Tag: life advice

5 ways to recharge (and stay sane) before Christmas.

Oh my goodness. The end of the school year has had me beat! The kids aren’t the only people who are exhausted! I have been so tired. I mean, I’m always a bit tired (because duh I’m a parent and also *ahem* a wife to a lovely but annoying man hahaha) but lately I’ve found it harder to keep bouncing back and to just push through!

I’ve decided to put together a little list of things that, based on past experience, might help me to survive this busy time of year. Things that will hopefully revitalise me a little so I’m not a worn out bitch by Christmas day! I want to enjoy this time of year because it’s my favourite time of year! I’m like Will Ferrell dressed in a fugly elf outfit, yelling out random things about loving Christmas at strangers. But not until December 1st, because I’m not crazy or anything. Geez.

I’m a bit special.

Anyway, where was I?

Right-o. List of things that help me to recharge when I’m bloody exhausted…

Make your bedroom feel like a glorious place to sleep. 

Better sleep makes you less tired! I know. What a revelation. Who knew? Last night, after a sleepless week and a whole bunch of quite frankly overly realistic and terrifying nightmares, I decided to do something about it. We declared it clean sheets day. I aired the room out and let a lot of light in. I lit a couple of gorgeous candles I’d forgotten about (and blew them out before bed time because of safety and shit).

Last night felt like heaven and I slept a lot better. The air/energy in the room felt so much lighter and not murky and stuffy. No nightmares! Yes!

I won’t go on about it because it’s all been said, but go to bed early when you’ve got nothing on. Rest up so you can enjoy other things later!

Let yourself get dumb in your rare down time. 

I used to get made fun of for always watching mindless trash TV or movies that didn’t exactly evoke deep thoughts or complex mind gymnastics. People like to say things like, “Why do you like that mindless junk? It will rot your brain!”

But to be honest, that’s the exact result I’m going for! I spend a lot of time overthinking things, reading about everything that’s going on in the world, dealing with the every day complexities of life. I consider myself to be pretty clever and a not so bad critical thinker. Sometimes I just need to switch off – something I’ve been crap at doing lately!

Ever since I explained that to my trash TV hating people, they have understood and left me to it. I’m always a heaps better person after spending a while being all like, OMG WHUT HAS KHLOE KARDASHIAN DONE TO GET THAT ARSE? HOW IS KYLIE JENNER HER OWN STEPKID’S AUNTY?

Basically, I don’t meditate (probably should) or do yoga (shut up Mum), but watching the shallower stuff really helps me to unwind!

You know, I need a break from being so damn clever all the time! 😜

Drink more water and eat healthy things. 

I have been rattling on about this stuff in my Kez Gets Physical updates. I am really appreciating being fuelled by things that don’t make me feel sluggish and gross. You don’t have to do it for weight loss, just do it to feel energised and in a better mood! I love to have a green juice when I feel like total crap (I know I sound like a wanker but it really really works). I also think water is the bomb diggity. It wakes me up in the morning (I know you coffee lovers are looking at me like I’m a freak) and brings me back to life when I am feeling exhausted.

I can always feel the difference between me having a decent salad for lunch, versus the times I’ve indulged in less healthy options (they’re so tempting when we feel like crap and want something quick and we just want comfort food). Not falling into a food coma by 2pm really helps me get through the afternoon!

Acknowledge your exhaustion and communicate well.

I am the crabbiest cow when I’m exhausted. I’ll admit it! I get cranky and I find it sooooo exhausting to be bothered telling anyone how I feel. But it’s worth doing. Things always go better when I confide in my husband about how burnt out I’m feeling, what he could do to assist (martyr shit is pretty much banned in my house) and just give him the heads up so he’s not shocked by my lack of excitement about life or my slightly stabby moods. He can do the same with me. It’s better than both of us just throwing our weight around like angry bears. It’s not a perfect system (we’re only human and life gets crazy) but we try.

Also, I have never fallen into this trap myself, but I have a feeling some people get on the internet and let their crabby moods affect the comments they leave on social media. Dudes, realise it’s your tiredness and stress talking and nobody wants to be on the receiving end! The other person might be exhausted AF too! Don’t fight with people just because you’re tired. That in itself is a waste of energy! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Switch off that screen or walk away if you think you won’t be able to resist!

Be in touch with your feelings, y’all!

Get outside.

I love this time of year. So much sunshine (and Vitamin D). Fresh air is so revitalising. Even if you just stand outside for a few minutes or go for a short walk, you will feel a little better. Exercise is great for building stamina and getting those endorphins, but if you just don’t have it in you (understandably – trust me I’ve been feeling it), just get out for no other reason than to be in the outdoors. There doesn’t have to be a point to it or a task to complete. Just go outside and stand there or sit and have a drink or better still, lie in a hammock if you have one. I need to try this a whole lot more.


Nothing I’ve said is particularly revolutionary, but I hope it helps. This time of the year can be stressful and I think that if we can all practice a little bit of (realistic) self care and be kind to each other, we’ll see the year out in a really positive way (regardless of whether it was kind to us or not)!

What do you do to stay sane during the ‘silly’ season/end of the school year? 

How to apologise properly.

Hey, you know when a ‘celebrity’ or somebody in the public eye (do I need to mention a certain Collingwood Football club president?) kind of fucks up? They might make their employer/s look bad or offend a large segment of the population. And then there comes the seemingly forced apology.

We roll our eyes in frustration, as they ‘apologise’. We feel like they’re only apologising to save their job or their PR image. Because someone told them to. We are reminded of when children are forced to apologise for doing something naughty and they don’t want to, so they spit the words out sarcastically or spend their apology making time still talking about why the thing they did was not that bad or was someone else’s fault.

Yuck, right?

Well, I have thought a lot about what makes a good apology. Because we all screw up or put our foot in it sometimes. But it’s only truly forgivable if we really nail the apology and make solid resolutions to do better in that area moving forward.

So here are my tips for making a good apology (whether you are a normal human being or a bumbling idiot with a high profile)…

Be sincere.

This might be the hardest part. But you have got to mean it. Dig deep, swallow your pride, tap into some empathy and mean it. People see through false platitudes from a mile away. Do not try that sickening lip service bullshit and expect it to be swallowed. It’s insulting.

Take accountability.

Tell the other person/people what it is you did wrong. Own it. Do not say, “I’m sorry IF I upset you.” If??? You did, or you wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Do not put the accountability back onto the person/people you offended. Do not say, “I’m really sorry that you got upset at me.”

Because that’s like saying, “I’m not really sorry for what you think I said/did (which quite honestly I am not completely happy to cop to). I am sorry you called me on it and quite frankly maybe everyone was overreacting”.

Do not say, “I’m sorry, but…”

Don’t try to justify the thing you said/did while apologising. The ‘but’ cancels it out.

“I’m sorry but it was just a joke…”

“I’m sorry, but to be fair…”

You know the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Also, do not underestimate the use of the word, “I”. Don’t be all, “So I’m really sorry that happened to you.”

No. You should be really sorry YOU did that to the other person. It can be tempting to distance yourself from that thing you’re probably embarrassed you did, but I promise it won’t go down as well as using the word, “I” in your sentences.

Show that you understand the impact of what you did to hurt/offend someone.

Tell someone that you know why what you did was wrong and the damage/impact it caused or potentially could cause.

“I’m sorry that I joked about being violent towards a woman. It is not something to joke about. It was a damaging comment to make and a lot of people are looking to me as a public figure. I could have used my voice to speak out against the problem but I ended up being a part of the problem.”

Show genuine remorse. Not for being caught or called out. Remorse for what you did to hurt/offend someone else.

State what you will do differently moving forward. 

An apology tends to lose its credibility if the person does the same kind of thing over and over. You should mention a genuine plan or intention to do differently so you won’t have to apologise for similar screw ups ever again. How will you prevent this happening again?

Make sure you mean it, though or you could find yourself red faced again in the future!

Do not apologise with the sole intent of getting something in return.

While you may believe that both parties have contributed to a crap situation, do not apologise simply so you can skip to them making theirs. Make your apology because it needs to be made. Because it’s the right thing to do. Be true to the good person you know you are/want to be.

Other people do not owe us their forgiveness but we may owe them an apology regardless.

Disclosure: I am not perfect but I wholeheartedly try to take my own advice. It can be hard to accept that we’ve screwed up sometimes, but it’s character building to take it on the chin and do better next time. Sometimes I’m a slow learner, but I keep these tips in the back of my mind and keep working at them! They really do work in making the other person feel validated and heard.

So I hope I didn’t come across too preachy, but I got the idea for the blog post (after reading about yet another public figure making a half hearted apology for saying something dumb) and went with it hoping I’m not the only one who finds these tips useful (or wishes other people would)!

Did I cover everything? Anything else you would like to add? 

How I cope with winter illness stir-craziness.

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I am not a winter person. I have learnt how to embrace it and try to enjoy it anyway, but it is a time fraught with danger. Germs flying about everywhere. No place is safe. No person is safe!

It’s just par for the course, really. Winter = cold and flu season.

As an adult, I’ve been getting a flu shot annually and while it doesn’t work for everyone, I feel thankful that it has seemed to work quite well for me. Mr Unprepared seems to have mixed results, but nothing too full on has hit him since he started having them, so that’s probably a positive sign.

But the Little Mister? Germ machine.

Since he started day care this year, he’s had a cold almost every second week. Some strains seem really mild and give him nothing more than a snotty nose for a couple of days, others seem to linger forever, along with an annoying cough. I am so lucky I work casually and can be flexible when he needs to stay home, but it’s starting to get a bit inconvenient! If I don’t work, I don’t get paid damn it!

BUT…

I am very passionate about not knowingly spreading germs around. I hate when I hear about work places that pressure their employees to turn up sick. I hate when someone turns up at the playground or social gathering, casually saying, “Oh man! I/my kids am/are so sick right now!” while their child is practically slobbering all over you/your child or you’ve just agreed to split a plate of finger food with them. A little warning might have been nice!

WHAT THE HELL? GO HOME. Is your FOMO really that bad that you’re willing to infect ALL the people??

I mean, sometimes it’s not a super big deal. Germs are everywhere, anyway. It’s just nice to know ahead of time so you can make an educated choice on how you choose to protect yourself or your child (we personally had to warn my family this past weekend about the Little Mister’s cold and blessings were given for him to turn up with a few extra precautions taken)! But generally? If you’re all germy, then don’t turn up! These things are unavoidable. People will get over it.

I even keep my errands to an absolute minimum. You’ll only ever see the Little Mister having a little cough at the shops if I have absolutely no other choice, but I promise he’ll be coughing into his sleeve, keeping his hands to himself and that pocket sized bottle of sanitiser I keep in my handbag will be making an appearance!!

But I get it when people say they’re stir crazy. It starts to feel like you’ll never leave home again. You can feel very isolated and it’s not great for anyone’s mental health. Not to mention, when your child is bored and unstimulated and it feels like the days are moving at snail’s pace. I was talking to a friend about this and she was saying they hadn’t been out in weeks, due to her son having a lingering cold. I myself had only just emerged from a loooooong week in myself. I remember the days when it would go on for months if you had a bad run of it!! I never feel comfortable asking for babysitting so I can get out either, because I don’t want the Little Mister to infect anyone else! So, everyone at home it is.

It messes with your head. Especially if you get a sick partner too (they always seem to go down first right?).

So I’ve decided to share some ways that I try to minimise the stir crazy factor…

Get some fresh air…somewhere we can be alone together.

If it’s a sunny day, I like to grab the Little Mister, rug him up in his coziest clothes and take him down to our local beach. It’s a great spot that is never highly populated (much less in winter) and we can go for a walk or build a sandcastle together. Obviously we have to avoid anyone getting wet and cold, but it’s totally doable. No-one else gets infected, we get a bit of Vitamin D and the Little Mister feels like he had a fun outing just for him. In turn, I feel like the best mum ever again.

Phone calls/internet time.

This can be a double edged sword. Sometimes these things can make you feel worse, with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) rearing its ugly head, but sometimes being able to chat online with your mates and feel connected can be a lifesaver. You can commiserate with your friends who are also stuck at home and keep each other company, virtually!

I also catch up on my favourite blogs and immerse myself in tales of the outside world when I get a bit of down time. Usually, when the Little Mister is snuggled up watching a movie. Gotta love movie time on sick days, right?

This week I joined Periscope (user name @KezUnprepared) just for the hell of it. Yet another new thing to eat up my down time and get me feeling creative. I feel like this should be its own little point too – try something new (read a new book or learn a new skill you can practice at home or research some stuff or plan a new project you could try during or after the current illness jag).

I like to have a good chinwag on the phone with my mum too. It’s nice to connect. Speak to an adult.

Clean EVERYTHING. 

Usually, I am no domestic goddess. But when everyone’s been cooped up for a while and the germs are so irritating, you swear you can see them having a party on every single surface of your home (living or otherwise), it’s cathartic to just start washing and cleaning and tidying ALL THE THINGS.

After the last outbreak of gastro, I went nuts washing bedding, towels and anything my husband had ever touched. Afterwards, the house looked and smelt nice and fresh. Psychologically, this really gave me a boost. I stopped seeing my house as a tiny, claustrophobic germ incubator and more as a sanctuary again.

I will be doing another vigorous cleaning session this week, after dealing with the Little Mister’s latest snotty, coughy situation. It’s gonna be great!

Obviously, it’s a good way to minimise the chances of reinfecting everyone over and over.

Have a secret stash of ‘sick day’ activity materials.

I have a craft box full of cheap stickers, pipe cleaners, cotton wool, kids’ craft glue, coloured card, felt animals hidden away for when the Little Mister gets really really bored and I start to feel like a crappy mum because we haven’t done anything but sit around for days. I also have colouring books and other activity books sitting around that he’s not really aware of. I pull something out when things are getting dire (I’m talking all out desperation) and it can keep him amused for ages! None of those things cost a lot and I just throw a little something in my shopping trolley when supplies are a bit low or I see something on sale.

Snuggle. 

Just give in. The Little Mister snuggles more when he’s not well. He gets so docile and cuddly. I just try to forget everything else and sit and snuggle with him when he needs it. It’s nice. I swear it is easier when I stop fighting it (‘it’ being my busy mum brain).

 

Kids are such troopers, aren’t they?

Look, my go-to strategies might seem a little obvious and might make you feel pretty stabby if you’re feeling at the end of your tether. Trust me, I get it. Sometimes I try all of these things and I will still feel like absolute shit. Hang in there! It won’t be forever. Summer will come again!

You got this! x

How do you survive lengthy winter sickness jags? Any advice you can add for other stir crazy parents?

How to stay (relatively) sane on the internet.

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The internet can be an amazing forum/resource for parents (especially those of us who are new to the game), because it can offer us support groups online, and gives us a connection to other people, even when we’re stuck at home feeling a little isolated.

On the flip side, it can be a nightmare! There is information out there that is very dubious. There are people everywhere who think that having an opinion and a keyboard qualifies them to insult, degrade and fight (dirty ugly fighting) with those who have a different opinion and a keyboard too. There is a flood of articles thrown at us daily on how to do this, how to do that. It can make your head spin. It can make you feel worse.

Yeah, yeah. You’ve probably read these ‘how to have a good time on the internet without being a douche bag’ guides and tips a million times over and I have debated with myself over whether to even bother. BUT I think it bears repeating sometimes. At least here is my own personal spin on it all. These are the things I try to do. The things that help me to stay sane.

Stop reading if it makes you feel icky.

It’s that simple. You know that sinking feeling you get when you read something that makes you feel bad about yourself? Or perhaps you read something that makes you feel anxious because it makes you feel judged and makes you question everything you do? Sometimes it’s our own sensitivities or insecurities on a given day, other times it’s because the writer is inciting these feelings. It really doesn’t matter. If you feel icky, you need to take a moment. Y’know? Perhaps reading that thing isn’t the best thing for your mental health right now. Take a break.

If something you read makes you see red, if it makes you so angry that all you can think is four letter words towards the writer/website/Facebook page, that is a lot of negativity to be bathing yourself in. Scroll past. Unfollow. Do what it takes to not willingly return to such material. You don’t need that in your life! It’s wasted energy we could be using to better our own lives or the lives of those we care about. I mean, you could have been using that time to laugh at videos of Jimmy Fallon’s lip synching battles on YouTube, instead of reading about that writer who hates SAHMs/working mums/breastfeeding mums/bottle feeding mums/school mums/funny mums/serious mums/mums who are pretty and fit/mums who are overweight/mums who…you get the idea. Don’t buy into the hate-fest.

If the writer doesn’t write in a way that shows you the respect (you can respect people even if they do not share your opinion), do not give them the time of day. They haven’t earned it.

Do not bite the click-bait. 

Ever read those provocative headlines? The spiel before a link to an article, which is designed to entice readers into clicking and giving a website a lot of traffic? Some of it is just blatantly designed to get us hate-reading by inciting an outrage within us, which makes us say, “WHO WOULD SAY THAT HORRIBLE THING? I MUST KNOW.”

It’s so tempting. SO tempting. I’m trying harder to resist. I want to read things because I want to learn something, not because the website has tried to suck me in for negative reasons.

“WHAT THIS MUM DID NEXT WILL HAVE YOU OUTRAGED.”
“THIS WRITER HATES CHILDREN AND HERE’S WHY…”

You know the kind. If a website is resorting to that kind of manipulation, that says a lot. It also says a lot that it’s probably, sadly, working. I want to try harder to not be a part of the problem. If I know I’ll be angry when I read it, that’s not a good space to be in. I don’t need the virtual drama cluttering my head.

Keep it classy. 

Often people use the old, “it’s my freedom of speech” excuse for being a**holes. Yes. We are all entitled to our opinions. We are allowed to disagree with other people on an unlimited range of topics. But in my mind we have a responsibility in how we express them. You don’t need to attack somebody else’s character, belittle them, wish awful things on them or enter into a week long commenting argument with them to make your point. Try to be eloquent. Make your point in a way that might actually get through to the other person. Calling them fifty names probably won’t help the situation. If you are truly passionate about telling someone else what you need to say, then make sure your communication is effective. It ceases to be effective if you are insulting somebody. All they will see is the insults and not the message. You’re better than that. And that goes for passive aggressive comments disguised as constructive feedback. Come on. We’re not stupid. That doesn’t count as taking the high road! It’s not genuine. Just LET IT GO.

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And? If you’ve shown all the class you can show and the recipient doesn’t want to understand or refuses to reciprocate? LET IT GO. They’re just strangers on the internet who disappear when you turn off your computer (or click unfollow). You don’t need to win them over to know that you’re an awesome person.

Yay! 🙂 You are, by the way.

We can pick our battles too. People power definitely has a place (advocating for the equal rights of all people is important), but sometimes silence can be a dignified response – it can be all something deserves.

Think critically. 

Where is this information coming from? What are the interests of those publishing it? What are their motives? Are they a reliable source? Are they using reliable sources? This helps me to sort the junk from the stuff I might want to be paying attention to. I know not to get my knickers in a knot over stuff that has little credibility. I won’t be taking their advice to heart, that’s for sure.

Also? This includes reading all of the article/blog post carefully. Dissect the writer’s intentions. Where are they coming from? What are they really saying? Read it a couple of times if you have to and carefully consider your own response. If the writer explicitly says, I don’t agree with ‘a’ but I do understand why some people do, then don’t rant at the writer about how they are agreeing with ‘a’ and how wrong they are. It will undermine your credibility if other readers can see that you haven’t taken your time to understand what the writer is saying.

Have empathy. 

You might not agree with the writer or what they do might not feel right for you, but if you put yourself in their shoes for a minute, you might understand their intentions and be able to give constructive feedback. Also, it’s not always somebody’s fault if they do not ‘know better’. They might be struggling or simply not have certain tools to work with. You can’t always know the whole story in a few hundred words. You can either be a helping force or a negative, judgemental one. How would you like to be spoken to if you’d had the courage to put it all out there?

Come at it with a positive approach.

Proofread! 

Lastly, if you are a blogger or a commenter, re-read your comment/blog post before clicking ‘post’ or ‘publish’. I try to re-read everything I write – more so if I know I’m commenting on a contentious issue. I make sure I’m not letting my emotive response overtake my message. I make sure I haven’t insulted anyone. I make sure that I’ve said it in a way that it can be read easily (I am a waffler and I am sorry haha). I remind myself that I am saying something in a public manner. This has saved me many a time. I’ve even written comments and then deleted them when I realised I was not offering something relevant or helpful to a discussion. It reassures me that I won’t write a knee jerk response before I can calm down and think about it rationally. I only want to write things that will let me sleep at night!! There is nothing worse than saying that silly thing and then feeling haunted by it (or worse feeling the backlash over something you didn’t really mean to say because you didn’t think it out).

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I know I am not perfect so I don’t mean to preach. I am just passing on the stuff I’m working on. ‘Working on’ being the operative words. I mostly just hope that I’ve made a space where my readers feel free from all the crap out there.

I feel like parents in blog land and on social networks need to band together more. Have a supportive, nurturing approach, not a shaming, judgemental one. We have such great opportunities to build online communities and to learn so much from each other. Let’s not waste them with ‘mummy wars’ (just that term makes me want to spew a little in my mouth). Let’s not fall for the tricks of those bigger websites (who shall remain nameless) that rejoice when we go into a frenzy. We are seriously better than that. We are amazing people from all walks of life. Let’s not lose perspective.

And did I mention that you’re absolutely gorgeous and you’re doing great stuff? 😉

Do you have anything to add to my list of tips? What do you think? 

A letter to myself BC (Before Child).

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Dear Kez Before Kids,

Future Kez here – Kez with Kid. Reporting from 2014 as a mother of a very gorgeous, active and bright 2 old. See, even as you’re reading this letter, you’re thinking, “How do you know your kid is gorgeous and bright? That’s a little bit up yourself. When I have kids, I’m not going to describe my kid like that. It’s probably just a normal sh*tty kid. You’re just one of those mothers who’s gotten sucked into thinking that your child is the best ever. Yuck.”

Well, I’ve got news for you. You will be biased as f*ck once you have your own child. I’m not kidding. You’ll know your toddler is not perfect and you’ll endeavour to keep him grounded and disciplined, but seriously? You’re going to think that your child is sooooo cute and sooooo smart – even when their answer to everything is currently “no” and spilling snacks on the floor is their favourite hobby. Just maybe keep it to yourself around certain people 😉

Here is my advice to you – stuff you don’t know right now, that you will need to learn very fast when you become me (Kez with Kid)!

You’re skinnier than you think you are

Seriously. You don’t believe me? While you’re moaning and whining and wearing clothing that covers you up, you’re missing out on the best you’ll look in a while. I know you’ll get back to something really fit looking one day with a bit of hard work (we’re still not there yet), but trust me on this one. You CAN wear a bikini. You do look cute in that outfit. You just don’t know it yet and if you don’t read this letter, you won’t realise until it’s a bit too late and you’ve got these weird love handles, faded stretch marks and a C-section scar that is not as subtle as you might expect.

Live life to the fullest and stop worrying about your looks. Your vanity will fly out the window (of the maternity ward at the hospital) quicker than you can imagine. You’ll be tired. You’ll have less time to get ready each day. It will be harder to buy clothes (trying them on is near on impossible with a toddler in tow and did you know kids cost a lot?). You’ll learn to love yourself with all the extra scars, lumps and bumps, but you’ll also realise you wished you loved yourself before those scars, lumps and bumps came into your life.

Right now you have (easier) access to any groceries you want, any time (and all the time in the world to plan great meals). You have no excuse for not eating healthier or exercising. Trust me, it will get harder. You’ll be time poor and at times you’ll be so exhausted your motivation to exercise will be much lower. The full on, heart pumping exercise you enjoy right now (Zumba at the gym and your exercise bike) will only be possible if you can have time without your little one, which is another challenge. Don’t worry, you’ll find a way around it – even if it seems sporadic and harder to plan for. Wii games and exercise DVDs (you will find a couple that aren’t completely obnoxious) will be your best friend when you can’t get out and about! x

You’re going to have a rough pregnancy riddled with mystery rashes and gestational diabetes, so enjoy your free range of movement and comfort NOW!

Don’t take simple things for granted

See what you’re doing there? You’re wandering about the house alone in a t-shirt and undies (without a small child loudly asking where your pants are). On your lazy day off, you’re home alone just wandering from the TV to the computer to the fridge. You’re getting some yummy food, preparing it (taking as long as you like – you’re in no rush), you’re eating it in peace. You’re going to the toilet when you need to (ALONE). You’re watching movies/TV shows that feature sexiness or violence or swear words – in the open area of the house. You’re napping occasionally when you need it. Later you’re going to get ready for a night out on the town. Just you, your cute little purse clutch – containing your lip gloss, phone and keys. Off you go in a big rush at the last minute! Climb in the driver’s seat of your car and zoom you’re out of there! Tomorrow, you’ll sleep in. As long as your body needs.

Now don’t get me wrong, you won’t turn into that cow who loves to tell people without kids that their lives are sooooo easy and they have no right to whinge. You do have that right. I am not judging. You are studying hard a lot at uni and throwing your whole self into it. In between that you are working. You and Mr Unprepared go through some hardships and life throws some challenges at you that you wouldn’t wish on anyone. Life is challenging either way (kids or no kids). You’ll lose sleep over university assignments and you’ll fret over relationship/family stuff. You’re tired now and I validate that. Just so you know. I hope you’re relieved about that. I mean, we all hope we won’t be THAT person. Take comfort in knowing we are not one of them. At least I don’t think we are and we try our very best not to be.

Housework? Oh, I hear you thinking that can wait. God, you hate housework. So boring. Put it off all the time. Yuck. Well, one day, going to the supermarket alone and having time to do housework without a little person hanging off you and whining will feel about as exhilarating as a tropical holiday. No joke. So will driving in the car alone. AMAZEBALLS.

Sounds boring to you, right now, but one day you’ll look back on these weekend days off and think – WOW. I HAD IT AWESOME! None of the activities I’ve described above will be the same again for a VERY long time.

Enjoy your pre-parenting life to the fullest. Find joy in everything. Get rid of the things that make you unhealthy or unhappy. Those things won’t matter to you when you become me (Kez with Kid). You will enjoy your new life with a child enormously but it will be a different enjoyment.

You will do almost all the things you swear you won’t do as a parent

Right now you’re so optimistic. So full of great ideas and ideals. I think that’s awesome that you dream of being a wonderful parent, that you’re already thinking of things you can do to be the best parent you can be when the day comes. You’ve been watching other parents you know and weighing up the different things they do and even though you’re not prone to being an overly judgemental person, it has helped you form your own ideas of what you’d like to do and what you don’t want to do when raising your future child.

I know you want to be one of those ‘cool’ parents who doesn’t skip a beat in their social life, but did you know that your child’s nap time will quickly become the most important part of your day and come hell or high water you will not want to skip that? Which makes it difficult – especially when your future boy (yes – it’s a boy!) naps right over lunch time (from about the age of 1 onwards). Those SAHM (Stay at Home Mum) lunch dates you’re dreaming of will become almost impossible – except for those days you just don’t care anymore or the universe seems to give its blessing for (which won’t happen often)! Sometimes you’ll be just too damn tired to have a big girls’ night out. Other times you will find that plans aren’t always so child friendly and babysitting is not as ‘on tap’ as you might have once imagined (although all the grandparents are so helpful whenever they can be).

You’ll occasionally be so exhausted that TV is a tempting babysitter. You will give in. Your child will eat cake, ice cream and other ‘bad’ stuff (especially around the grandparents haha) – although, you’ll be pleased to know you will not completely abandon your will to keep him healthy. You will realise these things won’t kill him, but that moderation is important too. You’re doing an OK job!

You’ll start a blog and somehow it will become mostly about the fact that you’re a parent. Just accept it. In fact, you’ll meet a lot of other bloggers and parents through it and they will make your journey so much more enjoyable/enriched as you learn about each others’ lives and parenting stories/advice.

You’ll struggle to be on time. Yes you. Punctuality queen. You’ll find there are only two options with you. Too early or late. There is no in between. Just keep doing your best. I’m sure one day you’ll figure it out.

You’ll surpass your own expectations

Don’t worry. It’s not ALL worse than you were imagining before you got this letter from me (Kez with Kid). Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself with what you can achieve as a parent (or woman who just happens to be a parent).

After we cancelled the Contiki tour on discovery of our pregnancy (yeah – sorry – bad news I’m afraid – Europe is off – don’t cry), I thought that I would not travel on a plane until my children were like 10 years old. As someone who sadly missed the young adults’ rite of passage with drunken overseas travel tours (but luckily at least you’ll fit in a couple of trips to Thailand), I thought we were doomed, Kez Before Kids. Not so. Circumstances sent us to Tasmania twice with the Little Mister (do you like his cute blog moniker?), you make it over there once without him (and you are sorely disappointed with how sad and tired you are instead of revelling in your freedom) and right now I have a trip planned with the family to Japan and Korea! Yep! With a 2 year old! Who would have thought you would get so brave? Awesome, right?

You’ll grow some muscles. Yes. In your arms. You will be carrying a 16kg toddler in no time. Without even really thinking about it! Who would have ever thought the girl who couldn’t even do one chin up can do such a thing?! You’ll find it hard with a chubby newborn, but you won’t believe how fast your strength will grow with him. This will do great things for your confidence and you will dare to try more things because of this newfound strength. Also? You’ll be able to carry like 15 bags of groceries into the house in one go. Like a boss.

Sure, your life will never be the same and certain freedoms you took for granted will be limited, but the really cool thing? You won’t grieve for those things for very long or very often. You’ll laugh about them more than anything. You will learn to say no to things that aren’t best for you or your family and you will go through a lot that will teach you to love yourself and to be more assertive – something I know you struggle with right now. Also, you’ll be surrounded by supportive people – several of who will be in the same life stages as you – so you won’t feel like you’ve given up too much. You’ll just adapt to a new lifestyle – it’s healthier (apart from the sleep deprivation and occasional comfort food).You’ll be ready to be a mum when you start trying for a baby. It’s OK. You’ll be satisfied that you’re ready to give some things up in order to gain something really new and special.

Also? Your kid will sleep well (for a baby that is)! He’ll have a ridiculous sense of humour from the get go (so you’ll know for sure he’s yours). He’ll be caring and very sociable. He will have a smile that will melt you. He will be very healthy (just disregard the first couple of days of his life – he’ll bounce back better than you). WOOHOO! Now that’s something to look forward to!

Now go and enjoy your skinniness and your ability to use both hands at once! I urge you! 🙂

Love from Kez with Kid.

xoxo

Note to self: Read this when overwhelmed.

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I really think that being overwhelmed is one of those things that comes with adulthood. Actually, it starts much earlier than that for a lot of us…I guess we become much more aware of it with the responsibilities that trying to be a fully functioning adult can carry. I feel overwhelmed at least once a week fortnight month and each time I am trying to learn how to better deal with it. You may know the feeling – too many tasks to complete, not enough time. Too many people asking things of you, not enough of you to go around. Feeling like you’re super busy all the time getting nothing done. You know when you’re an anxiety ridden mess and you start feeling all snappy, emotionally eating, then bawling when a new task inevitably gets added to your to-do list, sending you over the edge? Just me? Surely not just me 😉

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to navigate through these feelings and I have narrowed it all down to five ways to beat that freaked out, overwhelmed feeling – before it impacts on your mental health and your relationships.

These are (hopefully) not those cheesy things you read all the time, but they come straight from my brain and my own experience. These actually work for me.

Stop being such a bitch…to yourself

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Seriously. Would you take that kind of talk from someone else?? I bloody hope not! When we feel like we can’t do everything on the timeline we hoped for, when we feel like we’re not being everything to everyone no matter how hard we try, when we feel like everyone can see that we’re so obviously not in control, we can resort to self defeating trash talk.

It’s horrible when you start telling yourself, “Everyone will know you’re failing. Look at you, you’re a mess of a person. You’re not capable of being a normal human being. You’re so pathetic. You can’t even get this much done. Everyone else can do it. What a wuss. This will never get done. It’s impossible. You should just give up now. This is too hard. There’s too much. You’re such a crap friend/family member/employee/house keeper/pet owner/parent/any other hat you wear in life.”

Would you let your best friend/child/family members be treated like that? Again, I bloody hope not! So why are you doing it to yourself?

It’s time to think positive. You may not feel positive and that’s OK (you’ll get there), but you need to remember to be kind to yourself. Be your own best motivational speaker. No-one feels inspired when they’re beaten down with harsh words all the time. It’s emotional abuse! Why is it any different when you’re speaking to yourself? Remind yourself that you’re only one person, you’re human and you can’t be responsible for the things you can’t control. It’s OK to only achieve things at a human standard/pace – no need to be a superhero. The people who count will understand that you’re doing all you can. Shock horror, they might even be proud of you just for giving things a go!

Remind yourself of the context of your situation. Maybe you’ve been through a rough/insanely busy time. Maybe you should cut yourself some slack. Maybe when you count out the (wo)man hours you actually had to get a million things done, you’ll realise it would be physically impossible to achieve the things you’ve expected of yourself. Maybe you’ll see that you’ve done the best you can and you should be proud of your efforts. Maybe the things you haven’t got done now are great goals for the near future, not just a list of failures.

Celebrate your achievements – no matter how seemingly small they might be. Don’t forget self care. You need to fuel yourself with positivity so you have the energy to keep going.

Don’t compare yourself to others

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This is something that has taken me almost all of my 29 years as a human to understand. It’s one thing to choose an inspiring person to keep your spirits lifted (“If this person can do it then I can learn from what they’re getting right and I can do it too!”), but it’s another to say, “BUT EVERYONE ELSE HAS A CLEANER HOUSE/BETTER FINANCES/BIGGER SOCIAL LIFE/BETTER ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS/15 CHILDREN AND THEY CAN ALL DO IT ALL BETTER THAN ME.”

You don’t know every person’s story. You don’t know what their lives are like behind closed doors. You don’t know what they’ve sacrificed in order to achieve what they appear to have achieved. They’re not perfect, just like you. I am sure there are the rare ‘almost perfect’ people who really have it all out there, but what are the odds that everyone but you is one of them??

Letting yourself feel inferior based on someone else’s (perceived) successes is only going to hurt one person. You. And like I said earlier, why are you being so mean to yourself???

Just remember that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. Other people have differently distributed time, energy and resources. You’re just working with what you have. You know how we tell our kids, “As long as you are trying your very best, I am proud of you”?

Let’s take that advice for ourselves!

If you feel like you know you’ve slacked off in certain areas (speaking from experience of course), that’s something you can address – but stay positive! We’re all learning and improving all the time. It’s never too late to try a new approach! x

Focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do

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It’s always so tempting to focus on the things we’re not getting done. Oh my gosh, I still have THIS, THIS, AND THIS TO DO!!! AND WHAT ABOUT THIS?!!! It’s not possible!! I still have to do this, this this and this before I can do all of those other things I just mentioned!!

Something’s holding you up? Something out of your control is stopping you from achieving something else? Don’t sweat it! It’s not possible right now anyway! Break it all down and think about what you CAN do. Chip away at things. Finding one task really daunting and don’t feel ready to tackle it? Pick out the parts you do feel more confident about – do what you know and the rest will follow. I used to take this approach when I had university assignments coming out of the wazoo. Can’t write this essay from the beginning to end – stuck on the first argument? Get writing – blab on about the things you do know, the things you do want to say. Then research can back it up, a bit of editing…and hey presto, the rest doesn’t seem so horrifying after all. For me it was about not letting the fear of saying the wrong thing (or of failing) get so overwhelming that I couldn’t start.

I think a lot of it was about building confidence.

The same could be said for big jobs around your home (can’t paint that hideous rendering yet but you can go to the hardware store and look at colours), your parenting (not ready for that big change but you can take baby steps in preparation – excuse the pun) or your social commitments (can’t attend the 15 things people have planned then streamline down to the easiest or most important events to attend). Do what you CAN. Let go of what you can’t. Be realistic and confident in your decisions. Remember what I said about being kind to yourself when you can’t do it all at once.

It’s the same with anything. There’s always something you CAN do. Something to nibble away at bit by bit. Channel the energy you would use lamenting at what cannot be done right then and there into what you CAN do right then and there.

Just start SOMEWHERE. The rest will follow.

Communicate communicate communicate! 

Ever felt like you have to handle everything on your own because you think it will prove you to be a stronger person? Bottled up those scary overwhelming stressful feelings and then accidentally unleashed on someone close to you or had a meltdown that has everyone worried? Yeah…I’ve learnt the hard way throughout my life that this isn’t really so healthy.

If your partner (or anyone really) notices that you are tense and asks what’s up, don’t say, “Nothing. It’s fine. I can handle it. Just some stuff. I’ll get over it.” and then proceed to stew away in your own anxious juices.

Open up. Tell someone what’s worrying you. Maybe even ask for help. Admit to the crappy feelings you’re experiencing. Hear their encouraging words (if they are not using supportive language – find someone who will). Let them help you out – even if it’s just having someone listen to you. Maybe once you say it all out loud, you’ll realise it had just got massive in your own head (this happens to me all the time). Maybe it’s time to bring this mountain back down to a nice molehill size again. Maybe your go-to person knows exactly how you feel – maybe they feel the same. Share the burden and maybe this communication will help to bring you closer. It might certainly pre-empt a stupid frustration filled argument or unpredictable eruption of feelings later – that can only be a good thing.

Prioritise and organise! 

When I feel stressed out, I start writing notes in my daily planning diary like a mad person. All of those scary dates and times and invitations swimming in my head are just going to make me feel crazy and out of control if I don’t! I then take everything day by day, safe in the knowledge that what I need to know or do for that day is written down safely in my diary – there’s no need to read fifteen days ahead and scare myself. Just concentrate on one day at a time.

It’s amazing how things get less scary when you’ve organised them somewhere.

Sometimes when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, you need to prioritise. Put the most important things at the top of the list and don’t stress if the not so important things have to wait a while. If it ALL seems super important, then perhaps the chronological one day at a time organisation I mentioned above will help.

Sometimes you need to streamline. You can feel bad sometimes when you have to say no to stuff, but if you are struggling and you are in survival mode, maybe it will really help to let yourself off the hook a little bit. Just for a little while. The people who count for something in your life will understand. You can only do so much. Sometimes it truly is physically impossible to do everything. I’d rather do a few things well, than a hundred things half arsed. I think the people in my life would prefer me that way too.

And here’s one final thought…

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Seriously. Why do we all do this? Ask yourself. Are you busy for the sake of being busy? What would happen if we all just slowed down and said no every now and then? If the only reason we’re busy is so we can tell other people we’re so busy, then it’s time to reassess. Life could be so much calmer and we could be so much more content living in the moment. It’s really hard because we’ve been socialised to believe that ‘busy’ is best. It’s like a competition about who can seem the busiest or the most stressed out. I’m trying to take this off the table. Who knows how much time and energy I can save in my life? 🙂

R U OK?

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Have you ever been in Struggletown (like really really trying to hold onto sanity) and not had the words to tell someone about it? Have you ever felt like talking to those close to you might make them feel burdened with your problems, so you hold onto them tight? Have you ever been scared that you might be considered to be whingey and mopey if you tell people what you’re really going through? Scared you’ll bring everyone down? Annoy them? Or have you held secrets about your well being close to your chest and not known how to express them or feel safe doing so? Have you ever felt that crushing fear of being vulnerable? Putting your heart out on your sleeve?

I have. Many a time. Let’s face it. I’m Kez and I am sh*t at asking for help. I am sh*t at telling people the deep, dark stuff. Truly. You wouldn’t think it. I’m such a bloody chatterbox and I am generally quite in touch with my feelings. I can talk about feelings quite well (mostly in writing or in counselling) but there’s only so far I can go when I am truly having a rough time. It’s not that I don’t trust anyone, far from it. I get scared that I’m going to be that high maintenance friend. That drama llama. Oh, yes. That Kez. She’s got *whispers* issues. All the time. Or sometimes I’m scared that if I say it out loud, I’ll be judged or worse, hurt even more.

I’ve often been known to use my smile to cover my vulnerabilities. Lots of positive talk. A bounce in my step. I wonder if anyone would even think I don’t have an awesome life? I mean, I do. It’s just that when it’s less than awesome, I wonder if anyone can see past my facade. Ironically, sometimes I even cover up my own feelings/struggles by helping others with theirs and neglecting my own…yeah, I know. I promise that’s not what I’m doing while writing this post. PROMISE 🙂

Sometimes in life, you just hope that someone will reach out and ask, “Are you OK?”

Just check in with you and take the fear away.

Well, they asked me if I’m OK so they must want the answer. Maybe it’s OK to tell them the truth. Maybe they don’t see my feelings as a burden after all.

It can feel like such a relief – like you’re able to breathe out again. It can be the start of a rewarding journey back to yourself (or the rest of the world) or it can resolve the horrible feeling of a problem eating away at you. Perhaps when the burden is shared, it lessens.

September 12 (that’s tomorrow) is R U OK Day. It’s something I really believe in and I am so glad it exists. Here’s the little blurb directly from the website:

What is the R U OK? Foundation?

The R U OK? Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging all people to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ to support those struggling with life.

R U OK?Day is our national day of action on the second Thursday of September (12 September 2013), and dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends. We also have Resources for You to use throughout the year to help you ask ‘are you ok?’ regularly of family, friends and colleagues.

You can visit the website here – you can find advice on how to ask someone if they’re OK as well as inspirational stories about people who dared to ask the question – and those who had the courage to answer them.

You just don’t know if you might be saving a life, by asking such a simple, compassionate question.

While R U OK Day might only be one day, it can inspire you to think about how to ask those you care about how they are throughout the year. I know that this campaign has given me the courage to ask the question many a time where in the past I might have chickened out. What if it’s none of my business? What if I’m intruding? What if I’ve imagined this person’s struggle in my head and I’m going to make a fool of myself? What if asking the question makes the other person run away from me? What if…I get a truly honest, heartbreaking answer and I don’t know what to do about it?

The R U OK Foundation says we just need to listen without judgement – we don’t need to fix everything or have all the answers. Starting the conversation in the first place can be very valuable.

I promise that the times I’ve had to dig deep to take the step of asking someone if they were OK, I have never regretted it. Just listen to your gut – if it’s telling you to ask because you truly care – and don’t ignore it. That person might have needed you to ask that very day. So, you get knocked back? That person still knows you care, even if they’re in too much pain (or even denial) to realise right away.

I have not been asked to promote R U OK Day (although would be very open to it in the future) and have nothing to gain by posting about it. It truly is something that I believe will make the world of difference to someone who is struggling. I’m sure we can all relate on some level as either the ‘asker’ or the ‘answerer’. While I have quoted the R U OK Day Foundation on this post (as clearly as possible), the opinions in it are mine only and I speak from personal experience.

I want my readers (regular or first time visitors) to know that I really do care about your well being.

So I’ll ask the question, which I mean from the bottom of my heart and truly care for the answer.

Are you OK? What’s happening for you right now? How are you feeling?

You can privately message me on Facebook, email me, DM me on Twitter or leave a comment on this post (you may use an anonymous username if you prefer – your email address is never published). Anything you tell me privately will not be shared and will not be judged. I just want you to know that I’m listening.

I hope that you will ask the question tomorrow too. It could be the start of a very important conversation.

x

Don’t bother having a birth ‘plan’.

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I honestly don’t know why they call them that. The fact is, you can’t PLAN your birth process. Even if you have a wonderful labour, you didn’t plan it. It was just a wonderful surprise to know that you were able to have a relatively good experience! To suggest that we can plan childbirth just seems like bollocks to me. Big sweaty ones. It says we’re in control of the process. I’m sorry, but while that thought is nice and sometimes keeps us sane, it just isn’t true.

My advice to first time pregnant mums is to throw out any notion that you are in charge and that everything will happen the way you want it to, because you’ve thought positively, avoided all negative horror stories and you’ve got a birth plan. Hasn’t anyone heard?? You have a birth plan! You did research! People who do research are better at this, right? Everything’s going to go just as you want it to! The truth is, positive thinking and making smart choices are never a bad thing – in fact, I recommend them. However, they don’t make a ‘good’ labour (ie the one you hope for) a sure thing. I feel like society keeps telling us we’re in control of everything. It feels like a comforting thought, but when despite all of your best efforts, something goes wrong…you feel like a failure. You’ve been fooled and pressured into thinking that you’re in charge of such a crazy biological process.

It’s actually liberating to realise you can’t be in charge of all of it. When my pregnancy started to get a little bit nuts, I blamed myself. I was ashamed that all these weird things were happening to me. I thought that those around me (the lucky ducks who have pregnancies that make them feel great) would think that I must be doing something wrong. That I must be thinking negatively, making some erroneous choice with my lifestyle or my diet etc. I knew it wasn’t my fault on an intellectual level (and was told so by more than one doctor/medical professional), but the fear of judgement was probably my biggest mistake of all! It’s just that we have all been brainwashed. It’s misguidedly comforting to tell ourselves that the other person over there with the pregnancy problems or the terrible labour must have done something wrong, because then we can just do it all ‘right’ and we’ll be fine. In a sick way, it reassures us.

In some ways, my crazy pregnancy was the greatest gift. It taught me that I’m not the one driving this bus (at times I looked like one haha). That you can do all of the ‘right’ things, think all of the most positive thoughts, and nature will still take its course. By the time I got closer to my due date, I threw all ideas of a birth ‘plan’ out of the window.

I had birth ‘preferences’. Birth ‘hopes’. Birth ‘wishes’.

I wrote a list of what I hoped for. I wrote a list of things I was willing to do to save myself or the baby (I kind of knew it wouldn’t be straight forward – intuition perhaps). I wrote a list of guidelines for my husband and my family – who I wanted there and when. It wasn’t fancy. It was pen scrawled all over an A4 piece of scrap paper, written off the top of my head. Maybe a list of only about 15 items. Some being very significant, like what I hoped would happen if something should happen to me (incapacitating me in some way), to the not so earth shattering, “Here’s my iPod, if my labour gets long just play it on shuffle – the songs on it keep me calm and inspire me.”

I was obviously hoping for a natural, vaginal birth, but I knew that drugs might help (I was quite unashamedly open to the idea) and that a C-section might be an emergency necessity. I knew from the start of the whole process that I would just be happy to have a healthy baby. I would not spend time mourning the death of a ‘plan’. I had already mourned the smooth, normal pregnancy I hoped I would have. I wasn’t going to do that to myself again.

My new attitude paid off. Because, as you may know, sh*t got crazy. I was in hospital for a mere 3 hours before I was in surgery. I only knew I was in labour about 2 hours before that. My labour was brought on by an infection. I got to 9cm dilated before they had to get me in for an emergency C-section. The epidural was administered in full dosage ahead of time (which made it a bit weird when I tried to push in a last ditch effort – can’t feel ANYTHING down there). I had no choice. I was then tethered (by catheter) to my hospital bed for two days (rather than the customary one day), while my firstborn spent the first 3 days of his life in another hospital without me because he was sick too.

If I had been all about a ‘plan’, I would have been exponentially more devastated and traumatised. Instead I was just shocked and dazed (perhaps it was the pethidine too) and later realised the enormity of what had happened to my baby and I. It took weeks to come to terms with what had happened. It was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me, my baby, or my body and of course it was going to take some getting used to! I am just glad that I didn’t also have the added sadness about things not going to ‘plan’ during the birth. I’d made my wishes known and they’d been respected, but I hadn’t outlined my preferred labour process without having an open mind. I knew anything could happen.

The important things happened. My parents were there to share in the experience (they stayed at the ‘right’ end of me haha) for the first time (I am adopted so it was hugely meaningful for the three of us as my mum has never experienced a pregnancy and I wanted to share this with her – I was so moved by my parents’ gratitude at being invited into such a special and private ‘event’). My husband got to the hospital quickly and was there for just about the whole time – by my side, encouraging me and saying all the right things (seriously!). I was kept safe, as was the Little Mister. No-one tweeted or Facebooked my labour process to the world in real time. I was given gas right when I needed it, surgery before things got horrible, and my baby was alive and likely to stay that way.

What didn’t I expect? What didn’t go to plan?

By complete chance, a top obstetrician just happened to be present when I came into the hospital. He was amazing and kept everyone calm in a tricky situation. Including me. I got optimum attention and care because while the time of my labour was unexpected (I was due to be induced almost a week later), I was the only person giving birth in the ward that night. The ONLY one! If I had been induced when I was expecting to be, the ward would have been FLOODED with people hoping to have their babies on the 11/11/2011 (as I found out later that week after a 6 day stay in the ward). Resources and manpower would have been stretched. The paediatrician who was present was also very good at her job (and to my mum’s delight – the wife of her favourite former professional AFL footballer)!

While not much went remotely as predicted, a lot of things went really right. I am so grateful. I am so glad I can see those blessings. Blessings I could never have planned for.

I’m calling on everyone to stop telling each other that we can plan our destinies. We can’t. We can’t be in control of everything. We can put our ducks in a row. We can be educated. We can make the best choices possible to encourage a great outcome. We can be positive and keep a great mindset. We can work hard. All of this might put us in the right places at the right times, but ultimately not all of it will always work out how we expected. Childbirth is no exception.

I love the way Mia Freedman of Mamamia puts it in her article about “Birthzillas”:

For many, it’s about control. One of the most confronting things about pregnancy and birth is the unpredictability of it and women often believe they can regain control by planning. Babies, however, like to raise their middle finger at your plans. They come early, they come late, they get stuck, they get suddenly distressed or tired or tangled…

After my personal experience, all I think we should care about is what’s best for the baby in that moment. I’m not going to compromise my child’s safety, by refusing treatment (or at least prolonging the inevitable) because I want to stick to a plan. Birth plans? Total first world problem/privilege. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly. My baby was in real trouble (as was I) if I did not have the first class care that I received. Who cares what that care involved as long as everything turned out for the best? A child who was/is alive (even if he didn’t breathe for four agonising minutes). Healthy after a little special attention.

Childbirth might not feel like the magical miracle everyone dreams of (at least it isn’t for everyone), but the result is what matters. It’s really important to go in knowing what is the most important.

If you got out of it healthy (if not worn out and needing some stitches somewhere) and you got to hold your healthy baby, take him/her back to your hospital room for cuddles and bonding for the first few days of his/her life… YOU ARE LUCKY. Your birth went well.

The birth of the Little Mister was shocking, surprising, a blur and hard to wrap my head around later, but I do not regret it at all. It went the way it needed to go. I wouldn’t and couldn’t change it. It brought me the most amazing gift and we all survived! I feel like a much stronger, more resilient person for it. I am proud of the fact that I was able to accept what happened (it took some time but had more to do with the trauma of being separated from my baby – as an adoptee since birth this was difficult to accept – my little man had to experience an immediate separation from me – something I’d dreamed he’d be spared of ever experiencing) and I feel like anything that brings you your gorgeous baby alive and well (even days later) is a success. I refuse to think of it as anything else.

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My advice to mums to be is to accept that life brings no guarantees. Know stuff. Do the stuff you can do. Then let the universe (and your beautiful baby you are so excited to meet) take its course. Some things are just bigger than us. Our self esteem and our pride should have nothing to do with something we can’t really control. We should not feel ashamed if something turns out differently to how we hoped. We did our best and life had other plans. That’s OK.

Sometimes life might put us on a path that will teach us the most, if we’re willing to learn.

Did your birth/s go to plan? Did you have a plan?

For some women, a traumatic birth or a birth that did not go to plan can be a trigger for post natal depression. If you are struggling, please click here for some resources. 

We need to have a little chat.

PUPPP.

Nope. I didn’t just fall asleep on my keyboard. I’m talking about PUPPP. It stands for (wait for it…) pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Yeah. Sounds complicated. I bet most of you have never heard of the damn thing (unless you know me very well via this blog or have actually googled it). Before experiencing this horrible rash first hand, I would have heard such a crazy bunch of words beginning with P and I would have shrugged it off. I don’t really know what that is and who cares, it’s just some rash that I’ll never get (it is believed to only be experienced by an extremely small percentage of pregnant women).

Because hardly anyone suffers from this condition, it was very isolating and difficult to deal with. Each case can differ in how your body responds to the awfully itchy rash, meaning treatments that work for one person might not help another. Odds are, you might not even know what it is when you first show symptoms, if you should be unlucky enough to be a part of the unfortunately exclusive PUPPP club.

I had no idea. I resorted to googling (something I do not normally recommend) when the symptoms got too crazy and I was slow to get answers (partly my fault and partly due to inexperience of some of the doctors I saw early in the piece when my baby doctor was on holiday – of course!). I felt like I knew it was PUPPP, but waiting for an actual professional opinion/diagnosis (and treatment) was like agony.

I was only 20 weeks pregnant when it got bad. Normally women get it at the very end of their pregnancies, meaning there is not long to go before they can give birth (and more often than not be relieved of the symptoms immediately), or can be induced at full term if it’s bad enough.

Yeah. Unlucky.

800px-PUPPP-abdomenPic: Side view of a sufferer’s abdomen.

I spent weeks feeling alone. I couldn’t wear clothes that might itch, sweat or cling to my skin. Difficult in winter. I felt socially isolated and while it’s hard enough to get dressed when you’re big, it was even harder to feel pretty or human with PUPPP. I itched so badly that I was afraid I’d have a panic attack about it in public, so I rarely ventured out before treatment could arrive. Even then, the steroid cream prescribed to me by a dermatologist (who thankfully knew what he was talking about) was greasy and while it helped my rash to settle down a LOT, it gave me pimples too eventually.

I was paranoid about humidity of any kind and it was a huge mental and emotional burden. I never stopped loving the Little Mister who was growing inside of me, but I’d be kidding myself (and you) if I said that I wasn’t close to depression. Bawling my eyes out in a lukewarm bathtub half the day was no life.

Why am I going on about this?

I want everyone to know about this condition. While it may never happen to you (especially if you’re a male reader haha), I want you to know what it is and how to spot it. Just in case.

I also want you to be able to seek help ASAP if you think you may have PUPPP. I didn’t. I put it down to a little heat rash and let myself get worse. If I had sought diagnosis and treatment when it first got a bit uncomfortable, by the time I got answers (it takes a while when no-one’s sure what the hell it is – odds are they may not have dealt with a case first hand very often) I might have saved myself weeks of agony. It is much better to have a false alarm and deal with a doctor who thinks you’re being a little dramatic, than to suffer on your own for too long.

Also, I am writing this post because I want anyone who is friends/family/known to someone who has this condition, to know what it’s like to go through it. I want you to understand that it’s more than a little rash. It can cover half of a woman’s body, is unsightly (therefore embarrassing) and very very uncomfortable and itchy. Think extreme chicken pox (it was like that for me anyhow). Each woman may deal with it differently, but I want you to know how bad it can be. It’s really hard to go through it alone and part of my isolation was worrying that my friends didn’t understand. I couldn’t be at social occasions very often – each day was different and I felt awful and flaky. I worried that they believed I was letting a ‘little thing’ slow me down and that I wasn’t living my life just because I was pregnant. Maybe they thought that, maybe they didn’t. They were amazing friends through it all, but that worry was just something I carried. If I’d known they were able to access great information on PUPPP, I might not have felt so insecure.

It’s hard enough to feel attractive or like you’re living your life fully and actively when you’re quite up the duff. Add complications to that pregnancy and it can be very scary and lonely. I knew that the Little Mister was doing fine inside me – I knew I was blessed even in the rough times. I could have had worse issues (well, besides my gestational diabetes which can be dangerous if untreated). However, try telling a pregnant sufferer of PUPPP that when she can’t sleep AT ALL, feels so itchy she could scratch ALL OF HER SKIN BLOOD RAW,  and lives in a lukewarm bath, waiting for an appointment with a specialist.

I put on a brave face a lot. I wish someone had said, “Lady – I know what that is and you’re fooling no-one. Let me hug you – very gently – while I listen to you whinge about it.”

Also, stop asking a PUPPP sufferer (with scars) if she’s tried bio-oil. No over the counter treatments worked for me (or were permitted during pregnancy depending on ingredients). My skin was sensitive to greasy or oily things (ie the ointment was bad enough). Most of the people who asked me if I’d used bio-oil had never even tried it. The power of advertising, I guess. It’s horrible knowing that almost nothing works. It’s worse when everyone (who’s never heard of the damn condition) suggests treatments for you, which you know will do jacksh*t or even make it worse. You probably mean very well, but you don’t have to be an expert or give advice. A kind, listening ear (and encouragement to seek professional treatment if someone hasn’t already) is probably best.

I was lucky. My symptoms disappeared IMMEDIATELY once the Little Mister had vacated my body. While I had a whole lot of other issues, that was thankfully not one of them. However, the scars and the mental effects stayed for a while. I didn’t want to see another greasy, oily ointment again. I had scars on my chest, which meant I couldn’t dress nicely over summer, without feeling like I was an acne ridden teen with chest pimples (no-one wants to see those). I was sensitive to heat, mentally and physically. It took a YEAR before I felt like I could bare my upper chest without a big ol’ necklace or high neckline to hide behind. Progress can be slow.

I am very fortunate to have a very healthy, hilarious and good natured 18 month old today, who has no idea of the hell he put me through during pregnancy! I intend to let him know during his teenage years, though 😉 In all seriousness, that (him being in my life happy and healthy) is what matters most and what got me through a tough time. PUPPP is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It felt worse than the diabetes and worse than the infection that brought on my labour. It was worse than dealing with the healing from a C-section. Itching is seriously a form of torture. Some people handle it better than others and I will be the first to admit that I was not handling it, despite my best efforts.

There is help and support out there, but it’s important to start looking early. I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just trying to bring awareness to it.

I found a dermatologist who dealt with a lot of pregnancy cases. I highly recommend you seek out an experienced specialist and get the ball rolling with referrals etc fast. Also, know that it isn’t your fault. We are all quick to judge these days. It’s easy to believe that a woman having a tough pregnancy must just be a Negative Nancy or probably did something to cause her condition, because it makes us feel like we have control over our own circumstances, but during pregnancy all bets are off. You can do your best and still have some hurdles to deal with. Don’t let ignorant people bring you down.

Pregnancy is stressful enough.

So please, my hope is that if you have read this you will be a proactive sufferer, in order to make your time as a beautiful (you still are) pregnant woman a little easier. If you hear of a friend or relative having this condition, I hope that you will now know just how severe it can be and treat them with the extra love and care they deserve. A great support network can make the difference between a surviving some tough times, and depression.

Feel free to share this post and PLEASE do not be in denial. No-one wants to know about the crap things that can happen when you’re pregnant, but information is power and might save you a lot of suffering (I speak from experience).

Love and light,

Kez xo

If you have experienced this, please contact me or leave a comment – I would love for you to share your stories.

This post is a part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge.



So I didn’t really think that through…

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So on Wednesday, we took the Little Mister to have his 12 month immunisations (having a birthday isn’t always that fun). As usual we rocked up to the local family health clinic where we waited to have his name called out. Of course, just like every other time, the little man was super happy, talkative and cute. I was feeling guilty (and dreading the days ahead) and my husband was…well, he was there. He knows I need my support person 🙂

On that day, three needles were to be administered.

“Would you like two in the arms and one in the leg, or two in the legs and one in the arm?” the nurse asked.

My husband and I looked at each other, like “WTF? It’s all bad.”

But we muttered something like, “Um…you decide?”

Two in the legs and one in the arm it was. The Little Mister was such a good boy. I distracted him with a rattle and a maraca (why do nurses always have maracas?), and he only cried a little. We gave him a dummy and big cuddles, which he responded to very well as the nurse reiterated what the side effects might be. Mostly that he’d be grumpy as f*ck for a couple of days and that we would be waiting in complete and utter suspense to find out if he would get cold and flu symptoms anywhere from 5-12 days later (it’s been 2 – I’m still waiting and hoping we’ll sail through it). Fun times.

Fast forward to today and the Little Mister was (over)due for a haircut. That kid has won the hair lottery (he probably won’t thank us for it later). He has two parents with very fast growing hair, the volume of his dad’s hair and the straight, softness of mine. This all equals a massive head full of voluminous, but straight hair that goes in many directions. Until today, I had procrastinated about getting his hair cut. I had felt like I had all the time in the world, but it all caught up with us. I knew that the day it started to look a bit like an 80s mullet, something had to be done.

So…what did we do? Here’s my first mistake: Taking the Little Mister to sit in a chair while a lady he doesn’t know stood behind him with a sharp implement. Yeah, I’m thinking big time flashbacks. He started crying and looking so sad. He spent half of his haircut gripping me around the neck in a hug that said, “Don’t let me die!!! I’m tooooo young!!! Not again!!!!”

The hairdresser was a lovely lady and she did a great job. She mentioned that she had three sons, so I guess she knew the drill. She kept her cool and got the job done as calmly and quickly as possible. I kept telling the Little Mister that she was nice and she wouldn’t hurt him, but he was reliving his own little nightmare. That kid was back in the trenches, man. It was tough!

My second mistake?

Trying to distract him with a rattle. Yeah. You can see where that’s going. Same thing I tried when we TRICKED HIM the other day so a strange lady with a sharp implement could jab at him THREE TIMES. His accusatory/terrified face said it all.

Sigh. I feel like I wasn’t quite on top of my parenting game today.

I backed out of the salon saying, “Sorry! He’s normally so great in these situations! I don’t know what happened.”

Of course it dawned on me as soon as we were back in the car. Picture the biggest face-palm EVERRRRR. DUH, KEZ!

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So, learn from my mistake. Do not take your child for their first proper salon haircut two days after immunisations.

You’re welcome.