Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting A Grip 5: Food

This is a big subject as it encompasses everything - money, fitness and health, and time management.

I'm a frugal person in that I don't like to waste anything and I don't overspend. Except on food. About four years ago I suddenly realised that I had no idea what my monthly outgoings were. So I started to record my spending. Since becoming a single mother I've parred down all spending - even, where I can, on fixed costs. The only place I could economise further was on food. So this month I have done.

DD has two meals and two snacks a day at the nursery (one with meat). In the evening she really only needs some scrambled egg, a tomato and a cucumber. Not the exact same food every day but similar proportions of simple supper fare. I'd been buying food for evening meals as if I were cooking for a family of teenagers and a hungry husband home after a long day of sandwiches and coffee. In reality, it's just me and DD. But I do like to cook.

I'm also inspired to copy the modest family suppers that you sometimes see in old films. No overloading the plates with all sorts of processed chemicals and fried foods and which is eaten very slowly. I used to have a whole shelf of diet books that looked like chemistry lessons. Then I discovered French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. Her common sense approach to food without dieting (or joining an expensive gym) appeals to my quest for finding a healthy and endurable way to eat for life. I threw out all those other diet books and this has become my bible. Yes, I do go back and read it again every few months.

Other parents have told me that the trick is to plan the week's meals ahead of time and stick loosely to a master plan e.g. pasta on Mondays, pizza on Tuesdays, etc... So I made a simple plan for a non-meat kitchen that allows me a little cooking. NB Our weekends are Friday/Saturday.

Friday: Lunch - scrambled egg, chopped salad (one tomato, one cucumber, red pepper, lemon juice, salt and pepper).
Dinner - vegetable streudel, ratatouille and potato kugel (baked savoury potato cake).

Saturday: Lunch - potato salad, chopped salad, tuna croquettes.
Supper: egg salad, cheese, homemade humus, tomato and cucumber, with wholewheat bread.

Sunday: leftovers from the weekend or pita pizza.

Monday: pasta verdi (handful of frozen peas, brocolli and beans thrown in with the cooking pasta, dressed with olive oil and grated cheese), chopped salad.

Tuesday: Orzo Confetti (rice cooked with a handful of frozen sweet corn, chopped red peppers, and peas or beans), chopped salad, vegetable burgers.

Wednesday: cheese burekas (filo parcels), chopped salad.

Thursday: spaghetti tofunaise, chopped salad.

Dessert is always fruit or fruit salad if we're being sophisticated (I add 1/2tsp vanilla extract and raisins to make it sweeter but no added sugar). Lately DD's treat has been to go to the shop and choose a yogurt (loose term as she usually picks the chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top). Somehow she also manages to bring home a packet of crisps or suchlike. ("DD pay the lady," she says. Which means putting her purchases on the counter and collecting them the other end. I deal with the money while she's 'paying.')

Snacks are raisins and wholewheat pretsels, fruit and sometimes (not more than twice a day :-) ) chocolate squares.

During the day I try to have a late breakfast and then eat supper with DD at 5.30. I drink a lot of coffee though I am trying to drink more green tea (in my attempt to live to 120).

I also wrote a shopping list of everything I use during the week. So far this month I've spent 300 shekels less at the supermarket (about 54 pounds) and lost 2kg (about 4.5lbs). Midlife Singlemum is getting a grip!

This post has been linked to Meal Planning Monday at At Home With Mrs M. And MUMenTUM at New Mum Online. Check out the former for weekly meal plans, and the latter for the MUMenTUM club, all about motivation and support for getting back into shape.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Midsummer's Day Motivation

Tonight is Midsummer's Night and tomorrow is Midsummer's Day. A day associated with Midsummer madness and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

One of my favourite memories of this night is from about 15 years ago when a friend used to commandeer her uncle's garden in Ein Karem, a rural and largely unspoiled area on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It probably looks much like Shakespeare would have imagined Italy in his time. A group of us would bring cheese, wine and grapes, and we acted out (reading from the text of course - we were only pseudo intellects, not the real macoy) the play amongst the vines and olive trees, and under the stars. It sounds terribly pretentious and it was. You should have seen how we sneered at the person who brought coke and crisps (didn't stop us eating them though!).

The big questions have always been why is this Midsummer's Day when the Summer Solstice is only three days earlier on June 21st? And why is the Summer Solstice considered to be the start of the summer when it is the longest day of the year? I went googling (Agoogling I did go, with a hey and a ho and a nonny nonny no....) and I found all the answers and more here (Midsummer's Day) and here (Summer Solstice).

Bottom line(s)? Midsummer's Day is a hand-me-down from the Roman calendar when the summer solstice did fall on 24th June and they celebrated the day the sun stopped and changed direction. The seasons starting on the solstice and equinox dates is merely a traditional concept. Many people believe that they should actually mark the middle of each season.

All lovely and informative, but what I really like about today is what Liska from New Mum Online pointed out in her post from the beginning of the week. It adds a touch of magic and totally fits in with my getting a grip activities this month. It is more powerful than January 1st (that other voodoo date for new starts) and more timely as the season of gay abandon is practically upon us.

So my Thank you Thursday this week is to Liska for giving us all another shot at improvement. And this one is surfused with the magic of the gods, the blessings of St. John the Baptist and the ease of eating healthily during the salad season. How much more help do you need to get motivated?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starting The Daddy Conversations

Last night in bed we had the prologue to the daddy conversations. Actually it was more of a prelude to the prologue to the daddy conversations.

At 2 1/2, DD is obsessed with Beauty's father in Beauty and the Beast. She tells me when he appears in the DVD, she points him out to me on the box, and she even mentions him, sans prompt, at any odd time of the day. I have been waiting for the inevitable next step in her thought processes and trying to decide how I can best help her, whilst knowing I've had my prepared line to say to her ready since December.

A wise friend once wrote me an email saying: children will accept their identity, it's a matter of how you present it. (L - if you read this, it's you and I thank you for it). With this in mind I found myself directing the following conversation in the dark, after stories and before DD fell asleep.

"Beauty daddy," she said apropos nothing.
"Yes, Beauty's got a daddy," I confirmed.
"Yes, Beauty daddy," she repeated.
"But no mummy," I found myself saying.
"Beauty daddy."
"Yes, Beauty's got a daddy but noooo mummy."
"Yes. Noooo mummy. Beauty daddy."

We left it at that. It was enough for the first daddy conversation. I'm one step ahead and at some point we could refer to the fact that Bambi has a mummy but nooooo daddy. But not yet. It's just there for the right moment.

A few minutes later DD said, "DD push the buggy. No mummy push it,"
"Yes, DD can push the buggy tomorrow," I answered.
"Yes, and no mummy push it. DD push it." And then she fell asleep.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hysterosalpingogram? I'll Pass.

It was time to up the ante to IUI with ovum stimulation. Time was passing and I wasn't getting any younger. It was May 2005 and I had another consultancy with a doctor. This time I saw Dr. M. She had an elegant European style about her, a wedding band on her finger, and she spoke fluent English as well as Hebrew. She probably had children at home and almost definitely had a another language. I immediately felt inferior. Then she smiled and she was nice. I wanted to be like Dr. M when I grew up. Except that she was probably about six years younger than me.

Like Dr. B, she was one step ahead of me on the treatment hierarchy. "There is very little chance that IUI will work even with ovum stimulation. With IVF the chances jump up to 25%." But I was still on the crusade of as little intervention as possible. I still couldn't believe that, with my strong maturnal instincts, my child-bearing hips, and my fantastic FSH scores, my body wouldn't be thirsty for pregnancy. And that it wouldn't quench that thirst at the earliest opportunity.

"I also want you to to do a hysterosalpingogram (HSG)," said Dr M.
"What's that?"
"They pass a tube into your uterus and inject a dye through to your fallopean tubes. This shows up on an x-ray and they can check for any blockages. Sometimes the precedure itself clears any blockages and there's more chance of pregnancy. Make an appointment with radiology. They will probably want to do it straight after your next period. Then come back here on day five of your cycle." Before I left she gave me prescriptions for Gonel F, Ovitrelle, and Cetrotide.

I made an appointment with radiology and a few days later I was talking to my friend Z, who has twins through IVF. "Oh my God, I had to have that. It killed! I stopped the procedure half way through and the doctor was really horrible about it. He told me to stop making such a fuss as it didn't hurt that much."
"Yeah right, when was the last time he had one?"

I called radiology and cancelled my hysterosalpingogram. Z didn't do it and she had twins, so that was all right then.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting A Grip 4: Just In Time

Two and a half weeks ago I wrote about how I needed to make some big changes around here and get a grip. I wrote that, whilst I wasn't completely out of control, things were slipping to a standard I could no longer live with. So here is an update, starting with the time on my hands, or lack of it.

1. On being more self-disciplined. I have been. Not as much as I'd like to be but I've definitely made a start. E.g. On coming to the computer in the morning, I get about 20 minutes to check twitter, fb, and catch up on blog reading. Then I close all those tempting windows and open the work website.... for at least as long as it takes me to finish one chunk of work. As far as housework is concerned - not so much progress (more about that later) although I am doing more while DD plays and I've discovered that she no longer needs me to just sit in the same room with her. And if she is watching a DVD, I can sit with the laptop on my knee and blog.

2. Filling the minutes so that the hours take care of themselves, or some such parody. Not so much, but still trying. It's very hard for me to start a job that I know I can't finish within the time slot. Logic tells me that three times doing a third of the job equals the job done. Btw, I'm writing this when I know I have a student arriving in 15 minutes and there's no way I'll be able to finish writing, linking, and proof reading before then. My aim is to forget about it languishing in 'drafts' whilst I get on with the afternoon, and concentrate on how pleased I'll be to have an almost completed post when I come back to it later. I don 't know why this is so hard for me - it just is.

3. Wasting time on lists and schedules. Well I had to draw up some more in order to tackle my time issues. No choice, sorry. I thought it would be easy, just a matter of seeing the time available and writing in all the things that need doing. I made up a table of the week and gave one day over to housework. I can't clean at night as it's not fair to the downstairs neighbours, and, quite frankly, I'm too tired. I need to be able to throw open the windows, put the music on loud, and knuckle down. It seemed the sensible thing to do and many working mothers have a day off in which they 'do' the house.  However, every time that day comes round, I think to myself: I could either clean the place (which nobody is going to care whether I do or not, let alone thank me for it), or I could do five hours of work for money and impress my boss with the way I'm keeping up with it all. No contest, the computer wins every time. Maybe when I get more into the swing of working in the evenings I won't mind giving up one day a week to cleaning.

4. Getting DD to bed at a reasonable time. This is much better. I decided that I didn't want to make her go to sleep on her own yet. I'm happy to lie with her until she falls asleep (we have a double bed so I'm quite comfortable while she throws herself around) but I did have to start the process earlier. So we now get into bed for stories at 7.30. And I'm usually able to creep out between 8.30 and 9pm. Once nursery finishes for the summer I will bring it forward to a 7pm start. Also, now that I'm free earlier, I no longer have the problem of 5. falling asleep with DD and wasting the evening.

6. Getting everything done. Seeing the hours allotted to work, housework, shopping, blogging, etc... set out in a weekly schedule has helped me to see that it's doable if I stick to it. That takes the anxiety down several notches even if I don't stick to it. I've also created time by meal planning for the week (another blog post).

And there's one more thing. The Fly Lady. She's hilarious but everythng she says is based on sound advice. I wouldn't recommend doing everything - one woman did and vlogged about it. On Youtube, if you really want to, you can watch this woman going through a ring-binder the size of a History A'level course and telling you about her routines and schedules for every hour of every day, complete with checklists, shopping lists, meal plans, etc... Bottom line? The first step to not becoming overwhelmed by it all is to have a clean and shiny sink greet you when you come into the kitchen each morning. It's true and it really does work! You don't start the day being behind and bogged down by yesterday's detritus. And I did write down a detailed morning routine - but I never do it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I was not at #BlogCamp Manchester

I was not at BlogCamp Manchester in the UK today (organised by tots 100). Neither will I be going to CyberMummy 11 next week. However, I just want to say, after weeks of build-up from blogger after blogger.... I get it.

First the build-up. As a newcomer to blogging (five months on Sunday) and having received the advice of blogging friends to 'join the community,' I found a core of blogs that interested me. I followed them on their blogs and on twitter, I commented, I replied, and I put them on my blog list (for my convenience aswell as for them). Very soon I had a group of 'close friends' and a wider group of 'friends of friends' with whom I regulalry engaged or at least read.

Some months ago there started to be twitterings, mutterings, and references to CyberMummy 11: Are you going? Who is going? Who is your sponsor? How much are the tickets? Can I justify the expense? How do I get a sponsor? Etc, etc...

Then there started a whole wave of excitement about BlogCamp Manchester. No sponsors this time as it was free but, as the date drew nearer, the build-up... well... er... built up: What shall I wear (whole blog posts and surveys on the subject)? Am I crazy to be so excited? I can't wait! Etc, etc...

Well, I get it. I've got the blogging bug. I love writing my little thoughts and about my (not so little) experiences. However, there is no getting away from the fact that, although I spend far too many hours on it, all those hours are spent sitting physically alone with my computer. A whole community of virtual friends and supporters is great but, after a few months wouldn't it be nice to meet some of them and have a real conversation over coffee or something stronger? Wouldn't it? Of course it would.

Blogging is the perfect hobby for mothers, especially those with limited financial resources - it's free, there are no travelling or babysitting costs, you can earn money from your blog eventually, and it doesn't matter if you do it in your pyjamas with eggy stains down the front or at stupid o'clock in the morning. But even mothers (I include all the blogging fathers in this generality) need to get out and socialise with other adults sometimes.

Of course it is not only the social. It's also the subject. The chance to learn how to blog better and more effectively. To hear the success stories that will inspire you. To get ideas about growing your blog, your readership, and your earning potential. To be bouyed by the sheer professionality of blogging and to see it as a legitimate, lucrative and socially useful thing to do (as opposed to self-indulgent and somewhat twee - not what I think but it has been suggested by some ignorant non-bloggers). And, of course, to meet all those 'friends' that you know everything about except that you wouldn't recognise them if they sat next to you on a train.

I get it that you want to look your best. I get it that you would be concerned that the reality of you doesn't match up to the image you portray on your blog. Not to mention all the other usual insecurities - will they like me? Will I fit in? Am I sophisticated enough? And I get it that you are eager to discuss bloggy things with bloggy people who totally understand.

Many people who would have loved to have been at BlogCamp Manchester, couldn't go. I live in Jerusalem, Israel which is my excuse. Others have lammented on twitter that they couldn't find childcare, the train fare was too steep, one poor soul has toothache (I wish you better)... Much to my surprise, I found they were following the conference on twitter ( #blogcamp ). So I checked it out. And I learned some things. Obviously it's not the same as being there, but I get this also.

In the same way as writers go to writers' workshops, teachers go to conferences, and village idiots go to the National Village Idiots Convention (Woody Allen), I want to go to a blog camp (or should that be #BlogCamp ?). I hope you all had a terrific day and one day I hope that I'll join you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Tantrum Dichotomy

Last night I left DD with a babysitter, A, while I went to the Bat Mitzva party of my friend's daughter. I went out two weeks ago and we had the same babysitter (a 21 year old with many years of babysitting experience who is great with children). On that occasion she told me that DD cried for 40 minutes after I left but afterwards they had a nice time doing puzzles, playing, etc... I thought last night would be better as DD already knows A and remembers that she had a good time with her only two weeks ago.

I started preparing her when we came home from Nursery: "A is coming to play with DD later while Mummy goes out for a bit. OK?"
"OK," agreed DD brightly, and I was quietly confident. However, as the time drew near and she saw me getting dressed to go out, DD became more and more clingy. We discussed that A was going to give her some chocolate from the fridge, and how they could watch Bambi together (while eating their chocolate), etc... And at 7.45pm I left her screaming as I hurried down the stairs.

On my return A told me that after 45 minutes of hysterical screaming, she got nervous and called her mum to come and help her. "I've never had to do that before and I've been babysitting since I was 15." Reader, I gave her generous compensation.

This morning I called A's mother to thank her. She is a friend of mine, lives round the corner, and really didn't mind. Her opinion was that DD just needed someone to take charge, a 'way out' as it were. She picked her up,  held her close and DD, who was exhausted by that time, was probably relieved to calm down. A's mum also suggested that I go out more often so that DD is more used to being with a babysitter.

She has a point. Last year, before nursery, I had a few babysitters whom I used when I was teaching. DD could hardly wait for me to leave so that they could start playing. This year I teach during nursery time and I hardly ever go out in the evening. For one thing, the nursery costs a mint and there is no spare money either for the sitter or the outing. Also, I like being at home. I have plenty to do here and I actually need those evening hours after DD is asleep to do essential stuff.

All this is by way of a long introduction to how I got to thinking about why a 2yo has such tantrums. DD has a very strong-willed personality (even the nursery teacher told me so) and she is also going through a bit of a clingy phase when we arrive at the nursery in the morning (which is a new behaviour but not related to any goings on there). So her performances may be exceptionally long and loud, but not off the scale.

We all know that a 2yo is trying to exert some control over her life. There is so much she has no control over, that she makes up things to control. We have our own little ultra-orthodox religion going on here, with all manner of rituals that I must adhere to without explanation. For example, DD must have two sips from her sippy cup before I may put the lid on it. We have to walk along the newer asphalt path that runs some of the way to nursey and not stray onto the older bits of the path.

So I try to give her as much control as I can. I let her dictate any methods of operation that are safe and not too unhealthy. I give DD a choice wherever possible. But I am strict when I have to be - she knows that there is no discussion about either holding my hand or sitting in the buggy when we cross the road (even in this situation she makes the choice). In this way I eliminate many potential tantrum situations and give her a feeling of partial control. This has been my theory till now.

However, I cannot get away from the fact that we now never have a tantrum about the rules for crossing the road. DD knows that there is no option but to do what I say. She also knows that when I turn out the light after stories, I mean it and there is no point in crying about it (for more than a minute anyway). This dichotomy seems to support a much stricter approach with the rules set down in stone by me.

So which way is right?

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Karaoke Stand-by

This is a meme started by Liz at The Mum Blog and I was tagged by Jax at Mummy's Little Monkey. Basically it asks you to reveal your Karaoke stand-by. The corny song that you know backwards because you sing it in the shower, whilst driving alone down the motorway, or when you need something uplifting to get you through the hoovering.

This is mine. It's been recorded by many different singers and groups. The second verse seems to have been dropped somewhere along the way, which is a shame as I liked it. It has become somewhat of a hymn or anthem akin to Jerusalem (which I may have chosen except that it doesn't usually appear on karaoke lists. Ditto: I Vow To Thee My Country). I'm a bit of a hymn and ballad person.

I missed this one when Josh Groban first recorded it and sang his way through all the US chat shows. I missed it with West Life. I probably wouldn't know it at all except that my second nephew (the one with the voice) sang it in his primary school choir and brought it home to perform his very own in-the-bath concert.

Now when I hear it on the radio I have to jump around the room punching the air with fisted hands as I sing along with powerful lung and voice action. And then I'm in a great mood for at least the rest of the day.

No specific tags but I would love to hear your hoovering boogying preferences and bathtime ballads.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting A Grip 3: How Hard is Too Hard?

At the end of last week I wrote two posts about how I need to make some big changes in my life and gain back some control. The first was about the need to lose weight and the second, about better time management. In another few days I will write a follow-up post on how each of these plans are progressing. Meanwhile an interesting question has arisen from some of the comments after these posts.

Crystal Jigsaw and Jazzygal both wrote words to the effect: You are doing great as a single mother and don't be too hard on yourself. I am very grateful for these comments - I'm very grateful for any and all comments - and they do help me ease up a bit on my expectations. And herein lies the problem: I am only too quick to react to comments such as these with a sigh of relief and a wander towards the sofa, usually via the fridge.

So how hard should one be on oneself? If I excuse every lazy day in the name of single motherhood I will slide further and further towards sluttish obesity, not to mention poverty. On the other hand, though I don't expect to keep to my pre-baby standards in many areas of my life, I do acknowledge that I cannot do everything in the time available. Furthermore, the time available isn't always available - DD does not always sleep on demand and I do not always manage to stay awake on demand.

And then there is blogging. Take now for example - I should be working for money. I know it is almost midnight but I work from home and this is a good and quiet time to get on with it. But I want to get in one more post before the holiday (the Jewish festival of Shavuot falls in the middle of this week and it's a two-day national holiday). It is important to me as this is my hobby and my me-thing - not just the writing but also developing the blog and building up readership. It is a link to the outside world and provides connections to other adults at a time when I spend every evening at home with a sleeping toddler. It is part of being kind to myself and it guzzles time (again, not just the writing but the networking and reading other blogs, etc... which is an important aspect of blogging). Rightly or wrongly, blogging has high priority.

And yet, all the factors I wrote about last week still apply and they need to be addressed. So, without being too hard on myself (as instructed), how hard is too hard?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting A Grip 2: Time On My Hands

This post should really be called: Time in my hands. I don't have any time on my hands and, to a great extent, this is my own fault. It is in my hands to get a grip on my time management. However, there are a few hurdles that I have to evercome.

1. I have always strived to be more self-disciplined. I cannot tell you how many times I walked home from school promising myself that I would sit right down and get my homework out of the way. I cannot tell you how many times I was sitting up in bed at 11pm doing my homework on my knees. Other times I would have to set the alarm for 5am and get up and do it in the morning - this approach actually worked quite well for me. I have the double curse of being a procrastinator and a September baby - Virgo. They say Virgos are perfectionists, so whilst I am procrastinating, I am also beating myself up for not being perfect.

2. I find it hard to fill in the moments and the minutes. If I have less than an hour on my hands I will waste it - because it's not worth starting the work when I only have 50 minutes. It's the time equivalent of , 'look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.' I know that if I filled the minutes industriously, then hours of work would be done between appointments and other obligations.

3. I spend too much time writing lists and making detailed timetables of how I am going to accomplish everything I have to do. I am so eager and excited to get started however, I need a bit of a rest after all the effort that went into the planning. When I come back to look at the list I see that it is so overwhelmingly long that I will have to wait for a day when I have at least eight hours to tackle it. A day which never comes.

4. DD still naps at nursery, which means she is often not asleep at night until 10pm. This is partly my fault as, knowing that it will take up to two hours of my time to settle her (i.e. stories in bed and then lie down with her until she falls asleep), I often put off taking her to bed until 8.30pm or even 9pm. I need to get her to fall asleep by herself after the stories. At the moment she won't stay in the bed on her own when she's awake. This was Accidental Parenting as we got rid of the cot at 16 months because she was climbing out of it herself. At that time it was dangerous to leave her awake in the bed because she could  not climb down safely. Now, having watched all those parenting programmes on tv, I will have to do that repeatedly putting her back in the bed thing - even if it takes 100 goes. But it must be done.

5. The other problem with lying down with DD until she falls asleep is that I fall asleep too. One minute I'm planning what to get done between 9.30 and 1am, and the next thing I know it is 5 o'clock in the morning and I've slept through. Another wasted evening and night.

6. Finally, there is just so much to do. I need to earn a living (I need to earn two livings actually as I am a single parent), I need to keep the house clean, laundry done, shopping in, food cooked, and be the sole attention-giver to a 2yo. It is a basic law of physics that whilst your toddler is at nursery for seven hours, you cannot take and collect her, clean the house, and do seven hours of billable work. Forget me-time, I don't even remember how to fill it. Except for blogging, which has become my free hobby, contact with the outside world, and my creative outlet all rolled into one.

So having identified the problems, I now need to get a grip on my time. I will change DD's going to bed habits. I will use the minutes and the moments. I will get my evenings back into productiveness. I will prioritise and not try to do everything all at once. I will make more realistic lists. Watch this space - Midlife Singlemum is getting a grip!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting A Grip 1: Yummy Mummy Inside

Back in February I wrote a post excusing myself (and everyone else) from doing anything until March 1st. My excuse was that February is the Monday morning of the year so no wonder we are all fed up and depressed. Unfortunately March 1st came and went, as did April 1st and May 1st. I really did mean to make some big changes starting June 1st, but alas, this too has passed.

I am not depressed, I'm not completely out of control, I'm not putting on weight (just not losing any), and, most importantly, I'm not neglecting my daughter. The point is - I'm not doing much of anything else either. It's time to get a grip and make some big changes around here. So this is the first of a series of  'Gettting A Grip' posts.

As an older mother (48 with a 2yo daughter) I could, even without having been a child bride, have children the age of some of the other parents at DD's nursery. At the moment I do, so I am told, look younger than my age. However, there is no getting away from the fact that I will be 51 when DD starts 1st Grade. I am determined not to look like a poor old granny standing at the school gates - for DD's sake as well as my own pride. There are many enviably attractive women in their 50s. At this age every 10kg (22.046lbs) adds on five years in appearance. Whilst not quite obese (but clearly overweight), I could, in theory, look 10 years younger (you do the maths).

Looking three years into the future is a very non-commital way of making changes, so here is something more pressing. It is well and truly summertime. And I live in a country where the daytime temperature will not go below 25 degrees C. (I don't know what that is in English money but it's very hot) until the middle of September. Until now I have managed to avoid the pool and the beach when I'm feeling fat. In fact, a couple of years ago I threw out my one swimming costume as it was about 20 years old. This year, there will be no getting out of getting into the water. I have a 2 1/2yo who is already talking about going swimming. I don't know who is feeding her these radical ideas but, now that she's in the know, I have to go along with it. I will not embarrass her and me (well me then) so I have to act fast.

I have never been vain enough to style my hair, wear make-up regularly, or keep my weight down for any length of time (9 years was my longest slim period as an adult). Exercising is an alien concept to me - aside from chewing. However, I now concede that I need to be a Yummy Mummy to make up for the 20 years that I am tardy in having my child. I owe it to DD to be able to run around with her, go shopping for clothes in a together sort of way, dance with her, and yes - take her to the pool  or beach without it being a major trauma for me. The truth is that I am a Yummy Mummy inside - I just have to let her out.

A number of my friends will snicker if they read this post. How many 1sts of the month have I announced that I am starting a diet? Too many to count or even remember is the answer to that. So why not just do it quietly and talk about when I've got something to say? My theory is that if you announce it to the (blogging) world you jolly well have to deliver. Watch this space - Midlife Singlemum is getting a grip!