The University List – a parent’s guide to what to pack for Uni

When my son told me he wanted to go to University at the beginning of this year, it threw us all into a bit of a panic as he had always said he didn’t want to go! We were miles behind in planning, hadn’t done any of the Uni open days and as neither Timm or I went to university, we didn’t have a clue!

We buckled down, got some visits done and he filled in all the applications. We went through so many uni websites trying to decided which would suit him best and eventually decided on three options.

sam cleasby parent blogger leaving for university

He did well at college and got into his first option and so we started to plan for the big move. He decided he didn’t want to go into halls. His friend was starting his second year and they decided to get a house together. After much searching, and house visits, they decided on one and finalised plans to live there. Student financing was sorted and he was well on his way!

And then I started to think about all the stuff he was going to need and felt totally overwhelmed. I am very grateful for my manager Debbie who sent me her blog post of a parent’s check list for uni, check it out here. Through her list and a few bits of my own, here is my Uni Packing list for parents.

Bedroom

  • Bedding – Mattress protector, duvet, pillows, bedding
  • Lamp and bulb
  • Clothes, shoes, coats, underwear
  • Coathangers
  • Things to make it their own – pictures, teddies etc
  • Dirty washing bag
  • TV, Games console
  • Chargers and extension cables

Kitchen

  • Plates, cups, bowls
  • Cutlery
  • Utensils
  • Chopping board
  • Scissors
  • Pots and pans
  • Toaster
  • Kettle
  • Microwave
  • Sandwich toaster
  • Tea towels

Bathroom

  • Towels
  • Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap
  • Razors and shaving foam?
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet roll

Cleaning

  • Washing powder/pods
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Washing up liquid and sponges
  • Kitchen rolls
  • Bin bags
  • Shopping bags

Food

  • Tinned fruit/veg
  • Sauces
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tomato ketchup/salad cream/mayo
  • Tinned beans and tomotoes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cereals
  • Noodles

Etc

  • Paracetamols/Ibuprofen
  • Stationery, paper, laptop
  • Cookbook or recipes from you
  • Noticeboard
  • Diary/calendar
  • Alarm clock

To do

  • Register to vote
  • Register with a doctor
  • Register with a dentist
  • Have bank accounts
  • Sort budgeting
  • Sort bills etc
  • Are they up to date with all vaccinations?
  • Tell them you love them and give them a big hug
  • Make sure their flatmate/roommate has your number in case of emergency

I’m sure this isn’t a full and complete list but it is everything I can think of right now. If you can think of anything else, then do let me know!

Good luck!
Sam xx

Roots and Wings – when your child goes off to University

Someone said to me this year “All we can do as parents is give our children roots and wings”. It really struck me and this week as my eldest child left home for University it felt very apt.

I talk about parenting quite a bit here, and it has been interesting to read back how I have felt at different times of our lives. You can read my post about not having a clue how to be a parent here. And my letter to all the imperfect mothers here.

Traveling the world

I have three teenage children aged 14, 16 and 18. It is such a shift as a mother to move into the teen years. The things that they need you for change as does your whole relationship. Over the summer, my 18 year old went to New York for 3 weeks on holiday and my 16 year old spent two months in Australia with my sister and so it has been a very odd year!

When the kids starting talking about going to travel, I was all for it. I truly believe that travel broadens the mind, the spirit and is a positive thing. When the time actually came round, I felt a lot more nervous about seeing my bambinos go off into the world. I was scared, worried and tearful. This is when I was told about roots and wings.

Dalai Lama quote roots and wings

The Dalai Lama said “Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back to and reasons to stay”

I’m proud that my kids have the confidence to fly the nest and explore the world. I know they will always have my roots to head back to if they need me and they know that I love them and I am always their biggest fan.

I have really had to remember this quote this week as my eldest has left home and moved to Leeds to start university! He has moved into a house with his friend, he has a new job and will start his degree course in a couple of weeks.

when your child is leaving for university

The move to university

I have been collecting things for the move for months. Pots and pans, tins and packets, bedding etc. I have made him a little notebook filled with his favourite recipes from home and hints and tips for living alone.

We drove him over to his new home and helped him unpack. My heart was in my chest but the last thing I wanted was to make this exciting day about me. So I held in the tears and smiled as we unpacked with him and got him settled.

Then the time came to drive home. I hugged him tight, told him I loved him and we are always here for him and drove away.

I cried pretty much the whole way home!!!

Honestly, I’m not sad. It’s weird as I am insanely proud of him and I am so excited. For a lad who really disliked school I am shocked that he chose to go to Uni. But I am really looking forward to seeing him grow, mature and have a whole lot of fun.

Time to fly

I suppose the tears are because of change. This is it, the time where he is no longer my baby. Of course he will always be my child. But even if he chooses to come and live back at home in three years, it will never again be the same mother/child relationship. He will be 19 in a week! Our relationship has now shifted and it is scary. I hope I have given him enough love, wisdom, guidance and care and he will fly now.

We tend to relate events back to ourself and I left home at 14, sleeping on peoples couches. I was basically homeless till I was 19. Though I did move back home once or twice, it was years of living with family members or on friends couches. So my experience of leaving home is tied up in fear, pain and loneliness. I have to remember that it’s not my kids experience. Charlie is going off into the world with all our love and support and he cannot wait!

Sam cleasby parent blogger child leaving for university

So roots and wings, I keep reminding myself that leaving home is a part of growing up. I have done this part of my job as a mum. I will always be mum. It’s just a change in what he needs from me now.

You never know the last time

I was told years ago “you never know the last time”. The last time they will sleep in your bed, the last time they will hold your hand as they cross the road, the last time they will need you to chase away the monsters under the bed. Treasure it. The past 19 years have gone in the blink of an eye.

Empty nest, child leaving for university so upset crying

For more information about your kid heading off to university, you might like the Complete University Guide here.

Peace and love,

Sam xx

Its World Suicide Prevention Day

Research has shown that men are 3 times more likely to take their own lives than women across the UK – with men alone accounting for 3 quarters of suicide in 2017. 

These figures are just unacceptable. The following was sent to me and comes from Caba. I haven’t been paid in any way for this post.

Spotting the signs of suicidal thoughts in men

According to the mental health charity Mind, many people think about suicide at some point in their lives. Here are some of the things you may think or feel: 

  • Everything’s hopeless – what’s the point in living? 
  • There’s nothing positive in your life, everything’s negative 
  • Everyone would be better off without you 
  • You’re useless, unwanted or unneeded by others 
  • Your unbearable pain is never going to end 
  • You’re physically numb – you feel cut off from your body 
  • Taking your own life is your only option 

Meanwhile, you may also experience things like sleeping problems (including waking too early), changes in your appetite and you may lose or gain weight. Your self-esteem may be very low, and you may try to avoid contact with other people, and feel no need to take care of yourself (including your physical appearance).  

Spotting the signs in others 

Spotting when someone else is thinking about suicide can be difficult. But, if you notice any of your loved ones exhibiting the following signs, then it might be time to step in:  

  • They talk about feelings of hopelessness 
  • They have sudden episodes of rage and anger 
  • They act recklessly and take part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences 
  • They say they feel trapped, and that they can’t see their way out of their problems 
  • They self-harm (this includes misusing drugs or alcohol) 
  • They become increasingly withdrawn or appear anxious and agitated 

The good news is that, according to Mind, the majority of people who have experienced suicidal feelings go on to live fulfilling lives if they get the support they need

How you can help 

If you do think you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these feelings or showing any of the above signs, there are many organisations that can give you the right advice and support.  

If you’re worried about someone or feel like you could do with chatting to a trained, impartial professional, then do not hesitate to contact 1 of the below free helplines. Alternatively, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for an emergency appointment.   

Samaritans 

Call 116 123 any day, any time. If you prefer to express your feelings in writing, email gro.s1568931718natir1568931718amas@1568931718oj1568931718

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) 

CALM is a resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. Call the helpline on 0800 58 58 58

PAPYRUS 

This voluntary organisation aims to support young people thinking about suicide and those who are concerned about a young person. Call 0800 068 41 41

✌🏽&❤

Sam xx

Everyday racism

Today is a bit of a different post for me, I want to talk a bit about racism.

Let me introduce myself

My name is Sam Cleasby and I am a British woman and my heritage on my mother’s side is Mizo.

Mizoram is an eastern state of India. “Mizoram is one of the states of Northeast India, with Aizawl as its capital city. The name is derived from Mi (people), Zo (lofty place, such as a hill) and Ram (land), and thus Mizoram implies “land of the hill people”. Like several other northeastern states of India, Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory. It became the 23rd state of India, a step above Union Territory, on 20 February 1987, with Fifty-Third Amendment of Indian Constitution,1986.”

I visited India a couple of years ago and blogged about it, you can read about India with an ostomy bag here!

sam cleasby ostomy travel blogger india ileostomy ibd

My family history is long, varied and something I am proud of.  Yet because my skin is lighter than some, and I look less like my mum and nan than my dad I live in a weird societal time where people unaware of my heritage voice inappropriate and racist comments in my presence and where I feel a responsibility to counteract those thoughts.

Yet so often I have been told when voicing these opinions that I have ‘a chip on my shoulder’.

Hidden racism

There are the overt, hate filled, angry red faced racists in this world. Generally you can see them a mile off and we all tend to avoid them. Most people arent blatant in their racism.

But it’s the quiet ones that concern me. The “I’m not racist buts”, the inappropriate racially motivated jokes ones, the “so WHERE are you from” ones, the slipping the odd word into conversation ones. It’s the everyday racism, the micro aggressions, the daily reminders that you aren’t white.

These are the people who distress me the most as sometimes it’s really hard to recognise them, and sometimes you get totally surprised that it is someone you wouldn’t expect.

Sam Cleasby Timm Cleasby

A while back, someone was chatting to my husband Timm and he used the word ‘p*ki’ . He was totally taken aback and shocked and walked away from the conversation, he was upset and asked “what should I have said to him?”

A friend had a similar situation where someone used a racist term in front of them. They were upset and uncomfortable but didnt know what to say.

People have said to my husband “ohhh what’s it like having an Indian wife? I bet you get some great curries!” These arent hate filled bigots, they aren’t trying to offend, but honestly being othered like this is very wearing.

What do you say?

And I think this is a problem. It often can feel like you’re making a big deal, causing a fuss if you call people out on inappropriate language. It can feel embarrassing and upsetting.

But try being the brown person on the receiving end of racism constantly. At least once a week, someone comments on my “tan”. 

So often I’m asked “where are you from?”

“Sheffield” I respond. “No but where are you FROM?”

“Ermmm I grew up on Norfolk Park”

“Ok, where’s your mum and dad from?”

“Ohhhh sorry I get it, you’re asking me why I’m not white!”

It feels very devisive and othering. And I know I have much more privilege than other BAME people who face far, far worse than I do.

As someone who can “pass” for white (and I do hate that term”, I’m privy to conversations that people whose skin is darker than mine probably dont hear. And its depressing.

sam Cleasby Mizo British blogger Sheffield - everyday racism

Embarrassment

For years, I felt embarrassed in these situations. Like I would be the one to ruin the dinner party by questioning the guy pushing me on where exactly I’m from. Or spoiling the social event by calling out someone dropping a P-bomb. 

I felt like I was causing a scene to explain to the woman at work that telling me she was having a “chinky” that night was offensive. 

I felt like I was embarrassing someone who assumed I would like a spicy meal because of ‘you know’ and waving a hand over me, presumably referring to my skin colour and background.

But I’m done with feeling embarrassed by this. It’s time I voiced my feelings. The person using these words should be the one to be embarrassed not me.

There is so much more I could write about on this topic, especially in the political climate of the world at the moment. But for now I’d just like to say that we all need to feel less intimidated in calling out the bullshit around us. 

It’s ok to say “I find that term inappropriate, upsetting and offensive.” 

It is ok to walk away from a conversation that you find wrong.

It’s ok to be upset by racism and it’s ok to talk about it.

And this is something I need to remind myself of.

✌🏽 & ❤

Sam x 

Ostomy bags and Brexit

Everything seems so unknown and uncertain at the moment. With Brexit looming, I have seen a few people worrying about whether there could be shortage or delays in delivery of ostomy bags.

I asked the question on twitter and here are the responses I got from Respond, Coloplast Charter and Convetec.

If you are concerned, then speak to your ostomy supply company and as always be ahead of your needs in ordering.

Are you concerned about your illness and the effects of Brexit? Let me know

Sam xx

It’s my 6 year no coloniversary! Happy birthday ileostomy!

Six years ago today, I had my colon removed and my first ileostomy formed! And what a ride it has been since then!!

You can read that first update Timm made after the surgery here, it is weird to read back. We were both so naïve and knew so little compared to now!

ulcerative colitis surgery

What has changed? The 4th ileostomy!

So much has happened since then. I have had 7 more surgeries, a jpouch, a jpouch removed, multiple hernias, fatigue, joint pain, months in hospital, my butt removed and 3 more ileostomies!! I have also gained so much, I started working for Scope and presenting for the BBC. So Bad Ass reached well over 3 MILLION views and had many amazing opportunities. I have worked with Crohns and Colitis Uk on their campaigns. It was amazing to be named as one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. I have spoken at events all over Europe and the UK and met some wonderful people!

Some things haven’t been great. I never knew that first surgery would set me off on a path to 7 more in 6 years. Sometimes, it has felt too much to bear and on more than one occasion I have wondered ‘why me?’ I have seen people I thought loved me leave me. I have felt more alone than ever in my life. Like the burden of my illness was too much for those around me.

Through it all though, the ileostomy bag really did give me a life back. It has given me back control and allowed me to travel the world and actually plan things in with my family. If I could do it again, would I? Well hindsight is a wonderful thing. Maybe if I knew the pain I would face over and over again, I would have been too afraid to go ahead with the surgery. But maybe the outcome would have been very different if I hadn’t had my colon removed. Maybe I wouldn’t still be here, or maybe I would be here but still sat on the toilet 20 times a day in tears?

What advice would you give yourself?

None of us have a crystal ball and we have to roll with the punches and do what feels right at the time. I’m sure I have made mistakes and could have done things differently but today I was thinking about what advice I would give myself back 6 years ago. So here it goes:

It’s ok to be scared/sad/angry. I think 6 years ago I felt like I had to feel grateful for just being alive and that any ‘negative’ feelings were me letting myself and others down. This is rubbish. All emotions are necessary and none should be shunned. You body and your life will be changing a lot and you need to process all these changes. Allow yourself the time to feel what you are feeling.

Speak up – talk to the people closest to you about what is going on physically and mentally. Tell them how you feel and what you need.

There is no right way to ‘cope’ – What works for one person won’t work for the next. Listen to your body, listen to your heart.

Don’t do too much too soon. I know how hard it is to rest up, but you have been through a HUGE surgery! You need to give your body so much time to heal. I have always done too much too soon and I have lived to regret it.

You are a warrior. You have come through a tough surgery and your body looks and feels very different, you have a hard path in front of you, but you are a warrior and you can do this!

Think positively. I know, I know, you just rolled your eyes!! But really, it is easy to slip into negative thinking. There will be positives in your life, no matter how small, and trying to find those silver linings in your day can help so much.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice back when you were diagnosed or to a point of your illness where it changed, what would it be? If you have an ileostomy, what advice would you have wanted to hear?

Sam xx