Tips for coping with Empty Nest Syndrome

Isn’t it amazing, last week my daughter, Chloe wrote about the joy felt by parents, mums especially, when the long summer holiday comes to an end, and the children go back to school.

Well, I’m going to fast forward ten years or even less, and those same children could well be leaving home and off to university, how do you think you’ll be feeling then?

I’m sure we all know parents who have sacrificed everything for their children, even to the detriment of their own relationships, how difficult it must be for these parents to ‘let go’.

The child you’ve been totally responsible for… you’ve fed, nursed, consoled, laughed and cried with, even befriended, is no longer there on a day to day basis.

For some parents, a child leaving home it is heartbreaking, I’ve heard so many women say,

“I don’t have a purpose anymore”, 

“I feel I’ve lost my identity”

Empty Nest Syndrome

sadness or emotional distress affecting parents whose children have grown up and left home’

Around this time of the year there are many articles written on this subject, all suggesting those affected should look for another hobby, fill the space by doing some voluntary work, rekindle relationships, all good advice, but perhaps not for everyone.

It’s important to realise that this feeling of loss is natural, and felt by so many parents.

Research from The Mayo Clinic suggesting that these feelings can last for several weeks, until the parent realises that they have some extra time during the day to spend on themselves, with partners or friends.

Although other research shows that the actual transition from being an actively involved mother to being an independant woman again can be anything from eighteen months to two years.

Let’s not forget when talking about Empty Nest Syndrome, that it is inevitable our children will leave home, surely that is what we’ve been preparing them for? Their journey into adulthood, to become happy, successful, independent people, even parents themselves.

As the feeling of loss starts to lift, it could be a great opportunity for ‘the parent’ to embark on a journey of their own, getting fit is a great one, costs very little and those endorphins will really give you a lift!  

But a word of warning…as you start enjoying a sense of freedom, university terms are short, and the ‘child’ will return, laden with washing and loads of untidiness!

Here are my tips to help you through the Empty Nest feeling.

  1. Acknowledge how you feel and talk through your feelings with your partner, friend or both.
  2. Realise that dynamics will change within the home and relationships, but being part of the next stage of your child’s life can be equally exciting.
  3. With social media it’s so easy to keep in touch, but think how your child will be feeling too, will they want unexpected Facetime calls as they’re making new friends in the uni bar! Perhaps better to email or text initially!
  4. Try to do something for yourself, even if it’s just making the effort to go for a thirty minute walk, so difficult I know if you’re feeling low, but the rewards will outway the effort, believe me.
  5. If time permits, join a class, so many start in September and it’s a great way to meet new people…pole and line dancing are still on my list… when I have time! 
  6. Think about keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings as you walk this new road. Apart from helping you, it may also help friends in the future, who could be feeling as you do now.
  7. Finally, congratulate yourself, you’ve done a great job getting your child to where they are today, and that’s no easy task.

Some parents find children leaving home more difficult than others,

If after four to six weeks there’s no improvement in the feeling of sadness, it’s important to seek medical advice.

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New school year, new you 

It’s September already and back to school. Like millions of other parents, I am breathing a sigh of relief as the school year begins. The summer has been fabulous, lots of Italian sunshine, bedtimes and scheduling forgotten. However I am now ready to regain some structure and sanity!
For me, September is a new beginning, almost more so than January 1st. With 3 young children, I often feel that I forget to look after myself during the chaotic summer holidays. Exercise takes a back step, and I have certainly allowed myself too many gelato’s over the past few weeks!

Time to get back on track and make those September resolutions. I am getting back out running, trying to go to bed earlier and focusing on a healthy diet – it certainly helps being able to go to the supermarket without 3 kiddo’s in tow!

To me, September also means new and exciting fashion trends, more so than any other time of year. I get over excited with the jumpers, coats and jackets surrounding us in the shops – time to put the shorts away. Incorporating a touch of an autumnal trend adds an instant update to your wardrobe, whether through pattern, texture or colour. I am a huge fan of textured bomber jackets, and will continue to embrace velvet this Autumn!

As the first week of school comes to an end, I am feeling calmer and (slightly) more organized. I have been running (legs are sore) and am feeling a little more like myself. Unfortunately my children do not share my love of September. For them, the summer could go on forever, who needs to school?!

I love tomatoes!

It’s tomato time again at Sant Elia, and that means a freezer full of passata to take me through the winter and well into the Spring of 2018.

Tomatoes are so good for us, and very much part of The Mediterranean Diet. They are packed with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, and are a high source of vitamin A ,C and Folic Acid, so I don’t want to waste any of these little gems.

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I’m now averaging a kilo plus of pickings every day, and that’s without the tomatoes I pick for serving with basil and mozzarella, or for dicing and adding to cooked passata with capers and delicious Sant Elia olive oil, I could go on and on, so many way many to serve tomatoes.

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I make several batches of passata every week until the weather cools, the sun is less intense and the ripening process slows.

Then comes the glut of green tomatoes, when I turn to chutney making, Uncle Harry’s recipe is my favorite, which I’ll share with you nearer the time.

Back to passata, it’s so easy to make. I freeze mine which makes it easier still… no jars to sterilize!

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In this batch I have approx.

  • 2kg of Tomatoes, roughly chopped, skin on, I really haven’t the time to skin and deseed them all.
  • 2-3 Onions, roughly chopped, red ones today!
  • 3-4 Carrots, roughly chopped.
  • Finally, a handful of Flat leaved parsley.

I usually add a couple of sticks of celery, not today though, as I haven’t got any.

tomatoes

Method

  • Cook in a large sauce pan UNCOVERED, and with no added water, this is important, tomatoes are very juicy and provide their own liquid, some of which needs to evaporate so that you get a rich thick sauce.
  • Cook for about an hour, until everything is soft and mushy.
  • Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before using a hand blender to break down any large pieces of tomatoes.
  • I like a slightly chunky texture, but you could blend until it was really smooth.
  • Pour into containers and freeze.

Most children I know like pasta, and this is a great way of giving them some extra veg.

Before the end of the summer, I’ll make a batch of sauce adding the last of the red peppers, celery, carrots, maybe some aubergine, baby spinach leaves, anything that when it’s blended is undetectable! Not broccoli though as this stays a little ‘grainy’.

The freezed sauce is easily defrosted, and can be used in casseroles, curries etc. It also tastes better than the jars you buy in supermarkets, and has no added salt or preservatives.

It’s worth a try?

 

    

 

It’s been a tough week

This week has taken me right back to how and why I got into fitness, and it’s not a good feeling.

People often say to me, “you’re so calm”, “you’re so organised”, “you look so fit and healthy”. But, I’m just like everyone else and this week I’m crumbling inside.

I’m so tired, so fed up and needing some space.

It’s been a week of missing flights (due to bad planning), snacking on airport food and generally having a rubbish diet, also playing ‘catch-up’,has resulted in insufficient sleep, I could go on and on.

I could almost see this happening over the last two months. My exercise programme has almost disappeared due to a heavy workload and my weight increased due to too much yummy pasta!

I’m also a person who values personal space, if only for an hour a day. Away from everyone, just to get my thoughts organised, to sit and de-stress, or do something silly like cleaning out my sweater drawer whilst listening to my favourite music.

Without past experience, I could easily be going off to my GP requesting some medication to lift my mood, but I KNOW exactly what I should be doing, and this is my plan, in fact I’ve already started.

My ‘life saver’ is exercise.

My alarm is set for an earlier start to the day, before anyone else gets up. However tired or low I feel, I get up, feeling better already by just having some space!

I make up my jug of lemon infused water, and get motivated by telling myself how strong I am, and how I can still take on the world, I’ve just taken a little detour. It has worked before and it will work again, I have no doubts.

Then I hit the gym or go for a walk.

The results of exercise for me are phenomenal, the release of endorphins really do lift my spirits and make me feel good, and it’s time to myself.

Within a couple of weeks I know I’ll be back on track again.

Add to this my improved diet and it’s the strongest remedy ever.

Lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and protein, together with at least two litres of water daily, earlier nights will also help.

Alcohol is out, even a glass of prosecco, I want my body and mind back into the shape it was eight weeks ago.

I’m sure there will be be lots of Mums out there feeling stressed and fed up already with school holidays already upon us. If you’re one of them, perhaps by getting up earlier, having half an hour ahead of everyone else, may make all the difference to your day and your mind.

Time to go for an early morning walk, roping in some other Mums on the way. Who knows where it will lead you especially as you start feeling those lovely endorphins kicking in. 

If you are struggling or looking for some of those endorphins, find out more about personal training with me. I offer personal training in my own fully equipped gym or I can also provide online personal training plans.

Granny’s Welsh cakes live on!

There are so many Welsh cakes recipes, but I could never deviate from Granny’s recipe, as they are loved by all the family just the way they are.

Welsh cakes are cooked on a bakestone, of which I have two. The very best, my brother made for me years ago, it’s cast iron, very heavy but makes the most delicious Welsh cakes. The other I bought at a local cook’s shop, it’s made of a much lighter metal and is well travelled… so yet again was part of my check in allowance!

The recipe is easy, and yes, I have tried substituting the sugar with alternative sweeteners, it just doesn’t work, and as my health conscious children say, “it’s OK mum they’re homemade!”

Unfortunately you do need some kind of bakestone or flat cooking surface, I’ve tried using a flat frying pan, but that was a disaster.

Ingredients

  • 450 gm. Self Raising flour
  • 225 gm. Butter
  • 170 gm. Currants
  • 6 Tablespoons of Caster sugar
  • 2 Beaten Eggs

 

Method

  • Start by heating the bakestone over a low heat.
  • Rub the flour and butter together until they form fine breadcrumbs.
  • Gently fold in the sugar and currants.
  • Add the beaten eggs, and using a fork or your hand, gently make the mixture into a ball.
  • Roll out the mixture on a lightly floured board, to about 1cm thick or just slightly over, and using a medium sized cutter, cut out the Welsh cakes.
  • Cook on the bakestone for 2-3 minutes each side, the Welsh cake should feel firm but springy.
  • Cool on cooling rack.

This is the third batch I’ve made this week, and the heart shaped one is for Rafey (my grandson and number one Welsh cake fan).

 

 

 

Have you visited Nivea House?

If I have time when travelling I like to go into a large pharmacy or cosmetic store to see what quirky things are available.

Imagine my surprise whilst in Hamburg, when I was told that the store to visit was Nivea Haus!

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We’ve all heard of Nivea cream, many of our grandmothers having used it, and it’s also one of the more affordable skincare brands on the market.

NIVEA IN ALL SIZES

The store was packed with Nivea everywhere. The staff were so helpful and obviously very proud of the product they sell.

Nivea is now over 100 yrs old having been developed in Hamburg, where their laboratory still remains.

NIVEA TIN 1911

I loved the historical wall of tins and adverts, dating from 1911 to the present day. There was even a photo-booth where you could personalise your very own tin of cream!

Throughout the decades the company has developed numerous other innovative skin care products such as deodorants, sunscreens, and now a Anti-Age Professional Bioxilift range which can only be purchased at Nivea House or on-line.

I needed a night and decollete cream so thought I’d try the Bioxilift, especially as it was less than half the price of similar products in the UK. As I had bought two products I could have another for free, so I chose an eye cream.

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My only reservation is the amount of glycerin within the creams, which in my experience can cause the skin to look quite greasy, but we’ll see. 

MY NIVEA CARRIER BAG

Nivea is now sold in over 200 countries, so it must have something going for it! 

I’ll report back soon, perhaps I’ll become one of the millions using this iconic cream, in it’s instantly recognisable blue and white tin.

 

Five easy trends to take you through summer 2017

As we begin to get excited about summer holidays and warmer weather, here are 5 easy to wear trends to take you through the next few months in style.  All of these are adaptable to any body shape and are instant updates for summer wardrobes.

  1. Frills and Flounce – fabulous frills are staying around! We can all embrace the on trend feminine ruffles, but wear them in a way that suits you.  For example, if you have a larger bust, go for ruffles on sleeves or a skirt instead of the shoulder or chest area. I love J Crew for up to date basics in a great range of colours.
  2. Gingham – as you know, gingham is one of the prints of the season. Wear head to toe or as a nod to the trend with accessories. I’ve picked Hobbs for work or casual gingham styles.
  3. Floaty midi skirts – good for most body shapes, you may just need to add heel height and be careful how much they poof out at the waist! Jigsaw have some great skirts, and the one I’ve picked is top of my shopping list.
  4. The jumpsuit – when you find a jumpsuit style that works for you, they are so easy to wear. Admittedly it can sometimes be a challenge finding one that flatters on the top as well as the bottom – and then there is the other downside of taking the whole thing off to go to the loo! They are still everywhere in the shops – I love the simplicity of their navy Pure Collection jumpsuit and the floaty florals of their gorgeous little number from Anthropologie.
  5. Sandals/ Mules – you just can’t beat them for comfort and style when you are in the sun. Carvela have some fun, easy styles, perfect if you are exploring a beautiful walled Italian town or strolling out to the pool to relax after an early morning workout.

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What are your favourite styles for the summer? We would love to hear from you! Come on sunshine…

I can’t believe that by the time we are holding our retreat in September, we will be focusing on transitioning into Autumn.  Lets make sure that we embrace these summer trends while we can!

*Blog post by Chloe Brasier, Sant Elia in-house stylist