Living my values series: Discovery; should we holiday with a toddler?

Husband and I have been debating long and hard about going abroad on holiday this year. Little Boy will be 20 months old when we have booked time off and we keep asking ourselves what will he get out of it?
The last time we went away, we left Little Boy in the care of his grandparents and while we missed him terribly we asked ourselves every day, would our holiday be better for having him here and what would he get out of it? Now that particular holiday was Orlando in October. It was 30c+ almost every day and we spend a large proportion of it in theme parks. Little Boy was 8 months old at the time and I honestly think bringing him would have been a mistake. We would have paid a lot of money to do far less, we would have not been able to enjoy rides or experiences together as one of us would have had to wait with Little Boy. He would have been dragged around places in the heat with little to do to entertain a crawling 8 month old. Not to mention the flight! 10 hours with a wriggly lap baby sounds pretty horrendous. We came home wondering if it would ever be worth taking him away.
I am a questioner by nature so I did what questioners do best and canvassed opinions from other parents on how they handle holidays at home and abroad. The advice ranged from “DON’T” to “you haven’t taken him anywhere yet? We flew transatlantic with Baby when he was 6 weeks old, go for it!” It just added to or confirmed our list of pros and cons. Then one of Husbands co-workers came out with this gem during a ‘what’s in it for Little Boy?’ debate; “he gets both of his parents 24 hours a day for 7 days without the stresses of everyday life”. 

Now that we could see a benefit to Little Boy, it hits so many of our family values, carving out family time, adventure, culture and could branch out into more like active family activities and making and honouring family traditions; for instance Husband and I collect a bauble for our Christmas tree in every new place we visit and this could be Little Boys first time choosing it.

So we have agreed tentatively to look for a fairly last minute bargain resort holiday, playing to the idea that we want to reduce the everyday stresses, we will be looking for something all-inclusive so that no-one has to worry about shopping, cooking or cleaning and it will have entertainment and possibly a crèche built in so that Little Boy can get some toddler time and Husband and I have the option getting some us time too. So its passport application time for Little Boy as we get prepped for our first holiday abroad and its research time for Me as I dive into questions like, should we bring a buggy, should we use a car seat on the plane or save the ticket price and have Him on our laps.

Any tips for surviving a flight with a very active toddler will be gratefully received by two parents who have been whacked in the face one too many times.

Me X

 

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Focusing on health part 2: Progress and Meals

Just a quick post today updating on my healthy eating and exercise planning. 

The eating is going well, I am enjoying porridge for breakfast most mornings, large and colourful salads for lunch and I have reduced the amount of red meat in my evening meals. The sugar withdrawal is brutal! I will be the first to admit I have an issue with sugar and giving it up has been tough. I limit myself to a small sweet treat after Little Boy has gone to bed and I have honey on my porridge in the mornings. I am even having more savoury breakfasts as a way to reduce my morning sugar intake further. Honey isn’t actually any better for you than processed sugar if you are trying to avoid the sugar high/crash cycle. Having it with porridge helps a little to even out the energy release. I tried chia pudding as a gluten free high nutrition snack/dessert and I can’t say it’s for me. I will try another variation before I give up and use the seeds as a baking ingredient and salad sprinkle. Any suggestions are very welcome. 

The exercise is not ramping up as fast as it should. I’m still getting my squats in and walking as much as ever but no additional runs or gym sessions. The dietary changes have triggered a flare up, which I knew might happen. I will keep my current activity steady until I have control of that side of things. I know from experience that pushing it will result in illness and fatigue which is the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. Still it’s good that I haven’t slipped too far backwards and I am still happy to persevere even though the desire to eat an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s is incredibly strong. 

So that’s my little update and I’ve thrown in some pictures of the food I’ve been devouring over the last week including Harry Potter. 

Enjoy 

Me X

Brown rice, pesto chicken, avocado, olives and fried broad beans

Salad with cucumber, tomato, artichoke, beetroot, tuna, avocado and pistachios 

Salad with cucumber, tomato, artichoke, beetroot, mozerella, pesto and pistachios

Salad with cucumber, tomato, artichoke, avocado, beetroot and tuna

breakfast at home of avocado and poached organic egg on gluten free bread with toasted sesame seeds

breakfast at work of porridge with honey

Living My Values

As part of my exploration of intentional living I will be doing a series of posts around My Values. A central idea behind minimalism and intentional living is living by your values. As someone who often struggles with decision making this has been eye-opening for me, the internal battle between what I want and what I should do has often led to me to make no decision at all, mainly because up until recently I haven’t been able to clearly identify what it is that I want, only that some of the choices in front of me left me feeling uneasy. At least it seems I knew what I didn’t want. The problem is that it is not easy to distinguish between that cloudy feeling of uneasiness and other feelings like fear or confusion. When I set out on this journey and this blog I was searching for joy and contentment and the question that loomed large was:

What would make you happy?

The first time I asked this of myself the answers that came back were very concrete, very material and they were full of crap. They centred on the image of a perfect life, a great house, car, job, holidays, and material possessions etc., everything we are told we should want and that will make us happy. And it might, for a while. I’m sure if I stretched my mortgage budget fully that house hunting would be a world of wonders, but how long would it be before I started nit picking between the houses just the same? Once I’ve bought my max budget house how long would the joy last? Would it fade when the reality of the monthly mortgage payment kicked in? When I realised I couldn’t keep up with the Jones’ next door? This was a bit of a trigger for going down the minimalism path. Surely I wasn’t as vapid and material as this? This wasn’t me.

Further along my journey and with some wonderful insights from The Minimalists and Alisa Vitti and Gretchen Rubin through the very inspiring Jess Lively I asked myself these questions again. The answers I got back were much more aligned with My Values; a few of them were;

  • To live without debt
  • To have a secure home
  • To provide for my child
  • To know my child needs more than “provisions”
  • For my child to feel loved and wanted
  • To see the world and to show it to him
  • To experience cultures outside of my own
  • To make new family traditions and honour old ones
  • To be healthy in body and mind
  • To feel valued in the workplace and value my work

Living from this view point is still a work in progress but it has made a difference to me already. I am far more contented than I was 6 months ago, as are my family. Over the next few months I will be concentrating on some of my values, like healthy living, how I incorporate them into my everyday living and how they help me focus on my larger goals

I’d love to hear from other people living life with intention and what values are guiding you along the way.
Me x 

    Living my values series: Focusing on health Part 1

    My health has really come into focus since having Little Boy; well really since we set out to have Little Boy. Knowing we might have problems I did everything in my power to increase my chances of conception. In a single year, I had surgery to remove a mass from my ovary, got married, started seeing a personal trainer, revamped my diet, and started on prenatal vitamins. Along this journey some of my symptoms diminished and I was able to drop some of my medications. The change in a year was extraordinary and on top of feeling stronger, fitter and more energetic than I had in years I fell pregnant surprisingly quickly. I can’t sit in good conscience and say I fell pregnant because of all of the above; I put that down to fate. I do think however, that we can give fate a helping hand. Like that old saying goes;

    “Pray to the gods but row away from the rocks”

    The pregnancy and early motherhood took far more out of me than I was expecting. All of the strength and energy I had built up seemed drained away. I felt exhausted most of the time, as I’m sure most new mums do, and while I have regained some of my stamina I still feel a long way away from my pre pregnancy peak. So what have I done in the last 16 months to help get back to the place? Pretty much bugger all! At times I might have tried to convince myself I was “being good” eating my salads, but I have serious issues with how much sugar I consume and I practically medicated with sugar to battle the exhaustion. Consuming that many empty calories also wiped out any exercise I was doing, the brisk walk to work; the floor play with Little Boy in the evenings just went towards burning up the sugar.

    So given that bugger all isn’t miraculously filling me with the strength, energy and vitality I need, it’s time to make a plan and start working towards feeling better. I have tried and failed miserably to implement a well-researched and planned out health regime before, in part due to lack of commitment, the f*** it I want chocolate moment came and I caved, and partly due to sheer overwhelm. Like all of the other habits you learned in life, you learned them gradually. You didn’t wake up one morning knowing how to wash, dress and get to work; you had that responsibility handed over to you gradually. So I will be taking a more gentle approach with myself this time and starting with small changes that will gradually make a big impact to my health. Whether baby steps or giant leaps I need to have an end goal in mind.

    Diet wise I will be eating a low inflammation diet recommended for my condition. It cuts out, gluten (which I already avoid), most dairy, red meat, soy, processed sugar, high fat foods and processed foods in general. Sounds fun right? I have been avoiding this change for as long as I possibly can, but if I want to avoid future surgeries then this is the best way to row away from the rocks. The small changes I will be making, replacing milk with oat milk, adding omega 3 rich foods to my diet such as chia, decreasing my meat intake by increasing my green vegetable portion size and having two meat free days a week, vegan if I can.

    Exercise wise I will continue my brisk walks which average out to over 20 miles a week, and as Little Boy gets more and more active there is more opportunity to run around after him. I want to be going to the gym twice a week with smaller daily workouts four mornings a week at home consisting of stretches, squats, planks, push ups and basic yoga poses.

    Diet wise I will be eating a low inflammation diet recommended for my condition. It cuts out, gluten (which I already avoid), most dairy, red meat, soy, processed sugar, high fat foods and processed foods in general. Sounds fun right? I have been avoiding this change for as long as I possibly can, but if I want to avoid future surgeries then this is the best way to row away from the rocks. The small changes I will be making, replacing milk with oat milk, adding omega 3 rich foods to my diet such as chia, decreasing my meat intake by increasing my green vegetable portion size and having two meat free days a week, vegan if I can.

    Today’s little steps were 10 squats before I left the house, a dairy free, gluten free lunch with smoked pork, brown rice, avocado, tomatoes and artichokes and a homemade chocolate chia seed pudding for my lunchtime dessert. It’s tasty enough but I think the texture could take a bit of getting used to.

    Sonner than I think my little steps will leave me feeling strong, full of energy and pain free.

    Me x