Category Archives: Parenting

Words of wisdom from a loving mumma

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I was going through a bunch of my old papers at mum and dad’s house the other day, and I came across a letter from mum, from 2002, just before I went overseas for 2 years. It was advice mum wanted to pass on to me to help “get me through life”. Reading it, I wanted to laugh and cry simultaneously; laugh because some of it I had taken on, cry because it reminded me of mum as she used to be.

So, in the spirit of sharing loving advice, here are these words of wisdom from my mum, almost 10 years ago:

  1. Remember always think of other people and not about yourself.
  2. Never drop your standards, always put your best foot forward, never dress in a slovenly manner. And always have clean shoes. It is not too late to change.
  3. If you haven’t got something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.
  4. Don’t worry about sex again, it will be wonderful once you meet Mr. Right.
  5. Once you have completed uni (at this stage I had no intention of going to uni!) get a safe job in public service; you will live longer and feel secure.
  6. This is a quotation from Charles Kingsley: “Be good sweet maid and let who will be clever”. Guess this doesn’t make sense to you. In a nut shell I would like to think of goodness as honesty, tolerance, trust, generosity, and kindness, to oneself and others. Remember this through your life.
  7. Don’t let anyone know if you are down on your luck and never boast about good fortune to someone less fortunate than yourself.
  8. Try not to cry in public and never let people know that they have hurt your feelings. (This is old fashioned now, my dad used to tell me this).
  9. From now on be careful who you associate with. If you mix with crows you will crow like them.
  10. If your second toe is longer than your first toe you have profound will and determination. (Boy, is it ever and do I ever!!)
  11. Always go for quality instead of tat and rubbish. You mostly won’t appreciate this at the moment.
  12. I remember already telling you this but never leave home without a change of underwear, you might get caught.
  13. If you look a million dollars you’ll make a million dollars.
  14. Make sure when you complete uni get a job where you go to work in a suit or smart attire.

It was really nice to read this after such a long time, and now, as a parent, I can really understand where mum was coming from. So I decided I should come up with a few pieces of advice for my boys when they’re older. I have a few already under my belt but the rest will have to come slowly, I think.

What about you? What was the best piece of advice you ever received and who was it from? What was the best piece of advice (or worst) your parents ever gave you? What would you want to pass on to your kids?

Lunchbox fillers for kidlets

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http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/green-kids-lunch-44071008Are you running out of ideas on what to give your scavengers kids for snack time at school? I know I suffer from brain fuzz sometimes when it comes to making it healthy and interesting without giving them the same things all the time. So here are my suggestions, and feel free to add yours in the comments!

  • Sakata rice crackers- the whole grain ones are delicious and have no flavour enhancers or any other bad stuff. Yummy flavours and tasty!
  • A tub of sultanas, banana chips and nuts
  • Frozen berries (Aldi sells boxes of frozen berries for $5.00. Waaaay cheaper than the fresh variety and really yummy once they’ve thawed!)
  • Frozen berries in organic natural yoghurt (Aldi also has awesome organic natural yoghurt…)
  • Tune, avocado and plain natural yoghurt dip (to go with the rice crackers)
  • Chopped  fruit (I find the whole apple will get eaten more often if I have chopped it up rather than left it whole)
  • A tub of cold meat and cheese
  • Organic cheese flavoured corn chips (again, good ol’ Aldi has the organice kind, nice and cheap, with no nasty stuff)
  • Tin of baked beans (good cold and straight from the tin according to my 5yo)
  • Oven baked pita bread broken up into “chips” and sprinkled with herbs
  • Home made gluten free biscuits (like oat and raisen) yummy!
  • Chopped carrots and celery to go with the tuna and avocado dip

There, lots of ideas to rotate, none of them leaving you feeling guilty.

My oldest son starts school next year and I’m freaking out

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I’ve been pulling back a notch with my online presence because I’m tired of thinking about what to blog when I should be spending time with my kids. It’s only just hit me, holy hell, my eldest boy starts school next year! That means all that time home with me is practically over! For the rest of his life! This is IT!!

It really scared me when I came to that realisation, especially since for the last 2 years I’ve been saying that I can’t wait for him to go to school so I can get some sort of life back.

So instead of being online, tweeting, blogging and emailing, I’ve been colouring in, teaching small man how to read, kicking the footy, and drawing with him (I don’t do the cars and trains thing, I have a line and it gets drawn there). And I have to admit, it’s fun to be so “in the moment”.

At the end of the day it’s the things you do together that kids remember. We never had much when I was a kid (it was just my parents and me) but the fact that I didn’t have a video player when everyone else did wasn’t a big deal. We used to go for holidays (which I hated at the time), drives (which I also hated), and to the footy (which was kind of boring but fun to go out). When people say to me “I just want them to have the best things in life” I think “but all kids want is for their parents to be there, play with them, do things with them, make them feel important and loved, not stuff.”

Small man’s not going to remember that he had a wii and a play station and a big screen tv. He’s going to remember going for bike rides together and going down to the river to kick the footy. I don’t know why it took me so long to realise this, I guess I knew it all along really. It’s just a shame I only realised it in the last 6 months I have left at home with small man before he belongs somewhere else for 6 hours a day.

Why “mummy” is sometimes the most irritating word in existence

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I’m alone and it’s quiet; I really do love that sound. The sound of nothing. It gives me a chance to think, something which I don’t get much of these days, with a chatty toddler, and a pre-schooler who just never. shuts. up. Sleep is the only silence I get, and even then there’s no time to enjoy that silence. I spend a few minutes reading and then I’m out.

It begins right from when I get up in the morning, and just continues on and on throughout the day; the incessant chatter of a four year old. Sometimes it’s cute. Sometimes it’s downright irritating. Particularly when all I want to do is get a coffee into me and my dear four year old is telling me….well, nothing much really, he just likes the sound of his own voice.

Sometimes I think the word “mummy” is the most irritating word in the world. I’m sorry to those out there that don’t have that pleasure of being called mummy, but I’m allowed to complain, just as you are about your thousands of dollars or loads of free time or whatever it is that you have that I don’t. Sometimes I want to follow the lead of a highly respected colleague and friend of mine and tell my kids to call me by my name. Although I’m sure that would get just as irritating after a while.

Tomorrow I will have half a day to myself before the boys are back and in my ear again. For now, I will enjoy the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard, the heater fan spinning like it’s about to die, and the occasional growl and yap of the dog sleeping at my feet.

At least I’ll have had a few coffees before the talking begins again tomorrow.

Yesterday, I was grateful for…

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Something else I'm grateful for: little things that make me laugh (photo by Shane Wallace)

I’m introducing a new segment, mainly to get myself into the habit of naming ten things I’m grateful for every day. My friend Erin (editor of Real Magazine) says she has been doing this every single day for a few months now and it has drastically improved her attitude to life and helped her put things in perspective.

The fact is that if we focus on the good things in our lives, the bad things become insignificant, and it helps us to keep perspective and a positive outlook.

So, every day I’m going to name ten things I’m grateful for. It might bore you because it will probably stay  more or less the same each day, but I strongly encourage you guys to join in and share ten things you’re grateful for as well.

So, yesterday, I was grateful for…

  1. Not having to do anything so being able to enjoy just being home with my boys.
  2. Having the time to post on here, and putting up four posts!
  3. Discovering some new websites which I love.
  4. Being asked to be a contributor for weheartlife.
  5. Date night! This happens on Wednesday every week (great way to improve hump day) and involves putting the kids to bed early, Indian food, Spicks and Specks, Gruen Transfer, United States of Tara, no computer for either hubby and me, some nice cuddle-time on the couch and then early bed, where I was able to read Breaking Dawn again until waaay past midnight.
  6. Having time to read the paper and surf (do people still say “surf”?)
  7. Being told by my editor that the only thing worrying him about the street mag doing well is that a local paper will try and poach me (probably just words but still a nice stroke to the ego).
  8. Having a husband who puts up with my grumpiness.
  9. Being able to update the “Writing” segment of my blog.
  10. Generally being in a good place with work, the kids and life!!

Today’s LOL moment: Kerri Sackville’s meatball song

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The hiLARious Kerri Sackville of Life and Other Crises fame has outdone herself again with this take off of Kesha’s (or however the hell you spell it) “Tik Tok” song. Check it…

For more Kerri madness you can go here or follow her on Twitter here. Go quickly. You won’t regret it.

Do you do date night?

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What do you do for date night?

When you’ve been in a relationship for eight very long and tiring lovely and romantic years there comes a point where a little more effort is required to keep things fresh. Especially when children are involved. It’s important and VITAL to the relationship to not fall into the habit of seeing each other as your children’s mother/father, because remember, we started out as much more than that!!

When I told kindly suggested to my husband that he should do more nice things for me, I nearly lost it when he said “I do!! I do the housework for you!” I’m sorry. The last time I wrote “housework” down as my hobbies and interests was…oh that’s right, NEVER!

Sometimes I have to remind him that I’m not just a wife and mum, that I have an actual personality. So, in lue of celebrating our personalityness I have announced Wednesday to be date night.

Date night is the one night of the week where we are not allowed on our computers*. We put the kids to bed and then snuggle up on the couch together to watch Spicks and Specks and Gruen Transfer. Then we go to bed early (rather than midnight, as is often my case). At least, this is my plan. Tonight is the first one, so we shall see how it pans out.

This suggestion of a date night was courtesy of my counsellor. Yes, I see a counsellor. So what. I believe that problems are better dealt with than suppressed by alcohol or drugs or antidepressants (that is my belief, and I respect other people’s choice of suppressing their problems. Each to their own.) And it took hearing it from someone other than his nagging wife to have my husband agree.

Do you have a date night? What do you do? How do you keep your relationship interesting?

*The issue of relationships suffering because of technology is a BIG one that warrants its own post. In the meantime, please share your experiences and I will tie it in to my post. If you dare!! 🙂

How do you parent?

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*If you’re not a parent or aren’t currently interested in talking about children, tune out now. Or maybe you’d rather go here or here or here instead.

** I say all of this with no judgement, knowing that everyone has their own parenting style. When I say “how can they do that?” I mean that in the sense of “how does that not drive them mad?” Just clarifying. 🙂

Of all my friends I am the only one who has children. Strange, because I’m not young (anymore). At 28 I thought more of my friends would have kids by now. But nooo, they’re to busy doing other things. Like building a career. Making a home. Having a life. You know, all those crap things no one wants to do.

I’ve recently become close with a friend of a friend who has a daughter, so it’s good to have finally found someone to bitch compare notes with. But I also realised I have a whole resource of lovely mums (and dads) out there of various ages and stages of life and I thought who better to ask!! Let’s open up a discussion on parenting, what you guys do, what you don’t, how far you let them push you. Even things like bed times, disciplining and what you feed them. I’d love to hear other people’s practices!

My boys
I have two boys, a 4yo (Small Man) and a 17mo (Wee Man). Small Man is kind and caring and compassionate, even if he has trouble listening sometimes. Wee Man is cheeky as hell. If I tell him to stop doing something he’ll give me this incredibly defiant look that says “what are you going to do if I don’t?” My first impression of this cheeky, defiant and stubborn personality was demonstrated at just 4 weeks of age on an incredibly hot night. I was going to the beach with my girlfriend and Wee Man. Wee Man was in one of those baby seats that faces backwards for the first few months, then forwards when he’s older, so he was a tad small for it, and often ended up slumped forward in the chair (sounds bad but really wasn’t). My friend tried to straighten him up, to which he replied with a grunt, slumping forward again. My friend tried again, and was promptly greeted with a louder, more defiant grunt (the kind of grunt that goes with the words “dooOOoon’t”), and then he proceeded to slump forward again. Clearly all done on purpose.

Bedtime
Night time is hubby and I’s time to relax, so I try to get them to bed as early as possible; 7-730 for Wee Man, and 7-8 for Small Man. But I’m constantly surprised at the number of people I know with kids (my neighbours, the people over the road) whose kids, ranging in age from 3 to 10, are still up at 9, 10 or even 11pm. NOT because I’m judging, but because my GOD. Don’t you parents crave peace and quiet??? I would go absolutely BONKERS if I didn’t have a couple hours at night to wind down, child-free, before bed. Am I mad? My neighbour says her kids don’t go to bed before 9pm, but I’m wondering, “ummmm, can’t you MAKE them? Aren’t you the parent??” How old are your kids and what time do you make them
go to bed? If you don’t have kids, what time WOULD you be putting them to bed? What is a reasonable time for a 4yo to stay up? I remember being in primary school and having to go to bed by 7pm. I remember very clearly thinking how crap it was that I had to go to bed while it was still daylight in summer!

Food
Does anyone else get the guilts when they can’t be bothered making a nutritional meal and end up giving their kids 2 minute noodles for dinner? Sure, I throw in a grated carrot to ease the guilts, but for some reason it really bugs me when I do that. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with the food I feed them. I practically survived on 2 min noodles when I was a kid and I was perfectly healthy. What about you guys? What’s your “lazy night” food to feed the kids? What’s your opinion on junk food and maccas? What about soft drink? How old should they be before they’re allowed to drink it? I try really hard to limit my boys sugar and processed food intake. However, some dear family members decided that I couldn’t avoid soft drinks forever and so made the decision of when Small Man would have his first soft drink for me. I was NOT HAPPY. But am I being too…strict? I KNOW I can’t avoid it forever, I’m not naive. It’s just, why not avoid it for as long as I can? I know that once they start school a lot of it will be out of my hands, but in the meantime am I really being unreasonable to not let them?

School
This school one is REALLY doing my head in. Did anyone have criterion that schools had to meet before you enrolled them? How did you choose the school your kids would go to? I firmly believe that kids need to go to schools that suit their needs, skills, strengths and likes. This is from personal experience, as I was sent to a private school that focussed on academic achievement: hence I did not do well there.

Pushing buttons
This is a question I really want to hear other parents’ feedback on. How far will you let your kids push you before you snap?
Do you snap at all, or are you a patient Mary Poppins? See, I have a bit of a short fuse when it comes to children. Never been a fan of them. My own are ok, but others…yeah I’m not real big on children. And one of my pet loathes is having to repeat myself because someone isn’t listening. Whether friends, hubby or children, it just does my head in. So there’s a little problem I have with having to say something more than twice. Twice I can deal with. Just. After taking a big breath. But any more than that and I start getting a little miffed (read: extremely pissed). Then I snap. It’s the not listening that bothers me the most. So my question about that is how do you cope? How many times do you have to ask for something to be done before you start boiling over?

Discipline
Ahh, the juicy question. How do you discipline your kids, if at all? I have tried many different forms of discipline and bribery. Smacking simply doesn’t work in this family, unless it’s over something incredibly dangerous or incredibly naughty. Most of the disciplining issues in this house revolve around not listening, so I don’t think it’s fair to smack a child for not listening, considering children are like that naturally. And also the fact that I would just constantly be smacking. So I’ve had to come up with other forms of discipline. There was the rule that if I had to ask something more than twice then I would take a favourite toy away. But as Small Man has soooo many, it never made a dent in the toy collection. I then tried sad face/happy face chart where I would draw a sad face for every naughty deed, and a happy face for every good. If there were more happy faces at the end of the day then Small Man would get to have dessert. If there were more sad faces then I would take a toy. Again, not very affective. Now, the bribery has turned to money. If Small Man does what I ask him straight away, or close to, then he gets 5c (he is already very savvy about what money is and what it does, and understands, if not entirely, the value of having money). If he does something extra good, like eat all his dinner without mucking around or complaining then he gets 20c. So this is more about rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad, and I have to admit it is working the best so far. Although, the fact that I’m bribing him still niggles me. So tell me: how do you discipline you kids? Do you believe in smacking? Or are you a pacifist? Do you bribe? How do you get your kids to do things?

So there you have it. These are my major parenting issues. These are the ones that make me wish more of my friends had kids. WIth no one to ask for advice, bounce ideas off and get objective suggestions from it makes it very hard to know if I’m a complete parenting spazz or if I’m actually quite tame. Not that I care what people think, really. But it’s good to know where I’m located on the crazy scale.

To the people that have kept me sane…

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To all the people on who have been keeping me sane during the day, when I would otherwise have no one to talk to but a three-year-old and a 5 month old: thank you. If it weren’t for you I would have lost my mind 8 weeks ago. I don’t deal well with being a SAHM at all. I need to be around people, need to be talking, need to be socialising, need to be stimulated. From intelligent conversation, to mundane banter, to good laughs, you guys have provided me with almost everything I need to keep sane…minus the face-to-face contact. I just realised today how much I appreciate you all when I saw nasty comments on Mia’s blog and just wanted to stick up for you all. It’s weird. Not 12 months ago I would have thought someone who made friends online a loser (I’m sorry, I just had that mindframe!) But now I’ve made friends with a group of people I’d be willing to fly interstate to catch up with- and it’s a nice feeling!
Thanks to: bugmum, KerriSackville, Mia Freedman (for your blog, who lead me to these brilliant people!), bellsg, numberchic, redhossy, taraschwarz, angelapinjuh, fender4eva, carly_grace, wite_wickah, Bern_Morely, CraigieMac, emjaystar, kateburge, AussieSoccermum, shonnyk, and overingtonc.

Children and travel

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When my boys are older, say, 10 and 7, I’d really like to take them out of school for either a few months or a year and take them traveling. Where to and what doing I don’t know yet, but I believe that traveling and being exposed to different cultures and experiences will teach them something they’d never be able to learn through books.

My husband, of course, has a different idea. He thinks children thrive best with stability, routine, and predictability. Which is great. If you want to raise boring people with no life experience and no personality. See, when I was 8 my parents packed up and went to Alice Springs for 6 weeks, while they renovated the old house they used to live in. For 6 weeks I left my life in Melbourne to go to school in Alice Springs. I made new friends, had new experiences, and witnessed first hand what it was like to live among and go to school with indigenous Australians. It was the first time I came across non-white people (not including Maoris). We lived in a run down house (until it was fixed up) on mattresses, surrounded by red backs (NOT exaggerating). On the way up and on the way back we camped in caravan parks, but without tents. Oh no, tents were a luxury. We had one of those fold out beds, and our sleeping bags, right under the stars. I remember staying overnight….somewhere in the outback, with cattle trains full of cattle mooing and smelling all night, while dingos walked around the perimeter of the caravan park type place we were staying in. My dad called it “millions star hotel”. You know. ‘Cause of the million stars. On the way home from Alice Springs (we had a car and a trailer) we stopped at Ayers Rock, and I got to climb it, at 8 years of age. It was amazing and scary as hell. All I remember was getting about 3/4 of the way up and crying because it was so windy and I was scared I was going to fall off, and this old man in front of me from California (I remember hearing him talk about it) saying to me “You hang in there!”

Anyway.

Looking back now, I learned so much from that trip. Sure, I missed my friends. I didn’t want to go in the first place because of my friends. But once I was there I made new ones, and I very quickly got used to my new life. Children adapt so much easier to change than adults do.