Category: Parenting

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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image source

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

Starting day care for the first time – the what ifs and the possibilities.

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The Little Mister starts day care for the first time this week and while I’ve been excited at the thought of free time (ha – let’s see how long that lasts with the possibility of casual work and all the tasks that pile up each week), I am starting to get really nervous! Despite the fact that he is SO ready and I know he’s going to thoroughly enjoy being the little social butterfly that he is, I am still freaking out a little….because I’m me.

We’re sending him once a week (with the possibility of twice by the end of the year), to help him prepare for 3 full days a week of 4 year old kindy at school next year. We didn’t want to just chuck him in the deep end.

So what silly things have got me all tied up in knots? Let me allow you to view my ridiculous stream of thoughts – uncensored in all their irrational glory…

What if the other kids are assholes?

What if my kid acts like one? He can be pretty bossy and sometimes when he’s tired…well…

What if him being an only child somehow makes him seem more immature than the other kids his age? What if he’s slower to understand some stuff and gets punished for being naughty when he simply doesn’t get it yet? What if they forget how young he is and expect too much (he looks older than he is)?

What if toilet training doesn’t progress OR GETS WORSE?

Selfishly (what? It’s not all about me?), what if I start to think I’m failing at this mum stuff because this is the first time I am open to being judged for what I put in a lunchbox, what my kid wears, how far along he is in his development etc? I mean, hello, I’ve read the crazy Facebook stories people tell (which are in no way related to the centre we are sending our child – don’t kick us out haha).

What if he just gets sick all the time?

OH HOLY SH*T.

BUT…

…then I think…what if he has an AWESOME TIME?

What if he makes lots of friends who make him feel loved and accepted?

What if he makes progress with things like toilet training and giving up a dummy for sleep time, because he can see how it’s done with the influence of the other children?

What if this compensates well for the social skills he might need sharpening up on, being an only child at this point? What if he benefits from having more authority figures he isn’t related to and lifts to meet their expectations?

What if I finally get to look after myself during his time at day care with all those appointments I keep putting off? What if I get the opportunity to do a little work? What if I stop feeling guilty and just GET STUFF DONE?

What if the Little Mister gets nicely tired out and less restless and demanding at home?

What if he gets really ready for school, meaning less nerves for all of us by the time his first day rolls around next year?

What if his immune system gets even stronger?

Oh yes. All these what-ifs.

Truth is, I have no idea what to think or expect because we haven’t gone through it yet! I could be so far off base with half of my what-if scenarios and all you seasoned school/day care mummies are probably looking at me with that “oh bless her – she knows nothing” facial expression haha.

I know I’m doing the right thing and I know that the place we’re sending him seems just lovely and the right fit for our family – I felt such relief when we did a walk-through, the other kids were friendly and not fussed by the Little Mister’s presence, and the staff were so great both in person and in their reliability/accessibility with each point of contact. I know that my charming, sociable kid isn’t perfect, but he is good and he is kind. He has his own learning journey to go on! I know that I am not a big believer of wanting to keep him all to myself forever (oh hell no haha). I want him to get out there into the world with confidence and this is the first tiny step. I want him to socialise well and get ready to learn in a safe place.

Also? Damn, it’s just one day a week. Settle the f*ck down.

So there’s the overthink-everything Kez and then there’s the Kez who has finished writing this blog post (it’s therapy OK?). The Kez who, despite writing about herself in the third person right now (how did that happen?), is quite sane and level headed and knows that on the day everything will be OK. We can deal with whatever gets thrown at us and much more likely than not, the Little Mister benefit greatly from his day care experience. I don’t regret the decision at all and I am actually excited for him (and me – in all honesty)!

You know. No biggie.

😉

How did you feel before sending your child to day care/pre-kindy for the first time?

Sporadic “Newsletter”: January 2015 edition.

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OK, so this isn’t really a newsletter, it’s more of a “newsletter” because it’s not really a proper one. I am far too lazy and unfocused to actually send them regularly. Hence, the fact that it is a sporadic “newsletter”. Basically, this series will just be some random stuff I’ve been doing/thinking about/reading/watching…or whatever. Gee, I’m really selling this. 

Now that we’ve recovered from Christmas and New Year (trust me – a dear friend referred to it as an ’emotional hangover’ which described it perfectly), it’s been great diving into January with great excitement for all of the possibilities that 2015 might bring. I love that whole ‘fresh new year full of potential’ feeling.

So what have we been up to lately?

Losing actual sleep over toilet training. 

Yeah. I’m not proud. The night before last, I woke at 3am and started irrationally panicking about the Little Mister’s toilet training progress. I have no idea what possessed me as I lay in bed googling the shit out of the situation (or should I say ‘shit-uation’). Maybe the fact that he seemed to keep waking in the night (but not needing my help) because he’d held in his number 2s for a couple of days and was clearly not too comfortable. He has had a phobia of doing them on the toilet, you see. He’d get really anxious and freak out a bit, despite trying to please me. I was starting to worry about how backed up he might be getting and I didn’t want to pressure him and like scar him for life or anything.

So instead of learning that worrying in the middle of the night is not good for you, I came to the conclusion that an incentives chart was what he needed (revolutionary I know). So yesterday we gathered everything we needed. A hanging whiteboard, some dry erase markers and some cool little toy cars from K-mart that cost hardly anything, but would be FANTASTIC bribes to dangle in front of him. He has to get a certain number of ‘ticks’ on his chart to get a reward for various things, like doing wees without us having to ask him to go, wees when we ask him (he has to work harder for this because he’s already fairly good at it), and just one big tick for a poo on the toilet. When he gets all the ticks for a certain task, he gets a little car/truck/helicopter (one of whatever’s in the multi-packs I bought). As he progresses, I will up the ante – wearing jocks all day, standing up to wee, using the toilets at the shops (hey – I’d want a reward for that too) etc.

So on our way home from the shops with all these toilet training incentive supplies, he told me “I need to do wees.” He then held on until we got to our house 5 minutes later (I had offered that we could go to the shops if it was urgent). This never happens. Usually he has to be prompted or he wets his training pull ups because he doesn’t think to tell anyone ahead of time. Then we were home and right before his day sleep, he told me he needed to poo and blow me away with a feather, he did it. On the toilet. No accidents. No hiding anywhere, no crying, no fussing. Yes!

I have heard that sometimes the novelty wears off quite quickly, but I shall remain hopeful and try to keep things interesting and motivational (but still realistically achievable) for him. I don’t think he’d understood the concept fully before, so that’s probably why we didn’t introduce it earlier. The moral of the story? Insomnia pays off. Sigh. I am not nailing this whole ‘functioning as a grown person’ thing haha.

Planning our camping trip.

We’re really excited because we’re going camping soon. I’ve been excited about it since last year! I am looking forward to beach days, fish and chips from the front shop (the best ever) and watching the Little Mister run around. Mr Unprepared has done some stuff to make sure our camper van is ready for another year (it was made in the 80s – the type with the pull out ends) and I have been making some lists. Because I’m good at lists. It should be so much easier to pack this year, because we set so much of it up last time. Such a relief, because I HATE PACKING.

There’s been plenty of beach time at home too.  1743670_10152726859693218_2598099152522802652_n Yep. That’s my fam and that’s our local. A beauty, isn’t it? We’ve also been enjoying my parents’ pool (I recommend that everybody’s parents have a pool haha). The weather has finally started to heat up and while we’ve had some stinkers, it’s still worth it (and I know I only say that as a spoilt person with aircon in my house and parents with a pool). I love the summer.

I’ve been watching a lot of teevs.

Yep. I am loving the fact that now summer has come (and brought with it a lot of lame TV reruns and sports), I can finally start watching everything I’ve recorded on my DVR for the last year or so (I’m not kidding)! I’ve had a massive Parks and Recreation marathon (best time of my life) and now I’m obsessed with the MTV show Catfish. Like the episode where a dude sent a chick money and she bought an engagement ring and sent it to herself without him knowing (rendering them engaged for all intents and purposes) and it got all creepy, or the time a chick was a catfish but then came clean with the dude she was chatting with, but it turned out he was a (transgender) catfish too, but they fell in love anyway. Yeah, I know. Weird and wonderful stuff. If you don’t know what a catfish is, this doesn’t make much sense. Basically, it’s when you lure someone into an online relationship, by pretending you’re somebody else (usually a fictional person you’ve created by using stolen profile pictures and stuff). You’re welcome.

Hey, I’ve had to fill the hole in my life that has been left after I finished listening to the Serial podcast!

Catch up on Awesomely Unprepared here!

Here are some of the blog posts I’ve written lately (and some updates on those situations)…

Happiness starts with us. I’ve been reflecting on what happiness means. The whole toilet training insomnia thing shows me that I need to work on the ‘not stressing excessively’ part, but we’ll get there 🙂

Reading list. I listed the books I am keen to devour. I am making good progress with Mindy Kaling’s book because I’ve sacrificed some stupid time wasting I was doing before bed (playing a rather addictive word game on my phone). I am really enjoying it, thanks for asking 😉

My thoughts on spiders…and how to kill them. So I confessed to my ridiculous arachnophobia and how to kill a red back spider the Aussie way (hint: it involves footwear). Just last night, Mr Unprepared saw a huntsman spider jump out of nowhere. He emptied his lunchbox (for work the next day) and threw it at the spider, in the hopes of trapping it…but accidentally killed it in the process. It was equally horrifying and hilarious and terrifying. I mean, killing a spider with a lunchbox? Who does that? My husband does. The lunchbox was re-packed (well – a clean replacement one was) and I sat there for the rest of the night, wondering where the spider had come from and how many times I had walked past it. Also, THEY JUMP. Spiders should NOT be allowed to jump. Oh holy sh*t.

What have you been up to lately? Tell me everything! x

Short mama problems.

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You may be aware that I am quite vertically challenged. At only 5 foot tall (that’s about 153cm in my case), I would probably not be making the basketball team, is what I’m saying. Actually, there are other factors like my lack of coordination, athleticism and general lack of interest, but let’s not let that get in the way haha.

I’m pretty OK with being short. I get called ‘cute’ a lot. I can’t reach stuff. But life is good.

One thing I hadn’t anticipated was having a tall child. I am sure (sorry dude) this is all just a ‘going to peak early and be a short-arse like his parents’ situation, but for now he is tall. He is well over half my height already (he’s three in a month’s time) and that’s an understatement, I think. About half way between my belly button and my boobs. This doesn’t stop me from looking after him quite effectively (I think). I have grown muscles I didn’t know I could grow and there are always ways to adapt. Wrangling can be challenging on a not-so-great day (usually in public of course), but it’s all do-able.

When I cuddle the Little Mister, people probably can’t tell who is carrying who.

I’ve noticed that normal people with normal sized children don’t get a second glance. When a normal sized person carries their normal sized toddler through a shopping centre, everyone goes, “Awwwwww.”

Because they think it’s sweet. Oh, bless. That toddler is a bit tired and awwww look at how they are resting their heads on their mama’s normal sized shoulder. Awwwww.

When I carry my toddler through a shopping centre because he refuses to walk and refuses a trolley or stroller, everyone looks scared. I can see their minds working sometimes, “OMG. That kid is so big compared to her! Why is she carrying him? Isn’t there another way? She might drop him! She looks overwhelmed!!”

Sigh. I want the ‘awwwww’s!! Give me the ‘awwwwwww’s too!

Sometimes it can be harder to deal with the kinds of toddler protests where he ends up lying like a wet noodle on the floor. I can’t scoop him up as easily – although it’s not as pretty, I manage – and march off with him. Maybe my centre of gravity is too low or something haha. I can feel a little self conscious when it happens in front of other people. I always feel like I look less confident/competent/assertive or something. Obviously I am very grateful that Mr Unprepared is a help with it all when he is not at work. It’s easier for him! Often I have worn myself out during the week and it’s a relief to have a small break from the physical stuff. I’ve been known to gasp, “No more! No more wrangling! Aaaargh!” at the end of a very long week!

It will be a relief when the Little Mister becomes a little less unpredictable (as toddlers can be when let loose)!

The main thing is that he knows I’m the (loving but firm) boss, because one day he’ll be taller than me and that day might not be so far away!!

Do you have a tall child? Are you a short parent? Do you look at short parents with tall kids in the shopping centre and wonder what the hell is going on? 😉

Triangles and one grubby little hand.

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Triangles on the Little Mister’s IKEA toy box cushion (it doubles as somewhere to sit). A grubby little hand.

“Take a picture, Mummy!”

“Triangles!” he proclaimed with great pride.

“That’s right!” I exclaimed with the same amount of pride. Maybe even more.

I knew he has his colours sorted, but shapes? This is a wonderful new development.

I think the Little Mister is experiencing a growth/developmental spurt again. He’s been eating like a maniac and one time? One time, he actually ASKED me if he could go down for a nap EARLY. He’s also a bit clingy and easily frustrated. More so than usual. It always signals the same thing. Once everything evens out again, he goes back to normal and it’s like he’s a new child. At least I hope this will be so every time it happens! Last time it happened, we were overseas on a very intense holiday – great timing, huh?

The Little Mister is 3 in less than two months. How has this happened?? Gosh, I love that guy and those grubby little hands.

I don’t like…trying to reason with an almost 3 year old.

This post has been inspired by Fat Mum Slim’s September Photo a Day challenge x

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When the Little Mister was younger, I thought I was totally prepared for the Terrible Twos. He has sure had his moments in the past year, but I had heard all about the threenager phase. People warned me that it’s much much worse than the Terrible Twos. I have been bracing myself. Don’t even tell me about the f*cking fours because I am so not even ready for that to go down!

The Terrible Twos really weren’t that unkind to us. I’d call them the mildly difficult sometimes but mostly really really cute twos (I may just be putting on my rose coloured glasses in hindsight but it didn’t seem TOO bad).

The Little Mister turns 3 in November (a couple of months away) and he started to exhibit signs of The Threenager about a month ago. It just suddenly came on and it’s so…intense!! Sometimes funny (like hilariously side splitting), other times infuriating! Definitely exhausting. I thought I was pushed to my limits physically before, but it turns out I hadn’t even scraped the surface of it yet!

I thought the ‘threenager’ play on words was just a slight exaggeration. How could a toddler possibly be like a teenager? No, really. Teenagers are way worse, right?

Well, living through this stage in the Little Mister’s life can sometimes be like reasoning with a DRUNK teenager. I didn’t even know that two year olds could roll their eyes so hard. He actually ROLLS HIS EYES at me. When he doesn’t like what I’m saying, he’ll change the subject. No is his favourite word and loud is his favourite volume. He won’t listen to reason. Doesn’t want me to finish my sentences (even if I’m trying to tell him something positive). Ignores me when he thinks I’m clearly being stupid and offensive – usually coinciding with him waking from a nap (as depicted above). OK, I’ll give him that one. I still struggle. He’ll argue for the sake of it and he does think he knows everything. He even refuses to be called by anything but his FULL name, like he’s SOMEBODY AND DON’T I KNOW WHO HE IS. He wants to show he’s independent (but not so independent that he’s not annoying ALL THE TIME) and just yesterday, after no more than maybe 15 minutes at the park, he was seen strolling off into the distance hand in hand with an older girl who was wearing a cute floral number. Clearly he thinks he’s quite the charmer.

ALSO, HE DOESN’T LIKE ME SINGING IN THE CAR.

OK, so maybe that’s because I sound like a strangled cat…I’ll pay it.

However, it’s not all bad (and despite what it looks like to someone who doesn’t have a threenager we continue to try our very best to handle his *ahem* attitude in a way that will teach him what is and isn’t acceptable/appropriate). He loves a good hug and is super affectionate. He says please and thank you (the thank yous are just so completely joyous and sincere that it makes a tired parent feel special). He’s becoming much more articulate, which makes it easier to communicate (when he’s in a good mood of course or not too tired in which case he sounds like a malfunctioning cyborg haha). He’s so happy to learn. He can tell us about his day in detail, when we chat before bed time. He is starting to sing along to real songs with real words which is so cute, you guys. He says sorry after he’s had a bit of an episode and it takes a lot for him to actually throw a tantrum (he prefers emotional blackmail complete with a couple of tears and a wobbly lip). He’s caring and wants to look after other people – big or small – he wants to see people happy. He is getting really useful (hahaha) and likes to help me around the place. He’s a great little buddy to kill time with or do boring tasks with and while I might complain that I’M NEVER ALONE anymore, it’s nice that I know I’m never alone. Know what I mean? He also makes me see the world in a whole new way and it keeps me from being a Negative Nancy (no offence to any Nancys out there – not all of you are negative – I do not mean to do any Nancy shaming – I should shut up).

While a part of me can’t wait until the Little Mister grows out of this phase, a much bigger part of me is enjoying the good parts and choosing to laugh at the not so good parts (with the occasional exhausted meltdown and cry for me-time). I know just by looking at the news each day that I’m so lucky to have my little threenager.

What are you grateful for today? Do you have a threenager or have you survived it before? Any stories to make me feel normal? 

Repetition.

This post is inspired by Fat Mum Slim’s September Photo a Day challenge x
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Life with babies and toddlers can often feel quite repetitive. They are learning and practicing so many skills. Often with great diligence. Not to mention you have to keep feeding them and bathing them and cleaning up after them over and over – sheesh (who would have thought)! Somehow each day still seems to be different, though. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t notice something new about the Little Mister’s development. So weird how that works.

Here’s some stuff that’s been happening over and over lately:

Hugs. Lots and lots of hugs. The Little Mister has become really affectionate lately. Not that he wasn’t before, but it’s like he’s gone super nuts for it now! Sure, sometimes when he’s asking for a hug it’s because he wants to reach something or see something, but he just seems mad for a close face to face moment with his mum. This is so lovely, most of the time, but I kind of can’t get much done!! He’s learnt ‘eskimo kisses’ (I don’t know if that’s PC or not – my apologies to the Inuit people) and it is rather cute as he grabs both sides of my face and rubs his nose against mine. I think the hugs are partly the reason why this blog post is a day late. I can’t get any typing done ever haha.

The Little Mister also likes to be lifted off the ground for hugs. He weighs 18kg. I can’t lift that kind of weight without him assisting a little. When he stands there like a dead weight, I am starting to realise my limitations!! Still, I try each day. That’s when I’m not being actively climbed upon, whether I like it or not!

Pushes on the swing. There’s something about that childhood joy of whooshing through the air on a swing. Mr Unprepared and I have been known to indulge on visits to the playground with the Little Mister now and then! The Little Mister was really lucky to receive a swing set for Christmas last year from his grandparents and yesterday, Mr Unprepared was able to finish securing it so that it’s nice and sturdy on our lawn. The Little Mister loves it. He can spend hours just swinging back and forth out there. He loves to go fast and high (hence the need for extra secure footings). I spent yesterday afternoon being barked at to go, “Faster! Faster! Push! Push!”

I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything else!

I am starting to understand why there are dads out there who sit a few metres away in a chair enjoying a beer while they pull on a rope they’ve attached to the swing!! I won’t judge you anymore, dudes haha.

Potty training. Oh, man. Will it ever end? The Little Mister doesn’t like the cold, so he doesn’t like taking his pants off on his own very often. He’s also not super coordinated at it yet (so doing it in a rush when he’s feeling the urge can be a challenge), so i think that does hold things back a little and I get that he can’t help it sometimes. I try to keep him in comfy, easy to pull off pants at home when I can, but he’s not quite there yet. This means that every few hours I do the same old, “It’s time to use the potty!” chant (just to prevent excessive accidents), while having to stop absolutely everything so I can help. I am really hoping that this summer the warmer weather will assist. He was doing so well last summer. A bit of extra age and experience under his belt, along with warmer temperatures may be just what we need. I’ve heard that some boys take longer, so that’s OK. I’m sure he’ll be fine when he realises he’s ready. He’s the kind of kid who can take a while learning something, but then when it clicks, it really clicks quickly.

Vacuuming. I thought I was fussy about the floor when the Little Mister was a crawling bub. I was so worried about every piece of lint and fluff and crumb. I thought it was all hazardous and I obsessed over it. How embarrassing haha. Any second child will not be getting such great treatment!! Now having a toddler around, I can’t move without stepping on something crunchy. It’s quite gross. I have to vacuum about fifty million times more than I used to (which admittedly wasn’t that often). The crumb situation is just out of control! I dream of one day owning one of those fancy cordless Dyson cleaners. Imagine what a lifesaver that would be for all the spot cleaning! I get vacuum cleaner cord rage. I also get ‘trying to drag the vacuum cleaner around corners’ rage. I think I just hate vacuuming in general, really. It’s like one step below how I feel about ironing.

Bedtime stories. I love that the Little Mister is so into books. He loves being read to. He loves sitting by himself and having a browse. He gets excited when we have library books to devour (although getting in and out of the library with him on one hand and a massive pile of books in the other is so not easy). He just loves getting to know his favourite stories. Over and over and over. Even when I’ve read him a book from start to finish, he’ll ask me to begin again.

“One more! One more!” While I’m no dummy and I know it’s partly a delay tactic, so he doesn’t have to go to sleep yet, I also know that he genuinely enjoys going over and over a story. He wants to know it. He’s learning so much and trying to soak it all in. Occasionally, if a book is really short, I’ll humour him, but I honestly think the only reason I take him to the library is so that I’ll have something new to read each night! I think he’d be satisfied with the same couple of books each night FOREVER.

While it can get a little tedious, all this repetition, there’s still joy to be found. I’m well aware that I’ll miss some of these things as he gets older (except for the potty training – won’t miss that AT ALL)! 

What things do you do a trillion times a day?

Words are the new sticks and stones.

Everyone’s heard that saying:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I’m sure the expression was created with the best of intentions many years ago, with the message that it’s important to be resilient and have a tougher skin when people say mean things (which is fair enough on some levels and that’s for a whole other blog post), but in all reality, words are so important and shouldn’t be given less significance than physical hurts. It is our responsibility to use our words wisely. I know that as the Little Mister grows up, that is one very important thing (of many) that I want him to know.

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While we’re always drilling home the important idea that we must be strong and choose the way we react to a challenging situation or person, we need to remember that we also need to be considerate of what words we put out into the world for others to react to. Should we be hurting them in the first place? Of course not. Will everyone in the world be nice to us and use kind words? Of course not. But should we try to do/be better than that? F*ck yeah.

Even though, we are supposed to all be ‘tough’ and ‘strong’, some of the worst hurts we look back on in our lives can be very emotional or involve something horrible someone has said that has made you feel a certain way. While in my mind, physical violence is abhorrent and should never ever be tolerated, we need to also remember to never use our words violently – even in the heat of the moment.

Words can constitute emotional violence and abuse. Yes. It’s a thing. A very real, awful, damaging thing. People don’t realise it, but physical violence is actually a tool that abusers use to reinforce their verbal and psychological bullying. It can make or break a person’s self esteem, whether it is a child or a partner. You can only put a person down or use controlling language and threats for so long before they start to believe what you are saying, too afraid to escape a situation. According to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), one in four women report to having experienced emotional abuse, and one in seven men. We need to teach our children not only to not accept this behaviour from others, but also to never be the perpetrators. It starts now. While they’re young. We need to teach them that words matter.

“Whatever. It’s just words. It’s not like I hit anyone…” should never be uttered as an excuse. Ever.

Personally, my worst memories involve the words that people have used. They are the hardest to shake. Sometimes people don’t mean to use their words hurtfully, but can be careless. Once something is said, it cannot be completely unsaid. We need to think before we speak (or type). Especially in this modern age of social media and internet anonymity. Of trolling and cyber bullying.

Think words aren’t that powerful? That words should just be ignored? That people should just ‘get over it’? Maybe consider these things:

Words can make or break a politician’s career. How many times have we judged them on what they’ve said and whether they’ve meant it or not? How many times have we seen a pollie crash and burn because they’ve said something completely intolerable or ridiculous (I can think of several very recent examples)? Or remembered the politicians who said such powerful things that they are forever immortalised by their inspiring speeches?

Without words, blogs (and bloggers like myself) would not exist (nor would lively debates in the comments sections). Books wouldn’t be so powerful. When’s the last time you read a book and thought, ‘Wow. That was so amazing that I couldn’t put it down. That writer really brought the story to life. I shall never read another book again because no book could ever be as good as the book I just read!’
Unless it was a picture book…I’m pretty sure the words mattered the most. With the exception of 50 Shades of Grey of course – I’ve heard it’s terribly written, but somehow it’s sold about a bajillion copies. Still, it consists of words. Words that make people feel things *shudders*.

Same goes for the scripts of TV shows or movies. We fall in love with, or loathe, characters because of the words they use. The way they speak. The stories they tell. We quote them and they become iconic. Sure, there are a lot of things we can like about movies without even hearing the dialogue (hello Channing Tatum!), but it’s the things characters say that tell us the most about them (um…every word ever in The Notebook)!

Without words, we wouldn’t be sucked into clicking everything on the internet ever. Have you ever heard of click bait? Those few words designed to lure you into clicking a link to a blog about something that’s ‘sure to go viral’? You know the type. If it wasn’t for those ‘You’ll never believe what happened next…” thingies, you wouldn’t waste hours of your life in a rabbit hole of crazy internet stories that may or may not be true.

*ahem* not talking about myself here of course *cough cough*

Words are how we sell something. Sure, people would argue that sex sells, but work with me here. If you walk into a store, who is going to convince you to buy that thing? The person who mumbles, accidentally offends you, doesn’t know what they’re talking about and sounds like they’re lying? Or the person who is confident, well spoken, whose words seem honest and genuine? Communication skills are important.

If we’re worried about a loved one, perhaps they’ve gained a little weight or we’re worried about some of their habits, do our words matter then? Um, hell yes. What do you think makes things better?

“Honey, you’re so fat now. Go to the gym. You’re hurting my eyes.”

or…”Honey, I’ve noticed you are not feeling like yourself lately and you’ve lost a bit of confidence because you seem self conscious about your weight. Is there anything I can do to help? Wanna work out together?”

I know what I’d rather hear!! Even for selfish reasons, we need to consider what our words can do. If the result we want is for someone to do something for us, will insults and put downs really work or will kindness and sensitivity get us the results? The way we speak to someone we care about truly matters. It can definitely make or break a relationship. Tact can go a long way.

Why do people go to therapy? Because talking is important.

I can only imagine how many family feuds began because somebody said something that hurt somebody else. Hello, Dr Phil would be out of business if that wasn’t the case!

If words were not a thing, we wouldn’t be able to sue each other for saying nasty, untrue things about each other in the public eye. If words are not that important, we wouldn’t be outraged when somebody writes offensive things on picket signs at funerals or abortion clinics.

We can’t just stand there, quoting our ‘sticks and stones’ crap while living a life that says we do actually really really care what people say. It would be hypocritical. Language and words exist for a reason.

We care if someone is telling us the truth or lying. We care about those text messages that come without emoji to tell us whether it’s a nice one or a mean one (and we won’t admit that we sometimes lose sleep over it). We care about the passive aggressive tactics someone uses to make us feel bad about ourselves (have you ever seen the mother in law on Everybody Loves Raymond?). Entire social movements and campaigns have been created, based on some careless words somebody has said somewhere in the world. For better or worse.

I want my Little Mister to know that words matter. That he can be strong when somebody uses them badly, but that he shouldn’t tolerate it either. I want him to know that if he speaks ill of somebody it will come back to bite him. I want him to know that he can enrich his relationships by using his words lovingly. That if he speaks out of line, he should be quick to mend it with an apology and a heartfelt, “I’m sorry, what I meant to say was…”

That what he writes on the internet can stay there forever.

I want him to be clever. Not to resort to physical blows over some horrible words that have been thrown around. It’s not enough to tell boys and young men to just punch someone to fix a problem. Even if the other person is in the wrong.

Words are used to convey our emotions. To clarify something. To present ourselves in resumes and job interviews. To tell people who we are. To show we care.

I want to use my words to encourage, inspire and uplift my child. I don’t ever want to squash his spirit or hurt his confidence. My words will matter too. There is a best way to use your voice or to say anything important that you feel (even if it’s a touchy subject or it’s not what someone wants to hear). I hope I can lead by example and that person by person, we might make a difference in this world where people seem to have forgotten that words have so much power.

Let’s think before we add more meaningless noise to the world (and even the internet)! Who’s in? x

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Three in three months.

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filling his pockets with shells

Something has happened in the last week or two. Suddenly I realise that my (mostly) terrific two year old is almost three. In three months he will be three years old. That is just positively ancient and very very grown up. I don’t know if I’m ready! I’ve been watching as the baby section of each store I visit becomes a more distant experience (apart from the times I buy gifts for the massive baby boom my friends are having). The toddler section seems to blur into the ‘big boy’ stuff. The Little Mister is getting a big boy room soon (it’s half done). With full sized furniture. No cot/toddler bed. No change table. No port-a-cot shoved in the cupboard. NO NURSERY.

It feels like overnight he has become this new little person. He’s still got the same gorgeous soul he’s had since he was born, but he won’t let me do anything. Won’t let me put him in the car seat. Won’t let me lift him into, or out of, the car. Won’t sit in a stroller (he’s getting so big for it that he can ‘brake’ it by planting his feet firmly into the ground). Won’t hold my hand when we’re out (or even let me touch him or imply in the slightest that I am somehow assisting him in any way). Which makes for great car park arguments. Safety is not a toddler’s priority.

He wants me to read him his bedtime stories over and over for infinity so he won’t have to go to sleep (luckily he does most nights). He tells me when I’m wrong (even if I’m right).

Getting him ready to leave home is quite time consuming. It involves a lot of chasing, firm words (both of ours), grovelling on the ground (both of us), trickery (both of ours) and patience. Shoes and socks? That takes a while. Typically it goes like this:

Me: Time to put on our shoes and socks! Can you sit down so I can help you, please? 

He gets distracted by something. Runs away all cheeky like. Sometimes grovels on the floor underneath the chair in his room. Sits on the chair…facing the wrong way. I attempt to put one of his socks on backwards. He then gets off the chair, grovels around a bit, gets distracted. Repeat for the second sock. He runs off before I can put his first shoe on. Comes back because he realises he is “needing shoes” (he knows shoes mean he gets to go out and do fun stuff). Insists on putting on the shoe by himself. Bats my hand away. 

“Little Mister do it!”

Decides that putting his own shoe on is too hard. Asks me to do it. So I do. I deftly apply the second shoe while he’s already making a move for it. If I’m lucky. 

So if that’s just shoes? Imagine everything else!

The Little Mister refuses to leave home without his car keys. A big, colourful toy set of keys designed for babies (he doesn’t have to know that). He wants to be like me, because I always grab my keys on the way out of the house. Cue meltdown if he’s misplaced them and we are running out of time to be somewhere! When we get home he insists on taking off his shoes and lining them up on the garage step next to Mr Unprepared’s old work boots. He’ll scrunch up his socks and shove one in each shoe. Just like Daddy.

The Little Mister’s imagination has just suddenly become so huuuuuuge. He sees things that the boring adult cannot see. The bubbles in his bath become Peter Rabbit’s house. Dinosaurs. Cafés with coffee served outside on little tables. Couches. Mummy and Daddy’s house. Trees. Train tunnels. Cars. Boxes and washing baskets become cars for teddy bears and trains. I am always calling teddy bear on his toy phone to come and assist because a train carriage has tipped over. The Little Mister will pick up his Mickey Mouse lunchbox (given to him by flight attendants recently on a flight home from Singapore) and jump into his bubble car to go to ‘work’ just like Daddy.

Some mornings, I’ll have had requests to go to five different places (library, playground, Nana and Poppy’s house, the shops, to see his friends) before we (I) can even wake up properly.

Last night he ran around the house wearing an old lady wig (complete with bun) that he found in my wardrobe, lashings of hot pink lipstick (his insistence – he doesn’t see gender – just bright colours and stuff that one of his favourite big people – yours truly – does), a coral coloured handbag draped over his shoulders, his dad’s old sunnies on (upside down of course) and no pants (par for the course). I think a dress up box will be in order soon. Oh, the pictures I could get for his 21st birthday! The joy!

When we go to playgrounds or peoples’ places, if there is a rideable car, tractor or bike, he is going to hog it and defend it to the death (without adult intervention). He has been learning about sharing, but still doesn’t realise it applies to him. He just thinks everyone else should share. We’re working on it! He’s so sweet, in all other areas of playground matters, though. He says sorry and thank you and please (most of the time). It kind of balances out a lot of the ‘no’s or the NOOOOOOOs or the nopes or the nahs that I get served up daily, anyhow.

He is still a chatterbox (always has been), but now the words he uses are getting clearer and occasionally he’ll come out with some hilarious things. He’s learning how to play games. Hide and seek is the latest.

Hide and seek with the Little Mister:
I have to close my eyes and start counting. He goes and hides in the kitchen (the same place he ‘hides’ every single time). Then he runs out very loudly and conspicuously to find me with an excited grin on his face before I even get to the count of five.
I guess he likes doing both the hiding and the seeking all at once. Funny little man. – Awesomely Unprepared Facebook page.

This latest development spurt has been an adjustment for me too! Each time the Little Mister makes a leap, I am forced to catch up. Fast. From my Facebook page last week:

When the Little Mister has a developmental spurt he is usually a bit more of a handful for a little while until he settles into it and let’s just say that has been the issue most of the week! So I reach Friday night and I am all exhausted but excited to have a nice big sleep and wake up a bit more refreshed. So what do I dream about? I dream that I’m toddler wrangling…how (un)lucky!

I’m getting there. While the Little Mister’s crusade for independence (regardless of whether his current skill set can allow it) is certainly a challenge, even for a saint like me (HA HA HA HA HA), he more than makes up for it with his humour, affection and quirky ways. I love that he has so many awesome ‘firsts’ to experience no matter how grown up he seems.

Goodness knows what is in store when he turns 3 for real.

So, if you’ve had a three year old at any point, what can I expect?