Fantastic Advice for New Parents: Family Happiness Tips

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. But, it can also be one of the most challenging times in your life, and there are so many things that you may not have thought about before becoming a parent. However, there are some things that all parents need to know- no matter what age they are when their first child arrives- and these tips can help make your parenting journey more manageable. They will also bring more happiness into your home.


Trust Yourself


Being a first-time parent can be very scary, full of many unknowns. Trusting yourself to make the right call for your child is a big part of this journey, and it can lead you down paths that may seem more difficult than others, but they are going to guide you towards being a better parent in the long run.


Practice Self-Care


Being a new parent means sacrificing time with family and friends, so having some alone time every now and then or even just taking times during your day where you have 15 minutes of downtime from your child is so important. It will help you to not only recharge but also stay sane during your parenting journey.

Your self-care routine as a new mom should include the following activities:

  • Get enough sleep: sleep is an essential part of self-care. Ensure you get adequate sleep regularly.
  • Eat healthy meals: your diet will affect your mood and energy, so you should ensure you’re fueling your body with good foods.
  • Take breaks when needed: put the baby down in a safe place and take a few minutes for yourself to do something that relaxes you, whether that is reading, taking a bath, or watching your favourite show.
  • Cracked nipples: You may experience cracked nipples when you start breastfeeding. Therefore, you need a way of caring for cracked nipples to return them to the right condition. Lanolin cream can help soothe the pain and speed up healing time
  • Take a relaxing bath: Add some soothing essential oils to your bathtubs like lavender, chamomile, or rosemary oil
  • Exercise: Taking walks with your baby, doing prenatal yoga, or light weightlifting are all excellent exercises for new moms

Be Kind to Yourself

Being kind to yourself is one of the most critical aspects of keeping your family happy. It may seem easy enough for non-parents, but it is more complicated than you think when you are a new parent. However, you can be kind to yourself by making time for yourself each day that is not about your baby.

Try to keep your social life alive by inviting friends over or going out once every few months so that you do not feel too isolated. This way, you will have opportunities to talk about adult things other than just work-related topics, giving yourself an outlet away from all the stress of parenthood. These little acts might seem insignificant on their own, but they can add up when done regularly.

Accept All the Help You Can Get

Asking and accepting help may seem difficult at first, but it is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. It can be difficult to let go and allow others to help, but you will create a sense of community and support that will benefit everyone involved. Friends and family want to help – let them.

There are many ways they can help, from watching the baby while you take a break to grocery shopping or even cleaning your house. If people offer to help, accept the offer graciously. Not only will you get some much-needed assistance, but you will also be strengthening your relationships with those around you.

Be Flexible in Your New Parenthood Journey

Flexibility is vital for adapting to the many changes that come with being a new parent. Things will not always go according to your plan, so be prepared to roll with the punches. There is no right or wrong way to do something as a parent, so go with the flow and let yourself be open to learning as you go. It will help you to be less stressed and more patient as you navigate through this new chapter in your life.

Adjust Your Expectations

Every parent has expectations of what parenthood will be like. However, it is essential to remember that things may not go as planned, and you must be flexible. So please do not get bogged down by the small stuff; enjoy your time with your child and let the rest work itself out.

One of the most important things to remember as a new parent is that you are not perfect, and that’s okay. Accept that you will make mistakes and permit yourself to relax your expectations. You don’t have to be a supermom or dad – try your best and enjoy this new chapter in your life. As your child grows, they will teach you what works best for them, and slowly but surely, everything will fall into place. Until then, take it one day at a time.

Seek Opportunities To Bond With Your Baby and Make Memories

Bonding with your newborn is a cherished experience that will be filled with lots of cuddles, laughs, and tears. There are so many beautiful moments to enjoy during those first few months, so take the time to soak it all in. Whether you’re reading stories, singing songs, or taking long walks together, make sure you’re spending quality time with your little one. You’ll cherish those memories for a lifetime.

In addition to bonding, try to create some unique traditions with your family as soon as possible. It could involve weekly meals together, playing games on holidays, or setting aside specific days for special outings. These traditions will help to anchor your family and provide consistency during what can be an unpredictable time.

Find your Tribe

One of the best things you can do as a new parent is to find your tribe – a group of people who will support and encourage you and who you can rely on for advice and friendship. It could be friends from before you had kids, other parents you meet through activities, playgroups, or even online parenting groups.

Having this support system in place will help make the challenging early years easier. Knowing that you have someone to talk to when things get tough – or to share funny stories about your kids with – can be reassuring. Plus, it’s always nice to have people to celebrate milestones with.

Live in the Present Moment

Practice mindfulness with your child every day so that you can be fully present when it matters most later on. As new parents, you may get distracted very quickly because there is just so much to take care of. Try to focus intensely for short periods throughout the day while playing games like peek-a-boo, patting their back until they fall asleep, giving them tummy time while singing songs, etcetera. With enough practice, this type of engagement will come naturally over time. You might also want to read up on meditation if you find it too hard to stay focused.

Talk About Money Decisions With Your Partner

It is one of the most vital conversations you will have as a couple regarding your family. Money is one of the leading causes of stress in relationships, so you must be on the same page regarding financial planning and budgeting. Discuss your goals for the future, how you want to save for your child’s education or future expenses, and what kind of lifestyle you hope to provide for your family. It’s also essential to be honest about any debt you may have accrued and develop a plan to pay that off together. By communicating openly and honestly about money, you can avoid many potential conflicts down the road.

Conclusion

Parenthood can be very challenging, even for seasoned parents. However, new research shows that there are ways you can increase your family’s happiness. Promising statistics show that including these tips in your lives will help to improve the well-being of both you and your child.

Empowering and Educating Autistic Children With Technology

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a diverse group of conditions. According to the World Health Organization, around one in 160 children have ASD. Their abilities and needs can vary or evolve over time, which is why some people with autism can live independently, while others require life-long care and support. And as we discussed in our blog post on Eva’s Autism Diagnosis characteristics may be detected in early childhood, but more often are diagnosed later.

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In Eva’s case, she wasn’t diagnosed until she was in year 6 having waited two years, her teacher suspected her to be autistic despite her masking it well and had referred us for diagnosis. Regardless of the symptoms, a person with ASD has — Eva, for instance, is sensitive but remains outgoing and chatty in public — autistic children need plenty of love, support, and acceptance. As parents, it’s important to seek out ways to help them. Research indicates that the use of technology alongside evidence-based psychosocial interventions can help children diagnosed with ASD overcome the challenges they face.

How Assistive Tech Helps

We know technology has served as a key tool in diagnosing ASD. The Edith Cowan University has recently begun research using high-tech 3D facial scans for a better understanding of the genetic causes of autism. Using machine learning techniques, the researchers found that parents of children on the autism spectrum had more asymmetric faces than other adults of a similar age, based on the measurements of 5000 facial points.

As for managing ASD, assistive technology can better allow children to handle difficulties in social interaction and communication. Assistive technology is anything that allows users with a disability to perform tasks they would otherwise find impossible to perform on their own. Often, children on the spectrum use assistive technology to complete daily activities and work tasks. Research points out that the use of technology leads to improved literacy, adaptive and social-communicative skills, and emotional detection in children on the spectrum. Assistive technology also presents information visually, which is more effective for children with autism to learn with than audio information.

Technology and Education at School

Schools are now embracing modern learning environments by heavily integrating technology into both classrooms and curriculums. As New Globe points out, education is a science. Powerful, technology-enabled systems allow schools to gather and apply data-driven learning improvements across the education system, which can enhance learning in the long run. Assistive classroom technology can help autistic students adjust better in formal education.

There are plenty of use-cases we’ve seen over the years. Communication apps have built-in features that support individuals with autism at all levels and abilities. Visual schedules and step-by-step checklists help ASD students get organised in class and master independent living routines. With tools that create a roadmap, they’re more confident to socialise — bridging the gap between them and other kids.

Technology can also be integrated into the curriculum itself. VR experiences, memory aids, audiobooks, and text-to-speech systems guide students through more advanced projects. In a STEM-based K-12 plan, for instance, students with ASD engage in a flipped classroom model, wherein they collaborate on using 3D printers, robotics, and computer-aided design programs.

Assistive Tech at Home for ASD

At home, technology can sharpen your child’s fine motor and life skills, or even reinforce speech and language therapies. As BBC Bitesize article notes, it helps to experiment with different methods because ASD often leads to a range of learning needs. If they’re struggling with low motivation, motivational apps can be especially helpful. Video modelling and social networking tools are also good for improving relational skills.

Some parents opt to apply technology for tracking their child and securing their homes as well, because these increase the independence of a child on the spectrum, while keeping them safe. Other devices and apps aim to improve their quality of life by reducing any sensory overload or stress; some are designed to help them sleep better — which ultimately leads to less agitation for everyone.

Technology is a boon for many families supporting a child with ASD, so don’t be afraid to try various tools that can make your lives easier.

5 Easy Ways To Boost Your Confidence

Confidence is an elusive trait for many people worldwide, and it isn’t uncommon for even the most self-assured people to struggle with low confidence and self-esteem occasionally. According to a Sky News survey, one-third of young people in the UK lack confidence due to various reasons ranging from social media influences to perceptions of physical attractiveness. However, anyone can boost their confidence with a few simple tricks to excel in the most challenging situations. Here are some of the easiest things you can do to receive an instant confidence boost.

1. Crack a smile

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Flashing your pearly whites is reportedly a great and simple way to improve your self-confidence. Smiling can make you appear more calm, composed, and confident in yourself and your abilities. Studies show that smiles also release endorphins, so they positively impact your emotional health by making you happier. Furthermore, smiling can also banish feelings of stress to make you less anxious and worried in stressful situations. Therefore, practice smiling more as an easy way to restore your confidence when you need it the most. You can work on your smiles by giving yourself smile cues that remind you to smile regularly during the day. For instance, you can choose a sound, action, or visual reminder like seeing someone laughing as your smile cue. Then, challenge yourself to smile every time you encounter these cues till it becomes a habit.

2. Improve your appearance

Appearance is undoubtedly a major contributing factor to self-confidence since many people judge you based on how you look. Unfortunately, many people are dissatisfied with their appearance, with a Censuswide survey revealing that 80% of people aged 35-54 lack confidence in their appearance. Thankfully, you can readily change how you look to give yourself an easy confidence boost. For starters, groom yourself by taking regular showers, shaving regularly, styling your hair, trimming your nails, among others. 

Also, invest in an exquisite fragrance since studies show that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a fragrance than their counterparts who go fragrance-free. Another study also suggests that fragrance can inspire confidence in men, and you can feel even more self-assured the more you like the scent. Furthermore, dress nicely by wearing presentable, neat, comfortable, and fitting clothing to make you feel more confident and attractive. Finally, you can also work on particular issues with your appearance that affect your overall confidence. For instance,  if you have misaligned teeth that make you uneasy about your smile, you can invest in dental braces to straighten your teeth and give you the confidence to smile more. Similarly, for men, if unwanted hair loss is the issue, consider the benefits of Propecia vs Finasteride to treat your pattern baldness if that’s the source of your low confidence level.

3. Stop labelling yourself negatively

Many experts believe that labelling yourself as timid, shy, or awkward subconsciously prompts your mind to act accordingly. Consequently, you will feel inclined to live up to these expectations psychologically, affecting your overall confidence. Therefore, it would help to visualise and affirm yourself as strong and confident instead of entertaining negative self-talk, which is almost always damaging. You can change how you label yourself through positive affirmation and positive mental practices like visualising yourself achieving a goal to boost your self-assurance and prepare yourself for success. Seeing is believing, so picturing yourself as confident will undoubtedly prompt you to manifest behaviour that supports this mental picture at all times.

4. Embrace your superstitions

Superstitions are widely regarded as irrational and incapable of affecting the outcomes of any situation. However, researchers from the University of Cologne admit that superstitions have measurable performance benefits. As such, you can receive a confidence boost and improve your performance on a task if you believe in superstition. Therefore, feel free to wear your lucky socks, charm bracelet, or good luck tie anytime you have major performances like an interview or presentation coming up so you can remain confident. Also, you can indulge in any rituals that make you more self-assured, as long as they are safe and effective. 

5. Focus on others instead of yourself

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If you are low on confidence, shy, and nervous in social situations, you are likely overly self-conscious. This heightened awareness of yourself is often the origin of low self-confidence in social interactions since you constantly wonder how others perceive your actions and words. Therefore, experts recommend shifting your attention to what other people are doing or saying instead of focusing on yourself. For instance, if you are on a date, think about what makes the person you are talking to interesting. You can prompt them to talk more about themselves and lend a genuinely curious ear to hear what they have to say. Generally, many people want to talk more about themselves and be understood. Consequently, people will love it when you are willing to listen to them and genuinely understand what you say. In addition, you will come across as warmhearted and confident instantly.

3 Tips for Balancing Out Parenting and Self Care

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Practicing self-care as a parent is something that feels a little too far out of reach at times. Being a parent, no matter if you’re a mother or father is really just an incredibly tough job. It’s a job that you’re constantly doing around the clock and there aren’t any breaks or timeouts like a normal job may have. Regardless, parenthood is simply a beautiful experience that reminds you of how far you’ve come with your little one. While we’re taking care of our children, we can’t neglect ourselves either.

Parents tend to constantly put their children or others before themselves. This can be good, it shows your dedication, but it does mean that sacrifices are made such as sleep and even a decline in health. It’s important to focus on self-care habits as these affect the mind, body, and soul. Here are some ways to help change your mindset so you can begin focusing on your little ones and on yourself too.

Do not guilt yourself for your needs

Parents tend to guilt themselves for not putting in enough time and energy doing other things. Self-care tackles mental health and it can be a way to help improve your mentality as well. You need to first start with yourself and understand that you’re not a bad person for wanting to have time to yourself.

You’re not a bad parent for wanting to take care of yourself and tend to your needs. If you want to tend to others’ needs, such as your children, you need to focus on yourself so you can properly be there to help the ones you love. So first begin getting it into your head that you need breaks, you deserve breaks, and you have to take care of yourself.

Know that your sleep matters

Parents and lack of sleep go hand in hand, it’s the dark truth, but it’s something that eventually gets accepted. You may have even seen some funny memes online about the lack of sleep that parents get. While it may be one of the facts in life, it’s important to know that your sleep matters and you have to try and get it.

You can look into getting a Moses Basket for your baby and have it right next to you at bedtime, this way you can immediately tend to your baby in your room and get back to sleep. Alternatively, you can talk with your partner about taking shifts and days in balancing out who will tend to the kids and who’ll sleep.

Think of the little ways to get yourself feeling good

There are plenty of ways to help your soul feel good such as eating your favorite sweets, getting yourself a little gift you’ve had on your wish list, but you should think about the things that will make you feel physically good as well. This includes eating healthy meals that will nourish your body. A healthy meal is going to drastically help in giving you more energy and making you feel physically better. The same can be said with regular exercising, even just doing a bit of movement each day such as walking can do wonders to how you’ll feel. 

How To Boost Your Self-Esteem

There are some people who go through life feeling 100% confident about everything they want to do in life. If you’ve ever been the person to feel a lack of confidence in your skills and abilities, you might be in the percentage of people who have issues with their self-esteem. You don’t need to feel unworthy of anything, as you deserve everything in life. The key is in knowing that you can build your self-esteem and confidence up so that you can feel as if you are capable and worthy of more in life. 

Most of the time, there’s a solution to a problem. If you’re dealing with issues with getting older and the effects on your skin, then you should know that a facial and good eye cream is going to help you. If you were losing your hair, then a prescription of finasteride 1mg could make a difference. The point is that whatever your issues are with your self-esteem, there’s likely going to be a solution out there to help you. Your confidence matters and your self-esteem matters, and if you do something about it early enough you can build on it and make sure that you are feeling fully confident about your day-to-day life, too. Self-esteem isn’t static. It’s going to go up and down depending on what you have going on in life, and you needn’t strive for perfection for acceptance from your peers. In fact, you should be able to improve your level of self-esteem and build your confidence and happiness, and the biggest factor here is in knowing that you deserve it. So, with this in mind, here are some helpful ways that you can boost your self-esteem!

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  1. Take some responsibility. It’s important that you remember that you are in charge of yourself. If you have low confidence, you have to make a map to get your confidence back. You might not be able to control external factors in your life all the time, but you can certainly control your reactions to them. You can control whether you go out there to get some help with it. You are responsible for your happiness and your successes, and you have to take some responsibility for it. Creating the right habits to boost your self-esteem are on you, and if you don’t create those habits, you’re going to miss out! Your self-esteem is important, and if you take some responsibility for it, you’re going to find a way to feel more confident, you have to remember that you are the driving factor behind it. 
  2. Know what you value, and live those values. If you start to live a life of purpose and intention, you are going to clarify what matters the most in your life. Your values are your personal foundation and the most you live by those, the better. These values are going to reflect the decisions that you make, and they’re going to give you a better sense of self, too. Living with integrity is important for your whole future, and your words, thoughts and ideas depend on it. Your confidence will grow when you have a stronger sense of self.
  3. Know what your strengths are. As important as it is to know your weaknesses, you need to know what your strengths are, too. Knowing what you are strongest at will help you to learn what you’re good at, and this will help you to feel good about yourself. If you want to have good self-experiences, then you need to have some great self-awareness. That means you need to make a list of all of the things that you’re good at. And then you need to believe in those things. 
  4. Face your fears. No matter what they are, facing your fears is so important if you want to boost your self-esteem. No one is exempt from fear; we all have fears and it’s those fears that either fuel you to do more and face them, or it makes you shrink away and more afraid of everything. The most important thing that you can do is face your fears and beat them. Identify them, face them and beat them for your confidence to go up.
  5. Commit to your happiness. It’s important that you commit to being happier if you want to build your confidence. One of the biggest issues with self-esteem is that you are living more in your head than in the world around you, and it’s important that you commit to seeking out things that will make you happier if you want to feel happier!

Self-Care Suggestions After A Personal Injury

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Recovering from an injury can be difficult. Regaining one’s health can take a long time, causing several physical and mental challenges for many people. While some people can fully recover from injuries in a matter of weeks or months, others are left with long-term concerns, including mobility difficulty, attention issues, or chronic pain that may change a lot about their daily activities. Even those who fully recover their physical health after an accident are frequently left with severe emotional and mental scars such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The rehabilitation process differs for everyone, but people can use a few basic methods to heal and cope with their trauma, such as self-care practices. Here are some self-care ideas you can implement in your routine to help you overcome and deal with the effects of personal injury.

Financial recuperation 

Physical recovery is critical, but so is a financial recovery. While dealing with or overcoming your personal injury, you would incur various expenses such as surgeries, counselling, in-home care, and other health-related expenses. Some of the injuries incurred may prevent you from working and cause you to lose your source of income. All this can have a strain on your wellbeing. Therefore, looking for financial recovery is an effective form of self-care. 

You can do so by looking at alternative ways of making money. Online options such as creating a blog or vlog documenting your recovery journey or taking advantage of remote working opportunities is a great way to make some money. If the injuries you endured are due to the negligence of your workplace, it is vital that you also seek the necessary compensation. Although this may be challenging, you would be able to gain some financial freedom and much-needed peace of mind. You can hire professional legal services providers to take you through the necessary legal processes to make your claim, offer sound advice, and handle any legal issues along the way.

Consult a physician 

Another self-care practice you should consider after your injury is to seek medical attention regularly. Although this may seem obvious, many people leave incidents with injuries they don’t know about, such as herniated discs, traumatic brain injuries, or ligament damage in their knees or shoulders which would only be detected after a medical examination. Some people are also reluctant to see a health professional because they are sceptical or do not want to incur health bills. At the same time, others do not go to their scheduled follow up appointments. All these practices do more harm than good. Take care of yourself by getting the medical attention you need.

Make sure you get enough sleep

Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep per night to stay healthy. If you’ve had a severe illness or injury, your body may require more rest than usual. The effective functioning of numerous essential healing processes necessitates sleep. Sleep deprivation makes it difficult for muscles to repair after an injury. When it comes to recovery, getting enough rest is crucial, but injuries can make sleeping difficult. As a result of their injuries, many patients have difficulty sleeping. Others cannot sleep because they are concerned about their health or fearful of the traumatic event that caused their injuries. To remedy these issues, it’s sometimes as simple as drinking less coffee or sticking to a regular sleep pattern. Some folks, on the other hand, require medication to get enough sleep. Check with your doctor before taking any sleep aids, especially over-the-counter medications, to see if they interfere with your recovery.

Healthy dieting 

Keeping your body healthy with the right nutrients you require for overall health while recovering is critical. This means that while you are recovering, you should be more careful of what you consume. Besides watching what you eat, you should also consider developing healthy eating habits and meal plans. 

Remember that these suggestions are only a starting point; you should get specific guidance from your doctor on optimising your diet. People suffering from injuries should eat adequate protein, Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Calcium and eat general health. It’s also crucial for persons using painkillers to eat a lot of fibre-rich meals. This may assist in alleviating constipation that these medications are known to produce. Finally, keep in mind that a lot of individuals say that some foods have healing properties. Make sure you only listen to medical advice and are familiar with the food-based health claims assessment process.

Looking After Your Outward Appearance Can Boost Your Mental Health; Here’s How

When struggling with our mental health, the way we look on the outside is often the least of our worries. And understandably so. But taking the time to look after the way we look can help boost our mental health.

It’s all about that buzzword; self-care. And practicing self-care can take time, partly because having ‘you’ time can feel selfish. But we all need to be selfish sometimes. Because looking after ourselves means we can be more present in our other relationships. 

Setting aside some time to pamper yourself will give you a plethora of mental health benefits. Here are just a few to get your teeth stuck into. 

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A Self-Care Routine Provides Stability

Having a routine is essential to all of us. And over the coronavirus pandemic, many of us lost those routines which can be integral to our mental health. Loss of routine feels like a loss of control. Like you’re adrift in the open sea. 

Making self-care a part of your daily routine acts as a grounding force. They’re stabilising and comforting. An anchor for you when you feel all at sea. 

Certain times of the day or outside occurrences can trigger intrusive thoughts, which lead to cycles of worry. But you can break these cycles with a little bit of self-care. Doing something nice for yourself, like a skincare routine or a long bath, helps you focus on those simple activities. It breaks the cycle because you’re engaged in an activity rather than being in your head. 

It Helps You Get Out Of Worry Cycles

And little self-care routines enable us to practice a little bit of mindfulness. The act of being mindful lets us think about sensations we’re experiencing without passing judgement. And this can help our mental health in the long run as we learn to be less judgemental of our emotions or thoughts. 

Mood-Boosting Chemicals Are Triggered

Regularly caring for yourself in a way that feels good will start to change how you think. You’ll look forward to looking after yourself. And then, doing the activity will help release lovely endorphins to boost your overall mood. Because looking after yourself feels good. 

And if you have another health problem that can be helped by a long bath or other act of self-kindness, then you’ll continue to reap the rewards. Your body will improve, and your mind along with it as the outside trigger is reduced. 

It’s An Act Of Kindness To Yourself

The world can be stressful. And it can feel easier to watch TV until the early hours of the morning rather than take care of yourself. But taking just 5 minutes to look after your outward appearance sends a really powerful message to your mind. You’re telling yourself that you’re worth it. You’re worth those 5 minutes of skincare or those 10 extra minutes lounging in the bad with a good book. 

Taking care of the way you look is an act of kindness. And we all deserve more of those in our daily lives. 

Looking After Yourself Improves Your Confidence

It’s the most obvious benefit to taking a few extra minutes to do your hair or slather on a bit of moisturiser each day. Looking after yourself will boost your confidence. You’ll start to love how you look, and that love will translate into a brilliant boost for your mental health. 

When we feel confident in ourselves, we feel like we can tackle anything. And we can do it being authentically ourselves. The more that you are unapologetically you, the more confident you’ll get. But if improving your confidence means visiting Dr Jason Roth to correct a deviated septum or improve the way your nose looks – then that’s ok too. Because you get to decide what self-care and looking after your appearance means to you. 

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Wrapping Up

Improving your outward appearance or taking extra time on the way you look doesn’t make you shallow. You are allowed to look after yourself. And now you can see that it brings lots of mental health benefits with it too. 

Remember that your mental health journey can be a long and ever-changing road. Being kind to yourself helps build a solid foundation of self-love. And loving yourself will help you see that you can take on anything. No matter how difficult it is. 

Understanding Birth Control Options And What They Mean For You

The birth control options available to us today have come a long way from where they first began. These choices help us take our contraceptive health back into our own hands. But there’s a lot of them to choose from. And they can have side effects you might not be willing to put up with.

But the first step in taking your health into your own hands is understanding the options. There are quite a few to get our teeth into, so let’s get into it.

The Natural Method

The oldest form of contraceptive out there; family planning. This method doesn’t use any device or medication. Instead, it simply means either abstaining from sex altogether. Or tracking your cycle to understand when you are or aren’t fertile. That way, you can decide when you engage in sexual activity based on whether you want to get pregnant or not. 

Obviously, this way can lead to pregnancy even if you try your hardest to avoid it. But it is about 80% effective if done perfectly. And as a bonus, you get to understand your cycle more. You’ll know when to expect your period and have more info on your mood changes over the cycle. It’s always important to remember, though, that going down this route doesn’t protect you from STI’s. So get yourself and your partner checked before you decide on the family planning method to ensure you’re as safe as you can be.

The Barrier Method

Probably the most widely known form of contraception, the barrier method involves using a device that stops pregnancy. And there is a massive variety of them. You can choose from both male and female condoms, the diaphragm, or the cervical cap. Condoms come with the added benefit of giving you protection from STI’s, but diaphragms and caps don’t. They sit around the ’80s when it comes to their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.

The great thing about barrier methods is that they’re widely available, don’t mess with hormones, and can be used in conjunction with other contraceptive methods (like the pill) for added protection. The only downside is that you need to remember to use them. And in the throes of passion, they can easily be forgotten. 

The Hormonal Method

The most commonly known hormonal contraception has to be the pill. Taken by women, it uses a synthetic version of female hormones and comes in two forms; the combined pill of estrogen and progesterone and the mini pill containing only progestogen. Put simply, the medication works by keeping the egg and sperm apart. And that’s by either thickening cervical mucus, thinning the uterus lining, or just stopping an egg from being released altogether. It can also make all of those things happen at once. Depending on which pill you’re taking. 

They’re around 99% effective with perfect use, and they can help reduce period symptoms or stop them altogether. But they don’t protect against STI’s. And they come with a long list of side effects. That includes an increased chance of blood clots. Because of this, they’re not given lightly. You’ll need a consultation with a GP, and you’ll need to visit regularly to make sure they’re still right for you.

With them being hormone-based, the biggest effects, however, can be to your mood. Many people on the pill struggle with anxiety, depression, headaches, and general mood changes. For some people, the side effects are too much to deal with. So if you try the pill and these side effects don’t settle in a couple of months, go back to your GP and weigh up your other options. 

The pill isn’t the only hormonal method available. You can get 3 monthly injections of progesterone which have the benefit of not having to remember a tablet every day. There’s also an IUD (intrauterine device), also known as the coil. This also uses progesterone, but it does come in the non-hormonal form of copper. That works because copper is a spermicide. You can also get a transdermal patch which will need changing every 3 weeks. This is like the combined pill because it uses the two artificial female hormones. Or there’s the implant, which is progesterone only and is put just under the skin of your upper arm. 

Choosing the right hormonal contraception can be a minefield. There are a lot of side effects to take into account. Make sure to select the one that’s really right for you. And if you’re not happy with the one you’ve chosen, you can change it.

Final Thoughts

While we’ve come a long way to have this many birth control methods at our fingertips, it can often take a while to get the right fit for you. And the onus is put in the court of the woman to figure it out. It’s difficult. Especially as the long-term options can have serious side effects, you’d rather not have to deal with. 

There’s always the permanent option of sterilisation for men and women if you’re sure children aren’t for you. For men, there is a possibility to reverse this. If you’re considering a vasectomy reversal, visit dereklok.com.au for professional advice. No matter what option you go for, it should always be your choice. Because it’s your body.

And while women take on a lot of responsibility for sorting contraception, and some of the options leave you with complex side effects, the point is that we have choices. And those get better and better with every year. Not only that, but our understanding of sexual health, particularly women’s health, gets better with each passing year. And that’s something to celebrate. 


Hooked On Sunshine Blankets

I’ve been making Hooked On Sunshine Blankets this year having joined the group quite some time ago. Nessa’s patterns are absolutely beautiful, intricate designs that are written so well even I figure it out through brain fog eventually! I hadn’t blogged for a while so I figured I’d show you all what I’ve been up to.

Atlanticus

To start with I made the Atlanticus for Izzy, she loved the pattern and knew what colours she wanted. I’ve made blankets before but never this complicated and stunning. I did doubt myself ever finishing this but somehow I did in just a few weeks too!

Liliana

Next I made the Liliana for the lovely and very pink celebrant Berni! She was so patient even though this blanket took me a little longer than the Atlanticus and so appreciative when I was done it really gave me a boost in confidence.

Phoenix

My third HOS was the Phoenix for the very talented author and one of my besties, Fiona Morgan. She’s had quite a rough time being hit by covid and some personal issues that I wanted to make something really special as a (late 😅) housewarming gift.

Thankfully Crochet UK had the perfect yarn for a Phoenix blanket and I couldn’t wait to get started. This took me a little longer than the last two blankets, mostly because summer holidays with two kids is hard work. But I eventually got there and then decided to delay further by making a bolster cushion to go with it haha!

For (the sake of it)

While waiting for materials to finish the cushion my fingers got a little antsy and I already had the For pattern ready to go and some lovely cotton yarn I really wanted to try out. I sat reading the notes as always and like the idea being that we always crochet For something/someone but me being me decide this was the blanket I wanted to make For the sake of it.

My mental health has been wobbly, with my past and my chronic pain battling for headspace I’ve felt too guilty to do things just for the sake of it. I have so much encouragement from the Mr, family and friends to just rest or do something for me so I decided alongside braving the therapy that my For the sake of it was going to be exactly that for as and when I just fancy crocheting for the enjoyment of it. No deadlines, nobody in mind to gift it to. When it’s done I may well gift it but until then it is just For the sake of it.

I decided to do something I don’t often do and just let it do it’s own thing changing colours naturally too. Normally because the yarn had short colour changes unlike the yarn for the Phoenix I would worry it looked messy. So far I’m at round –  and can’t wait to see the finished piece when I can buy more yarn in the new year!

Tackling My Mental Health

I’ve been tackling my mental health again, it’s always very up and down as long as I can remember.

*Trigger Warning*

I struggle to ask for help as many do when suffering mental health issues but after a few big wobbles earlier this year I decided I really needed to deal with my mental health better. I was already struggling and very wobbly when again, my benefits were messed around with due to DWP not even attempting to read my doctors notes.

Obviously the huge cut in money left me feeling awful, a burden to my family making them suffer and go without because my physical and mental health is rubbish. Building up yet more debt because we only just finished paying off the loan we took from them last time they messed up. Add to that the fact I’ve felt like a burden and waste of space since a young age, I was seriously considering how easily I could escape it all by jumping out of our 11th floor window. The Mr thankfully saw how much I was struggling and talked to me about trying to get counselling again.

Inclusion Thurrock

There is a self referral programme called Inclusion Thurrock that offers a few services to help those struggling with their mental health. I attended a few CBT session here previously but after a few sessions I ran away knowing I’d simply get discharged.

I found CBT unhelpful for me but I’ve recently learnt I need trauma focussed CBT due to my PTSD and panic disorder thanks to the therapist who is still trying to assess me after two appointments.

Knowing my past is a bit much for some people can make it difficult to open up and talk about the really bad parts, I used to try and blurt through the blog but then found it hard to write how I really felt. I can laugh and joke and tell stories like I wasn’t there and it was all fun and games but my new therapist is quite easy to talk to and I’ve managed to spill a bit already and realising I’m not making myself worse but my past was more traumatic than I believed/still believe at times so it does have a big impact on my day to day life.

EMDR

My therapist has suggested trauma focussed CBT and EMDR to help me process my memories and move forward. Tackling my mental health is more than just making me feel better, our mental health affects those around us too and I’m very aware of that. I don’t want the girls growing up struggling because they’ve seen me go through it and I want them to see that its ok to ask for help.

EMDR utilises the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment, you
will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements,
similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the
therapist’s finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a
bar of moving lights or headphones is used instead. The eye movements will last for a
short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you
have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may
include changes in thoughts, images and feelings.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it
loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past.
Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related
memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.

I have to admit at first I thought it sounded a bit silly but reading more into it I’m feeling hopeful it may help and willing to give it a go as my mental health affects me constantly and the constant memories and flashbacks make me react differently to how I would usually, I can become panicky, think people are annoyed for no reason, jump at little noises etc as well as affecting my mood.

Not Giving Up

This week my therapist is on holiday and I’m determined to pick up the phone next week when she is back unlike my previous therapist. I felt like I had traumatised her simply by explaining BDSM. I didn’t feel she was able to cope with my being completely honest about what I had seen and grown up around so when she went on holiday I took the opportunity to not return. Thankfully my current therapist doesn’t seem as horrified by what I tell her, obviously she thinks it’s all horrible but I don’t feel like I’m traumatising her at least which is giving me more confidence.

Anyone that has followed my blog a while will know I quite often get side tracked and bounce from one subject to another and thankfully my therapist also let’s me do this without interrupting which is quite helpful as often I find several things from my past all link to how I’m feeling and reacting to situations now and she let’s me blurt that and how I see the link but can’t shut it down, hence the suggestion of trying EMDR.

I’m hoping I can tackle my mental health and start making some progress. I spent so long ignoring what I went through as a child and teenager, making jokes out of it all that I didn’t realise the impact it’s had on my way of thinking especially about myself. I knew my past messed me up a little bit but I didn’t realise how traumatic it really was.

I’m catching myself now and realising, things like when the Mr accidentally knocking my wax burner, I found a way to blame myself. I instantly felt guilty, it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have put it there, shouldn’t have put it on then, should have told him it was on, shouldn’t want something so silly just because it looks cool and smells nice, wasted money on a pathetic want because I’m a selfish bitch.

In the moment this all feels real, looking back it’s absolutely ridiculous and as the Mr said, it was simply an accident which he cleared up and put right. Yet I still kept berating myself. The hardest part is realising it when I calm down, seeing how ridiculous my reactions are and then I wonder how on earth the Mr puts up with this shit on a daily basis. How bloody annoying it must be! Hopefully trying a different style of CBT and trying EMDR will help with this as I am truly fed up with my past messing with my present.

Reaching Out

Have you been struggling with your mental health or tackling your mental health? I imagine lots of us are right now, I hope if you are you can find a service that can offer some help. If it doesn’t feel like it’s helping talk up, there may be another service they can offer or recommend that may be more beneficial. Please don’t do what I did and give up.

Having explained to my therapist what happened last time, she reminded me not everyone will click with every therapist and we are fully within our right to ask to see someone else if we don’t feel comfortable. I feel a bit silly now as I could have worked through these issues years ago had I spoken up and asked to see someone else but I’m determined to tackle this properly now and if I don’t feel comfortable I will be asking for a different therapist or therapy instead of struggling for a few more years then 6 months waiting for help!

If anyone is ever struggling please remember my social media DM’s and blog email (relentlesslypurple@gmail.com) are always open for a rant or a blurt. I may not have the answers or be able to help you heal but quite often I can listen, sympathise, make stupid jokes and help find local services that may help you. Tackling mental health is tricky but having people to blurt to can make a huge difference!