Tag: parenthood

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?

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?

An artist who inspires me. Hint: He’s 2.

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Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up

– Pablo Picasso

With Easter coming, I wanted the Little Mister to enjoy getting into the spirit of it – a year makes a big difference in his understanding. I also thought it would be nice to let him get creative and make gifts for his loved ones. I could teach him about the Easter Bunny (not entirely sure he understands the whole concept but I do know he loves the idea of a day of chocolate and eating the cross off the top of hot cross buns and leaving the rest of the bun intact). I could teach him about giving and quality family time to look forward to (Easter just may be my favourite ‘family’ holiday period of the year – with Christmas coming close to it).

We headed to our local ‘go to’ store for craft supplies and found some goodies in the makeshift Easter themed aisle. I didn’t feel we were ready for anything too complicated, but I was thrilled when I found an egg painting kit, which came complete with fake eggs (made of styrofoam or something quite like it – sorry environment!), which made me really happy because last year I had tried to decorate real eggs and instantly became the Pinterest Fail Queen. Well, I was never awarded the crown officially, but we all know I was worthy. I earned that title fair and square.

We also found an A3 sized pad of sketch paper designed specifically for toddlers to paint on (I honestly don’t know how it differs from normal paper that non toddlers paint on but the cover description sucked me in and it didn’t cost too much). Some new paintbrushes and a new art smock later (don’t ask what happened to the last one – seriously) and we were very excited little bunnies. I also even found some Easter themed stickers and some special handheld foam toddler paint stamps! I really loved sharing the experience with the Little Mister of gathering all of the supplies. We’d talked about it on the way into town, I explained what we were doing as we chose everything in the store and he really seemed excited.

I had originally planned for us to create some art together after the Little Mister’s lunch time nap, as I thought we would get home a little late in the morning to truly absorb ourselves in the activity, but the excitement took ahold of us and I set him up with everything almost straight away. Little bowls (old plastic ones we’d removed from the camper van to be gotten rid of) of all the different coloured paints, some paper, the stamps and brushes.

We were going to make paintings for the Little Mister’s grandparents and great grandparents for Easter. I had been inspired because my mother in law had tried to keep an old envelope the Little Mister had scrawled on at her birthday breakfast a few days earlier. I realised she had nothing he’d created to show off or display on her fridge. It was lovely that she wanted something and I felt like a little scrap of envelope with biro scrawls (while sweet) didn’t quite cut it. I wanted her to have something made especially for her. So the idea evolved.

I watched the Little Mister sitting there ever so seriously (while full of joy his face was one of concentration and creativity). It was frickin’ cute, actually. He embraced the project with enthusiasm and didn’t once question whether he was going to do it right or wrong. He never stopped and thought about whether someone else might not like it or might make fun of it. He was busy making art. He was feeling it. I can’t remember a time as an adult or even as a slightly older child where I truly felt like that (other than when I’m writing but even then I do get self conscious or feel the need to censor myself slightly more than necessary). I’m sure I was just like the Little Mister once, but I cannot actually remember it. I’ve spent much of my young life anxious about whether someone would like what I did or not. When I felt unsure at school or doing my homework, I was almost paralysed with worry until I saw someone else get started and then realised maybe I could give it a go too. Always scared of failing or making a mistake. Of sticking my neck out first and being vulnerable with all my flaws on display!

As I watched the Little Mister at work, I saw how the colours mixed and the swirl of the paintbrush. I was inspired. The Little Mister has retaught me the art of…art. I really was reminded of the spirit of creating. Of not worrying what people think – just making something from the heart for somebody else who loves us and would never judge. Or even just for ourselves.

Between then and Easter, the Little Mister painted his eggs and stuck beautiful stickers on his gift projects. He mixed several colours at once until some of his work was a brown sludge. He made stamp impressions of Easter bunnies and eggs, then painted right over them with the brush until you couldn’t see them anymore. It didn’t matter. He was proud of his work and so was I.

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I got caught up in the moment and totally forgot the part of my brain which wants to tell him what to do and how to do it so that the art work comes out looking perfectly colourful or effective. What is the right way to create art anyway? Who would I be to tell him he’s not doing it right or could do it better (it’s not about me but about him)? I do not want to be the first person who makes him hesitate when it comes to his creative endeavours. There’s plenty of time for him to be graded and assessed, criticised or taught ‘correct’ ‘techniques’. Right now it’s all about him learning the basics and exploring the possibilities.

Needless to say, his loved ones thoroughly enjoyed his gifts and he was so excited to give them.

What would you do if you were fearless again? x

Underrated toddler milestones.

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I have to be honest. All ‘terrible twos’ jokes aside, I have really enjoyed the Little Mister’s toddlerhood so far (key words so far…don’t want to jinx it). It’s a fun age where a little person can suddenly explore the world like they never could before. There is so much wonder and curiosity. There are new ways to communicate and express feelings. The start of understanding yours. Saying funny things. Learning new ways to move. Dancing so freely. They’re still so little that almost everything they do is cute. Just like babyhood, there are rapid changes and milestones galore. There are the usual ones, like first steps and the first time sleeping in a proper bed, but then there are those underrated moments that you might blink and miss. Those achievements that bring a parent great joy (and often relief). Lately it feels like something has clicked inside the Little Mister and his development has suddenly sky rocketed (he’s usually a bit slow on the uptake but then rockets ahead to catch up).

Here are some of my favourite underrated toddler milestones:

Drinking from an open cup without spilling.

This is the latest. I’m over the moon. This is exciting. It means that when we’re at home Mr Unprepared and I won’t have to wash fifty parts of a training cup or a sippy cup each day (of which we do not have many of). We can grab any plastic cup and just pour something. And gosh, he looks so grown up. If we’re caught off guard (by ‘off guard’ I mean I usually forget his water bottle) while out and about, there are so many more options if he needs a drink. Awesome!

Knowing when he needs to use the potty and being able to wee on cue. 

No more accidents! No more watching him like a hawk, with my breath held! Woohoo! Something just clicked a few weeks into potty training and it’s so good. I can ask him to try if he hasn’t been for a while and he’ll know what to do and how to do it, therefore preventing accidents. He will also run to the potty when he knows nature is calling and he seems to understand the feeling in his body. I think we’ll be able to have visitors over again soon hahaha. If only he could wear pants too…

Also, under this potty training umbrella…saving money because we use a significantly smaller amount of nappies! Win!

Being able to tell me where he’s hurting or that he even is hurt.

When they’re babies, we all lament the fact that it is heartbreaking knowing they are in discomfort, but having no idea what is wrong. We spend all our time trying to be super sleuths and freaking out that we’ve missed something. Now the Little Mister will say he’s hurt or that he fell on something etc. If I ask him where he’s hurting he will point at something or try to verbalise it. It is such a relief to know for sure, so you can deal with something immediately. It’s not a perfect system – sometimes he’s too distressed to speak or he doesn’t quite have the vocabulary, and you might find out a day later that he was bruised from falling on his toy car, but it’s a lot easier than it ever was.

When longer term memory kicks in.

OK, so this can be a curse because sometimes he won’t let an issue go, but on the whole it has been so much fun watching him relive his highlights of the day or week. He’ll remember small details you told him about something and apply it to a situation further down the track. He looks forward to things we (selectively – we’re not stupid) tell him about ahead of time to build the excitement. He loves to tell other people what he’s been up to and what he enjoys. We went on a train for the first time recently, and the Little Mister told his dad about it each night at bed time for two weeks. He remembers all the people he meets (especially my friend Sarah who he asks to see almost every day even though he hasn’t seen her in a couple of weeks). It’s sweet to hear him talking about the people he cares about and the good times he’s had with them.

Knowing how to sleep under the covers. 

This plagued me ever since he started sleeping in a toddler bed without a sleeping bag. We made the move at the beginning of summer, safe in the knowledge that the Little Mister wouldn’t freeze if he slept with nothing on him besides his PJs. Which he did. For months. He’d kick everything off him. He’d spin himself around so when he was cold he couldn’t figure out how to get the covers back on him. I’d wake at 5am and wonder if he was cold when I saw him on the video monitor, doing that silly overthinking thing where instead of going back to sleep, I’d worry about him and whether I should do something about it. Now he loves being tucked in and will tuck himself back in if he wakes in the night. He’ll be right as rain when the winter months kick in – yay!

Starting to say ‘please’ and ‘yes’.

Toddlers LOVE to say ‘no’. I am happy to make the generalisation, because I have chuckled to myself many a time in public, hearing toddlers from all walks of life telling their parents “No no no no no no”. For a while it seemed like ‘yes’ was never going to happen, no matter how much I tried. Even to the point where I could probably ask him if he wanted a chocolate, ice-cream covered new toy car on top of a playground slide that was made out of Peppa Pigs and he’d still say no automatically.

‘Yes’ is like music to my ears. ‘Please’ is just thrilling. We’re working on ‘thank you’ and we’re finally making progress. It’s so much more pleasant to listen to and he seems so much more agreeable!

Becoming ‘useful’.

I don’t mean useful as in being your ticket to grab all the best parking spots (‘Parents with Prams’ anyone?). I mean it’s great that the Little Mister will tell me when I’ve forgotten something on our way out of the house (he will rattle off a list of things we normally leave the house with). He’ll pick something up that I’ve dropped when I have no hands left. He’ll wipe up a spill or tell me when something needs tending to. It’s fantastic! Finally, giving something back haha. That’s tongue in cheek by the way. Having him in my life is a reward in itself blah blah blah 😉

Bossy, helpful…same thing? Haha.

Teething for the last time.

I saw his gums the other day. All the way back there, that last molar is fighting its way through. The gum is all bruised looking and tender. The skin hasn’t been broken yet. It looks painful! The Little Mister has been such a trooper, but he’s been a bit sensitive and cries easily over things like he always used to with his other teeth. The worst is yet to come for this one last tooth, but the good news is that it’s the last one!! It’s easier to deal with when you know there are no more to come.

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So that’s my take on it, based on our experience! Can you relate? Anything you’d like to add to the list? x

Parenting: a collection of near misses.

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I gave the Little Mister some freedom today. Thing is, give a toddler and inch and he’ll take a mile. I usually carry him through car parks and then set him down when we’re safely out of the way of any passing cars on a path or in a shopping centre. I hold his hand everywhere, because he’s a bit too curious about everything and everyone – some kids stay close and others are explorers and need stronger limits (guess which one I have). He is only 2 years and 4 months old after all.

This kid is getting heavy for me to carry and while I am pretty impressed with my newfound strength (I think my muscles have adapted with him as he’s grown – it’s a great daily weights work out), it is becoming a bit much. After a really crazy day of toddler chasing, I have been known to suffer from strained stomach muscles which does NOT feel good and upsets my gut (also not fun). Being only 5 foot tall, I am lifting a human being over half my height and I’ve been feeling it’s time to start teaching him more consciously about how to conduct himself a little more independently, which will help us both. Particularly with a rather full on overseas trip coming up where there will be strange people, places and road systems.

Today we walked together hand in hand across a zebra crossing. I knew this was within his capabilities and that I could keep him safe. He knew he was doing something new and he questioned me, looking a little wary when a car came a little closer. When we reached the doors of the shopping centre, he spotted my mum and my grandparents waiting for us. Once we were safe, I let him run excitedly to them for a big cuddle (giant cheeky grin included). Everyone gets such a kick out of that. It does tend to make you feel special.

When we entered the coffee shop, he devoured his apple and cinnamon muffin (a bit of a tradition) and then I let him out of the high chair to play at the little kids’ table that is always stocked with dried up texta markers with the lids off and colouring in books (not to mention the muffin crumbs of the children who have occupied it before him). He was free to roam around the small radius that was our table and the kids’ table. The shop wasn’t busy, so it was the perfect opportunity to let him explore new boundaries (without annoying anyone). He was very well behaved and I was feeling good that he’s reaching an age where he is starting to stay closer and is more easily occupied than say a year ago. It feels nice to let him be more independent.

Spoke too soon, Kez.

He’d had a taste of freedom. He was enjoying being a ‘big boy’. The world was his oyster.

There was a door that opened up onto the path outside (which leads to the car park). He’d ventured closer to it and just as I said, “Stay close please” he was out the door. He was enjoying the game of chasey he’d started. Mummy couldn’t get him right away – FREEEEDOM!

Thing is, like a lot of other toddlers, he enjoys a game. If you run after him, he giggles and runs faster. Only thing is, in this situation it could be fatal should a car come at the wrong moment (the driver obviously not keeping an eye out for a small child whose head wouldn’t even reach the top of their bonnet/hood). We reached an impasse, him dangerously close to the edge of the road and me knowing I had to stop him without accidentally encouraging him to run out faster. I made the instinctive decision to stop running and yell “STOP” in my most commanding tone. Something he doesn’t hear from me often. It worked and I was so relieved. It could have gone either way (in which case I feel I would have become faster than Usain Bolt). He was carried unceremoniously back inside and got a friendly little lecture from my mother, myself and his great grandparents. There was no point being mean or yelling at him because he didn’t know better. It was just our job to teach him, not scare him.

Later, I told him, “You can’t ever go outside without mummy. Cars can be fun (he loves them) but they can also hurt you if you get run over by one and we have to be very careful. Mummy would be so so sad if you got hurt by a car, so that’s why you can’t run outside where there are cars around.”

As we left the shopping centre with a couple of groceries (and my heart rate had settled a little), we crossed the zebra crossing with him strapped into a trolley. A couple of cars had stopped at a respectful and safe distance for us and the Little Mister looked a little freaked out. He said, “Car. Careful. Hurt. Sad.”

He was starting to get it. I explained that he was safe because I was with him and I am a grown up and I have had more practice at knowing how to keep safe on the road and that with practice he would be good at it too, but for now Mummy would help him.

I still don’t trust the little bugger just yet haha.

It’s so funny, because it seems like such an insignificant moment. It happens to parents all the time. Near misses. Moments that could go one (terrible and tragic) way, but more times than not (fortunately) go the other. Parenting is made up of so many of these moments. It feels like a crazy game of ‘luck’ and we just pray that we stay ‘lucky’.

The times we haven’t realised immediately that our child is sick enough to need medical assistance outside of our abilities as parents. The times we have watched them bounce off some furniture or leap off some stairs – all despite our best efforts to keep them safe. The moment we realise in our tired state we forgot to drain the bath the night before and while our toddler has gone nowhere near it since, the idea of what could have happened if they had. You name it, it’s happened to a well meaning, loving and competent parent somewhere. It’s a part of parenting and being human!

Today reminded me that I can know my toddler inside and out but he will still surprise me (and probably himself). I don’t want to smother him or take his freedoms (limited as they are for a 2 year old), because I believe he needs to develop a sense of self confidence, but I know I can not afford to get complacent in this parenting game.

As I sit here and look at my Little Mister safe at home playing with his toy cars (they’ve just had an epic smash and have landed under a cabinet while he lies down on his belly and reeeeaches) I am so grateful for every moment in which a ‘near miss’ has not become a terrifying hit. Parenting is hard work, y’all!

When did your heart rate last get that bit faster?

 

You can find me on Facebook x

(Part of) A day in the life with a 2 and a bit year old.

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The Little Mister is 2 years and 4 months old. Already. That’s 28 months old for those who are good at maths (you don’t want to know how absurdly long it took for me to actually add that up in my head – TIRED).

You saw my post on a day in the life of having an almost 2 year old, but now for posterity’s sake (like a snap shot in time to look back on), I feel it’s time for a new instalment.

I was…

…woken when Mr Unprepared got out of bed early in the morning to get ready and leave for work. The sound of the shower also woke the Little Mister from the other end of the house. Luckily, the Little Mister went back to sleep but I knew I was doomed. I thought that on the bright side, I could spend some quiet time catching up on blogs and lounging about in bed for another couple of hours. That precious alone time that seems so fleeting these days. About five minutes into enjoying my favourite blogs, my tummy felt all crampy and uncomfortable. Turned out I’d strained my stomach muscles (this has happened once before) after a massive day wrangling the Little Mister yesterday. Sometimes I just can’t take it. Everyone looks at me and wonders how I lift him so many times a day (he’s big for his age and I’m small for mine haha). While I’m proud of being pretty strong these days, it turns out I have my limits.

Long story short, my so called early morning leisure time turned into toilet time. I will not say any more on the matter, other than it was NOT relaxing and I felt gross.

First thing…

…in the morning, the Little Mister started chanting “Van? Trip! Van! Trip! Pwease!”

Puzzled, I asked, “Huh? Did you say you want to go on a trip in the camper van?”

The poor kid then thought I was offering and jumped up and down on the spot in excitement, thinking we would just pick up and go on a camping holiday right then and there.

I let him down gently and he seemed to accept that we were not indeed embarking on a mid week holiday by ourselves, with no preparation whatsoever. Crisis averted.

Later…

…the Little Mister had a potty emergency which required me running with him out of the play room and towards his potty. I was in such a rush with him that I stepped on the one small piece of Lego out of his whole big Duplo collection. Yep. The one small piece out of hundreds of big (not so hurty) blocks. OWWWWWW. Am I a part of the club now? I feel like I’m a real parent now. Did I mention I was also on the phone to my mum at the time and a tiny little drip of wee got on my shorts and I was in such a rush to get started with the day that I Febrezed it because ain’t nobody got time to go get changed?? This is real talk. Seriously.

We started to make some headway towards leaving the house for the grocery shop and pharmacy, when the Little Mister then asked for yoghurt about 50 times and broke into the lounge room and snuck a handful of my secret stash of M+Ms from a party favours bag I’d acquired on the weekend. Y’know, after not wanting breakfast.

When…

..we were finally ready to head to the shops for reals, the Little Mister refused to go with me, insisting that he ‘drive’ his little red bubble car there. And no, we don’t live within walking distance, so it’s not something we’ve ever done either. He just thought it was possible. I had to get in the car by myself (in the garage) and wait for him. He got the idea… eventually.

This was all before 9:30am.

After this, the day continued with me trying to teach the Little Mister how to say dump truck (“Dumb F—“) and hitting my head on the dryer about 4 times in the same place (explains my slow brain) while trying to clean various potty training paraphernalia throughout the day. I might have said ‘dump truck’ to myself a few times.

I also spent the day deciding whether or not to respond when the Little Mister yelled, “POTTY! POTTY! QUICK! QUICK!” in a sneaky attempt to get my attention when he did not indeed need the potty quickly (or at all).

Update: Immediately after I hit ‘publish’ on this post, the Little Mister found the soap I’d bought and unwrapped each bar like a kid at Christmas. Mr Unprepared found him with one in each hand looking gleeful, announcing, “Two soaps!”

And tomorrow we’ll probably do it all again! Life is definitely not boring with a 2 and a bit year old in the house!

How was your day?

Beating the burnout & regaining sanity.

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I’ve written about it before, but it can be easy to get burnt out as a parent (or any adult living a busy life really). It happens to me every few months. I’m not just talking about when you feel tired after a long week of less sleep than you would like and a couple of mishaps. I’m talking about that feeling where you start to wonder if you’re insane and the burn out that you feel starts to impact on your relationships.

For me, it comes from looking after the Little Mister for very long hours, feeling guilty because we both haven’t had a break in a long time to just play (quality one on one time) and be peaceful/content in our own space. It comes from weeks/months of not looking after myself properly and somehow putting myself last. I don’t do it to be a martyr. I don’t do it on purpose. It just sneaks up on me. If my husband or the Little Mister need a doctor’s appointment or anything else that is good for their health/wellbeing, I will jump at it and make sure it happens. Me? Not so much. No time for that. I’m too busy giving away my time to my family.

This is a dumb idea, because I end up feeling drained and hating my job (being a stay at home mum/wife). Now, I ordinarily love my job. I love being at home. I love the Little Mister to pieces. I do love trying to do those nice extra little things for Mr Unprepared to make him feel loved and appreciated. It’s only when burn out approaches that I feel resentful and easily irritated – a sign that it’s time to look out for me.

This past few weeks has been full on. We’ve made lots of big decisions. We’ve hosted or been to several parties/social/family events (which can often mean the Little Mister skips his naps – eek). Our cars have needed work done on them (which means a lot of money, time and running around). We’ve been working on our house/yard (or getting quotes from tradies etc). We just bought a camper van (off a loan we applied for). We’re planning a rather significant overseas trip next year which is going to be fun to somehow find the moolah for (I’m sure you’ll hear all about it in due time). Mr Unprepared has worked longer hours, which means I have done the same at home unassisted. And…I’ve got to out my husband as a bit of a stress head (he’s addicted to always finding a new project aka something new to worry about), which then further fries my own brain. Sorry, husband. It’s true. Knowing your partner is stressed can often be the most stressful thing of all.

None of the above is exactly earth shattering stuff. It’s not a hard life by any means. We’re very blessed. Lots of exciting things are coming our way. It’s just tiring. And while that’s OK for a while, eventually it becomes hard to keep up with. It can take months, but eventually we need to stop (or pause) and take a breather – even if it’s just mentally.

We need to be able to focus on the positives (and there are a lot). We should be enjoying ourselves. Not worrying about whether it can all happen, whether we can afford it or just freaking out for the hell of it. As long as we’re rational and take things step by step, things will work out. Why stress? It won’t change anything. We need to conserve that energy!!

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I’ve decided I’m on strike. I’m not making big decisions, bringing new ‘issues’ or ‘projects’ into the mix or making appointments for anybody else (unless it’s an emergency) until I have two things: a doctor’s appointment and a hair appointment this side of Christmas.

Yeah, totally outrageous. Don’t get too crazy, Kez.

I told my husband and he took it rather well (perhaps he’s still in shock). I also claimed that I am his union rep (he signed up for membership when he married me haha) and I am ordering him to take industrial action too. No silly over time at work (voluntarily getting up at 2:30am because he feels pressure to provide more than we need). No finding new (unnecessary) things to stress about. No squeezing of new and complicated (but not urgent) tasks into days that are already too short.

After all, we can’t BOTH be burnt out. We need to look after ourselves so we can look after each other. Not to mention the Little Monster Mister needs the best of us.

Enough of the zombie eyes and the inability to just talk sh*t and laugh. Our lives aren’t hard enough to justify that.

This week, I am determined to be selfish. Not uncaring. Just remembering that I’m important too. I’ll start with a couple of appointments booked, a dinner with the girls and I’ll work upwards from there.

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What will YOU do for yourself today/this week/this life? 

Hair, there and everywhere.

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In the 23 months the Little Mister has been on this planet, I swear he’s had more hair appointments than my husband and I combined. See, we did this little genetic experiment. Turns out if you add the genes of two parents with hair that grows fast, you get a child whose hair grows RIDICULOUSLY fast.

Everywhere we go, people are all, “Oh wow! Look at his full head of hair!”

“Look at that hair!”

“Must be time for a hair cut!”

To which I’m constantly replying, “He’s just had one.”

I always know when it’s TIME. His hair starts getting in his eyes and he bats his hands at it all day. He starts to look like a hipster that went too far with the sweeping fringe – like emo too far (I may be confusing my subcultural references in a bizarre way but I don’t know what I’m talking about so excuse me). The back gets long enough to enter mullet territory. His head looks twice its actual size. It’s the last one that freaks me out the most. He’s only got a little toddler body. He starts to look like a bobble head that you keep on your dashboard. Does anyone still do that? With the bobble heads? Anyhoo…

The first time he ever had a salon cut, I’d made a very big mistake and had taken him while he was feeling the effects of having his immunisation needles. The crying and the fear of sharp things ensued (I would have seen that coming had I not been a zombie lady at the time). I was very ill prepared and I left feeling like a terrible mummy and wondered if I had just one of the many children who cannot handle the anxiety of their hair being chopped off bit by bit with scary scissors (which I figure is definitely a rational fear for a little toddler).

Almost a year later, I realise I should not have worried at all about tears and tantrums (well not at the salon anyway – Terrible Almost Twos anyone?). It was the dance breaks, the flirting and the tomfoolery that I should have been ready for!!

I take the Little Mister to the place I get my own hair done. The girls are always friendly, do a great job and it’s a place that the Little Mister is familiar with (he visited before he had his own hair cut and watched my mum getting her hair done so I like to think it helped him to understand what happens there). I always know he’ll be treated well and shown some love (not just chucked in and spat out). Something that’s very important when dealing with little ones! Flattery and a few funny faces will win them over almost every time!

I always try hard to pick my time of day for an appointment wisely! I like early in the morning myself. The Little Mister is fresh and looking for something different to do at that time of day and I know his appointment will be done and dusted long before nap time! I took a risk yesterday and made him an afternoon appointment – not long after nap time, but long before any risk of arsenic hour could set in. I was a bit nervous that he wouldn’t nap beforehand (resulting in me being tempted to cancel), but he came through for me and I let him sleep a little longer than usual just to make sure he’d be super friendly in time for his appointment!

So, we’re doing pretty well with the hair appointments (for) now. The Little Mister is old enough to be distracted (or bribed) and can sit up in the high stool without me panicking (that much) that he’s going to fall off and slam into the floor with one false move. My secret weapon? Toy cars are the flavour of the moment and…a yoghurt squeezie packet that I’ve frozen earlier. He will suck on that forever. Basically, any snack that takes a long time to consume is a good one! Seriously, I could write an entire blog post of its own on the topic of frozen yoghurt squeezies. I’m not even kidding.

We’re now down to only a couple of mid haircut dance breaks as opposed to the previous hundreds (the background music is always awesome at the salon). The Little Mister only needs a hug maybe once during the process (not because he’s distressed but just because he’s feeling the love), and he seems to have passed that stage where he wants to spray his own head with the spray bottle every five seconds.

Also, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a prankster in progress on our hands.

The Little Mister almost gave the hairdresser a heart attack when he started squealing very loudly (and high pitched too) as she approached the tricky bit around the ears. For a second, we held our breath thinking we were in for a fear induced meltdown. But no. He had a big grin on his face. He was faking it. He was basically taking the p*ss. AND LOVING OUR REACTIONS. He’s seriously lucky he still has ears after that little performance.

Do you have any tips to offer for surviving toddler hair cuts? Do your children love/hate having their hair cut?

The silly things are so important.

Sometimes with the challenges that can be faced when raising a toddler, combined with the fatigue and other adult life stresses, it can be hard to remember the positives and take the time to appreciate the silly little things. It’s these silly things that are my sanity savers. The things that keep me going and make my job as a stay at home mum so worth it. These silly things stop the boredom in its tracks, make my fatigue melt away and remind me to look at the world in new ways. If a toddler can teach you anything, it’s that the world is a wondrous place. These silly things make me laugh from the belly or smile until my cheeks hurt. They remind me not to take life so seriously and to stop being a grumpy bum.

Here are some of the silly things I’ve been enjoying lately.

Rainy Days

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It was my mum’s *ahem mumble mumble* big milestone birthday this week. We visited her in the afternoon, armed with some divine lemon meringue tarts (the size of your head) and the Little Mister’s rain coat. My mum pulled out his gum boots (she keeps them at her place because they have the best puddles and I’m too forgetful to pack them) and we taught him how to splash. Yes, taught him. There is nothing more special than teaching a little person how to do something absolutely silly that they’ve never done before. The kind of thing we take for granted – everyone knows how to splash right? That’s against ‘adult’ rules, right? Well, then that’s what we’re doing 🙂

The grin on his face, his little feet, in little boots moving at a rate of knots. The joyous laugh as he watched the water go everywhere – the messier the puddle, the better. I don’t know who had more fun. My mum or the Little Mister. I think it’s a good day when the highlight of it is something so simple, yet so new to a little dude.

The Little Mister became fascinated with being out in the rain. As the raindrops pattered on the hood of his rain coat, he stopped and listened with an absolutely priceless expression on his face (think beautiful, curious smile). Wow. Who knew the rain sounded like that?

That’s enough to make me stop whinging about all these annoying, rainy days…for a while.

Toddler fashion

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The Little Mister loves creating his own style. I’ll find him with a fedora hat on backwards, pulled right down over his head as far as it will go (losing its fedora shape and becoming more of a flat dome), a pair of leggings stolen off the clothes horse for a scarf and sometimes he will nag me to put a zip up jumper on (just so he can unzip it of course). He will always want me to help him put on his little blue backpack, just so he can go for a ‘drive’ in his bubble car. He always looks so casual and yet proud of himself when he walks up out of nowhere wearing his latest style creation. Seeing a little person just toddling about like nothing’s different, while wearing patty pans on his head or pants around his neck is actually so hilarious and adorable that it melts me. I become a smiling, gushing mess. It’s that innocence, man. There’s no self consciousness. There’s no pretence of who he is. He hasn’t been exposed to what can be a harsh world. He’s just doing his thing. While looking fabulous. He’s not afraid to put on my shoes or wear my mum’s hats either 🙂

The way he hugs a teddy bear

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It starts when he sees his teddy bear sitting on a shelf (haha who am I kidding – it’s on the floor). His eyes light up, he says with a burst of excitement (like he’s been reunited with a long lost friend), “TEDDY!” and he grabs him and pulls him close. His little hands go around him and he starts to gently pat his teddy bear reassuringly – as I’m sure I’ve absent-mindedly done with him many a time since he was born. The smile on his face becomes warm and so loving. Just when everyone’s going, “Awww – that’s so sweet…” he’ll be done and teddy will be dumped unceremoniously on the floor until he’s rediscovered later. His teddy has gone for a spin in a makeshift stroller (his old walker), sat in his booster seat and been fed imaginary food with a spoon, and taken for a spin in the bubble car. He’s also been put down for a nap, with a toddler hoodie for a blanket and a security blankie to keep him company. The obligatory goodnight pat on the tummy as he walks away to let him settle.  I just cannot stay in a bad mood when I see him showing such care and nurturing. Don’t cry, Kez. Don’t cry!

When he copies me but has no idea why

This could backfire so badly (I feel the time is coming – soon), but I am constantly amazed by how the Little Mister picks up so much of what the adults in his life do. Those little things we think nothing of, but are so interesting and important to the Little Mister. He is watching and learning. Today I was on the phone with my mum when an awful tickle got into my throat. You know the kind – ugh! I started having a big coughing fit (while my mum listened on bemused), scrambled around the kitchen and tried to find the closest cup/glass. As I was recovering, I heard a little sound from across the room. The Little Mister was sucking on his water and then pausing dramatically to cough really loudly. My mum could hear him and was laughing (before telling me I’d better watch my language from now on – he’s clearly in parrot mode)! The funniest thing was that he wasn’t even doing it for my benefit or attention. He was just trying it out. I find it oddly flattering.

Singing when he’s in a good mood

The Little Mister loves to sing. None of the songs are on the charts right now, or playing on a children’s television channel. They’re one of a kind originals. This kid is going places with hits like the “bee-bee-bee” song, the “na-na-naaaa” song and the “gaga gaga” song. Sure, they all have the same melody, but are all very charming and catchy. If I play him back a video of himself singing one of his songs, he’ll memorise his own video and recreate the dance moves (yes – there are dance moves), dramatic pauses – I assume so the audience can cheer – and nuances that were filmed. He’s totally his biggest fan haha. I’m fine with that as long as he grows out of it! I can be driving into town and often will hear a new song being worked on from the back seat. I know some people would find that annoying, and perhaps some might say he’d better have a good day job, but it warms my heart. I hope it never makes me grumpy. The day it does, I’m going to need help!

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Sometimes it can be annoying (and even infuriating for some) when your child only selectively hears an instruction you’ve given. It can seem stupid when they have a tantrum over the silliest thing. It can feel frustrating when your toddler makes noise all day, every day (unless they’re up to something naughty/dangerous). You can crave peace, quiet and sleep.

But I’m on a mission. To cherish every moment. To find humour in what can seem quite unfunny at first. Come on, toddlers can be hilarious when they’re grumpy (sometimes). That messy thing they just did? If it wasn’t you cleaning it up, would you laugh?

For me, it’s the way the Little Mister wants to read three books at once when I ask him which one he wants first. The way he won’t put any down but then has no hands left to turn the pages of any. It’s the way he follows me into the toilet and starts shredding the toilet paper, thinking he’s helping. It’s the way he stands poised at the bath, all nudie like, with his arms out like he’s going to dive in – the right position for his dad to lift him in. The way he laughs like a dirty old man, all gruff, loud and exaggerated when he’s trying to laugh along with a funny adult conversation he doesn’t understand. It’s the way he spills his milk and says, “uh-oh” repeatedly, without actually trying to do anything about it. It’s the times he finds joy in standing on the back seat of the car, staring into the cargo area with wonder and joy, instead of climbing into his seat. Every time. It’s the way he looks for loopholes in my rules and instructions. Not allowed to pull his little fold up couch right up to the television and sit in it getting square eyes? Pull the little couch up and sit behind it, head resting on the back. Technically he’s a couple inches more away from the screen. When I say “no” and he puts his head dramatically down on the nearest surface and gives puppy dog eyes, silently watching for my reaction. It’s adorable. And funny that he hopes it will change my mind.

All of these things can seem frustrating at times. When we’re in a rush, when I’m tired, when I haven’t had a break for a while. But there’s always something to stop and notice. This time won’t last forever and my fellow mums tell me all of this crazy parenthood stuff has only just started (I believe them). I think there’s always something to laugh about. A new funny memory to store away for when they’re older. Sure, we don’t need to let them know that we think their latest rule breaking foray is hilarious to us, but as long as we think it is – that’s what matters.

Parenting with a sense of humour makes it all so much more fun, don’t you think? I challenge you (and myself). Let’s find something funny in each day. When something (or someone little) challenges us, let’s look for the humour even harder. It’s character building, right? 😉

It’s all good blog material, anyhow, right?

I asked this on Facebook already, but what’s the most unintentionally cutest/most hilarious thing your child has done lately? I love these kinds of stories x

Tips for travelling WITHOUT children.

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We-ell…I figure there are so many great, informative websites and blogs dedicated to travelling with babies and toddlers that perhaps there is a niche in the market for advice about travelling without children too. Or…people probably just call that ‘travelling’. Yeah, I’m never going to be an innovative entrepreneur (I couldn’t even spell it without spell check). I’m especially not going to be a “mummypreneur” because that just sounds awful and is just a tad condescending. An entrepreneur is an entrepreneur full stop – no need for trendy catch phrases. No-one calls a man a “daddypreneur”. Wow, I’m tired. When I’m tired, I get a little bit off track. Where was I?

OK…tips for travelling without children…

1. Book the least convenient, most exhausting flight ever. 

This will ensure that you are still able to enjoy that familiar tired feeling the whole time you are away. I myself, just enjoyed a particularly wonderful red eye flight or two over to the other side of the country. Try to sit near someone who works night shift (as I couldn’t help but overhear) and who is happy to chat to strangers for a full 3.5 hours in the wee hours without taking a breath. Make sure their voice penetrates every peaceful, doze-off moment you have, with talk about the weather and what they do for fun. Make sure you choose an airline that will try to feed its passengers breakfast at 3am your local time. This will confuse your body and your mind, much like having a child does.

You’ll be so tired you won’t have the energy to watch the inflight entertainment or sit guilt free on the internet for hours. So basically, it will be just like normal.

You need to adjust to not having a child with you (let’s face it – you’re usually attached at the hip) and this will work. Within hours, you’ll be complaining about being tired while you eat uninterrupted, with both hands. This is progress.

2. Try to sit still and stop being educational. 

When you’re waiting around anywhere (airports especially), you must resist the urge to wander fast paced around the place, in no particular direction (as you would when constantly following a restless toddler). You must be lazy and sit on your bum thinking about how bored you are and how awkward it is when you’re seated opposite a row of people in the terminal and you’re all trying to look like you’re not staring at each other. Try not to rush up to the big windows and start telling people about how that’s the plane you’re going to be flying on and start making funny plane noises to illustrate your point.

When your adult travelling companion (let’s just say your brother) is reading the inflight magazine before take off, try not to read over his shoulder, pointing at a picture of a cow and saying, “Cow. Mooooo.”

Same goes for all other types of animals (especially the ones who make interesting sounds).

It won’t be received well.

3. Pack too much stuff. For yourself. At the last minute. No planning. 

When travelling without your child, your personal luggage allowance will expand significantly. Take advantage of this, by packing almost everything you own, without any real forethought. Be spontaneous and live a little! Arrive at your destination and realise that perhaps you didn’t need 4 heavy jackets, 5 pairs of leggings, that gorgeous party dress (you aren’t even attending a party) and about 15 million tops. Especially when you’re only really away for two full days. Get laughed at by other adults who are supposed to love and support you. Travelling without a child is just soooo hard. People should understand.

4. Make a mess. 

Not having a child with you may tempt you to do crazy things like style your hair or wear white. Don’t let this stop you from making a mess – particularly while eating. Try to become that person ‘you can’t take anywhere’ instead. It will fill the gaping hole in your soul that you feel because you left your own child at home. I personally like to watch a fried egg (sunny side up) slide off my plate and onto my lap (sunny side up), before frantically dabbing at the grease marks with a serviette dipped in my drinking water.

I also like to be uncoordinated with cutlery, letting prawns from my pad thai bounce off me and onto the floor. It’s comforting, right? It’s what a toddler would do, so it brings a feeling of warmth and familiarity to an adults’ meal experience while travelling.

5. Stop scanning a venue for childproofing/entertaining/safety purposes. 

Stop right there. Stop looking for where they keep the high chairs at that cafe. Stop scanning peoples’ houses for childproofing opportunities. Don’t look at your aunty’s beautiful shell collection just sitting there on a plate and think, “Whoa, my child would love to throw those everywhere.”

Just be. Just enjoy table centre pieces. Put your glass right near the edge of the table. Don’t worry about whether you’d fit a stroller into that gorgeous little boutique (which is never access friendly). Appreciate arty things in galleries, without wondering how long it will be before someone will break them. Stand still for half an hour in one spot, just pondering about something simple. Live on the wild side. I dare you.

See also…tips for buying guilt presents for the return home, fantasising about ideal reunion moments with your toddler (including a rock star parent moment), walking with a ‘swish’ in your step like a lady who doesn’t have anyone hanging off her (remember the swish?), and trying not to get children’s TV show theme songs stuck in your head, despite the fact you haven’t watched a children’s show in days. 

What do you enjoy most about travelling without children?

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