What happened in 2017

First of all, where the hell has this year gone? I know everyone goes on about year flying by and years going by faster when you’ve had children especially.

But I’m quite seriously a little worried that physically, time is actually going faster. I mean literally… Literally literally.

I don’t feel like enough has happened to fill up 12 months, but I guess a lot has happened.

Just after the new year in January my partner’s family went through a really scary time with an immediate member of the family. They are my family too. We were expecting the worst, and although the worst didn’t happen, we almost lost somebody fundamental to my partner’s life and a lot was lost. I spent a long time being petrified of every phonecall whilst my partner was away, and above all terrified at how this would affect him. Knowing that I couldn’t fix it for him was awful.

I can’t quite believe that it is almost a year since it happened.

What else happened in 2017?

Well, Rafe turned into a proper baby-toddler person and not just a vegetable. He started walking at 10 months. Then he started climbing shortly after. He has not yet stopped climbing. Our favourite phase became “get down”, much like when you have a dog. Except unlike a dog, bribery with food items was short lived and now he just laughs in our faces. He is so much more mischievous than the girls were. It’s a good job he’s cute.

I started making YouTube videos. Well, I say start – I started a few years ago and only uploaded videos sporadically but I love the satisfaction and buzz you get from filming and editing your own little movies and with my trusty Tom by my side teaching me how to do a lot of it, I’ve started making videos much more often. Hopefully 2018 will see another increase in the amount and quality of videos Tom and I can make. Mostly to do with our life with three kids and me being a disabled mum but with the odd Poundland/Primark Haul thrown in. Just because I am a woman I guess.

In 2017 I had a bit of a first in that I spoke at the WOW Women of the World Festival in Exeter, where I was part of two separate panels talking to audiences about childbirth experiences and about the Women’s Rights Movement marginalising disabled women. It was scary, nerve-wracking but apart from all that I am so glad I did it. I hate speaking in front of groups of people and I think I always will. Yet for some reason I want to be involved again and do more things like that. I’m hoping to be involved in the CMT (the neurological disease I have) Festival in some way in April.

I won a long-standing annual family tournament which might not sound like much to those outside the family, but it’s quite the event and I love seeing everyone get involved each year.

Amélie, our eldest was the bravest of brave girls having double eye surgery and took it all in her stride. She also got moved up into one of the gymnastics squad groups and I have loved seeing her finally get that fire in her belly to do better. She is doing marvellous work in school and has grown in confidence so much.

Geneviève is in her last year of nursery before starting proper school in September. Bizarrely the prospect of Geneviève starting school feels more scary than when Amélie started. I’m looking forward to seeing her joyous little face as she learns to write her own name properly. We’re getting there but the poor child has quite the mountain to climb there with all the Es under the sun. At least she’ll be almost 5 when September comes.

So here’s to another year of all that comes with having three kids and hopefully making more time to be creative and productive.

Follow me on instagram @llzzybuntonvlogs, YouTube at Elizabeth – Lizzybuntonvlogs, and Twitter @shopgirlygm

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How to survive Christmas with kids

Christmas as a child: TOYS! CHOCOLATE! PLAYING! NEW CLOTHES! YUMMY FOOD! GAMES! A NEW BIKE! ENDLESS FUN FOR SEVERAL DAYS.

Christmas as an adult: Responsibility. Refereeing. Regretting all the tat you bought your kids.

Christmas is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Well, sometimes it can also be very stressful and make you want to jump out of a window. Here are some tips I hope will help keep the festive period running a little more smoothly as a parent.

1. Let them eat junk. They will want to eat whatever yummy foods they see and unless you fancy hiding everything that isn’t broccoli and saying similar lines over and over and over all day throughout the Christmas and New Year period, it’s sometimes easier just to say “by all means, have chocolate for breakfast”, and secretly hope they feel a bit sick after gorging on too much sweet stuff. Try and make sure they’re given other, more regular savoury food so they’re not peckish and reaching for chocolate, but it’s Christmas. Who are we to deny treats? We’re only the parents.

2. Bedtime can be a bit later. I say this knowing full well it’ll get to 6.50pm at my in-laws’ house and I will have had enough of the constant moaning and arguing and snatching and pooing and I will want them banished to the land of nod. But, if it’s been a good day and they’re behaving favourably, I think it’s okay to allow them to stay up a bit later. By that I mean 7 minutes.

3. Find a room. Whether it’s a room to send one or two of the kids into with the iPad and free-reign on YouTube so you can have half an hour’s peace, or a place of solitude where you can go and sit in the dark and reminisce about quiet Christmasses pre-children, it’s good to have a room for these purposes.

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This poor lady has lost the will to live, and has escaped Christmas. Lucky cow.

4. Use the threat. Even after Christmas Day has been and gone, you may still use Father Christmas as a threat. He can retract new toys you know. He keeps them in a black bag in your room until you feel guilty enough and want to give them back. I mean, Santander will, obviously.

5. Don’t feel guilty. Whatever you have or haven’t bought them, it’s enough. Even if they wanted a specific sodding LOL Doll and you refused to spend over £10 on what is basically a glorified Kinder Egg, without even the bloody chocolate, and couldn’t find them in stock anywhere when you actually tried, the stuff you did get is enough. I can’t really remember specific ‘big’ presents that I asked for as a kid.What I do remember are the silly, random stocking filler toys my brother and I used to get and ridiculously complicated family games we’d play around my Gran’s dining table. What I mean is, kids remember the traditions, the people and the silly things that make them laugh, not necessarily the ‘popular’ toy of the year that they wrote on their letter to Father Christmas. So if you couldn’t buy it, they won’t hate you. If they do, send them to ‘the room’.

6. Have a ‘toy purge’. In the fortnight before Christmas, spend a few secret sessions chucking out or sending to charity shops, all the crap they never play with. Go through toy boxes and ditch any broken stuff, eject anything which sits there month after month untouched and offer it to other parents with kids, or flog it on eBay if you have the energy. Otherwise, you’ll drown in a soup of old toys and new tat they have acquired come January. I may have just thrown away an awful Play-Doh dentist head thing. Awful thing. Evil toy. Hopefully they won’t remember it. Who am I kidding – they love that stupid thing and I am going to hell.

Look at those perfect children behaving beautifully and acting like they love each other. Must be being paid.

7. Have a bit of alcohol. As long as you aren’t needing to drive anywhere and you can still safely look after your own children and make semi-sensible decisions, it’s okay to have one or two drinks. If you can’t string a simple sentence together to make them go to bed, you’ve gone too far.

8. Watch lots of Christmas movies. This is another great way to make kids sit kind of still for an hour or so, and all in the name of nostalgia. Parents and children alike can enjoy Home Alone or The Grinch, and also you can threaten your children with your disappearance next Christmas if they misbehave throughout the year. They’ll see how remorseful Kevin McAllister is and promise to get on better with their siblings in the coming months.

9. Teach your children that they need to tidy up their own crap. There’s nothing worse on Christmas day than not being able to walk through your own front room because of the sea of brightly coloured plastic strewn all over the place. They are perfectly capable of picking up toys and packaging and putting them away after. Although if I can suddenly walk on Christmas day, the toys scattered everywhere would be the least of my concern. (I am a wheelchair user and cannot stand, if you didn’t know).

10. Above all, try and enjoy it. I’ve said all this stuff ^ and I know my kids’ Daddy and I will probably still be the most stressed-out people in the house and will constantly be ranting at the children and wishing for peace and quiet and more sleep. But the hyped-up, spoiled-rotten, and grubby kids (why are they always so grubby at Christmas?) will, hopefully, go back to normal daily behaviours by just after New Year. Just keep reminding them that this chocolate-for-breakfast thing is only going to last so long, then it’s back to linseed and pearl barley for breakfast, strictly 7pm bedtimes and regular tooth-brushing.

Me with the John Lewis penguin three years ago. Just because.

It’ll be Christmas again before we know it.

Follow me on Instagram @lizzybuntonvlogs, YouTube at Elizabeth – lizzybuntonvlogs and Twitter @shopgirlygm.

Speaking in public when you hate people looking at you.

In October I spoke in public, in front of audiences, with people and everything! Real people! It was the Southbank Centre’s very own Women of the World festival. I also met some fabulous people with whom I hope to remain friends and keep in contact.

Saturday’s talk was about Birth Stories. We only had an hour to discuss all sorts around the topic, talk about our experiences and answer questions from the audience, and we could’ve carried on much longer given the time but I think between the three of us we managed to get some interesting points out there. The three of us being myself, Marianne Stephen who is an Obstetrician currently working in Devon but who has delivered and saved many lives in some of the poorest, most politically unstable and volatile countries in the world, and finally Katie Villa, who is a mum of two, a theatre director at Quirk Theatre and performer, she chaired the panel.

Just before we were due to start the discussion though, Genevieve, our 4-year-old decided to fall and cut her head open on the edge of a windowsill about a foot off the floor. There was a fair amount of blood, it was all very dramatic looking but she was very brave. Daddy’s first aid skills came in handy as he was handed a first-aid kit by a slightly shocked-looking technician working at the festival. He stopped it bleeding and used his until-then-unpracticed bandaging skills to give her a suitable head wrapping. I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing with the child and the bleeding head and everything – I think the impending speaking-to-an-audience distracted me from thinking that this was the worst thing that could’ve just occurred. Kids have the best timing, don’t they?! Well, mine definitely seem to.

One day down, one to go.

After some lunch and a quick look round Primark (obviously) we went back to the theatre and watched Liz Carr in an interview with WOW Founder Jude Kelly – it was during this fascinating discussion in the auditorium with a much larger audience than when I had spoken the day before, that I realised this is where I’d be talking on the other panel the next day, with Liz Carr herself, talking about how the Women’s Rights movement often forgets about disabled women.

Fast forward to Sunday, Mum was also there to watch me this time, as well as Tom and the children, and I was a lot more nervous since I knew the potential audience size.

I went in by myself about 15 minutes early, and met my fellow panel members – Liz Carr, actor, comedian and disability rights activist, Clair Beckett, dancer and yoga teacher who has recently been diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, and Michelle Daley, a founding member of Sisters of Frida who are a collective of disabled women creating a network of fellow women with disabilities in order to share experiences, provide support and try to take away the copious amounts of bureaucracy and discrimination we face on a daily basis. Michelle was chairing this panel.

The lights were really bright and in-your-face, though they were turned down; I actually found this quite helpful as I couldn’t see the audience staring at me and I could just pretend I was talking to a bright white light, as you do.

The discussion went really well, I think, although looking back at the footage of the talk that Tom filmed for me, there were moments where I completely lost my train of thought -Ironically whilst talking about this blog, at one point! I tend to ramble a bit when I don’t have a plan of exactly what I want to say but hopefully, no one noticed. In hindsight, I wish I had been a lot more prepared in what I would say, but in my defence, I didn’t get emailed some of the information that went into more detail about the questions the chair speaker would ask. And of course, you cannot predict what questions might come from the audience. Also, I do have a tendency to stumble over what I’m saying when lots of people are watching me talk, and I hate it, which is why I hardly ever do it!

It was, of course, brilliant to meet Liz Carr, (and also Clair Beckett and Michelle Daley) but meeting somebody that you’ve known of for years, and who you never expected to be able to work alongside in this capacity was really very exciting.

All in all, I think the weekend went very smoothly if you take out the crying toddler and the child who cut her head open. I can forgive them for that because of course, they are particularly beautiful and funny children if I do say so myself. If only they’d realise how tricky it was for me to mentally prepare to talk to an audience!

To see some of the footage from the weekend please watch the video on my YouTube channel. WOW Festival Vlog.

I’m hoping The Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival will have me back next year. The children will be bubble-wrapped and I might invest in a personal microphone.

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