How I Unwind: Summer 2017

Silence has blanketed the house, I can hear my own ear drums. Hubby is raiding with his friends on WarCraft and the dog is flumped in his favourite spot. The dishes are kinda done, laundry's for tomorrow and the kids are asleep. Time to have a little 'Me Time'! Here are a few things I do to wind down, that suit being an autistic Mum... 1) Pearl Babes.

Pearl-popping parties have skyrocketed recently but you may not know exactly what they are. Most are online 'parties' hosted by lively personalities and broadcast via Facebook Live. They go on for a few hours, and you can watch from anywhere you use Facebook. I watch on my iPhone with earphones in, not to wake the baby. The premise is this: people buy jewellery from the designated website. Every piece comes with a 'pearl pop' (oyster opening) live on air, opened in order of purchase date. First come, first serve. When it's your turn, they call out your name. You choose from usually one of 5 oysters, typing responses into the Facebook live chat.

The fun is in not knowing what the oyster contains: it could be yellow gold, peach, ivory, black, purple, Barbie pink...

'Pearl Peepers' are those who haven't purchased but love the atmosphere. The fact nobody can see you in your pyjamas with a face mask on and a huge cuppa is a great selling point, too. I watch the 'Pearl Babes', Lottie and Emma. Both are vocal advocates for body and fat positivity, mental health and they've built the most welcoming little online group! 

It's perfect for autistic people, too. There's a set formula to the night and each opening, no face-to-face communication and the girls are so happy with each other that you don't pick up on any negative vibes if you're sensitive to emotions. The jewellery is also lightweight which is perfect for me because I don't like the sensation of clunky jewellery. There's stimmable velvet chokers, and expandable rings for comfort. You can buy the jewellery from: Join in the fun on Facebook: Follow on Twitter: @pearl_babes And on Instagram: @thepearlbabes Why not become a Pearl Peeper when the kids turn in? 2) Pokémon.

Satoshi Tajiri, an autistic man from Japan, designed Pokemon to reflect his love of collecting and organising facts about nature and species. This absolutely radiates through the games, including the free app Pokémon Go! Satisfying numbers, expanding worlds, collecting compulsion and cute art style make for a satisfying experience. But... it's just for kids, right? Nope! Anyone can play it and I find Pokémon Go is the best handheld distraction when overwhelmed in public. Is your usual park walk busier today? The bus crammed? Then get your phone out and play some Pokemon! But if you hatch a red Gyrados before I do, I won't be your friend anymore. 3) Colouring Apps/books. 

Most people know about these but it's worth a mention. There are plenty of free options available through App Store or if you prefer paper versions Amazon or Wish have a wide variety. There are quite a few websites within Google search's reach with useful tips for colouring, shading etc that can add an extra technical aspect. Metallic or glitter pens add beautiful stimmy sparkles, too. I often start mine a few months before an occasion e.g. I'll start colouring a stag or a robin a month before Christmas so I have time to frame it and have my own seasonal art on the wall. 4) Crochet/knitting. 

No, come back! It's not as boring as you think. In fact it's an amazing skill and quite a Feminist one at that. To me, it's a reminder that women were writing code long before computers and 'STEM subjects' were invented. Don't believe me? Just look at a pattern! I'm not claiming to be amazing. I mainly crochet rainbow clothes and accessories for my niece's dolls and the odd lumpy scarf at Christmas. But I highly recommended getting a lovely stimmy sparkly wool and a cute pattern, or just learn basic stitches and freestyle some shapes until you find your confidence. Craft groups can be found in libraries and are regularly attended by small groups of quieter older women, full of knowledge. Autism hobby heaven. 5) Podcasts. 

My tastes ranges from day to day, but I love that I can choose according to mood. One minute I can be walked down the echoing halls of the British Museum by Neil MacGregor in 'The History of the World in 100 objects', with easily digestible 3 minute segments. Other times I hear deeply philosophical and irreverent pop culture analysis with drag queen diva RuPaul and the Anglophile Michelle Visage. Podcasts are mostly free, can be on nearly any subject you want and nobody expects you to talk. Win-win! 

Meet the Cold Tea Connoisseur...

My name's Hayley, or 'Mum'...

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