I'm guessing most of us have at some point.
I've struggled, there was a time when I was a single mum, I had the obvious list - a baby, a full time job, a mortgage, childcare... Life is one big juggling act but on the positive side, the experience made me stronger and more appreciative of the small things. We ate the food we could afford and I had absolutely no imagination in the cooking department so we ate rubbish! I remember during a difficult time, when even Old Mother Hubbard would have been bemused by my kitchen cupboards! a family member arrived at my house with a bag of food shopping and at that moment I'd never been so grateful, a true gift.
Why am I telling you this?
A moment of enlightenment? A feeling of gratitude? The desire to give something back?
All of the above I suppose! During a recent sort out at home, I realised how much stuff we sometimes hold on to. Far from simple living! Some of the things I rediscovered were unopened and unused! which is not only shocking but it made me think back to when I actually had a real need for important things. In the grand scheme of things, these are just 'things', but lets talk about food, an obvious essential.
Have you ever worried about putting food in the cupboards? Or have you ever had to see how far you can stretch a fiver? I have, don't get me wrong, it was a short stint of my four decades of life so far but it's an important stint to consider! I don't expect sympathy, I simply expect you to realise that any of us, any of the people we know, can go through difficult times.
Nowadays I only buy food that we'll definitely eat and I'm that boring person that plans my meals for the week. Boring or not, it means I spend less money, have what I need and don't throw food away because I've left it lingering too long!
Apparently 1 in 5 people live below the poverty line and can't afford to buy food. Don't you think it's astonishing that there are people around us, in 2017, who can't afford to eat? Not because they're frivolous, not because they're taking advantage of a system but simply because, like in my case, things didn't go to plan.
What we're doing & how you can help!
Last weekend, we nipped to Aldi to buy the Christmas cake ingredients, (There are other supermarkets out there in case I upset anyone!) and we thought how cheaply we could donate food to someone in need without it affecting us. In fact I reckon we could buy a chicken dinner and a pud for under £10! An easy 'cheeky drink' £10, an easy 'takeaway' £10, an easy 'Christmas dinner for a struggling family' £10. Talk about perspective.
After chatting to our local food bank, I'm excited to be creating a couple of boxes over the next few weeks for people who will really value them. Basic food items and those things we buy at Christmas that we take for granted, like mince pies and tins of chocolates that linger through to February. Sound familiar?
There are other things we can do to help too, an idea I saw on on TV recently was donating a box of small things with wrapping paper and tape. The idea being that struggling parents can wrap the donations as gifts for their family and enjoy their Christmas.
And another great idea is the Reverse Advent Calendar - as you open your advent calendars every day, you put items of food in a box and then donate it before Christmas.
So we'll donate food to the food bank and remember all those things I mentioned? The things I've re-discovered during our sort out unopened and unwrapped! we're going to donate those too. My 'forgotten about stuff' will be used as Christmas gifts for struggling families.
I know, it's a deep and thoughtful blog post this one, a case of having a debate with myself really, and sharing my thoughts with you. I'm already feeling good about what we're doing and how much it will mean to the people we help. Who knows maybe some of you also have 'stuff' that you've never bothered opening, maybe you too can stretch £10 into a food hamper. After all, t'is the season to be jolly!
Looking for information?
I've listed some interesting/useful links for you guys, this certainly isn't exhaustive and if there are any other useful links then feel free to comment and mention it. 👍 For this blog post my focus is on Cumbria but if you simply mooch online, you're sure to find people who are local to you and in need.
December is just around the corner so here's to helping others and I hope your festive plans are coming on nicely.
Love Simply Sarah X
Let's be honest, those who know me, already know I'm going to talk about it anyway!
November has been a crazy month, it brought my 40th (Shock horror!) I've seen everyone, done everything and pretty much eaten more than ever before! My amazing November has been so fun filled that my Christmas preparations haven't even begun! (I know it's not December yet but it's unusual for me!) I'm 'thinking' about it eg, mince pie eating & festive film watching! but not actually preparing. Are you? When I finally get round to making my Christmas cake this weekend it will have to mature and be delicious in the four weeks it's going to get! I'm not sure the tasty standards of last year will be met, in fact my usual recipe, courtesy of BBCgoodfood, may have to be replaced with a speedier solution! Any ideas?
My Christmas gift list is currently a list of names, awaiting for present inspiration to be scribbled along side them! When I look through my diary, there actually isn't much time left before the big day. Would it be thoughtless to categorise my list and buy each category of loved ones the same gift? Beware friends and family, this may well happen, but hey it's the thought that counts right?!
Amongst the birthday treats has been the obligatory visits to the Christmas markets which I love. Of course mulled wine tastes so much better when you're wrapped in your winter woollies and sat in a wooden hut! My husband and I ventured to the German Christmas Market in Leeds and indulged in some Bavarian cuisine washed down with mulled wine, yum! We wandered around the lit stalls, and admired the gorgeous carousel. I also met a friend for a catch up and where better than the Manchester Christmas Markets, cue more food and mulled wine! (A bit of a pattern here...)
I've just remembered, we have actually prepared something! well planned anyway, we've organised the day itself and for the first time in fourteen years we'll be spending Christmas day at home! Well, at home and with friends (up the road), no driving all day, no getting home at midnight too tired for a festive drink, just a relaxing Christmas at home. I can't wait! Although I might have to drive around the block just so I can play 'Driving home for Christmas' which is a Christmas day tradition!
This weekend is the Christmas lights switch on, so I'll be wrapping up warm and going to watch Santa work his magic. This and making my Christmas cake will be the official start to my preparations!
Now to convince the husband that getting the tree up is a good idea...
My baby has flown the nest!! How do I feel? Happy, sad, proud, nervous, pleased, lonely, content, excited...🤔
This could be a really long list and potentially a really long blog post so apologies in advance! Okay so, once upon a time...
When I was 18 I left home, leaving home meant paying for rent, which meant getting a job, which meant quitting college. So once I'd settled into full time work and living in my home, I decided I wanted to become a Mum and just three months later I was pregnant. I hated pregnancy, no-one warns you of everything that happens to you! that's some gruesome stuff! A baby moving from one side of your tummy to the other when you're in the bath, really is a potential scene for Alien! I faced a lot of dirty looks and snide comments from family and strangers who thought it was their right to judge my decision.
My decision, my business and I'm glad I did what I wanted to do.
I'll spare you my birthing story! I didn't enjoy it and I'm not going to re-live it in this blog post! But as they say, the pain was worth it and my baby girl was born. At the youthful age of nineteen, I became a mum 😊
Children suddenly make you feel emotions that you never knew existed pre-kids! I remember welling up when my daughter first giggled. I cried when she christened my carpet in the early hours (I'd never known tiredness like it!) She used to fight me when I tried to put her in a dress, always preferring the freedom of dungarees! She always greeted me with a smile and bright eyes in the mornings (until she hit the teenage years then I learned the language of 'grunt') She rendered me speechless once during our rendition of 'you are my sunshine' when she sweetly finished with "so please don't take my mummy away"(Tell me you're not welling up?!)
My little girl has always been my sidekick, the person who allowed me to skip in the street as an adult, the person who always wanted hugs and the person who thought if funny to wind me up as she grew up! . My partner in life. I absolutely adore being a mum and my most wise words ever muttered are:
"Having children is the hardest thing and the best thing"
It's so true. Before I became a mum I was unaware of so many things! I certainly never knew how scary it would feel looking at my newborn baby and realising I was responsible for her life. I never knew it was possible to shed a tear when watching thirty scrawny kids in clunking boots singing their way through a school assembly. (Eight year old's singing 'these boots were made for walking' aww😊) I never knew that whilst telling someone off I could feel secretly proud at such initiative. I never knew that my heart could actually ache when holding my daughter tightly and feeling her tears soak through my shirt. And, I never knew that I could be left lost for words through frustration, pride, anger and happiness all because of my most important person in the world.
Being a mum has taught me many things:
So whilst I'm typing this and getting teary in a reminiscent/sad/happy/proud sort of way, I'll share this with you (a long list - but keep reading!):
I'm still a mum so I'm excited for mine and my daughters future together.
I'm excited that she's excited about having her own place
I'm nervous that she'll need me and I'm not in the next room
I'm wary of helping her whilst letting her find her way
I'm frustrated that she isn't as organised as I would be
I'm trying to be patient in sitting back while she does things her own way
I'm happy that she has a boyfriend she's found happiness with
I'm proud that she's taken the plunge
I'm sad that her bedroom is empty and holds her tears and laughter
I'm excited to have more space after years of bursting at the seams
I'm pleased when she calls or knocks on to catch up
I'm scared and impressed that she now drives more than I do!
I'm proud of her independance
I'm lonely in those moments that would have been mum/daughter snuggling time
I'm smiling when she calls me to watch something together by phone!
I'm happy to have more time with my husband
I'm relaxed when having more time to myself
I'm sad to not have my girl hug me and wish me good night
I'm happy that she has someone to hug her and wish her good night
I'm advising you, yes all of you! to make memories, every single day, no excuses
I'm glad I made memories and look forward to making more
I'm content to think I've done a good job
Obviously a non-exhaustive list as all you parents out there can imagine!
So how am I feeling? as I said right up there at the beginning, it's a long list of emotions and feelings but its progress. It's life. It's time to hope that all my efforts, my tears and my immense happiness of having her by my side for the last two decades (!) has given her the values she needs to lead her own independent life. It's time to let the bond we've created take us into the next phase of our lives.
My favourite person in the whole wide world, the only person to have ever seen my insides (Well it's true!) and my sunshine, the owner of the most kissable cheeks ever. My daughter has flown the nest.
On the bright side, here's to brews at hers, lunch dates together, eating her biscuits (at hers) 😉and most importantly, here's to the exciting future ahead of us all.
Hi I'm Sarah!
Blogger in The Lakes
I live in the beautiful Lake District...
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