Why motherhood is a lot like Game of Thrones

Battles, dragons, permanently on the Night’s Watch and fighting for a moment on the (porcelain) throne. Here are nine reasons motherhood is a lot like the fantasy epic.

You need to plan everything with military precision.

Every day’s a battlefield. Just getting out of your castle, erm, house. It used to be just your handbag, which amongst scrunched-up receipts, old lipsticks and out of date mints included your keys, purse and phone. Now you have a changing bag, containing nappies, nappy bags, wet wipes, teethers, teething gel, food pouches, milk bottles, dummies, snacks and Calpol. I don’t even carry a handbag anymore. I use the changing bag as my bag too. So chic, eh?

You just want five minutes to yourself in the porcelain throne room.

Gone are the days you used to go to the bathroom on your own. The definition of luxury is having an uninterrupted shower, or time to do your business without having to attend the whims of your babe. If I don’t get a shower before Sonny gets up, it means a shower with his nose pressed against the shower doors, while he bangs it with his tiny fists. In Game of Thrones, there is a lot of competition for the (Iron) throne. But, whoever gets to sit on it at least has time to do their business…

Babies are a lot like dragons (cute ones).

They’re noisy, demanding, messy and have an insatiable appetite, and that’s just babies. Yes, dragons and babies have quite a lot in common. Your baby, though you love them dearly, can be a little monster, stopping you sleeping, eating and showering and generally, having a life. Still, much like Daenerys, no matter how big and annoying they get, they’re still your children and you heart them to the moon and back.

You’re always on the Night’s Watch.

Okay, the Night’s Watch is no more, thanks to a certain Ice Dragon, you know what I mean if you’re a mama. No more snuggling beneath the sheets and not waking up until the alarm goes off. You hear every snuffle and rustle. You check if they’re warm enough or that they haven’t pulled their favourite bunny over their face. Then, if you don’t have a sleeper, you need to dig deep to get through the night.

You always need to be prepared for the unexpected.

Life in general throws lots of curve balls. When you’re a mum, these usually come in the form of your baby’s bodily fluids. But, other than that, babies are unpredictable, and when they get mobile, you need eyes on the back of your head. Much like the GoT characters, it’s handy to have a third eye like Bran.

You’re always in danger of losing your head…

Not literally, thankfully. But, motherhood is stressful, emotional and exhausting. Be sure to get some you time, whether that’s a power walk with your head phones full blast, a catch up with your bestie, or just having the house to yourself for a few hours. It’s important to feel like the you before you became a mama too.

You must trust your instincts at all times.

This is the best advice I can impart. You will get lots of advice, but you know your baby best. It’s great to take everything you hear on board, but, as I’ve said again and again, your instincts will never lead you far wrong. Sansa eventually came good on trusting her instincts, and she’ll be a better woman for it. So, trust yourself but by all means, ask for advice when you need it.

You get through a lot of wine…

Cersei is rarely seen without a goblet of grape juice, nor is Tyrion. In fact, most of the characters enjoy a tipple or ten. When it gets to 7pm, your thoughts will drift to that lovely chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. It might just be one glass (totally going to get myself a goblet though), but it’s mummy medicine, and you deserve it after a day of nurturing a little dragon, I mean, baby.

You’ll protect your kingdom with ferocity.

You’re a mama dragon, and you’ll do anything, and I mean anything to protect your brood. They’re you’re everything and nothing is more important than family. Just ask Arya. Oh, and don’t forget, being a mama makes you a queen and you deserve a crown (and a huge goblet of wine).

Catch Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic tonight at 2am or tomorrow night at 9pm.

Mind your head, mama.

There’s no denying the self-sacrifice involved in becoming a mother. You no longer take centre stage in your own world. Your baby comes first, period. This doesn’t make us martyrs, it makes us mothers. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. But, when you’re in the thick of it, endless nappy changes, feeding, soothing, endless cleaning, you do lose a little bit of yourself. And that’s totally fine, you withdraw from the world into your own little cocoon where you are nurturing life. That’s special and amazing, if all consuming.

It’s been an up and down few weeks. Yes, there has been some bad news, enough for your to slip into a negative mindset. I still feel sub power. Mothering is difficult enough, especially when you work and it’s so easy to stop looking after yourself. You don’t make healthy food choices, you don’t sleep well and you fret about, well everything. I saw my GP recently, about a health issue and she asked me how I was. That was enough for me to well up and I couldn’t even put my finger on why. I felt awkward, but my wobble also helped me acknowledge how I was feeling. On reflection, I shouldn’t have felt embarrassed at all, being a mother is tough, it’s full on, you don’t get a break, even if you’re sick. Goodness, even if I’m feeling well, I find myself catastrophising about everything. I’m always googling my symptoms, always imagining the worst case scenario. I don’t know why I do this, I guess it’s just how I’m wired.

You don’t get asked how you are enough in my view (the exception being every time I chat to my wonderful mama). But, overall, I think you’re just expected to get on with it – and you really have little choice when you have babies. Massive high-fives to all you mamas of one, two and more – I’m in complete awe of you.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to ask my friends how they are from now on. It could just be what they need to hear. If you’re a mama out there who’s struggling for whatever reason, and what ever reason it is, it’s valid. Here are some things you can try, to help you feel better.

  • Drink a green juice every day. If you struggle to get your five a day in, this is the easiest way of doing it. Have it in the morning before you eat and those nutrients are going straight into your system. After a few weeks of juicing every day, your skin will look better and you’ll have a real spring in your step. I juiced every day when pregnant and honestly never felt (or looked) better.
  • It’s good to talk. And by that, I don’t mean text message or IM – although they have their place. Pick up the phone and call your mum, your best friend or talk to your partner. Tell them if you don’t feel okay. Verbalising your feelings is therapeutic in itself. It gets stuff out of your head and gives you a little perspective.
  • Exercise. We’re not blessed with the most outdoorsy weather in Northern Ireland but there is nothing like a good walk on a blue sky day. I’ve never been good with gyms, I love the idea but the reality just doesn’t quite cut it. If that’s your therapy, good on you. If not, get on your bike or just pull on your trainers and get outside for a walk or a jog.
  • Meditate. There are lots of apps on the market but one I like in particular is Headspace. You can meditate for just three minutes before you start your day. Just taking a few minutes for you and only you will pay huge dividends. It will also help you feel gratitude for what you do have in your life – and you have lots to be thankful for.
  • Laugh – the deep belly ones. Do more of what you love, whether that’s a night out with your girlfriends, a weekend away, a really good meal, a shopping trip. So get a babysitter or pass the mantle to your hubby or partner.

Yes, I know as a mum you are very limited in time – and head space but be kind to yourself, whether or not you decide to meditate, or eat healthier or exercise. I can only mange one or two of these things in any given week, sometimes none. Goodness, I can’t even remember when I last washed my hair. Just look after yourself, mama. You are important and remember… you are the centre of your baby’s world and that’s makes you a VIP.


10 ways your life changes when you become a mum

You take on the most difficult role of your life

It’s long hours and there’s no pay. You’re surviving on your instincts and it’s hard, so hard. There’s little respite when you go to bed, as you’re constantly alert. You live and breathe your new job and you get very little thanks, especially in the very early days. But, it’s so, so rewarding.

You worry less about your own problems

This is actually a good thing if you’re a champion ruminator (like me). While self-reflection is good and healthy, it’s not good to obsess about every bump in the road. Having a baby means you put her or him first and there’s less room for your own worries and niggles.

You avoid drama like the plague

I remember the days that I thrived on it. Now, I shudder thinking at the frivolous things that used to preoccupy my mind. It’s part of growing as a person, but the only place you want to see drama is on Netflix, not your life. Once you cut out unnecessary worrying, you’re left with the important relationships in it and no bull.

Your social life dies

You might be up into the wee hours but you’re not wearing a bodycon dress and clutching a large glass of vino while teetering on killer heels. But, amazingly, you don’t miss it. Hangovers are a thing of the past. Believe me, a screaming baby and a sore head is not what you want to put yourself through. When you and your partner do get the very odd night to yourselves, you’ll spend the entire evening talking about your little monster, erm, angel!

You’ll have little to no disposable income

Money. You used to treat yourself on pay day, now the baby aisle is your go-to destination on every supermarket trip (and sometimes the household cleaning aisle). One of the plus side’s is that you can dress your baby up in a vast array of cute/silly outfits. You gotta to get your kicks where you can, right? Soon, they’ll cringe at the thought of you dressing them.

You don’t care (or care much less) about your appearance

Looking presentable take so much effort. A mum’s uniform should consist of a t-shirt and leggings. It’s comfort over style every time. Besides, you’re going to be covered in food, regurgitated milk, vomit and drool at the end of every day anyway. I’m not a complete neanderthal though, I still love wearing makeup and nice clothes on occasion. It’s good (and important) to feel like you every now and then and you’ll feel and look amazing when you have your face on.

Your immune system will takes a serious beating

Carrying a baby for nine months takes its toll. I’ve no idea how I got through the first six months on virtually no sleep and ding meals. It’s important you do look after yourself, as best you can. Invest in a juicer, meditate and ask for help. I’ve felt crap for the past month, but it’s forcing me to pay attention to my diet and mental health, which is a good thing.

You’ll know the true meaning of exhaustion

Imagine feeling constantly hungover. That’s what the first year of your baby’s life is going to feel like. This could get better or worse depending on your little darling. You might get lucky with a ‘good sleeper’ but prepare for onslaught of sleep deprivation. It ain’t pretty and you will probably count on one hand went you get a decent night’s kip.

Hey, it’s not all bad…

You are the centre of your baby’s world

It’s good to be needed. Despite what it seems, your efforts aren’t going unnoticed. You are looking after a little human being, who will grow up to be a big human being, who will touch the lives of many people. That’s pretty awesome.

You’ll experience the greatest love of all

You will feel many extremes of emotion as a mother. From frustration to desperation to pure and utter joy. But, the most incredible feeling of all is love. There is no love purer or more ferocious than the love you feel for your baby. You will literally do anything for them.

Having a baby changes you beyond recognition – it also changes your relationships. But, parenthood is an incredible, beautiful, terrifying journey but it’s also so much fun.

How to keep it together when your baby is sick (and you are too)

It’s so easy to fall apart when you have a little one who depends so entirely on you. You might be hanging by a thread but how you feel is secondary. Sonny has been poorly for the past two weeks. It started of with innocent enough sniffles that developed into a full blown hacking cough and cold. It’s so, so hard to see your beautiful baby suffer. I know it’s ‘just’ a cold and it will pass and I know I need to (wo)man up but it’s really, really tough. I’m drained because adrenaline is constantly pumping through my veins, keeping me on red alert. Should I call the doctor (again)? Should I call the health visitor (again)? It’s hard enough looking after a baby, but when they are sick, you’ve a strict regimen of eye drops, nose spray, vapour rub, Calpol and antibiotics on top of bottles, mealtimes and nappies. The understanding pharmacist at my local Boots said babies get up to 15 colds in their first year and they’re actually “good” for their immune system. It bloody doesn’t feel like it when you’re in the eye of the storm of sneezes.

My living room is a petri dish and my life consists of chasing after a snotty, crying, coughing, crawling baby as he leaves a snail trail of bodily fluids and a tsunami of tissues in his wake. I’m cuddling him as much as possible and he takes full advantage by rubbing his streaming nose on my sleeve (or wherever his nose goes). The other night, as I slowly climbed the stairs to put him to bed, he heaved and heaved and splattered me in vomit. Spag bol flavour. I yelled for Andrew who came dashing up the stairs with wet wipes. That wasn’t going to cut it… bless him. I catch my reflection on the mirrored slidesrobes in the nursery. I’m covered in orange vomit, I’ve dark eye bags and my hair needs washed. I look like hell but I don’t care. Most days I look like a slob anyway. It’s amazing how little you care about how you look when you’re a new mum. Wearing make-up is a luxury. But, even if it’s a crappy day where all you’ve been doing is chasing your tail, you’re still doing an incredible job – raising a human.

Snots, sneezes and snuggles.

I can’t tell if I’m being a crazy mama when I list Sonny’s symptoms to our lovely, patient GP. She’s sympathetic even if she thinks I’m being over the top. You can’t help it though. You just want your little one to stop suffering. I mean it, if I could take on his suffering I would and I’m far from being a soldier – I hate being in any kind of discomfort. But when you’re being used as a human handkerchief it’s just a matter of time before the germs set up shop in you too. My throat and chest bore the brunt of the invasion.

Still, it’s a comfort to know that everything has but a time. A lovely elderly lady I got chatting to in a coffee shop recently said the best thing for a cold is a four letter word. Love. Sadly, colds will take their course, but an abundance of love and patience will also go a long way to making you feel better. So, while I shower him with kisses and smother him in cuddles, I know I need those just as much as him.

So, if you and your little one are under the weather, know that it will pass and you are doing everything in your power to make their life more comfortable. Don’t forget to look after yourself too. You are important. When you get better, you’ll never take feeling well for granted again. While the cold is a hateful thing, take full advantage of all the cuddles because, as I’m told again and again – they grow up fast and you’ll cherish the times you squeezed them so tight you can feel their heart beat. Oh, he’s getting better…

My little lion has got his roar back…

Turning curve balls into beach balls…

There will be many periods in your life where everything is going to plan, things don’t deviate too much from the programme and things keep ticking over. Depending on what stage of life you are at, this can be welcome or frustrating. As for me, I’m content with having some routine in my life. I also crave fresh sea air, woodland walks, dining out and drinks in the sun. Routine is fine, as long as you always have things to look forward to, be that a holiday, city break, or just a Sunday drive and pub lunch.

Every day is a road trip.

There will also be times when you’re thrown curveballs, I’ve already had one this year, and now another one has been thrown my way. My dad once said, “if you can’t change something, change how you feel about it”. That is so true, a positive attitude is very effective body armour. I’m much more inclined to believe that everything is happening for a reason now, than say, when I got messed around by yet another rubbish guy in my twenties.

I have a close friend who has always been very spiritual and she’s a firm believer in the law of attraction. It may sound like bunkum to some of you, but only allowing yourself positive thoughts can have a profound impact on your day. Have you ever got up in the morning, stubbed your toe on the shower door, dropped your last contact lens on the floor, burnt your toast and missed your bus? Okay, maybe not exactly, but you’re having “one of those days”. One bad thing happening can set off a destructive domino effect but if you put a positive spin on things, it can totally change your day.

Becoming a mum has opened up a new world to me. You’ve heard it said that “children keep you young”. Yes, they also age you, but take a leaf out of their book when it comes to your life. They see the world through rose-tinted glasses, everything holds interest and intrigue, each day holds so much wonder. It’s pure joy to see my son first thing in the morning. I walk softly into his room and pull back the curtains, letting the sunlight stream in. His big eyes sparkle and he emits an excited squeal. It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited to wake up in the morning. Sonny has certainly changed that. It’s so amazing to watch him grow. He’s crawling now, and quite literally snapping at my heels as he moves seamlessly from rug, to wood floor to tiles. He’ll be on his feet soon, and he certainly is keeping me on mine.

Every day is an adventure.

Stop seeing curve balls as obstacles, but rather see them as a big, beautiful, colourful objects nudging you into the direction you’re supposed to take in life. Despite everything, I’m really excited for the future.

Why we should be making every second count

Time passes quickly, and more so as you grow older. When I was a teenager, with my life stretched out before me, someone told me that each decade passes much more quickly than the one that preceded it. As the popular, acerbic, adage goes… “Youth is wasted on the young”. “I can’t wait,” you think, for a night out, a holiday, going to university, getting your driving licence. You even have the luxury, and believe me it is one, to be bored.

As a person who could now be considered middle-aged (the horror), I look back on my life to date and I’ve made many good and bad choices. I’m glad and grateful to have a very close family and loyal and supportive friends. My life is better than it’s ever been and I’m very much looking forward to what the future holds. I’m also aware that our mortality makes us very fragile indeed.

This week, life dealt a very sobering curve ball that could have changed the lives of a great many in our circle. When something bad happens, life seems to grind to a halt. You enter a zone where the day to day worries dissipate and you focus all your energy on the situation, whatever role you play. All you want is for the situation to get better, so that normal service can resume. Thankfully, it has. But things could have been very much different.

You spend your youth making memories, and as you get older, you spend your time thinking back to precious moments in your life, falling in love, landing the dream job, getting married, giving birth, becoming a parent. It’s so important to live in the present too. Smartphones have made it so easy to capture life as it happens. We film life rather than live it. Life can change in an instant so be sure to make every moment count. Hug your children a little tighter, tell your husband or wife you love them, call the friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, bury the hatchet, just because life is too short. At the end of our lives, all that matters are memories. Make them good ones.

It’s a thumb’s up from Sonny…

Tonight, I’ll spend a few seconds longer looking at my perfect son, as he sleepily gazes up at me from his cot, cuddling his beloved bunny. I’ll kiss his little forehead and squeeze his tiny hand a little tighter. I’m so incredibly lucky for my life and for Sonny. I don’t take anything for granted anymore.

Image credits:

Photography: Trazanne Norwood https://www.instagram.com/trazanne/

Hair & Makeup: Melissa and Sophie @ Paul Meekin https://www.partnersbelfast.co.uk/

Little cub, big cot – my mixed emotions as Sonny moves into his own room…

When your baby is a bawling newborn, you long for the day when your blessed bundle will go into his or her own room. There are many schools of thought as to the ‘right time’ for this, if there is such a thing. As a new mum, I made the decision to stick to the recommended six months. But, inevitably, you’ll just do what works for you and your family. Your instinct will never lead you far wrong, I’ve found. But, as the time came for him to go into his room (which has been ready since before he was born), I came up a myriad of reasons to delay it. I’d gotten used to his soft, even breathing being the last thing I heard before drifting off. Seven months in and my husband said, “it’s time”. Of course, he was right – I don’t (never) usually admit to this.

I’d agonised over which baby monitor to get, one with video or just audio. Eventually, after looking at the options, I went with audio and I’m surprised by how incredibly sensitive it is. I can hear when he is rustling about in his sleep and I love that. Sonny going into his own room has totally changed our evenings. Before, we placed him in a Moses basket in our living room, bringing him up to our room when we retired, usually around 11pm. Now, I can eat dinner and watch TV with my hubby. I’m still thinking of our little one, but it feels right to have a little time to myself. Now, he’s in his bed for 7pm. I’m not quite sure how the heck I have managed this but he’s sleeping until 7am.

The first night, I put him in his snug sleeping bag and gently placed him in his adorable cot bed. He looked so small. Sonny however, seemed to like being able to starfish, (who doesn’t?!). He pulled his grey fluffy bunny to his face and sucked on his soother. I pressed the leg of Ewan the dream sheep, something I’ve done since we brought him home, and tip toed out of his room, leaving the door ajar. My mind raced, I couldn’t go to sleep, thinking of him, so tiny in his big bed. He couldn’t have cared less and actually slept like a baby (or my husband, to be precise). I did manage to sleep that night in short blocks as I got up to check in on him throughout the night. I’ve self-diagnosed myself with Nocturia, something which has me up at least three times in the night. Ironically, it’s something I’m grateful for now, as I’d be nervous of sleeping so deeply that I didn’t wake up at all. This way, I know my bladder will keep me alert.

I woke up the next morning, the baby monitor crackling with Sonny’s movements as he roused, unfurling slowly. Then comes the soft, sweet babbling, “da da da, ba ba ba”. I’ve noticed he only enunciates “ma ma ma” when he’s hungry, needs his nappy changed or is generally annoyed. Another joy of motherhood. I peel myself out of bed and pad softly into the nursery. He beams at me from a lying position in his cot, not able to pull himself up into the sitting position just yet. His plump skin is pink, his beautiful big eyes wide and bright, he grins at me with chubby arms stretched for me to lift him. I gently pull him out of his sleeping bag and scoop him up in my arms. I pull him close and he buries his gorgeous little head in my neck. I missed him. How can that even be possible? He’s still only a few feet from our bed.

I don’t know how I’ll cope when I return to work and he goes to nursery. The bond with your child is so incredibly strong. Still, motherhood is really hard, there’s no sugar coating it. In my late thirties, I don’t have the energy I once had. There are days that I feel pushed to my limits, frazzled, depleted, exhausted. But, I wouldn’t change a thing. Becoming a mum has been the making of me.

I know there will be many more milestones to come, and each will present their own difficulties. This week has been quite hard. He’s going through another developmental leap and he’s teething. He just wants to be held, which of course, I’m more than happy to do. This week has brought me back to when he was a newborn, depending on me so absolutely. Although I sleepwalked through those first few months, I adored holding him, skin to skin, on my chest. He’s a bit too big for that now, but as I’m climbing the stairs to put him down in his own room and he snuggles into me, it’s the best feeling in the world.