Do you know how to help yourself when the going gets tough?

I don’t hide the fact that I’m having a hard time while I’m having it. Sharing my downs (as well as my ups) helps me get through them. I also get the odd piece of stellar advice that I might not have come across otherwise, because chances are I’m not the first or only person to be experiencing whatever it is that is causing me problems.

A very lovely lady commented on my Instagram recently that she found my openness really inspiring, because generally people are only comfortable with being so vulnerable after the hard time has passed. During the event we’re usually consumed by the trauma itself, along with the added complexity of wearing a mask so we can pretend that we’re okay. It adds up to overwhelm and burn out pretty damn quickly.

Just in case you need to hear these words today, here are some very effective ways to help yourself through life’s obstacle course…

Can we talk about the R word please? No not respite, although my fabulous husband took all three kids out today, so I did get some of that. The other r… Resilience! ♥️ People like to bandy the term around like it’s a good thing. Ooooh look at her they say, she’s so strong! So resilient! Always got a smile no matter what. I listened to a brilliant Ted talk the other day, about how putting on a brave face can actually do us more harm than good. I’m all for looking for the silver linings and being grateful but in the midst of a truly hard time it can be exceptionally difficult. ♥️ When life is relentlessly piling more shit on to your plate of steaming hot shit, the last thing you need is to be made to feel bad for not being as resilient as you once were. ♥️ The notion that anything can be solved by thinking positively and pretending we’re ok (when the opposite is true) is toxic and needs to change. If someone has honoured you with the title friend, earn it. Listen to them when they’re down. Offer your ear in an unconditional, unjudgemental way. Just be there, because it could make all the difference to them. ♥️ I’ve just spent the afternoon with one of my oldest friends. We ate delicious food, had a glass of vino and a damn good catch up. She said she didn’t know what to say to me, but the fact that she was there and she was listening says it all!

A post shared by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on In the wise words of Oscar Wilde: “be yourself, everyone else is taken”

I made the decision long ago not to wear a mask. I am unapologetically me, and I absolutely refuse to be anyone else for anyone else. It means I’m 100% authentic, 100% of the time, which in theory is a great thing. It does have its downside though, and at points can feel like I’m a lone voice swimming against the tide. On my winning days, when I’ve had at least four hours sleep and am firing on all cylinders, I’m awesome at putting minor issues into perspective and not taking the knocks too personally. Dramas and drama llamas are water off this ducks back, and there is little that can beat me down.

On my darker days, where I feel lonely in a crowded room, it takes every ounce of my strength not to end up in the depths of despair. I start stewing on past failures and disagreements, and my thoughts can spiral downwards scarily fast. During these moments, alcohol and social media are not my friends. Both have the capacity to make my mood a hundred times worse, and I’ve learnt that it’s best to avoid them as much as I can. Yoga (if possible), deep breathing (if not) and video calls with a loved one are my medicine. Writing has also helped me massively. Getting raw emotions on paper/screen is a wonderful way of channeling the feelings and turning negatives into positives.

how to help yourselfKnow who your true friends are and do not doubt them. Ever.

They say that good friends are hard to find, tough to leave and impossible to forget. I feel beyond blessed to have had so many utterly incredible humans cross my path over the years. These days, with the children to consider, I’m exceptionally fussy about the people I allow into our lives. It would be madness to be estranged from my entire family yet fill our days with toxic influences. As blood isn’t always thicker than water, I consider my good friends to be my family. It pains me when I see my people in pain – I feel it deeply on their behalf. I might not be in a position to loan money, or look after more children (it’s good to acknowledge when our own hands are already full) but I can most definitely lend my ear.

I don’t judge, and I always try as best I can to remain open minded with what I’m being told. Practically I probably can’t do much more than pop over with a nice treat or be on the end of the phone, but I take pride in always being emotionally available for the people I love. Once I consider a person to be a good friend, they have to do something pretty awful for me to change my mind about them.

When the chips are properly down, it can be so tempting to completely shut the world out, but it’s rarely the right thing to do. (We all know what happened to Elsa when she followed this path.) Life is full of bumps and no-one ‘s journey is smooth running. It’s good to remember this.

It’s also vital to allow your friends to help you if they are in a position to do so. Last year, one of my neighbours knocked and said she’d been reading my blog and was concerned about me. She asked if she could take Polly with her on her school run once a week to give me a few hours breathing space. It might not seem like much, but it meant an awful lot and I hope to be able to return the favour to her in some way one day.

Steer as clear as you possibly can from other people’s squabbles  

Social media can be a wonderful tool. On a personal level it’s great for keeping in touch with faraway friends and family. On a business level it’s wonderful for spreading the word about worthy causes, fantastic products and fab services. On the not so bright side it can be a hot bed for petty arguments and vocalising ignorant opinions that folk might have just kept to themselves before the invention of Twitter.

It can be really easy to forget that everything on the internet is traceable and there forever. I am blown away by some of the dumb ass things people say, and share, and honestly don’t think they would be so free and easy with these beliefs if they were sitting in the pub having a chat with a group of mates. It feels like our world is becoming polarized, and how can it not when we live so much of our lives in online echo chambers? If there is something truly worth speaking up against then do it, otherwise help yourself by steering clear. You’ll thank yourself for it in the years to come.

Eat well, it really does make a difference  

I have been a huge advocate for eating to enhance wellness for over a decade now. My real food journey began with a PCOS diagnosis along with the news that I was (apparently) infertile. Eighteen months after coming away from refined sugars and processed carbs, and my eldest daughter was conceived by accident, then two more pregnancies within four years. I’m not a doctor or scientist, but I do believe that eating the right food has changed my life. I would urge anyone who is struggling to take a look at their diet to see where it can be cleaned up.

I’d like to start this blog by saying that I’ve not been incentivised to write it. We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for my previous post, and I’ve written this purely to capture the day. 

The Good

Kidtropolis The event is held inside East London’s impressive ExCel Centre, which was easy for us to get to on public transport. The DLR stops next to the building, which means no wandering the streets looking lost. 

The best thing about Kidtropolis is that once you’ve paid for your tickets almost everything is free. There are around fifty activities and two live mini-stage shows included in the price. We were also lucky enough to win both ballots, which meant we got a Next Step meet and greet, as well as a dance lesson with their choreographer Amy.

Of course there are extras that cost money – such as food, drinks and merchandise – but there is no obligation to buy any of it. We took food in with us, which saved tons, because it’s expensive once you’re inside. 

Kidtropolis is pegged as the best kids show in the UK, and I can totally see why. I think it’s safe to say that there is something there for all children within their advertised age range of 2-12. I can’t think of anywhere else on earth that it would be possible to meet the Lorax, Darth Vader, Next Step, PAW Patrol and Flawless within the space of a few hours.

As you’d expect the big stars are security protected, but some can be found wandering around chatting to fans. There were lots of opportunities to collect autographs, which is fully anticipated with the back page of the (free) programme being left blank, and marked autographs

The Bad

We had the afternoon session, which ran from 2-6:30pm, and our first live show started at 2:30. This meant dragging the kids away from the fun they were having on the 200ft obstacle course, which they’d all decided to gravitate towards first. It felt rushed, and the stage wasn’t particularly well sign posted, but we got there just before the show started. It was well worth persevering with, because Flawless were absolutely amazing to watch (see next section). 

After the show the children wanted to get autographs and learn some dance moves with them. This meant we got completely distracted and forgot about the dance lesson we had won in the ballot, which started at 3:30. By the time we remembered around 3:45, it was too late to join in. Polly and my friends girl were gutted, and as you can imagine there was lots of mummy guilt for not getting them there on time. 

That wasn’t the only unfortunate event that occurred. About thirty seconds after going inside the Next Step live show at 4:30, Clara said she needed to go to the toilet. As the show was only going to last around 20 minutes, I said to her that we’d run there and run back as fast as we could. It was very dark inside, and whilst running back I tripped over. I was convinced I was fine, until it was pointed out by security that I was covered in blood. Turns out that I’d cut my elbow quite deeply, but thankfully didn’t need any stitches. While I was being patched up by the paramedics, my friend made sure that the girls got to their meet and greet. I arrived just as our party was at the front of the queue, and managed to photobomb the pictures.

The Awesome

Kidtropolis The Flawless live show was nothing short of incredible. The level of coordination and effort that goes into that type of dancing is simply stunning, and a visual smorgasbord to view.

They had a huge mixed age troupe up on stage, and all the children had a turn to dance. Their sheer determination shone, and they were all an utter joy to watch. I didn’t realise that they run a dance school in central London on a Sunday morning, which might be worth checking out at some point.

I’m sure the Next Step show was fab too, if only I’d seen more of it. Polly and my friend’s 9yo were chuffed to bits to meet their idols and be cooed over. Myles signed Polly’s t-shirt and she has plans to put it in a frame so she can worship it.   

I’d say the best part of Kidtropolis was the children getting to make the decisions about where to go and what to do. Properly hanging out with the stars is a huge draw, and will provide them with many happy memories.

Tips for next time 

Kidtropolis I’ve asked myself if I’d go again next year, and would definitely like to if it’s on again. We got the ExCel Centre nice and early, and had the children to write a list of everything they wanted to do and see. In hindsight, I think that six kids aged 3-11 and only two adults was pushing it, because with the best will in the world, balls are going to get dropped. In our case it was the dance lesson. 

There was so much to do that it would have been impossible to get through everyone’s list. I think next time I’d be tempted to have a maximum of two similar aged kids per adult. Unfortunately, when you have to cater for bigger age gaps in general, you’re always going to come across this sort of dilemma.

Older children are perfectly safe to roam around independently, and there are clearly marked meeting points in case anyone gets lost. My friend’s 11yo was in the gaming section for big chunks, but they aren’t security tagged, so if you have a smaller child who likes to run off then you’d have to keep a very close eye on them. 

Overall, it was a fab day out, and we made lots more memories to add to the bank with our dear friends.

Oh, and for anyone that was wondering, my arm is healing up nicely thanks.   

Footprints on the Heart, Open Wounds and Letting GoLike many others, I have met thousands of people so far. First came blood relatives and the ones I met through going to eight schools when I was growing up.

Next were the numerous work colleagues in the dozens of jobs I’ve had over the years.

Then came the houses I’ve lived in, the parties I’ve been to and the people I met on my travels. More recently I have met other local mums, as well as a ton of people through blogging.

Some have left distinct memories, but many I wouldn’t recognise in a line-up

I’ve written before about how fortunate I am to have the amazing people I do in my life. My rock solid husband, who is everything and more you could want out of a partner. His lovely family, who welcomed me from day one. My ridiculously awesome friends, who are always there when I need them.

Of the distant friends that I only interact with on Facebook, I have tons of great memories. Music has the ability to take me right back to a place and time. I get random flashes of deja vu, which will leave me rooted to the spot. I only have to think about certain people to feel warm and fuzzy.

Footprints on the Heart, Open Wounds and Letting Go

Some of the many people who have left a footprint on my heart

I enjoy hearing news through the social media grapevine. Such and such got married, so and so had a baby (two, three). More recently a friend’s father passed away – a wonderful man, who gave me a job when I was living in Melbourne.

These are the people who have left footprints on my heart. Even if I never see them again in real life, I will look back on our time together fondly

Then there are others. The ones who hurt me, and treated me badly. Toxic friendships based on lies and mistrust. Sacred bonds broken, never to be repaired.

The two boys who abused me when I was a young girl. The mean girls who bullied me at school.

The older work colleagues who took advantage in various ways. The one who tried to pin a crime on me, even though he had a security camera above his head, recording his every move.

footprints on the heart, open wounds and letting goThe family I walked away from.

The boss who literally destroyed my soul, and left me incapable of working for anyone else. Instead of getting another job I haphazardly set up a business on the cusp of the financial crisis, which led me to bankruptcy.

The raft of ‘frenemies’ over the years, who were oh so lovely to my face and downright awful behind my back.

I spent far too long allowing the ghosts from my past to haunt my present

Although time certainly goes some way towards healing wounds, letting go has to be a conscious decision. The first step is forgiving ourselves, and others who have caused us pain.

Other people’s words or actions can have a lasting affect on our confidence, but it’s vital not to become a victim. You must take back control from those who have taken it away from you.

Likewise, when we know we have been the cause of someone else’s pain, we can let that torture us, but we mustn’t. What’s been done has been done, and the best thing to do in these cases is hold up our hands and say we are sorry. A genuine apology can go a long way in helping to rebuild broken ties.

Devising a basic set of principles could help guide you through difficult times

footprints on the heart, open wounds and letting goWe are living in an age where depression is at an all time high. Failed life expectations, and not being where we thought we would be account for a lot of it. Social media portraying the very best bits, and making us think that everyone else is having a better time than we are doesn’t help. Don’t put off conquering your demons.  

The best way to stay happy in world full of sadness, is by living as authentically as we can. I have three guiding principles that I try and adhere to, which keep me on track when the going gets tough. They speak volumes, and have helped me tremendously.

“I will be true to myself today.”

“I will be kind to myself and those around me today.”

” I will make good decisions today.”

Always aim to leave footprints on people’s hearts, not open wounds for them to have to heal

the-trouble-with-alcoholAfter seven years of pregnancy and parenting, I decided that this would to be the year I got my social life back on track, and it’s been amazing. I think I’ve seen my friends (without the kids in tow) more in 2016 than I did in 2009-2015 put together.

The trouble is, that with socialising comes drinking alcohol. My ultimate nemesis!

I’m not an alcoholic, but I’m not afraid to admit that I recognise alcoholic traits in myself.

When I hit rock bottom after my second mental breakdown in 2006, I knew that it was time to sort my life out, and top of my priority list was getting my alcohol consumption under control. I started binge drinking at the age of twelve. My first experience was neat rum, which led to me passing out in a park. This pretty much sums up my relationship with the bottle back then. I was always pushing the boundaries, and never knew when enough was enough.

dont-be-afraid-to-admit-you-were-wrongIn my late teens and early twenties I prided myself on being able to keep up with the boys. I’d be the only girl standing (more like wobbling) come seven, eight in the morning when the hardcore were still awake putting the world to rights. I’d be the one walking to the dodgy off licence in the middle of the night for more supplies.

I have plenty of funny anecdotes from those days, but I also have horror stories. One involved a taxi driver, and ended up with me running down a dual carriageway in the early hours of the morning. I put myself in serious danger on numerous occasions, and I genuinely look back and wonder how on earth I’m still alive.

It’s incredible how much of a hold the booze had over me back then, which isn’t hugely surprising given my alcoholic step-father

Going teetotal for ever is a big deal though. Apart from not wanting to be ‘that’ person, who everyone starts avoiding because they can’t be around booze, I think it’s a huge statement to make at such a young age. I’m also inclined to believe that it can lead to ‘falling off the wagon’ in spectacular fashion, which then leads to a whole host of other problems.

I find abstinence easy. Having a few and calling it a night has always been my problem.

After rock bottom, I didn’t have a single drink for three months, after that I learnt control. I taught myself how to enjoy a drink or two, and not feel the need to get obliterated. It was a complete revelation, before then I would only ever drink to get drunk.

untitled-design-2Two years and a whole load of self-reflection later, I found myself pregnant with Polly. It was a shock after being categorically told that I was infertile, but that’s another story. I was a saint during those nine months. I didn’t even drink caffeine let alone alcohol (apart from a glass of champagne on my wedding day). 

By the time Clara was born – when Polly was two and a half – her sleep problems were in full swing. Life was super stressful and I turned to the bottle for solace too many times. When C was a year old we went out for a big group lunch with my husband’s uni friends. I got plastered, the way I used to get plastered. It wasn’t my finest hour.

I was a complete embarrassment. To him, to myself, to our children.

So I took a few months break from the booze, once again, and it helped me learn to control it, once again. Shortly after this I fell pregnant with Freddy, and when he was eight weeks old I embarked on the GAPS Intro diet, and didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for almost six months.

I have never felt as good as I did when I was on GAPS. I had an abundance of energy, and clarity of mind, despite only getting three or four broken hours sleep per night. I truly believe that GAPS was how I managed to write my first book Become the Best You. In it I talk about all the things I did to change my life, and become the version of myself I once dreamed of being.

It’s time to take my own advice

I’ve had a lot of fun getting my social life on track this year, but I’ve been absolutely useless at knowing when to stop.

“…but you deserve a night out!”

“…you have such a stressful life, and need to let your hair down!”

“…everyone has a few drinks as a treat, it’s fine!”

I can try and justify my behaviour all I like, but I know it’s unfair on the people who love me the most. Ultimately, I know that it’s totally out of order on my husband. Who, in his own words, carries emotional scars from the early days of our relationship. Unsurprisingly.

rdlukewarmGoing out also means that I’m not parenting to the best of my abilities for a day or two afterwards. Sometimes I suffer from anxiety or depression following a big night. It’s simply not okay to put myself in that position when I have children to look after, one of whom I’m home educating. I don’t aim for perfection, but being a lukewarm mama isn’t good for any of us. 

Yes, my life is hard and stressful, and I need a release every now and then, but I know deep down that my life is made worse by getting hammered. The consequences last much longer than the fun. 

Plus, it’s beyond ironic that someone who eats as healthily as I do, can tune out to the health pitfalls of drinking to excess. We’ve heard lots about the health benefits we can gain from having a couple of glasses of red wine, but no amount of antioxidants can counteract the after effect of drinking two bottles of the stuff. I view junk food as pollution, and this is no different. 

It’s not good for my body, mind or soul. So here’s where it stops!

I’m not feeling ashamed of myself, the way I have in the past. Yes I partied in Ibiza, yes I’ve had some raucous nights with besties, and yes I had to stay in my friend’s hotel room on Friday night, but I don’t regret any of it.

I guess I have learnt a lot from my life lessons. 

I’m not saying that I’m giving up alcohol altogether, because I still don’t think that’s the solution for me. Perhaps I’m wrong, only time will tell. I definitely need another break though, so I can try and get back to a place where I can have a few sociable drinks and quit while I’m ahead.

Wish me luck ❤

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. It's an act of survival

mind is blown“Whatever you do, don’t write about going to Ibiza.”

Said everyone I know, but my itchy fingers have a mind of their own. I’m a writer after all, how on earth am I supposed to not write about the most life affirming experience I’ve had in a very long time?

In a nutshell, Ibiza was mind blowingly awesome!

I’ve been a mum for seven years, and in that time I haven’t had more than one day away from my children. That’s an awfully long time when life is as relentless as mine is. Home educating means there is very little down time, not to mention the fighting, the screaming, the a word. The ringing in my ears that never ever stops. To say that I needed a break was an understatement, and it was exceptionally overdue.

The trip was booked at the start of the year, and as last Friday got closer, the excitement became palpable. Myself and a great friend met another bestie of ours, and her group of friends out there. I knew it would be fun, but Ibiza surpassed every expectation I had. All I’m going to say is this crew know how to enjoy themselves, and as I get older I realise that’s the secret to a fulfilling life.

We must never stop enjoying ourselves, and living vicariously through our children does not count.

Busy, stressed out parents need things just for them. In the great words of Monica from Friends WE NEED THE STUFF! Events and activities that fill our hearts with joy, and make our cheeks feel like they might just fall off because we’re smiling and laughing so hard. We can’t give give give 24/7/365 with nothing for us.

We will break otherwise.

I thought that dancing until my legs felt they were going to stop working was a thing of the past, but evidently not. It was a pleasant surprise to come home with extra family members. The music, the scenery, the people. Where on earth could I possibly begin?

Well you didn’t honestly think I was going to divulge the gory details did you?

Thanks to the folks who made this mama so happy she’s sat here crying joyfully at the memories.

You know who you are.

And just in case you were wondering. Yes, there will be a next time!