Tag: parenting

{From the Vault} We can’t control everything and I’m OK with that.

I wrote this post in 2014 and it sat in my drafts folder until now – the Little Mister was 2 years old. The first sentence kind of makes me laugh because I know it wasn’t always that easy (still isn’t!), but I still agree that we need to shake off the pressure we are made to feel because we can’t control everything. Life is messy. Kids will do what they will do – they’re their own crazy little people. Especially toddlers! We can provide them with the best environment to grow and thrive but sometimes it doesn’t quite go to plan. That doesn’t mean we’ve done a bad job x

I know I’m nuts, but I really do love the unpredictability of having a small child. It’s not for everyone, but I love that when I wake up in the morning I have no idea what the day may bring. I can make plans, but they might be abandoned. I can have no plans, but suddenly something unexpected (and hopefully pleasant but not always) comes along. It can be frustrating and even boring at times – not to mention exhausting – but somehow this stay at home mum life seems to suit me. Just like any paid job I’ve ever had, there are drawbacks and there are absolute perks.

Again, with me still sounding like an absolute nutjob, I really do find it liberating when plans go awry. It’s like the universe is giving me permission to just throw my hands up in the air and say, “Oh, f*ck it! You want me to just go with the flow, universe? I’ll show you how to go with the f*cking flow!”

I think I really do embody my blog’s title. I like to think that if I am unprepared for the situations life throws at me, at least I can be awesome at it 😉

I don’t always succeed (cue crying and eating a pile of hot chips the size of my head), but it’s my life’s motto these days. It’s what gets me through.

I’ll put up a fight when something goes off track (sometimes you do need that fire inside you), but I think I also know that there are occasions when I just need to step back and realise I’m so not in control of everything and that’s just gonna have to be OK for now.

May as well laugh about it (if appropriate – in most cases it is) and think of it as blog material!

I feel like in this day and age, new parents are told they can control everything. In fact, not only can we supposedly control everything, we are told we’d better bloody be in charge of everything or else we’re going to be judged! We’re told we can control everything from the way our pregnancy plays out, to how we give birth, to breastfeeding perfectly (something not all of us can do), making our babies sleep perfectly for 12 hours straight, to how smart our child is going to be and what their interests will be.

We’re told that if we do all of the ‘right’ things, we can totally achieve the desired outcome.

*cough* BULLSH-T *cough*

There are parents out there who can do everything ‘right’ and still face challenges a lot of us wouldn’t even be able to fathom. There are parents who don’t do anything right and yet, somehow against all odds, their children survive and succeed! Explain that, control freaks! Explain that!

We can give ourselves and our children all the best opportunities possible, but at the end of the day there are so many factors that can be out of our hands.

I feel like as parents, we need to refuse to buy into this controlling mentality and to be careful not to use it as a tool to make other people feel inadequate. There’s a difference between friendly advice that may or may not work, and judging someone: “Oh, life is harder for them because they didn’t do x, y or z”.

There is a difference between giving our children security, boundaries and discipline, and simply micromanaging every step they take until they have no confidence left to try something on their own and figure out that it’s OK to make mistakes or do something wrong and that they’re strong enough to recover and move on.

We get the hand we’re dealt and the only thing we can really control is how we respond. Sometimes that’s fucking hard to do, but it can be kind of empowering to figure out how to go with the flow and do our best with what we have. And if we’re really lucky we might have a really amazing support network around us to help make it easier. Let’s be that for each other.

{From the Vault} Where do you draw the line?

As I continue the ‘From the Vault’ series (where I FINALLY publish long forgotten blog post drafts), I bring to you a post I wrote in January 2014. I don’t think I had the courage to hit publish on this one because I felt that it could be perceived as shaming other parents who do things differently to me. Honestly, it was not coming from a place of judgement. I just wanted to explain why I have rarely made my son’s face public and how I’ve personally chosen to go about things. The thing is, we’re all really still exploring what it means to have a social media/blogging ‘digital footprint’ and what it means for our children. There are many ways to go about sharing our lives.

Whatever you are comfortable with is your own line in the sand, and I think a majority of parents who post photos of their children publicly have thought deeply about what is in their best interests. We’re all just doing what we hope works best for us.

I know my stance on the issue isn’t the most locked down or perfectly protected system, nor is it the most relaxed. I just hope I’ve hit the right balance for my family and my son.  

As a blogger and as a parent who is nuts for uses social media, I am always asking myself – where should I draw the line when it comes to the way I treat/use my child’s online identity? That sounds icky just to type it – “my child’s online identity”. Whether I like it or not, he has one and he has had one almost since birth. With the sharing of that first hospital photo and birth announcement, it began! For some, it begins before their child is born – ultrasound photos of a 13 week foetus!

It’s a sign of the times. I could be really hardcore about it and leave no digital footprint, no evidence of my son’s existence, because let’s face it, he cannot consent to each image or anecdote that is out there in the world. But I’m not. And I am far from being alone. I can only draw my imaginary (but nonetheless important) line in the sand. Everyone’s line is a little different from another person’s, but I think most of us would agree there needs to be one.

There are so many reasons for this and I think they boil down to these:

  • Your child’s future embarrassment
  • A need to protect your child from predators and those who do not have good intentions
  • To teach your child by example

OK, so the ’embarrassment’ factor is a tough one to draw a line on. Kids are cute and unintentionally funny. They will wear funny things, say funny things and do funny things almost from day 1. I know I’m guilty of privately posting photos of my son wearing funny costumes – I’ve loved every second of it! What a laugh! However, right now he’s only 1 and I hope that by the time he has an awareness of what’s really going on from an older person’s perspective that he will just see it as mum being a bit embarrassing and at least they’re just cute baby photos (ie not him humiliating himself as a tween or older).

I blog about my life with the Little Mister. I do humourous (at least I hope they are) posts on my blog’s Facebook page about his experiences. However, there is a lot that I do not publish. I won’t publicly post photos that reveal his face in intimate detail (unless it is an image that has already been made public in other approved and legitimate ways – even then I feel wary), I won’t publicly post photos of him naked or even just in a nappy. I won’t use his real name. Most of what I post about is the stuff that most toddlers and babies do at a given age. He’s very special and unique to me, but let’s face it – I’m describing thousands upon thousands of toddlers when I share my stories. In a way, I feel like I am portraying my own experiences moreso than his. It’s about how he makes me reflect on my own life and how much I am changing and growing through being a parent. At least that’s my intention. As he grows older, I will have to inspect my line in the sand again – the goal posts will no doubt keep moving.

When it comes to social media, my personal Facebook page is as private as I can make it. I regularly check that Facebook hasn’t done the dirty on me with alterations to the privacy settings and again, I do not post naked photos (bath photos etc) and rarely any videos of the Little Mister. Tagging can be a risk (it can expose your photographs to each and every friend of the friends you’ve tagged), but I try to make informed choices. It’s not a perfect world, but I do my best. No-one has the right to see my son’s naked body splashed all over the internet. No matter how perfect and innocent and little and cute he is to me right now. You don’t know who your friend of a friend of a friend is. You don’t know who might access these photos or manipulate and save them. I’m sure I’m not exactly as hard to track down as a person in witness protection (in fact I know I’m not) but I like to think I’ve made my boundaries clear.

Today I was accosted at the local shopping centre by a baby photography company trying to drum up business, by offering the allure of a chance to go in the draw for your child to win you $5000 in a national cutest baby competition. This means that if you pay the small fee to get your child’s photo taken, some stranger you’ve never met will look at these photographs and decide if your child is the cutest or not. I know $5000 is a lot of money and it could buy your child so much stuff, but I don’t enter these things (online or in person). I do not want to make money off of my child’s looks. I do not need some anonymous person to tell me if my kid is cute or not. Dammit, I know he is the cutest in the world because he’s mine and I am incredibly biased and I don’t care if anyone else thinks so or not as long as I raise him to be a good human!!

Some of these photo competitions offer discounts on baby products, huge educational scholarships etc. They sound like they’re wonderful (because the prize can ultimately benefit your child), but basically these brands/companies are saying that my child can get possible opportunities for a better education (by way of financial means) if he LOOKS cute enough.

It just feels like the wrong message? I do not begrudge others for doing this – again, we all have different lines in the sand – but for me, personally, it doesn’t feel right. I share photographs with friends and loved ones, because they care about our family and I do it (relatively) privately with no intentions of world wide distribution for marketing purposes!

Does my blog following/interest suffer because I do not post lots of fun, personal photographs that would let you into my world/family on a much more visual level? Probably. That’s OK with me. That is my line in the sand.

I cannot guarantee that I will feel the same forever or that I might not make exceptions in the future (don’t want to be a big hypocrite), but I do guarantee that I will always consider the best interests of my child’s online (and therefore public) identity first and foremost. It would take a shitload of good reasons lot for me to change my mind.

How do you feel about the online presence of your child/children?

{From the Vault} Just wait until you have kids! Said no Kez ever.

I just found this post in my drafts folder – dated October, 2013 (the Little Mister was almost 2). I think it’s still relevant now – especially as I’ve experienced quite the journey with secondary infertility. I have occasionally heard the words, “At least you only have one child. I have (insert plural number here). Just wait until you experience it!” as a way of telling me that I have it easier and have no idea. Sure, I probably do have it easier in some ways – I definitely have it easier than someone who wants so badly to become a parent but cannot. But I’d also argue that the challenges I have faced have not been a cup of tea or a picnic or a walk in the park either. I know I wouldn’t wish my challenges on somebody else, that’s for sure. Both myself and every other parent/person have had our own journeys and they’re both likely to be as unique and as valid as each other’s. Someone will always seem to have it better than us and some will always have it tougher than us. It’s not up to us to judge what that’s like for them and whether they’re suffering enough. It’s not a competition. I try to keep myself in check about this all the time…  

Fellow (erm…probably female) parents…do you remember being pregnant for the first time? Do you remember feeling bone weary tired and uncomfortable sometimes (or all the time for those less lucky?). Do you remember the late pregnancy insomnia? The aching and the need for some kind of body pillow arrangement that your partner dare not disturb? Do you remember those times you told someone about how tired you were and that someone had kids and that someone kept saying, “Pfft. You just wait until you have the baby. Then you’ll know the meaning of tired.”

You know, with that tone that says clearly, “Ha! This person has no idea!” followed by an evil laugh because you know they’re secretly enjoying the idea of you suffering in the near future.

Remember every time you opened your mouth and someone would say, “Oh you just wait…”

“Oh, that’s nothing. You just wait until you have the baby…”

“Oh, you just wait until they’re crawling…”

“Oh, you just wait until they’re walking…”

“Oh, you just wait until the teething…”

“Oh, Terrible Twos? There’s Terrible Threes…”

“You just wait until you have two kids! Oh, you have two? Well, that’s nothing compared to three!”

You know what I mean. Some of you might even have a person you know in mind when you read this.

Look, these things are fine in the context of a positive conversation between friends/family members, but what I’m referring to is those who have quite the case of the snarks. That person who is competitive or condescending.

I can’t promise I won’t ever say any of the above things at some occasion (in the right moment hopefully with the right person at the right time with the right tone), but I can promise that I will never do it with the intention of making someone feel like their experiences are less valid because they’re not parenting a child yet. Or ever. I also sincerely apologise if I’ve ever unintentionally p*ssed someone off.

I’ve just never understood that attitude.

I mean, what’s their point? So they’re further ahead in the parenting game and always will be. That’s fine. Good for them. If they have any useful advice or humourous anecdotes we can relate to and feel better about, that’s really great. But what’s the point in bringing us down while we’re learning?

When you’re f*cking tired, you’re f*cking tired. When you’re struggling, you’re struggling. When you’re juggling, you’re freakin’ juggling.

When you love a child or care about children, that experience is real. Even if it’s not your own child.

I look back on my life BC (Before Child) and I think about the times I was bone tired. Did I take some freedoms for granted? Absolutely!! But were my experiences valid, real and necessary to enjoy/live through before having a child? Abso-f*cking-lutely! Imagine if we all spent our whole life leading up to having children, stopping ourselves and saying, “Oh, this pales in comparison to when I will have children.”

That would be ridiculous, yeah?

I remember staying up all night frantically finishing university assignments, feeling like my whole future rested on the success of my studies. The pressure, the stress, the late night panicked phone calls from fellow students about group assignments. I would spend weeks in a daze, just wondering when the hell I would rest and then when “holidays” arrived they were spent worrying about the rest of my life (the part that had been neglected).

I remember the stress I’ve been through when terrible events have happened. The constant juggling – family, friends, university, work, self care, my relationship, etc. Having to say no to things. Having to feel like trying to find the right balance is a nightmare. Realising you can’t please everyone.

All of those things were real. Doing it tough when my husband lost his job – not having disposable income. That was real. Just like it’s real when a baby comes along and it costs a lot to keep them in nappies and formula and god knows what else.

And what about those who cannot, or choose not to, have children? Are we smug parents saying that none of their life is valid or complicated or real? F*ck off!

We’re all in different stages of life, making our own different decisions. All of us deserve respect for where we are. We all have our paths to follow, new things to learn. All in due time.

I feel sorry for those who will try to convince us that life is going to be horrible when pregnant or when we have children. Sure, there are some crazy times to be had (my path wasn’t exactly ‘glowing’), but those crazy times are for everyone to experience for the first time themselves (if they ever do). For all of those times, there are so many other blessings that make parenthood worth it.

Having a child has really made me learn a lot about how deep your love can be. It’s this pure, unconditional kind of love I didn’t know you could feel before I had a child. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t know what love was beforehand. I’m just experiencing a new kind of love. When some parents say, “You can’t know what love is until you have a child”, I do get what they’re saying, but that’s not a very nice thing to say around people who don’t have a child!! They do know what love is. Sure, they might not share the experience of having your own child but that doesn’t mean that someone without children doesn’t know what unconditional love is. Or what it’s like to care for someone who will test you constantly.

We’re all running our own races, facing our own challenges. All of our journeys are just as important and as challenging as someone else’s.

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.

giphy-21

SOURCE

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).

DTS_Writer4

image source

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.

10615486_10152882529673218_2725669563242957654_n

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:

cff90d48bb1898bf9c143f8a49208f6b

image source

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

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

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

Helping with home decor. 

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

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

image

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.

527908_10151061569853218_1774155320_n_Fotor

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).
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFnnG8Ap01g]

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.

c737d7df4e718e511946618128bc6a89

image

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.

10359148_10152344933403218_7863992835697558531_n

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.

10295242_10152344933403218_7863992835697558531_o

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