I’m Not Sure It Was Worth Wasting a T-Shirt For…

I’m Not Sure It Was Worth Wasting a T-Shirt For…

So we’re nearing the end of week 6. It feels like the longest and shorted 6 weeks of my life all at once. Emotions running high this week. How about you? I know so many people are feeling the same, this week especially for some reason. Perhaps it’s the change in weather, maybe the length of time now….or all the uncertainty. But there are positives when we look for them.

I’m not sure it was worth wasting a t-shirt for but I wanted to share something with you. Something has been happening here that I was sure would never happen. My two starting to get along. With 6 years between them and with Lara being such a dominant character, Roman has found adjusting to life as a big brother difficult over the last few years. They’ve never really got along. Constantly in competition with one another for attention and both at such different ages. However, lockdown has brought them closer together. Don’t get me wrong. They’re not all over each other every day, but they are interacting more lovingly. They play sometimes and laugh, there’s even been cuddles. It has caught me off guard some days and I’ve felt my eyes well-up.

I'm Not Sure It Was Worth Wasting a T-Shirt For...

A friend sent me a picture the other day….so I recreated it for fun! I’m not sure it was worth ruining a t-shirt for and the kids really didn’t appreciate being trapped inside Chris’ tiny t-shirt. It made me laugh though!

I’m Not Sure It Was Worth Wasting a T-Shirt For…

How unimpressed does Roman look?

Washing after the ink from the t-shirt had got onto their skin
Sibling cuddles
Siblings playing during COVID-19 Lockdown after the tshirt was wasted

It’s good practice to sit down everyday and think to yourself of all those things you are grateful for that day. So this is something I will always remember and be grateful for of this time. The time that enabled these two to love one another more deeply. <3

Lockdown Week 5-It’s Not All Cake-Baking and Working-Out!

So this week we officially commence ‘Lockdown Week 5’. How are we all really doing?? As I scroll through social media all the posts I see are telling me what I should be doing, how I should be feeling, what to do with the kids and what ‘work-out’ to try next! I’ve had enough of them all now.

How are we all really doing?

Here in the Hopes’ household we are completely free-styling!

I’m sitting here in my pj’s at 1.05 pm with unwashed hair, eating my fourth cupcake of the day whilst writing this. During the last 4 weeks we have attempted home-schooling. It just so turns out, we’re not that great at it! We’ve attempted various crafty/art sessions and sorted the kids’ bedrooms but have now run completely out of steam. The house is a mess to put it mildly, the washing basket overflowing and our sanity is slowly dwindling. We’re trying to get work done where we can, but the challenge is real. I am seeing lots of lovely family photos online. Those taking their daily exercise, going for bike rides, or nice walks. I love seeing these pictures, but sometimes I do start to wonder if I’m failing at this lockdown-life.

Am I being everything I need to be for my kids and those around me? It really isn’t all cake-making and movie nights.

We’re all in this together I hear a lot. This is true but the reality is so different for each and every one of us. We need to be kind to one another and to ourselves during this time and remember this.

The Reality…

For some this period is full of moments of peace and reflection. A time for reconnecting with friends over FaceTime, or for taking up a new hobby from home.

Some face feelings of lonliness and isolation from friends and loved ones. Lacking the opportunity to have any real physical contact with others. The older generation home alone, unable to navigate online shopping or Zoom calls with family. The future looking bleak.

Vulnerable young people thrust into unstable home environments, with no agency support or daily contact with school or support workers.

Single parents juggling the stress and strain of looking after their children/home-schooling and working from home. No break from any of it, cracking under the pressure.

Other parents struggling to fulfil their work commitments whilst taking responibility for their kids’ education. Small toddlers running wild at home whilst on a conference call perhaps.

Those worrying about their job security and what this all means for their livlihood down the line. The self-employed whose business and income have disappeared overnight, with little idea of when or whether they will financially be able to continue doing what they did before.

Many petrified to go out for their daily exercise or to go to the shops.

There are those AMAZING key workers out there keeping this country going. The delivery drivers, the posties, the shop workers, our teachers, the emergency services. Thank you so much to each and every one of you. We owe you so much. The worry and fear you all face right now must be unreal, the NHS workers especially. To you we salute. To you we are grateful.

The families that have lost loved ones. Unable to be there….

We are all in different boats riding a wave of huge uncertainty.

Be the Best You Can Be…That is All

The point to my blog really is that it’s okay not to be okay at the moment. It’s completely normal to feel like you haven’t got your sh*t together. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. These are the highlights of everyone’s week. The reality behind the scenes is very different. Be kind to others, but more than anything else right now… kind to yourself. You don’t have to be the best parent in the world, just the best you can be. That is enough, I promise x x x

Grandparenting During Lockdown

I am hearing the term ‘diversify’ a lot at the moment. People mainly referring to businesses at the time of crisis. But one way in which I have seen this term most amazingly used during this pandemic is that of grandparenting! What is Grandparenting during lockdown??

Just this morning I received a message from a friend of mine. With two children at home to entertain 24/7, times are challenging. However her parents who live in Ross on Wye sent her a 7 minute puppet show through this morning especially made for the gradchildren. How AMAZING! Check out this short clip which I posted on my Facebook Page.

Chris’ parents have called the kids a few times for story-time. This has worked really well and given the kids a focus for 10 minutes or so. My eldest has even then read them a few chapters from his David Walliams book. It’s not the same as real-life contact, but it’s the next best thing!

Grandparenting during lockdown

I think it’s lovely and seriously heartwarming to see the ways in which families are communicating at the moment. Whether it be a wave and a chat from the bottom of the driveway during your daily exercise, or a Facetime call. This contact is what is keeping many people going.

I am going to run a competition to honour these wonderful people in our lives. If you would like to nominate your grandparents/parents/parents-in-law or close family friends for a FREE mini-photoshoot to let them know how much you love them then please comment below.

All you have to do is write your name and email address and who you are nominating and why. If you would prefer to send your email address privately then please do via Facebook or Instagram. I will announce the winner at the end of this week and be in touch to arrange.

Keeping a Healthy Immune System During the COVID-19 Pandemic

So we cannot get away from talk about COVID-19. Let’s keep it simple though and talk about our IMMUNE SYSTEM. Having a healthy and happy immune system will help us to fight off the virus should we need to so let’s discuss! I have been chatting with Sophie Beddard (DipCNM) is a qualified nutritional therapist after studying with the College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Sophie’s Advice:

  1. Step up the veggies 

The most obvious but most important. Aim to eat a variety of different coloured foods with every meal. Yellow, orange, red fruits and veggies including leafy greens (spinach kale, collard greens) are rich in immune boosting nutrients and antioxidants including Vitamin C, Beta carotene and Zinc. These nutrients regulate and balance the immune system and can reduce symptoms of respiratory infection, whilst being effective in blocking viruses from multiplying. Be adventurous and throw some veggies into a smoothie!  Here is a great Green Energy Smoothie recipe for you!

Cooking with the kids

2. Stay away from the cookie jar 

Bored and stressed? I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but consuming too much sugar weakens the immune system cells we need to defend against bad bacteria. Try to curb your sweet tooth by embracing berries, apples, citrus fruits and red grapes. There are lots of online recipes online on how to make healthy sweet treats which can be a fun activity with the kids. 

Try these Rasberry and Banana Cookies. You only need 4 ingredients and they taste amazing!

3Introduce probiotic-rich foods 

70-80% of our immune system is located in our gut! This means it is so important to keep the gut as healthy as possible. One way to do this is by consuming probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut, cultured live yoghurt, kefir, kombucha. Other important and every day foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus to create a rainbow diet which will help feed that beneficial bacteria to grow. When ingested, the beneficial bacteria populate the intestinal tract and begin to interact with the body in a positive way by training the immune system, manufacturing vitamins and keeping unfavourable bacteria at bay. 

Supplementing your diet with a probiotic is also extremely beneficial. Sophie’s recommended brands are Udos and Biocare.  

There’s a great programme on Diet and Gut Bacteria that was recently aired on Channel 4! Definitely worth a watch. Fascinating stuff!

3. Keep Hydrated 

We need to stay properly hydrated for our body to function optimally and this goes for our immune system too. Regular water intake can even help to wash any lingering pathogens in the throat down into digestive tract. Once there the stomach acid will kill these off. If you become under the weather, fluid keeps the mucous loose and the membranes moist, allowing you to expel excess mucous and phlegm. Bear in mind that alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeine-containing beverages don’t count as water. Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine acts to remove water from your body, while also leaching water-soluble vitamins and minerals at the same time. Start to introduce immune boosting herbal teas such as ginger, peppermint and echinacea.  

4Address the stress 

Easier said than done, I know!  It’s impossible to lead a completely stress free life, now more than ever we need to prioritise our daily self-care and relaxation. Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response), and increases the production of cortisol and adrenaline. While we need this sometimes to run away from the ‘lion’, prolonged stress can supress protective immune responses and increase inflammation within the body. We want to spend more time in the parasympathetic nervous system state (rest and digest). While it’s unrealistic to say goodbye to stress completely, it can be managed through deep breathing exercise and moderate exercise.  

Don’t be overwhelmed and try and fit too many things into one day. Make a list of 5 things to focus on whilst you’re staying at home and try to focus on just these. Keep things simple.

4. Exercise, but not too much 

Daily exercise relieves stress and assists the body in the elimination of toxins, including viruses and bacteria. Make an effort to take breaks from whatever you’re doing indoors to do a set of push-ups or run up and down the stairs. Here’s an interesting fact for you, studies suggest that if we exercise in nature, we tend to exercise for longer. People who exercise in the outdoors on a regular basis have higher levels of a hormone called serotonin. This reduces tiredness and helps keep us in a happier mood. Here is the part you will really like though….Be mindful of the amount of exercise you are doing. Too much can reduce immunity especially if you aren’t feeling too well to start with.  So in theory, too much exercise is not good for your immunity!

Daily exercise during COVID-19 pandemic

5. Focus on improving your sleep routine 

For our body to rest, repair, heal and function optimally, we need sleep. This can be easier said than done with little ones of course. Take this time to slow down and focus on implementing a bed time routine. Regulating our natural circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) is imperative when it comes to immune health. Limit exposure to blue light from devices such as phones, T.V. and computers in the evening. These reduce melatonin production (our sleep hormone) which can then significantly affect sleep quality.  Turn off the WIFI in your home when you’re sleeping and leave your phone in another room. EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) from these devices may disturb the immune system.  

Have an evening bath with relaxing essential oils and magnesium salts. The magnesium found in the salts are absorbed through the skin and help promote a feeling of calm and relaxation. Magnesium can aid sleep quality by regulating melatonin (our sleep hormone) and GABA production (our calming hormone).  

Little girls fast asleep

6. Be in Nature 

Making the most of being at home and look for opportunities to get back into nature. Trees emit certain chemicals (phytoncides) that have been shown to have a positive effect on immunity. Have your morning cup of tea in the garden. Go outside if you need to make a phone call. Natural daylight exposure is great for your body clock, helping you feel more awake and helping your sleep better.  

Supplementation can also be a helpful tool to support the immune system. Visit AMARANTH for more information or if you are in need of any supplements during this lockdown period. Amaranth are also making local home deliveries. 

Hope this has been helpful! I am going to be bringing you some great and easy family meal recipes later on this week so keep your eyes peeled!

How to Look After Ourselves Emotionally During Lockdown

We are all aware that this period of social distancing and isolating is going to be really difficult on all of us and our mental health. So how do we look after ourselves emotionally during lockdown in an attempt to stay sane?

Many of my friends who are mothers are messaging on a daily basis sharing their frustrations. This video sums up one of the main topics of conversation…..

My reaction is somewhat similar to this!

There is also the very real issue of HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO WORK AND LOOK AFTER KIDS AT THE SAME TIME??? This is virtually impossible! I have no answers.

It may appear from social-media that other parents are completely winning at all of this parenting-lark! Don’t be fooled….we are all struggling. We are all losing our minds and temper. Most of us have done no school work/crafts etc etc at all. Yes our homes are also a tip, the washing basket is overflowing and there is no end in sight. But more pertinent is the fact that with ‘routine’ being completely out of the window the kids and their behaviour are completely up the blumming wall!


How to Look After Ourselves Emotionally During Lockdown

Here are a few ideas. I do not protest to be an expert. I’m as lost as you are. But some things here have helped me and others I know.

  • A quiet walk, perhaps to pick up some essentials from a local shop…take the dog if you have one! Some fresh air and a change of scenery will be the perfect medicine.
  • Exercise! This is more important than anything right now to help with both physical and mental well being. The endorphins released will boost your mood and help you to better cope with the stresses at home. There are lots of free online classes to join in with at the moment including the Joe Wicks workouts. Do this alone or with the kids.
  • A bath at the end of the day with a book to read. It’s tempting to want to take your phone in with you but at times like these some head space away from all the buzz and constant news updates will do you the world of good. A good trashy novel to lighten the mood will be the perfect medicine!
  • Dance….yes the house is a tip and there is cleaning to be done. Turn those tunes on, open the windows and doors and dance as you go! You will feel so much better for it.
  • Drawing/Colouring. There is something so calming about colouring or drawing. An activity that helps you to zone out and channel your inner calm.
  • Watch a film. Again keep it light. Nothing too heavy or depressing. We need positivity and joy right now.
  • Practice some Mindfulness. I have linked some free apps and websites for you. The health benefits of doing something like this everyday, even if only for 1o minutes are massive. Mindfulnesscan help relieve stress and improve sleep and mental health. There are so many other amazing benefits too. At such anxious times this can only be a positive.
  • Talk to friends or your partner about how you are feeling. WhatsApp is a little crazy at the moment. Everyone is at home and online more than usual which has many benefits but also drawbacks. Try to FaceTime one friend or family member a day to catch up. You will feel much better for seeing their face.
  • Wine. Drink it….it tastes good and it really will help!

I haven’t got many tips on how you are able to do any of the above with children running around your feet, short of tieing them up!! Some activites can be done with them. They need down time too. So if they are old enough try and encourage them to have some quiet time alone. If this means giving them a screen to watch then so be it! Be realsitic in what you expect of yourself and your children. Maintaining routine where possible will help. If you have a bedtime routine, stick to it. If you haven’t got one try to establish one where you can.

Painting a rainbow

We Need To Stay Sane

We all need some time to ourselves, even if only for 10 minutes. I appreciate many of you will need the evenings to catch up with work. Try and prioritise some time to yourself too ‘if’ you can. It will help you cope with the tasks ahead. To those single parents out there on their own, extra love to you. I hope you are getting the support you need emotionally to help you cope. xxxx

Exercising during Lockdown