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A Mother’s Work Meme

8 Apr

I saw this post on Mummy Pink Wellies and thought I’d weigh in. Here goes…

A Mother’s Work Meme

Rules:
Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on mother.wife.me so we can keep track of the meme
Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a hashtag – #amothersworkmeme)

Questions:
1.  Did you work before becoming a mum?
2.  What is your current situation?
3.  Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s your chance…

And, most importantly…. you’re tagged!! If you read this and agree or disagree, please join in.

1. I was a chartered certified accountant. I had been in the process of starting up my own one-woman practice, but had fallen into the lucky situation of having one client who provided enough work to keep me busy full-time. When they found they could no longer use me, I looked into going back to employed work, but when I fell pregnant, I realised that I didn’t want to use child care full-time. My dad needed some help with customer services and product research in his company, and offered to provide me with enough hours to keep me busy while I built my business.

I struggled immensely to find clients, due to my complete inexperience in that side of the business, and began to work full-time with Dad, particularly after two key staff members left in February last year.

2. Working with Dad fit really well into our lives – I could answer queries while hooked up to a breast pump in the middle of the night, and despite my fear of the “boss’s daughter” tag, I started to feel like I was really contributing to and becoming a valuable member of the company. I’m still a bit embarrassed when I tell people that I work for my dad, but I feel that spurs me on to work harder to prove myself.

I work about 30 hours per week. Barnaby is at nursery for eleven hours per week and naps for about three to four hours per day. I can also work in the evenings and more at weekends when Patrick is home to help. I realise that I will need to cut this down as and when Barnaby needs less sleep and moves around more!

3. Katherine makes a great point about the “what do you do all day?” comments. I keep a timesheet, because I’m weird like that, and I regularly do a 50 hour week including work, housework, feeding, changing, reading to Barnaby, walking the dog and attending baby-specific classes and appointments. I am sure that plenty of mothers attend more classes and toddler groups than I do, and absolutely certainly do more housework. The only way people have time to watch Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women is if they’re as rubbish as I am at housework, or if they’re not spending much face-to-face time with their children.

For me, there are two big bugbears in the world of mothers and work.

One is that we need to acknowledge that, for most careers, taking a year or more out is going to slow us down. We need to research and make our choices; recognise the real-life implications and stand up for ourselves if we genuinely feel that an injustice has taken place. If I tried to return to accountancy, having missed out on a year’s practical experience and ongoing professional development, I would have to accept a frozen/lower salary until I had proven that I caught up. That’s not a Four Yorkshiremen statement, that just seems fair to me.

Excellent childcare is available from a very early age, so it’s not essential to take full maternity leave, unless being the main provider of childcare to your child is something you want and choose to do. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of mean-spirited people out there in the mummy blog world who have written about how wrong, uncaring and unnatural mothers who send their children to nursery are, and the damage they’re doing to their children, completely disregarding that, throughout history, childcare has been a communal activity. It takes a village to raise a child, after all. To imply that a child can only be raised well if the mother is the main childcare provider during the working week is not only insulting to working mothers, but to the loving and dedicated childcare workers who provide the service.

The second point is that we need to bring more flexible working into the system. Many jobs can be done from home, or with flexible hours, but it just doesn’t happen – especially in lower-paid roles. Too many bosses seem paranoid that their staff will not work unless properly supervised, but that seems like crazy logic to me. Why hire somebody you cannot trust? Why not work toward improving company loyalty? We need to move towards a working world in which parents and non-parents have equal opportunities to achieve a work/life balance.

I’m afraid I’ll have to break a rule, as I honestly don’t know who to tag, but if you’re reading this, then please consider yourself tagged! I’d be interested to hear opinions of parents and non-parents alike.

In Which Becca Discusses Boobs, Again

18 Dec

Breastfeeding – it’s a contentious topic, and rarely boils down to a simple choice of “breast or bottle?”. It’s an issue that can attract sneers; ultimate female bonding; and a good deal of humour. Here’s how it happened for us.

After Barney was born, I was just desperate to take him home, but needed to show that I could feed before I was allowed. The nurses just force your nipple into the baby’s mouth – a great way to encourage nipple rejection, but not particularly effective in encouraging feeding. Unfortunately, it seems to be a side effect of the government’s targets to increase the number of breastfed babies. Hmm… Someone needs to tell them about that!

Despite pursing his lips most of the time, he managed to get a 20 minute feed, and I manually expressed some milk and fed it to him using a syringe. We were free!

The first night, he was so quiet – we just figured he was exhausted from the ordeal of labour. We fed him small syringes of manually expressed colostrum and thought things were going fine. Then the midwife showed up for her surprise, unannounced check-up.

Unfortunately, my usual midwife had gone on holiday and the other one in the area came along. I’m sure that she’s a perfectly nice person, but I will always associate her with this time. She said that he was malnourished and dehydrated, and that the oh-so-cute hand shaking thing he was doing was actually a sign of low blood sugar.

Fuck. Talk about a punch in the throat. There are thousands of people who really shouldn’t have children, but who do. We became those people. We had failed to look after our baby. She said that if we didn’t get his weight up by the end of the week, he’d have to be readmitted. I felt so awful. We ended up heading to Tesco (eek!) to buy formula (double eek!). We broke out the bottles we had bought “just in case” and he started to feed like a dream. Poor, dear, hungry little boy. Thank God, by Friday he was just about in the safe weight zone.

I began pumping with the occasional-use electric Medela pump we had inherited from Patrick’s cousin’s wife, and feeding him using the bottle. I don’t remember very much about the frequency of my attempts at feeding, but every time I tried, he would either purse his lips and turn his head away or take it in his mouth and cause blinding pain from not being latched on correctly. I called the breastfeeding consultant from our antenatal classes, and the phrase “chocolate teapot” truly made sense to me. I almost feel like you shouldn’t be permitted to do that job unless you have been through some kind of personal connection to feeding issues. I felt like she had breastfed her own children perfectly easily, and then just taken a course on the issues. She wasn’t able to offer any advice except “keep trying”.

The breastpump simply wasn’t adequate for full time, and the morning after falling asleep while pumping and spilling milk all over one of the motors, I called my Dad. He had been waiting to hear what “new parent” gift to buy, and was slightly bemused but glad to learn that a good quality, daily-use breast pump would be extremely gratefully received. It certainly made the process more comfortable and efficient. I even treated myself to a Pumpease bra, so that I could easily work, do laundry, etc while pumping.

His feeding wasn’t perfect, and I still longed to breastfeed. The more I read and heard about tongue ties, the more it seemed to me that that was the problem. He dribbled his milk excessively from the bottle, he chewed me to pieces, and he suffered from trapped wind. I told the midwife, who said that she’d refer me to the tongue tie specialist. Nothing happened. I spoke to the doctor – still nothing. I attended the health visitor clinic in tears and she phoned the specialist then and there – he was seen the next day. This was early August by the time I was able to get the help I needed. The doctor was brilliant – the process was quick and easy – and like so many medical professionals I have spoken to, expressed her dismay at the bad science thrown around with regard to breastfeeding. She particularly noted that beyond the colostrum stage, there was very little additional benefit to the baby from breastfeeding, and that most of the statistics ignored the correlating factors that influence a person’s health, like parents smoking, later parenting choices and the baby being born with illnesses.

He latched on almost immediately after the procedure! It was incredible – I felt so happy and proud. Unfortunately, an ulcer formed on the snip site, and he began to chew my nipples again.

A few weeks after his tongue tie was snipped, I felt a blocked duct in the other breast. I began expressing religiously in order to clear it. I wound up with something pretty hideous – a nipple blister. It was truly one of those “how spectacular and yet gross is the human body?” moments. Thankfully, the qualities of breastmilk are such that anything awful that happens to your nipples heals itself pretty darn quickly.

We made the decision around this point that I would stop expressing. Barney had had only breast milk for the first three months of his life (except for those first days), and the time that I spent hooked up to a machine was time that I wasn’t cuddling and playing with him. We decided that I could be a “better mother” by feeding him formula and giving him those extra four hours a day of attention, face to face.

The lump didn’t shift. I was on the lookout for the next symptoms of mastitis – flu symptoms – but they didn’t come. I saw a nurse, who didn’t check me over, but gave me a course of antibiotics. Halfway through the course, Barney started latching on and feeding properly! It was a dream come true, but every time he punched me in the boob, I was in agony. A Friday night Google search led me to a site that compared blocked ducts, mastitis and breast abscesses, and all the detail pointed to the latter. We made the decision to go to A&E.

We were early enough to beat the Friday night drunks, so we were seen quickly. The doctor was blasé. He said that it was definitely an abscess, and that he would book me into see the surgical assessment team on Monday. He said that it would possibly burst, but that I could manage it with gauzes and dressings that he would give me to take away. I asked about scarring, and he said “well, none of us are going to be wearing bikinis any time soon”. In my hospital-induced befuddlement, I just took that. A more together me would have been furious! What right does he have to decide who needs to avoid scarring and who doesn’t? He then went to speak to the registrar, who told him to aspirate the abscess.

That was the single most painful experience of my life. I can only compare it to having an enormous, deep and painful spot being squeezed. I told Patrick not to look – I hated the idea of him seeing something so repulsive happening to his wife’s body! He didn’t listen, but thankfully as a proper grown-up, he can handle such things. I married extremely well.

I was then bandaged up and sent home until Monday. Over the weekend, it had refilled, and I saw someone at the emergency clinic. Unfortunately, he was a doctor, so he wasn’t particularly interested in cleaning me up or replacing my dressings. He reluctantly provided me with the things I needed, and just sat there as I changed them myself. I made what I now feel to be an error, and used an alcohol swab to clean the wound. More agony. I was thinking “disinfect”, when what I probably did was kill off more skin cells.

On Monday, I was taken to the breast centre, which is the most efficiently- and thoughtfully-run department I have ever encountered. They performed a scan to identify the depth of the abscess, and learnt that it was dumbbell-shaped – a pocket at the surface linked to a larger pocket of infection underneath. Because of this, it was necessary to operate under general anaesthetic to remove the abscess. The surgeon was female – I don’t know if that made a difference, but there was more of an understanding for my desire to preserve some aesthetic than there had been with the A&E doctor. It certainly shouldn’t be that way, but it was.

I stayed overnight, expressing to ensure that no further blockages arose. The wound, which was stitched up, opened. I haven’t encountered anything more scary than seeing a dark, open hole in my body. I am not a beautiful girl; certainly not bikini-ready, but the idea of looking like someone who has had botched plastic surgery was so upsetting. Once again, the breast clinic staff were incredible. The were reassuring and comforting, and I was referred to a tissue viability specialist, who confirmed that the cellulitis that had caused the surface damage was now clear. She worked out a programme involving surgical-grade honey and seaweed packing – and leaving the wound open – to try and minimise the damage. The reason that they left the wound open was so that any remnants of the infection (which had been thoroughly removed underneath) could get out. Apparently, this results in a smoother scar, while full closure could result in rippling of the stitch line. They also told me that I could come back to see a plastic surgeon if I felt unhappy with the scar.

My milk production had been hit hard by being ill and stressed – and, I should imagine, a section of breast tissue having died. I gradually began a process of building it up again. I couldn’t bear to go back to expressing. It wasn’t awful while I did it, but once I stopped, it became awful, if that makes sense.

Kellymom and just about every breastfeeding resource provides a good deal of advice on how to boost your supply. Pumping between feeds is one of them – something we had already decided was not beneficial to the family. Feeding regularly is another – this was something I was able to do during the day, but as Barney had started sleeping through the night from that Friday in A&E, it seemed absurd to wake him for a feed that had now seemed to become all about me and nothing about him.

Not supplementing with formula is a big rule of theirs. I will never understand how anyone who has tried this can – in their right non-prolactin-addled mind – recommend it. A hungry, crying baby is a soul-destroying thing, and to deny a baby food (yes, he’s at the breast, but nothing is coming out) just does not make sense, for the baby or for the rest of the family.

Over the course of a few weeks, I managed to get to the stage where I was feeding myself for 6/7 of the 8 feeds he had a day. I felt so proud – I was winning! – but I was exhausted. He was waking up two or three times in the night because he just wasn’t getting enough food during the day. He began to get more interested in his surroundings than feeding. The experts recommend feeding in a quiet space, but he seemed to be distracted by me more than anything. Some feeds would go “suck suck suck… Smile for ten seconds” on repeat. That was absolutely heart-melting, but not good for feeding. He would be hungry again thirty minutes later, but my boobs had been given the “no thanks, no milk needed here!” message and began to slow down.

It was at this stage I had a hormone-related brain fart. I convinced myself that I had just let pumping slip. I literally could not remember the reasons why we’d decided that I should stop! I became convinced that I was just lazy, that I couldn’t be bothered, and that my baby was going to die of cot death or some other formula-related risk, all because I was a shit mother.

I expressed my self-disgust at being so lazy to Patrick. He was flabbergasted! “Do you honestly not remember? We discussed it at length – we decided that him moving onto formula was the best thing so that you could spend more time with him! It was only after you discovered that he was latching on that you decided to try the breast again!” Oh. Right.

So, there we are. As of now, he is getting one breast feed in the mornings, and a couple in the day if the need arises – I’m engorged; he’s upset and needs comfort, etc. I know that this will result in my milk drying up, and I’m not quite ok with it. I don’t know if that’s because of the hormonal effect, or if it’s my crazy tendency to take mean things that people say online to heart, but I still feel like something has been stolen from me, or that I have thrown something away. I tried to explain it to Patrick – it’s like a vasectomy. I may know that it makes sense, but something important is gone, and once it’s gone, it won’t come back.

Essentially, my six-month-old son has had three months of pure breastmilk (minus days three to five). He had one and a half further months of 75% breastmilk. After that, he had at least two breastfeeds each day. By most people’s standards and the government’s tick-boxes, that’s a breastfed baby, and I believe that our care and attention have and will continue to minimise the risks that are associated with not being breastfed.

The majority of studies will agree with this – I am yet to see one that concludes that the “risks of formula feeding” (a misleading phrase used by every pro-breastfeeding website) are directly attributable to what is being fed. Most acknowledge that correlation does not mean causation, but every single pro-breastfeeding site still uses the statistics as if breastfeeding is some magical elixir that is solely responsible for the reduced incidences of SIDS, diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders and obesity that breastfed babies encounter.

I hope to exclusively breastfeed any future children we might be lucky enough to have. I also hope to spread the word that just because something is natural does not mean that it is easy, and that you have to fight and stomp your feet to get the help that you need if you wish to continue. I support the work of the awesome community at Fearless Formula Feeder, who are all about helping families work out the best way to feed their babies. All any parent really wants is happy, healthy children, and it’s important that they are given the adequate support to try and make that happen.

Tina Fey – Feminist Icon? It’s A Matter of Taste

1 Apr

This article popped up on my twitter feed a few days ago, retweeted by the lovely ladies at Stuff Mom Never Told You. The book that I think the writer is trying to promote is not something that I would have rushed to buy anyway, but Katie Roiphe has only succeeded in further putting me off Tina Fey’s work.

She refers to a comment from what she bizarrely describes as an “anonymous (and possibly fictional) crackpot”, stating “[I]n my opinion Tina Fey completely ruined SNL. The only reason she is celebrated is because she’s a woman and an outspoken liberal. She has not a single funny bone in her body.”

Why the commenter is believed to be fictional and/or a crackpot are both mysteries to me. Roiphe’s notion that someone who does not enjoy Fey’s brand of humour simply must be either imaginary or insane is completely at odds with the next quote she chooses to use, stating that it’s arrogant to assume that just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that it’s not good.

Let’s take a step back to the real world. Criticising anything relating to taste is always going to be a tricky area. My husband and the rest of the world hail John Lennon as a genius, and Cirque du Soleil is immensely popular; I genuinely believe that LOVE will be played in hell. I can wax lyrical about the excellent and thoughtful writing in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; my Dad would berate me for the “trash TV” I was watching.

We are inherently lazy, and our response is generally “I like therefore good” or “I dislike therefore bad”. If we met the subject of our criticism in person, we’d probably either lie, or say “it’s not really my thing”. The internet allows us to dispense with niceties and just be as mean to each other as we like. Rather than acknowledge these facts, Fey chose to build the biggest straw person she could muster and turn it into a bad feminist rant:

“Huzzah for the Truth Teller! Women in this country have been over-celebrated for too long. Just last night there was a story on my local news about a ‘missing girl’ … and I thought, “What is this, the News for Chicks?” Then there was some story about Hillary Clinton flying to some country because she’s secretary of state. Why do we keep talking about these dumdums? We are a society that constantly celebrates no one but women and it must stop!”

Wait a minute, what? Let me reread the comment. Did he say anything that would suggest he thought women’s issues were irrelevant, or that women shouldn’t feature in mainstream media or be celebrated? Um, nope. “Responding to a situation with humor”, as Roiphe puts it, can be an effective tool. This is not that – this is schoolyard bully tactics; this is the scene in Mean Girls (see what I did there?) when Cady, accused of considering herself pretty, is stumped and thinking “that’s just not what I said”.

When my sister first learnt about racism at school, she was about 9 or 10. She came home, fixated upon how being a racist would be the worst possible thing in the world, and determined never to be one. Every single non-white woman on TV or in magazines would be “so beautiful”, even if she occasionally noticed one who, well, wasn’t. This example is cute and silly and harmless, but you don’t have to look far to see the “I’m not bigoted, see!” behaviour and positive discrimination around us today.

From the constant need to refer to “female director” Kathryn Bigelow (look! A woman! Directing!), to the South African rugby team that has to be completely reshuffled if there’s an injury, it’s here and in both legal form and social norms. Obama will always be the first “black” president, and many people who criticise him are quickly denounced as racist.

The idea that Fey, as a woman, has been adopted by “I’m not sexist, see!” types is not one that’s far-fetched. Her inoffensive attractiveness endear her to those who find Chelsea Handler too sexy and crude, or Rosie O’Donnell too fat and angry. Men can use liking her as a great pulling technique – it’s the comedian equivalent of picking Miranda as your favourite Sex and the City girl.

We don’t get SNL here, or if we do, I haven’t been able to find it on any of the channels I have. The best we can hope for is finding random bits of sketches on YouTube. The Sarah Palin sketch was reasonable, but Mama Grizzly herself really deserves most of the credit for providing the material. The Lonely Island sketches are hilarious, but are nothing to do with Fey, and if taken with a truckload of salt, some of the celebrity appearances can be amusing.

I had the misfortune of watching Baby Mama on a plane, having heard wonderful things about Fey’s work. She cannot be blamed for the writing, but the decision to indulge such a lacklustre project, in which all female characters are either humourless shrews or amoral dimwits, was not that of a comic genius.

I honestly thought that Mean Girls was written by a man – someone who had a few memories of how girls behaved when he was in high school and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it out into a screenplay. He might have consulted a sister or distant cousin, but the gaps between the insightful moments are too wide. And, speaking of too wide, the promotion of the myth that tampon and vagina size are related is not the work of a feminist, but an ill-informed, irresponsible moron who has probably caused half a generation of girls to have to change their tampon after every lesson for fear of someone judging their tampon choices. Casting La Lohan and the magnetic, charming and captivating Rachel McAdams together would guarantee box office success even if they were reading a legal document out loud.

30 Rock just hasn’t been successful here. It might just be that a lot of the in-jokes about regional accents and SNL itself don’t translate well across the pond, but we manage to understand and enjoy the majority of American sit-coms that are shown here. I have given it a go, but found the humour brash and clumsy, relying heavily on one-dimensional caricatures of race and gender. A confused Tina Fey stands at the centre, dealing with stereotypical older women’s issues – watchable, but not exactly trailblazing.

So, let’s appreciate Tina Fey for who she is – a comedian and writer. Not the new Germaine Greer, who, incidentally, is an extremely funny lady.

The Thing About Andy Gray, Sexism and Feminism

28 Jan

Well, two things, actually.

For those unfamiliar, this man has been sacked for such activity as this:

1. Hatred vs Banter

What the hell is all this talk of banter? The majority of the people I socialise with are rugby boys – I know banter. Banter is what the other, extremely awkward man is attempting. The look on Andy Gray’s face is what one would expect if he had heard that the linesman was a child molester, or mass murderer. On this occasion, he wasn’t going “oh those girls – what do they know about football?” he was actually disgusted. I’m not sure exactly what it is we, as a gender, have done to him to incite such disgust, but it sends a shiver down my spine.

A man who cannot – even in his workplace – control his hatred for a group of people based on something they did not choose to be has no place on our screens.

2. Loose Women

I knew that by the time my dear old Dad came out with “but what about Loose Women?”, that argument had reached bandwagon proportions. This response to the Andy Gray situation has appeared in every pub, comment thread and Twitter feed across the country. Loose Women is a daytime talk show, hosted by a (I don’t have a collective noun for this – coven just seems insulting to our Wiccan sisters) of horrible, screechy women.

You know when you meet someone for the first time, and they say “I’m like Marmite – you either love me or you hate me”; and you know that the majority of people hate them? The kind of person who says “I can say what I like – it’s a free country!” and is unable to back up any criticism they make with reasoning or rationale. The epitome of empty vessels making the most sound. Someone gathered together the worst collection of occasional tv presenters, former actors and wives of famous people and turned a camera on.

My opinion on the has-been entertainers of daytime TV is irrelevant. The banter rules apply here, but it’s still not necessarily a good thing.

The thing that concerns me is when banter and genuine prejudice get blurred. When I hear a friend ask “why do women have small feet?” and I know the answer is “to stand closer to the kitchen sink”, I know it’s a joke – I know that they don’t really expect women to do any more than their fair share of the housework. However, anti-male sexist comments seem to be taken much more seriously than that.

We’ve heard so many jokes about the refusal to stop for directions or read manuals. On television shows and adverts, men have a terrible reputation when it comes to housework, leaving dirty socks around the bedroom, and rolling over and snoring immediately after sex.

Stereotypes are used for comic effect, especially by lazy writers, but they seem to have seeped into our consciousness. I read a forum post recently, in which a woman essentially said that men aren’t capable of being caring. There seems to be an acceptance that “men are… [insert negative quality here]” and that you shouldn’t expect any different. It doesn’t matter if you’d rather your partner didn’t watch porn/visit strip clubs/cheat, because that’s just something men do. Talk radio callers scoff at the concept of paternity leave – real men should have no interest in being around their children! That’s not just insulting to men – it’s damaging to women. After all, you-must-not-end-up-alone + that’s-just-how-men-are = no good for anybody.

Wedding forums such as Hitched and Confetti were a big eye-opener on this subject. I’m not even thinking about the cliché of the marriage that ends before the wedding debts are paid off, but the number of people planning modest weddings despite desperately unhappy relationships was truly saddening. I know that outsiders will never understand exactly what is going on inside a relationship; and we often only hear the worst; but examples of ongoing infidelity, verbal and emotional abuse, and complete breakdown of communication were common.

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t hold Loose Women remotely responsible for the high divorce rates. It’s more of a symptom of the much wider problems of this battle of the sexes that ought to have been over long before now, and this misguided use of sexism as a form of feminism. The answer to inequality is not further inequality. The answer to objectification of women is not to leer and grope at men. The answer to the negative effects of beauty magazines on young girls is not to stick posters of headless six-packs at every bus stop.

Question: What do you think constitutes harmless banter? What does feminism mean to you?

City Life Or Country Life?

14 Jul

With enormous thanks to Melissa Nibbles: City Life Or Country Life?

So, I started to write this in Melissa’s comment box but rambled on for so long that I thought I’d just write a post of my very own! I was drawn over to her blog after a shockingly risqué comment she made over on Healthy Living With Kelly made me laugh out loud!

Melissa sees both sides of the coin, but is more inclined to believe that city living is easier to do more healthily.

Interesting! In the UK, I’d say that it’s very different – it’s much easier to stay healthy in the countryside.

Yeah, we don’t have the supercool Wholefoods-type places, but that’s because there’s a farm shop just down the road that has always been organic, even before it was trendy. We don’t have to inhale car exhaust fumes *or* jump in the hedge, because there are footpaths and bridlepaths that we may follow. I can go out running by myself, because there isn’t a gang of hoody-wearing “yoofs” on every corner, making me feel unsafe.

Cycling becomes a pleasure rather than a chore, because the disused railway lines across the country are slowly being turned into scenic cyclepaths. Smaller communities mean that things like recreational sports teams are more common – nothing motivates my beloved quite like training with his rugby pals twice a week. In London, they didn’t have that cameraderie, so if he just ditched to stay home and watch tv, or his fitness levels weren’t as good as they should be, nobody really cared. Now, he runs of his own accord, because he doesn’t want to let the team down.

In the city, the work ethic is much more “macho” – staying as late as possible and boasting about how many hours one works. In the countryside, people just get the job done and we’re home by 6 – plenty of time to be active and cook meals from scratch. Stress levels are lower because of this improved work-life balance. You are more likely to keep a pet – proven to be a great stress-reliver.

The best thing for my health about living in the countryside? Domino’s Pizza don’t deliver; and it’s more effort to have after-work beers. Honestly – such a blessing.

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