to be able to workout (cardio and weights) 3-4 times a week, I want to keep on top of regular posts for this blog, I want to express milk for a lady who I promised some to, I want to knit, to read, to bake, to play cello. I want to spend time with Dan where we’re not just sat in front of the box watching shows on netflix. I’d like to make time to get involved with local politics (especially after the election results – but I’ll save that for another post). But there is absolutely no way I can do all of that, even a fraction of it, to the standards that I’d like to. It seems unlikely that I will ever be able to meet the needs of everyone to the extent that they need and I’d like.

I was feeling it all getting on top of me and asked Dan if he’d drop Sophia to dancing and take the boys to the park. As they left the house and the silence descended, I physically felt the waves of relief wash over me. I immediately felt guilty (mother guilt eh!) before deciding what was a priority for this stolen hour to myself. I knew I needed to get some exercise, that it would help to shift the gloom. So I popped on my running gear, locked the door and escaped. It was only 25 minutes but there’s nothing like running by the river at high tide, feet pounding, birds singing, heart racing, to clear your head. I arrived home feeling, if not happy, at least more focused and less grumpy. After a quick shower, I  managed to whizz the hoover round before getting dinner on. Amazing really, the power of a mere 60 minutes of solitude and of getting some exercise. No wonder everyone keeps banging on about it!

But the thought that struck me mostly was that this wouldn’t have been possible without Dan. And I do take him for granted. I’m not one for slushy posts but I do feel like he’s taking on Super Dad (capitalised and everything!) status this year. From the final weeks of pregnancy where I couldn’t get around much and he snuck in park trips and little outings with the kids in every spare window of time he could find, during my almost complete bedrest immediately after Elijah was born when he took over childcare, house care and wife care completely to these early months where he is always there to take one, two or even all three children off my hands in order to facilitate some time for me to get some things done. I am beyond blessed to have him as my other half in life.

And it was him that dished out some wise words when I was bemoaning my inability to do everything I wanted/needed to. That it wasn’t all on me, that we work as a family together. That the needs of everyone don’t have to met solely by me. That we should all pitch in together and hopefully that way, we’ll get by and even find time to enjoy ourselves.

I know I’m not the only one struggling. So I wanted to write this short post not because I wanted pity, or because I’m being smug about my wonderfully supportive husband. No I wanted to write this to remind myself, to remind you, that we are not capable of doing it all. And we shouldn’t have to be. So don’t beat yourselves up over messy houses, missed workouts, the opting out of some educational or fun activity for the small people because you’re just not feeling up to it. Remember to take help when offered, to ask for help when needed and to accept, that the well being of our family does not rest solely on our shoulders. For a family to be successful, everyone needs to put in and take out. A mother does not a family make. And man, what a relief that is to realise. So do what you can without pushing yourself too hard, prioritise the essential and most desirable. And then relax. And be happy.

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P.S. Thank you again Dan. Love you!

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The Aftermath

One week ago today I posted this on Facebook:
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Since then social media has been flooded with articles from the ‘left’ demanding change, angry with the 37% majority and what that means for us over the next 5 years and articles about the same people, accusing them of being bad losers, of being childish, telling them to suck it up – that the electorate has spoken. But I have to say, I’m with the former on this. Yes, the election is over and to that extent, we can’t change the government that has been elected. But. Why should our democratic involvement be limited to one day, to one vote? If we’re not happy with the result, I don’t see why we shouldn’t exercise our democratic right to make that displeasure known. Especially given some of the things that the Tories are promising (threatening) to do.

More than anything though, I’m still just in shock with the results. I genuinely thought that the majority of the UK felt the same way as me about the Tories. I wasn’t expecting a Green government, I wasn’t expecting an easy consensus. I was expecting a hung parliament, a fragile but hopeful coalition, I was longing for change so much that I was expecting it. But instead, the Conservative Party, and Mr Cameron, have somehow managed to cling on at the top and even succeeded in gaining control without the Liberal Democrats to temper them.

And if some of the stories that we’ve seen reported over the last week are anything to go by, the future isn’t looking great for a lot of us. Two in particular have left me speechless. The first is regarding the promise by Theresa May to scrap the Human Rights Act, made as she spoke about curbing the appeal rights of 70,000 people facing deportation. The second is the revelation that the new Disabilities Minister has previously voted against protecting benefits for disabled children and cancer patients. Not a particularly obvious or preferable choice I would have thought… the mind just boggles. I don’t even know where to begin to start explaining how abhorrent and in the case of the former, downright scary, I find these news stories.

What does the next five years hold for us? What will the United Kingdom look like after another five years with David Cameron at the helm? It’s not just about the most vulnerable in our society being hit badly although that is probably the biggest concern in my opinion. I’m also worried about the environment if they go ahead with fracking, about the fate of the NHS, about the housing market – especially for first time buyers like ourselves. I could go on and on. But all I’d be doing is rehashing what plenty of other people have already said, and probably much more eloquently than me.

No, instead of complaining, I want to think about what we can do to make the next five years bearable, to improve the prospects of the average citizen and to weather whatever the Tories might throw at us. I read this by George Monbiot in which he says “the left can build only from the ground up, reshaping itself through the revitalisation of communities, working with local people to help fill the gaps in social provision left by an uncaring elite”. This pretty much encapsulates my feelings on the next step for those left feeling disillusioned and angry by another Conservative government. Strong communities are the key. We need to work together with those around us to care for each other, to support each other. And where necessary, we need grass roots campaigning to save services and facilities that come under threat.

Getting involved in community activism and support will vary from place to place but food banks, Churches and community centres are good places to start. There is also a national organisation called The People’s Assembly that has information of local campaign and support groups around the country. You can find more information and get involved through their website. Together we can make our voices heard. We can stand up to the Fat Cats in Whitehall and show them that we do care about the vulnerable in our society, about the environment, about our NHS, about each other. Together we can get through another Tory administration and hopefully next time, the outcome will be different. If we are strong and united, they cannot break us.

On the eve of change?

But are we? How likely is it that the outcome of tomorrow will bring real change? That we’ll be able to look back in six months and see a significant difference (and hopefully improvement) to the last few years under a Tory government? Yes, I’d agree that Cameron has failed on his 2010 election promises but didn’t Labour fail before that? What’s going to change this time?

You might be able to tell that I’m feeling a tad disillusioned this evening. Since my last post on the issue I’ve discovered that, having waxed lyrical about them, I can’t actually vote for the Green Party tomorrow. East Devon is in the 5% of constituencies that doesn’t have a Green candidate. I’m a bit embarrassed actually that I didn’t realise sooner. Our old constituency in mid Devon and the South Hams (where my parents are based) both have Green candidates so I assumed we did too. I hold my hands up, I should have been more proactive much earlier but I just don’t seem to be able to find time to do everything I want and need to right now and unfortunately things that really shouldn’t are falling by the wayside.

So where does this leave me? I have the choice of the big three, an independent and UKIP. In the past I might have voted for the Liberal Democrats but after their total u-turn on tuition fees and their general cowardice during the coalition, they certainly aren’t an option for me. Luckily though, our local independent candidate, Claire Wright, is an attractive option. She is a strong proponent of environmental protection, opposes the bedroom tax and from what I can tell, the privatisation of the NHS, and wants to increase support for small businesses and young people. If I had the choice I’d still vote for a Green candidate, not least so that they had the power of a party behind them, but she’s a pretty decent second option in my opinion.

I briefly looked into tactical voting through voteswap.com in order to try and still support the Green Party but it isn’t viable in my constituency as the incumbent MP, Hugo Swire, has such a stronghold his only real threat is Claire Wright. I’m not sure how I feel about tactical voting anyway, it doesn’t seem right to vote for a party that you don’t really agree with in order to stop one you really don’t agree with. I can see the pragmatic reasoning behind it but it just doesn’t sit right with me. I would rather vote with my heart and have a clear conscience that I’ve exercised my democratic right to the best of my ability.

So all is not lost for me personally but looking at the polls, things aren’t looking particularly promising. Labour and Conservative are pretty much neck-to-neck, it’s going to be a close one. What is looking increasingly unlikely though is the prospect of a significant shake up for British politics. I can only hope for two things, firstly that if Labour do get in (and I think they are the lesser of two evils) that they stick to their promise to stop the privatisation of the NHS and don’t revive their plans regarding monitoring home education. And secondly, and most importantly, that a decent number of Green MP’s are elected, enough to stir things up and make an impact that is felt by us, the people.

So if you’re on the fence, I’d urge you to have a really good think before heading to the polling station tomorrow. I’d love to tell you all to vote Green but that isn’t my place. Instead, just vote with your heart, vote for the party whose vision for our country is closest to your own. Be true to yourself. But more importantly of all, just make sure that you do vote. Get involved with what little democracy we have. Add your voice, your wishes and desires to the mix. Every vote counts.

I’ll see you on the other side…whatever that might hold.