Celebrating imperfect cupcakes

I do enjoy pretty pictures of the delicious food. Creations that I imagine conjuring up in my kitchen and feeding to my enthusiastic family; at our perfectly set dinner table; in the spotless kitchen.

It doesn’t always work like that though. Sometimes frequently I create imperfect food. Often my family, particularly the younger members have varying degrees of enthusiasm. Always I create mess.

And you know what, I don’t really think it matters. (Well I suppose the mess matters a little when it’s 9pm and I still need to finish the cleaning)

What matters is that I really enjoy baking and cooking, especially when I can involve Sunflower, my almost 3-year old girl. Have a look here at the fun we had creating these chocolate cakes. I try to cook nutritious food, but balance this with occasional treats. To me the imperfect finished product; the flour dropped all over the floor is less important than her delight at joining me in the kitchen and my efforts to provide a balanced diet. Sometimes we do even manage to create a delicious treat such as these amazing carrot&coconut cake pops.

Today we attempted a healthy courgette cupcake made without butter, oil or refined sugar.

Ingredients

  • Wholemeal flour
  • Ground Almonds
  • Honey
  • Raisins
  • Courgettes
  • Cream cheese
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaked Almonds

They weren’t perfect. To be precise they were tasty but a bit squidgy. Annoyingly they didn’t peel well out of the wrapper.

But I am still going to celebrate their creation:

  • Sunflower and I shared a special time together.
  • She is now excited to eat courgettes.
  • Mr R ate 4 of them – they must have been at least edible.
  • My intentions – to create a healthy(ish) treat were good.

There are many factors that make cooking with a pre-schooler more complicated. (Just like my previous post about complicating factors when trying to exercise as a parent)

Complications when cooking with a pre-schooler:

  • The mess. Oh the mess. That’s all I have to say.
  • The repeated hand-washing, hand licking, hand washing cycle
  • The laborious need to stir everything
  • The time consumption involved in allowing a small person to spoon mixture into paper cases.
  • The need to drag steps everywhere around the kitchen to satisfy curiosity at each cooking stage.

For me it’s worth overcoming these complicating factors when Sunflower takes delight in the activity. I always feel better when I know that I have done something beneficial or enjoyable for her, even if there may have been other easier, less messy, options.

I think the same applies to exercise and physical activity. As a parent there are complicating factors, but there are definite benefits to being physically active. I usually find my body appreciates it when I do make an effort.

Of course like my cupcakes, the outcome of my exertions are not perfect. Today I ran another 5k Parkrun. I am still a couple of minutes slower than my personal best.

But it doesn’t really matter if my cupcakes are squidgy; my running slower than it was. I will aim to celebrate the imperfect outcomes and try to enjoy the process whatever the complications.

So here’s to squidgy cupcakes, messy kitchens, and relaxed running! I hope you all have fun this week and celebrate your endeavours regardless of the outcome.

30 second summary: Today I made squidgy cupcakes. I am still running more slowly than pre-baby. I am going to celebrate my imperfect achievements regardless.

What do you think? Is it ok to celebrate an imperfect outcome? Is it adequate to have fun and good intentions?

 

Mami 2 Five

Barriers to exercise for parents

Barriers to exercise

I’ve been reflecting on barriers to exercise and fitness as a new(ish) parent.

This is a topic of importance to me personally. Well it is important to me now.

I was told in the early haze of (second time) parenthood I needed to exercise for ten minutes a day.  I knew then in my head it was important; My poor tummy muscles, objecting to even the teensiest bit of stress, knew it was important; but my heart, and hands, were too full of my brand new baby boy.

I was so lucky to have sufficient support from professionals, family and friends to achieve this tiny, but also challenging goal.

There are many potential barriers to exercise as a parent.

I am not advocating rushing back to the gym in the early days as a parent. Far from it. Conventional advice I received was to avoid high impact exercise such as running for at least 3 months after childbirth. Many women like myself with pelvic floor weakness may even be advised to take it easy for 6 months.

But what about those like me who need to do something early to re-establish core strength; Or those that enjoy the social, as well as the physical benefits, of exercise; what about later on… Being a parent lasts a long time.

These are some of the barriers to exercise I have encountered as a parent. Perhaps you have also experienced others?

1. Time: It can just be so busy. Juggling children, domestic duties, work and sleep. Exercise and fitness may not be a priority for precious adult time. Sometimes this is quite appropriate; time for emotional wellbeing is also vital.

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2. Energy: It is tiring physically and sometimes emotionally exhausting as a parent, particularly if sleep is disrupted. Fortunately running after toddlers, lifting and carrying babies, walking with pushchairs and generally being physically active is in itself good for physical wellbeing. Personally I still feel a greater benefit from also having adult time to exercise. I also find I tend to gain energy from exercise in this way, even when my energy resources are low.

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3. Motivation: I’ve been struggling to write about motivation for weeks now. Not because I lack motivation but because I know how hard it can be to find. I don’t want sound patronising or as if I have all the answers. I often rely on the inspiration of others to help motivate me.

4. Confidence: I think this particularly applies to women after having children. Our bodies undergo immense changes. They don’t necessarily look the same and they may not respond in the someway to physical stress. I can’t be the only one worrying about exercising whilst breastfeeding or about the consequences of pelvic floor weakness whilst running (that means potentially leaking a little wee).

5. Childcare: Definitely a practical issue for many parents. There are some classes to which you can bring children also some gyms with crèche facilities. Knowing what’s on where can be a challenge too.

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6. Knowledge: Following on from the point above, I often rely on friends to recommend groups and classes.

7. Guilt: Although finding motivation and time for fitness is difficult, sometimes justifying adult time for our own priorities is almost as hard.

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I felt a little deflated after writing this list. I don’t just want to write about the barriers to exercise as a parent without being able to offer some kind of solution.

I alone don’t have all the answers and nether does this blog. However, I believe that many of these barriers can be overcome by parents. Particularly when they are not trying to overcome these barriers in isolation.

So I’ve created a Facebook group for parents to share motivation and ideas. I hope Mums and Dads might use it to share their knowledge of local exercise classes suitable for kids and parents; to motivate each other; to help others improve confidence and to perhaps share and achieve goals together.

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Here is a link to the group. I hope it might help a few of us over come some of these barriers to exercise.

Ten Minutes Spare – Families and Fitness

Please do come and join in if you think it may be useful to you. I’m sure that you will be able to inform, inspire or motivate someone else.

30 Second Summary: It can be tough to exercise or maintain fitness as a parent. I hope that this new group might help overcome a few of these barriers.

What have been the biggest challenges to looking after your physical health as a parent? Have you any tips for overcoming them?

I’m linking up with these great blogs:

Mami 2 Five
Mummascribbles
Fitness 4 Mamas

The Ordinary Joys

The ’50 happy things’ meme & why it makes me happy

So why am I about to write about 50 things that makes me happy?

The short answer is because I was tagged by the lovely, funny Kerry from Doctomum. This delightful list is currently circulating many blogs. Once finished the author tags more bloggers to continue the trend. It gives a beautiful insight into the blogger and a healthy dose of positivity.

Previously, I declined to join in when kindly Lisa from Into The Glade nominated me for a couple of awards that involve making a list of fun, unknown facts about the blogger.

I know, I know how boring of me. Although I was touched and delighted to have been chosen as one of her nominees I’ve been trying, albeit somewhat unsuccessfully, to focus my blog.

So why have I suddenly resolved to find more fun in blogging. Well here’s the thing; I think writing about 50 happy things is more than just a fun blogging trend. I think it’s useful for me, both as a doctor and a parent. (Oh and go on then because I do like to join sometimes too)

One of my thoughts behind ‘Tenminatesspare‘ is that striving for emotional fitness is as important looking after physical health.

Of course trying to look after our emotions and minds does not necessarily protect us from becoming mentally unwell. In the same way that looking after our bodies does not necessarily protect us from becoming physically unwell. That doesn’t negate the importance of aspiring to protect our overall wellbeing.

As a doctor, or indeed any health professional, it is easy to spend all day tending to the needs of patients and barely have time to empty the bladder, let alone take a minute to reflect.

Oh yes and that also applies as a parent. Even worse when we finally do make it to the bathroom it is most likely to be in the presence of a small child.

‘Ten minutes spare’ to ourselves can be difficult to achieve, but really important. You know – for emotional wellbeing in addition to attending to bathroom needs.

So in my few spare minutes tonight I have thought about fifty things that make me happy. This has been entertaining and I have appreciated all the lovely things I am fortunate enough to have in my life.

Sometimes life can be tough and all the positive reflections in the world may not help. But often when we are struggling with only ‘ten minutes spare’ for ourselves, appreciating the little things; the ordinary joys can help.

Umm so that was the long answer. A reminder again of the short version:

Doctomum tagged me. It sounded fun.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are 50 things that make me happy

1. Sunshine

2. Pumpkin clapping

3. Coffee

4. Running

5. Uninterrupted sleep

6. Sleepy baby cuddles

7. Hot chocolate

8. My friends – Couldn’t cope without you ladies

9. A lie in

10. Toddler logic: On learning the correct name for the back of the lower leg (calf) Sunflower proceeded to rename her knee ‘rhinoceros’ and her eyelashes ‘giraffes’.

11. Getting my haircut (although I’m not sure about the time it was ultra-short)

12. My job – a huge privilege

13. Planting lettuce seeds with Sunflower

14. My parents too many specific things to actually list

15. Visiting the countryside

16. Holding hands

17. My little sister

18. Being able to do a couple of pull-ups

19. A bath just for me

20. Naps – mine or Pumpkin’s.

21. Eating Mum’s home-grown vegetables

22. And fruit

23. Herbal Tea

24. Pumpkin’s face when he eats something sour

25. Baking. Especially when Sunflower joins me in her fairy wings

26. Love

27. A shower after a disrupted nights sleep

28. A bowel of porridge – breakfast is probably my happiest meal of the day. This may also be a reflection of the mood of my little ones at this meal.

29. A night out with my husband

30. Holidays

31. Hearing Sunflower laugh

32. Time to read

33. Pilates

34. Kind comments left on my blog

35. Decaf coffee

36. Apples from our miniature Apple tree

37. Sweet peas growing in my garden

38. Mr R. Always.

39. Cooking: Although preferably without having to simultaneously play with Duplo and sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’.

40. Family swimming time

41. My church

42. A real fire in Winter

43. Books

44. The beach

45. Photographs of precious moments.

46. The changing seasons. Currently Spring is making happy

47. Being able to see and talk to friends far away using modern technology

48. Time to myself to complete my home exercises

49. Candlelight

50. Baby giggles.

EDIT: For any newcomers to my blog firstly hello and welcome (friendly wave). Secondly it would probably be useful for you to know that Sunflower and Pumpkin are pseudonyms for my 2 year old girl and 10 month boy respectively. I hope this makes more sense of points 2 and 13. ‘Pumpkin clapping’ and ‘planting lettuce with Sunflower’ are not new-fangled musical instruments or nifty gardening techniques but somewhat more prosaically activities with my children. Thanks Doctomum and What Katy Said for bringing these unintentionally humorous phrases to my attention.

Ladies below I’m not sure if this is your sort of thing but if you’d like to join in with writing happy things I’m sure your lists would be amazing. Otherwise hope you have fun simply thinking happy thoughts.

Anyone else fancy joining in? It has been a fun and positive experience. Any North East bloggers interested too – I’d love to read some of your lists but there are too many of you to tag.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

 

Mums' Days
Mami 2 Five