Tag: parenting

The ‘You Didn’t Put it Away’ box.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff I wish I wrote (or that I just love).

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Guys, I am not kidding when I tell you I am getting stir crazy. Did you know that I have not left my home for a week?! If I didn’t have a Friday night date with my girlfriends to see Magic Mike XXL (we are all really interested in the plot of course), I think I’d go absolutely loco. Well, more than usual.

Everyone’s taken their turns being sick in our household and OMFG I want out!! I haven’t touched my make up in days and I have worn variations of really daggy PJs/track suit/leggings combos for an embarrassingly long streak. What’s going on in the real world, guys? Is everyone on hover boards yet? Are you all still out there? There hasn’t been some kind of crazy zombie apocalypse or anything, has there?

As you can tell, I cope really well with isolation…

I thought, hmm. I have all this time at home so maybe I can blog more. But could I think of a single thing to write about that wasn’t tired or boring (much like my week)?? Nope. Nothing. I stared at my blog for ages, nothing going on behind my eyes. One big derp. You know when you think you’re being really productive because you’re making your thinking face but then you realise that really, it’s all just a facade and you forgot to actually think? For like a few minutes you were just sitting there like a dumb arse? Because derp?

Turns out, to be inspired, you often need to get out of your little bubble and explore the world. You know, live a life you can blog about. At least that is what I would normally do when I have writer’s block. Damn it!

So today I gave up. I started catching up on all the blogs I subscribe to (and Netflix but let’s not go there). If I can’t write great stuff, then I can read it! Everyone is so gosh darn clever. I’ve read so many posts that I wish I’d written. Stuff that has made me laugh or made me think. Or made me hungry.

So I thought I’d share a little bit of link love. Here are some of the things I’ve really enjoyed…

Never Trust a Jellyfish – Tribute (to the Best Blog Post in the World)

Oh, the times I have thought up a wonderful blog post…and then subsequently forgotten when it came time to type it up. Or worse, when I’ve written a fantastic post and suddenly there’s a glitch and it goes missing!

This is not only a hilarious tribute to that frustrating experience, but a trip down memory lane – remember, Tenacious D, anyone?

A life less frantic – Managing the overwhelm caused by your inner ‘planner’

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Well, duh. You’re a person. Of course you have! Kelly, over at A Life Less Frantic has some really great tips for managing that frantic anxiety of trying to figure out the logistics of everything on your to do list.

Babble – Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week

I love when people round up great tweets that I would not otherwise find by myself. I giggle SO HARD. Trust me, these are worth it.

Ask Your Dad – Dear Crappy Parent

Around these parts, I am very clear about ridiculous judgement of other parents being an absolute no no. I always believe that when we see that person at the supermarket with their kids, we do not know the whole story. We don’t have the right to go off at people on the internet, based on one photo or post that we’ve seen. We should all focus on getting our own backyard in order before bossing other people around about theirs. Just because someone does something differently to us, does not immediately make that person inferior to us (I mean – who do we think we are?). That’s just how I roll.

Unless we see a clear incidence/evidence of abuse that cannot be explained in any other context (in which we should ALWAYS speak up), we need to reserve our judgements. We are all in this together.

This blog post from Ask Your Dad totally nails why we should be less nosey and judgey.

Culinary Storm – Chocolate Lava Cake for 2 

OK, so this just made me drool. It’s so easy and it is everything I crave on a winter’s evening. I’m not saying it’s good for you, but hello…just look at the pictures and tell me you don’t want it. Chocolate lava cake for 2? Yeah, right. I think we know it’s just for one hungry 31 year old woman with no self control…not that we’re talking about me or anything…

What have you been reading lately? Want to share your latest blog post with me? x

All ‘growed’ up.

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

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

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

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

Choosing his own hair style.

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

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

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

He chose this one:

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

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

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

Helping with home decor. 

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

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

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

Meal prep and cooking. 

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

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

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

No dummy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, back to yesterday…

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

*cough*

*plop*

Uh oh…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if the other kids are assholes?

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

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

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

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

What if he just gets sick all the time?

OH HOLY SH*T.

BUT…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if his immune system gets even stronger?

Oh yes. All these what-ifs.

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

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

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

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

You know. No biggie.

😉

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

Short mama problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We broke all the rules, but that’s OK.

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Before we headed away on our big holiday, things were going quite well in the toddler stakes. The Little Mister hadn’t needed a dummy (when not sleeping) in a really long time and he was toilet training like a little champion! He’d even recovered from his night time anxiety and was sleeping again after a rough few weeks (his last molar not doing us any favours with teething). Things were looking optimistic!

We’ll just give him his dummy and his giraffe blankie (“Giraffey”) when we’re in transit (on trains or planes) in the hopes he’ll nap and we’ll figure out a way to get hold of a cheap potty training aide of some sort (like a toilet seat or a portable potty) to take around the place with us for the hotels. Easy, I thought. 

YEAH RIGHT.

One thing about life is that you can never fully predict how things are going to be when you jump into the unknown. Especially when a toddler is involved!

Of course we got overseas and everything went right out the window! The Little Mister wanted his dummy EVERY minute of the day and everyone knows that Giraffey comes too! It was hard to accept because it felt like a massive backwards step for him. He was dribbling everywhere (despite not teething anymore), you couldn’t understand any of what he was saying on account of the dummy, and he was chewing on it when he was anxious, which seemed dangerous when he broke them. If I’m honest, the ‘from back home’ me was also expecting to be judged for it like I am at the bloody supermarket here. Silly, I know. If someone was to ever judge me, I should have just thought my usual mantra, “F*ck them. I know my truth,” but I think I was feeling vulnerable with the whole ‘visiting my place of birth for the first time since I was adopted’ thing. I wasn’t my fierce mama self and we were all in a crazy, new situation to adapt to. It was no surprise that the Little Mister was searching for more security and comfort too. Besides, it wasn’t even an issue in the end. No-one cared. They still thought he was incredibly cute. They saw past the dummy and blanket and that was it. A kid is a kid. In fact, it was refreshing!

May I also add that the fear of losing the one and only Giraffey was nerve-wracking haha. Our whole family group was always on Giraffey patrol which could be exhausting! Make sure he doesn’t drop it on the train tracks boarding a train! Make sure he doesn’t drop it when he falls asleep in his stroller! AAARGH! We had to rig up a complex (haha) system where Giraffey was attached by the neck to one end of a safety restraint (a wrist to wrist strap designed for parents and toddlers) and the other end hooked over the handles of the stroller (or to him when he was walking)! I have done some scary things before in my life, but nothing was as important as keeping Giraffey in one piece!!

As for toilet training, well that was a bust. We had hoped that he would toilet train when back in the hotel and that we would just use nappies when we were out and about. In our minds, we thought it would help keep his training topped up and we could just be more intensive when we got back home. I didn’t want him to forget any of the progress he had made before we left home.

In reality, this wasn’t going to happen. We were always on the go. We changed hotels every 3 days on average (sometimes more than 3 and other times less). We were always in transit. It wasn’t the ideal ‘toddler friendly’ holiday but we had so much to see and it was a group effort. The Little Mister was often overtired or looking for comfort and familiarity. He was also intimidated by grown ups’ toilets (as opposed to a smaller potty – something we had a hunch would happen before we went away). We did find a rather nifty toilet training seat at Gangneung (where my brother was born) on one of our crazy looking for ‘diapers’ missions, but would he have a bar of it? No way! He did love that the seat had Pororo (a friendly cartoon character) all over it, at least.

Not-so-helpful (or even slightly rational) thoughts ran through my head when I was tired and weary.

What if he never toilet trains again in his life?! What if he takes a dummy with him to high school?! THIS IS A DISASTER! 

But let me tell you, Holiday Kez. Everything will be OK.

The Little Mister was obsessed with his dummy and Giraffey for maybe 3 days when we got home. After that? Back to normal as if nothing had happened. On our first longish outing since we’d got back, I did secretly pack them in my bag in case of an all out, ridiculous meltdown but that meltdown never happened. Awesome.

Oh, and 3 days before we headed for home, the Little Mister asked me out of the blue if he could use the toilet. And sat on it. And did a wee on cue. And was so proud of himself. I wanted to jump up and down and throw a parade, I was so proud of him!

We’ve been home a month now and toilet training is progressing. We had some accidents as he tried to adjust back to winter weather and the need to wear warm pants around the house (he now has learnt how to take them off properly and is working on going on his own without being scheduled or prompted again). It feels like we’ve started again in some ways, but it’s great because he’s a few months older than when we started and understands so much more easily. The world did not cave in on itself. I know am hopeful that we’ll be kicking arse at it by the end of the coming summer. Everything’s coming together. Yay!

Another thing we did while we were away was to try and save money by sharing a bed with the Little Mister. We tried to get twin double rooms in some places and king sized beds in others. Sometimes I shared with the Little Mister in our own bed and other times the Unprepared Three huddled in together. We did struggle in Tokyo with a rather small bed between all of us (the cute little improvised bed we made for him on the floor was great until he woke in the night and thought he’d fallen out of bed and got back in with us EVERY TIME). He got used to being with us in bed and it comforted him as we were in all these strange places, with no room being the same as the last. When we got home? He wasn’t that anxious at all. He knew he was home and while he wanted his room floodlit (I hear it’s a pretty normal phase for this age anyway), he started to settle well within the week.

Discipline wasn’t always easy while we were away either. There’s no place for time outs – something that had been so effective at home. That was difficult. I would have to continue to cuddle him while he played up because we were stuck together, so he’d get more hyped up and think he was being rewarded for his behaviour. It made life harder for us as parents too. We had nowhere for ourselves to get away for a few minutes and cool down when we felt our patience evaporating. We’d feel shitty and be like, “UM – I’M GOING…TO THE OTHER CORNER OF THIS SAME TINY ROOM BECAUSE I’M MAD. DON’T LOOK AT ME.”

Cabin fever did become an issue!

BUT…The Little Mister has come home and is his good little self (as good as a 2 and 3/4 year old can be haha). He hasn’t suddenly become some kind of monster who will never be reformed.

GUYS, WE DIDN’T BREAK HIM!!!

Also, I learnt a lot too. I learnt to just go with it. Remind myself it’s not forever. Have faith in him. Have faith in us as parents. Not feel guilty for not being able to provide him with the creature comforts of home. Remember that this was a once in a lifetime journey and sometimes you have to compromise more. The Little Mister was SO GOOD for a two and a half year old. He adapted as well as he could, with a couple of compromises (i.e. constant bribery and sometimes fast food was the only option) and a couple of tools (dummy and Giraffey). He was happy. He loved seeing so many new things on our daily adventures. He went with the flow as best he could. He didn’t go to bed at the right times and he didn’t always have a day time nap, but he was loved and he was protected and we had a lot of help which we were grateful for. We did our best to keep him happy and catered to (which wasn’t always easy). He bonded with my parents and my brother so well and that was really special. He got to be so much more of a ‘big boy’ and do so many more things than he’d experienced at home. He loved it.

EVERYTHING IS FINE!

While it was stressful bringing a 2 year old on this kind of journey, we learnt so much. If we hadn’t taken the opportunity, citing having a toddler as an excuse (and a valid one at that), then we would never have done something so meaningful with my family and we would have never learnt so much about ourselves and about the amazing places we visited. I feel so happy that we went. I don’t regret it one bit and we feel proud. We could conquer anything now! Although, we’ll wait a few years before doing something like that again!

I will never take the fact that I live in a house (with different rooms in it) for granted again!!

I always say that you make the rules (and routines) so you can break them. This holiday was a perfect example.

Have you ever travelled with a toddler? What weird things did you worry about? Was it all smooth sailing? x

 

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

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

More Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Parent.

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So I did a post on some useful stuff for a brand new (or expectant) mum here, but here is some stuff I found useful as the parent of a bub entering toddlerhood (so you get my frame of reference), but some of it can be useful from day 1. To me, it’s just stuff that can make life a little easier – I try to make my lists a little out of the box because I hope it’s not just a carbon copy of every other baby/toddler product/parenting tool post that you see (but probably is because hello – it’s the internet). 😉

Be wary, though. Even though it’s December, this isn’t a Christmas gift idea list (except the PVR – that would be a gift to anyone)! Don’t get mad at me when your loved one is upset with their laundry filing system haha. 

I think I’ll just dive right on in!

DVR/PVR
Yep. It’s like technology took the old concept of the VCR and made it like 50 times awesomer. If awesomer is actually a word. Who cares. Moving on…

I love my PVR so much that it’s ridiculous. My love for it is unnatural. When you’re a parent (from day 1), this kind of device is SO GOOD. You can record every show you love to watch at your convenience. I found it so useful when I was breastfeeding the Little Mister. Having a PVR also meant that no matter what time of day or night it was, I could choose what I wanted to watch – no relying on Home Shopping Networks to see me through or flicking through eff knows how many channels trying to find SOMETHING on a Saturday night/day.

I might catch up on my favourite television shows sometimes weeks months later, but I love that I can get there eventually!

Now that the Little Mister is older, the television is on much less because he either gets a few minutes of some appropriate kids’ shows or we watch the news in the evening (although jury is out on whether that’s a good idea either – so much bad stuff). I record a lot of the grown up stuff that has violence, adult themes etc and I can watch when he’s asleep at my own convenience. You know, without corrupting his innocent soul or scarring him for life haha.

Also? I go to bed a bit embarrassingly early some nights because I’m so exhausted. Instead of forcing myself to stay awake to view my favourite shows, I can slumber away knowing that everything’s being recorded. How’s that for peace of mind? 😛

We recently updated to a version that allows you to pause and rewind live TV. SO GOOD. I can pause the TV if the Little Mister needs something at night and not miss a beat when I get back! There’s a cool setting where if I have to stop watching something, it will save at that spot and I can come back halfway through an episode of something even days later. AWESOME.

It’s a bit of a luxury, but I highly recommend it.

Playpens
I find it hard to contain the Little Mister somewhere safe (even his big playroom with a safety gate on the entrance) so I can do things, but this is such a useful and simple invention that I imagine has been around since the dawn of time. Probably even in cavepeople days. Actually, maybe not. I imagine there were a few dinosaur related deaths no-one wants to talk about…

This worked really well when he first started to crawl, but I will admit that after that he just wanted to be free! Still. Worth it for as long as your little tot is willing to sit and play so you can go to the loo or do something non-child safe quickly.

Anyhow, another handy use for a playpen is to use it to keep the Little Mister OUT of things. Example? Christmas tree. Our Christmas tree is encased in a very colourful playpen. Gotta keep those mischievous hands and that teething mouth off of the fragile baubles, tinsel and beads! Once I actually get around to finishing starting the Christmas gift shopping, it’s handy if the recipients are given unopened (read: not pre-opened by a toddler) presents!!

My friend uses her playpen to cordon off their big flatscreen TV so that her daughter is safe from trying to pull it over. I once considered getting a playpen to put around my exercise bike so I can pedal away without a little hand sneaking into my pedal space, stopping me in my tracks! Just think of all the things we could enclose in a playpen! haha.

Some playpens can also be great for bringing outside so little ones can play on their own clean little patch of lawn where the dogs can’t jump up on them and gardening might even be achieved, if you are so inclined.

Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
OK, so I don’t actually own this (but I have friends who do and rave about it). However, it is HIGH up on my wishlist once I find a bit of money (so never haha). If you get the right type (apparently you want one that has a sensor and doesn’t just blindly stick to a grid – I need to do more research), you’re laughing. I find that sometimes the only available time to vacuum without a bub under foot is when he’s napping. And when he’s napping, a vacuum cleaner would wake him. You see my dilemma. Also, once your child has mastered the pincer grip, it means they can grab just about any tiny tiny tiny object and shove it in his or her mouth. For me, this meant bits of fluff, dried bits of baby food that didn’t quite make it into the rubbish bin/dog during the original clean up. I remember the crawling stage where I was constantly staring at the floor or on worse days, pulling dead flies or little pieces of plastic (from goodness knows what) out of the Little Mister’s mouth.

I just love the idea of turning on a robot vacuum cleaner as you leave the house for numerous errands and coming back to a floor that is cleaner (and safer) than it was when you left. Magic! I could do it daily without even lifting a finger!

Also? I just really hate vacuuming. I hate the whole process. Like the whole plugging it in thing.

Which also brings me to another wish list item: a cordless vacuum. Spot cleaning under the high chair anyone? Would be so easy!!

A filing system for your clean washing
I know that this is a boring sounding thing, but it really has been a lifesaver since parenthood arrived (and would have been even before then). For us it’s just cube shelves with a bunch of plastic tubs with labels shoved in each cube. My stuff, husband’s stuff, undies, socks, etc you name it. It has a place. So you know, when we haven’t had time to iron in bulk (which is always), we can duck into the spare room and grab what we need from our designated tubs. It keeps everything looking tidy (or at least tidier) and there’s less digging through head high piles of clothing to find that one thing you wanted to wear that day.

Domestic goddess, I am not. Ideas woman, I am. I’m sure it’s all over Pinterest or something. I didn’t invent this system, I am sure, but I did have a brainwave and it is a lifechanger, y’all. The little things, y’ know? We put this ‘system’ into place when I was pregnant and haven’t looked back. We needed to save space (we were losing a spare room) and I just knew it was going to be important to be a little more organised around the house!

tumblr_l716thKLjX1qbtd5wo1_500_largePic: This lady tragically passed away from exhaustion while trying to find her comfy trackpants after a night out

$20 Stroller
By now your precious bundle of joy is probably starting to stumble around and may even be walking well. At this stage with the Little Mister, I started to get sick of using a bulky pram everywhere we went. It took up a lot of car space and the Little Mister was big enough to sit up really well and didn’t need as much of the comfort factor (all those extra little cushions and bits and bobs that tend to come with prams for babies these days). I wanted to zip in and out of shops without spending ages assembling something heavy, but he wasn’t old enough to walk holding my hand (he was still a little shaky at times – or ridiculously fast depending on the day). Yet, he was getting too heavy to hold in one arm while trying to pay for something or pick something off a shelf! Sometimes I needed to have something really compact to store somewhere without annoying people in cafes or once there was this wedding on a boat…

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They usually look something like this – find this one here (not sponsored in any way) for $25.

You can get these little strollers for around $20-$30 from places like Big W, K-Mart or Target and they are so great. We have travelled with one too! It’s awesome because you know that if baggage handlers trash it, you can just buy another one without breaking the bank.

We still have the big pram for longer walks etc but it’s great having something quick and easy. Good to get one for the grandparents to keep also 🙂

I could probably think of a million more things to add to the list, but that might be for some other blog posts!

 What things have you found useful with a just-turning-into-a-toddler in your midst?