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My new normal April 22 2015 3 Comments

This morning I woke to a kick in the head by someone's stumpy leg. That foot then entwined itself right inside my pony tail. Too tired to even roll over or detangle it from my mane, I simply lay still trying to get back to sleep. As I lay there I smirked to myself that this was my "new normal".

Back in life BC (before children) if I'd been woken at 5-something to a kick in the head, I'd have talked about it for days. Now it's not even that wierd. It's my new normal. 

Other parents understand how it is to share your bed with several small children and how with parenthood you somehow gain superhuman strength. Particularly impressive is your ability to balance on the very side of your body only millimetres from the edge of the bed. If only I could hold those positions in my pilates class. 

Somehow my life has evolved to include bazaar daily rituals that may include (but is not limited to) drinking cold coffee (not the glamorous iced coffee kind), serving one child’s pre-loved food to another and wearing clothes that really should have been washed a few days ago. 

Who does that? 

Parents do. Parents do that stuff without even flinching. Gross. 

Somehow while waking at 5.59am is still not ok, waking at 6.01am is now considered acceptable. I used to only grace the 6am floorboards if I was just arriving home or if I was rushing to the airport to depart to an exotic location. Now an interrupted coffee is about as exotic as it gets. And yes 8am is a sleep-in. 

It is very normal to not only study poo closely but also to be able to describe a myriad of different types. This topic can now be happily discussed with complete strangers. We even encourage clapping and admiration of poops at certain stages. The whole family crowds into the bathroom to have a look. 

I have slept in a child’s wet bed. Comfortably. I have cuddled a child whilst vomit was running down my back. Several times unfortunately. Not to mention catching vomit in my scooped hands and carrying it to the toilet….actually GLAD that I caught it. Catching regurgitated food in your hands is relatively clean compared to that. 

Most parents have done most of these things that BC, we thought would only happen occasionally. We have happily picked someone else’s nose and cleaned their ear wax with great satisfaction. We have used our own spit to clean our child’s face and put our hands down the toilet to rescue something “important”. We have chewed our babies fingernails off and smelt their little bums. Don’t even get me started on snot. 

Please share with me....what is your new normal?

 


Wherever you are, be all there April 14 2015 1 Comment

One of the biggest concerns for parents of more than one child is how to give all of your children equal attention. And ENOUGH attention. Obviously the more children you have, the harder this can get. For me, when we had our twins, I found this to be especially difficult as they are often needing the exact same thing at the exact same time. 

Firstly I will say that I have not mastered this skill yet, but I am always conscious of finding ways to do this better. Amongst all of the other things Mums can feel guilty about, feeling that one of your children is being ‘left out’ or not given the attention they deserve, is heart breaking. This is unavoidable at times and as Mums we always need to prioritise and of course, often something has to give.

What I have found works for me is to focus on the little things. I try to make the fleeting every day moments I get with one one of my children individually count. If the little things are memorable, then it will all add up. Right? Please tell me I’m right!?

Like most families, we spend a lot of time driving in the car. Most of the trips are short and sweet but they are an opportunity for a little bonding time. Unless the situation requires a little bit of loud music and a dance-athon, I try to have the radio off and never use my phone when the kids are in the car. A captured audience often results in an excellent conversation. Finding out little details of their day or their thoughts on the world whizzing by the window is very interesting to me. Their unique stories and thoughts can be very insightful, if not humorous. When they are given a quiet moment to speak and know that I am fully listening, you can see their little bodies get a lift. It’s their little stage and their little 15 seconds of fame that day.  

Getting all four kids dressed, packed up and rounded out of the house is another challenge. Even with the prospect of a scooter ride to their favourite cafe at the end of the tunnel, this can be a mission. So as I bend down to once again help put on another pair of shoes, I use the opportunity for a quick cuddle and perhaps a little secret whisper about what plans we have for our adventure ahead. We reminisce (again) about the Peppa Pig concert we went to last year as we put on their favourite Peppa Pig t-shirt and we gloat about how we are going to “beat” all of our brothers to get dressed. We exchange a knowing wink as we quickly grab the “fastest” scooter and “coolest” helmet before the others and we delight in the little wins. 

Another delight for them is going to the supermarket alone with me. There is something about sitting (or standing) in the front of that trolley being almost at eye level to Mum and going up and down the aisles that is an adventure to them. They thrive on the prospect that they will get to choose some of their favourite treats to take home and distribute to the others that makes them feel very important. To you, it may be an everyday mundane task that you want to get out of the way as fast as possible. To them it is not. Make it an adventure, if only for ten minutes.

What I am trying to point out here is that there is always an opportunity to share something special with your child if you just slow down and notice it. Trust me, this definitely does not happen on the first day back at school after a lovely holiday break. On those mornings I can be a big scary witch (their words, not mine) but in every day life I try hard to be in the moment.

Wherever you are, be all there. 

At its simplest, I just reflect on what that child is doing at that moment. Down at their level, gazing at them, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, kids just enjoy the focused attention. You have to do it anyway, so you may as well make them feel that there is nowhere else you would rather be than tying their shoe lace with them. Again. 

Bed time is another obvious opportunity for one-on-one attention and I unfortunately could write a book about how to NOT establish the best bed time routine. As much as I have tried over many many years, with each consecutive pregnancy, newborn, toddler and cheeky older brother, our evenings have become more drawn out. Along with the snowballing exhaustion with each child, the end result for me is that I now have to lie down with each child for either a book or a good chat and a quiet cuddle before they eventually drift off to sleep. Luckily the twins love me to combine them together. Phew. 

This probably sounds blissful and trust me, sometimes it is. But combine that with an older brother interrupting and Dad arriving home and the twins sneaking out of bed AGAIN……this process can be long and frustrating. I have learnt to focus on the positive aspects of it and know that before long I will have four stinky teenagers in the house who refuse even a quick kiss, let alone the thought of me climbing under their donna with them for a cuddle and a chat! 

At the end of another busy day where perhaps they have felt too rushed or a little bit neglected or their patience has again been tested waiting for my attention, I want them to know one thing. 

Of all the things I do and of all the people I am, I always tell them

“It’s my favourite thing to be your Mum.


Fathers Day tribute: What I've learnt from Shane on how to be a better parent April 01 2015 5 Comments

Just the title of this blog will be enough to make my friends squirm. They'll think I was writing drunk or that Shane has hacked into my computer. For it only takes one visit to our house to work out who is the best at entertaining the kids (and consequently creating more chaos) and who keeps all the wheels turning (mostly in the right direction).

You see, Shane and I are very different. At least on the surface. Yin and Yang works well in a partnership but when it comes to parenting styles, we can be polar opposites.

Mrs Fun Police meets Mr Super Dad.

Many times I can be seen tearing my hair out when I have just got all four boys fed, bathed and calmed down ready for bed.....then the whirlwind that is Shane rolls through the door. 

Of course, the boys adore him. Relish every opportunity to join in his antics. They wait at the door like the most eager puppy dogs and everything that mum has managed to make happen throughout this day flies out the door with the peacefulness of the evening air. 

It can be very frustrating to live on the edge like this. To live with the prospect that my well laid plans can be over turned at any minute. But I know they are lucky to have him. Shane is tactile and hands on and all children need that. In my calmer moments I have reflected on what Mrs Fun Police can learn from Shane’s more relaxed style of parenting.

So here it is, I swallow my pride and I give you my list of the seven key lessons I have learnt from the silver lining that is Shane.

1. Always have a sense of humour.

Spilt milk, drawing on the walls, tomato sauce all over the homework, you name it, he can find humour in it. What’s done is done and although it normally takes me at least 24 hours to reflect on the episode with a grin, he and the boys seem to find most things funny immediately. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. 

2. Be in the moment. 

This is really important. When Shane is playing with the boys, it’s like he has put his blinkers on and can not see anything but them and their game in front of him. He ignores the clock, he ignores the dinner in the oven and he ignores any kind of conservative rules that may get in the way of their fun. We all know that in the busyness of our lives it is so important to live ‘in the moment’. Easier said than done, but it’s definitely worth a shot to master this skill.

3. Play like kids play.

For our boys, who are all eight years and under, this means be silly. Do not make up adult rules, shake off your inhibitions and be a kid. Choose games they love and get involved with all the enthusiasm you can muster. No matter how stupid you feel. 

4. Make a complete mess. 

It pains me to write this one and it is directly related to number two. Under no circumstances should you take your blinkers off and clean up as you go. Nor should you be sensible or practical in the types of household items you use in your games. The wetter and dirtier you get, the more fun will be had. The length and width of the trail of destruction, is directly proportionate to the amount of fun you have had. Suck it up. 

5. Be tactile.

With boys, there is always wrestling. For Shane and his friends this has continued into adulthood.  I don’t think it’s just a footy thing as I’ve also seen my brothers and brother in law give their old friends lots of cuddles (disguised as wrestles) especially when a few drinks are involved. My nieces love this too. There is a fine line between being too rough and not being tactile enough. You must never cross that line, but tickling, wizzy dizzy’s and throwing soft objects below head height are all encouraged in our house. 

6. Laugh. Laugh a lot. 

Hysterically giggle until you hyperventilate if possible. Don’t let the running around be the only reason that you are breathless.

and finally

7. Never stop before they do. 

It is vital to have boundless energy. Real or fake. Find some stamina because the ultimate man-child will never stop before their “victims” are happily scattered around the house exhausted. 

I am not saying that I have mastered these seven ways to be a more fun parent. And clearly, I do not adhere to these rules 24/7. But when the time comes to play, I think that everyone can learn a little from Shane. 

For when their childhood has passed I know that the routine, consistency and boundaries I have set will hopefully help make them into good, accountable men. Men who hopefully put women on a pedestal. But I also know that their childhood memories will probably be made more of Mr Super Dad than Mrs Fun Police.

And I'm ok with that  x