Talking About Death With A Four-Year-Old.


“I’ll always be able to count on you, won’t I mummy?” Freya asked.

We were sat at the dining table where she was drawing before dinner.

“Of course. Always.” I answered, gently rubbing her back. She looked up from her work and smiled sweetly. What a lovely mother/daughter moment.

“Not when you’re dead,” she added.

I didn’t even flinch. “Well, no, maybe not then.”

I’m getting used to having my hopefully not impending demise thrust in my face. It’s like some sort of hardcore therapy.

As an older mum, dying before she’s grown is a background worry. It was one of those things that used to keep me awake at night when I was pregnant and a billion hormones were racing around my body causing havoc. What if I’m not there when she’s a teenager; when she goes to uni; when she goes off backpacking (and I can’t go with her); when she gets married? Maybe younger mums worry about that sort of thing too? Maybe having children makes you think more about your own mortality?

People, young and old, die everyday. I figured there was no point in thinking about something I largely have no control over. So I didn’t. Or at least I tried not to. Until now,  when that option has rather been taken away from me.

I know just who to blame for her current fascination with death. I’m looking at you, Pixar and Disney.

An advert for their new film, Coco, came on television one night and prompted a discussion about Day Of The Dead. I think I did a pretty good job of explaining what it was in a positive and hopeful way – as, to me, it seems like a colourful, life-affirming holiday.

But then, later, as we all sat snuggled together in the warm, darkened living room in the wind down before bed, she shocked us when she said to Mark: “If you die, I’ll be fine because mummy will be here to look after me.”

It was the almost “nur nur ne nur nur” way she said it that took us by surprise. I turned from raising my eyebrows at Mark, back to Freya to try and find something appropriate to say. Before I had chance her little face crumbled.

“But…but…if you die,” she said to me. “I will be all on my own.”

Big fat tears started rolling down her face. She looked utterly heartbroken. And then, suddenly, I was crying too.

Wait, what. No. That isn’t supposed to happen – although she had just tapped straight into one of my nightmares so maybe it’s forgivable?

I wiped away my tears and Mark and I both worked to reassure her that we are not going to die and, even if we did, she has lots of people who love her, including my brother who has already agreed to raise her should anything happen to us.

It seemed to sooth her.

We’ve had further conversations about what happens when you die. I was actually worried about this – as someone without any religious faith – but I’ve been able to talk to her about all sorts of beliefs (it just so happened that our local mosque was holding an open day so I was able to take her there too as part of our general learning). I explained that when she’s older she will be able to decide what she does or doesn’t believe in, just like I did.


She seemed ok about it but the four-year-old mind is a mysterious beast and now, every so often, she’ll just randomly drop it into conversation. We might be talking about something completely unrelated or be in the middle of the food shop. At first I asked her if she had anything else she wanted to say about it but it seems she just wants to let me know that she knows. It’s like living with some sort of mini Grim Reaper.

Now most of our conversations go a bit like this.

Her in the middle of dinner: “I’ll miss you when you die, Mummy.”

Me: “Thank you. Eat some more peas.”

I know it’s fairly normal at her age to start thinking about death but have any of you got any tips? Anything specific I should or shouldn’t be doing?

Little Hearts, Big Love



A Third Of Women Harassed While Running.



A disturbing one in three woman have been harassed when running alone, according to the results of a new survey by England Athletics released this week.

It includes being shouted at, drivers honking their horns and even men running alongside them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just under half of the 2,000 women surveyed expressed fears for their personal safety while running alone.

I’ve been running (ok, plodding) for a few years, on and off, and I’ve certainly experienced being shouted at and also beeped at. It might sound harmless but it can be really intimidating, especially when its dark, which is usually the only time I’m free to run.

It has made me think twice about going out on my own – and that makes me really angry. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to run where and when I want? How dare they think it’s ok to harass people. Even when it only happens occasionally I’m often still on high alert, which doesn’t make for a very pleasant run.

Alongside the survey a new campaign aimed at getting more people in England running by pairing them with their local clubs “providing a reliable, safe and friendly environment” was launched.


The RunTogether initiative works on the basis that “running with others provides motivation, guidance and support, as well as making it more fun”. Having run both on my own and with a buddy, I wholeheartedly agree with each of their points.

The C25K was much easier when we could spur one another on/moan about each week. Even now, when we consistently run 5K-ish, the fact that I don’t want to let her down means I carry on when I know, if I was on my own, I would stop and walk (I’m really not a natural runner).

The new website makes it easy to find clubs in your area for different levels (it also has running routes available).

I’m not really a club person and while I’m happy to run with my friend, group running really isn’t my cup of tea.

When I first heard about RunTogether, without really reading the details, I thought it was like a dating app for runners. I think it would take someone pretty unique to answer my ad but I’ve already met my soulmate (luckily long before she realised what she was in for).


I’m very lucky to have found someone who is understanding of my commitments (and the occasional need to cancel at the last minute if Freya is ill) but who also tolerates me stopping to take photos every now and then without even a hint of annoyance (the fact that she will star jump on demand is an added bonus).

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a buddy like mine – and even when we run together we have been beeped at – which is why I think this new resource is going to be helpful – especially in the absence of any solution to stamp out such ridiculous, intimidating behaviour.

Look how high she can jump!
Have you ever been harassed while out exercising? Would you join a club to feel safer? If you were writing an advert for an exercise buddy what requirements would you have?

PS If you like this post please consider voting for me in the Nepaliaustralian Blog Awards by clicking here and entering “Best Personal Blog – 1” in the comments. Thank you.



Is A Health MOT At 40 Really Worth It?

This was supposed to be a photo of just me but she refused to get out of the shot 🙂

“Have you considered eating just one square of chocolate and saving the rest?” She asked.

My answer was swift, succinct and emphatic.


Oh, wait, maybe she wasn’t really asking me so much as suggesting this might be a way forward?

I get it now.

And if my will-power hadn’t been disappearing at the same rate as sleep in the last few years I might be willing to give it a go but, as it stands, I think a Plan B is needed.

Luckily, the lovely health care assistant I saw during the dreaded “midlife” *cry* MOT at my GP surgery had some other suggestions – including healthier, energy-boosting snacks.


Like most people, I imagine, I only really go to the doctor when I’m ill – and sometimes not even then. The thought of going for a general health check, offered free to those over 40, felt a bit alien. I’d also read several stories about a study which suggested there were only “marginal benefits”.

Still, while I feel like I’m in pretty good health at the moment, I am an older mum, there’s no getting away from that, and I want to make sure I’m around for Freya as long as possible.

What harm could having a quick check do?

The big thing I was worried about was my weight. If you calculate my BMI I’m technically obese but it’s not like I don’t know. I have scales and a mirror. I felt being told exactly how much I need to lose might actually be more than a little discouraging, especially as I’m working on it (I run, walk a lot and chase Freya about most days). As it happened though, aside from the chocolate advice, it was all really positive.

healthcheck-1I went for the blood test and then two weeks later followed up with a 30-minute appointment.

Right away she started off with good news.

“Your cholesterol levels are lovely and low,” she said with a smile.

I felt myself relax a bit.

We then talked about my veggie diet, lifestyle choices and exercise before I had to hop on the scales, have my waist measured and my height checked.

I had warned her that I knew my weight would be an issue and she confirmed that was the case but rather than make me feel horrible and self-conscious we chatted through the causes of my over-eating (which I know is a complete luxury) and ways I might look to improve it.

She then calculated my risk of a heart attack in the next 10-years, which came out at 1.24%, which sounded pretty good to me, and told me I could be “quietly pleased”. I know it’s not a guarantee of good health and a long life but I felt like if anything had been especially wrong I would have known and could work on it, like I am doing (slowly) with my weight.

I came out smiling, which is more than I can say for when I went in.

What do you think? Are general health checks worth it?