Just Be, Mama

Mother of one, diagnosed with postnatal anxiety and panic attacks, preparing to do it all again

Konmari Update

Well, it’s been a little while, and I’ve been busy! My Konmari project was kind of in fast forward for the last couple of weeks due to us rearranging the house and furniture to accommodate for Baby B. My husband was the main rearranger, and decided one weekend we would just do it. I had serious reservations because my plan was to konmari everything first, and then move everything to avoid displacing all the ‘stuff’ that mainly needs to be sorted and thrown out anyway. But my husband just jumped in and did it anyway so I had no real choice but to play along! After a slight nervous breakdown!

So two weeks on and the are still bags of stuff and piles of things all over the floor 😒 but, I’ve got alot done.

Clothes – my gosh finally got that done, sorted the rest of the clothes and my wardrobe is joy inducing. Baby As clothes were quite easy to get through too, anything too small was put away, and the rest is also sitting joy-inducingly on his shelf. Baby A had an absolute ball participating in the vacuum packing of his old clothes too!

Books – this wasn’t too hard. Although I love reading, I feel like it’s never been something I have been able to spend much money on – except for textbooks which comprise about 50 percent of what I own. It wasn’t hard to decide which textbooks to let go – out of date books, and particularly the ones I still had from requisite courses that I didn’t particularly enjoy or find useful. The only thing with textbooks is they feel like such a big investment it feels funny just getting rid of them, so I’ve set myself some time to sell the left over ones and if they don’t sell I will find somewhere to donate them. I don’t really have alot of other books, but there were a few that I really felt no connection with, and know I won’t read, so those are gone too. Baby As books are all in high rotation so they are all staying.

I managed to get books and clothes done before rearranging the house! 😀

Papers –  I knew papers were going to be hard. At work I have been conditioned to record and file everything, and if I do throw something out, completely destroy it. I think I had saved up records for the whole of my adult life – all the payslips and tax returns from my first job onwards, and omg the volume of bank statements was overwhelming. Add to that medical invoices and receipts and insurance claims. It was easy to decide which papers were to go (most of it), but I knew where I would get stuck was how to dispose of it. So before I started even sorting, I researched a suitable bulk shredding service and prepared bags to fill with documents needing shredding (most of them). It took the best part of a week to get through everything – I sorted as we rearranged – any papers that came off shelves or out of drawers were Not going back in them. But now papers are done! Ugh, I don’t know how many bags there were because I threw out as I went, but it feels like there is soooo much more space. Excellent!

So now I’m on to ‘komono’ – miscellaneous/sentimental items – which is probably going to be the hardest, but I know there is alot of stuff that I can get rid of so in a way I’m looking forward to it. Also, since most of it is in piles on the floor still, the motivation to get through it is real.

I’m sorting cds/DVDs now – why do we have so many cds? I can’t even remember the last time I used a cd…

Keeping it Clean -more kitchen dailies

In the last two weeks I’ve successfully added two more daily tasks. Hooray!

One is a kind of easier way of keeping the hard floors clean. I love my steam mop, but I’ve used it a total of once since Baby A arrived. I used to get it out on the weekend and steam everything in one go, and I think because that’s the association I have with it, it just seems too overwhelming now that I don’t have as much time. It doesn’t take that much time to set up really, so I think down the road I’ll phase it back in as more of a quick steam here and there thing.

But for now! Just keeping it simple and doable. I got one of those cheap mop things that you can attach a cloth to the bottom of and wipe the floor with. I thought that because I have daily floor brushing and a weekly vacuum, the hard floors could do with a weekly ‘mop’ on to of the daily sweep. I’m being a bit floor central – because it makes me feel better, but also I am concious that I will soon have Baby A crawling all over the place, and well, I guess that’s about my peace of mind too!

The other thing is a daily bench wipe down, including a number of ‘other’ surfaces. I’ve noticed that cleaning that needs to be done in order to continue with daily tasks is easier for me. For example laundry always gets done, because it has to. Cooking Baby As food  always gets done. Wiping down the benches gets done, but wiping down other bits of the kitchen hasn’t been getting done because it doesn’t need to be done to continue functioning. So I’ve added a new daily task which includes wrong down the benches and 5 other kitchen surfaces. I wipe down anything that looks dirty and then anything else I haven’t wiped in a while. The motivation is again that Baby A likes to bang away and touch the cuoboards in the kitchen. I think it’s good that he gets a bit dirty and germy, but I’d prefer him not to be touching meat juice accidentally dripped on the cupboard from last night’s dinner!

One last thing, after realising that there is some purpose in looking at the past, I thought I would reflect a bit on why chores stress me out so much. I said in a previous post that I never had a problem with cleaning before Baby A came. I don’t think I ever had a problem getting chores done in my adult life, but I think I do have a long standing problem with cleaning.

It never occurred to me before, but we never had chores growing up. We were never asked to do any chores or shown how to do any chores. I remember doing my own laundry from early on because otherwise it wouldn’t get done. There was no laundry hamper though, I just collected the dirty ones off the floor of my room. My dad used to do his own daily chores quietly without bothering anyone. He never asked for help though. Sometimes he would hang my clothes out to dry during the day if I had put laundry on in the morning before school which was great.

My mother didn’t do daily chores. She cooked quite a bit, she thought her cooking was better than anyones and was very proud of it. For this reason she would mainly not let anyone else cook or help cook – once I got inspired to cooked a meal for our family, and she just complained that I was doing everything wrong and that it tasted horrible. (Needless to say I don’t cook much, but I’m working on that! Cooking for Baby A has been a really great introduction to coming for me.)

Her cleaning method is actually not unlike mine (unsurprisingly I suppose) – except that she would not do any cleaning for awhile and then if we had visitors or it was particularly untidy, she would spend an entire weekend making the house spotless. It seemed though that she had some resentment towards being obliged to do housework. She is very much a career woman, she also believes she is very much superior to most people, and I get the sense that she sees things like cleaning as beneath her.

So she would get into these cleaning sprees, she wouldn’t ask for help, but without warning she would berate us for not having done this or that, or because our room was a ‘pigsty’. If she found our belongings lying anywhere around the house, she would collect them and then throw them at us. She wouldn’t ask us to put them away, she would just yell ‘is this yours!?’. I remember feeling so guilty but kind of frozen, because I didn’t really know what to do. She never directly asked us to do any chores but then got extremely upset that we hadn’t. It was like she didn’t feel she shouldn’t have to bother with chores, like it was our job, but we were supposed to figure it out on our own somehow.

It’s weird to reflect on it – at the time it just seemed normal, and I really felt that I had done something wrong by not having completed chores, or pre-empted that Mom wanted me to do this or that – but thinking about it now, the whole situation was completely absurd! How could I have known what to do if no one asked or showed me? It totally makes sense that I would have all this anxiety and guilt attached to chores, and that I’m effectively having to reteach myself a healthy approach to doing them.

It also brings up something else important to me. I don’t want my babies ever feeling that way about normal daily chores (or anything for that matter) ! More on that in a later post…


Baby A and ‘that sound’

This post took two weeks to write, maybe it’s harder to write about your own faults, or something like that? There’s no real excuse. Anyway, hopefully it makes sense still – in the interest of transparency,  and refraining from over-editing and the quest for perfection, I’m just posting it as is.

Baby A has been a bit more challenging for the last 3 weeks or so, which led to me feeling pretty overwhelmed by the end of last week, resulting in a bit of an outburst on the weekend.

It seems like Baby A is at an age where he has started to develop his own preferences and wants, rather than just his basic needs. Which is actually really exciting, because I am starting to really see his personality emerging, and it’s something I’ve really looked forward to.

In order to communicate these new preferences he doesn’t cry, he has a new sound that he makes which is probably best described as a whining, moaning sort of sound. So I gather this is pretty common, and it can be kind of frustrating if you are having trouble figuring it what he is trying to ask for – because he will just keep making that sound until you either figure what he wants or successfully distract him with something else.

Throw in the fact that he has also changed from a flexible easy napper to a baby who has strictly two naps a day at very specific times – and BTW if you miss that time then too bad you’re in trouble with a cranky overtired baby for the rest of the day! 😕 It took me a few weeks to figure this all out, and ofcourse I heard alot of ‘that sound’ in the process.

It’s funny because I never really felt overwhelmed by his crying, even though sometimes it was especially intense, but something about ‘that sound’ just sets me off. I sometimes have to put him down somewhere and go do something else for a few minutes to calm down a bit. I kept thinking ‘it’s pretty frustrating not being able to help him’ but that didn’t seem to fully explain the feeling. It’s not even like I was frustrated with him, more like this intense internal anger and frustration got set off. In the back of my mind I kept wondering why it was affecting me so much.

When the weekend arrived, my husband took Baby A out for a few hours to run some errands, and I had a slow breakfast and shower and thought I might sit and read until he got back. Since being in hospital I have  drawn to Eckhart Tolle’s books, I think because it puts some substance behind practising  ‘mindfulness’ which resonates with me. I have been reading a book called “Parenting with Presence” written by Susan Stiffelman, which draws on alot of Tolles ideas. I just happened to be reading part of the book that talked about becoming reactive to certain aspects of your childs behaviour. It had some examples where the author asked her clients to reflect on why that particular behaviour struck a nerve, and specifically if there was something about their own upbringing or within themselves that came up. I stopped and thought about Baby A – it only took me a few minutes before I had that ‘aha’ moment. I already know that I’ve had issues with my mother, and that that is some of the reason behind why I was in such a bad place a few months ago. I think in a previous post I mentioned that this is something that came up when I was in hospital, but said that I didn’t find it helpful to dwell on it. I think maybe that judgement was a bit hasty.

I had already realised that Baby A is becoming his own little person and communicating his needs and wants to me in I guess a more forthright way. During my childhood, and still even now, I was taught by my mother not to bother voicing needs and wants, because she wasn’t listening. She never wanted children and it is her firm belief that children are a burden, and that her becoming a mother was a waste of her time. For such a long time I thought that it was totally normal and healthy for my mother to express that to me, and because we never lacked basic needs like food, clothes, health care etc. that that was all you need from your mother and I should be grateful – particularly because I was never wanted in the first place, and how lucky was I to be afforded all of this. The first time I realised something wasn’t right was when I got engaged and she was especially awful to me in a number of ways and I really thought it was my fault that I didn’t have a better relationship with her. But my dear husband spoke up and assured me that noone deserves to be treated that way, or be told incessantly that they were an unwanted child. Of course, this all came up more clearly when I was in hospital, and I learnt just how important all the bonding and emotional security was for baby. I have zero recollection of having interacted with my mother in any of the ways we learnt about, she never did or does delight in any of my achievements, she has never been there to comfort or protect, I’ve felt ignored and like a burden on her my whole life.

Baby A making his needs and preferences known, loud and proud, was bringing up a frustration within me that I never had that opportunity growing up. What a relief to make that connection! In the example in the book the author has her client do some mindfulness of the emotion in order to help ‘process’ it. I remember learning this in hospital, but really didn’t appreciate it at the time – when I was having a panic attack the last thing I thought I wanted to do was focus on that emotion and the feelings I was having! But it made sense to me in this situation, so instead of trying to push the feeling away when it came, I held on to it. Baby A would be especially demanding just before sleeping, so while he napped I found I could take some time to sit with the feeling. I found that behind the anger and frustration, I also felt quite sad about it. I guess that’s not that surprising, but there I had been, thinking that the past didn’t worry me anymore.

Long story short, dealing with my reaction to Baby As sound in this way worked amazingly well. It didn’t take long before more often than not I was not reacting to it the same way that I had been. ‘Problem solved!’, or so I thought.

Meanwhile I had been developing some resentment towards my husband, because I still was feeling pretty overwhelmed, and all the while he seemed to be able to get in some down time while still working and getting chores done. But where was my down time?? Usually with feelings like that I let them sit awhile to see if they are ‘real’ – sometimes if I’m feeling a bit crappy in general I think I find it easy to get frustrated or annoyed with someone or something until I am in a better mood and then it doesn’t seem important anymore.

But this didn’t go away, and I ended up picking a fight with my husband. Because of the situation what I was trying to say came across as criticism, and of course my dear husband became defensive and threw back a few criticisms himself. I don’t like arguing like this, but I like that I can trust us both to see through the crap and understand where each other are coming from. The next day we spoke about what happened and I explained I want trying to criticise or make him feel guilty for having time to himself, I was just trying to say that I saw feeling very overwhelmed and felt like I hadn’t had a proper break. Which of course he already knew. He said that he needed me to tell him when I needed extra help, or a break from Baby A after a bad day. He said that he noticed that I don’t ever really ask for help, which is good for my loved ones because they don’t ever have to go out of their way for me, but it’s not necessarily good for me. 😞

How true. It’s funny how it takes someone else pointing something out for you to realise something really obvious about yourself. The whole argument wouldn’t have happened if in one or two of the bad days I had just asked for help. And the silly thing is that this ties in with the Baby A noise thing as well, and I missed it. I still don’t feel like I can ask for help, and that is a big problem I need to deal with.

I had also complained that I felt like I can’t get anything done, particularly if Baby A doesn’t sleep much during the day. He said that he thought that I actually could, but I chose not to. Which I took great offence to of course, and interpreted as meaning I didn’t have good time management skills and that he didn’t think I did enough. I cried, and just kept saying “I can’t help it, Baby A is my priority”.

What my husband was trying to say is that Baby A doesn’t actually need my undivided attention all the time. It’s ok for me to do something else, it’s just that I don’t allow myself to. After all, I know better than anything that Baby A will tell me if he needs my attention! And that he is clearly confident that he is going to get it!

Again, I am terrified of Baby A feeling ignored, or learning that he can’t ask for help or express wants and needs, because that’s how I felt. And I’m overdoing it with the attention to my own detriment. Whilst it’s my job to teach Baby A how important his needs and wants are, I know I need to show him the other side of that, which is that other people have their own needs and wants, and sometimes you need to prioritise your own needs and wants. And that starts with treating myself right too!

So, Baby As growing independence and wilfulness struck a nerve, and there are a few things I am now working on:

– learning to clearly ask for help and for what I need before I get overwhelmed

– Baby A doesn’t need my undivided attention all the time. Learning to do other tasks in his company without feeling guilty

I’ll revisit these in subsequent posts when I’ve made progress, but for now it feels good having gotten this far!

Konmari clothes – full disclosure

So I thought I was finished with the clothes bit, but I washed a bunch of clothes some of which are to go to charity and some to keep, and left it in a pile for a week and a half 😑 One of the cats made a nest out of them and now I have to wash them again. And I can’t remember which are to keep and which are to go so I’ll have to do the whole throwing away process again.

To be fair I had a mini mental freak out last week (I’ll elaborate in my next post) so wasn’t really in a state to deal with that pile properly.

But at least my wardrobe is still tidy.

AND I still managed to complete almost all my daily tasks so I wasn’t worried about that! 🤓


Keeping it Clean – Vacuuming

So. I hate vacuuming. It’s not even a rational hate – When I was growing up I just remember becoming horribly allergic and asthmatic whenever the vacuum came out. Which wasn’t that often because I wasn’t the only family member that was asthmatic. I think I am still holding onto this expectation of feeling awful when the vacuuming is done.

But of course these days you can get vacuum cleaners with hepa filters and barrels instead of bags to stop all this happening, which is why I bought a super duper vacuum with all these features and more! And it really does work, vacuuming doesn’t make me sick anymore. But I still hate it.

It probably doesn’t help that it’s not only me that seems to dislike vacuuming. My husband does vacuum, but he tries to get it over as quick as possible and misses bits. Baby A gets agitated when the vacuum comes out and I am NOT game to try it when he is napping. Our two furry housemates are both terrified by the vacuum.

Vacuuming isn’t even a really big task, I think maybe it’s just emotionally easier to not do it. But! When it is done it makes such a difference. You can see the carpet anywhere you are in the house, and when it looks clean everything seems tidier.

When Baby A was born I was vacuuming every day, it seems ridiculous now. It felt like I was vacuuming to survive though – so many visitors, I felt like I needed to do it in order to look kind of on top of everything. Then I got totally absorbed in my apparent inability to ‘just trust my body’ to nourish my child and went on week long ‘nursing vacations’ spending every other waking hour expressing or baking lactation cookies or desperately scouring the internet for answers to why Baby A wasn’t thriving. All the while staring at the dirty carpet, the sight of which just layered more guilt on top of what was already there – because clearly I couldn’t cope with the housework either.

Staring at a clean carpet has the opposite effect – it invokes either no emotion, or some sort of reassurance that the house is actually ok. Which is why it is my new daily task. It is a bit of a challenge for me, but it really isn’t that big a task, and it has a big affect on how I feel.

I am not going to vacuum every day though, because that really wasn’t working. I’m starting small and saying I will vacuum once a week. But I know that by the end of that week the carpet will start looking not so great. So I had a brainstorm to come up with a daily something that I can do to keep it tidy until the next vacuum.

During my ‘nursing vacation’ days, visitors still came, and the first thing I would think is ‘oh no, the carpet looks uncared for’. We have a brush which  we use to remove furry housemate fur of furniture and clothing, which I quickly ran around the house picking up fur and lint from the carpet. I was so ashamed of doing this, it just felt so unacceptable for some reason. I guess because it wasn’t done ‘properly’.

But, I obviously did it because it worked. And sometimes you just have to do what works apparently. So for this week I vacuumed once, and every other day spent a few minutes scanning the floor for any fluff or little bits of things and picking them up.

How well this worked actually surprised me. I got to the end of the week and the carpet still looked like it had been vacuumed yesterday. Over 24 hours the floor doesn’t seem to actually get that dirty. I suppose we don’t wear shoes inside, and the furry housemates are mostly indoors, so it’s mostly just fluff and dust and fur and sometimes some crumbs. (I know this will change with the littlies as they get bigger, but hopefully I will be prepared! Maybe…).

With baby A spending more time on the floor I would like to work up to more weekly vacuuming to get that dust and stuff you can’t see, but this is a happy starting point. 😊

Slightly disturbing discovery: I kept finding weirdly shaped toenail clippings and couldn’t figure out where they are coming from. I clip mine in the bathroom and sweep up the clippings, and I couldn’t bring myself to believe that my husband was leaving them around. I was just about to semi accuse him of producing them when I finally realised what they were. One of our cats bites her nails, and I’d always seemed she was eating them, but obviously not! Oh well, it’s not hard to pick up the odd cat nail clipping when I see one. We never need to have her nails clipped so can’t complain 🤗.

Not sure what the next daily task should be, I am going to have to have a good think!

Keeping it clean!

I never had a problem cleaning before Baby A arrived, and even after he arrived for a short period I still battled on cleaning the way I knew how until everything fell in a heap.

I used to clean the same way that I did everything – the all or nothing approach. I would tidy up a bit maybe if I used the kitchen or bathroom for example, but for the most part I wouldn’t clean at all and then once a week dedicate a large block of time to thoroughly cleaning. Because I had the luxury of large blocks of free time. Not so anymore.

By the way, my wonderful husband is the type of person who sees that someone needs help, and silently picks up undone tasks. So while I was becoming more and more incapable of doing things due to being consumed by my perceived inability to provide basic care to Baby A, he took on more and more, which I really don’t think was good for his mental state at all 🙁. What a pair we are. I felt so relieved once I was in hospital knowing that he too would get a bit of a break! I know that there are some people out there that somehow survive working long hours and doing all the housework – I feel like they must be either very special motivated and organised people, or silently struggling with having no down time.

Decluttering as per the Konmari method is perfect for me, because just like me, she is an all or nothing type, the type of person who leaves things to the last minute and then puts one hundred percent into it. Make it into a big project, do it once, so it right, and never do it again!

Decluttering certainly makes it easier to keep clean and tidy. But, whilst reading her book I had this niggling thought in the back of my head – what about regular cleaning?? Not having clutter doesn’t magically make your house un-dirtyable.

I tried making little lists of mini chores I could do as I went about the day, and allotted small amounts of time when Baby A was sleeping to do express cleans of each area in the house. I was trying to make it seem ‘easier’ to trick myself into doing it. It kind of worked for awhile, but then it seemed like I would easily find something more important to do and end up sidelining chores. Then family member X would turn up and I would suddenly notice what a mess it was and run around the house with Baby A on my hip trying to make the house kind of acceptable looking.

I really think I was stuck in that mentality of leaving cleaning until I had that big block of time to do it all in one go. It obviously wasn’t about how ‘easy’ the chores were either, it seemed like it was about what was a priority in my mind at the time.

It’s awful how the way you think can really limit you! I feel almost cheated or something because I’ve cruised along in life with this mindset and only now it’s been challenged. I know at work I’ve always been ‘typecast’ into roles where I kind of float around doing urgent big analytical projects that noone wants to do. Whilst other people seem to have more regular work and are more multiskilled, it seemed like I was kept in the wings to be deployed on these projects, and in my spare time providing analytical support to other sections. Perfect for me! Right in my comfort zone. I wonder whether I could be a better worker if I was put outside that comfort zone though… But I digress.

I thought that surely there was someone out there like me, so I searched for books on cleaning that might kind of speak to me. Among all the seemingly ‘easy’ cleaning methods, I found a book called ‘How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing With Your Houses Dirty Little Secrets’ by Dana K White. I think what drew me to this one was that it seemed as though she had a similar background – having worked full time to suddenly being at home and realising this struggle with housework and feeling shameful for it. While about of the other methods seem to assume you have some sort of organisation skills already, and are naturally motivated to do the work. I like how Dana is honest about not being one of those people, it made me feel ok admitting the same to myself.  There are very good reviews too 😊. Unfortunately, because it is a relatively new release, I don’t seem to be able to get it in my country without paying more for shipping than for the book! So I am patiently waiting for that to change, or for a kindle version to be available. Luckily she has an excellent blog detailing her ‘deslobification’ journey: A Slob Comes Clean. Her honest style has been an inspiration for my blog!

So, I have been slowly adding little daily tasks I can do without thinking too much about them, and which make a big impact on how clean the house feels, and how I feel! I really relate with her discovery that keeping the kitchen in working order makes a difference to everything else, because it really gets dirty quickly. I had been leaving this job to my poor husband, who would come home to dishes and mess spread all over the place, which he would clean up before making dinner 😢 And he never complained once. He has been especially overworked in the last few weeks, so it was a good motivation for me to add a new kitchen task each week to take a bit of the load of him.

The tasks I have added over the last few weeks are:

Emptying the dishwasher in the morning (keeps the kitchen tidy all day)

Sweeping the kitchen floor

Making the bed

Doing a load of washing

These are some of the first tasks Dana also put on her ‘daily checklist’ and I can really see why. These tasks already feel small to me so it feels like they have naturally become habits.

Dana blogged everyday about her daily tasks to stay accountable, but my blog isn’t just about cleaning, nor do I have faith in my ability to blog everyday! So I have chosen to use an app to record my lists since I know I look at my phone at least once a day. The app is called Habitica – it gamifies habits and task check-lists. I am a nerd 🤓 so gamifying anything makes me more likely to do it, and if I forget to do my tasks I lose health and miss out on experience and coins! No thank you!

So that was a longish post. I’ve decided in the next task I am adding to my list which I will talk about in a near future post. I like that adding a small task each week gives you time to think about what other small things you can do to make a big difference, while the other daily tasks become second nature. I’ve cheated so far and only used tasks that Dana roadtested already on her blog, so it’s time for me to think about what will make a difference for me 😁.


Changing My Thinking – Mindfulness

Thus far I have only posted about practical changes I’m making to help prevent anxiety being triggered, but really what has been most important in getting myself even this far in my recovery has been to challenge my way of thinking. It’s so much harder to write about because I have found it really difficult to do. The way I think has never really shown up as a problem until now. I think this might be because I live in a world that celebrates and rewards it, and maybe that’s why so many other ladies find themselves in the same position as me when they become a Mother.

In anycase, the main reason I got myself in such a state was because I was completely unaware of how my thinking was affecting me. Yes, there were external influences contributing to the anxiety, and a few health issues too, but as soon as I became aware of my reaction to those things, it was like magic. All those stressors were still there, but I realised I had the choice to step back and not let them overcome me.

I already knew what mindfulness was, but I guess maybe because my thinking never really caused me issues previously, I never really saw a need to consciously practice it. I also wonder if before Baby A came along a little bit of mindfulness was happening naturally, whereas now it seems like I have to make time for it a little bit. I also have to admit that I developed the attitude that mindfulness was a bit of a fad with all the kind of commercial things available – I’m not really drawn to colouring in books…  😁

I really love that experience of becoming aware of a concept and then realising it’s everywhere, and your mind just starts soaking it all up. It’s kind of like when you are learning a new language, and you become aware of the meaning of a particular word, and then it seems like it’s suddenly everywhere. It most likely was always there before, but it’s just that you’ve switched on the awareness of it in your mind. For me, that experience comes along with a really satisfying feeling.

But, becoming aware of unhelpful thoughts was also a grieving process. I spent my whole life being quite proud and satisfied with the belief that I am a ‘thinker’. I was clever and intelligent and successful at school and in anything I did because I was a ‘thinker’. It felt like a powerful thing. It was part of my identity.

I realise now that the reason I clung to that identity was probably part of a self-protection mechanism against circumstances growing up (I’ll go into this later if it comes up, I haven’t found dwelling on it that helpful, but it is interesting to reflect occasionally), but what really helped me move through this was realising how much more powerful having the ability to separate myself from the thoughts and this identity I had attached to them was.

It became clear that it didn’t really matter how well I was practising mindfulness, just the act of being aware and bring mindful is all it is. It is challenging, and I find that my internal dialogue seems to still persist, but how much more helpful it is for me to just be there and watch it go past, especially when it is those really unhelpful thoughts.

Yesterday I found myself getting quite cross, I knew I was tired, and I had to do something tedious which I REALLY was just not in the mood for. This was at the request of my husband, but really there wasn’t much choice in the matter. Reflecting on what happened just really gives me this great sense of contentment. I know what could have happened, I could have been all caught up in being annoyed and complained and blamed my husband. But how much more sense it made to just make it into a challenging mindfulness exercise. I just immersed myself in the task and let all those thoughts and feelings wash over without engaging until they went away. Then the task didn’t seem so bad, and I remembered a funny story I really wanted to tell my husband about. I also knew my husband already felt bad about the request and I didn’t want to contribute to that! 🙂

These little ‘wins’ against unhelpful thoughts really give me a sense of control, for lack of a better word, which I think was missing when I was having the panic attacks. I think it’s also part of the reason the practical changes I’m making have been so attractive – they easily become mindfulness exercises.

This big change has been the inspiration for the title of my blog – is such a great reminder for me to disengage from all those thoughts and ‘just be’. So important, especially when you are a Mama!

Konmari clothes update!

This week I worked on decluttering my clothes collection. I definitely agree that this was an easy category to start with – I am pretty impressed with what I got through with just a couple of minutes here and there over the week.

I must confess that we did a bit of a clothes clean out before Baby A arrived to make some shelf space for his clothes. I did a bit of a half hearted job, and my husband decluttered too thoroughly and realised he had no t-shirts left for summer!

In any case, this meant I was in a good starting place already, with a good bulk of unused clothes already discarded or off to charities. I was quite surprised with how many clothes I still had, and how many more I was able to let go of.

One bag of old worn out clothes has been thrown out, one bag to charity with a couple more to be washed before also going to charity. I did keep a few items that didn’t exactly spark joy, but that I know I can use for scrap material and buttons for sewing, which I’m entirely sure Ms Kondo would approve of but there we go.

I really found basing the sorting process on whether or not something ‘sparked joy’ surprisingly natural. I thought maybe at first it would be awkward, but it was sort of refreshing to pick something up and be honest to yourself about how it makes you feel. I found there were a few items which I once really loved or are gifts from a long time ago which I was not using but holding on to, and approaching them with an acknowledgement of the joy they already brought me in the past made it much easier to decide to let them go, and perhaps bring joy to someone else!

I am currently in the ‘putting away’ phase and am really enjoying how my wardrobe looks at the moment. Everytime I open it, I spend a couple of extra seconds basking in how good seeing only clothes I really like neatly organised in there is.

I have to admit when I first read a description of the konmari folding method, and the part in the book where she says all her clients say folding is ‘fun’, I thought “really…. 😒”. But I have been converted.

It seemed really weird and complicated at first purposefully folding things so that they would stand on their end, but once I got the first one, it was strangely satisfying. Folding and putting away had become sort of like a game, like I am forced to be mindful about it and conciously think about where each item lives in the wardrobe.

And NOW, I understand how useful it is to have everything stacked that way. When I open the wardrobe, I can see everything, and when I decide what to take out, it doesn’t disturb anything else that’s there.

I used to just fold everything up as quick as possible, chuck them in piles and stuff them in the shelf wherever they would fit. When I took something out everything would get all messed up and I wouldn’t be able to find things.

I’m really pleased about how much better I feel with that sorted. So far it seems to be easy to maintain too. I suppose it remains to be seen whether I do or not though!

Next I will tackle Baby As clothes, except that I want to keep and store a decent portion of clothes for Baby B.


Baby B check-up

I got to see baby B today! The little one was measuring ahead and bouncing around as happy as can be. What a new feeling to have Baby A here to share the journey this time around. Baby B will not only be a son or daughter, they will also be a sibling!

I’m also so grateful for an OB who has first-hand experience with what I’ve been through, certainly makes me feel less alone in this, and like I am doing all the right things.

Didn’t get a whole lot else done today as I was wandering around in a happy daze mostly, and providing many cuddles to a very clingy Baby A. Not that I mind at all!

Tomorrow I will write a Konmari update.

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