How Many Friends Does A Friend Need?

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately, not in a losing sleep, I need to find the answer sort of way. More of a ponder, I wonder, oh yeah sort of thing. With a few different friend hats on the go, I often wonder if it’s the same for everyone? I’ve always considered myself more of a floater, (not that sort of floater, potty brain) But I’ve also realised that it’s changed quite significantly over the years;

I breezed through secondary school and college with several bff’s, some I’ve never seen again and others sitting firmly in the Facebook, checking in now and then category. I’ve managed to on to one of my bestest to this very day.  We don’t see each other very often, I’m talking years without any face to face conversation, but we check in now and then and when we do meet up, we pick up from where we left off. I love that we have a shared past and experienced so many firsts, good and bad, together, she still never holds back from telling me when I’ve been a fool! And I take it, because I value her opinion, I guess you do when they’re your friend. Right?

When I separated from my husband, my friends really came good. But one really shone through, she called me daily, counselled me, arranged days out and put me firmly back on my feet with a smile on my face and my self-esteem and confidence firmly intact. I often tell her she’s my guardian angel, she signed sealed and delivered what true friendship means, now that’s what I call a friend.

what makes a friends? do you class family as friends?

Messages from old friends and new, once word got out, sending love (and not just wanting the gossip) saw me through those darkest days too. They’ll never know how much they helped.

I hope they do now.

And that floater thing, (I’m sure there’s a better term than that, answers on a postcard please.) Over the years, I’ve dipped in and out of friendship groups. But it’s the tough times which really cut the wheat from the chaff, these are the times when you find out who the real ones are and who to metaphorically swipe left on. I’ve sacked a few off for one reason or another, usually loyalty, can’t be doing with that two-faced nonsense. If you’re caught out, you’re out. Simples. My Scorpio sting takes no prisoners when I’ve been hurt, I can stone wall like a pro.

There’s also one more thing which puzzles me; Just because you’re related, does that stop them being a friend? Some of my other closest confidants are my parents, siblings, aunties, and cousins. I count them as my friends too, regardless of blood, we genuinely do like each other and above all, we ‘ave a laugh. That shared sense of humour must be in the blood.

what makes a friends? do you class family as friends?
And finally, there’s the ones I’ve gathered up over the years, the ones I put in the fun category. My wine buddies to go forth and get merry with, we keep it light, sometimes gin brings out the deep and meaningful moments. But generally, we gossip, laugh and go home. Perfect.

So a friend for all occasions, regardless of who, what and where horses for courses! It may not be your cup of tea. But it suits me! It’s not counted in how many you have, how close you are, everyone needs a different friend for different occasion, just as long as there’s trust, happy times and dependability,

That’s what I call a friend.

<insert smilie face, maybe a winking one even>

 

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This Is How I’m Helping My Kids Through A Divorce

It’s been quite some time since I wrote about my separation, to be honest I’ve never been more uncomfortable sharing something so personal and there are still aspects I will keep to myself. But there are also some things which I wanted to share, things I’ve leant and never expected to feel. No one can truly prepare you for what lies ahead, everyone’s story is different. Yet there are things, or rather, situations which most people experience but never really tell you.

You will have to use every core of your emotions to put your children first

Right from the start I wanted to make my divorce as pain-free for my kids. They were entering a whole new lifestyle which had never been predicted. One day they were looking forward to a future with a mum & dad; A wedding day with all the family, mum and dad on the top table, not a step parents in sight and weekends doing family stuff, always in their own house. Holidays would carry on as normal and when they left home they’d come back to mum and dads for Sunday roasts.

All the things they’d taken for granted suddenly swept away.

I know how that feels, I’m a child of divorce too and that whole uncertainty of what life is going to be like is pretty scary, especially when you haven’t got a lifetime of experience and adult reasoning to rationalise things.

So one thing I had to do was put myself in their shoes, this meant sending myself right back to how I felt all those years ago, not a nice memory to try relive, I might have been 19 but divorce is hard on kids no matter what age . Yet if the boys and I were to come out of this storm unscathed, they had to come first and I had to try and remember how the whole thing felt. 

You will have to learn to be fake happy

I never want to wave them off to spend time with their dad, I want them with me. I want life as normal as possible, I want a noisy house, clutter everywhere, weekends spent driving them around to friends, early wake up calls from my toddler and pizza on the sofa on a Saturday.

My boys want to see their dad.

So with a fake smile and over jolly voice I open the door, lump in my throat, and watch them leave. The silence when they go is deafening and not something you ever get use to. But my kids need and want  to see their dad and so they should. That’s me, once again, using every core of my emotions to put their needs first and not be selfish. What went on between him & I is no business of theirs and who am I to dictate whether they see him or not? 

divorce is tough on everyone & if I'm going to make sure my kids come through it unscathed, there's a few things i need to do
You will have to encourage a good relationship with step parents & family

While we’ve not quite crossed this path yet, there have been new partners. I’ve been very careful not to ask too many questions or quiz them when they return home after a weekend with their dad. I wanted to, believe me, but I know that they’ll feel like their loyalty is being tested. My way of coping with the times away from them is to not think about it, not pry and try not to moan about what they have or haven’t done, eaten or watched.

What I don’t know what hurt me or ignorance is bliss

There are moments when I want to pick up the phone and yell what do you think you’re doing to my ex husband and his family. But truth be told, I never agreed with their ways when we were together, as if they’re going to give a stuff what I think now. I remind myself I have to beg to differ. And when a new girlfriend is on the scene I will have to be positive, sharing my kids was never something I bargained on, but if they have a good relationship with her, their dad will be happy and with any luck, together they’ll pu our kids needs first. 

Put simply, I need to set an example and not bitch.

You can’t dis their other parent in front of them

Now that was and still is a hard one. Slagging off my ex, their dad, to the kids is dangerous to say the least. While I might feel better getting a few things off my chest, I’m also aware it can totally back fire and make them more protective of him, they’ll also get to see a not-so-nice side to me. On the other hand I could end up totally trashing their relationship with their father & causing some serious issues. My children have a right to a life with 2 parents, whether I like it or not, and I can’t jeopardise or control how that pans out. Friends and my family are my go to’s for a bloody good moan, not my kids.

Instead I only say good things, I don’t want my kids growing up being scared to talk about dad in front of me and luckily my family are doing exactly the same. Fake smiles and words all round, we’re getting quite good at pretending!

And the good? There’s always a silver lining

Going through a divorce makes you look for any and every inch of positivity. I’m not perfect,  I’ve had my moments where it’s stressed me, upset me and battered me back and blue emotionally. It’s during those times when I’ve had to dig deep to find the positives in what I’m doing.

And there is, it’s called resilience and optimism – looking ahead to a happy future.

Our house is much calmer and my kids know it, I just need to remind them. I’m also showing them that you don’t have to accept a situation which feels wrong, you can make changes, however hard they might be and sometimes you have to do things which scare you to see the long term benefits.  They’ve whitnessed me stepping into the unknown as life as a single parent and being a much more relaxed, happier person because of it. Divorce is never the easy way out, it takes a whole heap of guts to admit something isn’t right. Staying is much easier. 

I came out of my parents divorce alright and I know that my boys’ll be building up resilience to any future emotional wobbles. I’m teaching them they can handle anything, they might not feel that way now, but one day, I’m hoping they’ll look back and realise they handled it pretty bloody amazingly and can take on any future emotional upheaval with the same gumption. 

And Finally, I’m also teaching them that there is no normal when it comes to family, everyone is different, and in a world where difference is not getting a good rap right now, I think that’s a pretty good lesson to learn.

divorce is tough on everyone & if I'm going to make sure my kids come through it unscathed, there's a few things i need to do

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An Ode To The Sibling Relationship

Growing up (many moons ago now)  I was a horrible sister. That 2 year difference gave me the power to be as mean and bossy as I wanted! It didn’t help that my little sister was perfect, annoyingly, irritantingly perfect. In my mothers eyes she could do no wrong, and if I’m honest she probably never did any wrong.

And man I tried, I really, really tried to find any excuse to get her down to my mean little level.

But she was just too bloody nice.

My little brother somehow managed to escaped my tickle battles and constant jibes, luckily for him the extra years between us meant he never hit my radar.

Cousins and siblings are the focus of this weeks Living Arrows post and I'm contemplating the phrase is blood thicker than water

Which makes the fact my sister is now my best and closet friend even more bizarre and proof that blood can be thicker than water. She’s never once reminded me of how horrid I was, to her it’s all about the moment and how close we’ve grown throughout our adult years.

And what really makes me smile  is that our children are just as inseparable and adore each other’s company as much as we do. It’s more than I could’ve ever wished for, to see them locked in each others worlds, like the rest of the world ceases to exist is the most heart warming sight to see.

No matter how long or how far the distance and time is between them, they simply pick up from where they left off like it was only yesterday when they were sat on the beach, throwing pebbles in the sea. So this week’s Living Arrows photo (I know I’ve missed a few!) and Ordinary Moments is an ode to siblings and cousins, making happy memories and enjoying an ordinary childhood.

 

Cousins and siblings are the focus of this weeks Living Arrows post

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The Sibling Age Gap, Is There A Right One?

I sometimes wonder if I’ve done the right thing leaving such a big age gap between my kids?

It was always planned and down to a  case of enjoying their company as toddlers and babies so much, I never felt rushed into adding another child into the mix. Instead I chose to savour the moment and invest as much as I could into those first few years without having to share my time. That was my idea and it worked, just fine.

There were so many pros as well as cons in having my large gap between babies. I loved that I was defying the norm and rewriting the rules. I’d never been one for following the crowds, call it the rebel in me, or simply thinking out of the box and it’s quite entertaining watching people work out our family dynamics,

yes, they are all ours,

no he’s not a champagne baby

and

yes, they all have the same father!

age gap4

I’ve answered them all.

But one thing which I’ve started to notice recently is how much more grown up my littlest boy has become and how quickly my baby is growing up. His words, his mannerisms and his understanding, sometimes way beyond his years. There’s no denying he’s a little boy in a grown up world.

So my question is, should I have had another to keep him company? Will those 10 years between this lively little one and his brothers mean he’ll spend most of his childhood living like an only child?

You see I have theses moments of worry, have I done it all wrong?

But then I look at the cheeky, happy little chap he’s become and I’m reminded, as long as he’s loved, as long as he’s cared for and as long as he’s happy, there will never be a right or wrong way to decide how many children make a family or what the ideal age gap should be.

What’s important is that they have that family, big or small, only child or not, they’ve just got to be loved.

age gap1

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How to raise happy children by being a happy parent

Have you ever really listened to how you talk to your children? I mean really listened. Do it, do it now. It could be the most important thing you ever do for them.

Now think about how many positive things you’ve said and weigh it up against all the negative and nagging ones. Surprised?  I was.

It’s nearly 15 years since I took on the position of Mum, the most rewarding and amazing role I have ever stepped into. With each name change from Mummy to Mumma then Mum came learning curves, challenges and hindsight all which have shaped a mum style which I have finally fine tuned and stuck with.

I’m by no means and expert and not saying how I do things is right, but it fits for our family and that’ll do for now.

As a positive parent, I try seeing things through my children’s eyes and speak to them as I would like to be spoken to myself.

The hindsight thing I mentioned, never underestimate that, it’s a gift as well as a curse but you’re never too old to stop learning and being a better person, a better parent.

We’ve all had the experience of hearing that Mum or Dad yell at their child, shaming them in public, scaring them and not giving them an opportunity to understand what they did wrong. How did that make you feel? Uncomfortable I bet, just think how that child felt.

Living arrows week 2, from Sidmouth beach in Devon

 

Sure, there are times when its a matter of life or death, flight or fight and you need a short sharp shock, but it’s how you act in the aftermath that determines the best response. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life. How are we supposed to teach a child safety and respect if we don’t speak them positively and respectfully ourselves? I listened to how I spoke to my now teenager, it was shocking and sad. Don’t touch, don’t run, stop dawdling behind.

The revelation that I was being a negative parent came one day as we  walked home from preschool and a cat ran away from us, I commented that the cat mustn’t like people and my son’s response changed how I parented from that very moment on; “no Mummy, he probably saw your cross face and was scared.” Powerful words out of the mouths of babes.

I realised that not only was I verbally negative with my constant “no’s” and “don’ts” I looked negative, my face could tell a 1000 words,

so instead I did this;

Living Arrows at 18 months, capturing a photo of your child every week.

Walk don’t run

It’s a well know fact that you’re much better telling a child to “walk”  and “not run”, as their understanding is developing, they’re more likely to hear and follow the last word you say. So I started there. I gave positives in place of negatives.

Compliment don’t criticise 

Did you know for every 1 criticsim it takes 10 positives to make a person feel better? For a child who’s self esteem and self worth is still in production and so delicate, this is more important than ever. You’re shaping an adult from the moment they’re born. The building blocks for future success in relationships, work and friendships start from the day the arrive. Tell them how amazing they are and they’ll believe it.

 

Smile, laugh, love

Empathy is the key to so much, it’s how we read situations and how we are accepted, if we can learn to know and understand how other people are feeling, then life is just that little bit nicer for everyone. Don’t assume it’s automatic, you need to experience empathy to show it. If your child is worried, scared or sad, acknowledge it. It might be nothing to you but to them its a big deal. Smile when they smile, laugh when they laugh, love when they need love. Always acknowledge and value their emotions.

I’m still learning, I still have days when I realise I’ve let opportunities for a compliment pass and gone straight for the telling off, but tomorrow’s another day.

It’s never too late to be that parent you aspire to be.

Don’t be the parent yelling in the park.

keep positive and keep your humour, positive parenting reaps rewards. positive parenting quotes by mum in nutshell

 

 

 

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