That’s all folks!!

I thought that when the time came, I’d be really sad about sending this post out.

But I’m not.

I actually feel a HUGE sense of relief and that a weight has been lifted, which tells me that I’m right to trust my instincts on this.

I didn’t want to end on a post like mornings but I’ve never been very good at “Endings” and you often don’t get to choose how things end.

Only when.

NorthHantsMum 

I’ve served local Mum’s and their children via NorthHantsMum for 8 years.

Served by providing a free service and served by doing my time.

(Yes, it has felt a bit like a prison sentence for at least a year but I didn’t want to feel like I was failing all of the new Mum’s who, in the current climate, will need the support of something like NorthHantsMum even more than ever before.)

I’m no longer the idealistic new Mum who started NorthHantsMum on 22nd June 2011 and wanted to do something good with what she’d learnt.

Someone who thought she could leave the world a little bit better than before.

Proud

NorthHantsMum has grown WAY beyond what I ever, ever anticipated. It’s kind of like my second baby.

I’ve poured a LOT of my heart and soul into it over the past 8 years and I’m very proud of what we’ve done on NHM.

I feel like it’s been such a positive thing, despite the negativity that’s been thrown at me in the past 6 months.

We’ve done loads of good things together, had loads of amazing opportunities.

Not just me but many of you and your children have also benefited.

And for that I will always be very proud.

Thank you

So many thank you’s, I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s hard to remember who to thank when you’ve been running something for 8 years!!! I know I will miss some and for that I sincerely apologise.

(Oh yes, I know this list of thank you’s is almost as long as the LONGEST Oscar winning speech <blush>, but it’s my blog and I’ll write what I like! Hahahaha).

Firstly thank you to My Beloved, Mr NHM, who has put up with me running NHM for the past 8 years, often at the detriment of our time together. He’s put up with me moan about him on a public platform, been given a pseudonym he never asked for and had some of his life shared for public consumption (via the “Weekly Things to do” posts. Remember them?!). He’s patiently listened to me talk about NHM for so long and given me so much “black and white” advice and I love him so very much for that. There is no way I could have carried on for so long without his love and support.

Thank you to Miss NHM for being the inspiration for NorthHantsMum. She continues to challenge me in soooo many ways (I naively thought parenting her would get easier as she got older. It hasn’t <faceplant>!) and, despite how much of a strong willed pain in the arse she can be at times (I often wonder where she gets it from. Sigh), I am infinitely honoured and privileged to be her Mum. I have no idea how she has coped with what she has been through in her short life already. She has so much courage and her willingness to forgive inspires me continually. She has SUCH a big heart and already wants to do so many good things in the world. I am SO extremely proud of her and the person she’s becoming. I love her more than I ever thought I could.

Thank you to ALL of the volunteers who have given up their time and energy to help me out. I seriously think there are about 300 of you!

All of the Mum’s who have written up NHM Reviews for the benefit of others. All of the Mum’s who have helped out in the background with things like formatting posts, administering groups and tagging me in posts. All of the Mum’s who tested the “new” wordpress website in 2015. All of the Mum’s who wrote a NHM Reader Experience post so they could share what they had learnt for the benefit of other Mum’s.

I literally couldn’t have kept NHM going without your help. There are so many of you I don’t want to name anyone in case I miss someone out. You know who you are and I will be forever grateful for all of your support.

I would especially like to thank those Mum’s who worked REALLY hard in the background to help me out, especially Juliet whose wise words have kept me sane during the past several years, Shona for her sense of humour and for telling me like it is and to Wendy for covering my arse FAR too many times to mention in the past 8 years! At least I now know that the clocks “Spring Foward” in Spring! Hahahaha. I know I never said thank you enough, but hopefully you know how grateful I am for your support and help. If you ever want a Reference, you know where I am ;-).

Thank you to all of those amazing Mum’s that I have met through NHM who have become some of my most treasured friends. You know who you are and my life would be infinitely worse off without you. Thank you for your wise words, your passion for NHM, your true friendship and for letting me hug you too much <blush>!

Thank you to Tina, Andy and Abi for your wordpress expertise and for stopping me from having a heart attack every time the site crashed in the past 8 years! I am so grateful to you for so frequently going out of your way use your technical skills to help me when I was panicking that new Mum’s wouldn’t be able to find the breastfeeding support schedule.

Thank you to all of the Mum’s who came along to a NHM Networking meeting over the past 5 years. Seeing small businesses grow and the impact that this has had on local Mum’s and their families has been a true highlight of my life.

Thank you to everyone who ever came to a NHM Expo or a NHM Meet Up, as a seller, buyer or attendee and thank you to everyone who helped me with setting up, planning, cleaning up and promoting. They were bloody hard work but I’m glad I did them.

Thank you to all of the local businesses who have given up their time, service or products for free to help out NHM Readers.

Thank you to all of the small business owners who have actively supported me on my NHM journey with Guest Posts, offers of their time and services and words of encouragement. All of you are doing such great things to try to make the world a better place whilst providing an income for your self and your families. I will be forever in awe of you as running a small business is really hard!!

Thank you to all of the Mum’s who bought their children along to events. I have seen so many of these children grow up, many from when they were teeny babies, and it’s been such a privilege to be a tiny part of their journey.

Thank you to everyone who came along to the cinema with me, via the NHM Cinema club. Although I still haven’t quite gotten over how awful “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was even with Elton John doing a chicken dance! Hahahaha.

Thank you to everyone who ever listened to me rant about how much I hate Facebook. The amount of time and energy I have wasted on this platform in the past 8 years cannot be calculated (it was so bloody MUCH) and thank you to anyone who has ever had to listen to me rage about how crap it is!!! :-D. I am REALLY looking forward to having a break from social media!

You might think this strange but I am very grateful to the Mum’s who posted negative comments on the baby clinic post.  Had it not been for your outrage and negative comments on me sharing my opinion,  I don’t think I would have stopped to think about why I was still running NorthHantsMum.  Thank you also to the local business owner who accused me of killing her husband and taking food out of her children’s mouths earlier this year because I had shared a post from a competitor of hers (Please don’t ask me who it was because I won’t tell you). I really, really, sincerely appreciate your feedback as you helped making my decision so much easier. (That’s honestly not sarcastic, I am very grateful).

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me for my Sky Dive in 2015, all of those wonderful, wonderful people who helped to fund raise for the “Sitting with Jane” bench in 2017 (I might actually have the time to go sit on it now, as it’s been at least 18 months since the last time! <faceplant>) and everyone who helped to raise funds for local community charities via NHM.

Thank you to all of the people who have recommended NHM to other Mum’s and Dad’s by word of mouth, sharing about NHM with their friends or by sharing leaflets. Your passion about what we’ve done on NorthHantsMum has sometimes been overwhelming and I will always be very grateful to you!

Thank you to everyone who has gone out of their way to comment, email, tweet or PM me in the past 8 years. Your support has been phenomenal and I will be forever grateful.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has ever read NorthHantsMum. Whether it was one post or since the beginning, I am so grateful.

So grateful.

That’s all folks! 

My priority is my family, my marriage and my husband and daughter. I’m looking forward to being able to put ALL of my energies into them.

I no longer have any energy left to support anyone else other than those priorities.

As one of the trusted women in my life said “there’s no more “me” to go round”.

Since making the decision two weeks ago, to close NorthHantsMum, I’ve realised that I’ve been toying with the idea of stopping NHM for at least a year but didn’t want to let anyone down.

Didn’t want any new Mum’s to miss out on what NHM has been able to offer our local Community for the past 8 years.

Didn’t want to feel I’d set an expectation that people assumed would always be available.

Ever since the Children’s centres closed in 2016 the amount of support requests coming my way has dramatically increased and many of them were waaayyy beyond what I ever expected to be dealing with.

If I’m really honest with myself I haven’t been feeling it since Miss NHM’s Coeliac diagnosis in May 2017. That was a curveball we didn’t see coming and we are still struggling with the fall out.

As Mum’s we are raising the next generation, which is the MOST important job of all. Which also means it’s the hardest job of all.

As I said earlier this morning, Motherhood is the HARDEST job in the world (Fatherhood is the 2nd hardest job in the world ;-)) and I do believe that in the current climate it’s getting harder.

I know that as NorthHantsMum Readers, we are all just trying to do our best for our children, regardless of our circumstances and I would love to continue to support you on that journey.

But it’s time to hang up my wordpress login.

Time to clear the way for some new blood to step in and take up the reigns.

NorthHantsMum was always about pregnant Mum’s, babies and young children up to the age of 6 years old.

Miss NHM is 8.5 years old and I’m so far removed from babies and toddlers now that I’m not the right person to be running something like NorthHantsMum anymore.

What happens next

NorthHantsMum.co.uk will remain for the next year at least and I will continue paying the hosting costs each month. Once I get less than 10 hits a day I will close the site down.

I will keep the “Louise NHM Smith” profile active for the time being but I don’t expect to post to it anymore and I won’t be doing any more anonymous NHM Reader questions or sharing any items that would be relevant to local parents. You will still be able to message me if you think there might be something that I can urgently help with, but I won’t be sharing anything with the NHM Community, so you will only get my insights when I check my fb inbox ;-).

Most Facebook groups that haven’t been active in the past 6 months have already been deleted.

I will keep the following groups active for the time being but will probably archive them after June 2020:

NorthHantsMum Publicity for Local Businesses: Support local Businesses!!!

NorthHantsMum: Mums running Small Businesses

NHM Part Time Jobs

NHM Pregnancy in Basingstoke and North Hampshire (Due 2019)

NHM Allergy/Coeliac Disease Parents

Basingstoke 2019 Year R (NorthHantsMum)

NHM Basingstoke Homeschooling Networking

All of the other groups will be archived at Christmas 2019, so if, for example, you want to save any recipes from the “NHM Family Meal ” group, please do it ASAP.

Keep on being Awesome Mum’s! 

If I’ve learnt anything over the past 8 years it’s that my mental energy is finite.

And it’s time to put ALL of my energy back into my family, especially my daughter who inspired me to start NorthHantsMum.

I’m excited.

Excited about what the future is going to bring.

I’m excited to see what happens next, which tells me that I am definitely doing the right thing for my mental health and my family.

I’m looking forward to taking some time out.

I’m looking forward to having an awesome summer and not having to worry about September or Christmas on NorthHantsMum for the first time EVER since my daughter was born in 2011.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the new space I will have in my life.

I wish you and your children all the very best of luck in ALL of your future endeavours and I will be forever grateful for your support.

I love this quote from Jim Rohn which sums it up for me perfectly: “Here’s part of the drama then. I go with you, for when we all leave here and the lights are out and the place is dark, I go with you, because you are taking my notes and hopefully some of the spirit, some of the stuff I had besides just the notes, so I go with all of you. But here’s the big drama. All of you go with me. See that’s so unbelievable. So, as I leave here, I promise not to leave you behind. I will take you with me in my thoughts and in my heart.”

Thank you for reading. It’s been a blast!!!

Louisexx

Thank you very much to everyone who commented on the “Health Visitor Baby Clinic Drop-In” cancellation post!

Thank you very much to everyone who commented on “Louise nhm Smith” on the “Health Visitor Baby Clinic Drop-In” cancellation post.

I felt very passionately about this issue, having had so many Mum’s contact me in the past several years asking for mine and the NHM Communities support.

If we can do something to raise the visibility of the issues that Mum’s will face without being able to Drop-In to the weigh-in’s then that is nothing but a good thing.

This was NEVER my intention when I first set up NHM, that I would be filling a gap to try to raise awareness of some very big issues that are facing the local Mum community.

However, there were a couple of comments on the Health Visitor Baby Clinic post towards a paragraph that I wrote, which I would like to address.

The Ladies who wrote those comments may not like what I’ve written below and that’s absolutely fine.

And actually, I don’t need to explain myself to those Mums.

I did not mock or disrespect anyone else’s views or the choices that they have made and there was no judgement in what I wrote.

If those Mum’s who commented felt that their choices were being judged, the only people who were judging them was them. Not me.

This is what I wrote:

‘2017

30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. Depending on your perspective you can see this as a positive thing but I believe that institutionalising 3 year olds and taking them away from their Mothers at such a young age, for so long, is going to have nothing but a negative impact.’

In the meantime:

  1. Yes, I passionately believe that, in an ideal world, babies and young children should spend more time with their Mum’s than anyone else.
  2. I don’t agree with the 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds
  3. I believe that nurseries and pre-schools are Institutions
  4. I believe that children start school far too early in this country
  5. I believe that it’s none of my business the choices that you have made for your children and likewise it’s none of your business the choices that I made for my child
  6. I passionately believe that being a Mum is the HARDEST job in the world (and being a Dad is the 2nd hardest job in the world!)
  7. I believe we are all trying to do the best we can for our children, regardless of our circumstances
  8. I believe that you and I can have differing opinions and agree to disagree

The problem with making statements like the ones above is that people will always do their best to try to pull them apart.

And that’s fine.

That’s their choice.

I’ve been writing NHM long enough to know that if you are brave enough to put your head above the parapet and share an opinion, there will be at least one person who doesn’t agree.

But there will be many people who do agree and THOSE are the people I have written NHM for.

Let me unpack those statements above a little more, to explain why I’ve written them.

  1. I passionately believe that, in an ideal world, babies and young children should spend more time with their Mum’s than anyone else.

For Millions and millions and millions of years, Mum’s have been the primary carer for their babies and young children. That’s a fact. It is what it is.

I know that society is changing.

I know that in many instances we don’t feel we have any choice but to put our children into childcare and to have someone else look after them.

We have mortgages to pay and lives to pay for and we want the best for our children which, these days, comes with a hefty price tag.

We enjoy our jobs and we want to be a good role model for our children.

I also understand that this statement is a huge steaming pile of hypocracy given that Mr NHM and I put Miss NHM into nursery when she was 5 months old when I returned to work.

But that doesn’t change my belief.

And is one of the reasons why I’ve run NorthHantsMum for all of these years.

  1. I don’t agree with the 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds

Looking at the big picture, I believe that 30 hours free childcare is far, far too much.

I say that as someone who used to pay more than £1000 a month for her child to be in nursery, so the free hours would have been BEYOND helpful!

The main reason is the number of Mum’s that I’ve spoken too who feel they are now being pushed into the workforce, by financial needs, as soon as their children turn three years old.

They categorically don’t want to go back to work.

They want their children to remain at home with them but they no longer have that luxury (and these days, unless you’re minted, it is a luxury!) with the offer of 30 free childcare hours on the table.

I do feel that 15 hours of free childcare is the right amount for 4 year olds, four half days a week, because socialisation before they join the institution that is school can be so beneficial to them.

But no, when I look at the bigger picture, I don’t agree with the 30 hours of free childcare.

Even though I know how much those hours help many, many, many of you and how they would have financially HUGELY helped my family.

  1. I do believe that nurseries and pre-schools are Institutions

Wikipedia does a much better job of explaining it than I can: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_institution.

When our children start nursery and/or pre-school they must adapt to the routine of that nursery or pre-school.

There are fixed times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Key Workers are shared between multiple children.

Each “classroom” contains a great number of children.

Miss NHM loved going to Pre-school when she was 4 years old (when she was at nursery she couldn’t tell me if she loved it or not) but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t attending an Institution.

4. I believe that children start school far too early in this country

I don’t believe that YR is a good thing and I believe that children are far too little to start school at 4/5 years old.

5. I do believe that it’s none of my business the choices that you have made for your children and likewise it’s none of your business the choices that I made for my child.

I put Miss NHM into a nursery when she was 5 months old. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make and it almost broke me.

At the time, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I’m the main earner in our family and I spent many years working hard in my career to get to a senior role before I met Mr NHM and Miss NHM was born.

I fell pregnant when I was working for a company that was 98% male and they had absolutely no consideration for my pregnancy or when Miss NHM was born. When I left on maternity leave I was told in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t return within 6 months, the job I’d worked so hard to have, would be given to someone else. (In 2011 if you didn’t return to work within 6 months the company you worked for was allowed to give you an “equivalent” role, which meant they would phase you out).

I’d heard the horror stories of how hard it was to return to the workforce once you’d left to have a family and I didn’t want to have to start my career all over again when I returned to the workforce.

Putting Miss NHM into nursery when she was 5 months old was, along with breastfeeding, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

The first time I picked her up from nursery and she was smelled of someone else….

But I made my choices, in discussion with Mr NHM, and I’ve made peace with them.

I’m not happy about them and I felt, and still feel, that I was trapped by my circumstances, like so many of us are.

And yet I STILL passionately believe that babies and young children should spend more time with their Mum than anyone else.

6. I passionately believe that being a Mum is the HARDEST job in the world

Whatever we do is wrong.

We are judged by others and we judge ourselves.

We judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else.

We never know if we are getting it “right” until our children are grown up.

This post puts it far more eloquently than I can: https://www.mother.ly/life/self-care-is-not-enough-to-fix-how-much-moms-are-burnt-out?fbclid=IwAR1Yr4uCbYrn7X7r87LJIyNoKLw1Q-ntPmdKOV-o1iUcu-vDiYkQNCRR65Y

7. I believe we are all trying to do the best we can for our children

Whatever our decisions and our choices I know that ALL NHM Readers are just trying to do the best for their families and their children, whatever their circumstances.

8. I believe that you and I are allowed to have different opinions

We are incredibly privileged to live in a Democracy where we are able to voice our opinions.

I apologise if my paragraph upset you in any way.

If you’ve been following NorthHantsMum for a while, you will know that I do my very best to use NHM as a positive force and it is NEVER my intention to upset people, especially Mum’s.

However, if that one paragraph that was embedded in a post that was about something else entirely, hit a nerve, your negative comments actually say more about how you feel than they do about what I believe.

Who cares what I believe and write about?

The only people who should really care are me, Miss NHM and Mr NHM.

Everyone else has a choice to read what I’ve written.

Ultimately, if you don’t like what I write, please don’t read it.

But I’m taking that decision out of your hands anyway.

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum on TwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!

Guest Post: Surviving Primary

Wendy sent me an email asking me if I could have a look at her blog and see if I had any feedback.

It’s a brilliant blog with lots of really great suggestions and has helped me with supporting and engaging Miss NHM through her journey at Primary.

Hopefully it helps you too!

Thanks for the great blog Wendy!!!

Surviving Primary

http://survivingprimary.com/

I’m a Mum with two kids at Primary School. It’s always a struggle keeping up with all the different subjects that they cover every term or half term. You try and help your kids as best you can but we all know that time is precious and sometimes you don’t have a lot of time at weekends.

I started putting my ideas down into my blog so that I could remember what resources we used and what home activities we all got involved in, to help continue the learning at home. It contains links to books, home craft ideas, days out, costume ideas and even YouTube videos.

I’m hoping that this blog will help other parents, guardians or carers out there.

Remember to share/comment on the blog. The more interaction it has, the more help to other parents. Let’s share our ideas to make things easier for ourselves!

http://survivingprimary.com/

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NEW!! Historical NorthHantsMum Posts: An Index

You know those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night, sit bolt up right and say “TaDa!!! Why didn’t I think of that before!!!”?

I had one of those moments last night. 

I need to make it easier and quicker for people to find things that they are looking for on NHM and realised in the early hours of this morning that I need some kind of index. 

So I’ve started working on an index for NHM on the website, so you can see all of the posts that have been published. The index will be ordered by year because this is the simplest way. 

I was told a few years ago that this was a rubbish thing to do, but I’ve realised that it’s actually very much needed as there are SOOO many posts on NHM now it’s become really unwieldy.

Hopefully the index will help you find things quickly. 

If you search on the Menu for “About NorthHantsMum” and then look for “Historical Posts” they will be listed here. You can see the picture of what it looks like on a tablet, ipad, laptop or PC below. 

You can also find the list of historical posts here: Historical Posts 

(If you subscribe to the website and you get this post as an email, don’t forget to KEEP this email so you can find the information easily again ;-))

I only started working on the index today so I’m going to be working on updating this over Christmas. I will let you know when I have finished it. 

It’s REALLY enlightening to see the kinds of things that have been covered on NHM since I started in June 2011. A couple of years ago I deleted about 400 posts which were mainly timely events or small businesses which no longer exist, but it’s really interesting to see how NorthHantsMum has developed. 

Hopefully the index will make it a bit easier for you to find things quickly!!

I’d love to hear your feedback! Thanks! 

I’m taking Summer 2018 OFF from NorthHantsMum!

It’s less than a month until the end of term so I thought I better give you the heads-up that I’m taking the summer off from NorthHantsMum like I have for the past 4 years.

As you know NorthHantsMum is my hobby and I fit it in around all of the other things going on in my life. My family is my priority and it’s really important to me that I spend the six weeks summer holiday with Miss NHM, so that we can have some fun and a proper break.

After the last few harrowing years of Miss NHM’s health, this will be our first summer where she is healthy and well and we won’t be struggling with the complications of her Coeliac Disease.

Although I will still be working for most of it, we will be squeezing in lots of fun stuff in between and catching up with lots of friends that we haven’t seen during term time.

I’m also NOT going to get involved in any bloody bench auctions or anything similar. Last year’s fundraising exercise (I know I only have myself to blame for that one! Facepalm! lol) for the Jane Austen benches nearly KILLED me and although it was an amazing experience I am DEFINITELY not doing anything similar again this summer.

(If you suddenly see me doing something like that again, please, please, PLEASE send me lots of abusive messages about talking crap and slap me if you see me!!!)

I will probably post every few days over the summer as I can’t seem to help myself. But it will be more the stuff that I WANT to post than posting for everyone else.

Or I may just decide to take the summer off completely from posting on NorthHantsMum.co.uk. I haven’t quite decided yet.

We will still be working in the background on NorthHantsMum.co.uk though, cleaning things up and making it easier for you to find the posts that you are looking for.

I’m hoping that myself and the “Awesome NHM Support Team” will be putting together our annual posts of “The Ultimate NHM Summer Holiday Posts!” and “Classes still running over the Summer Holidays” so look out for those in the next few weeks.

I will still be around on “Louise nhm Smith” on FB so if you want to ask any anonymous questions please PM me and I will get to them when I can.

BUT I will be totally offline from August 17th until Tuesday 4th September because we are having a “once in a lifetime” holiday (WHOOOOOPPPPPP!!!!!), so if you would like any posts to be published in early September please email them to me now as I will be doing NOTHING from 17th Aug to 4th Sept on NorthHantsMum.

As always thank you for your amazingly fantastic support and I hope you have LOADS of exciting things planned for the summer too!

Louisex

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I started NorthHantsMum 7 years ago today!

Seven years on.

I’m still here.

So are you.

I wish I had something insightful and witty to write about 7 years of my life leading the NorthHantsMum Community but I’m too exhausted today! lol.

I STILL can’t get my head around how I’m considered to be NorthHantsMum. I think it’s because it’s not just me. There’s a whole team of us who work in the background.

Thank you especially to Juliet and Shona who have helped me so much in the past 3 years, putting posts together. Thank you also to Tina for her expert wordpress help. And the many others who have helped me during the past 7 years: Wendy, Andy, Jo, Abi, Sophie, Peta, Claire and many others (apologies if I’ve missed your name off!).

I also can’t believe it’s ONLY been 7 years. It feels like it’s been part of my life for much, much longer!!!! In a good way, of course :-D.

Anyway, Happy 7th Birthday to the NorthHantsMum Community!

Roll on summer, when I’m taking my annual 6 weeks off!!! 😀 😀 :-D.

As always, thank you for being part of the NorthHantsMum Community and for all of your support!

Louisex

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My Experience: Being Authentic

One of my objectives for NorthHantsMum is to share some of my experience of being a Mum.

The past three years of Motherhood have been really tough for me.

I haven’t talked about it on NorthHantsMum because it’s been a very, very difficult turn of events that we’ve dealt with privately as a family. Not knowing what was “wrong” with Miss NHM for nearly 3 years was indescribably draining and stressful.

However, I’ve realised I can’t be authentic on NorthHantsMum without talking about my experience of Miss NHM’s Coeliac Disease.

We’ve had many discussions as a family about whether it’s the right or wrong thing to share this with NHM Readers as it’s a very private thing.

I’ve talked to Miss NHM (6 years old) about it and she was very wise and told me that it’s ok to tell other people about it because it might help them too. That, right there, is one of the reasons why my daughter is so awesome.

Coeliac Disease

Miss NHM was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in May 2017.

Coeliac Org say this about Coeliac Disease:

” Coeliac disease is a well defined, serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is eaten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food. Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease.” (Coeliac.org).

1 in 100 people have been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease but the belief is that it is actually 1 in 25 people who have it.

There are over 200 possible symptoms of Coeliac Disease and it takes the average sufferer 13 years to be diagnosed. Medical advances are moving forward so quickly that it’s easier to be diagnosed these days, but Miss NHM is still incredibly lucky that we established what the issue was in just 2.5 years, particularly as there is no history of Coeliac Disease in either of our families, that we know of. (Coeliac disease does run in families but not in a predictable way)

The journey

I’ve alluded to it on the blog before but the 2.5 years leading up to her diagnosis were harrowing. I’ve written a post which explains the impact that Coeliac Disease has had on our lives but I’m no where near ready to publish it. It’s still too raw.

When your child is sick and you don’t know why and it takes years to find out why…yeah, it’s been really tough.

I was a bit naive about coeliac disease. I’d heard of it and knew people with it but I thought it was just a case of someone avoiding gluten in their diet and then everything would be fine.

It isn’t.

It’s far more serious than that.

We have to monitor EVERYTHING that Miss NHM eats, to ensure that it doesn’t contain gluten. She has regular blood tests and we have to monitor her energy levels very carefully as gluten free (GF) carbs don’t have the same energy density as “normal” carbs.

However, I am so, so, SO very grateful that Miss NHM was diagnosed so early in her life.

The impact of Coeliac Disease

Coeliac Disease has had a huge impact on my role as a Mum.

Every time we do something or go somewhere I am continuously thinking ahead. Do we have enough food? Will there be any alternatives that she can eat if we don’t have enough? Can we take our own food? Do they have any understanding of Coeliac Disease? Will someone offer her something and I will have to leap in and whip it away from her before she eats it? Do we have a subsitute to hand? Have they even heard of cross contamination?

There are the things that you would expect to look out for, like anything containing wheat, e.g. bread and pasta.

But it’s the things that you wouldn’t expect like barley squash, chocolate, chips, marshmallows, soy sauce, most ketchups, some fromage frais, and even playdough which is made with gluten. There are many, many, many more products which contain gluten which we have had to remove from Miss NHM’s diet.

On the rare occasion that we eat out or at someone else’s house, I’m checking to see whether they understand about cross contamination which is really important for people with coeliac disease. For example, you cannot put a knife in butter that has been used on “normal” bread, because even one crumb can cause Miss NHM weeks of pain and discomfort which affects her wellbeing, her health and her education.

I feel like I spend a lot of my time educating our friends and family, who have in the most part been amazingly supportive, about what cross contamination is and what Miss NHM can and can’t eat.

Using the coeliac.org phone app is second nature now. It’s fantastic!! There are over 100,000 food items listed and you can search by product name or bar code. This little app has been a life saver on many occasions.

Attending events and going anywhere new is now a BIG thing. Birthday parties are a nightmare, with birthday cake and sandwiches. We have been incredibly lucky that parents who we don’t know who have hosted birthday parties, have gone out of their way to ensure that Miss NHM doesn’t get singled out and isn’t treated any differently. We are very, very thankful for that. I try to make it as easy for other parents and friends by offering to provide food as it’s already a part of our reality.

Holidays abroad just aren’t an option at the moment although Coeliac.org has lots and lots of awesome advice for this.

I frequently get invited to review restaurants on NHM but we have to be so careful these days that I just ask one of the NHM Writers to go instead as it’s not worth the drama of having that discussion about the food not just being gluten free but also being free from cross contamination.

It’s such a HUGE part of our lives that I can’t write about being a Mum without talking about it.

Coeliac Disease and NorthHantsMum

As a result of the experiences that we have had with the NHS (unfortunately pretty dreadful in this instance) and The Prison for two years, most of my energy has been spent dealing with all of this and more. I’ve been fairly quiet on the blog over the past few years because of this.

However, now that Miss NHM has been on a Gluten Free (GF) diet for nearly a year and we’ve moved her to a far more sympathetic and understanding school, and as my energy is returning because I’m no longer battling with the institutions in Miss NHM’s life, I’m finding the urge to write more about our lives and more about my experience of being a Mum.

I don’t want NorthHantsMum to turn into a blog which is all about our experience of Coeliac Disease. I don’t want to bang on and on about it (well, I will try not too!) but I do feel that one of the reasons that we’ve been through this experience is so that I can share what we have learnt and also use this as an opportunity to educate people a bit more about what Coeliac Disease is, what it’s like being the parent of a child with an autoimmune disease and how it impacts our lives.

I never, ever, EVER wanted to be that Mum who has to make a big deal about what their child eats ALL the chuffing time.

I never wanted to be the Mum who has to check every…single…item that passes my child’s lips.

But I am and I’m dealing with it.

We’ve been incredibly lucky so far with the support that we have received from our wonderful friends and family and I hope this post goes a little way to explain what it’s like being the Mum of a child with a serious autoimmune disease.

Coeliac.org

If you would like to help Miss NHM with managing her disease, one of the best ways you can do this is to help raise funds for Coeliac.org. They have been invaluable for us.

For example, last month Miss NHM presented to the whole of Y1 and Y2 about Coeliac Disease as part of “Inclusion week” and we used one of the “Young Champions” packs from Coeliac.org to help with this. I won’t dwell on the fact that she told the Y1’s that she got Coeliac Disease from when a tarantula bit her as a baby (facepalm!) but I’m so proud of her for doing this because less than 6 months before she wouldn’t have physically been able too.

One of the ways you can help to fundraise is to join Coeliac’org’s weekly lottery where you can win up to £10,000 every week. It costs just £1 a week to enter, or £2 to double your chances of winning.

https://www.coeliac.org.uk/get-involved/support-us/weekly-lottery/

The money raised will not just help Miss NHM but anyone impacted by Coeliac Disease.

As always, thank you for your support and thank you for reading NorthHantsMum!

Louisex

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New Year Resolutions: My word for 2018…

Happy New Year!!

A bit late, I know, but Mr NHM and I suffered from a particularly nasty bout of food poisoning from last Friday until yesterday, so I was feeling very sorry for myself and didn’t have the energy to do ANYTHING! We completely missed NYE’s this year!! Although I think we always have since Miss NHM was born in 2011! lol.

New Years Resolutions 2018

As I’ve mentioned before on NorthHantsMum, New Years Resolutions don’t really work for me, so I set myself a word for the year and try to refer back to this as much as possible throughout the year.

My words for the last few years have been:

  • 2010 – contradiction
  • 2011 – motherhood
  • 2012 – adjustment
  • 2013 – exceptional (not always positive!!)
  • 2014 – Me

My word for 2015 was “Inspiring” and the year really lived up to this!

My word for 2016 was “health”. Oh the irony of choosing this word. I have learnt my lesson and try to choose VEEERRRYYY carefully now!!!!

My word for 2017 was “joy” and it was filled with much joy but also incredibly tough at the same time.

My word for 2018

I have really wrangled with choosing a word for 2018. I’ve learnt that you have to be veeeerrrryyyyy careful with the word that you choose. (So if I stop breathing this year, I only have myself to blame! Hahahaha).

I was going to choose “calm” or “peaceful” but they felt a bit too static for how I would like 2018 to be. I want to be both but I need something to keep me moving at the same time.

So, my word for this year is going to be “breathe”.

Breathe

If I’ve learnt anything over the last few years, it’s to breathe.

To breathe deeply.

To know when to breathe and when not too.

In 2016 I started doing what i said I would and started looking at meditation to help me relax and find my focus. I spent some time in 2017 meditating and it really helped.

I also want to be better at “being in the moment”. Being an organiser and a planner means that a lot of the time I’m looking forward, working out what happens next, but this year I want to also learn to switch it all off and just “be”.

In the past few days, whilst we’ve been on enforced house arrest due to illness, I’ve spent a lot of time with Miss NHM, just “be”-ing with her. I’ve looked into her eyes a lot more than I normally would and realised she’s growing up so fast. I don’t want to miss anymore of those times.

She’s going to be 7 years old this year.

I will be the Mum of a 7 year old. NO idea how that happened!

Not so far away now, she’s going to want to spend more time with her friends than her “boring” parents (her words, not mine!).

So I want to be able to remember to breathe when she’s either a) telling me I’m boring and b) when she still wants to spend time with me!

Starting 2018

I wasn’t that excited about 2018 starting. I mean, 2018!!!!!!!! 2018!!!! I remember when it was the year 2000!!!! Now it’s 18 years LATER!!!!

But I’ve woken up today feeling a million times more positive than I have for the past few months.

I don’t believe in all that “new year/new you” crap, but I do believe that the beginning of a new year is a chance to re-assess and decide what’s working and what’s not.

I don’t know what 2018 is going to bring for me, NorthHantsMum and the NorthHantsMum Community, but I’m going to spend some time during January to work out a sort of business plan for the rest of the year. If there is anything you think I should be including, please don’t hesitate to let me know at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

As always, thank you for all of your support. I know that we are very, very, very lucky to have such an amazing community of readers supporting myself and the team on NorthHantsMum. Thank you also to the AWESOME team of volunteers who now help out on NHM.

I’m excited about what 2018 is going to bring for this little website that I started in 2011, and is still going strong 7 years, 7 YEARS, later!!!!

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful 2018 where you have lots and lots of moments to “breath” :-D.

Happy New Year!

Louise

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I remember when…

I’ve lived in Basingstoke, on and off, for over 30 years. So I’ve seen a LOT of changes.

Recently I’ve met a lot of people who have only just moved to the area and it’s weird to think that they haven’t seen the town change, like I have.

Winklebury

I went to Winklebury Infants and Juniors school and Fort Hill school. When I was at Fort Hill we used to do cross country from the school down to “Westfield Lido”, which is now the Aquadrome. The rest of that area was all fields. In Winter we used to sledge down the hill where Milestones is now. I remember when the dual carriageway there was single carriageway.

I watched the Warner Brothers cinema being built and saw it open in September 1990. My Mum and I were the only ones who went to the cinema on the day that the first Iraq war started. Anywhere that had links with America was derelict for the weeks after the start of the war as there was a lot or paranoia.

I grew up in Winklebury, on the “posh” bit, the Clarke Estate. I remember when Rooksdown was all fields. Every weekend we used to walk the dogs over there and walk all the way past the ambulance station, when the field behind used to be a golf course. I built camps in the waste land between the ring road and the hospital fields. I used to go to gigs at the Cricket Club/Tennis Club there when I was at college.

I learnt to drive on Gander Drive, Rooksdown, when it wasn’t Gander Drive, when it was just a derelict tarmac road. I used to be part of dance shows that were at Park Prewett Hospital. I had my QMC 6th form end of year ball in that AMAZING hall. I remember it being huge and having gorgeous chandaliers. I was very sad when they knocked it down.

I also remember Rooksdown House/Hospital itself. The building was a huge listed building but was derelict for many years. After school we used to try to explore the building but it was VERY spooky and often had homeless people sleeping in it. I do remember seeing some of the paintings on the ground floor, that apparently previous patients had painted. My understanding is that the hospital was very important during and after the 2nd world war for it’s work on facially disfigured servicemen and civilians. I think my Mum even has a picture of me with the dogs on the front steps, probably taken in about 1987.

I remember when you didn’t have to pay to park at the hospital!!!!

Town Centre

I remember the old town as it was, before Festival Place was built. When the “posh” part of town was the top of town. I remember the old cinema that was destroyed in 1991. You used to have to queue outside, round the side of the building. I went to see the film “ET” with my Mum’s friend and her children and vividly remember her telling someone off who was smoking in the wrong section. Yup, those were the days when you were allowed to smoke in half of the cinema!

I remember the old bus station, with the chip shop on the corner. I spent MANY years waiting in that bus station as I didn’t have my first car until I was 24. I used the bus service a LOT or walked home.

I spent a LOT of time in Martines, on Monday nights when it was “Alternative Night”. I went pretty much every single Monday. It used to REALLY annoy me when people sat down on the floor every time they played James’ “Sit Down”. But you had to get up pretty quick if Nirvana was played straight afterward as it could be a bit of a blood bath! Haha. We always sat upstairs and the carpets were disgustingly sticky. We’d get there early and sit outside the light shop and if we had enough money we’d nip into Wimpey to get a milkshake on the way. Oh and the ghastly car park, with the bridge that you had to cross. Scary!!!

I remember when the food hall was opened and that part of town was refurbished, where Sports Direct is now. It was very popular when it first opened and just like American food halls.

Chineham

My first job after Uni was working in Chineham Business Park, in what is now the Regus Building. I used to get the bus from Winklebury into town and then from town out to Chineham Business Park. Four nights a week I also worked at the Anvil as an usherette. I would finish work and get the bus into town and then walk home after the performance had finished because the buses would have finished running at 10pm.

I remember when the business park was built! We used to walk the dogs in Carpenters Down/Basing Wood when it was National Trust land. They used to have the best blackberries on the hill. It’s pretty weird to walk through there now as I LITERALLY remember when some of the trees were planted, trees that look much older than they are. Or maybe I’m just older than I realise? LOL.

Kempshott/Hatch Warren

I remember when the Hatch Warren estate was built. When I was at QMC 6th form I got a job working at Hatch Warren Sainsbury’s. I remember when the store was MUCH smaller. I used to get the bus into town on a Saturday morning, grab a spicy bean burger (I was veggie then) from Burger King when it used to be where M&S in town is now, and then get the bus out to Hatch Warren. When I finished my shift at 8pm I would either get the bus down to Ziggy’s (now the Academy Basingstoke) or walk. It would take about 1.5 hours to walk.

I went to the first “Novelty Island” when it was the Altis Leisure centre and before they refurbished the place into Ziggy’s. I may also have accidentally thrown up on one of the snooker tables one night, when they used to let the clubbers wonder into the snooker area. The stopped allowing people to do that after that night! Oops! Sorry!!! Hahahaha.

I was also the “Entertainments Officer” when I was in my 2nd year at QMC and I organised at least two student nights at Ziggy’s that were VERY successful. I think I even have a copy of the tickets in the loft somewhere! Haha.

Should I keep going with my reminiscing or is it all very boring? lol.

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My Favourite Comments so far on the October 2017 NorthHantsMum Survey…

I’m always a bit reticent to publish a survey because you never quite know what you are going to get back.

But you wonderful NHM Readers never fail me and have sent back some AWESOME comments and brilliant feedback, some of which made me laugh out loud and some which brought a tear to my eyes!

I probably ought to say that it’s not just me (Louise) running NHM now. I have an AMAZING team of volunteers who help out regularly, which is another reason why I wanted to publish some of your comments, because they should see that the work that they do voluntarily has a direct impact on parents and families in the area.

It’s been really interesting to see that there is a huge range in the time that people have been following NHM. Some of you have been with me since the very beginning (THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and some readers have only joined in the past few months. Your responses have made me a bit more aware that there is such a diversity in the length of time people have been following NHM. Not quite sure what to do with this! lol.

There have been some fantastic ideas suggested by you this year and have also prompted me to think about a few extra things to investigate over the next few months.

THANK YOU to everyone who has responded so far.

The survey is still open if you would like to complete it: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FFNHHLW

If you’ve been following NHM for a while, you will know that my ego is MASSIVE! So this post is also for my own ego. So when I’m having a bit of a blah day with NHM, I can read this post and remind myself of why I do what I do on NorthHantsMum ;-).

I’m also quite looking forward to World Domination and becoming a Dame…Hahahahaha.

Favourite Comments

What do you love about NorthHantsMum?

Louise: When asked “What you love about NorthHantsMum” your responses made my heart SIIIIINNNGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is exactly the kind of responses that I was looking for so it makes me BEYOND DELIGHTED that the reasons that you love NHM are what I intend. THANK YOU!!!!

“Honest reviews Great community spirit”

“It’s local, it isn’t trying to make money from me, it promotes a real sense of community”

“Such a wealth of info on many many areas.”

“Friendly, approachable, always available.”

“Useful stuff written by real mum’s who aren’t afraid to admit it’s hard to be a mum”

“I couldn’t live without it. My husband is about to take over my maternity leave and be a stay at home dad. I’ve told him that he only need use NHM to see what may be of interest to the kids in any given day. It’s a finger on the pulse of family events and all things kids. One source of truth!”

“The availability to meet people, help others through questions asked, ask questions, see you’re not alone, get ideas for things to do and see, activities and events that are taking place. (Often I’ve seen events that you have said you’re interested in which makes me go check out what it is!)”

“I love how nhm is the first thing I think I about when looking for things to do locally”

“Zero judgement”

“Down to earth, honest and very excitable (passionate)”

“Very knowledgeable about local area and a central point fog likeminded people in the area. If you have a question which Louise can’t answer one of the followers knows!”

“That pretty much everything you could need as a parent is in one place”

“the community feel. like we’re all friends.”

“Great supportive community, lots of up to date local info.”

“Louise 🙂 Also so much info & accessibility for so many people, friendly helpful community spirit”

“All the activities that are going on in one place. That NHM is a real Mum, and tells it like it is.”

“The community spirit, and kind and super helpful network it supports and creates for us all.”

“Great tips/info/ideas and places to visit plus what’s on locally as it’s not otherwise advertised to be seen easily.”

“Everything! Reviews, what’s on that Louise nhm fb shares, reader questions, all of it, it’s all relevant and needed!”

What would you like to see LESS of on NorthHantsMum?

Louise: I am SOOO pleased to see that there were hardly any comments to this question. 

Although I do feel compelled to respond to the comments about my recent negativity towards Miss NHM’s previous school.

I’m VERY pleased to say that Miss NHM is absolutely thriving at her new school so I anticipate that future comments about schools will be far more positive ;-).

What should happen next on NorthHantsMum? What is missing from NorthHantsMum? What would you dream of for NorthHantsMum?

Louise: Love, love, LOVE the comments on this one!!! 

“My only wish is that it doesn’t bog you down too much so that you can keep up the awesomeness and keep enjoying it! (Because then we can too ??) There’s nothing else out there like it, it’s a lifeline for mums (No pressure ??)”

“I think just to continue providing the amazing community service that you already do. It’s amazing what you have built in your “spare”time. It’s fabulous”

“Keep doing what you’re doing”

“Continue as you are!”

“World domination ??”

“Change nothing xx”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Louise: The responses to the final question of the survey are nearly always my favourites 😀

“Just a big massive thank you for all the spare time and hard work you put into this. As one individual I would struggle to remember all that you have helped me with as there is just so much. Multiply that by everyone else and that’s a whole bunch of selfless helping!!!”

“Nope. Keep up the good work”

“It’s really helpful. Saves searching Google for the information you need.”

“Thank you for all that you do! It’s hugely appreciated.”

“Great work whatever you do next”

“Love what is done on here. Really great work going on.”

“Brilliant resource, so lucky to have it available locally.”

“An absolutely fantastic concept and a huge well done for keeping it all going along with a family and job!!”

“Great work Louise, you are doing the community proud.”

“Your the bestest”

“A great resource that can only evolve and go from strength to strength.”

“Thank you for all you do x”

“Thank you! I have shared your page with many Mum’s!”

“You’re amazing. The support you provide is amazing. Thank you so much. I would have been lost these last two years without the virtual comfort blanket you have provided for me. Well done on giving something so valuable to so many.”

“Louise is fab and should be made a Dame”

“You are an amazing lady doing a wonderful thing for other mummies! Thank you! ”

“Thank you for producing such a wonderful resource for local families.”

“Your doing fab Louise”

“You do a brilliant job Lou.”

THANK YOU for all of your comments and your support!!!

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!