Category: Parenting

5 things I love about the school holidays.

Oh, hey there! It’s been a little while since my last blog post! I’ve had some technical difficulties of late. I won’t bore you with every little detail, but it basically involved my website being down, a less than helpful web host, a transfer to a new web host, me being a clueless person who should just stick to the writing of the words and the loss of some of my more recent content! Throw in a bit of writer’s block, a chest infection followed not long after by a cold and voilá – sweet fuck all happens around this little space on the internet! Oops!

I think I’m finally back on track now – fingers crossed! (narrator: she wasn’t on track – this post took a whole lot more time to publish after googling furiously and trying to talk to support people about how to successfully upload pictures after an error showed up).

Anyway, I’m celebrating today because it’s the last day of Term 2 at the Little Mister’s school. Now I know that the school holidays can become quite tiresome for many some and I admit that the summer holidays became quite painful in my household once January kicked in this year, but I am going to make the controversial call that these school holidays will be freakin’ awesome.

And if any of you start saying, well that’s good for you, you only have one kid, I will kick you in the lady balls because if you take a little look around here, you will notice that I have had quite a rough journey trying to give my son a sibling and I assure you that there have been plenty other challenges that I have experienced that I hope you’ve never had to (and I truly mean that). I know there will always be people out there who have it much much harder than me too. I think about those people all the time and I really really care, because it is possible to feel your own pain and somebody else’s at the same time. There. I said it. Now get off my back. I don’t comment on your fertility, so don’t talk about mine! Hmmph!

Sorry. Got off track with a little rant. It’s kind of been a bit of a sore point with me this week!

Where was I?

Oh yes. The school holidays. The school holidays will be so good. Here’s why I love them…

No school runs.

Duh haha. I love having more flexibility in my day. I also love that if I know I’m just going to be spending the day at home I don’t have to put on my ‘socially acceptable and not going to hurt your eyes grown up’ outfit on for drop off and pick up! I can just get about in my ‘holy shit that’s hurting my eyes and not in a good way’ home outfits and all is well!

No worrying about uniforms. 

I can just let my kid go for his life, diving into his cupboard and drawers and digging out whatever he feels like wearing (as long as it’s weather appropriate – spoiler – it never is)! I don’t have to add up the amounts of sports socks and calculate how many times he can wear his uniform before I need to wash it and worry about it drying in time or freaking out that he’s going to lose his hat or his jumper or water bottle each day.

Getting to do all the things we can’t do together during the term.

We don’t often get to do all the big events or kids’ concerts etc during the term. So on the holidays, while being overwhelmed by the masses can be a bit crazy, I do love being able to give the Little Mister some of those experiences. Big day trips or fun events. Mid week awesomeness. No worrying about fitting things around the school day. We have a few things planned for the first week of the holidays and this stir crazy mummy can’t wait! I know he’ll be so excited and we’ll get to make some great memories as a family. I’m really lucky because I have work flexibility – often working from a home office. This allows me the privilege of being able to be there as much as I want to be.

No school lunches.

It’s so funny because if I need to make lunch for the Little Mister at home, I’ll whip something up no worries. I’ll even enjoy doing it! But when it comes to preparing a lunch box the night before, Mr Unprepared and I find it to be so tedious! It will be so nice not worrying about it for a little while. I’m also one of those parents who is super conscious of what foods I put in my kid’s lunchbox. I worry about judgement. It will be nice relaxing the ‘rules’ just a little. It’s a bonus that Mr Unprepared has the first week of the holidays off work too – no work lunches need to be made for him either! Yippee!

I get to ‘sleep in’! 

On school days I have to get up before the Little Mister in order to get ready and have us both out the door in time. On school holidays I get a whole extra 45 minutes extra to sleep! YES!


So tell me! Where do you stand on the whole school holidays thing? Love them or hate them? Got any cool plans? 

Mother’s Day shout outs.

I was just going to make a little Facebook post for Mother’s Day, but realised that I have soooooo much to say. Probably a bit too much for Facebook. Which wouldn’t be out of character ?

Anyway, I’ll start with myself (what an ego – kidding – just getting it out of the way)!

I am so grateful to be a mum. When I say that, there’s a lot of weight to it. I have truly realised in the last 3 years of secondary infertility hell that being a mum is not a right. Becoming one is not a certainty for anyone. You can do all the right things (and then some) but at the end of the day it’s nothing but a crazy, lucky privilege (even if it seems to come easier for some). And for all my struggles to add to my family, I am so ridiculously grateful that I get to be called mum (probably 50,000 times a day – more on weekends and school holidays). I am so glad I get to whinge about about how hard it is and so glad I get to celebrate how amazing and heart burstingly fulfilling it is. Whatever happens from here on out, I will always be so glad that I have the Little Mister – he’s made me a mum and I am so glad he was meant to be in this world, hanging out with me and being my kid. I wouldn’t change that for ANYTHING.

Now onto my mum. My mum is amazing. She (and my dad) went through infertility struggles too. These led to the history making decision to adopt. And bam – there I was – in her arms (followed 3 years later by my bro). Well, not ‘bam’. It wasn’t easy. It was a long wait, with a lot of gruelling hoops to jump through. When you adopt, you have to actually prove you are going to be a good parent. It’s like having to earn a parenting license. Not many people have to do that. Maybe more should! But here we are. My mum is someone I have not always got along with (those teen years were a bit rocky!) but I have always been able to trust her. If she says she’s there, she’s there. If she says I need to figure something out for myself, it means she knows I’m strong enough. She’ll never tell me a white lie to make herself feel better. She’ll tell the the truth so I know I can believe her. She’s strong, assertive and confident. That inspires me. She’s also pretty effing amazing at putting outfits together and fantastic for the fashion advice! She’s been there for me emotionally, especially through the infertility stuff. She’s been there physically too. Babysitting and driving the Little Mister to school. I’m so lucky to have such a supportive network of people around me. She cries at the drop of a hat when talking about how she feels about being my mum and that makes me feel kind of special (can you IMAGINE when we went to see Lion together?!). My parents taught me that family isn’t just blood. Because of my parents, I am the compassionate people person that I am. I have no doubts about that. I love you, Mum!

My mother in law deserves a mention too. She loves the Little Mister to bits. She will never say no to being there for him or us and while I insist that we never take advantage of her, it is so nice to know she’s there in our corner. She always calls me on my birthday or checks in if Mr Unprepared is away. Thank you!

To my mums’ group. The OG MG. You have helped to shape my experience as a mum. We met on a fateful day in early 2012 (after a few weeks of trying to get the hang of leaving the house with an infant) and we’ve never failed to support each other or be there since. We have laughed, cried and stood up for each other. We’ve celebrated milestones and we’ve found out we are good drinking buddies when we can get babysitting too ? Thank you – each and every one of you. For being exactly who you are and bringing together our crazy melting pot of personalities in the most wonderful way.

Now, onto you lot.

I wish all of my fellow mums out there an amazing Mother’s Day. I hope you are pampered and loved. I hope you feel safe and happy. I hope the most important people in your life have let you know just how special you are to them.

To all of the women who dream of being a mum, but have struggled. I am so sorry. This shit is hard. I hope that one day your dream is realised. I am sorry that today might be hurting your heart. I’m thinking of you.

To the women like me, who feel their family is yet to be complete – we are so lucky to have what we have, but it’s OK to want more. Our hearts are big enough. I send all of my love to you. I hope this year is our year.

To those who no longer have their mums around. I’m sorry. I can’t imagine.

Happy Mother’s Day to those who have stepped up to parent and love children who are not biologically theirs, whether through fostering, adoption, blended family situations.

Happy Mother’s Day to the single mamas out there. That shit is tough!! I won’t even pretend to know the half of it! You’re amazing. You’re strong. You’re doing the best you can and that is bloody good enough. Probably more than.

My thoughts are with those who have suffered the loss of a child of any age – from pregnancy to adulthood. They were so lucky to have had you as a mum – even if it wasn’t for anywhere near long enough. My heart goes out to you.

Basically, if you are a mum in your heart, I wish you the best. Not just on Mother’s Day but all of your days. No matter what your situation is, I hope you have/find joy and laughter and love.

*raises glass*

To us.

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The ‘You Didn’t Put it Away’ box.

One thing I love about the Little Mister is that he’s super creative and inquisitive. I love the way that he can use his imagination to turn a crappy box into a car or a bunch of pipe cleaners into a pair of ridiculous glasses. He’s always so busy! It’s fantastic and it makes me feel good (i.e. relieved!) that he often opts for play over screen time.

This can come with its drawbacks, though. He hoards every little treasure he finds. Because everything – even a ripped piece of paper – can turn into the most magical thing. So you can imagine how hard it is to throw things out sometimes! Like, I wouldn’t say you’d find him on a kid version of the show Hoarders any time soon (I’ve read about some extreme cases), but he obviously accumulates a lot of clutter if you let him. On top of that, he’s 4. He doesn’t want to stop playing to do something as boring as tidying up. I am constantly nagging him to pack one activity up before he starts another.

A few weeks ago I really felt like my message was not getting through to him. I was sick and tired of the mess in his play area. I could tell he was slowly inching his way out into the family room because obviously (not that he could admit it) he was finding that he didn’t have the space to play. Which of course created more mess. I know. Who’s in charge, you’re asking? Well, despite my best efforts (and trust me I tried), I was not. It was relentless!! It was challenging to find a balance between expecting him to be accountable and learn how to do it himself, and not enabling him by losing the plot and doing it for him. Ex-bloody-sausting. I tried so many ‘appropriate’ parent-y things that came to mind. Some things helped a bit, but it felt like we just weren’t getting there without the constant whining and arguing and stand off tactics (my mum would say it’s my karma haha). Absolutely gorgeous kid, but OMG – stubborn (don’t know where he gets it from).

Finally, I remembered a concept I’d heard of a while ago. I decided to try my own version. After a bit of tailoring it to our situation, I think I’ve made some progress!

I have introduced the ‘Black Box’. It’s not as ominous (or aeronautical) as it sounds. It just happens to be a black and white, collapsible storage box from Kmart.

I bought one that doesn’t look anything like the storage boxes the Little Mister already uses in his play room. This is a different box. A special box that holds many powers. It can be a negative consequence and a reward all in one.

If I’m noticing the spread of chaos and destruction (i.e. toy/play clutter) getting a bit out of hand, I bring out (or threaten to bring out) the Black Box. I will give the Little Mister manageable tidying tasks to do or a time limit and if they’re not completed, he knows those items are going in the box. Originally, the plan was that he wouldn’t see those items for a week, but his sense of time is still not fantastic (although getting much better) and to be honest, he created so many other games/things to play with (he’s very resourceful – an asset to his character but not helpful in this situation haha), that I wasn’t getting the desired effect!

I modified this system. Now he will lose things he hasn’t put ‘where they belong’ (my mantra) and when he does tidy up properly (without arguments or constant whining), he can pick any toy (just one at a time) from the box to put back into circulation (provided he puts it where it belongs of course haha). It seems to be working!!

The only exception we make is for his sleepy comfort toys. They have to go straight to bed to wait for him. None of us could handle it if he was forced to bed without them ?

I also secretly like this system because it gives me a chance to quietly cull some junk each week (of course this is a very tricky thing – I have to be sure he won’t miss it but I do have the out of sight out of mind thing on my side)! Things like ripped up pieces of paper (not kidding), drawings and scribbles that he’s forgotten about and aren’t sentimental or indicative of some new stage in his development. Textas that are all dried up, parts of crappy $2 shop type toys that are broken, etc. You know the kind. They’re like the scourge of the earth and no matter what you do to stop them from entering your home, they cannot be stopped! Aargh!

I am wondering if I could even start a Gumtree (online trading post) toy selling racket from this hahaha.

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OK, I’m kidding, but it’s tempting!! Although, creating a little ‘donate to charity’ collection around birthdays/Christmas may be a possibility.

In all seriousness, if some ‘good’ items stay in the box for a prolonged period of time and are overlooked repeatedly, they may just go to a ‘better place’ (the op shop) or be archived for sentimental reasons (mine)!

I am hoping this system continues to work! Wish me luck!

How do you convince your messy kids to tidy their stuff? How do you get away with ditching some of their crap treasures? Any other cool ideas that work/ed for you? 

Inside the brain of a parent who wants to run away to the circus.

Seriously. Right now I am feeling the fatigue of being the parent to a 4 year old who is testing boundaries and going through big life changes which bring about new anxieties. This can often mean some acting out or regressive behaviours. I am a pretty compassionate being, a fairly patient parent and of course I love the little ratbag to pieces, but I’d be lying if I said that right now I am not considering googling the nearest touring circuses to see if they’d like a new clown (I can do the ‘bumbling idiot’ routine quite well when I’m tired – I’d be an asset). I figure a circus would be less crazy, right?

It’s not very often that I feel so utterly over it. It takes a lot for me to crack and feel utterly helpless and burnt out while my child goes through a challenging new phase. But when I do, there are some very recognisable thoughts that appear in my scattered head!

I have realised that there are stages I go through whenever something tough, of the parenting variety, pops up and punches me in the throat.

Denial

Denial that it’s happening. No. It’s just a one off bad night (or insert other challenges here). Oh, two? Just two. Oh, maybe it’s just a rough week…there are many plausible explanations that this could be a fairly isolated incident…right?

Anger/frustration

OH FFS. Are we STILL dealing with this? Aargh. Will this never end? I AM SO DAMN TIRED. Get your act together, kid! I don’t even feel like I know you right now! I love you lots and lots and lots, but right now I am not sure I’m liking you and that is killing me!

(of course I don’t say it to him – I just scream it inside my head when he’s not looking)

Bargaining

I know I can make this better. I just know I can. Here’s every reward chart ever. Here’s me googling solutions at 2am. Here’s me begging and hoping and fighting the reality that it’s just a phase and that the only way is through. THROUGH? AS IF. I can totally get around this. I can fix this. Just give me a damn moment to fix this! WHERE IS MY SANITY?!

Acceptance

OK. So now I’ve had my little melt down during the bargaining stage, I have had some time to review. I have decided that I can in fact CTFD (Calm The Fuck Down) and perhaps accept that it is what it is, and fighting it is just going to turn me into a crazy lady. I can only do my best and it turns out that ‘through’ may really be the only choice I have.

It’s amazing how life never lets you think you’ve actually nailed the whole parenting thing.

Here are some of the things I’ve been learning about THOSE times:

  •  It’s not always the parent who is to blame. It’s important to be kind to yourself. Sometimes it’s just a developmental phase. Sometimes it’s just something you and your smallish child need to be educated on – it’s all new and unknown for both of you! There’s no other way but to learn on the job! It’s OK to feel like you have no bloody idea what you’re doing, because um…NO HANDBOOK. Seriously. Where’s my freakin’ handbook?
  • It’s also not always the child who is fully to blame. When they’re not themselves or their behaviours are driving you bonkers, it is important to remember that they’re usually going through something too. While it might not excuse certain things they do (depending on their age), it’s important to remember that this one phase does not define them as a human being. Or at least it doesn’t have to. I try really hard (it can take a LOT of effort when we’re at the end of our tether) to separate the child from the behaviour (gotta love a popular parenting cliché). I have been trying to find ways to bond with the Little Mister, rediscover all the best parts of him (there are many) and to help build his confidence.
  • Reaching out to supportive mummy/daddy people in your life is priceless. If there’s someone in your life who has kids the same age as your kids, or has vivid memories/nightmares of having kids the same age as yours, they are an amazingly reassuring resource to tap into. For me, it’s often my mum, close friends and my mothers’ group. I can think that the craziest WTF moments with the Little Mister are isolated to just him, but as soon as I reach out, I often realise that there are like 5 other mums going through the exact same thing at the exact same time (or who remember all too well) and if I’d never shared my parenting woes (or been privy to theirs), I would never have known! Nothing takes a weight off your shoulders like knowing you’re all in the trenches together.
  • Recruit an awesome team who all have your kid’s best interests at heart. Assault that bastard phase together. Show that you’re a tight, caring unit. Get your spouse, your child’s carers/teachers, the grandies, the family doctor (if applicable) all on board. A united front – a do no harm, show lots of love, but take no shit type thing – can do wonders.
  • This phase will not last forever. A reality check is good. I ask myself questions like, “Will this two weeks of crap right now really matter in 10 years?” Hell, I’m sure I’ll have bigger problems then, but that’s not the point of the exercise haha. You know what I mean. It’s like when you’re toilet training and you think your kid will never nail it but then you realise that it would be highly unlikely that your kid will be attending high school in nappies and you feel a teensy bit better.

I feel hopeful that we’re kicking the fucking fours in the goolies (for now anyway). It’s been a rough couple of weeks for everyone. It’s been good to regroup and strategise. Honestly, I’ll never know if it’s my superb parenting (BAHAHA) or whether the phase was coming to a more peaceful place on its own anyway, but I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

You know…until the next time it rears its ugly head!

So, tell me. Anything you’re going through at the moment? Want to get through this together? x

I’m not ready (to be a school mum)!

OK, so technically I am ready in the sense that all of the booklist items have been procured and the Little Mister’s uniform is ready and all I have to do is put his name on everything. I learned about being prepared nice and early because BC (Before Child) I worked in a stationery and school supplies store and the stress the ‘last minute’ parents put themselves through was SO not worth it (and it made them into horrible monsters).

But mentally ready? Not. At. All.

As for the Little Mister – he seems nervous but glad to be a ‘big kid’ at ‘big school’ soon (we’re talking kindy for 4 year olds). He asks me questions about it all the time and he sounds so adorably naive and he thinks anything that is remotely grown up will be on offer at kindy. Like maybe he can use knives there and drink from glass tumblers and stuff. Because grown up. But he also asks if he’ll still get nap time and toys to play with.

He is also mourning the end of his time at day care – it’s started to sink in that he’s never going back (even though I started preparing him before Christmas last year). We run into his little day care buddies all the time in this small world we live in. He cries about missing one particular boy he used to play with a lot. He also misses his favourite teacher.

We’ve had little chats where I’ve told him that while it can be sad to leave a place and people that we love and know so well, as we grow up we have a chance to have new adventures and learn new things and make new friends we might love just as much. I’ve promised him that it’s OK. That as grown up as he is becoming, he is still my little kid and I will always be there for him to help guide him and explain how things work. He’s not on his own. Not yet!

All the while, I’m running a parallel shit scared commentary in my own head.

What if I’m a big fail of a school mum? What if I’m that mum that forgets stuff all the time (I seriously struggled with a couple of kindy preparation related things last year – probably me being in denial – and it really knocked my confidence)? What if I hate having to be so much more organised? Pressure’s on to get my act together! What if I am not the ideal ‘private school mum’? What if I just look like a hot bogan mess at school drop offs and pick ups and everyone else is wearing the latest active wear or corporate outfits or on point ‘mum’ clothes? What if a lot of the other mums are much more ‘proper’ than I am? I don’t even really know where to park my car. Not even kidding. I mean, there are several car parks but I have no idea which ones are for who. I never asked. HOLD ME.

Not to mention that being an ex (high school) student of that same school, I get crazy flashbacks walking in there all the time. I feel like I’m still the student. Like at any moment, I’m about to break a rule about how to wear my uniform or realise I haven’t done my homework in time or will somehow offend a teacher and get in trouble! I actually had a pretty great time there. I made great friends and the sense of community was strong. It was also a quality education that I was given. Which is why we picked the place for the Little Mister. But still. PTSD much? Haha.

How am I allowed to have a kid and send it to school? I’M NOT EVEN A GROWN UP YET AND I’M 31.

TELL ME. HOW?

I worry about whether he’ll get in trouble – not because he’s a bad kid, but because he can get a bit too excited about things. He’s very…exuberant (and strong minded). I just try to remind myself that he’s only 4. They’ll understand this. They’ll guide him. I’m sure of it. I hope?

Don’t even get me started on the first day I have to leave him there. In his little uniform. Waaaaaaaah.

Don’t get me wrong – he’ll be fine. Me? Who knows. My mum sent me a message the other day, regarding this. She told me to buy a box of tissues and used a wine glass emoji.

*gulp*

I mean, we both did fine with the day care drop off thing last year, but this just feels so much more emotional! Why is that?!

Is anyone else going to be school mum/dad for the first time this year? Have you got some experience under your belt – got any advice or reassurance to offer?? 

So many questions: Life with an almost 4 year old.

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So, it’s been 19 days. 19 days since IT happened. 19 days since my child made a big discovery. Yep. It has been 19 days since the Little Mister discovered the word…

WHY.

And I am EXHAUSTED!

I have become his own personal ‘google’. Or probably not google. I’m kind of like a broken down Bing. Remember Bing? Is that still a thing? Well, I’m basically a crappier version of that.

I am being asked so many questions that I don’t fully know the answers to, let alone know how to explain them to an almost 4 year old in a way that he might understand!

In recent days I have been asked…

  • What makes the rain come out of the clouds?
  • How does music get onto the radio?
  • Why does the moon follow us at night?
  • Why can we only see a part of the moon?
  • Why does Santa give toys from the shops?
  • Do cows have gutters? (he meant udders but it took me a while to figure it out)
  • How does helium make the balloons go up?

Then once I’ve given my best (but usually terribly articulated) answer, he’ll follow up with “WHY?”

WHY INDEED.

I also get the usual requests for snacks, demands for help with various things he wants to do around the house, questions about why things are where they are or why he’s not allowed to do something. Questions about what it is I am doing every second of the day.

 

I decided to do a little experiment. I decided that I would record every question I was asked. Just for a day. From the moment he got up until the moment I had time to sit down and write this blog post.

In 3.5 hours I have been asked a total of 110 113 114 115 questions.

ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THIRTEEN FOURTEEN FIFTEEN* QUESTIONS.

And I am also sure I missed a few. Not even kidding. I only recorded the genuine questions and even left out some repeat questions (i.e. the moments when he just kept slamming me with the same question until I answered – this kid gives no time to think y’all).

I did originally transcribe each question, but in the 10 minutes after the Little Mister got out of bed, I literally could not write fast enough (and show him enough attention) so I resorted to a tally system. I then just wrote down the most interesting ones:

  • Where did you live when you were a baby? Why? (he should write blogging prompts haha)
  • Did Daddy go on his (recent charity) bike ride in his car? (I answered that if he’d gone in his car it would have become a car ride and you can only do bike rides on a bike). When he got his answer, he asked – can you sing me a song about that?
  • Can you get new clothes, because your shirts fall down? (someone isn’t a fan of my slouchy off the shoulder shirts worn around the house)
  • Can you buy me more (kitchen) stools for me for my birthday?
  • Why don’t we have blueberries? WHY DON’T WE? (um because every time I buy them you say you don’t like them…?)

Today, as I tried to take a moment to gaze off into the distance, I was asked, “What are you thinking about?”

When I answered that I was just thinking about how I’d love to get a new couch for the family room (yes – I was in fantasy land), he seemed satisfied…for about half a minute.

He then spent at least ten minutes trying to guess what I was thinking about at any given moment.

“Are you thinking about ALL the furniture?”

“Are you thinking about the doors? How about the doors? Do you think about them and how you can go inside or you can go outside?”

“Why? Why aren’t you thinking about the doors?”

Um…

And the craziest thing is when I ask the Little Mister “why” (on any topic), he looks all frustrated (without any sense of irony – obviously) and says, “Ugh. BECAUSE!”

Like that’s it. His whole answer.

Now I feel like I get why mums say that classic (and infuriating) line, “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

I feel you, Because I Said So mums. I feel you.

In the last couple of weeks I have been unable to stay awake past 8:30pm (it’s the brain drain haha) and I keep waking at 3:30am for no other apparent reason than my brain realises this is the only quiet time I will be able to appreciate.

While I am so so so stoked that the Little Mister has an inquisitive mind and asks some really cool questions, am I a bad person for also kind of looking forward to the day when he can just google that shit?

Have you fielded any great/embarrassing/confusing/complicated questions lately? Anyone want to come and answer the Little Mister’s questions for a day? Or all week? Want to ask ME a question (may as well haha)?

 

*the total kept climbing WHILE I was writing this post. Seriously. SEND HELP.

A very scary story: The night the security blankie went missing.

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So, the Little Mister has a BFF. He (or ‘she’ depending on what mood he is in) comforts him when he needs to sleep. They have been buddies since he was only six months old. They have never spent even a night apart since they were properly introduced during a tough time he was having with nocturnal separation anxiety (i.e. not wanting to let me leave him so I could go to bed and sleep – ever). His buddy, named Giraffey (because I’m so creative), has been everywhere with him. On camping trips, sleepovers with the grandparents, Tasmania, and overseas to Singapore, Japan and Korea. He’s accumulated a couple of other buddies – a glow worm circa nineteen eighty something and a little (used to be) lavender scented cushion – but Giraffey (a cute giraffe head attached to a little square blanket) always holds the number one spot in his heart. Nothing compares.

So you can imagine how all hell broke loose on Friday night when he WENT MISSING.

It was The Worst Timing Ever. We’d had a hell of a day! We were all exhausted. I’d had a flat tyre when I’d left the Little Mister with my parents because he had been behaving far too scratchily to survive the shopping centre (“Won’t be long! Promise! Love you! Thank you so much!”), had to hang about for a few hours until I could get a lift home, had to drive back to meet Mr Unprepared once he knocked off work so he could change it, blah blah. Not to mention the weather – torrential rain. It was the end of a week where the Little Mister had been chucking a few tanties (thanks to a development spurt – they make him quite unbearable for a couple of weeks before he settles again) and everyone had been go go go. We all needed a chilled out Friday evening. TGIF, right?

So it came to the Little Mister’s bed time and the nightly scavenger hunt for Giraffey began (my bets are usually on him being unceremoniously dumped on the playroom floor). Mr Unprepared made the retrieval attempt while I started on bedtime stories (about half an hour later than usual of course). When he began to yell out about not being able to find the little blankie, I started to think non complimentary things about his ‘looking’ skills. Then time began to drag on and I started to think that maybe we were in trouble. We piled the Little Mister into bed and promised him we’d look really hard for his cuddly buddy – that we’d put him right in bed with him as soon as we found him. He really tried and was such a trooper (he actually fell asleep without him), but I knew that the difficulties would arise when he was half asleep and wanting the familiar touch of his precious Giraffey in the middle of the night.

We looked for another solid hour before giving up and praying for the best.

As I lay in bed wondering what the night would bring (mentally trying to prepare myself for everything going to sh*t), I was trying not to think the worst/ridiculous. I was all, WHAT IF THIS IS ALL TOO MUCH FOR HIS LITTLE BRAIN? WHAT IF THIS INCIDENT F*CKS HIM UP? Like if we can’t find him, will the Little Mister lose his faith in all things good at such a tender age? WHAT IF HE WAKES IN THE NIGHT AND REALISES WE LET HIM DOWN?? I don’t want to let him down!! OR…what if we never see Giraffey again and I don’t get to say goodbye??? I know it’s silly, but I’m pretty attached to that little comfort blankie. He’s got quite the personality and he’s been so many places with us! I’d always dreamed of keeping him forever even after the Little Mister became a Big Mister and didn’t need him anymore. That one item I’d always fondly cherish from his childhood. Waaaaah!

Then it started. Every couple of sleep cycles through the night, we heard the Little Mister’s cries. It was a long night. Mr Unprepared and I alternated in comforting him, telling him to cuddle his other giraffe toy (who is no match for Giraffey but a respected member of the Giraffey family in our home) and creeping back to bed. It felt like the bad old teething days. Still, the Little Mister was so brave. He truly did try. It was just a parents’ nightmare, in terms of sleep deprivation!

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The next morning, we systematically turned the house upside down. I even searched the garage, on my hands and knees looking under the cars as thoroughly as possible with a torch. Nothing. We tried all sorts of techniques to see if the Little Mister could remember where he might have left his best little buddy. Nope. He was no help. He kept confusing that day with the day before when we tried to retrace his whereabouts and it just became a bit of a struggle. We were forced to give up (although our house was suddenly tidier at least) and head out to a birthday party. I started to formulate back up plans in my head. I knew we’d have to have a ‘talk’ about Giraffey possibly not being found in time for bed again that night. I had started to accept that even though, logically Giraffey was at our home (he doesn’t leave unless it’s a special occasion during which we usually keep a keen eye on him), he might not be found for weeks (as was the case with the TV remote incident of 2013).

I started prepping the Little Mister for what might be another difficult night, while we were on our way back home from the party.

“You know, I am not sure but I think that maybe Giraffey has gone on a little holiday! If he has, do you have another toy you’d like to sleep with until he gets back?”

He looked a bit crestfallen. I felt awful.

He then raised an eyebrow and said…

“He can’t go on a holiday! He doesn’t have any feet!”

And with that I was stumped. Can’t beat solid pre-schooler logic. NOW WHAT? I WAS BANKING ON THE WHOLE ‘HOLIDAY’ THING.

I decided to drop the issue while I did a little more thinking (my parenting game was obviously lacking).

As we pulled up to our garage, Mr Unprepared hopped out of the car first. He’d left the door up and we were parked only half way in because he needed room to rotate my tyres (after the flat I’d had repaired from the day before). I heard him yell, “GIRAFFEY!”

I looked up and saw him joyously swinging one very important giraffe blankie back and forth in his hand.

“WHERE WAS HE?!?!” I exclaimed in disbelief. I had looked everywhere in the garage, remember?

Turns out, Giraffey had been UNDER my car tyre when Mr Unprepared had parked it up for the previous night. UNDER THE TYRE. I would never have found it. Luckily he was in one piece (even if he smelt like rubber). An elated Little Mister cuddled him tight, ran into the house with him and promptly got distracted, leaving him lying on the floor. Sigh.

There is now a rule that Giraffey only lives in his bedroom!

I think I have a few more grey hairs (you know – underneath all the dye).

Have you ever lost a child’s precious comfort item? Did you find it? Was it somewhere weird? Did you have to have a ‘talk’ and get creative when it never came home? Are you smarter than me and bought fifteen of the same thing just in case? x

Kez Gets Physical: Some weeks are better than others.

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I’m just gonna come straight out and admit that in the past week I have SUCKED at exercising. It started because the Little Mister was sick and I couldn’t get many moments to myself to do some great work outs. Then (of course), I started to fight off his cold too, which made me feel more drained and icky than usual. This did not do wonders for my motivational levels. Add a couple of later-than-usual dinner times (although it is not ideal I try to work out after an early dinner – the only time I can get to exercise daily) and a few bad work outs (endorphins – where the f*ck were you when I needed you?!?) and conditions have been a bit less than satisfactory.

And I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes the cold weather makes me not want to work out. Even though I work out indoors on my treadmill or to a video on YouTube. Lame Excuse Queen right here! I can’t help it! Cold weather makes me want to snuggle down. Not get my kit on and get sweaty. Which goes against logic. Because exercise warms you up.

I am also aware that at this stage of the game, it’s a make or break. This is the point where I make a choice. Give up because it’s hard to sustain new habits or push through. So I’m going to push through. A bad week does not justify me giving up.

I’m feeling a little frustrated because time to myself is at a premium lately. Moreso than usual, that is.

I’ve tried working out with the Little Mister in the room, but it is definitely more challenging!

I have just tried to eat better to compensate (my name is Kez and I haven’t bought any much junk food for like over a week) and I am going to come back stronger and more motivated than ever!

Until then, I will laugh about it because what can you do? It’s real mum life!

So I shall leave you with this video which made me giggle. This woman has nailed it. Behold the Real Mom Ab Workout.

Can you relate to the video? How do you motivate yourself when time is tight and children are everywhere?

All ‘growed’ up.

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I don’t know where the time has gone. I really don’t. But the Little Mister is hurtling towards 4 years old at a frightening rate. Just the other day he ticked over 3 years and 8 months old. It sounds SO much older than 3 and a half. SO MUCH OLDER. It has been a fun age (mostly). He’s getting so much more of a sense of independence and his confidence has been growing. This has made things a little bit easier for his parents too!

He can sit still for longer (he’s going to his first ever movie at the cinema on the weekend – so exciting) and the little tedious tasks I have to help him with daily are slowly decreasing in number as he starts to want to ‘do them all by myself’. It’s just a joy watching his imagination in action and even though he has no sense of an ‘indoor voice’, it’s always great fun seeing what gems he will come out with. It’s like getting a glimpse inside his brain. I love wondering what is going on in there each day. Watching him tick. His sense of humour is still as wicked as ever.

I really want him to feel confident and empowered as he develops and it’s so heart warming to see him take pride in the decisions he has made for himself. Especially when being his age must be frustrating – bloody grown ups always giving ultimatums (i.e. “It’s this healthy snack or nothing else before dinner!”) and telling you where to be and when! The boundaries and discipline are so important but I think it’s also essential that he grows up knowing how to back himself (and that his parents support and love him too).

I’ve been trying to build this up in him in little ways since forever and it has been so rewarding! Lately it’s been extra fun…

Choosing his own hair style.

The Little Mister has always been really good with getting his hair cut, but before his most recent one came around, he kept voicing his objection. He didn’t want his hair cut. He liked it the way it was, even though it was always getting in his eyes and was very shaggy and almost mullet-y. So I put it off for a while, hoping he’d come around on his own. I didn’t want him screaming in the chair.

One night, I said, “How about we look at some pictures on my iPad [the magical iPad] and you can choose a hair style that you would like?”

He loved the idea of using the iPad for something so grown up, but he also loved the idea of picking his own hair cut. Suddenly he felt like he was a part of the process and he really embraced ownership over it. Suddenly he didn’t mind the idea of visiting the local barber. Of course, I very subtly redirected him from a couple of styles, but most of the latest hair styles for boys are quite similar and his hair grows like crazy anyway so no real harm done if it didn’t quite work out.

He chose this one:

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We got to the barber’s and he was so excited. He kept asking when we’d show the lady the picture and tell her what he wanted. I decided with her that we would forego the razored side part and make it a little bit more subtle, but ultimately the Little Mister’s decision was going to be put into action.

He was so happy. He has wild hair so we went to the supermarket together and he ‘helped’ me to pick out his very own spray bottle (like the hair dresser had) and a little tub of styling wax for special occasions. He talked about it non stop. His hair would be the real deal! I wanted to take a couple of photos of him when we got home and he posed like a mini Zoolander – so proud of himself. I must admit, he looked very grown up. Disturbingly so.

It’s growing out a bit funny (as I suspected it might), but I am so glad he loved making his own decisions. I swear he walked a bit taller that day.

Helping with home decor. 

I needed to change out our bar stools. We had two bulky ones with badly shredded fabric (it was like some kind of plastic made to look like a soft leather – I promise they were beautiful when we bought them even if I’m not describing them well at all). They’d been fairly fancy and classy when we’d bought them 7 years ago, but they were no longer looking so healthy and I’ve been on a mission to add colour and life to our home. Time for a revamp. I’d found some stools I liked on a furniture store’s website and I knew I’d have to take the Little Mister on a 2 hour round drive to get them. I needed him on board with this mission! Often, making him feel included makes all the difference in his behaviour.

I showed him the online picture of the range – all different colours. I asked him which colours he’d like to see in our house (I was buying four). He said yellow and green (sure I’d already decided I liked those colours too – great minds and all that haha). It’s a long story about how we finally got what we wanted (gotta love people who tell you one thing on the phone and then you drive forever based on that information and then they say they don’t have half of the things you asked them to put on hold so you have to go to another of their stores even further out of your way because you can’t waste the day now can you), but the main thing is that we did. The Little Mister was SO good and I treated the day like it was an adventure – I was sneaking in some life lessons – by example – about adapting gracefully when things don’t work our way (and teaching myself too haha). Look, sometimes he’s a PITA to shop with but other days he’s the best little adventure buddy. He was wonderful about it all and when we got home with our goods, he was so excited. He couldn’t wait to show his dad and he loves climbing up on them and watching me in the kitchen while I wash dishes or cook something. It’s hard to explain but I can just see the sense of pride and ownership beaming out of him whenever he climbs up or talks about them. He takes special care with them. It’s so lovely.

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Here’s what they look like (complete with bad quality phone/Instagram pic and dirty floor)!

Meal prep and cooking. 

I like letting him cook with me. Tonight we’re making mini pizzas together – his choice of toppings. Other times, I let him play with left over pastry dough while he sits on the other side of the kitchen counter. He likes to feel like he’s played a part in what we’re doing. He loves to grab his little step stool and join me when there’s something to be mixed or added to a bowl. It’s not always efficient or tidy, but seeing him so excited to help makes it worth it.

It’s such a pleasure watching him grow. It’s moments like I’ve just described that make me feel like maybe, just MAYBE I won’t totally screw him up (every parent’s deepest fear). Gosh, I love that kid.

What fun things have you done with your pint sized people lately? Tell me about the last time they made your heart burst! x

No dummy.

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So it happened. Yesterday morning. He coughed and it fell in the toilet. And that was that.

Yep. After months of wondering when the right time would be to tackle the Little Mister’s giving up of the dummy/pacifier/binky/soother (whatever you know it as), fate sorted it out for me quick smart.

The Little Mister is 3 years and 4 months old(ish). He has had a dummy for sleep time for most of his life. Until he got all of his teeth (May last year), he had one whenever he really needed one because it helped soothe his gums somehow. He hasn’t regularly had a dummy when we’re out and about since he was maybe just turned 2, I think (he had a setback when we travelled overseas and he felt a bit out of his comfort zone mid 2014).

I remember worrying so much when a nosy, opinionated check out operator judged me for giving him one. The poor kid was only 18 months old or so. Now I look back and realise I shouldn’t have given a rats what she thought. So he looked older than he was. Big deal. I knew the truth and I knew what he needed. I cringe when I think of myself feeling so damn self conscious overseas. My poor kid looked almost 4 years old, but he was 2 and a half. None of the kids in Korea his age had them. Truth is, he didn’t normally have one in public at home anymore either. But he was insecure and anxious without it – the dummy gave him security, soothed him and helped him to handle our crazy trip so well. I should have just been proud of him. Realised that it was an issue for later, back on home soil.

I feel embarrassed that I cared so much what others (strangers might I add) thought. I don’t know why, but people have a real bee in their bonnets about dummies. Seriously? For the Little Mister it was just as effective as a teething toy. It was his teething toy. It worked so much better than any Sophie the Giraffe or whatever other trendy things are on the market (and might be working really well for a lot of other children). He didn’t want the frozen teething rings, the special chewable toys. That worked for him. What’s the difference? Why is it OK for kids to chew on frozen finger foods and teething rings, but not to have a dummy in their gobs? It’s the weirdest double standard.

When he started to talk, I would tell him I couldn’t understand him if he had his dummy in his mouth. We started gently to tell him that dummies are for babies (which has backfired occasionally in public when he’s felt the need to tell other toddlers – just for the record I know he’s been such a hypocrite and I am not judging anyone – especially after our own experiences haha). We created a routine where he wouldn’t get breakfast or any snacks until he’d given up his dummy for the day (he is highly motivated by food haha). Baby steps.

When he started day care earlier this year, I sent him without his security items. He only goes once a week so a skipped nap isn’t an issue. I just wanted him to not get used to it there. He knows going to “school” (as he calls it) is a big kid thing to do, so I started him the way we plan to continue. I figured that if he absolutely freaked about not having those things, the staff could call me or I could revise my plan later. Turns out, he’s been just fine (although he doesn’t sleep he has quiet time). Yes.

Over the last couple of years, I flirted with the idea of going cold turkey. Of wondering when it was time to force the issue. But my gut just said it wasn’t time yet. He wasn’t ready. It’s kind of like toilet training has been for us. I was waiting for the signs that he was ready.

I have so rarely seen primary school aged children using dummies and other than in documentaries about strange and unusual addictions, I have never seen an adult who couldn’t kick the habit! Which gives great hope, doesn’t it?

So, back to yesterday…

I got him out of bed and guided him to the toilet. He had handed me his little security blankie (which I will let him have forever because CUTE) and he stood at the ready for his morning wees.

*cough*

*plop*

Uh oh…

Let’s just say that dummy was never going near my child’s mouth again!! EW.

It was also his last one. A long while ago, I had decided that I would not be purchasing any more. Once he ran out and had broken or lost all of them, that would be it. I never predicted it would all end when he’d drop one in the loo!

So. I had a choice. Run out and buy a new one before nap time or see how he reacted when I rinsed it and put it in the bin in front of him. I chose the latter. He was a little bit sad…until breakfast time. He is at that stage where he understands that if you have no more of something, that’s it. When we’ve run out of his favourite snack, he can’t have it that day. When he wants something, if we do not have it or cannot find it, he understands. So I figured we had that on our side, at least.

He did suggest to me that we buy some more, but I told him that if we did that, then there would be none left at the shops for all of the babies who needed them (we don’t have a younger sibling for him to blame the milestone on haha).

That morning I found the Sesame Street episode called ‘Goodbye Pacifier’ on YouTube. I showed it to him and explained that Elmo called his dummy a ‘binky’ (an American slang term – wish there was an Aussie equivalent for kids to watch – if there is then let me know!) and that even his hero Elmo (who also taught him about toilet training haha) has given up his dummy and said goodbye to it. He liked the song, ‘Bye Bye Binky‘ (also on YouTube).
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I felt cautiously optimistic. I was flying by the seat of my pants. Awesomely unprepared if you will! I had always envisioned myself spending weeks preparing him for this moment. Research, a big picture plan all laid out by me. As if! I should have known he’d get a cold, then cough it into the toilet when I was least expecting haha.

Nap time arrived and I was nervous but played it totally cool. I put him to bed and he was sad, but accepting. He cried with heartbreaking little whimpers, but he knew it was time. He knew I believed in him and I told him that it was OK to cry and be a little bit sad (gotta validate those feelings – it’s a big deal), but I knew he was ready because he was such a big boy. I told him I’d be back later and I left the room. I then had to sit on my hands as I watched him on the baby monitor. He whimpered but he never needed me – so brave.

He didn’t sleep (I really didn’t expect him to) but he played in his bed and sang ‘Bye bye binky’ to himself – oh the cuteness!

I’d put a call out to Mr Unprepared to bring something home as a reward. He headed to the shops where he’d found a Thomas the Tank Engine collectible set. The little trains cost $2 each and there was a special display/carrying case for them. Perfect. He could keep it in his room as a visual reminder of what he was achieving. Much like when I gave up mine as a toddler, in order to get myself some really cool glow worms (remember them?!).

Last night I was nervous. He got to bed and a couple of times he told me he wanted his dummy back. I gently reminded him that his dummy was yucky and had to go in the bin. I read him a couple of stories and then told him that if he was a really good boy and was able to be quiet and go to sleep, he’d get a new little train in the morning. HE DIDN’T CRY. NOT EVEN A WHIMPER. I was so impressed. He was a bit tired (from skipping his nap earlier on) and fell asleep in record time. No dummy! I thought, no doubt he’ll wake in the middle of the night, reach for it and be too disorientated to think rationally. I pictured him screaming for it and me stuck in the doorway of his room shooshing him in a soothing tone for hours.

But…he slept right through – no worries!! I thought, maybe when he wakes for the morning just before 7am, he’ll yell out for it. NOPE. He just waited for me to get him like usual. I THINK I’LL KEEP HIM.

It seemed too good to be true (and might still be – understandably – he’s kicking a lifelong habit haha), but then he napped today. No tears. No begging. He did absent mindedly look for it for a second when I came to get him up, but all was good. My Little Mister gets it and I am so glad he was ready.

So much of parenting is about following your gut feeling. Don’t let anyone bully you or shame you for your decisions when it comes to petty things like dummies. Do what is best for your child and they’ll show you when they’re ready for something. Also, no amount of planning can guarantee something will go smoothly. There is nothing wrong with trial and error. Nothing wrong with changing your mind in order to protect the process and nurture your child.

I’ve at least learnt that much in 3 years 🙂

What are your thoughts? How have you done it? Do you feel the pressure from others? Or simply wish me luck for tonight!!! x