SoftThistle Life

My First Year With The Open University

Marylin2 Comments
First year with Open University

Last summer I was chatting with one of my besties, one of those conversations where I knew it was time to do something to look towards a career once the boys are older, but I wasn't sure what. Blogging? Photography? Hey, what about you go back to uni to get your psychology degree? 

I wasn't sure, I knew my only option was to study through The Open University (OU for short) but I didn't know if I'd be good enough, or if I'd even stick at it. What about when the kids are ill, or me, and there's something due? What about when I go through these stupid bouts of exhaustion and can just barely get through the day? 

"I think you can do it, and if you don't try you'll never know."

That was enough to give me the confidence to try, so I enrolled in my first module later that week. "Introduction to Childhood Studies and Child Psychology" also known by it's course code, E102. 

The course began on October 1st and by that time I was raring to go. I'd received my textbook, had gone to the online "freshers week" webinars and, of course, I'd stocked up on pretty stationery. 

Eight months later I've completed my first year! 

Don't get me wrong - it's HARD to find the motivation and time to get things done, but ultimately it's totally worth it. I joined a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to this year's intake for the module and a WhatsApp group. Both have been absolutely invaluable. Full of support and lovely people ready to help when they can, let you vent or panic and help you pick yourself up again to get back to the assignment on hand.

You also get allocated a tutor for the year and mine has been so supportive. I introduced myself and explained my living situation over email so she was aware that there may be times things are a bit tricky if Max is having a few bad days (though luckily those times didn't tend to happen during assignment time!) or if my health wasn't great.

It turned out that January was a horrid month filled with illnesses for us all and Max needing to go to hospital for a small procedure in the last week when my assignment was due. Because I let my tutor know about this in advance she was happy to give me a week's extension (and more if it was needed) which took a huge load off. 

All in all I've managed to average around 70% in my first year - I never would have imagined I'd have been able to do that, and I certainly wouldn't have succeeded if it wasn't for the love and support of my family and friends, along with the amazing people online that I've become friends with throughout the module. Thanks so much you lot! <3

I've now registered and enrolled in my second module which starts in October: DE100 Investigating Psychology. I'm enjoying my "summer holidays" and the chance of a break for now, but I know that come October (lets be honest, probably most of September) I'll be raring to get started! 



The Women Who Keep Me Grounded and Dreaming.

LifeMarylin2 Comments
The Women Who Keep Me Grounded and Dreaming

I can say, hand on heart, that it's the amazing women I surround myself with who give me the strength and confidence to live my life as fully and with as much gratitude as I do. 

Each and every one - amazing women, mothers, and friends who aspire to become even greater than they already are. 

We are the ones who have been through thick and thin, where distance is no barrier and who always lift each other up with love, kindness, reality checks... and food (we're all about noodles at the moment!).

So let's start at the beginning... my mama. 

The First Woman Who Taught Me How To Be Me

Ah Mum, I've come to realise over the years just how lucky I am that we have such a close relationship... it turns out that not every mother and daughter do. 

You taught me about kindness, how to be fair and just, and how to always take the high road. As well as showing me how to be an awesome mum to my boys, you've been my rock throughout the years. 

I thought that once I was an adult I'd need you less, but it turns out I've needed your love and support even more as I've navigated my way through life, motherhood and beyond. I genuinely could not imagine having got through what I have without having you to talk things through with. Thank you!

BAE forever

This girl right here, our JenJen... oh my god the fun we've had since we met in 2010! We had SeptemberGate and then NovemberGate. I think those hard times we both experienced are what really cemented our ride or die friendship.

Knowing that there's someone who will move heaven and earth to support you and that you'd do the same for them? Priceless. If Carlsberg made BFF's... this girl is IT! 

Even through moving to another city to chase her dream (I am SO fucking proud of you for that!), we haven't lost touch. We made sure to make our friendship a priority by scheduling in a video chat every single week, and we've kept it up for almost four years now. And FYI? I can't wait to speak to you this weekend, girl! 

These women, and some who I DON'T have a selfie with (this MUST be rectified soon!! You know who you are... shocking behaviour!) are my family. 

They are here through the good times and the bad, cheering me on and supporting me, laughing and crying with joy when Max achieves something new, loving on Zack and how awesome he is... and I feel the same way about them and theirs. 

We are genuinely happy to see each other succeed. 

We are each other's cheerleaders, confidants and partners in crime. 

We are the queens who fix each others' crowns. 


Nightmares and How to Give Your Child Peace of Mind

Solo ParentingMarylin1 Comment

I've been pretty lucky that my boys (11 and 9) haven't suffered too much from nightmares throughout the years. I mean, Max didn't sleep much at all until he was 5.5 and still has sleep issues, but none of these problems are because of nightmares, just him being Wide! Awake! at inappropriate hours of the night. 

However every so often Z has one, and a couple of weeks ago was one of those rare occasions. It was a scary dream in which someone had hurt his little brother Max badly. He was so upset and didn't want to go back to bed in case the nightmare came back. Totally understandable, we've all been there right? I know I have.

I tried to take his mind off it in the usual way, letting him cuddle up with me and watch some cartoons, but he couldn't shift the feeling in his heart of how awful it was, so I realised we needed to bring some confidence back.

I asked him if he noticed that I always try to look at the positives in any given situation. Like ok he'd had a bad dream but he knew that's all it was, he saw Max sleeping peacefully before he came downstairs (it was only about an hour after bedtime) *and* he got to hang out with me downstairs for a bit longer before bed. He still didn't want to go. 

So I started to tell him about how you can actually sway what your dreams will be and how you're going to feel in the morning by thinking about them in a positive light. 

Like if you keep watching the clock as you lie there unable to sleep and say to yourself how awful you're going to feel when you wake up in the morning on not much sleep - guess what? That's how you're gonna feel. 

But after battling with so many difficult nights I've also come to realise that the opposite is also true. If I tell myself as I drift off to sleep that those two hours are going to be the most restful sleep ever and I'm going to wake up with my alarm feeling able to get up and on with my day? It'll happen. That's not to say I won't hit snooze a few times but it does make a marked difference to me. 

We came up with a few words, a mantra if you will, for him to say to himself so he wouldn't worry:

 "Tonight my dreams will be happy and fun, and tomorrow I will remember them with a smile."

I asked him to repeat it with me out loud, in a confident voice a few times, and to say it to himself any time he was starting to worry. 

About 30 minutes later he was fast asleep.

But here's the important bit - the next morning as we were doing our usual rushed morning routine to get ready for school, he started telling me about these cool dreams he'd had about his favourite game characters all hanging out together and on some sort of an adventure, smiling and telling me how cool they were.

I turned to look at him, and reminded him: "You're remembering your fun and happy dreams with a smile!"

He hadn't even thought about it until I mentioned it, came over to give me a huge hug and said thank you. 

So long story short - if your child (or you!) are having bad dreams or stressing about what you're going to do the next day, there are 4 simple steps.

  1. Figure out how you WANT to feel both in your dreams, and/or when you wake up the next morning. 
  2. Make up your own mantra, from "I will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day with a smile", to "I may have been up and down with my baby five times last night, but I still feel able to handle anything today throws at me."
  3. Repeat this at least three times when you go to bed - more if you need to. Use it as a meditation to repeat as you concentrate on your breathing in bed if that's your thing.
  4. Wake up the next morning feeling how you want to feel.

I hope this might help some of you, especially those with kids who suffer from nightmares. It's never fun seeing our kids feeling scared, and this can be a way to give them back a sense of peace and confidence that's absolutely invaluable.

Much love xoxo