Saturday, 17 May 2014

Stress Less Challenge with Aviva and MN Bloggers Week 1

Being a single parent with three children six and under, working 5 days a week and running a house means that I constantly feel stressed and the last seven months I keep telling myself that it will get better but so far it hasn't and some-days I just want to run away and cry so when Mumsnet Bloggers put a call out looking for bloggers who were feeling stressed and wanted help to take the step into a healthier lifestyle, I jumped at the opportunity.

So what did Aviva have to say... "Armed with our  experts ranging from a doctor, nutritionist and rugby coach we want to help you achieve a healthier and less stressed you. We want to give you some truly personalised health tips to try for 2 weeks aiming to commit to at least one for a lifetime. A small change for a big health benefit".

Sounds exactly like what I needed to kick-start the changes that I needed to make so that the household was less stressed and worked better so we can enjoy life instead of feeling so low.

The first step in the challenge was to look at what my life was currently like so Aviva sent out a questionnaire, and explained why I was feeling stressed and that it wasn't always like this, life certainly wasn't as stressful as this when I was with my husband! Life is a one big juggling act and Aviva wanted to look at what family life was like and work commitments and everything else that we do so I gave them a brief run down of a normal week, which goes a bit like this....

Monday - School Run, Toddler Group, Drop youngest off at Grandma's off for the night, School Run then do something fun with big two, Bedtime!
Tuesday - School Run, Work, Collect older two from after school club, mad dash to Grandma's (half n hour drive each way), Oldest at rainbows, Bedtime!
Wednesday - School Run, Work, Collect children from after school and nursery, home to play and then bed
Thursday - School Run, Youngest swimming lesson, Nursery Pick Up, afternoon with two little ones, School Pick Up, Middle child's swimming lesson, home for tea and then bed
Friday - School Run, Work, then after work time to sort all the house out etc as children sleep at their dads)
Saturday - Work, then mad dash to oldest swimming lesson and then pick littlest two up from a friends house, home to bed
Sunday - Work, afternoon family time 

So the daily week is exhausting!  

The next questions were about working life and centred around did how I got to work, did I take regular breaks, what's the best thing about my job.... 

As a swimming teacher taking regular breaks as I am in the pool for up to 4 hours of teaching non stop and its an active job! I do some office work alongside my swimming pool but as I only do this part time and I am in and out of the office there isn't much opportunity to take a proper break and sometimes I can be the only one in the office and the phone rings non-stop! My car journey to work is 30 minutes drive each way and I love to blast the music without any children telling me its too loud or they don't like the song!

They then looked at my lifestyle, I don't drink I don't smoke and I'm active in my role at work but don't do alot outside of work other than school run's. At 5ft 7in and 12st 5lbs I believe I'm classed as overweight but weight hasn't really bothered me but I would like to tone up.

Diet....Erm well my diet consist of convenience food, as someone who doesn't eat breakfast, gets around 1 - 2 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and often skips meals because I'm too tired my diet is certainly not one of the best diets around!

Aviva asked about the local area and what I liked to do locally...the answer is...nothing! Hobbies....none or I suppose blogging and facebook do they count?

Finally did I want to provide Aviva with any other information? I guess the fact that I go to bed once the children are in bed as I'm too exhausted is a factor, some days I go to bed without doing any housework and then the next morning look at the mess and go OMG what am I doing then rush around like a lunatic trying to find clothes for the children, making packed lunch for the kids and constantly shouting come on we are late! I'm guessing that isn't good for the stress levels?

So I filled in all of these questions and sent them off, and the experts at Aviva looked at my responses and this week focused on my Work Life Balance, Well-being and Diet and their tips made a lot of sense. So there tips were....

Here are your tips for Week 1:

Work-life balance from Dr Doug 

“You certainly have a lot going on in your life and focused on the key priorities - your children, work and logistics around them. I'm not surprised you find little energy at the end of the day for chores but they do need doing and that's what's causing you stress. Think of it as exercise and be creative about involving the children, even making it into a game. Plan the chores into manageable tasks. You can even use our chore chart to get you started. Allocate specific days to do things and stick to it for example Monday - washing and ironing, Tuesday - hoovering and so on. Did you know that hoovering for 12 mins burns 50 calories, whilst ironing for 33 minutes burns 100 calories? By setting a routine means that you'll feel more organised (and fitter)!”

Wellbeing from Dr Doug

“Make time for yourself and relax – this allows you to recharge your batteries and increases levels of dopamine. Instead of going to bed at the same time as the children do something you enjoy even if it's having a nice bath to reward yourself after a busy day”. 

Diet from Paddy

“To get extra portions of your 5 a day in, try different vegetarian dishes. Roasted vegetables are a great accompaniment to any meal and cheap to make, just chop up your favourite vegetables, add some seasoning and herbs of your choice and put in the oven until cooked. Try changing the seasoning for added variety”.

So with these tips taking on board I'm starting the kickstart to the new me and will report back to you all next week with what I have used and how it is hopefully improving my lifestyle!


  1. Good luck with the challenge. I hope the tips work for you and provide some balance and release to what sounds like a very hectic life! I too am doing the challenge over on my blog. I'll look forward to reading how you get on.

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