Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Husband's a Stripper!: "Room for Improvement"

"We're heading to West Cork to see a friend, and Mr Dreaming Aloud is stripping..."

So read my text to a friend who invited us to meet up this weekend...

Stripping...wallpaper that is! Get those visions of my dear hubby out of your dirty minds right now. Actually talking of dirty... no, we'll get to that later. Back to the wallpaper...

There are certain areas in any home which make your heart sink... Mine was the hallway. Always the hallway. From the first moment I stepped into it, on our first viewing of the house, I hated it. It could be summed up in three words:

Orange paint-effect wallpaper.

The rest of the house was beautifully decorated and detailed by a woman with exquisite taste. 

But the wallpaper was hideous. And the first thing you saw when you entered the house.

But this was not the only problem in the hall, oh no, over the three years we lived in the house we have also added our own...

  • lots of rips to it - as modeled by two of the prime culprits - don't trust those cute faces!
  • a huge coat mountain just inside the door, filling the whole space under the stairs. Well, in truth it was coats on top, with a central core of unpacked picnic and swimming bags, endless bags of books packed by our three-year-old, odd shoes... (somehow I forgot to take a photo of that!)
  • a hideous Argos shoe shelf which again only sported odd shoes, as all shoes worn on a daily basis were variously scattered around the sitting room floor, or lying in wait at the bottom of the stairs.
  • our nature table took root on the top half of the dresser a couple of weeks after we moved in, it was joined by library books, unopened post, foreign coins, random bits of Lego, all of which I had to pile up into a leaning pile of crap to take pretty pictures for you on the blog!

So there we have it. Our house. I felt SUCH shame any time anyone, especially neighbours called to the door. Because their hallways are all clean. And light and bright. And  most definitely not full of shit. I, in all honesty, was composing a pretty sign that I was going to put on the front door which said - I spend my time writing books and painting which is why our house is a mess.... But was just trying to figure out how to make that sound clever... 

And then, as my humour went into hibernation and my feelings of despondency about our family pit grew, I was approached and offered money to redecorate a room in my house for a promotion called "Room for Improvement", run by the lovely people at Money So I said hell yeah - I'm like that, I like free money. Especially money I can throw at my husband whilst he sweats (if you know what I mean!!) ... He is a fine stripper you see... I happen to be married to a man who comes from a long-line of obsessive DIY home improvers. He enjoys it, relishes it even. And I love the results!

The point of this exercise? To show that with just a little money you can make big transformations in your home. And as you know, Dreaming Aloud is all about creative transformations, both inner and outer!

So a plan was formed. I would, with heavy heart, take my kiddies down to West Cork for the weekend to visit my soul sister and her children, where we would sit on the beach and drink wine and not-stop-talking-for-the-whole-weekend. Whilst he would hire a (wall-paper) stripper, buy paint and spend the weekend slogging away. I had the tough end of the deal, I know, but hey!

So just as we were about to leave he informs me that Mr Google says a wallpaper stripper machine thingy is a last resort, that it should just pull down quite easily. So I take an overhanging corner, the one that has made me cringe with shame every day for years... And pull... 

I groaned... The noises I start making were most definitely X-rated! 

If you are like me and you get a slightly twisted sexual pleasure from squeezing blackheads (especially other peoples'), peeling sunburn or picking scabs, then you will understand QUITE how much fun this was. I may have referenced that this was as pleasurable as my most fun bedtime activity. This received a rather odd look and curt reply from Mr Dreaming Aloud - I feel I may not be on the receiving end of such pleasures for a while to come.  But I digress. 

The children on hearing these strange noises coming from their mother and seeing me pulling down the wall coverings enquired if I was supposed to be doing that. When I informed them I was, their next question was if they could too? So between us we pulled down the hideous paper (except for one small wall, behind the coat mountain) in under five minutes. They take after their mother, I think, from the squeals of glee coming from them!

And then we left him to the "real work". We piled into the car. Had a spiffing weekend of jolity, including a sleep over!  And came home to THIS!!!! 

Yes, this is my house! For the cost of a tin of paint, roller, tray, some wood and nails. Pure, beautiful, white walls - certain members of the family have been strongly talked to about NOT redecorating it in the kindergarten style!

Mr DA officially moved a mountain - look - clear empty space!!!!! That's like an endagered creature in our house!!

I almost ran down the road to get my best neighbour friend in before it got messed up, she of the tidiest most beautifully kept house containing three young kids perhaps in the whole of Ireland. But it was bed time, so I didn't! So do call round soon and see us before it gets messed up!

It feels a little like our own private art gallery, with paintings by my dad, my uncle, two soul sisters/ daughter's fairy godmothers, my mother and me...

It's focal point our very own dedicated nature table... to celebrate the seasons and share creative inspiration with all who enter our home.

And shoe rack... made with reclaimed bricks!

I feel very, very proud of my home. And my husband. What a man!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Need some mothering support? This might be just what you need...

How is life in your parenting world? 

Are you like me and feeling ground down by the whole thing? Do you need a bit of inspiration, support and encouragement? Do you need a bit of gentle reassurance? Someone to hold your hand and let you really feel that you are not alone?...

But you're stuck to the house, and money's tight. Sound familiar? Yup, I'm with you sister!

That is why I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO excited to be involved with a very special package of parenting goodies ... (can you spot my book??!!!!!)
Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale: May 28-June 10, 2013 
The Mindful Parenting eBundle contains more than 22 carefully selected e-products by renowned authors. Some of these products are only available as a standalone through this bundle! This bundle sale is a one-time opportunity, available only from May 28 to June 10, 2013
The Mindful Parenting eBundle gives you answers to the most pertinent parenting questions in a variety of formats: e-mail courses, e-books, audio, and e-magazine. Some of the topics in this bundle include children and food, nurturing creativity, relaxation for parents, connecting through play, peaceful parenting, parenting through divorce, and many more. 
There are 3 resources for stress relief for parents, 6 peaceful guidance tools, 5 creative play resources, 3 motherhood resources, plus bonus resources and a freebie! All for just $24.95!!!


(Got questions? I've probably answered them in the FAQ section at the bottom of the page.) 

Why am I sharing this?

1) Because I am one of the contributing authors! You can get a free e-copy of my second book Moods of Motherhood.
2) Because it has been organised by some mama bloggers who I have collaborated with for a number of years and respect deeply: Amy Phoenix, Authentic Parenting, Hobo Mama, Hybrid Rasta Mama...
3) There are so many goodies there that I wanted to get my hands on too, like:
  • Renowned menstrual educator DeAnna L'am's Coming Of Age Guide: How To Stop Worrying About “The Talk,” and Start Talking With Your Girl! (I've been wanting to listen to this for a couple of years!)
  •  A Creative Play Workshop,
  • The e-zine Play Grow Learn,
As well as resources on:
  • supporting kids through divorce, 
  • a holistic approach to stress and depression
  • play, 
  • raising a creative kid, 
  • parenting for social change,
  • children and food,
  • a guide to sleep talking...
I hope to go into some of them here in more detail over the next couple of weeks.

4) And mainly because I'm all about sharing resources that make parenting easier, that nurture us and our families...

Last time I promoted an ebundle I got LOTS of questions, so here are the answers!!

How does it work?
Go to the website and have a good look at all the details. See what an incredible package it is. Then once you purchase, via Pay Pay, a link will be sent to you. This allows you to download all the e books and recordings onto your computer, ipad or i phone. You then get to keep them forever and come back to them as often as you need. 

How do ebooks work? 
Ebooks are just an electronic file, usually a PDF. If you can open a document on your device, you can read an ebook.

Do I need a Kindle?
You can use a Kindle to read e books, but you don't have to. You can use your computer, ipad or i phone too. 

I'm not techie...
That's fine, you don't need to be. Once you receive your link, click onto whichever of the products you want to download, and your computer does the rest. It really is SUPER simple.

Is it a good deal really, Lucy?
I think so, otherwise I woudn't be involved. I trust and respect the organisers and know many of the contributors. I've seen the contents myself. This is good stuff made by good people.

What about the recordings?
You can listen to them on your computer, ipad or i phone, or your MP3 player.

When does the sale end? 
June 10th at 11:59pm PST

What is the freebie?
The freebie is a recording of the Attachment Parenting International (API) Teleseminar Series: “8 Principles of Attachment Parenting” featuring 8 experts including 

  • Dr. William Sears
  • Martha Sears
  • Dr. James McKenna
  • Ina May Gaskin

  • Break it down for me...
    So for 22 eProducts, a Total Value of $274 USD, works out at just $1.13 per item... 
    Often in these bundles the initial price of the products is exagerrated... here it is most definitely not. A number of the very humble mothers price their work at $2-$3 dollars.

    Dollars, Lucy??? I don't speak dollars! What's it cost in real money?
    €19.33 (euros) 
    £16.54 sterling. 
    About the price of a book and a half...

    What do you get from it, Lucy?
    This is an affiliate link - which means that I get paid a percentage of the profits from the sale. The link uses cookies so that if you check it out, but don't buy till next week, the computer magic will know that you came from Dreaming Aloud and so I still get paid. You pay the same, and I get paid for my work! That feels good to me :)

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Joy Pockets

    Little pockets of gratitude from the week...

    Making a late spring random act of beauty from the flowers in our garden

    Creating our little veggie garden being watched by our resident robin.
    Sublime baking - blueberry buttermilk cake yesterday and the BEST choc chip cookies today - both recipes on my Queen of Puddings blog

    Catching the end of a powerful interview with Alice Walker on Desert Island Discs - she talks all about being a creative mother in a very raw way. Do listen to it!
    Painting again - I LOVE colour! 

    Merrily riding her bike with such confidence, even though it's only been a week since she learnt. We've been on lots of family bike rides this week. 
    Ash growing up, visited pre-school this week. I feel the time when I get five work mornings a week approaching fast!
    Making invites for our community Big Lunch
    Getting excited about the possibility of having a wonderful Educate Together second level school in our local area - giving it a massive dose of my energy to make it happen.
    Feeling quite chuffed with my photos!

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Shit or glory...

    I have paint on my fingers again. And I am reluctant to wash them. I love looking like a Creative Rainbow Mama!

    It wasn't easy. To get back into painting. But a friend wanted me to do a picture for a book cover.

    I had promised myself (promised her) when my books were done that I would. But it's easier to sit at a computer and feel like I'm doing something "good" to make us money, rather than plug into the old creative mojo and take the risk of nothingness or ecstasy. Shit or glory. Really it is.

    And so I took my paints into the sunshine, to recharge the old mojo. And loosened up my body. And hummed James Taylor at the top of my lungs (have you ever  noticed that ALL his songs have the same tune?)

    And I played with colour... there is now paint on my face, on my fingers, on my shoes, shirt, and ALL over the grass... but it's OK, because a) it's not my grass and b) it will grow out before the owner returns.

    This post was not supposed to be about paint.

    It was supposed to be about other things... like the theme for this month...yes I was organised, I had a theme - it seems to be some weird thing I do every May!

    But I'm a bit stuck to be honest. Words. Stuck. Not working. Stiff and awkward. No flow.

    But my painting was free...ish. And colourful.

    And I'm not sure if the friend will like it. And am preparing myself to do another because I'm sure it won't be right...

    And I realise that the painting thing, and this blogging thing... they're stuck because I have expectations about what the end result should be. I aint much good at should. I'm good at turning up, diving in, going the flow and seeing where it takes me...

    Which is actually rather cunning, bearing in mind her book is called the Go with the Flow Birth Planner.

    And the thing about going with the flow is it's almost always pretty fucking messy. You get covered in paint and cum and shit and amniotic fluid and puke - and that's on a good day! It's usually scary at the beginning. Cos we're used to join-the-dots living, with expert guides and careful plans to hold our hands and steer our course.

    But fuck it, living the orgasm of creativity is more exciting by far. And more frustrating. And it won't pay the bills every week. But usually the end result just blows you away. And your mind shatters into a million pieces of delight.

    Today's post was not going to be about this! But there it is... shit or glory!

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    What stands between us and the greatness of our potential?

    I have just been reminded of these words...
    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
    It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. 
    We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? 
    Actually, who are you not to be?You are a child of God. 
    Your playing small does not serve the world. 
    There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
    It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 
    And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
    As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
    Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
    In the midst of playing it the biggest I ever have in my life, I got a momentary glimpse... of just how small this is... and how vast my potential is.

    I have been protecting myself... and the world... from the vastness of my potential.  Because still I am scared. Of other people. Of life. Of no. Of what if things go wrong. Or not knowing where to start. Of having to have the answers. Of what the future holds.

    I have been playing small. Small of vision. In order to stay safe. In order to be loved. In order to not make mistakes.

    My neck has frozen. Louise L Hay says this is a sign of  inflexibility. No shit, I thought. But also quite profound. I went to the chiropractor looking for a quick fix. It felt like just one vertebra had clicked out of place, and just needed someone else, ie her, to fix it for me and I'd be good to go.

    But no. Apparently not an option. It turns out it's muscles. Overstretched. Are we getting the layers of metaphor here? And that when they're overstretched they seize up, to protect themselves. They form armour. Ummmm, yup.

    Last week I realised just how much I cut myself off, I disconnect, to feel safe. If I'm in overwhelm I disconnect - from those who love me, from the outside world, from FLOW.

    Flow... being ease, connection, love, pleasure, release, god, unity with all things....

    I write about flow. I know flow intellectually. I have experienced it so many times creatively. There's a whole flipping sub-chapter about it in my next book (The Rainbow Way), for flips sake. But knowing... knowing is just one thing. Living... living it is a different matter. In living it is not just our brain cells that have to resonate with it, but every cell in our beings. They have to resonate with it in order to bring it forth into our material reality. But often they are so armoured with their programming of lack, of disconnection, that they simple recreate that reality instead.


    I was at women's group on Sunday bemoaning the fact that I can't paint, as in it just won't flow, and I don't know where to start. It has become blocked up again. And I feel sad and frustrated. I really miss painting.

    And then I was put in touch with a soul-sister, by name and art - Lucy Pierce - a painter of labyrinths and women, a writer of soul poems and sculptor of birthing figurines (do check out her beautiful work). And it was like seeing a version of myself if I just let myself go, if I were able to free myself up and flow in  my creativity. Her work is the maturity of my fits and starts. And I don't know the first thing about her (why did none of you introduce her to me?????) but her whole site is just beautiful, poised, self-assured. I do not see all the self-doubt and internal interrogating and angst that go on in my head, in her work. I do not see the constant U turns. I see a woman in flow with herself. And then I had a rather funny epiphany, that I know many people experience that finding me and my work. I know because I get their emails. And so it was nice to be in the reversed position.

    And it let me see, for a moment who or what I might be if I could let the veil of self-doubt drop and stay in flow, and follow the flow. And I'm not belittling myself - I know I am really getting that with my books. But with my art and other short writings there is a constant self-questioning. Which uses up precious creative energy. Which swallows up bright potential in the darkness of doubt. It limits and narrows me, because I believe, still, that there are vast areas which are "not me" that I have no access to, or permission to enter.

    I armour myself to protect myself from life. Because its vastness scares me. And I believe that if I don't know where to start, then it's safer not to start at all...

    And I know that I am not alone. In fact, I know that in reality I am a lot further along this path than a lot of people, in that I am doing my ideal work, I am my own boss, I have a wide range of creative expression, I have a family life set up the way that works for me, and a partnership which I have visioned and adapted to support me best.

    I shan't tell you what I started dreaming of regarding potential new work yesterday, in the midst of neck-agony. Let's just say it was the fruition of an old dream, combined with current dreams. A possibility I hadn't conceived of only days before. And which you WON'T be expecting... I am going to sit with it for a while...

    So, dearest reader, what are you protecting yourself from? How are you clinging to the branches of familiarity rather than diving into the flow and abandoning yourself to the possibility of your own greatness? What parts of life, or yourself are off limits? How might you begin to strip the armour away.

    Do you have an inkling of just what potential you have, and how small you choose to keep yourself? My guess is no!

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Lost in Living - The reality of the artist mother.

    “This is not how it was supposed to be.”

    There are two conspiracies in this world that you only become aware of too late as a woman. 

    The first, traditionalist argument, says that motherhood is the ultimate act of femininity. That it’s natural. That nothing else is more important. That you cannot curtail it without serious consequences. And if you can't do it easily and naturally then there must be something wrong with you.

    The second, feminist stance, says that motherhood should not be a woman’s central function. That she is equal to men. And that includes in her right (some say obligation) to do paid work. And to hopefully have a fulfilling career.

    Only after I found myself in the midst of the battle field, did I realise that I had one foot in both camps. I valued hands-on motherhood (parts of it came naturally, parts did not), and I valued my paid work. Equally. 

    But the sort of work I did, the sort of work I valued, was not the sort that society values… unless you hit the big time. To be a creative you’re on your own in terms of child care, mentoring and all that jazz.

    But creativity is so much more than just a “job”. It is a calling, an urge, a fight for freedom, a path to sanity. And it can be a very lonely, dispiriting business as a mother when you are driven by this compulsion, and those around you don’t understand it. Or think you should be doing something that pays better. Or is more reliable. Or that you should just give yourself fully to your children.

    This is the life of the artist-mother. Pulled in two directions by two equal passions. Floundering to form her own identity. This is what my book, The Rainbow Way: cultivating creativity in the midst ofmotherhood  focuses on – every aspect of this conundrum, and how to solve it in your own life (the book is out November 2013 - to get a taster, sign up to my mailing list for an abridged ebook version).

    This is what a very special film, which has just been released, also focuses on. Lost in Living is a documentary film by Mary Trunk, filmed over 8 years, which follows the lives of four creative mothers: an author, visual artist, painter and film maker, as they navigate and reflect on the challenges of making art as they mother.

    As one of the mothers featured shares: 
    “It’s easier to work my ass off than be a mum. When you have little children it’s hard to find time to concentrate. My work saved me.”

    It is heart rending. It is enlightening. And it will make you cry. Big, snotty, body wrenching sobs of identification with the four protagonists. It works so well because it tells the truth and breaks down a taboo – the taboo that we are not enough, that we are not good enough, and that we are alone. It is painful watching at times as relationships are tested to breaking by these twin urges of motherhood and creativity. And as finances force decisions that might not otherwise be taken. It also shines a light on the unspoken – the elements of depression that all four creative mothers grapple with, which both fuels, and retards their creativity.
    “There are less and less people to see you as you really are [when you’re a mother] and so I feel compelled to witness myself.”
    “Making art fixes [my life] it puts a sheen back on everything,”

    Lost in Living lifts the lid on the reality of creative motherhood, and every creative mother who watches it will see her soul writ large on the screen. I thoroughly recommend you check out the trailer and the various clips from the film on the Lost in Living website.

    “Motherhood and art… they’re both about hope.”

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Joy Pockets: two dreams in one week

    Last week was one enormous joy pocket, two dreams come true, and so I am departing from the normal Joy Pockets format to share them with you.

    When I was a little girl, aged 7 and 8,  I used to play by myself in the playground every day. I had a game which captivated me: presenting a TV cookery show. Showing the imaginary audience how to bake chocolate cakes and vegetable soups with bits of old leaf and lots of imagination - narrating the steps to culinary heaven. Even then I wanted to teach, to share, to inspire.

    I started out writing wanting to be the next big cookery writer – I had visions of myself as Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith! I wrote to them and asked their advice on how to be a food writer when I was in my late teens. 

    Then in my late twenties I wrote articles which I submitted to food magazines, got a food column in a parenting magazine, and started a baking blog. I loved cooking, loved reading food writing, loved writing, so being a food writer seemed a natural step. 

    Except that’s not where my creative passion ended up being. And in the end, when I wrote my first book, both the content and the style made me dizzy with delight, but were completely unexpected. My first book, despite seven earlier attempts at everything from poetry to a spice cookery book, was on the menstrual cycle!

    In truth there is a rather large part of me that thinks that whilst cake is heaven, there is more to life, and that being a food writer was a little inconsequential, and a bit of a cop out.

    I have a strange sense of obligation. And as a member of a race that is living unconsciously, I feel I can play my part better by helping to wake us all up to co-creating a brighter culture in more constructive ways than by encouraging people to bake cakes.

    But the dream has always lingered.

    And so I have kept my littlest blog going, my baking blog, The Queen of Puddings. And I'm so glad I did, as it means I have kept one foot in that dream, in that world. 

    So last year when I was invited to teach food blogging at Ballymaloe Cookery School by our family friend, and  Ireland's most famous food writer I was honoured. I have now been teaching the for a year, (you can join me for our next 1/2 day course there next Saturday 18th May, it doesn't matter if food blogging is not your thing, the majority of the course is a practical "how to" which applies to any sort of blogging). She then invited me to help set up her blog, and I act as her blogging consultant now, which is SUCH an exciting job!

    So when I was invited to speak at the Ballymaloe Lit Fest, alongside so many of my culinary heroes I was honoured, and, if truth be told, bloody terrified. There was lots of imposter syndrome floating round inside my skull. I tried to chicken out a couple of times. But they were having none of it!

    (See me, seated at the end, on the right - that's me with the big hippy skirt!)

    The festival was last weekend, and though I started off shaky and nervous, I was interested to note that all the other speakers did too. None of them was at ease at the opening ceremony, having to make small talk with strangers. Note to self: all heroes are human too!

    The weekend was a blast, a great way to unwind after the stresses of the previous months, with good food, drink, music, culinary inspiration, a little sunshine and friendships - old and new. I made lots of new connections which I look forward to nurturing. It felt so good to be part of such a vibrant, positive community atmosphere. These things really matter.

    And I felt, by the end of the weekend, like "I can do this!" I may not be a big name to match the likes of Madhur Jaffrey or David Thompson. But I have a lot to offer, and people came away from interacting with me full: full of answers, ways forward, possibilities and confidence - and that is my intention always, always - through my books, my blogs, my teaching... You might learn some interesting recipes from me - but my driving motivation is to empower you to get out there and do your thing, share your talents, add your voice, so that YOU are there on stage helping shape this world. And I don't have to be well-known to do that at all. But it's great to have a platform like last weekend to reach more, and different, people.

    And so this last week has been a literal bursting forth of two dreams in one week: being a cookery writer, and submitting my manuscript to my REAL publisher. Two dreams. One week. And the biggest dream of all is that those dreams are going to give fuel to so many other dreams, just by being out there. 

    So I'm grateful, very grateful that I did it. Because Lord knows it's taken all of my courage and VAST amounts of energy.

    And I'm so grateful to my hubby, Mr DA, who manned the family fort so I could do it. And to my kiddies for letting me go. And to all my friends who have barely seen or heard from me these past few months.

    What a joy pocket it's been!

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Never believe me when I say...

    This post was inspired by two things which happened moments apart. The first, my seven year old peeping over the top of my lap top, and saying in an incredulous voice: "Are you writing another book? I thought you weren't doing any more!" ( It was the girl's version of Moon Time, I'm submitting for the proof copy today!) And then I walked outside and saw the lovely vegetable garden my husband has just dug for us, and recalled vividly telling a soul sister last week that I was done with growing my own veg! (The seedlings are ready to go in!)

    So we're friends now and I guess I need to just clarify a few things I may write here. Or say out loud to you. So here, just for you, are the things you should never believe me when I say...

    Just one more minute. (It'll always be more like ten. Especially if I'm "finishing a page" or "just writing one more sentence" or on Pinterest.)

    I'm not a good mother. (Sometimes I convince myself that my impatience means I'm not. And I like to say it out loud to reassure others. But I am.)

    I'm not going to write another book this year. (Even my kids now know this is not true!)

    I don't know. (I can figure it out. I probably just don't want to answer. Or think. Or would prefer you to do it yourself!)

    I'm not doing it! (I will, just give me five minutes, or a day, to get my head around it!)

    I'm never.../ I hate...  (See above, I am guaranteed to change my mind! Guaranteed!)

    I'm full (I will ALWAYS eat more. Unless I don't like what you've just given me!)

    I don't have time. (No actually, if I say that it's usually true!)

    What are yours?

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Time poverty and the modern mum.

    I learnt a new term this weekend at the Save Childhood Movement's Flourish Summit in London this weekend: time poverty.The first speaker of the weekend identified it as one of the major factors shaping the modern landscape of parenting and child development.

    There was a groan of recognition from the primarily female audience. Yes, we know that all too well, was the unspoken response.

    Time poverty: both the lack of time, and, I would add, the perceived lack of time, is endemic in our not-enough culture.

    I was reading Brene Brown's most recent book over Easter, Daring Greatly, and she identifies the pervasiveness of our scarcity culture. When we wake, our first thought is usually that we did not have enough sleep, followed by we don't have enough energy to start the day. Soon followed by not having enough time to be at school or work on time. And so it continues all day: I don't have enough time to do this, enough money to do that. I challenge you to observe yourself tomorrow morning, and then chuckle ruefully at how unconsciously we continually perpetuate this paradigm in our own lives.

    Lack of time is my greatest excuse and limitation. When in truth it is more like a lack of willingness to focus, a lack of patience, empathy or an unwillingness to make a decision and stand by it. As well as an abundance of choices. The uncomfortable fact is that our scarcity culture exists in an era of plenty. It is the myth that stands between us and gratitude for all we have. In truth it is a response of overwhelm.

    I feel a little in overwhelm after the conference, such a deluge of speakers and messages that I am still digesting. We were encouraged to leave reflections on PostIt notes outside the conference room, and one woman observed how she did not know how today's mothers could be time poor, with all our labour saving devices, and went on to recall her mother doing laundry and baking bread, minding her five children and holding down two jobs, and still she had time to read to them, play and cuddle.

    And I felt judged. And frustrated. Because I have time to do that too. And so do you. And we do it. All of us. It's just we do a hell of a lot else as well. And we're not sure how much "enough" play time, or enough physical demonstration of our love, or time in nature is. And everyone, everywhere is telling us we need to do more of everything... literacy skills, and outdoor play, and reading and singing and extended breastfeeding and and and....

    And I'm aware that women of a different generation didn't have an ever growing mass of experts of every colour, and government, and school, giving them more and more (often contractictory) directions. Nor were they faced with the constant looming threat of social services if they were less than perfect. And kids could head off by themselves to wander at large in the fields and roads around their homes.

    And I feel this tidal scream of not enough, and more, and all I know is that I'm tired, and it's not easy, and whatever I do it never seems enough. And I'm not the only one. While the elder generation spoke of whistful hopes for a childhood immersed in love, and away from screens,  two of the only three questions (there was not enough time for more!!) of the weekend were from mothers of young children. Mothers of intelligence and deep caring who asked with desperate insistence: "As mothers, what can we do, to save childhood?" They spoke for my heart too.

    And there were no real answers. And this is the crux. We hand our research, our damning views of the future, our blame for laziness and lack of supervision, our anxieties, or incomplete research, and our questions onto the mothers at the coal face. To the world's biggest worriers, the ones with the most invested in these little people of the future. Mothers who are deluged with more information that any mother in history has ever had. And then we baulk when she favours Facebook over choosing from the plethora of contradictory messages that demand she take her kids more firmly in hand, whilst simultaneously giving them more freedom, whilst ensuring they always have adult supervision, whilst they practice proper risk taking behaviour.

    No wonder we're tired and overwhelmed. We may not be scrubbing laundry with our bare hands but no mothers in history have been so cerebrally overwhelmed, so vulnerable to constant scrutiny and so alone in their daily task, with such high expectations on their shoulders. And nor have any children in history.

    Most of the time it feels like there is not enough of us to be all we are supposed to, and we just need to escape from it all for a moment. Thank flip for Pinterest and Peppa Pig!


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