Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Self responsibility

I’m struggling with people not taking responsibility themselves and the impact that it then has in turn on me.

I’ve often fallen into the trap of being too nice, too dependable and as a result people put upon me and I end up with far too much to do. Over the last year I’ve become more assertive and learnt to tell others to sort their own issues out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not turned nasty, I’m just realistic. An example came this week. A colleague emailed me with ‘can you find out the code for xxxx incontinence pad’. As I opened up google it hit me – if I’m capable of searching on google why doesn’t she do it. I stopped and replied with a polite please look for yourself. Maybe I need to add let me google that for you to my email signature.

I’m now caught though in a balancing act – at what point do I help to benefit myself. One of our childcare providers currently isn’t registered with my childcare voucher provider. We first discussed this in July and she said she would register with them. I backed this up in September with the details of the voucher company and still now she hasn’t registered. Our last conversation about it a few weeks ago was along the lines of ‘I don’t understand what to do’. We’d had the same conversation before. I’d explained, as a parent, I do not know what she has to do but I had given her the phone number of the company. If she phoned them I’m sure they would explain it. Now, at a time when a new bill is due she still hasn’t registered.

The frustrating problem is that we are well catered with childcare vouchers. I can easily pay using this. Spare cash instead is not so easy to find at present. I feel strongly that as a person running a business she should be taking responsibility and registering for something she promised months ago. Why should that expectation fall on me as her customer. We’ve now reached the stage where we have decided not to use her for childcare unless the voucher situation is resolved.

The change in childcare arrangements hasn’t been easy. Steven is coping on 5 hours sleep and we’ve just eaten our tea at 10pm. Not ideal and I don’t feel it’s a long term solution to do this each week. I have huge resentment that we are having to do this simply because someone cannot register on a website. There aren’t alternative arrangements that we can use other than working it out between ourselves.

So, am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Do I carry on scraping together cash that I don’t have when I have a very healthy voucher account which has too much money in it? Do I take responsibility for someone’s business when they are a grown adult and just as capable of making a phone call as me?

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Things that I am fed up of

  • Too much work to do
  • My inability to say no and stopping myself taking on to much
  • Having someone’s aggression taken out on me
  • A son who won’t go to bed
  • A son who trashes his room
  • Two children who do not care about their things and leave them broken everywhere
  • Repeatedly telling children to look after things
  • Threatening to put children’s possessions in the bin
  • Not being allowed to respond to unfair comments without being accused of being aggressive myself
  • Being tired
  • Feeling like I could cry too easily
  • Not having a break
  • Lack of family support nearby
  • The fact that my mother in law doesn’t get me
  • Feeling like whatever I do, I cannot make everyone happy and this is all my fault
  • Preferring to be at work than at home
  • Wanting to run away but realistically have no where or no one to go to
  • Trying to lose weight but end up emotionally eating rubbish
  • Having no money
  • Feeling not good enough
  • Sky Sports
  • Being stuck on a treadmill
  • The terrible twos
  • That stupid whistling noise that Steven has started making
  • My brain talking to loudly
  • Doing 14 things at the same time
  • Being treated like a doormat and then being treated like the most unreasonable person on earth when I eventually stand up for myself
  • Being a misery

 

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Managing to say no

One of my aims for this year is to say no more often. I tend to take on too much, worrying what others think or wanting to be as helpful as possible and end up in a mess and feeling resentful because of it.

I’m a typical ISFJ

 

I had a phone call last night regarding the flowers for a funeral that we are going to in a couple of weeks time. An assumption had been made that we would be getting a floral tribute spelling out the name. I was asked if I could order it and co-ordinate with the other family members, letting them know how much they needed to contribute.

We go on holiday in a couple of days and return the day before the funeral. I know that I want everything sorted before we go away so our flowers were ordered and paid for on Friday. I do not think that I have the time (or energy) to ring round the rest of the family to organise their flowers for them.

As for the flowers themselves, and I apologise if this offends anyone, I cannot stand floral letters at funerals. For many years I’ve told Steven that if I die before him and he allows letters at my funeral I will send curses from heaven. Googling to get this picture has also enlightened and horrified me at the cost of them. Also I was told to get ‘Grandad’ but we never called him grandad. That puzzled me more than anything.

 

 

This situation comes back to the resentment that has been building for the last six months. I’m asked to do more and more for the family whilst the rest of the grandchildren remain elusive. In the past when I’ve asked if someone else could help I’m given a list of why their life is busy/complicated/tragic with an assumption that my life is simple and carefree. In total there are seven of us in this specific generation and I seem to be called on to sort the others. All are over the age of 18 and very capable, so why me? My husband is also included in that list. I  frequently have to point out to people outside of the family that I am just an in-law.

So, at the crucial moment last night I managed to say the elusive word – ‘no’.

I politely explained that we’d sorted our flowers and that due to time I could not ring anyone else to help them. I’m not sure how it was received but have decided to not think about that. I know that if I do, the guilt will kick in and I’ll end up going back on my decision. I also refrained from saying how much I hate flowers of that type.

So, I’m sticking firmly to the thought that our flowers are sorted. They will be nicer (and cheaper!) I also know the rest of the family are capable and will sort themselves out without the need for any organisation from me. Our bit is sorted so why lose any sleep over anyone else?

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Clutching at Straws

I feel like I’m really struggling with everything at the moment.

Far too much to do. Things going wrong left right and centre and I’m desperately trying to keep a calm level head in the middle of it all. A couple of people at work are trying to make a drama out of relatively minor things whilst being critical of those who are getting on with life despite difficult challenges being thrown at them. One person in particular loves to take someone else’s crisis and turn it into their own melodrama and she has been on top form this week. I’ve had a very strong desire to just shut myself in my office and hide.

I’m away next week on a fellowship module then on annual leave for the next two weeks. The following week brings another fellowship module. I’m going to be away from work for 4 weeks at a time when several fairly major things are kicking off and need sorting. I’m petrified of what I will return to and I’m risking it over shadowing my holiday. I’m missing team meeting and today wrote out everything that needs to be passed onto the team. The general theme was ‘I asked you to do x, I emailed you about x, I made a crib sheet showing how to do x, we frequently discuss the need to do x at team meeting. X is not being done. What do I have to do to make you do it?’

The desire to scream and then slap people can be quite overpowering at times.

I know I am again being a miserable tired moany person who probably needs a slap herself more than anyone.

So, a sad straw clutching exercise about the positives –

  • Finally replaced the rear bulb in my car after half an hour of swearing. I can now drive at night without the fear of being stopped by the police (Its been out for 3 weeks – I know I’m bad)
  • Took the cat to the vets yesterday for his boosters. This had also been on my list of jobs I didn’t have the energy to sort. He’s going into the cattery in two weeks and my conscience told me I had to get them done now. He had one manky tooth but our vet is very honest and said it wasn’t worth the money to get one tooth done. He’s got to go back in 6 months in the hope that the rest of his teeth are bad enough to justify cleaning them.
  • Got my new phone. I love it. Also feel very sad that I like to read the Guardian in bed at night.
  • Samuel no longer cries when I drop him off at nursery. Since changing nurseries in November he had been hysterical whenever I left him. I found this hard as he’d never cried when I left him at his previous nursery. Even though they told me he was fine within a few minutes of leaving him, it still always unnerved me.  I’m now going to work feeling happier about leaving him.
  • Someone from IT managed to get my VPN log in for my laptop fixed today after two weeks of dithering with service desk and BT.
  • I bought a new handbag from ebay for such a bargain price I feel guilty that I paid too little for it. I felt I was taking a risk but the bag was immaculate.

 

 

  • And most importantly…….13 sleeps until we go on holiday

 

 

 

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January Happiness Project Update

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I’m now halfway through the first month of the Happiness Project. Up until yesterday things had been going well. I’d had two really good weeks where I felt on top of things.  I’ve stuck to three of my resolutions really well but haven’t bothered with the healthy eating. I’ve eaten less rubbish but still not enough of the good stuff. I also haven’t gone to bed early.

Yesterday Steven came home from work early and at 6.30am announced that he hadn’t organised days off for my next fellowship module. When I knew I was going to be away I gave him all the dates I needed him to be off work and at home. This was in November. I’ve asked him more than once if it was all sorted and he told me yes. The next module is in 2 weeks and he hasn’t got any annual leave left. We’d talked about this possibility and we’d decided that Steven would work an extra night one week and take the extra day off another. He’d sorted this arrangement on Friday and told me that I need to take this Thursday off work. I can’t – I have an all day clinic that cannot be rearranged with 4 days notice. I was so angry.

My options were to cancel clinic (not an option) or put Samuel into nursery and Eloise into breakfast club (total cost = £61). When I was offered the fellowship place and saw the amount that I would have to be away from home I nearly turned it down. Steven told me I had to take the place and that we would sort out the childcare issues. Yesterday I felt that it was being left to me to sort out those issues.

Childcare is an issue that constantly rears its head and I get so frustrated that I cannot sort it easily. We do not have a vast amount of family support locally and with Steven working nights I feel I get little sleep.  I resent people who tell me how tough or tiring their lives are when they work far fewer hours than me, have a partner to share the nights with and have a grandparent on tap to take the children for a night just for the hell of it. For Steven and I to get a few hours one evening to just leave the house alone requires such planning or begging for babysitting we generally don’t bother. In the last year we probably went out 4 times alone. A night without the children forget it.

So yesterday I was very miserable and spent most of it shouting. This morning Samuel woke up at 4.30am as he fell out of bed. I spent an hour dealing with a tantrum then just as he had gone back to sleep Eloise and the cat woke up, started making a noise and woke him up again. I accepted defeat at 5.45am and we all came downstairs. I’m miserable, tired and thinking why do I bloody bother. I would just like a break. One night, no children and without the logistical nightmare of organising it or begging for favours here there and everywhere.

So I’m not happy but its only been a two day blip. I’m hoping I can improve things by this afternoon.

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Can nursing be a tick-box exercise?

Nursing made the headlines this week and again it was not for good reasons.

It makes me sad that frequently nursing seems to be at the heart of what is wrong with the NHS. Widespread media reports worry me that nurses, as a profession are portrayed as uncaring and cannot be bothered to actually care for people. As someone who takes pride in their work and tries hard to ensure myself and my team deliver high quality of care, it worries me that these reports imply that we are all this bad. I’m not trying to deny that poor standards exist or say that improvements are not needed.

My trust has a mission statement based on the NHS Constitution.  At a recent trust event we were asked in groups to discuss this mission statement and if it had the correct focus for our organisation. The feeling amongst my group was that it is a tokenistic gesture that doesn’t actually have any relevance for us as practitioners. I was very taken aback by this. The pledges made in the mission statement relate directly to the poor standards of care that are reflected in the frequent reports of public outcry. The discussion group comprised of all professional groups, not just nurses. It left me wondering whose agenda are we working to? As health professionals are we not bothering to take notice of the basics that are fundamentally important to out patients? Have we lost sight of what is important in healthcare?

Combining this attitude with the concern over standards of nursing it made me wonder who is responsible for this? Is it due to a minority of individual nurses who are in the profession for the wrong reasons? I suspect that the problem is far greater than a few people and that the overall problem is partly due to culture than personal attitude. Is nurse education that bad that it does not cover the basics of caring? As someone who was a followed a degree programme for initial registration, I was frequently told by others that I wasn’t interested in nursing, I wanted to be a manager. Their presumptions could not be further from the truth. I’ve watched the diploma v degree debate with interest and am saddened that many nurses view degrees as a bad thing purely on the basis that they believe degree courses are only capable of creating managers. Is there a lack of nurse leadership or representations on trust boards? Staffing issues are nearly always the main excuse for poor care – why are these not addressed more fully? Realistically I feel that all of these factors contribute towards the situations that we regularly find are occurring with the NHS.

As part of my next fellowship module I’ve been reading the report into the Mid Staffordshire enquiry. The report was more interesting than I had expected. It also made me realise the point behind many of the activities we regularly have to carry out at work.  Audit is an example of this. I confess I find regular audits at work a bind and a pain to complete. The  report made me consider what potentially could happen in the absence of an audit structure. At Mid Staffordshire audits were not carried out. The trust relied entirely on external inspections and did not monitor standards in between these visits.

This week at work I started regular group clinical supervision sessions for the team. Prior to this we had not formally completed clinical supervision but it is required by our trust in a new policy. Yesterday we mentioned to a visiting rep about our session that day and she sighed and said ‘Oh, another tick you have to put in a box for the sake of it.’ This made me wonder – is this reducing nursing to a tick-box exercise? Again, viewing this in the context of Mid Staffordshire, what would the alternative be in the absence of clinical supervision?

Whilst audit and supervision may seem like a pain at the time, their purpose is ultimately important. I’m lucky to work in a good team where we are open, able to raise issues and safely challenge or seek help when a problem arises. If a work culture is not that supportive though, the importance and value such activities would increase. Staff, and more importantly patients, need a mechanism that regularly ensures standards are acceptable and improved upon. Professionals need a forum where they can raise concerns rather than accepting them and becoming caught up in a culture of poor care.

David Cameron’s answer to poor nursing care this week was an hourly ward round carried out my nurses to ensure standards. I’m not convinced that this is the answer. I feel nurses will view it as yet another box to tick without considering its purpose. I feel it would be more beneficial to explain the reasons behind completing audits rather than adding more forms to the pile.

I do feel nursing has lost sight of what is important to our patients. The basic rights discussed in the NHS Constitution may seem trivial to professionals but are fundamental to those we care for. Until that difference in perspective is acknowledged the complaints will continue.

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Impaled on a drama triangle

Still awake far too late and have too many stressy thoughts rambling through my head. I need to get them all out!

We’ve had a difficult couple of months and any attempts to resolve it have gone wrong. Its all down to my dysfunctional in laws. Coming from a very normal family I find it hard to get my head round their behaviour.

Steven’s Grandma has moved into a residential home because of her dementia. Since moving in there a month ago, Steven’s Grandad has had major depression and has now gone into a care home temporarily himself. Their two daughters do not live locally so it is only Steven and his sister who are around (oh, and my 22 year old brother in law who everyone still thinks is 14 so is never treated the age that he actually is).

So far, Steven and I feel we have taken far more than our fair share of the care for them. This week we have:

  • Done his Grandad’s washing
  • Spoken to their solicitor and supplied information they needed
  • Arranged to attend a care review meeting for Grandma
  • Collected photos from home and taken them to Grandma (I made this suggestion to the rest of the family when she moved in there but I was talked down)
  • Been to check on their house, cleared the fridge, sorted the post
  • Attended a GP appointment with his Grandad
  •  Visited them 5 times in addition to the above
In all of this chaos where was my SIL?

This evening I was speaking to my MIL. She asked if we had a problem with my SIL. I decided it was easier to say nothing than lie or be honest. She read into my silence so pushed me on it. I very calmly told her that we are struggling and we feel we have no support from SIL. I said that recently when we have asked for help I have been told that things are very difficult  for her as she has two children.  I find this upsetting as my in laws appear to not notice that we also have two children. We both work (my SIL doesn’t) and we have very little family support locally (my SIL has a MIL who regularly takes her children for the weekend when they want a break).

I am so frustrated that  I want to scream. She is CONSTANTLY defended and her behaviour justified. Tonight I was made out to be the bad person. Admitting my feelings meant I was accused of creating an argument.  At times I know I am a door mat. I keep quiet and let people dump on me just to keep the peace. Situations like this occur and I understand why I rarely be honest when I feel people are taking advantage of me.

It was left that I need to communicate more with my SIL (she’s just as capable of using a phone). I was repeatedly told that we ‘all need to pull together and do our fair share of looking after them‘. I told her I know we are doing our fair share but not everyone else in this family is (this was interpreted as a dig at MIL – for once it wasn’t).  A few weeks ago I rang SIL to ask her to ring me as I was concerned and things needed sorting. Two messages, no response. At the time I told MIL about this. 5 minutes later the phone rings ‘YOU WANTED ME?’ She didn’t even say hello. Why bother to chase her when that’s the response that you get?

MIL and SIL have a relationship that I feel is explained beautifully by Karpman’s drama triangle. I heard about this a few years ago and it helped me make so much sense of their behaviour –

In every problem there are 3 roles and the drama triangle explains those roles. MIL and SIL have a strong buddy system. Currently MIL is the rescuer, SIL is the victim (they like to swap roles now and again) and because Steven and I have an opinion we are the persecutors. MIL defends her to the death. When SIL has upset us, MIL will defend her or just say ‘I’m not getting involved, sort it out yourselves‘. Turn the tables, there is a suggestion that Steven has upset his sister, he gets a phone call with a ‘how dare you treat your sister like that‘ tact.

Its been like this for years. One day I will learn to stop letting it bother me. Steven estimates it’ll take about 15 years for me to get to that point. Only 4 to go then. Part of me is really tempted to swear at them all and then go awol and do nothing to help. The human part of me struggles – I wouldn’t leave his grandparents in the lurch like that.

So, a self indulgent moany wingey post that will hopefully help me sleep. I may just lie and concoct a plan of nonchalant indifference.

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Struggling to be a yummy mummy

I’m now two weeks into my reduced hours. Life still feels just as hectic with Eloise being on half days at school and my days off have felt busier than a normal work day. As usual I’m hoping that life will calm down soon and things will settle into a better routine (but I accept this is unlikely to happen).

So for the first time I am having regular contact with other parents with dropping off and picking up at school and taking Eloise to her ballet lessons. I thought I would enjoy this company and to be honest I’ve been shocked by how foreign it all feels.

It seems to be one big competition. Was motherhood always meant to be competitive? I knew this kind of thing happened around pregnancy and the early months but I thought the novelty would have worn off by now. I’ve sat and listened to conversations where mothers try and out do each other through their children – I wonder if the teachers are aware the power that a sticker given out at school holds on the walk home?!

One conversation complained that a teacher had found a child to be rude.  How dare a teacher say that about their perfect child? I sit there very quietly and mentally saying ‘get a grip’.  Some seem to have massive concerns over their child’s behaviour and attitude at school without considering that it has been their responsibility for the last 4 or more years so why had you not tackled it before now?

The whole thing feels very insular and self contained without thinking that there are more important things out there to worry about. I do consider how Eloise is getting on at school and worry about it. She is happy though – that is my ultimate priority. I’m not going work myself into a frenzy if she doesn’t come home with a sticker or brings a book that seems a little on the babyish side. I know she is bright, confident and well behaved. I don’t need the reassurances of others to tell me that.

I had plans to go to lots of toddler groups with Samuel. Those are on hold for the time being unless I find some normal people to talk to in the meantime!

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Martyr Complex in the NHS

Had a difficult few days at work. Nothing major, just frustration at other people and the work they create for you. I feel people are doing a poor job and then blaming us when we question that poor job.

One staff group where I work has a bit of a martyr complex. Whenever you speak to them you are given a sob story about how awful things are for them and how they can’t possibly do what you are asking.

I’ve defended these people for a long time and been as sympathetic and helpful as I can be. Sadly, my sympathy ran out yesterday so today my fightback started. I realised that I have worked in a department that has been understaffed for 3 years. Despite this we have improved standards of care and proactively worked to make things better. At no point have we sat back, admitted that we did a poor job and then refused to take any responsibility. It’s happening on a daily basis and I’m bored of excuses. It is also a common attitude – not just limited to a few people.

The trigger yesterday was a letter from a healthcare professional within this group of staff. A family had been let down by poor care and communication and we were blamed for part of this. A quick search through our records indicated that whenever we were involved our response had been timely and appropriate. I was really angry that my team were being blamed for doing absolutely nothing wrong.  I spoke to the person concerned and pointed out that I felt this was unfair. The response was ‘oh’.

How on earth do you get a message across to a large number of people that things are just as bad for other people? I sadly think that many nurses are socialised into believing that things are bad, will never improve so you may as well give up. My biggest complaint with this is that they use this as an excuse for delivering sloppy care.

Things have moved on in the NHS. The changes that we made were taken by our team on our own initiative. We knew that we had to adapt to survive and I think we did a really good job at it. Our latest satisfaction survey had 100% positive response to overall happiness with our service.  This is despite the fact that we are staffed at 50% of the nationally recommended levels. I’m not saying that we are perfect – we take criticism and improve things.

I do not understand how they expect things to improve if they spend all their time sitting feeling sorry for themselves and taking every suggestion for improvement as an insult and a threat.

 

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And the miserable mood continues…

So I was in a bad mood yesterday.

This morning we were woken by our neighbour at 7am who said we needed to have a look at our garage.

Steven’s scooter has been stolen and our garage door wrecked in the process.  Its the second time his bike has been stolen (last time was outside of work) so we know the hassle and inconvenience that this means. Its not the end of the world but just something we could do without thank you very much.

So far so good with the insurance. Someone has been out to secure the door and a new door will be fitted next week. The door was knackered and we needed a new one so this cloud does have a bit of silver lining.

The police have been but no sign of the bike. Last time it was found in a park having been joyridden by a group of kids. We’re guessing the same has happened again and if it is found it is likely to be a write off. Steven is clinging onto the hope that he will get a new bike out of it.

I was contacted by nursery today. They agree that their policy is unclear and that the way it is currently written gives the potential for me to interpret it as I did. As a result they are re-writing the policy. Whilst they understand my point of view, they are adamant that the minimum attendance should be across two days so they cannot accept my request.  The policy does have a clause for exceptional circumstances which they feel is met by his health issues.  As a compromise, they will continue to have Samuel for one day a week until he is due to change rooms in November. They feel that the transfer to another room will be unsettling and then the one day a week will become an issue.  I was told that they are not necessarily refusing to continue that arrangement but they strongly feel it will not be appropriate.  It was suggested that having a secure arrangement until November would give me time to make alternative arrangements if I needed to.

I spoke to Steven who is adamant we remove him from nursery on principle. He’s irritated me as it seems so black and white to him and an easy decision to make.  I’m the one who is looking for a new nursery with heavy heart and I really really do not want to move Samuel to another one.  His happiness is more important to me than my principles. Steven is not agreeing with this position.

I have some ideas and potential solutions so will mull this over at the weekend and hope I wake up with a decision that feels alright to both my heart and my head.

On top of this I have a urine infection. It’s my usual sign that I’m run down. Despite drinking three litres at work today it seemed to be getting worse so I admitted defeat and went to the doctors on the way home. I’m putting my faith in a box of trimethoprim that I have a better weekend. Also sick of cranberry juice already.

 

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