Is Therapy Worth It?

pexels-photo-1282315.jpeg
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I was recently evaluating a conversation I had with a friend, about therapy, counselling, the power of meditation and prayer and it occurred to me to do this blog post. So I am writing this from a place some second hand experience, I am writing it both for myself and for someone like this dear friend, who wishes she had bumped into a piece like this, when things peaked for her.

Cambridge dictionary has defined therapy as “treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger, especially after an illness”. Some common therapies include occupational therapy, speech therapy, group therapy, behavioural therapy. For the purpose of this post, I would like to focus on therapies that improve the well being of the mind. There are many instances where one might need the right therapy to unpack and manage events in the past, or the present, to manage stress, or anxiety triggered by events or perhaps chemical imbalances in the body. There can be need for therapy following a new job, a big life change, a bereavement, a divorce, a difficult marriage, anxiety, depression of many kinds.

Life happens sometimes and things get overwhelming, confusing, or we find ourselves in very difficult and disagreeable situations. The power of talking things through and articulating how one feels can never be underestimated. As human beings, our minds play a vital role in how we process things and how our hearts and heads process various situations. Speaking out then can provide tremendous relief, and an avenue to express what exactly is going on, as well as why we are dealing with it in the way that we are.

Although both words (therapy and counselling) are often used interchangeably, they are slightly different. Both attempt to provide opportunities to unpack, discuss and heal, however counselling is usually more short term (6 to 12 weeks) than therapy. Increasingly, people use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help with  some eating disorder such as bulimia, depression,  phobias, obssessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to deal with other things such as bereavement, onset of a serious illness, infertility, relationship/marriage issues, loss of a job, retirement, childbirth, professionals use talking therapies to help people who may be affected.

More recently, the use of therapy is becoming increasingly popular, with more people, at least in my immediate circle, considering it. It is as though the rest of the world is finally catching up on a recipe the Americans have had and used for a long time. Remember the inferences and the jokes about shrinks and people dreaming on a couch, being a fad in the US? Well it seems that suddenly, the whole world realises that actually, this is valid treatment that can save lives. So is therapy worth it? I think as with most things in life, the intention and the theory are great, it is finding the appropriate diagnosis and the correct treatment that can be hit or miss. I have to say that not everyone who claims to be a counsellor or a therapist is one, or a good one at that.

My friend who inspired this piece had therapy for six months when she was dealing with certain childhood/growing up problems which had begun to rear their ugly heads as she got older and tried to have a thriving and lasting relationship. According to her, it was worth it, it saved her marriage, saved her job, and made her a better person. Therapy is worth it if one finds the appropriate professional for help. Most countries will have a list of qualified, licensed and certified therapies who are allowed to practice. Additionally, some regions will have independent reviews regarding the therapist in question. I would suggest doing some research before deciding on one. It might also help to discuss needs and problems within the trusted safety net of family and/or friends and your family general practitioner, before the introduction of a professional.

Family doctors, your best friend, your mentor, your neighbour, that trusted colleague, your pastor, a career coach, are great places to start. However, invariably, a trained therapist is always the best place to stop.

Have you ever had therapy or counselling? If not, is it something that you would ever consider?

How To Find Love Online

Love and relationships are two things which go hand in hand and which most people certainly aspire to. The truth is that there are many people in the world who enjoy being by themselves, or prefer casual relationships. However, a great many of us want and desire that warm and fuzzy feeling and connection, as well as the companionship which ultimately comes with a relationship that works. It used to be the case that many relationships were expected to have developed through family and/or friends’ networks and introductions, at work, at random social interactions, perhaps in church and community spaces. But as the world changes and evolves, these traditional routes are becoming less and less common especially with the increasingly popular and ever expanding existence of social media and technology.

In more traditional and dare I say overly-religious societies where people view social media with suspicion, finding love online is still a taboo. It is happening everyday, but people choose to keep this quiet. I think meeting one’s significant other online may be frowned upon depending on how and what platform on which the connection happens. For example, I have found that people are more inclined to disclose finding love on social media platforms such as instagram, facebook and twitter, more than they are willing to admit being on online dating sites. And yet, these online dating websites are increasingly popular and reporting consistent annual profits from doing business successfully, around the world.

The Knot surveyed 14,000 engaged couples, and 19% of those surveyed had met their to-be-spouses online surpassing the older methods for meeting and dating including through friends (17%), from University (15%) and through work (12%). In early 2017, the online dating industry reported an incredible $3 billion, from websites and online apps. Some of the success reported is as a result of the increasingly isolated lives which we lead, the increasing economic pressures which makes people move far from family to work, which makes people work late and have less time for socialising and also in some cases, the shrinking disposable income that allows for a lot of socialising. The use of technology also makes it easy to find love online because we are already on our phones and laptops one third of our wakeful hours.

So how can one find love online? Is it worth it? What platforms can one consider and what are the pros and cons of using the internet to find love?

  • It is important to understand oneself and exactly what you are searching for in a partner. Are you looking for a fling, are you looking for a lasting partnership, are you looking to date someone and hopefully get married.
  • If you are already using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I am advocate of “shooting your shot” when the opportunities present themselves. There are many success stories of people “sliding into DMs” of people whom they found interesting and the rest they say is history.
  • Choose an online dating site that charges a minimal fee (or a maximum one if you can afford it). The idea is that a paying subscription based website weeds out the bad eggs and the people who are on these websites just for a laugh.
  • Do a bit of research, check for authenticity of the online dating sites, including how much traffic it receives from your location (some dating sites are more popular in some countries more than others. You want to make sure that you choose a website that is actually popular in your country/region).
  • Consider choosing an online dating website that either allows you to search for and select potential dates that you fancy, from your region/in close proximity, or an online dating site that uses some kind of psychometric patterns to match you.
  • Give yourself a timeline for meeting someone and stay open.
  • Set ground rules for yourself which will guide you as you navigate these “territories”
  • For the first three dates, it may be wise to plan dates that take place public spaces to keep yourself safe and in view of other people. Do not go in a stranger’s car.
  • Slow down on the alcohol at those first few dates, so that your inhibition is not lowered and you can react should you smell trouble.
  • After multiple dates, if you feel safe enough with your date to want to take it further, consider using protection.
  • If you can afford it, spread your bets and set up accounts on at least two online dating websites with different “love models” and metrics.

There are certain pros and cons which I consider worth looking into before one embarks upon this “venture” called online dating. The main pro I think is that once people decide to give online dating a try, chances are that they are indeed ready for something worthwhile and will give it an honest trial in a bid to successfully meet a significant other. That’s a good thing. One big con is that unfortunately, there are many “loafers” on online dating sites who are there to take advantage of people who wear their hearts on their sleeves there and are very much on it for the wrong reasons. No surprise that there has been a rise on the spread of STDs through online encounters. But this is why everyone who is genuinely on it for the right reason must have some ground rules and set boundaries to guide your interaction.

Finally, The Knot reports that people who meet online are more likely to commit to each other quickly through engagements, civil ceremonies or weddings, more so that couples who meet each other through the traditional means. Thus if you are prepared to take that plunge and meet your significant other for a happily ever after, this is your shot. Godspeed as you travel on your journey.

How To Get Along With The Mother-In-Law

woman carrying baby at beach during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy New Year guys! I know it’s July, but when one wakes up is his or her morning. Think about it, whether one rises at 6am or at 12noon, one still has to go through some, if not all of the usual first up routine. And as the wonderful writer Chinua Achebe says “it is morning yet on creation day”. That was all a long winded way of saying that I regret being away from here for most of the year. Life is happening to me guys, life is happening. In the most wonderful of ways, but still all very new and sometimes stressful. Raising a family is one of the most delightful, yet all consuming sacrifices/gifts any human could ever ask for. I am thankful, but I am also overwhelmed and at times, left with absolutely no energy or reserve for anything more. Anyway, I am here now, to try again to continue  my rambles here in this freedom square. I have written this blog for almost 6 years, and I am thankful for all of you, and for the traffic that flows through here.

While raising a family, I reckon it is all the more difficult when one does not have the support of the proverbial “village”, the support of a trusted community of extended family and the familiarity of known spaces and structures to help to raise your family. That brings me to the topic at hand; getting along with your partner’s/spouse’s family/mother in law. For this post, I am more interested in relationships with the mother in law for the ladies in relationships.

You see, when a woman raises a son, the emotional connection and society’s nurturing of boys can be quite different to girls. Don’t we love to spoil our sons and raise them to be entitled? Boys are raised with privilege; especially when it comes to life skills of the nurturing or domestic kind. Mothers spoil their boys, it is a fact universally acknowledged, which is probably why that feeds into the other universally acknowledged fact that “a man who is in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. Why? One might ask. Because some men (traditionally, of course all that is changing nowadays) need to be looked after. Apart from birthing the heirs, who else is going to do the cooking and cleaning and all that great stuff? But I digress.

Mothers prior to the appearance of  the wife, looked after their sons. They want him to be loved and nurtured and they want him to be obeyed and listened to and treated like a king. In addition to all these, mothers were the sole proprietors of their son’s love and adoration and affection before the advent of the wife. I think this is why there always seems to be a competition when a woman becomes a serious contender. There are 4 kinds of mothers-in-law:

The Nobody Is Good Enough For My Son kind

This is the kind of mother in law who you can never ever impress. She tells you exactly how her son likes his shirts ironed, and how hot he likes his jollof rice, never mind that his taste may have changed over the years. With this mother in law, everything is a competition. She is concerned that you are replacing her and there is nothing anyone can do or say to change her mindset. She will throw curveballs your way everytime she has a chance, and does not hide the fact that she does not think you are enough. I bet you fight with your husband every time this mother in law visits.

How to get along with this kind? Just make your peace with the fact that she raised a good man (hopefully he is one), she’s probably lived half of her life so you cannot really change her. So what do you do? As hard as it sounds, you have to tolerate her. Ask for her ideas for family gatherings, or just life in general, and make sure to give her some positive feedback when you have put that extra curry she insisted that Jim likes in his jollof rice. When she comes to visit, prepare yourself mentally and stay busy to take your mind off her sniffs.

The Meddler

This mother in law is literally the worst. She’s the kind who will ring your husband in the middle of the night, and insist that your first child, whom you carried for nine months, never mind the hyperemesis gravidarum you suffered in the first trimester, and the subsequent pre-eclampsia and fourth degree tear you had post delivery, be named after her father. She’s the kind who wanted to see your wedding dress and immediately decided it was too revealing, long sleeves and all. Do you remember taking a drive around the auto stores looking at that lovely SUV or perhaps the Eco friendly cars, then suddenly your husband changes his mind to an ugly 7 seater MVP in order to fit your unborn family of 4 children? That was all Mama meddler. Now you have an ugly 7 seater that you hate to drive, even though you have only one child named Afamefuna (thanks to Mama Meddler), sitting in the back. You fight with your husband everytime this kind of mother in law visits.

How do you manage Mama Meddler? Your action plan will depend on a) Is hubby a mummy’s boy? OR b) Is he a reasonably independent son. If he’s a mummy’s boy, girl, you better make friends with Mama Meddler and ring her as often as you can. Co-opt her into your planning, I know it is hard, but do you want your second child to be named after her great-aunt? Do you want your marriage to end in divorce? It can all be managed in the meantime until family life becomes so busy that hubby is fully integrated into this new lifestyle and stops running to her with every decision and difficulty. In the interim, suggest things that you want to happen for your family to her and bring her to your side. She will most probably claim it as hers, and voila, suddenly her meddling is working for you. The best solution to this is really not to marry a mummy’s boy, but I guess there’s someone for everyone.

If he’s the second kind i.e reasonably independent and logical, then perhaps agree on a family decision making process and keep tabs on when things have changed. Do not suggest that the idea came from his mother, but highlight the timelines for the change and ask about the evolution of the plans, and where the changes emanated from. If he’s logical, he may begin to see a pattern and the relationship with his mum will evolve to “keeping you informed”, and not “asking for your opinion”.

The Genuinely All Embracing Mother-In-Law

If you have this kind, then you have lucked out. She’s genuinely a lovely woman who embraces you with open arms and is thankful that her son has met someone who completes him. This mother-in-law makes it easy to have a new family and just lets you get on with your lives. She dotes on her son, but has no attachment issues and wishes you all well. Mind you, some of these all embracing mothers-in-law may be a little bit suffocating. Some chat non-stop, offer endless words of advise and gifts, visit quite often and maybe even call you more than they call their sons. Listen, take it. You may feel that you do not need another “mummy” because your mother is probably already driving you nuts. However, think about the good sides; it is definitely better than having a meddler or someone who doesn’t think that you are good enough. Who knows, there maybe days when you wish for a shoulder to lean on and she may be there to support you.

You will get along with this mother in law by tapping into her wealth of knowledge regarding your significant other’s upbringing. She will be delighted to tell you stories of him as a young child, she will probably be delighted to host you to visit on holidays without criticising and inspecting your every move. Chances are she will make a spectacular grandmother to the grandchildren. Make the best of her and let her be a wonderful binding ingredient for you and your family.

The Mother-In-Law Who Does Not Care

The final kind of mother-in-law is the one who probably lives in the same city as you but does not visit, and has no interest in your family. Many women prefer this kind, but there’s probably a vaccum in your husband’s life if he does not have a present mother. There may be buried issues there regarding his upbringing, so in as much as this can be a relief from the first two kinds, you may wish to uncover the reason behind this deficiency just to make sure it does not affect the relationship you have with your partner/spouse and the children going forward. Make a point to send birthday wishes, and mother’s day wishes and Christmas visits if you can.

Finally, I think that sometimes we  go into relationships with the fear of the famous “monster-in-law”. Some friends have told me that they went into their marriages ready for the “battle” of places with the mother-in-law. In some cultures, newlyweds live with the parents in law, and this can make things a little more intense. It is probably not a terrible idea to be self-aware and to put your best foot forward while engaging with the entire family (not just the mother) of your partner/spouse. Going into any situation with our backs up tend to manifest themselves in our body language without our realisation.

What would I do? 

I’ll do my very best to get along with her, this is someone who’s played a key role in raising my loved one, I’ll try to be myself with them, or shall we say an improved version of myself. I’ll reach out and stay connected, I will most probably follow my husband’s lead.

Chances are -you’ll be ok.

 

Jollof Wars: All For The Culture

Jollof Rice is Nigeria’s crown jewel, nothing unites the country more than a good old jollof discussion. What makes it even more special is the claim Nigeria’s West African neighbours insist that they have on it; Senegal, Ghana and the Gambia all have their versions of jollof.

Jollof Rice is a fragrant one pot rice dish made from plain white rice, red tomatoes and fragrant spices. It has arguably become the staple in Nigeria alongside eba, fufu, garri, pounded yam which are generally known as swallow. Jollof rice is the one party dish that always finds its way to every single party of Nigerians at home and in diaspora, and is a winner every time.

So who first created the jollof rice dish? As much as Nigerians hate to admit it, Jollof has its origins from Senegal, we know this, and it is indisputable, much to our annoyance, because the word jollof itself is a wolof word, a language spoken in Senegal. Jollof means “one pot” which is essentially how the jollof rice dish is made. I suppose since it is called jollof rice, one more word after jollof was added, then there must be other one pot dishes in Senegal? As an aside, I am curious. Is there a jollof beans? Jollof cassava? Jollof plantain?

Since the origin is no longer disputable, Nigerians have moved to the more important matter, which is, who makes the best jollof rice? For some reason, probably because Senegal pioneered it, the jollof war leaves them untouched for the most part. The main disagreeing parties are Ghana and Nigeria. More than once, I have played the devil’s advocate, asking my friends,

“But Nigeria did not pioneer this dish; surely they must make the best?”

To which I have always received the same answer.

“Life does not work that way, it is quite normal in life for the trainer to grow and hone his skills in such an expert and innovative manner, that he outdoes the trainer, Nigeria has the best jollof.”

There are mock fights because of and hero songs about this dish, it is arguably the easiest meal to make, yet the easiest to ruin. It is one of those dishes which can go wrong if a step or an ingredient is missed. It can lose its essence. Conversely, because of its one pot nature, it is tasty regardless; people will eat it and complain as they do. Most Nigerians will learn to cook jollof rice before any other dish, jollof rice was one of the first dishes my mother taught me to cook.

In 2014, Nigerians and Ghanaians set aside their differences to unite when British chef Jamie Oliver added jollof rice to the long list of dishes he made. The hash tag jollofgate trended on twitter as West Africans on home soil and in the diaspora disagreed vehemently with his version which had parsley and lemon. A few months ago, the Journalist Richard Quest visited Nigeria and asked the Nigerian Minister for Information one jollof question.

“Who makes the best jollof rice?”

It was a simple enough question, one which always elicited a light hearted response and applause. Lai Mohammed responded, to everyone’s shock.

“Senegal.”

There was an audible gasp from the crowd, and since this was on National Television, everyone saw it, and shortly after, there were clips circulating on the internet. Another jollof gate was created on twitter, Nigeria’s neighbours Ghana had a good laugh. People were calling for Lai Mohammed’s head and his resignation. He was a traitor who had committed an unutterable sacrilege. Richard Quest tried to do some damage control, and said the Minister had heard “where did jollof rice come from” and not “who made the best jollof rice”.

Although there have been a few “jollof wars”, there has been one moment of jollof victory. When Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook visited Nigeria last year, he told his audience;

“I had jollof rice and shrimps and it was delicious. I have been warned never to compare it to the Ghana jollof rice.”

Nigerians took this statement and ran with it, claiming the Zuck had endorsed Nigerian jollof as the better one. I personally think mentioning Ghana jollof in the same sentence as the Nigerian jollof should have earned him a jollof gate on twitter.

I would be shocked if there’s anyone who is Nigerian, or is of Nigerian descent, and has not had jollof rice. Show me anyone who is non-Nigerian and lives in Nigeria or lives elsewhere but has some linkages to Nigerians, and hasn’t tried jollof. That is an atrocity that needs to be fixed, you need your jollof fix. It goes really well with chicken and plantain. Do not wait for August 22nd,which by the way, is World Jollof Day. Try it today, if you are in Nigeria, visit a restaurant, the more low end, the better. This is because jollof is tastier when it has a smokey flavour which is derived from cooking on open fire. That smokey flavour is known as the party flavour.

Nowadays, with the explosion of content on the internet, I have seen hash tags on social media proclaiming the dish served up at a certain party a cultural revolution #jollofrevolution #jolloffortheculture #winnerjollof #Nigerianjollof. Indeed I have heard a man describe his girlfriend as Nigerian jollof; there is no better complement. If someone describes a person to you as Nigerian jollof, that person embodies all that is good and all that cannot be broken. Jollof rice has become a beloved piece of national treasure, one that attracts goodwill and unites the people; why else do you think I named my podcast “Salute to Jollof”? Here’s my podcast, for your listening pleasure.

Recently, I have begun to write and create on the subscription and patron based platform patreon. If you would like to support yours truly, and to read and listen to more of my work, please click here for my podcasts and short stories. 

 

The Chairlady For Jolliness And Nuptial Endowment Series

A short introduction to the series
The series has its foundation from the news story of a State Governor in Nigeria who created an office for his sister. She was named the Commissioner for Happiness and Couples Fulfilment, and public outcry followed. The Chairlady for Jolliness And Nuptial Endowment is a satirical piece that goes on to explore politics and policy decisions around the African continent, and their consequence for the ordinary man.  For the story which broke towards the end of 2017, click here.

 

Prologue

Two months ago, I became the Chairlady for Jolliness and Nuptial Endowment. I think it is important at this early point to mention that I deserved it too, because although I am not a politician, I am happy and my marriage is fulfilled.

Before my appointment, I was a woman of God, still am, running a successful park and shop business, mother of six children, and married successfully for 20 years. Somebody was asking on the radio how you know a successful marriage. Well I say I have been married successfully because my husband Joseph and I still live under one roof even after all our years of marriage, all my six children are his’, we all go to church in one car and I still cook him pepper soup on Sundays.

I proudly stated some of this in my inauguration speech and all the newspapers won’t stop printing it, that means it is popular and worthy of emulation. In all my happiness at this blessing, I felt confused at the name of my portfolio, because people were laughing about it, calling it local. But I have accepted it all in good faith; after all, I am a successful businesswoman in my own right who is now a politician. When you have a good salary and benefits, an official car, a nice office, and a secretary, everything else will sort itself out. But yes, that title wasn’t exactly what I would have written myself. Ah, and that secretary who is always wearing very short skirt suits. I do not like her overly long and bright nails, and bleached knuckles. But we must all key in into His Excellency’s vision.

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised when I received the phone call and confirmation. Do you know who is the happiest for this news? My husband is. You see, all my comportment has worked, when I used to tell him that worshipping at Holy Faith Chapel has its advantages, he argued. Who is laughing last now? Men! To drive 30 minutes to a connected church where everyone is a big man, and His Excellency himself worships there, what’s the big deal with a bit of driving in traffic for a good cause? I cut out running generator in my shop for electricity before 1pm and converted the money into nice clothes for church for the children and for us. Everything we wore was asoebi; it is not enough to say you are husband and wife; your clothes must match to illustrate your bond and your class too. All these are investments, but when you tell men, they do not listen.

Anyway, the night of the announcement was extra special, he called me asa! I haven’t heard that nickname since we had our first, and as you know by now, I have gone on to have 5 more. I think our wonderful children contributed too, because when I kit them up, and my husband too, and we sit together, full of smiles and happiness, I was clearly the ideal candidate for this role. The women’s group helped also because I often offer to help with everything, especially for church announcements and event planning. Ah, it has paid off.

The First Lady is also my friend, because of Holy Faith Chapel. She must have given His Excellency the green light to appoint me. I call her mummy. I remember one Sunday morning; my father was visiting us for a week and he wouldn’t stop complaining about his pension. I told him not to come to church with us; to rest and watch some football. He would have said something unhelpful to the First Lady, I was sure. That day I made sure to tell her a kind word. I said “mummy, you look joyful, blue is your colour and the Lord is working mightily through you and daddy His Excellency”. And I went away. The key is to greet and complement often, but never harass and never ever ask for money or contracts. Never ask for a job for your children or relatives, most importantly, never ask for pension for your father. Life is about looking at the goal and packaging. Now that I am Chairlady, is my father not getting the entire pension he is owed? Even my husband is getting a pension too from the province and he hasn’t even retired.

My husband has never been more attentive and helpful; you should see him telling the driver, my driver, what errands to run. You would think he was the Chairman for Jolliness and Nuptial Endowment. I told him he was the Assistant Chairman for Jolliness and Nuptial Endowment. He just threw his head back and laughed his big deep laugh, the one I hear only when he’s speaking to “My Oga”. I have since realised that “My Oga” cannot be his boss or a supplier, but must be one of his girlfriends. Ah don’t look so surprised, I know that laugh. He laughs that way too when I lend him money to pay some of the rent, a sound of sheer pleasure at getting his way.

Anyway, I am not complaining o, I have my six children, so I am jolly and endowed. He’s told me to call him Chief, the Honourable Chair, and he laughed that big laugh again. My husband was pleased for me. For all his indiscretions, he’s still the lifter upper of my head. Well after Jesus. But you know who wasn’t so pleased? The people of the internet.

I do not know how they got my photo, and many photos of me were being circulated with ugly rumours and lies. People do not understand that our society is being ruined by unhappiness and divorce, there is need for my position and I will do my best to show them. Now that orientation month is over, I plan to start immediately. My office has two responsibilities, like two branches; Jolliness and Nuptial Endowment. I plan to spread Jolliness first, and I will do that by putting Christmas trees in every market, every school and every hospital in the province. I will put Christmas lights on the poles of street lights and traffic lights. Not only will it spread happiness which is the main objective, but it will use solar power, so even when NEPA takes the light and the streets are dark, our Christmas lights and trees will light up the entire Odon Province.

To be continued next week.

Recently, I have begun to write and create on the subscription and patron based platform patreon. If you would like to support yours truly, and to read and listen to more of my work, please click here for my podcasts and short stories. 

Routine For An 11 Month Old

As you may have rightly guessed, I am currently a stay at home mum with the sprog who is 11 months. I never thought that I would spend more than 6 to 9 months with my baby. I always thought she would go to Nursery once she was weaned on to solids, but that hasn’t happened. I think that in many ways, we are quite lucky to be able to give her the foundation that we think she needs before handing her over to early years experts at Nursery. Of course not every family is able to do this, and there is no right or wrong way. If a mother has to return to work, then another primary care giver must be found.

Being at home provides me the opportunity to spend ample time with my baby. It can be both satisfying and rewarding, but also exhausting at times. There are days when I just want to send her to Nursery, and there are other days when I cannot stop smiling at her big bright smiles and precious antics. It’s great to spend the day when she eats what I feed her, naps when she should, and plays away if mama has to tackle a few tasks around the house. Not so great when she cries all the time, and is generally cranky as babies can be sometimes.

The one thing that keeps me sane, is a routine. Within that routine, a list of games and at least one trip out of the house keeps things manageable and interesting for the sprog and myself. Below is a typical routine for weekdays.

6.30-7.30am: I can hear her humming and sucking on Peter Rabbit, I have an hour to have a shower and get ready for the day.

7.30-8.00am: Go down to her room, morning cuddles, nappy change and go to the kitchen for milk.

8.00-8.30am: Read a story or just play.

8.30-9.00am: Breakfast.

9.00-10am: Play

10.00-12noon: Wash and get dressed, have a small mid-morning snack, go to a baby class or sit and play session run locally. She naps in her pushchair.

12noon-2.00pm: Might go home and have lunch, or go into town to run errands. Have lunch on the go.

2.00-4.000pm: Sing and play. She cruises around the house, exploring things, while I run errands next to her. Then offer a mid-afternoon snack and water.

4.00- 5.00pm: Convince her to have a nap. In the last 3 days, this has now become increasingly difficult. I think she may be dropping the afternoon nap.

5.00-6pm: Dinner.

6pm-7.30pm: Finish dinner, play, do her bedtime routine including a nice warm bath, lights out, go to sleep.

Now this is only the perfect scenario, there are days when we end up staying indoors although I try to keep these at a minimum because she is much easier to manage and less bored when she’s been outdoors. There are days, like yesterday, when she is so cranky as a result of the missed nap, that she won’t stop crying. Other days, she chooses to cling to the back of my legs and thus I am unable to do much around the house.

Whatever the case, the best advice I received regarding looking after babies is to establish a routine which includes leaving the house at least once a day, and I am glad I listened. Going out makes a world of difference to a baby’s temperament because the fresh air, and the world out there, feed their curiosity and they sleep so well afterwards, at least our baby does.

Losing Weight After Childbirth

 

Losing weight after childbirth is one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Before conception, I weighed 67kg and gained a whooping 20kg by the time the sprog was born. So we returned home from hospital, baby in arms, logging around about 15kg. To be honest, I was surprised that I was still weighing that much, my belly was still a huge watermelon, and I was hungry all the time.

I breastfed my baby for the first six months of her life, and I can tell you that it is an intense experience, especially as she was hungry all the time. Some friends expressed surprise that the weight wasn’t falling off because I breastfed, but I knew it didn’t happen because I ate as much as I breastfed, and I ate all the wrong things. I think because I was exhausted from logging around a baby who refused to be put down on her own, and I was sleep deprived, I just ate whatever was available. She was born a month before Christmas and thus the house was full of chocolate and biscuits. I indulged. Yes, I indulged very much.

The result is that almost a year on, it has been a vicious cycle, the weight is still there -5kg. My belly is still the size of a watermelon, I still see the images of Beyonce and Serena Williams who seem to have lost their weight in 2 days, and I remain the primary care giver for the sprog who leaves me exhausted and exercise averse at the end of the day.

So how can I lose the rest of the weight and shape up? I do know what to do, I just need to dig deep and find the energy, motivation, discipline, patience and the time. It may require waking up at 6am, an hour before the sprog wakes up, to work out using some YouTube videos. I will need to do healthy meal preps at the weekends so that I can have meals to eat whenever I am hungry. I will have to cut out biscuits and all the bad stuff that I reward myself with when she goes to bed. If I start to walk more, and get to 10,000 steps per day I know the kilograms will fall off.

Going forward, I have now learned that the best way to recover quickly after a pregnancy is to eat as healthily as possible while pregnant, and to stay as active as possible. Should we be blessed with another baby, I intend to carry on working out, energy and health permitting, until my due date. Additionally, after the baby arrives, I will start to eat healthy from day 1, and ask for help to avoid the burnout that comes from exhaustion. I will plan many family meals in advance and freeze them to avoid the chaos that comes when a newborn arrives. I will start to workout hopefully after 3 weeks, which is the timeline for recovery recommended after vaginal delivery.

As for my weight and health situation at the moment, I have started working out and have lost about 5kg so far, but the truth is that I have another 10kg to shake, and I have a whale of a belly to reduce and shape up. I have now set a goal for myself, I want to try to reach 70kg by February 2018. I want to do it right, no diets, no tricks, just good old fashioned exercise and eating right. Have you tried to lose weight recently? What worked for you? Any tips and ideas for shredding are very welcome.